The province of Ha Giang, bordering China and located in the extreme northeast of Vietnam, is certainly one of the most breathtaking in the country. From the eponymous provincial capital, it is quite interesting to hike on the slopes of the Tay Con Linh massif culminating at 2419 meters and then go on an adventure on the grandiose road that crosses the Dong Van karst plateau to discover all the natural and cultural wonders of this unique region.
The fabulous region of Ha Giang owes its fame to the breathtaking and rugged landscapes of the Dong Van karst plateau. It shares the border with China in the north and has been a member of the UNESCO Global GeoParks Network and the Asia-Pacific GeoParks Network since 2010. About 80% of the geo-park area is covered by impressive limestone formations and the average altitude is 1400 to 1600 meters above sea level.
The road from Ha Giang to Dong Van and then to Meo Vac passes through a series of spectacular landscapes. It is certainly the most exceptional road in all of Vietnam. This limestone mineral environment, shaped over geological eras and characterized by a succession of arid and bare limestone peaks giving an astonishing lunar landscape, is a marvel of nature. On the road, you will be facing an unreasonably extravagant nature. Many stops are planned during the crossing of the Dong Van karst plateau to admire all the natural and cultural wonders the road has to offer.
The Quan Ba Heaven Gate
The Quan Ba Heaven Gate marks the entrance to the Dong Van karst plateau and offers a superb and singular panorama. A belvedere allows you to admire the twin mountains of Quan Ba, shaped like a proud woman's chest, set on a superb patchwork of rice fields. Local legend has it that a fairy called Hoa Dao fell in love with a Hmong musician who played Đàn Môi, a traditional musical instrument, very well and left Heaven to marry her lover without informing the celestial emperor. The two newly-weds had a son, which provoked the anger of the emperor. The fairy Hoa Dao was then forced to return to Heaven but before leaving, she left her breasts to feed her child, along with her tears that formed the river Mien.
Visits of ethnic villages
The crossing of the fantastic Dong Van plateau is a pretext to discover along the way some villages of the many ethnic minorities that populate the region. Meeting with the Bo Y, an ultra minority ethnic group since the community counts only 2000 people. The Bo Y women are distinguished by their skirts enhanced with beautiful patterns made using the batik technique and their beautiful silver jewelry. You will also meet the Hmong who have lived in this region for centuries and who are the majority ethnic group here. Admire their beautiful stone houses blending into the mineral decorations and the shimmering traditional tunic proudly worn by the women.
Ancient Hmong Kingdom
Formerly landlocked, almost inaccessible, this territory was for centuries the kingdom of the Hmong, the only ethnic group capable of living in autarky in such a mineral and remote region. In the bliss of their altitude, as free men, the Hmong had introduced poppy cultivation. At the end of the 19th century, the French colonial government decided to regulate this trade for its own benefit and even encouraged the Hmong to grow poppies. In order to control the opium trade in this isolated region, the French colonial power allied itself with Vuong Duc Chi and the sacred the king of the Hmong people to establish its authority in the region. His palace, which can visited today, was built according to geomantic principles, consisting of three two-story houses on stilts, each built of stone, precious wood, covered with animal sculptures and traditional Yin and Yang shaped tiles. An architectural ensemble harmoniously blending traditional Hmong and Chinese art, not to be missed!
The ethnic markets of the Ha Giang region
Ethnic markets are one of the great attractions of this amazing region. The two big markets in the area are Dong Van and Meo Vac, both of which are held every Sunday morning. These two markets bring together a large number of ethnic minorities who come from remote villages to trade and meet each other. At these markets, it is a real colorful spectacle with the very colorful costumes worn by women of each ethnic group.
Ma Pi Leng Pass
Ma Pi Leng Pass Located on the road from Dong Van to Meo Vac, the Ma Pi Leng Pass offers a breathtaking view of the Tu San Canyon where the Nho Que River winds its way between dizzying mountain walls.
The Flag Tower of Lung Cu
The Lung Cu Flag Tower symbolizes the flag of Vietnam's territorial sovereignty and is a sacred place for the Vietnamese as it marks the northernmost point of the country. From its top, you will enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the limestone mountains, rice fields and ethnic hamlets including the beautiful Lo Lo flower.
Best time to get to Ha Giang
We advise you to visit Ha Giang between April and December. Except for the months of June, July and August which are very hot and sometimes rainy, you will be able to enjoy beautiful sunny days and be to appreciate the color variations of the rice fields and the limestone mountains.