Vietnam: Son Tay – An older and quieter version of Hanoi, featuring Thao Vien Resort

Being in the city for a long time, Hanoi gave me nerve. For those who have lived in Hanoi, you know what it is like to be in this city – pollution, traffic, noise… It exhausts me every now and then (actually most of the time). Surprisingly, just about 40km north west of Hanoi, Son Tay is a small town right next to Hanoi but it would give you a different atmosphere. Something old, something new, something very familiar but somehow so different.

An hour away from Hanoi, I arrived in Son Tay and breathed the new air. How crazy it could be when this town is so close to the city but it showed me such a big change. People still speak with the Hanoian accent, around town looks very much similar to Hanoi but a bit older, but there is no noise, there is no honking, and the air seems fresher and clearer.


First checked in in Thao Vien Resort, a change already hit me. The scenery is set up in a traditional Vietnamese way with a touch of the countryside’s vibe. Palm trees grow everywhere, thatching huts are placed along the resort and some are on the water which look very dreamy, and staff dresses in the traditional way. The heat of the summer day following the warm breeze zigzagging through a row of weeping willows started to hit me. I sat down on the bench and looked out to the pond. Cricket was chirping which completed the picture of one of those summer days. I finally escaped from the noise of traffic and the city’s life to be out here cuddling myself up in quietness.

I came to Son Tay without knowing anything but maybe it was a good thing. That late afternoon, I took a drive to the centre to visit the Ancient Citadel which people had told me to check out. A canal runs around the area which reminded me of Utrecht, where I used to live in The Netherlands. That image just caught my eyes which made me feel like Dejavu. People were having their afternoon run along the canal and some were chilling on the pavement playing chess. The Ancient Citadel seems like to be placed on an island where the area is relaxing playground for locals. It somehow still got its solemness. What is most solemn is the flagstaff standing high with the flag of Vietnam.

Son Tay does not have much to offer but somehow this place seems so peaceful. It got something so alike to Hanoi but quieter, cleaner, people are way much friendlier. I couldn’t believe that those changes could be so big even though Hanoi and Son Tay are literally next to each other. Two cities, two different images. For a day get-away from Hanoi, Son Tay could be a great place to be.