Cấm Sơn Lake (Hồ Cấm Sơn) is a lake in Luc Ngan District, Bac Giang Province, Vietnam, near the border with Lang Son Province. The lake lies off Highway 279, northeast of the city of Bac Giang.
The lake has an area of some 2600 hectares, but during the rainy season when flooding is common, the lake can expand to some 3,000 hectares. The length of the lake is about 30 km (18.8 miles). Its widest point is about 7 kilometers (4.4 miles) and narrowest point is about 200 m (600 ft.).
A senior official of the commune identified as Dang took us to a pier to take a tour of the lake.
“Cam Son is a big lake with some islets almost untouched by man. The area around the lake is home to many ethnic minority groups such as Tay, Nung, San Chi and Cao Lan. The area holds great potential for tourism development,” he said.
In fact, the Cam Son Lake area shows no sign of being frequented by tourists. We could not even find a boat for rent for a sightseeing tour and finally we hired one from a local resident named Long, who also volunteered to guide us throughout the tour.
The lake covers over 3,000 hectares with crystal blue water. In the morning, its surface looks like a giant mirror reflecting the poetic painting of forests and mountains. The stunning landscape is highlighted by uninhabited tree-clad islets.
Our boat passed several other boats of local fishermen. Every day, hundreds of people in the area paddle their boats to trawl in the lake to earn a living, says Long.
Fisherman Ha Van Ngan says he goes fishing every day and that catching a carp weighing 3-4 kilograms is not uncommon. However, he and other residents are worried about diminishing aquatic resources in the lake.
After several hours in the lake, we dropped by Dong Mam Village on an islet which is only accessible by boat.
Villagers on the islet grow paddy on terraced fields and there is just one paddy crop during the year because when it begins to rain, water from the lake will flood the entire terraced field area.
Only a few households have houses built with bricks. Most villagers still prefer “trinh tuong” homes, a traditional type of housing of ethnic minorities in the upland. A trinh tuong house is built with soil walls and tiled roof. According to local people, it is cool in such a house on hot days but warm on cold days.
The village still has no access to electricity and villagers are very hospitable. Staying on the islet overnight, we were invited to dinner to enjoy dishes from fresh carps caught from the lake. People gathered at the house of a senior official of the hamlet to watch movie and music performance by young ethnic women thanks to a household electricity generator.