Kenh Ga, set on the banks of the Hoang Long River, is a remarkable place, not only because it is surrounded by the same massive rocks that dominate Hoa Lu, but also because for most of the year the entire community lives on the water itself. The floating village of Kenh Ga receives relatively few visitors compared to nearby Hoa Lu and the peoples’ aquatic way of life has changed little over the centuries.
The area is known as one of the most rural area in the Red River Delta. It offers a combination of countryside landscapes, traditional rural lifestyle and well-known friendly local folk. Touring the area would be really relaxing and fascinating as you are seated in a rowed-by-feet boat with scenes of people fishing, children rowing boats to school, simple houses clinging to limestone cliffs, etc along the canal.
The traditional lifestyle of the river folk in this area is unique, and the trip will present you with countless sights of the old Viet Nam.
The principal reason for its lack of visitors joining tours in Vietnam coming here is that the village is accessible only by boat. Gliding along the river and canals, weaving one’s way through the boathouses and fishing vessels of Kenh Ga is a unique experience for there is no other place in Vietnam that combines the stunning backdrop of the limestone cliffs with an authentic floating village.
The village of Kenh Ga (Chicken Canal) gets its name apparently from the number of wild chickens that used to live in the area. It’s essentially a floating village on the Hoang Long River, with just a few permanent buildings on the riverbanks. About the only other place in Vietnam where you can see anything like this is in the Mekong Delta. On the other hand, nowhere in the Mekong Delta will you find a stunning mountain backdrop like the one at Kenh Ga. Another difference: people in Kenh Ga row boats with their feet, leaning back and watching the world go by.
It’s a lovely area, and one of the best places in northern Vietnam to see river life. People here seem to spend most of their lives floating on water: at their floating fish-breeding pens, harvesting river grass to feed the fish, trawling in the muddy shallows for shellfish or selling veggies boat-to-boat. Even the children commute to school by boat.
From the pier you can hire a motor boat to take you for an hour or so touring around the village. The boat trips are organized through the local government tourism agency and, thankfully, they’ve managed to keep the operation relatively low-key and hassle-free. How much longer can it last?
When visiting Kenh Ga or Chicken Canal Floating Village, tourists in are all warmly welcomed here because the locals are very friendly and hospitable. The children gleefully shout “tay oi” (Westerner) at every tourist they see, even Vietnamese tourists.