Bat Trang Pottery Village


A buffalo-drawn carriage

Photo of Entry:  A buffalo-drawn carriage

Just outside of Hanoi lies a quaint little handicraft village where a centuries-old tradition is just as alive today as ever.

The bustling Bat Trang Pottery Village has been producing exquisite ceramic wares for nearly 500 years and now, for a mere VND45,000 ($2.80), one can enjoy a unique tour of the area in a one-of-a-kind mode of transport – a buffalo-drawn carriage.

Bat Trang, translated as “bowl-making” village, is situated in Gia Lam District about 10 km from the center of Hanoi.

It has become a well-known international symbol of Vietnam's talented crafts-people exporting everything from tiles, to flower pots to intricately designed tea sets.

The goods have been distributed to nearly every region of Vietnam as well as foreign countries including dynastic China in centuries past.

Today, the village is becoming more famous thanks to the new tourist service it offers – a chance to see Bat Trang’s pottery trade in action while being pulled along by buffalo.

It may sound unusual, but it has become an immensely popular activity among thousands of eager tourists.

Mr. Hai, director of Minh Hai Ceramic Ltd. Co., which offers the buffalo-drawn carriage service, said the idea came to him in a flash after seeing people in Thailand using elephants as a way to serve visitors.

The sturdy, stylized buffalo-drawn carriages are constructed of iron and wood, have reclining seats and can carry up to 10 passengers.

His firm now runs about 20 trips a day, serving up to 1,000 enthusiastic tourists per month.

Other visitors look on, momentarily more interested in the massive beasts carrying travelers than in the vast array of ceramic wonders.

However, daily life is too vibrant to be ignored in Bat Trang for too long.

Narrow alleys – specific characteristics of villages in northern Vietnam – are constantly alive with the bustling trade of goods and workers.

The leisurely, oscillating steps of the buffalo make for an interesting sensation while taking in the sights.

The large mammal is familiar to the region and served as the symbol for the 22nd SEA Games, held in Vietnam in 2003.

According to Hai, another of carriages is on the horizon to better serve the increasing number of tourists to Vietnam.

So far, the majority of tourists taking the buffalo tour have been from Japan and have booked reservations even before arriving in Vietnam.

“Each day, I have to drive from morning till night to meet the increasing needs of tourists,” says one buffalo cart driver, Nguyen Thi Huong.

The buffalo-drawn carriage trip begins at Minh Hai Ceramic Workshop, where visitors learn about the pottery production process.

The carriage then departs on a tour of the entire Bat Trang Pottery Village lasting about one hour before stopping at an ancient pottery-kiln fuelled by coal.

Here, visitors can try their hand at making ceramic pieces themselves with the assistance of skilled craftsman to give direction.

A unique experience to be sure.


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