Dong Van is the northern district in Ha Giang province.
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.
From Ha Giang city, you can get in Dong Van in 3 ways: by motorbike, by car or by public bus.
• 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.
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 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 …
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.
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.
Some cheap hostels/motels:
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 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.