What to know about Ha Giang, Vietnam

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Ha Giang is a province in northeastern Vietnam, bordering Cao Bang province in the east, Yen Bai and Lao Cai province in the west and Tuyen Quang in the south. Northern Ha Giang province share the border with China (border length 274 kilometers)

The topography of Ha Giang province is complex; it can be divided into three regions: upland mountain in the north, valley and rivers. Its climate is moderate, divided into 2 seasons: rainy and dry seasons. Western upland of massif upstream of Chay River, steep slopes, narrow valleys and streams, which was divided into two seasons: rainy and dry seasons. Lowland in the province includes hills, Lo River and Ha Giang town. The average temperature is about 240C-280C, in the winter, temperature can go down to -50C.

According to census on April 1st 2009 Ha Giang population is 724.537 people in which H’Mong accounts for 32% total population, Tay (23.3%), Dao (15.1%), Viet (13.3%) and Nung (9.9%)

Ha Giang has many mountains such as Tay Con Linh with 2.419 meters height, there has many old growth forests, many precious wood, and 1.000 kinds of rare herbs. The animal includes tiger, hemorrhoids, phoenix, pangolin… and hundreds of other birds. Ha Giang has poetic and grandeur upland: Dong Van, Khau Vai love market which attracts a numbers of tourists. Coming to Ha Giang, tourists have opportunity to access the unique culture and traditional products such as: bags, dresses with brilliant pattern. Moreover, tourists can enjoy the fair of uplands and explore exciting experience.

The newly-built house ceremony of the Lo Lo is a highlight of Ha Giang. It lasts about 2 days 2 nights at the new home of the Lo Lo. All people in village pull to celebrate the new house. Spring festival is the festival of H’Mong and Dao, it usually held on the day after lunar New Year and lasts from 3 to 7 days. The festivals include crossbow, throwing pa pao’, and drinking wine… .

In brief, Ha Giang has many unique traditional heritages of more than 20 ethnic, a memorable destination by the natural landscape.


Hanoi – Ha Giang: 318 kilometers

a, Motorbike

b, Bus

Price ticket: 160.000vnd-180.000vnd

Time: 3:00am-5:30 am

From Hanoi to Ha Giang, you must pass more than 300 kilometers to the town then turn up 4C province deeply in the remote of arctic land.

Best time to come to Ha Giang is in November when the rice is in the harvest, flower blooms in the field and the rainy season is over.

What to see

Dong Van karst plateau

Dong Van karst plateau has an area of 2.350 square kilometers, spreads over four districts of Ha Giang province: Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van and Meo Vac at an average height of 1.400 – 1.600 meters with a number of beautiful limestone and winding road. Here, scientists have found 33 tectonics heritages, 45 geomorphology heritages and many unique fossils in sedimentary rock, which creates opportunities for the tourist attraction, brings income for indigenous people.

From Ha Giang town, along 4C Highway about 50 kilometers, tourists step into Quan Ba districts with spectacular and grandeur mountain scenery. In the journey to the rocky plateau, visitors can enjoy the beauty of Can Ty Pass. Dong Van karst plateau has 80% limestone, is one of the most distinctive karst in Vietnam with black and majestic boulders. The shapes of boulders are created by environmental conditions and different stages of development. Here, the whole scene is rocks with various shapes such as petals, flowers, flower branch (Khau vai rock garden, Veo Vac District) or the shape of tiger (Lung Cu rock garden). Van Chai rock garden has green grass that creates the majestic and grandeur beauty for landscape.

Besides the geological value, Dong Van karst plateau also attracts tourists by the unique cultural and spiritual values associated with the ethnic Mong, Dao, Lo Lo… living on the plateau. They picked up stones to build house, walls. They carved stone to grow corn. They renovated the mountainside into a vast of rice. The beauty and grandeur of Dong Van plateau comes from not only the huge natural boulders but also the fair of the H’mong, Dao, Lo Lo… In the morning, ethnic people from neighbor districts come to fair with colorful costumes.

From the geological unique, in the end of 2010, Dong Van karst plateau was recognized as the first geological park of Vietnam and Geoparks of the world. Dong Van karst plateau is one of the special limestone mountain, including the marks of the history of the earth’s crust process and tradition of indigenous communities.

Dong Van karst plateau has all elements convergence to become global Geoparks. Rocky plateau also has national relic such as: mansion of Vuong family, Lung Cu flag pole, Dong Van ancient, Ma Li Peng pass, Quan Ba Twin Mountain…

Lung Cu

Lung Cu belongs to Dong Van district, Ha Giang. It is far about 200 kilometer from Ha Giang town. Here, visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy fresh air, learn more about cultural traditional of a unique ethnic. Along highway 4C, tourists will arrive in Dong Van commune, Dong Van District. From here, continuing follow the paved road linking the Lung Cu commune-Dong Van about 40 kilometers, visitors will come to the top of Lung Cu.

From a distance, Lung Cu is so beautiful. This land has third-fours stone, the national flagpole like Hanoi flagpole. When approached, the beauty will become more vivid. The flagpole is situated in Dragon Mountain, at the foot of the pole; it is carved reliefs with a clear pattern of Dong Son bronze drum. If tourists contemplate carefully, tourists will explore in the middle of Dragon Mountain has a large grotto, people here called “Si Ma Khan” grotto.

Lung Cu has a total area of 3460 hectares with 9 villages, there are: Lo Lo Chai, Seo Lung, Ta Gia Khau, Can Tang, Then Van, Then Pa, Si Man Khan, San Cho, San Sa Phin and borders with China more than 16 kilometers. Here, in the winter, it is very cold and has snow. Among 9 villages, Lung Cu Thi Seo Lung village located in uppermost land with Then Phan  valley on the left and Nho Que River on the right.

Ethnic people in Lung Cu mainly cultivate. The H’Mong and Lo Lo still preserve the traditional weaving. Specially, Lung Cu also reserves historical artifacts, precious cultural artifacts of the reign of Hung Vuong. According to historical records, on the Tay Son dynasty, Emperor Quang Trung putted in place a large drum and the position of the drum is Lung Cu. Therefore, the Lo Lo in Lung Cu is proficient in using bronze drum.

Moreover, this place has Shan tea, honey wine, corn wine, peach blossom, white snow and thang co in each fair…along with the traditional cultural characteristics of ethnic people such as: H’Mong, Lo Lo, Giay… Lung Cu has fascinating in its beauty to attract many tourists. Indeed, if tourists have a chance to come here in the spring, visitors will be enjoyed the fresh air, the sound of love melody of the H’Mong.

Nho Que River

Nho Que River flows from the area of Nghiem Son Mountain that is 1500 meters height. This river is not too long, about 46 kilometers, in which the upper area accounts for more than 5 kilometers is the border of two countries Vietnam – China, the rest part flows through Ha Giang and Cao Bang province.

Thanks to the advantage of upper area with quite slope, strong flow through ruggered rock, it creates waterfall in the middle of the valley. Nho Que River flows through the Tu San canyon and Ma Pi Leng Pass of Meo Vac district, it is far about 15kilometers from Lung Cu.

Trails from Dong Van to the Tu San western ravine are very deserted and winding. With narrow path, a lot of ruggered rock, it makes people scare when contemplating abyss. However, visitors can enjoy red bombax throughout the rice terraces in the mountainside, back pass and the image of Nho Que River.

The catchment has an area of 6052 km ² (2010 km² in Vietnam). Nho Que is a major tributary on the right bank of the Nhiem River. This is the river brings economic value to locals: serving plentiful water to agricultural activities in the dry season.

It is also a beautiful destination for tourists. Standing on Ma Pi leng mount, tourists can contemplate a river like a silky fillet looming in fog which brings tourists a pleasant sensation of a naturally romantic masterpiece. The river is concerned as the mysterious of nature.

Quan Ba Twin mountain

Twin Mountain is located along Highway 4C, it is far about 40 kilometers from Ha Giang town, belongs to Quan Ba district, Ha Giang province. From a distance, Quan Ba Twin Mountain looks like two cherries as an art of nature. The mountain associates with a touching legend.

Visitors have the opportunity to admire the art of the nature give to this land. Between the mountain and rice terraces, there have mountains with strange shape that make visitors surprise by the spectacular beauty of the nature. Two mountains associated with the legend “Co Tien Mountain” very interesting.

It is said that, in this area, there has a handsome H’Mong and have talent blowing “dan moi”. Sound of “dan moi” flies and flies away forever. There has a fairy in heaven with name “Hoa Dao”, she hears the sound of “dan moi” and tries to find the way to come the earth. And she falls in love with him. He became the husband of the fairy.

Ngoc Hoang found Hoa Dao fly to the earth, which makes him angry. She begged to have custody of baby boy but could not do it. So that she had left her breast to her son. Later, her breast turned into twin mountain of Co Tien Mountain. According to the legend, the milk from her breast creates the cool climate, fruits and vegetable has delicious flavors. Tears of her turned into Mien River, embracing the silvers of land behind the legendary gate.

Quan Ba Twin Mountain is a beautiful symbols of the Dong Van highland, which is the crystalline beauty of nature and tectonic. With this value, the mountain is recognized the national scenic spot by the Ministry of Culture Sport and tourism Vietnam. This is also a pride point to Dong Van highland is more attractive to tourists. The number of tourists to Ha Giang cannot help admiring the spectacular beauty of the mountains, the unique gift which heaven bless for Ha Giang.

What to do

Ha Giang Spring Festival

Vietnam is famous for its historic and cultural traditions. There are plenty of occasions to celebrate major events throughout the year. During the first three months of the lunar year, a lot of festivals take place across the country.

Vietnam has more than 60 ethnic minorities, each with its own dialects, costumes, and cultures, living scattered over the country for centuries.

Despite such differences these groups have something in common to share and enjoy. Like many other Asian countries, every year starts with the cultivation of a new crop of wet rice – the main source of food in Vietnam – which is celebrated in the form of religious rituals by ethnic groups to express their gratitude and respect to the gods.

The Dao in Ha Giang province regularly holds a spring festival on Lunar New Year’s Day to pray for good weather and a bumper crop. The Long Tong (Going to the Field) festival of the Thai ethnic minority, which takes place in Tuyen Quang, Lao Cai, and Bac Kan provinces, is a unique event to worship the gods and also bring people in the community together to feast and play games.

At the festival, 4 youths were dressed from four positions to the festival. On the festival tray is boiled chicken, square cake, honey rice cake… The sorcerer read heaven praying for good weather, good harvests… Pray for prosperous life, peaceful and eliminate the old customs.

Ha Giang Fire Dancing Festival

Pa Then ethnic has over 5.000 people living mainly in two districts: Bac Quang and Chiem Hoa. There still remain many festivals and customs from the past, in which fire dance is the most unique and mysterious.

The festival is considered as the new rice festival of the Pa Then. Fire dance fest starts in mid-October lunar calendar and lasts through New Year. To start the fire festival, it must have a sorcerer do liturgy.  The rite includes incense, a chicken, 10 cups of wine, paper money. A big fire was burned and the sorcerer begins the rite.

The time of liturgy lasts 1-2 hours before starting fire dance festival. When sorcerer beats the guitar, each youth will sit facing with sorcerer. It is the time for dancing fire. After that, he jumped into the fire without fear or sensation. Each people jumps into the fire for 3-4 minutes, then break up. One people can join the dance several times, thus showing the strength and agility of them. Fire dance is only for men and these guys always get the admiration, respect of everyone.

If visitors want to feel the mystery and sacred festival, you can join the fire dance of the Pa Then.  This is a unique festival and it is considered as the new rice festival, starts in mid-October and lasts the Lunar New Year.

Currently, in the village of Pa Then, fire dance festival still preserved intact, regularly held on the occasion of New Year, it is one of the focal point of tourists when they want to explore unique culture of Pa Then ethnic in particular and the northern ethnic in general.

Ha Giang Praying for Rain Festival

Praying for rain festival of the Lo Lo is common religious in agriculture. On the festival occasions, almost all activities of the Lo Lo are aimed at praying for rain. They wish the rain down to the Meo Vac field and they pray for a prosperous forever.

Every March, when the climate is dry and trees lack water, Lo Lo ethnic people in Meo Vac, Ha Giang Province often held a praying for rain festival. With typical rituals, the festival, handed down from generation to generation, is also an opportunity to meet one another.

The praying for rain festival is often held on the 15th, 17th, 19th of the 3rd lunar month. It is only organized when the weather is harsh or drought appears. Previously, rich people in villages used to pay for the cost of the festival but nowadays each villager contributes an item to the festival. Objects include a chicken, a dog or a kilogram of rice is taken to the house of a sorcerer or village chief. To have a successful praying for rain festival, the first procedure that cannot be avoided is to organize a ceremony to ask ancestral sorcerers for aid.

The procedure is quite easy, including a cup of water, incense and bamboo paper (a kind of papers that is used for sacrifices of the Lo Lo people). First of all, the sorcerer burns incense at the family ancestor’s altar and then, the cup of water and the paper are placed at a house corner. After that, the sorcerer starts worshipping. He covers the water cup with the bamboo paper; if the water in the cup is not absorbed or poured out of the cup, “permission is granted” and then, the praying for rain festival will be successful. Finally, the sorcerer burns the bamboo paper and the procedure is completed.

The Lo Lo ethnic people believe that after organizing the festival within three to nine days, it will rain. The festival is divided into two parts: the ritual and the festival. The ritual is made with the participation of villagers. Live objects such as dogs and chicken will be taken to the praying place and worshiped twice. After being used for worshiping for the first time, village’s boys will slaughter them and use the meat for worshiping again.

When the worship finishes, villagers drink the alcohol, eat the meat and dance. Beautiful Lo Lo girls dance in their traditional costumes weaved with colorful patterns.

The rain praying festival is a typical cultural activity bearing unique characteristics. The festival is an opportunity for villagers to pray for luck and show their faith in God.

Ha Giang Forest Festival

Although the Pu Peo is ethnic people in Ha Giang, they still preserved many liturgies and a folklore treasure. Along with other liturgies are held in the New Year, people prays dryad for the green of forest, security for people in the forest fest. Also, from this ceremony, the forest has the Pu Peo protected very well, especially, the sacred forest. They protect the forest in order to have water for farming and have wood for making house. Each year, on June 6th lunar calendar, people held this fest with the most solemn rites.

The fest takes place in the forbidden forest, the sorcerer faces in a big tree and bow in the ground in order to pray dryad for protecting their village. The Pu Peo always understands that preserving forest is keeping water.

All thing were displayed on the banana leaf forest, the altar was constructed of green bamboo with nearly 2 meters height, facing the mountain. The square glutinous rice pounded to a pulp to make cakes, sliced carefully. On each piece of rice is a small boiled egg. It the bottom of the altar, there has 2 chickens which are still alive. Around the altar is bottle wine and bowl. Besides, they have forced a female goat near the altar. The fest lasts several hours; sorcerer holds a fresh bamboo waving in all time of liturgy. Sometimes, he holds a dried gourd. The rite shows the respect of human divided into three stages. The first stage, chickens and goats still live, the second stage, the youngsters cut their neck and finally, people have meal in this place right. The families do not attend, they also were divided food.

During the day, with the jubilant atmosphere and the unity of ethnic groups in the village, the liturgy was implemented by the Pu Peo ethnic. The festival part is involved by whole people in the village. Having traditional sports such as: push sticks, tug, playing “ao”…attract a large number of ethnic groups. Besides, folk song programs will be presented by the Pu Peo ethnic.

Harmony with nature, respect and protect natural forest as friend become a common sense of Pu Peo community, shown in each family, village. Each sacred forest is protected by people. It not only brings physical value and spiritual value but also contributes to protect and develop environment.

What to eat

Ha Giang Stone Bryophyte

For many years, bryophyte is regarded as the aquatic without effects. However, ethnic people in Xuan Giang commune, Ha Giang province, bryophyte is considered as special food. The food is made from it called “que”. This is not only delicious dish but also good for health.

According to local people, when looking bryophyte, they usually choose the fresh and great bryophyte. Then, it is cleaned and then is processed into many dishes. The bryophyte exists in 7 days, when it grows up to 3-4 days people should pick up right away.

Good bryophyte is less and it can eat depend on season, so it is precious dish. Bryophyte can be processed into many dishes such as fried bryophyte, dried bryophyte but the most unique dish is bryophyte mixed with spices and then grilled.

When grill, people cannot turn it several times but grill one side then grill the other. Since bryophyte dish depends on season people often make dried bryophyte. Special customers are eaten the special dish: dried bryophyte. Grilled bryophyte not only is favorite food of ethnic people but also can cure many diseases, help blood circulation, detoxification, heat stability, blood stability and strengthening resistance.

Ha Giang Dried Buffalo

Dried buffalo is special food in the meals of Black Thai. This meat is usually made from muscle of buffaloes and cows freely on the northwest mountains. When making it, people cut meat into pieces with the grain then smoked by charcoal from the mountains. With the dried buffalo, the flavor of smoke is almost intact. The processing techniques are traditional secret but products are quite homogeneous. People use some spices such as pepper, ginger, especially “mac khen”- a type of forest pepper of Northwest upland ethnic minorities.

You can contemplate the spices in each meat. Dried meat still retains the flavor characteristics, especially, the sweetness of the meat. When people often shred with the grain, it can eat immediately or use with corn wine. This dish is made completely natural, so it can reserve about 1 month.

Today, cultural exchange scale between ethnic people becomes more and more develop, dried buffalo not only is the dish of the Thai but also follows the guests to nationwide. Therefore, the method to enjoy this dish is different and depends on each place.

If the Thai often enjoys their special dish instead of eating foods, especially on the rain, floods or lack of food… but now, this dish can be served with hot pot or baking dish. However, the unique flavor of buffalo meat only intact when taken directly from the kitchen, still smell of smoke, spicy peppers, flavor of “khac men”

Ha Giang Au Tau Porridge

In Ha Giang, there have many unique dishes that visitors cannot forget. Bitter porridge or “au tau” porridge is special dish. Tourists can enjoy all flavors in a bowl of porridge: flavors of “au tau”, leaf spices… Bowl of “au tau” porridge looks very attractive by the harmony between rice, herbs, meat… Cooking “au tau” porridge is not simple. “Au tau” after washing in the water, it is stewed during 4 hours. Glutinous rice mixed with some rice then soak into stewed water of pig’s trotters and “au tau”. Add a little spice. The porridge has bitter taste so that people call bitter porridge.

Many people come to Ha Giang, if they have been enjoying once they will seek to eat again. “Au tau” porridge is not only the normal dish but also a tonic medicine to cure sick. Bitter porridge in Ha Giang has had all time in the year, but it sold only at night. In the winter, sitting in a warm space and enjoying the “au tau” porridge is exciting and suitable for people who love exploring new things.

Shan Tuyet Tea in Ha Giang

Ha Giang is one of the provinces has the oldest Shan tea area in the country. From the early 20th century, the French investigates tea in Ha Giang and take attention to the ancient highland tea. It is Shan tea with big leaves, many snow-white hair covered buds and have good quality. So that people called Shan tuyet.

In the natural forests of Ha Giang, Shan Tuyet tea grown mixed with other forest trees. In Ha Giang, Shan Tuyet tea located throughout most of the districts in which the ancient tea areas have 300-1000meters height. So far, some areas of province has highly specific for the an ecological tea such as: Lung Phin, Phin Ho, Tham Ve, Bo Duot,… that represents the oldest tea area of Vietnam. This is the local that produces the famous Shan Tuyet tea. The reputation of Shan Tuyet tea conquered not only the consumers but also the connoisseurs in enjoying tea.

The Shan Tuyet tea in Ha Giang can be divided into two main types, there are: small Shan tea leaves, tea in Lung Phin with typical characteristics as raspberry or candle shape. Raspberry shape tea has a small leaf tea is less than candle shape tea. In addition to the perennial tea, Ha Giang still grows tea in the lowland.

Where to eat

Minh Hieu Restaurant

Address: Nguyen Trai, Ha Giang

Tel: (84-19) 386 3558

Time: 9:00am-9:00pm

Payment: Cash

Coming to the restaurant, guests will feel comfortable when enjoying the delicious unique dishes. Along with the fresh air and enthusiastic staffs, we commit to serve you with professional style as well as thoughtful as possible.

We will be happy to serve you at the restaurants. Your presence of guests is the greatest praise for the restaurant, the service and essence of the cuisine of Vietnam.

Phuong Dong Hotel Restaurant

Address: Nguyen Trai, Ha Giang

Tel: 019. 3 866 015

Time: 6:00am-10:00pm

Payment: cash

Located in the center of Ha Giang province, Phuong Dong restaurant is the wonderful place for you to share your joy with family and friends along with the delicious dishes. In addition, the beauty of Phuong Dong restaurant has combination between modernity and tradition.

With the professional staffs, the restaurant will bring many delicious dishes for guests. All thing blends from the beautiful space to high quality dishes, guests will have unforgettable impression in here.

Phuong Dong Hotel Restaurant

Address: Nguyen Trai, Ha Giang

Tel: 019. 3 866 015

Time: 6:00am-10:00pm

Payment: cash

Located in the center of Ha Giang province, Phuong Dong restaurant is the wonderful place for you to share your joy with family and friends along with the delicious dishes. In addition, the beauty of Phuong Dong restaurant has combination between modernity and tradition.

With the professional staffs, the restaurant will bring many delicious dishes for guests. All thing blends from the beautiful space to high quality dishes, guests will have unforgettable impression in here.

Where to stay

Ha Giang accommodation

Truong Xuan Resort, Ha Giang
Telephone – +842193811102
Email – hagiangresort@gmail.com

Located on Highway 4 about 8 Kilometres from Ha Giang Town, Truong Xuan Resort features simple bungalows in a picturesque mountain setting overlook a river. It’s a good base for village walks too. It’s priced at less than US$50. Includes wifi.

Dong Van accommodation

Hoang Ngoc Hotel
Main street of Dong Van
Tel: +84219 3 856020
Email: hoangngochotel2@gmail.com
Free wifi
Under $20USD

Meo Vac accommodation

The main hotel in Meo Vac is the Hoa Cuong and it’s surprisingly good for its 1 star rating. It’s also only 100 metres from the market.

Hoa Cuong Hotel
Meo Vac town centre
(+84) 2193 871 888
Under US$20

Ha Giang Travel Tips

1. Exchange money: You can exchange currency at the hotel where you live or go to Bank of Ha Giang

2. Internet: Free internet at the hotel

3. Hospital

Ha Giang Hospital
Address: Tran Phu, Ha Giang
Tel: 019.3866299

Hospital of lung and tuberculosis
Address: Minh Khai, Ha Giang

Hospital of Quan Ba
Address: Quan Ba, Hang Giang

Hospital of Ha Giang commune
Address: Minh Khai, Ha Giang

Hospital of Yen Minh
Address: Yen Minh, Ha Giang
Tel: 019.3852016

Hospital of Bac Me
Address: Bac Me, Ha Giang
Tel: 019.3841494


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