The first destination in a Sapa tour is usually Hoang A Tuong Palace located in the center of Bac Ha district. This mansion complex is considered as the most powerful house in the northwest mountainous region. After nearly 100 years of existence with time, the building still stands majestically amid the town.
Explore admirable architecture of Hoang A Tuong Palace
Reaching Hoang A Tuong Palace, visitors will be stunned by majesty of ancient building lying amidst vast space of mountains, forests and small houses surrounding. The palace was designed in the harmonious style of Asia – Europe with closed rectangular layouts. Hoang A Tuong Palace was built by Hoang Yen Chao and his son Hoang A Tuong, Tay ethnic people who ruled a region with 70 percent of the population are H’mong people and were called “King”.
Outside views of Hoang A Tuong Palace
To enter this building, visitors have to pass several stairs from the two sides to the waiting room, and then step into the large yard. And now you can see a main house and two sub-houses on the left and the right. The main house has two stories, with a total area of 420 m² and is used as a large gallery to display pictures about political, economic, social and cultural activities of Bac Ha people. Through these pictures, visitors can understand partly about culture as well as daily life of ethnic minority groups in Bac Ha. On the right is place to display handicrafts of ethnic groups in Bac Ha, from jewelry, brocade fabric, traditional costume to unique souvenirs. You also have chance to witness locals weaving and making traditional clothes. Going to the left is a house presenting tourist products of 8 northwest provinces, including natural herbs, wine and agricultural tools. On the 2nd floor, visitors can learn about development process of Bac Ha people through pictures about Bac Ha nowadays and Bac Ha in the past.
The main house of Hoang A Tuong Palace
Going deep into the building is departments displaying Bac Ha’s local specialties, especially Corn wine, a famous drink of Bac Ha. Here you can witness process making Corn wine, learn how to cook making wine and buy some litters of wine as precious gifts.
Learn about the history of building
The most interesting experience is to listen to stories about history of the building as well as the whole region while strolling inside the mystical building and exploring every corners, even smallest corners of the building.
Before 1945, Bac Ha was a semi-feudal-colony society, with the ruling class and the ruled class, the exploiters and the exploited. During their reign, under the French colonial support, father and son Hoang Yen Chao – Hoang A Tuong tried to exploit the people, occupied fertile land, forced people to pay servitude and tribute. They also held monopoly in trading salt and consumer goods, drugs and food and exploitation of forest products for French stations and the henchmen.
The palace was built by Hoang A Tuong in 1914 and completed in 1921 with the main support of a French and a Chinese architect in choosing land and direction as well as designing and building the work. Its location was selected according to feng shui theory, on a large hill to the southeast, behind and the two sides having mountains and a stream in the front. The overall topography is totally charming.
Surrounding view from Hoang A Tuong Palace
In the past, the main house is used as a meeting place and the four rooms on the two sides are the space for family activities. The main side is decorated with elaborate patterns. On the right and left are two parallel sentences wishing glory family. The total area of this mansion is up to 4,000 m².
Hoang A Tuong palace today is painted in the bright yellow, which makes the building lose its deep moss color. But despite being “colored,” the Hoang A Tuong Palace still makes visitors feel strange.
Going through the long hallway, imaginative visitors will see a lot of scenes in the old time, when maids were given the cane on the yard, the “kings”’ wives walking in the room, the noise and the smoke of opium in a small room. All is presented clearly and lively in your imagination when you explore the building.