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Dong Van

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Dong Van

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Dong Van is the northern district in Ha Giang province.

Dong Van Road

Understand[edit]

Situated north of Ha Giang, near the Chinese-Vietnamese border, this plateau is covered by karst mountains. Dong Van is an ideal place for trekking and mountain climbing, where grandiose mountains may challenge your spirit for real. In return, breathtaking landscapes, meetings with local ethnic minorities and learn from their life’s stories are nowhere can be found in the world.

Get in[edit]

Exploring Ha Giang by motorbike

From Ha Giang city, you can get in Dong Van in 3 ways: by motorbike, by car or by public bus.

  • By motorbikes: You can rent a motorbike in Ha Giang with the price: 250,000VND/manual motorbike/day, 300,000VND/scooter/day. You need to pay oil and gas by your self. Exploring Vietnam on a motorbike is a great way to see the country. The freedom that you get with a motorbike is amazing, being able to go off and explore anything you want whenever you want is just the best.
  • By car: renting a private car if you go with a gang. Price around 2 ~ 3 million VND/day for a car (depending on how big the car is).
  • By public bus: There are only 24-seats public buses from Ha Giang station to Dong Van such as: A Sinh Bus, Cau Me Bus, Hung Hoa Bus. Fee: 100,000VND/pax. The buses not stop at beautiful and famous places.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

Buckwheat flower in Hagiang

Hmong King Palace: located in Xa Phin Village of Dong Van District, which is around 24km away from the district’s centre. With an area of 1120 m2, this edifice was built in the early twentieth century in the form of the letter 王 (meaning "king" in English). This is not only a historical relic but also a fabulous architectural landmark of local ethnic groups. This edifice is also a destination always interested many visitors.

Lung Cu Flag Tower: Built on the top of Dragon mountain, in the district of Dong Van and modeled on the flag tower of Hanoi. Plug in the 12.9m flagstaff is a national flag with an area of 54m², representing for 54 ethnic groups of Viet Nam. At the foot tower, there is a commemorative house, where displays production tools, costumes and cultural products of the ethnic groups in Ha Giang. The staircase that leads to the summit has 389 stone steps but to reach the top of the tower, you must also climb a spiral iron staircase of 140 steps.

Dong Van Old Town: located in the middle of valley surrounded by rocks. The quarter is formed form the early 20th century, only has a few families of the H’mong, Tay and Chinese, gradually, more and more other local residents find it. The oldest house is the house of Luong family built since 1860. The common architecture here is the two-story house and yin and yang roofs. The lifestyle and daily life of ethnic people such as: Kinh, Tay, Mong, Hoa... is very impressive.

Pho Bang Village: peaceful and calm town, which is 30km from Dong Van Town, Pho Bang Village is the home of Hoa and Mong ethnicities. The houses here embrace the traditional architecture. They have wooden columns and mud walls.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • The Dong Van market is held every Sunday. On sale are local products made by Mong, Han, Dao, Giay and Tay ethnic people. To reach the market on time they have to leave their homes very early in the morning or even one day earlier. In there, both single and married people in different ethnic groups can come to find ones’ ideal life-partner and sharing their feeling and understanding to each other.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Hmong women selling corn wine
  • Corn Wine: Corn wine in Hagiang is cooked from the unique material which is planted in the terraced field of Hmong people – corn. Corn is fermented by a special ferment made from the more than 30 different leaves and herbs in the forest. This is traditional fermented method so you will feel the sweet and scent of corn. The corn wine are always be served together with other traditional food such as: Thang Co, Pho, Steamed Rice Flour (Banh Cuon) in daily meals or in special occasions such as meeting friends, weddings or funerals. You can taste corn wine for free and buy in every local market.
  • Buckwheat cakes or candies
  • Hmong clothes
  • Mint Honey: Mint honey is a special honey, only in Dong Van karst plateau global geopark. This kind of honey has delicate taste of mint, much more light sweetness than other honey.
  • Local agricultural products

Eat[edit][add listing]

Men men - The steamed corn flour of Hmong people
  • Thang Co

Thang Co is commonly known as special food, tradition dish of Mong ethnic people in Ha Giang high - land region and other North Pole region. Nowadays, Thang Co is a delicious and familiar dish of high - land people. When lowland people are proud of pho, high - land people pride on Thang Co. The colder it is, the more delicious Thang Co is. Thang Co is processed from many parts of a horse, including head, legs, types of meat, intestine and other specific ingredients. Thang Co is usually eaten with men men (special corn of Mong people), baked corn cake … According to Han - Vietnamese meaning, “thang” means soup, “co” means pan, Thang Co means a pan of soup. This is a typical dish of high-land community. In the past, Thang Co was only made of horse meat because of its deliciousness. However, at present, Thang Co can be processed by other cattle meat like buffalo, cow, goat. Therefore, its name “Thang Co” is usually followed by specific cattle such as buffalo Thang Co, cow Thang Co, goat Thang Co. Thang Co is not only tasty but also showing the community’s cleverness, gastronomy and cultural beauty.

  • Men men (special local corn):

Men men is made of non - glutinous corn. To cook men men, each Mong family has to steam men men from early morning for the whole day. Processing men men requires much time with steps: split, grind corn into flour and sift to remove corn skin. To cook men men, it is required 2 times of steaming. In the first steaming, corn flour absorbs water to keep the flour non - glutinous. After that, the flour is left to get cold before the second steaming. To eat men men, they use a wooden ladle to scoop it into a bowl and eat with a soup, which is usually pumpkin soup or mustard greens soup… Men men is an indispensible dish of Mong people in Northern high - land Dong Van, especially in their Tet holiday, wedding or funeral …

  • Steamed rice rolls mixed with egg

Dong Van has extremely cold climate. This is why the local people prefer to eat hot food and Steamed egg rolls is one of them. As its name refers, this dish is made from egg mix with rice flour which is well steamed and rolled up. Steamed egg roll is also eaten with the pork bone based sauce which suprisingly enhances the flavor of the dish. You just have to pick up a piece of thin egg roll that looms the red of soft-boiled inside with chopsticks and dip it into the dipping sauce to enjoy. You can also pick the leaves off the herbs and add them to the dipping sauce, grabbing a leaf or two as you dip, or you can follow each bite with a chaser of herbs.

Restaurants[edit]

  • Green Karst Restaurant & Bar ☎ +84 096 809 8619/ +84 097 241 9619 ([email protected]) Prices from 30,000VND to 155,000VND

This restaurant is a bit of hidden secret because it's on the road that leads to the local market. It's owned by a super friendly Vietnamese couple, both of whom speak great English. There's a good selection of Western and Vietnamese dishes. Definitely get an order of the sweet potato fries if you're there for lunch or dinner. There's a good breakfast selection too.

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Corn wine
  • Buckwheat wine

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Lam Tung Hotel, Dong Van Town, Ha Giang, +84 219 3856 789/ +84 965062062 (). Price from $17 to $22.  edit.
View from Ma Le Homestay balcony

Some cheap hostels/motels:

  • Hai Hien Motel
  • Ma Le Homestay, Ma Le Village, +841662829946 (). http://www.facebook.com/homestaymale/ The Ancient Vilage of Ma Le is located in Dong Van district, Ha Giang province. 13 km drive from Dong Van town, Ma Le sits on the way to The National Monument Flagpole of Lung Cu and that makes the "Ancient Vilage" an interesting and unmissable destination. The homestay in is an original 250 year old building, with views of the mountains. Guests share traditional meals with the village people, and the friendly staff speak english. 40,000 vnd per person.  edit


Getting Permits[edit]

The Ha Giang Immigration Office

In order to travel past Ha Giang you need to acquire a “Permit To Enter The Border Area”. You can get a permit in the Ha Giang Immigration Office or ask the receptionists in hotels.

  • The Ha Giang Immigration Office is located at 415a, Tran Phu. Heading north, it is just before Nguyen Thai Hoc merges with Tran Phu, across the road from the cinema. The opening hours are reportedly everyday (Vietnamese holidays excluded) morning 7.30am to 11.30am, afternoon 1.30PM to 5PM. However don’t bet on these times being set in concrete. Best to arrive in the morning or early afternoon and not leave anything too late.

The process to get your permit in Ha Giang is super easy. First you walk into the immigration office and approach the window. If you are a Westerner, the officers will know straight away that you are there to purchase a permit for the North. You need to hand over your original passport. If you don’t have this with you, give them a photocopy of your picture page and visa of your passport, along with a letter stating that your passport is in Hanoi receiving a visa extension (or any other legitimate excuse as to why you don’t have it with you). If you have a motorcycle with you, they will need your registration plate number to put on your permit. They then fill out the permit card for you. The cost for the permit is 210000 VND, or about US$10. Hand the money over, and they will give you back your passport and your new shiny permit.

  • You can get the permit when you ask the receptionist in any hotels or guesthouses in Dong Van, Meo Vac. And they usually charge you 300,000 VND/1 permit.

Get out[edit]