You are visiting Hanoi and intend to go to one of the
classical handicraft villages but are reluctant to go to far? There is quite
the solution at hand. The closest and easiest of this villages around Hanoi is
Ba Trang which you will find just 10 km afar. The easiest way is by crossing
the Red River on Chuong Duong Bridge and than following the dyke southbound
accompanying the Red River not far away.
Ba Trang is the most famous ceramic village in the Red River Delta which has been transformed in something like a market town for the ceramics of this region. The old name can be translated in different forms from “bowl makers” to “bowl workshop” and last but not least to “100 kilns”.
It is in my opinion one of the most visited handicraft villages around Hanoi due to its close proximity. The village itself has been founded around the 15th century. Due to some historians the making of ceramics can be traced down to the 13th century during the Ly Dynasty.
The village used charcoal kilns for ages and only some years ago changed the kilns to get heated by gas. So you can still find charcoal patties made of coal dust stuck up and ried like cowpats at the houses and walls in Ba Trang. The village has been always short on space and therefore is knit very tightly. Buildings are very close together and residential houses mixed among ceramic workshops. This creates an exceptionally web of narrow alleys.
And here the fun begins. Take the time to go to this maze of alleyways. Take the time to get lost. Move from one handicraft workshop to the other. Marvel at the fine examples of ceramics you will find here and indulge in haggling for a good price if you find something you are lusting after. You can see the whole production line from preparing the clay, the shaping on to decoration and glazing the ceramic.
If you are now a little bit more interested I like to give you some more images to look at. If you really want to explore the village and like to have more information you should obtain an excellent guide called “Bat Trang, Traditional Pottery Village, A self guided walk” published by the Friends of Vietnamese Heritage Foundation.