Home to the pottery families of Hanoi, Bat Trang village is famously also referred to as “ceramic village”. Located just 13 kilometres from Old Quarter, it’s an easy half-day excursion from the city and, as well as buying souvenirs, you can also try your hand at throwing a pot or painting your own mug or Disney figurine.
The shops selling merchandise start as soon as you enter the village, so it can be difficult to know where to start. We were on bikes so kept following the main road through the village until we reached the area known as the market (cho), a couple of kilometres from the main road.
Although we were clearly a bit late for the market it was a good place to park (5,000 VND per bike) and close to the only place in the village that still has a traditional kiln — Lo Bau. It’s not in operation but is impressive to see; you can walk inside one of the kilns imagining how hellishly hot it would be if the fires were burning.
Lo Bau is also a good spot to get hands on. You can throw a pot at a wheel or paint a mug. Prices start from 10,000 VND. If you want your pot or mug baked and glazed it’ll cost a bit more and you’ll either have to hang around in the village for a few hours or get it delivered to your hotel. The latter will only be practical if you’re in Hanoi for a while as it can take time.
If Lo Bai doesn’t take your fancy, you won’t have to travel far to find somewhere else to paint or throw a pot. We came across a couple of guys taking turns to paint Donald Duck at one shop. Or just browse some of what must be hundreds of shops.
Other attractions in the village include a temple and an old village house – look out for signs to the former just past Lo Bau and the temple is on the left on the main road. The village itself is a pretty and peaceful place once you get off the main track, so take a wander. Food and refreshments are available at Lo Bau and at various streetfood joints and drink stalls around town.
Bat Trang village is easily be reached by bus, motorbike, bicycle or taxi. Bus number 47 runs direct from Long Bien bus station to the northeast of Old Quarter, terminating at the village, and costs 15,000 VND. Alternatively a taxi will cost around 150,000 to 200,000 VND.
If you prefer to drive or cycle yourself, it’s very straightforward. Cross over Chung Duong Bridge and turn right at the other end; you will initially see signs for Bat Trang but once you’re on the southbound road keep on it and eventually you’ll come to a right turn into the village. Look out for the shops full of pottery. The road is quite narrow and gets busy in rush hour but is otherwise a pleasant enough drive.
By Sarah Turner.
Last updated on 25th February, 2017.
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