Although the number of horse-drawn carriages in the central province of Bình Định is dwindling, visitors can still embark on fantastic sightseeing tours in the carriages across the land rich with history.
A number of Bình Định residents now keep their horses primarily for carrying heavy cargo to markets.
But the carriages have taken on a new, more modern mission:
Carrying tourists across the province’s scenic spots and relics.
The horses and their owners are quite busy during festive times, around Tết (Việt Nam’s Lunar New Year) and on special occasions.
Tourists can also learn some basic moves from martial arts masters, as Bình Định locals, including women, have been long known for their mastery in traditional martial arts.
Along the Kon River are several long-existing martial arts villages, where artists and masters showcase their skills and signature moves.
The horse-drawn carriages will also take tourists to the imposing Hoàng Đế (Emperor) Citadel, Việt Nam’s capital during the Tây Sơn reign (1778–1802).
The citadel was built on the ruins of the Đồ Bàn Citadel of the former Champa Kingdom.
Another highlight of the tour is the Bến Xe Ngựa (Horse-Drawn Carriage Stop) in Đập Đá Town.
Not far from the stop is the famed 300-year-old Phú Gia village, which is known for their hallmark “non ngua” (conical leaf hats worn by men on horseback), which were highly durable.
Common “nón ngua” were typically worn by Tây Son soldiers, while ornate ones decorated with silver or elaborate dragon images were preferred by court and local officials.
Artisans can still be seen sitting on their porches making the hats, which are now mostly purchased by tourists, particularly foreigners, as souvenirs.
A multitude of other craft villages also dot the province, featuring specific crafts such as weaving and blacksmithing.
Another feature of Bình Định are the century-old towers built during the Champa reign.
The ancient towers were mostly built on hills.
Lovers of poetry can also ride in the carriages to the Thi Nhân (Poets) hill in Quy Nhon City, Bình Định’s provincial capital, to hear recitations of poems by such famed late poets as Hàn Mặc Tử and Chế Lan Viên.
Since being launched some years ago, the horse-drawn carriage tours have held an irresistible appeal to tourists.
“Mounting the carriage gave me the feeling of being immersed in an age-old time and landscape.
When the horses rode around the Hoàng Đế Citadel, I felt as if I could hear the kings and court officials discussing matters during court sessions.”
Shared tourist Lê Thụy Nguyên Vũ.
Source: Tuổi Trẻ News