Son La features rich cultural identity and diversity as it is home to 12 ethnic groups, each of which has its own cultural identity and nuance.
With thousands of ancient books written in Thai and Dao languages, epics depicting the history of Muong village construction, Thai love stories, folk dances like xoe (the Thai people), dance with the bell (the Dao), dance with khen (the H’ Mong), hip dance (the Kho Mu), folk songs like khap (the Thai), dang (the Muong), popular singing (the H’Mong) and indigenous instruments like drum, gong, flute and khen, everyone will be enthralled whenever they set foot here. Distinctive festivals of ethnic groups make the culture of Son La more unique in the eyes of tourists like Het Cha Festive (the Thai), Moi Festival (the Muong), Xe Pang A Festival (the Khang) and Pang A Festival (the La Ha).
Son La has many attractive destinations, for example, scenic landscapes like Doi Cave (Moc Chau district), grasslands and tea plantations (Moc Chau); historical and cultural relics like Son La Prison, Que Lam Royal Epitaph – Temple of Emperor Le Thai Tong. In addition, many unspoiled villages are popular destinations for community tourism. Son La Hydropower Plant – the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia – and vast water-storage reservoirs are places of interest for many tourists far and wide.
To preserve and promote the cultural identity of ethnic groups, Son La has introduced appropriate mechanisms and policies, increased investment funds for this work, trained and retrained personnel. The province has actively invested in researching, collecting and celebrating some typical festivals of ethnic groups, some of which are preserved and transformed into cultural tourism products like Het Cha Festival and Xen Muong Festival (Thai), traditional boat race of White Thai (Quynh Nhai district). The province has also collected, composed and perfected folk songs and folk dances with locally distinctive musical instruments of ethnic groups; built and promoted the strong development of popular arts companies in villages, thus facilitating the preservation of traditional arts of ethnic groups (currently, Son La has over 3,000 village arts performance companies). It also censored intangible cultural heritages of ethnic groups in the province, selected typical cultural heritages like Thai xoe dance, Thai script and H’Mong clan worship to document these heritages to submit to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for adding them into the list of national intangible cultural heritages. Son La has also conducted scientific researches on “Study on H’Mong festivals”, “Study on traditional cultures of ethnic minorities in resettlement areas for Son La hydropower plants”, “Conservation and promotion of good Thai cultural values in the process of international integration” to assess current cultural status of ethnic groups so as to seek solutions to preservation and promotion of values while advertising some destinations.
Rich cultural and heritage treasure makes Northwest destinations more appealing to tourists. In order to promote cultural values and create momentum for tourism development, the tourism industry will create special cultural tourism products and introduce destinations with indigenous cultural experiences to tourists.
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