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Just 50km From Hanoi, Đường Lâm Village Is a Charming Historical Relic

If one were to strike out west from Hanoi and follow the Red River for some 50 kilometers, there they will find Đường Lâm Village — a quintessence of rural Vietnam.

An old Catholic church in the distance.

Đường Lâm is home to green paddy fields, cobbled roads, and old ladies with betel-blackened smiles. Phùng Hưng and Ngô Quyền, two war heroes, were said to be born here — a story that is up for some debate — thus this place is also called “the land of two kings.”

In 2006, Đường Lâm was officially recognized as a national cultural and historical relic, the first village in Vietnam to receive such a title. Marcus Lacey, a photographer, knew of this village by chance through a passerby while Lacey was selling prints in Tây Hồ. “I went the very next day,” Lacey shares. “It is beautiful. I think it reminds me of my childhood because of the cobbled alleys and little courtyards.”

The villagers were very friendly; one man invited Lacey into his house for tea and was happy to be photographed, though he spoke no English. Lacey also found a well with crystal-clear water, next to which was a stone tablet with the inscription: “a heart pure as ice.”

If you haven’t been to this village yet, we hope these images below can inspire a visit, once it is safe to travel, of course.

Another day at the grind.

Historical artifacts and architectural features galore, even though they are worn by the elements.

A typical busy morning.

Cobbled streets and their pedestrians.

A crystal-clear, decades-old well.

Homes with traditional courtyard entrances.

Đường Lâm is among a few places in Vietnam where old ladies keep their dyed black teeth.

Darkroom is a series documenting the beauty and stories of Vietnam and beyond via photographs. If you have a compelling story you wish to share, send us an email via [email protected].