40 km north of the central city of Hue is the small village of Phuoc Tich, which has changed very little in hundreds of years. The modest, peaceful village is a popular destination in Hue.
Visitors are charmed by the village’s gardens of centuries-old trees, which have been preserved by the locals as a precious heritage. The village spreads out beside the poetic O Lau River and has all the typical features of a traditional Vietnamese village.
Bui Thi Hai Quyen of the Que Huong Service Company said,“Walking around the village, tourists enjoy unaccustomed peacefulness, the rustic sound of cocks crowing and birds singing in the early morning and the smell of wood burning. They like walking around the village, admiring the ancient architecture and feeling their lives slow down. They visit ceramic furnaces and enjoy local specialties prepared by local female cooks in ancient houses”.
Visitors to Phuoc Tich are amazed at its ancient houses. More than 30 houses in the village are up to a century old. A dozen of the village’s clan worshipping houses and temples remain intact.
They are so well preserved as to astonish cultural anthropologists, architects, and historians. The village’s ancient houses are nha ruong, a kind of residence built with artfully carved wooden pillars and beams. They are held together with wooden pegs so they can be easily dismantled.
Phuoc Tich houses are made principally of jackfruit wood and are adorned with exquisite carvings, most of which remain undamaged despite having gone through many wars throughout the years. Most of the ancient houses in the village have large yards full of old trees and separated by rows of tea trees, creating an exotic green space.
Le Trong Dien, the owner of an ancient house in Phuoc Tich, said both the ancient houses and their gardens attract tourists. “Phuoc Tich people are hospitable and they want to introduce their houses to others. Phuoc Tich ceramics, trees, and lifestyles are different from elsewhere,” he noted.
Visitors are introduced to a unique way of producing ceramic products and may try to work as a ceramic craftsman, just one of the many unforgettable experiences Phuoc Tich provides. Local people treasure their ceramic making craft and devote a separate area, known as Treng Islet, to preserving ancient ceramic pieces.
Luong Thi Be is a ceramic artisan in Phuoc Tich. He shared, “In the old days, we made various ceramic items. They were very expensive and very sought-after. At that time, our village was rich with many houses. All children went to school. Phuoc Tich people began making ceramic products in 1940. At that time, I was small. In 1975, I began making ceramic products. Ruong houses in Phuoc Tich were built with revenues from selling ceramic items”.
Visitors to Phuoc Tich also like the local food specialties, especially the rice cakes made by local women. Ms Nguyen Thi Thuy, who lives in the village, said local women set up a cooking club to introduce local food to visitors. “Here we serve pickles, pork with shrimp sauce, and a variety of rice cakes. Our club has 16 members. By joining the club, local women can earn extra income.” she added.
Tourists to Phuoc Tich often arrange to stay in local houses living with the local people and learning something about their lives.