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Discover the Unique Charm of Dong Van Market

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Explore the distinctive high-mountain Dong Van Market in Ha Giang, a cultural hub held only on Sundays. Discover local specialties, vibrant street food, traditional goods, and the unique architectural blend of Vietnamese-Chinese design. Plan your visit with Lily’s Travel to fully experience the market’s lively atmosphere and immerse yourself in the local culture.

How Dong Van Market is unique?

The high-mountain market is distinctive and different from other markets because it does not occur daily. Instead, it is held once a week, on Sundays. More importantly, the purpose of attending the market for ethnic minorities is very different from that of the Kinh people. While regular markets are primarily places for daily trade and exchange, the high-mountain market is not only a place to buy and sell goods but also a venue for gatherings, meetings, and cultural exchanges among the ethnic minorities in Ha Giang.

Dong Van market
Dong Van market

The entire market area is designed in a Vietnamese-Chinese architectural style, with a delicate blend of highland feng shui: a spacious and sturdy market situated in the heart of the Dong Van highland valley, creating an impressive highlight. Dong Van Market is formed with a magnificent U-shaped structure, featuring ancient stone architecture constructed between 1925 and 1928.

What to eat in Dong Van Market?

In addition, when visiting Dong Van Market, tourists can find and enjoy the specialties of the northwestern mountainous people. These specialties include Thắng Cố, buckwheat cakes, and corn wine.

1. Thắng Cố

The main ingredient for Thắng Cố is beef offal, not pork or horse meat as many people mistakenly believe. This is because horse meat is very rare and not always available. After cleaning and preparing the offal, it is seasoned with a touch of “the mountains” such as cardamom and star anise. Over 12 types of spices are combined, giving the Thắng Cố pot its distinctive aroma. The pot is simmered for about an hour and then placed over a fire. By this time, the Thắng Cố has softened and absorbed the flavors. People gather around the large pot, enjoying the dish and sipping on corn wine.

Thang Co
Thang Co

The aroma of cardamom, seeds, and lemongrass blends with the rich flavor of the meat, warming the space in the chilly weather. H’Mong men visiting Dong Van Market always look forward to having a bowl of Thắng Cố. Drinking a few cups of wine with friends is a delightful experience. It is believed that those who have many friends are offered more wine. Those who return from the market drunk are happy because it means they have many friends.

2. Corn Wine

Corn wine warms the highland markets and is a staple at the food stalls. There is no fuss, no words, just the clinking of glasses and hearty handshakes. The wine stalls are concentrated in a corner of the market, with 10-liter and 20-liter containers lined up. The sellers are mostly women. The wine is made from local corn combined with traditional yeast. The alcohol content averages around 25-30%. The wine sold directly at the market is measured by the cup and then poured into smaller or larger containers. Before purchasing, buyers can freely taste the wine and choose. Even those with low alcohol tolerance might get tipsy from tasting the wine from stall to stall.

3. Buckwheat Cake

Buckwheat cakes are very soft and spongy. When enjoyed slowly, you can feel the sweetness spreading in your mouth. The cake is not too moist like sweet flour but has a rich, slightly spicy flavor from the Dong Van rocky highland plants. The buckwheat seeds are harvested and dried, then ground into flour to make the cakes. The second ingredient is water, used to create the dough, but not much is needed. Just one bowl or a little more is enough. The final materials are ceramic or glass molds.

Buckwheat Cake Dong Van
Buckwheat Cake Dong Van

If you have the chance to visit Ha Giang, don’t forget to stop by Dong Van Market to enjoy a warm cup of corn wine in the early morning mist and immerse yourself in the vibrant, colorful activities of the local people. Be sure to read all the essential information before traveling to Ha Giang with Origin Vietnam. If you plan to visit Ha Giang, don’t hesitate to contact our professional team.

Things to find at Dong Van Market

Market Layout

Dong Van Market stretches over a spacious area, bustling with activity on Sunday mornings. As you walk from the town square in the Old Quarter, you’ll find the busy street leading to the market. The market comprises both an outdoor area and a smaller indoor section where you will discover a wide variety of goods and products sold by local vendors.

Fresh Produce

Within Dong Van Market, there is a section dedicated to selling fresh produce for daily needs. Here, you can find a wide selection of vegetables, fruits, and meats.

Street Food

The market also features street food stalls. If you enjoy a bit of adventure, you can relish a delicious breakfast amidst the vibrant atmosphere of the market. Sitting among the colorful ethnic groups, you will experience a unique moment as you enjoy meals cooked over open fires.

Goods and Merchandise

This expansive market offers a wide array of goods, primarily focusing on clothing. You will find a range of traditional ethnic attire along with other items such as phone chargers, SIM cards, toys, kitchenware, and tools for agricultural purposes. While it may not be the ideal place to find souvenirs, the market provides a fascinating and enjoyable experience as you watch locals engage in lively bargaining and browse through the available products.

Dong Van Market
Dong Van Market

Games and Haircuts

In a small corner of the market, you will find a lively area where various games are played. Many visitors gather here to watch others try their hand at these games and enjoy the energetic atmosphere. Additionally, there is a unique feature at the market—a barber offering haircuts right in the open air.

Livestock

Adjacent to the main market, you will find a bustling area dedicated to livestock. Here, you will encounter cows, buffaloes, pigs, ducks, chickens, and various other animals. For many visitors, this area is a highlight of the market as it provides a unique opportunity to witness the trading and bargaining of livestock. Some ethnic minority people can be seen proudly showcasing their animals, seemingly indifferent to whether they sell or not.

Readmore: Exploring the enchanting Nho Que river: A complete guide for visitors

Planning for Dong Van Market on your Ha Giang adventure

To fully experience Dong Van Market as part of your Ha Giang itinerary, careful planning is essential. Since the market only takes place on Sunday mornings, it is advisable to arrive in Dong Van on Saturday and stay overnight. This way, you can wake up early and immerse yourself in the vibrant market atmosphere the next day.

For a three-day Ha Giang loop itinerary, you can start your journey from Hanoi on Friday, taking either a day bus or a sleeper bus to Ha Giang City. On Saturday, begin your scenic journey from Ha Giang City to Dong Van, taking time to explore the spectacular landscapes along the way. Once you arrive in Dong Van or nearby, rest overnight to prepare for your visit to Dong Van Market on Sunday morning.

Tips for visiting Dong Van Market

  • Meo Vac Market – If your schedule allows, consider visiting Meo Vac Market instead of Dong Van Market. Also held on Sundays, this is the largest ethnic market in Ha Giang and offers a unique experience.
  • Morning Visit – To fully experience the bustling atmosphere of Dong Van Market, arrive early in the morning. The market is at its busiest at this time, and you can witness the lively trading and interaction among locals.
  • Leaving the Market – When you leave the market and continue your journey to the next destination along the loop, pay attention to the ethnic minority people returning to their villages from the market. It is common to see them walking along with their cows or buffaloes.
  • Other Attractions – There is plenty to experience around Dong Van, even if you don’t visit on a Sunday. The Old Quarter is a cozy and pleasant area. Dong Van is the starting point of Ma Pi Leng Pass, the most beautiful mountain pass in Vietnam. You can enjoy great hiking around Dong Van, and you can visit Lung Cu, the northernmost point of Vietnam.

Why choose Lily’s Travel for your Ha Giang adventure?

Lily's Travel
Lily’s Travel

When planning your unforgettable adventure to Ha Giang, choosing the right travel partner is crucial to ensuring a seamless and enriching experience. Here’s why Lily’s Travel should be your top choice for exploring this stunning region:

  1. Expert Knowledge and Local Insight At Lily’s Travel, we pride ourselves on our deep understanding and love for Ha Giang. Our team consists of experienced guides who are not only experts in the region’s geography but also deeply knowledgeable about its culture, history, and hidden gems. We take you beyond the typical tourist trails, offering authentic experiences and insights into the local way of life.
  2. Tailored Itineraries We understand that every traveler is unique, which is why we offer tailored itineraries that suit your preferences and interests. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast looking for thrilling hikes and scenic routes, a culture aficionado eager to explore ethnic markets and villages, or someone seeking a relaxing escape amidst nature, Lily’s Travel has the perfect plan for you.
  3. Hassle-Free Travel Traveling with Lily’s Travel means leaving all the logistics to us. From transportation and accommodation to meals and guided tours, we handle all the details so you can focus on enjoying your trip. Our well-organized schedules ensure you make the most of your time in Ha Giang without any stress or hassle.
  4. Authentic Local Experiences We are committed to providing authentic experiences that allow you to truly connect with the local culture. Our tours include visits to traditional markets like Dong Van and Meo Vac, interactions with ethnic minority communities, and opportunities to partake in local customs and traditions. We ensure that your journey is not just a visit but a meaningful exploration of Ha Giang’s rich cultural tapestry.
  5. Commitment to Sustainability At Lily’s Travel, we prioritize sustainable tourism practices. We work closely with local communities to ensure that our tours benefit the region economically and socially while minimizing environmental impact. By choosing us, you support responsible travel that preserves the beauty and integrity of Ha Giang for future generations.
  6. Exceptional Customer Service Your satisfaction is our top priority. From the moment you contact us to the end of your trip, our friendly and professional staff are dedicated to providing exceptional service. We are always available to address your questions, accommodate special requests, and ensure that your experience with us exceeds your expectations.
  7. Safety and Comfort We prioritize your safety and comfort throughout the journey. Our vehicles are well-maintained and driven by experienced professionals. We select accommodations that offer comfort and a genuine local ambiance, ensuring you rest well after each day’s adventures.
  8. Competitive Pricing We offer competitive pricing without compromising on the quality of our services. Our transparent pricing policy ensures that you receive the best value for your money, with no hidden costs or surprises.

Embark on Your Ha Giang Journey with Lily’s Travel

Ha Giang is a land of breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cultures, and unforgettable experiences. Let Lily’s Travel be your guide to uncovering the magic of this incredible region. Contact us today to start planning your dream trip, and let us take care of the rest. With Lily’s Travel, your Ha Giang adventure is in the best hands.

Dong Van Market offers a unique glimpse into the vibrant life of Ha Giang’s ethnic minorities, blending cultural exchange with traditional commerce. From savoring local specialties like Thắng Cố and buckwheat cakes to enjoying the lively atmosphere of street food and fresh produce, every corner of the market promises a rich and memorable experience. Plan your trip with Lily’s Travel to ensure a seamless and enriching journey, fully immersing yourself in the authentic charm of Dong Van. Let us guide you through this enchanting region, providing expert insights, tailored itineraries, and exceptional service. Embark on your Ha Giang adventure with Lily’s Travel and create unforgettable memories.

Readmore: Dong Van Town: Discover the hidden gem of northern Vietnam

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