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Dong Van
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Ruby Le

Ruby Le's keen on travelling and exploring undiscovered places in Vietnam,
love to share travel experiences, photos, writing article after every trips.

Dong Van

Dong Van is a unique natural treasure located in the northernmost part of Vietnam. This place is famous for its wild beauty with majestic limestone mountains, immense terraced fields and unique traditional indigenous culture. Leave the noisy city behind to enjoy the beautiful natural landscape and immerse yourself in the life of the colorful ethnic minorities here.

1. Where is Dong Van?

Dong Van is a mountainous district located in the northernmost part of Vietnam, in Ha Giang province. About 150 km northeast of Ha Giang city and about 440 km northwest of Hanoi capital. With geographical location:

  • The North and Northeast border the People’s Republic of China.
  • The East and Southeast borders Meo Vac district.
  • The West and Southwest border Yen Minh district.

Dong Van

2. How is Dong Van unique?

Dong Van is located in the heart of the Dong Van limestone plateau, part of the Ha Giang Global Geopark. Located at an altitude of over 1,000 meters above sea level, Dong Van is in the heart of the Northeast highland mountains, creating an extremely impressive natural picture.

Sky-high limestone mountains, deep valleys, and forest trails create an extremely impressive natural picture. The diverse terrain here gives visitors the opportunity to participate in many exciting activities. Such as mountain climbing, trekking through the forest, boating, visiting limestone plateaus, exploring canyons,…

In addition to pristine nature, Dong Van is also a place to preserve the diverse culture of ethnic minorities. You have the opportunity to participate in traditional festivals, try unique culinary specialties. Also learn about the lives of the people here with stories passed down through generations.

Dong Van’s long history is associated with mountainous ethnic groups such as the H’Mong, Lo Lo, and Tay people. Ethnic minority communities have built traditional villages, and preserved their diverse culture to this day.

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3. When is the best time to travel to Dong Van?

Each season, Dong Van wears a “shirt” with different colors and weather, creating its own uniqueness. Visitors can refer to the special times below to schedule your upcoming tour to Dong Van.

  • Flower blooming season (January – February): In the early spring months, Dong Van is filled with brilliant flowers, from sweet pink peach blossoms, white plum blossoms, to bright yellow mustard flowers. You can walk along the roads, visit villages, or go to Sung La valley to enjoy the poetic scenery of blooming flowers.
  • Rice flower season (March – April): After the peach and plum blossoms have withered, the rice flower season comes, replacing Dong Van with a new bright red shirt. At this time, the weather has gradually warmed up, suitable for you to wear beautiful dresses and take photos with the brilliant rice flower trees.
  • Falling water season (April – May): Spring has passed, it is time for Dong Van to enter the pouring water season, the season of plowing on terraced fields. You can learn about life, culture, and enjoy the joyful, bustling atmosphere of the people here. In addition, the terraced fields are also a super hot photo spot.
  • Ripe rice season (September – October): If you can’t go to Dong Van during the rice planting season, go to Dong Van during the ripe rice season. The golden terraced fields sparkling in the sunlight are a beautiful scene you should not miss.
  • Buckwheat flower season (October – December): At the end of the year, the cold wind comes and Dong Van enters the buckwheat flower season. Fields of flowers bloom, covering the mountains and hills, creating a romantic, picturesque scene. The flower fields change from white to pink, purple to dark red, providing impressive backgrounds for you to enjoy “virtual living”.

Dong Van

4. How to get to Dong Van from Hanoi?

4.1 Moving to Dong Van

  • Personal vehicle: If you want to freely arrange your itinerary, you can go to Dong Van by motorbike or private car. The distance from Hanoi to Dong Van is about 320km, taking 7 to 8 hours. From Hanoi, you follow Highway 2 to Ha Giang, then continue along Highway 4C to Dong Van. Tourists need to pay attention to planning a clear route and choose a suitable resting place to avoid fatigue.
  • Passenger car: This is the way to travel to Dong Van chosen by many people, both ensuring health and saving time. To be able to rest, you should choose night buses (time frames from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.) to have time to sleep on the bus. You can easily catch buses from My Dinh bus station (Hanoi) to Dong Van.

4.2 Moving in Dong Van

The road in Dong Van, Ha Giang is quite small, and there are many passes. So the most suitable means of transportation is a motorbike. You can rent motorbikes in Dong Van town. When renting a motorbike, you should pay attention to choosing a new motorbike. Also check carefully so that you can move quickly and safely through difficult roads.

In addition to renting a motorbike, you can also choose to travel by taxi, a suitable option for families or large groups of people. There are popular taxi companies here. Such as Mai Linh and Ha Giang, with the same cost as in the city.

Dong Van Market

5. Sightseeing, Activities and Experiences in Dong Van

Dong Van, located in Ha Giang province, offers a range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Here are some things to do and places to explore around Dong Van:

5.1 Dong Van ancient town

Dong Van Old Town, formed in the early 20th century. It is a unique cultural and historical center located in Dong Van town. This place is a colorful cultural picture with a diverse mix of many ethnic groups. Such as H’Mong, Hoa, Tay, Dao, Nung and Kinh.

Dong Van ancient town stands out with ancient houses, carrying hundreds of years of history. When coming here, visitors will have the opportunity to visit ancient houses with unique architecture, and learn about people’s lives here. Besides, you can also go to the central market to enjoy cuisine and learn about ethnic cultures.

5.2 Dong Van Market

Dong Van Market is a place that will bring great experiences to tourists who love local culture and cuisine. The market here is usually held every Sunday, or special markets are held around the middle of each month. At the market, you will have the opportunity to see up close the lives of local people speaking many different languages, and enjoy delicious specialties.

In addition, Dong Van market is also where you can find handmade products, such as brocade dresses and handbags, with unique patterns and colors that are very typical of the Northeast region of Vietnam.

5.3 Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark

Dong Van Stone Plateau, with an area of 2,356 square kilometers, is one of the famous tourist destinations in Ha Giang. The plateau is located at an average altitude of about 1,400 – 1,600 m, still retaining traces from the tectonic activities of the earth’s crust tens of millions of years ago.

In 2010, Dong Van Karst Plateau was recognized by UNESCO as a Global Geopark, marking the uniqueness of this region. Coming to the stone plateau also gives you the opportunity to visit Ma Pi Leng Pass, one of the four great passes, and admire the Nho Que River, along with Tu San Canyon – the deepest canyon in our country.

5.4 Ma Pi Leng Pass

Ma Pi Leng is one of the most dangerous passes in Northwest Vietnam. With a length of about 20km, this pass has a steep cliff on one side and an abyss on the other. Today, Ma Pi Leng Pass has become a place that attracts a large number of tourists, especially young people who like to explore. From the pass, you can capture the entire majestic natural picture into your eyes.

5.5 Tham Ma Slope

Tham Ma Slope, a winding pass, is an attraction for tourists who want to admire the majestic natural beauty of Dong Van land. The name “Tham Ma” literally means the road used to evaluate horse health, coming from an ancient tradition when people used this place to check the health of horses.

Today, Tham Ma slope has become an attractive route for motorbike drivers who are passionate about challenges and adventures. On the steep road, drivers will be greeted by buckwheat flowers blooming under the rocky mountains, along with majestic and poetic scenery on both sides of the pass. This is also the ideal place to preserve beautiful moments during the journey to conquer the northernmost point of Vietnam.

5.6 Pho Bang Town

If you want to clearly feel the rustic life in the mountains, Pho Bang town is the destination for tourists. Stepping into this place, you will feel like you have returned to the past with simple mud-walled houses, tiled roofs, children playing in the yard, old men sitting and chewing betel, and girls weaving in front of the house.

To learn more about the culture here, you can participate in the Lui market, which takes place every 6 days. This market is not only a place to shop and exchange goods but also an opportunity to meet and chat with local people.

5.7 Film set of “Pao’s Story”

One of the famous destinations for tourists to visit in Dong Van is the filming site of the famous Vietnamese movie “Pao’s House“. This is an ancient house, built in 1947, with the traditional architecture of the H’Mong people in the rocky plateau.

The two-story house is built mainly from soil, wooden columns, and tile roof. This used to be the residence of Mr. Mua Sua Pao, who held the position of Lieutenant Commander of King Meo’s Army before the August Revolution of 1945. On the wall of the house, you can see many pictures of Pao and scenes from the movie. It was filmed here. This house is still the living place of Mr. Mua Sua Pao’s descendants and is an interesting place to visit when traveling to Dong Van.

5.8 Vuong family mansion

The Vuong Family Mansion, also known as the King Meo Mansion, is located in Sa Phin valley, Dong Van. Located in the middle of a mountainous landscape, the over hundred year old Cat King Mansion is a beautiful and majestic architectural work. With an architectural style combining H’Mong culture and French architectural style, this mansion has 64 rooms and a series of vertical and horizontal houses. The entire building is built of blue stone, terracotta tile roofs and pine wood.

The Vuong Family Mansion is not only a valuable historical and cultural destination but also a favorite “virtual living” location for tourists. Exploring this mansion will help you understand more about the history of Meo King Vuong Chinh Duc and enjoy the beauty of unique architecture in the Dong Van mountains.

5.9 Lung Cu flagpole

Lung Cu flagpole, a sacred symbol of Vietnamese sovereignty, is one of the famous destinations in Dong Van that tourists should visit once. The Lung Cu flagpole today is 35m high, with a 54 square meter flag, symbolizing the 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam.

Visitors coming here can not only admire the sacred flagpole, but can also learn about the nation’s history. The journey to climb the flagpole through 279 steps is also an opportunity for visitors to enjoy the wonderful scenery of Lung Cu, and feel the harmony between people and nature in this majestic frontier region.

5.10 Lung Cam Cultural Village

A cultural village of the H’Mong people, located about 25 km southwest of Dong Van town center. Lung Cam Cultural Village has bold cultural features of the H’Mong people, with walled houses, traditional costumes,…

The village is built on a gentle hillside, with walled houses (mainly made of thick clay) built in the traditional architectural style of the H’Mong people. The people living here are mainly H’Mong ethnic people, living by farming and animal husbandry.

They have their own customs and traditions, imbued with the culture of their nation. Lung Cam Cultural Village is an attractive tourist destination, visitors coming here will experience cultural activities and immerse themselves in the lives of indigenous people here.

5.11 Sung La buckwheat flower field

When going from Dong Van to the rocky plateau, you will come across a village with picturesque buckwheat flower fields. That is Sung La village and commune, an ideal place to see the panoramic view of the village’s “picture” which is Pho Bang junction, where the beautiful pass embraces a green valley.

Looking down from the road halfway up the sky, Sung La appears amid undulating rocky mountains along with sturdy houses whose roofs have faded over time.

In addition, this place also has buckwheat flower fields, canola flowers on high hills and rose valleys. Promising to be an ideal virtual living location to take amazing photos in Ha Giang. The young green color of corn and rice complements the lilac purple color of buckwheat flowers and the yellow color of the sun. Everything seems to create an extremely peaceful and beautiful harmonious picture of nature, leaving visitors with a lot of love and nostalgia.

5.12 Ethnic Minority Villages:

Visit nearby ethnic minority villages, such as Lung Cu, Lao Va Chai, or Pho Bang, to experience the local way of life and learn about their customs, traditions, and handicrafts. Engage with the friendly locals and gain insights into their unique cultures.

5.13 Hiking And Trekking:

Dong Van offers excellent opportunities for hiking and trekking enthusiasts. Explore the picturesque countryside, traverse terraced fields, and enjoy the pristine beauty of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Don’t miss the chance to hike to the peak of Ma Pi Leng for breathtaking panoramic views.

5.14 Traditional Festivals:

If you’re fortunate to visit during traditional festivals, such as the Khau Vai Love Market or the Buckwheat Flower Festival, you can witness colorful celebrations, cultural performances, and traditional rituals that showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage.

5.15 Pho Co Coffee

Coming to the ancient Dong Van spectrum, it is difficult to cross the old town without sipping a bit of coffee in the highlands, it is worth a visit. It is also one of the few ancient houses currently retaining the ancient beauty and “original” as before.

These are just a few highlights of the activities and attractions you can enjoy around Dong Van. Plan your visit accordingly, immerse yourself in the local culture, and savor the natural beauty and cultural diversity of this remarkable region. It’s exactly truly Ha Giang memorable trip.

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6. Specialties when traveling to Dong Van

When traveling to Dong Van, visitors not only admire the wild and breathtaking natural landscape but also have the opportunity to enjoy the specialties of this beautiful land.

6.1 Thang Co

This is a unique and attractive specialty that you must try. Thang Co has the aroma of cardamom, doi seeds and lemongrass. This traditional dish is cooked from meat and bones of buffaloes, cows, and horses combined with spices such as cardamom, anise, cinnamon,…

The delicious taste of Thang Co is the greasy taste of the meat and the irresistible rich sauce. In the cold weather, there is nothing better than eating a hot bowl of Thang Co.

6.2 Smoked buffalo meat

Smoked buffalo meat is very familiar to the people of the mountains and forests of Northwest Vietnam, especially the Black Thai people. This meat dish is made from buffalo corn, domestically raised cows and free range in the Northwest mountains. The unique and unmistakable flavor of kitchen buffalo meat is the perfect blend of buffalo meat, kitchen smoke, mac khen and forest leaves.

6.3 Dong Van rice rolls (Banh cuon)

Banh cuon here is an attractive breakfast dish. The cake is made from rice flour, coated with a thin, soft layer. The filling has meat and wood ear mushrooms. Banh cuon here is not eaten with fish sauce and is served with a rich broth simmered with pork bones. An extremely strange and unique way to enjoy banh cuon, bringing an unforgettable taste experience to the enjoyer.

6.4 Au Tau Porridge

Au Tau porridge is a special dish that only Ha Giang has. The porridge is cooked from au tau root so it has a rich, fatty and slightly bitter taste. The bitter taste is overwhelmed by the sweetness of bone broth and fragrant eggs. Au Tau porridge is also very good for health, nourishes bones and joints and helps sleep better.

6.5 Bac Me Lam Rice (Bamboo tube rice)

This is a simple dish of Ha Giang people but is very popular with tourists. The rice is made with sticky rice, the scent mixed with the scent of dong leaves and grilled banana leaves. People here will eat bamboo-tube rice with peanut salt, sesame salt or grilled stream fish.

6.6 Stone moss

Stone moss is a very special dish of the Tay people. The name itself says that the main ingredient of the dish is moss. Moss grows on rocks, deep in the cool stream. People will take moss and process it into many dishes such as moss soup, grilled moss or moss salad,…

6.7 Thang Den

Thang Den is a delicious sweet dish. The dish has a sweet taste from sugar, fragrant coconut, creamy peanuts and sesame. Amid the biting cold of the Northwest mountains and forests, the sweet and warm taste of Thang Den will dispel the cold, warm our stomachs and warm our hearts.

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7. Accommodation when traveling to Dong Van

When traveling to Dong Van, visitors can refer to some of the accommodation facilities below.

7.1 Hotels:

  • Hoang Ngoc Hotel. Address: Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.
  • Lam Tung Hotel. Address: Group 3, Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.
  • Dai Lam Hotel. Address: 115 Tran Phu Street, Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.
  • Huyen Tuyen Hotel. Address: Group 1, Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.
  • Tam Giac Mach Hotel. Address: Group 7, Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.

7.2 Guesthouses:

  • Binh Minh Hostel. Address: Group 2, Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.
  • Ancient Town Guesthouse. Address: No. 29 Group 3, Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.
  • Huyen Tram Guesthouse. Address: Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.
  • Dong Van B&B Guesthouse. Address: Lane 2, 19/5 Street, Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.
  • Ly Hoan Guesthouse. Address: Group 3, Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.

7.3 Homestays:

  • Dinh Thuan Homestay. Address: Sung La, Dong Van, Ha Giang.
  • Homestay Hai An. Address: Group 1, Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.
  • Phuong Vy Homestay. Address: Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.
  • Lam Giang Homestay Dong Van. Address: Tran Phu, Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.
  • Hao Quang Homestay. Address: Group 5, Dong Van Town, Dong Van, Ha Giang.

Thang Co

8. Some important notes when traveling to Dong Van

  • Identification documents: This is an indispensable item for any outing, that is, bring identification documents.
  • Cash: in Ha Giang, cash is an inseparable item. It’s very difficult to find an ATM, a QR code or a transfer request. Therefore, all purchases and sales in Ha Giang are in cash.
  • Clothing: appropriate clothing will help you have a more complete experience. If you go to Ha Giang in the summer, you need to bring short clothes with good sweat-absorbing material. If you go in winter, you need to bring warm, thick clothes. Hats, hats, scarves to protect health, avoid sunlight, and avoid dust.
  • Personal medical equipment: some medicines such as pain relievers, headache medicine, personal bandages, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, etc.
  • Some technological devices: cameras, phones, backup chargers,…
  • A few snacks: Some snacks such as: dry food, snacks, chocolate,… and bottled water, will help you maintain energy throughout the trip.

Traveling to Dong Van tour in Ha Giang is not only a journey to wild and majestic nature. But also an experience connecting with the diverse culture and people of the northernmost region of Vietnam.

Origin Vietnam – a professional tour operator, is pleased to share with tourists useful and necessary information not only for the trip to Dong Van but also to accompany every step of your journey of discovery to Ha Giang.

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