To the northwest of Hanoi lies one of its best-kept secrets
Terraces of native trees tumble to the quiet valley floor, where a fruit orchard, vegetable patch and a once-lost tea plantation are nourished by a clear mountain stream descending from the surrounding hills. Nestled in this oasis lies one of the area’s newest and best-kept secrets — Fragrant Path Green Tea Gardens — a nature retreat dedicated to rest, relaxation and restoration. Ringed by low-forested hills, Fragrant Path sits in the peaceful Dai Lai Valley to the northwest of Hanoi. A mere hour’s drive from downtown is all it takes for the noise to dissipate, the air to clear and a quiet calm to settle.
Fragrant Path is the latest offering from the Tet Lifestyle Collection, a boutique hospitality company with properties throughout the north of Vietnam. A decade in the making, the company is finally opening the doors to this gem, offering Hanoians a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and connect with the area’s natural surroundings.
First purchased as a small plot back in the early 2000s, the Tet Lifestyle team have gradually been adding to Fragrant Path over the past decade. “The property is a work in progress, a journey,” says Pete Wilkes, co-founder of the Tet Lifestyle Collection. “We’ve slowly been adding small things here and there. But everything is organic, everything is handmade, everything has a story.”
The result is a sprawling property dotted with gardens, artwork and 12 reconstructed houses relocated from around northern Vietnam and restored on site. The houses, the oldest of which is 180 years, not only serve as dining and sleeping locations, but also retreats for art, reflection and yoga.
Linking the houses is a series of trails and hand-built stone walls leading guests past gardens and lotus ponds, along the ridge that encircles the area and into the hidden valley at the back of the property.
“When we first bought the land we had no idea this valley even existed,” says Pete. “The forest was so thick that it wasn’t until we started following the creek through the dense vegetation that we realised there was an entire valley hidden behind the property — so we named it Hidden Valley.”
The discovery of the 80-year-old tea plantation happened in much the same way. After cutting back the forest the team discovered rows upon rows of old tea bushes. Today, the plantation is once again harvested and visitors are invited to sample the fragrant green brew.
With overnight accommodation starting early next year, guests will be able to stay in lovingly decorated earth houses filled with antique collectables, handmade furniture and decorations crafted in Vietnam’s northwest minority villages. In the meantime, Pete and his team are offering day excursions, known as Nourishment Days. Designed to harmonise body and mind, these day-retreats include a hands-on organic Vietnamese cooking class, restorative yoga, meditation, trekking and massage. — Katie Jacobs
Fragrant Path’s Nourishment Days are held once a month and include transport to and from Hanoi. The property is also open for private groups by appointment. For more info, visit tet-lifestyle-collection.com/fragrant-path