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A brook in the northern province of Bac Giang offers hikers the chance to bathe in one of Vietnam's natural wonders


50-meterhigh Giot Waterfall, the tallest waterfall of Nuoc Vang

Nuoc Vang (Golden Spring) cuts a striking golden ribbon through the Phat Son Mountain Range in Luc Nam District.

According to locals, the honey-colored waters are as clean and pure as you can hope to find anywhere in Vietnam. For generations, water drawn from the spring has sustained their livelihoods.

Few, however, understand the root cause of the spring's bizarre annual color transformation.

Every summer, the bright yellow fades. Every winter, it darkens. Locals say the water picks up its coloration as it flows through yellow sandstone. However, so far no one has settled on a satisfactory explanation.

HOW TO GET THERE?

From Hanoi, take Highway 1A for 52 kilometers to Bac Giang Town. Turn onto Highway 31 and head toward Luc Nam Town (24 kilometers). You will enter Luc Son Commune after passing the Suoi Mo Tourism Site. Continue for some seven kilometers before arriving at the foot of the Phat Son Mountain Range. From there, you will pass seven springs before reaching the Bai Ban Stream where you can begin the four-kilometer hike to Nuoc Vang.


Nuoc Vang (Golden Spring) is known for its honey-colored waters

As the water descends the 900- meter high mountain range, its pace varies. Here it pours down violently; there it passes gently.

Nuoc Vang tumbles down more than ten waterfalls - ranging in height from five to 50 meters. During the rainy season the thunder of the swollen falls can be heard from more than two kilometers away.

The power of each waterfall has carved "baths" at their bases; some are big enough to fit as many as ten people. Bathing among the Yen Tu Primeval Forest has an extraordinary power to make you feel renewed and refreshed - as though you have "washed off the dust of life" as the locals say.

After bathing in the spring, take a trip to nearby Ngoa Van Temple or visit one of the many other pagodas built between the 14th and 18th centuries. King Tran Nhan Tong (1258-1308), the founder of Truc Lam - Vietnam's official branch of Buddhism, conducted his studies here at Ho Thien Pagoda.

Camping beside the spring, you can sample local food like taro and chestnuts, and tiu bau a kind of rice wine made by the ethnic minority people of Thanh Y.

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