About 10 kilometers southeast of the capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi is the village of Bat Trang, famously known for its pottery work. These ceramics are made by skilled craftsman, which still holds many secrets and knowledge about pottery, passed down by their ancestors, which dates back to over 500 years from now.
Getting to Bat Trang:
There are three main ways for you to get to Bat Trang:
By bus: Aside from using your vehicles, this is the cheapest and the most convenient route, from the Long Bien bus terminal in Hanoi and take the 47 bus that would take you directly to the main entrance of the village.
By motorbike or other self-provided means of transport: At Hanoi, once you have crossed the Chuong Duong (also called Vinh Tuy/Thanh Tri) bridge, take a right at the end of the bridge and keep on going along the Song Hong River dam until you reach the village, with no left or right turns to worry about!
By boat: On every weekend, there is a tour on the Song Hong river which takes you through many locations, including Bat Trang village, with the price of around 150,000-200,000 VND per person. But it is advised that you ask for information to see if the tour you are asking stops at Bat Trang.
The best way to visit Bat Trang is to enjoy a Tour departing from Hanoi Central
Eating and resting:
Most of the time, there isn’t much to hold people here for more than a day, so when visiting the village, there are some aspects that you should consider to prepare for the trip there.
Firstly, it is advised that you take some food with you, many snacks or even your lunch, for even though there are a wide variety of grubs that you can buy there, but Bat Trang is famous for pottery, not cuisine, so you will not find anything too special there, and yes, there are good grub if you find the right joint.
About resting, it very much depends on how you would like to stop and catch a break, it is unnecessary to book a hotel if you are only going for a day and you’d be taking a break while having lunch but it purely depends on your likings. And if you like someplace clean with decent services and good looking restaurants, then you can check out the Minh Hai resort, it’d be able to tend to all your needs and is very easy to book for rooms without worrying that it is fully booked.
What to do:
There are many exciting things to do in Bat Trang, which is mostly associated with the pottery works of the village. You can stroll around the streets through houses filled with ceramics and workshops, in many cases, it is possible for you to purchase the potteries that are displayed at right prices, and you can also ask questions about making pottery and even watch the people there making them. And if you don’t like walking, you can hire a wagon to take you around town, and interestingly, buffalos pull the wagons here instead of horses. If you are interested to see priceless potteries that are decades or even hundreds of years old, there is the Van Van gallery that displays over 400 pieces of pottery.
Once finished with your journey around town, you can try to be a craftsman and make your very own piece of pottery, for there are places that provide you with everything you need to make your masterpiece, and you can find the owner of these locations by the entrance of the village, waiting for eager customers. To enter, it would cost you 10,000 VND, then it is all on you to make something beautiful, after making the shape of the pottery, you would need to wait some time for them to heat your pottery to hardens it. Then you can paint and add color, then they would apply a final protection coating to make the colors last, once finished, you must pay around 30,000 to 50,000 VND to take your masterpiece home, though.
If you are not confident about your skills but still wish to buy something as gifts, then aside from the many buildings that sell pottery located throughout the village, you can visit the Bat Trang marketplace. In this place, you can find anything, all kinds of pottery with different patterns and colors, and you can be quite comfortable here, for the merchants are usually friendly, they would even let you touch, pick up and even take pictures with their goods, but it is advised to be extra careful though. Also, you should be mindful to inspect the goods thoroughly to see if there are any mishaps and you can haggle for better prices too.
Although being famously known for their pottery, Bat Trang still have pottery works from China disguised as pottery works from the village, so if you want to buy something made from the community, it is advised that you do some research, for there are ways to distinguish between them.