Ha Giang Province

Introducing Ha Giang Province

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HA GIANG is the capital of the north’s most remote and least-visited province, where Vietnam’s border juts into China and almost reaches the Tropic of Cancer. Until the early 1990s, this region was the scene of fierce fighting between Vietnam and China, and it is still considered a “sensitive area”, though its inhabitants nowadays are peaceful and welcoming. It is a sizeable town, and though its buildings are of no great architectural merit, its setting is very impressive, hemmed in by the imposing Mo Neo and Cam mountains. The ochre waters of the Lo River carve southward through the centre of town, and traffic is thick on the bridges that connect the west and east districts.

Ha Giang is a mountainous province in the North of Vietnam in which the Vietnam-China border extends more than 274km long. The province is also the source of Lo River flowing into Vietnam, contiguous to China to the north with international border gate Thanh Thuy. Southern of Ha Giang is Tuyen Quang; eastern is Cao Bang and Lao Cai to the West. Ha Giang is about 320km to the north of Hanoi, following Highway no. 2.

The town itself has a few attractions, but the main reason for coming is to head on to Meo Vac and Dong Van, both set in valleys surrounded by forbidding peaks and connected by a hair-raising road with spectacular views. The trip from Ha Giang to Dong Van, then on to Cao Bang via Bao Loc, is about 300km and takes at least two (more often three) full days of driving along narrow, bumpy roads, which may become impassable during the rainy season. This border area is home to several minority groups, including the White Hmong and the Lo Lo, the latter having only a few thousand members; most towns along the route, including Dong Van and Meo Vac, have a Sunday market attended by villagers from the surrounding valleys, where you might just be the only foreigner.

Ha Giang’s tourist attractions

Like Sapa, the most renowned attraction of Ha Giang are the many grandiose mountains. Although mountains here are not as high as Sapa’s mountains and seem not to be steep enough to challenge adventurous climbers, they stand out for extensive area of limestone with unique formation of peaky rocks.

The most famous rocky area of Ha Giang is Dong Van Karst Plateau Global Geopark, which is recognized by UNESCO as one of 77 geological parks in the world. Lung Cu hamlet lying inside Dong Van Rock Plateau is another indispensible destination as it marks the very northern tip of Vietnam by Lung Cu Flag Tower on Dragon Mountain.

Not only that, Ha Giang is a venue of fanciful natural caves such as Phuong Thien Cave, Chui Cave, Fairy Cave and Swallow Cave. Although all the caves offer wonderful scenery with fantastic shapes of stalactites, each one has its own story and traits. For example, legend says that fairies used to bath in Fairy Stream inside Fairy Cave which is the source of its name.

Ha Giang is also well-known for its magnificent forests in which there are more than 1,000 species of good woods, drug trees as well rare animals like tigers, peacock or pangolin.

Ha Giang's unique culture

This mountainous province’s residents consist mainly of ethnic minorities with a major of Hmong, Tày, Yao and Nùng ethnic groups. Thanks to this ethnical diversity, nowhere can one see more fusing traditions than Ha Giang. Each of the ethnic group has its unique custom in term of wedding, worship, festivals or funeral. To illustrate, a Hmong groom can only get married only if he can rob his wife but no one know about his action to be successful pass the trial.

Ha Giang, for tourist to see the most unique custom of the ethnic minorities, it is recommended to take a trekking tour or travel by motorbikes because there are many ethnic hamlets living separately from the mainstream society. Coming to these tribes, ones may see charms on their doors to expel demons and evil spirits. The locals are also very friendly who welcome strangers like honored guests and may treat you their special dish: Thang Co (horse meat hot-pot).

A unique spot only be seen in Ha Giang is “Khau Vai Love Market”. The market-day is held monthly only on the 26th and 27th of a Lunar Year. 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. Lunar New Year seem to be the best time to visit Ha Giang when ones can see a wide variety of traditional customs of ethnic minorities here, such as celebrating success, rain ritual, sons ritual, crossbow shooting competition, pan-pie performance or “Còn” Throwing competition.

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