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Dong Van Town: Discover the hidden gem of northern Vietnam

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Explore the enchanting Dong Van Town in Ha Giang, Vietnam, a destination known for its breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage. From historical sites to local delicacies, Dong Van offers a unique and authentic experience for every traveler. Plan your visit with Lily’s Travel and uncover the best things to do, see, and eat in this charming town.

Dong Van Town Introduction

In Ha Giang, Dong Van – or Dong Van Town, is a destination located in the highlands of northern Vietnam. This charming gem is nestled amidst the majestic Ha Giang province. With its spectacular landscapes and rich cultural heritage, Dong Van Town offers a unique and authentic experience for visitors seeking an escape from the ordinary.

Dong Van
Dong Van

Today’s article of Lily’s Travel introduces you to Dong Van Town – a beautiful spot in Ha Giang, Vietnam. Let’s explore the best travel guide to Dong Van and the must-do activities!

The old quarter of Dong Van lies within the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark. It is recognized as a UNESCO Global Geopark, known for its fascinating limestone formations, rocky landscapes, and diverse ethnic culture.

The history of Dong Van old town

Dong Van Old Town, nestled within the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark in Ha Giang province, is a place rich in history and cultural significance. Established over a century ago, this ancient town has long been a center of trade and cultural exchange among various ethnic groups, including the H’mong, Tay, and Hoa people.

The history of Dong Van Old Town dates back to the early 20th century when it became a bustling market town. The French colonial administration established it as an administrative center, which led to the construction of many of the town’s early buildings. These structures reflect a blend of French colonial and traditional Vietnamese architecture, characterized by narrow streets, tiled roofs, and earthen walls.

Dong Van Old Town has always been a cultural melting pot. Its market, held every Sunday, has been a vital hub for local ethnic communities to trade goods, socialize, and celebrate their cultural heritage. The town’s architecture and way of life have been heavily influenced by the various ethnic groups that inhabit the region. This blend of cultures is evident in the town’s traditional houses, local customs, and vibrant festivals.

The history of Dong Van old town
The history of Dong Van old town

In recent years, Dong Van Old Town has gained recognition for its historical and cultural value. Efforts have been made to preserve its unique architecture and cultural heritage. The town’s designation as part of the Dong Van Karst Plateau Global Geopark by UNESCO has further boosted its profile as a tourist destination. Visitors are drawn to the town’s timeless beauty, historical significance, and the opportunity to experience the authentic lifestyle of the local ethnic communities.

Today, Dong Van Old Town continues to thrive as a popular tourist destination. While it has embraced modernization to some extent, it still retains its historical charm and cultural authenticity. The town’s preservation efforts ensure that its rich history and cultural heritage are protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

In conclusion, the history of Dong Van Old Town is a testament to the resilience and cultural diversity of the region. Its evolution from a colonial administrative center to a cultural and historical landmark highlights the importance of preserving cultural heritage while adapting to modern needs.

Things to do in Dong Van town

At Dong Van Old Town, visitors can freely explore beautiful destinations and discover the local culture, traditions, and customs.

Dong Van Market

Dong Van Market is a vibrant cultural center located in the heart of Dong Van Town, Ha Giang, Vietnam. This bustling market has been a hub of trade and interaction for centuries, attracting people from various ethnic groups in the area.

Dong Van Market
Dong Van Market

Exploring Local Delicacies and Handicrafts

Visitors are delighted to explore the diverse array of local produce, handicrafts, and traditional goods, creating a sensory feast. You can find everything here, from clothing to agricultural tools and simple household items. Additionally, the market often features folk games and provides opportunities for street haircuts. You’ll also be amazed by the variety of animals on the streets, such as buffaloes, ducks, and chickens.

Dong Van Old Quarter

Dong Van Old Quarter in Ha Giang is considered a historical relic. It is located within the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark in Ha Giang, Vietnam. The quarter boasts a rich culture and heritage of the region. Along the streets, you can see traditional houses of the H’Mong, Tay, and Hoa people, showcasing a unique blend of architectural styles influenced by Chinese architecture. Dong Van Old Quarter offers an unforgettable journey into the past, preserving the essence of Vietnam’s diverse ethnic traditions.

Dong Van Viewpoint – French Fortress

Situated on a hilltop in Dong Van Town, Ha Giang, Dong Van Viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the stunning Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark. The viewpoint also holds historical value, being the site of a French fortress built during the colonial era.

Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark

The Dong Van Karst Plateau is a geological wonder and cultural treasure located in Ha Giang province, Vietnam. It is recognized as a UNESCO Global Geopark for its spectacular limestone landscapes, rugged mountains, and unique geological formations. Beyond its natural beauty, the geopark is home to ethnic communities with distinct traditions and customs. Exploring the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark breaks the limits of ordinary beauty, blending nature and humanity harmoniously, making it a truly unforgettable destination for adventure seekers and cultural enthusiasts.

Ma Pi Leng Pass

Ma Pi Leng Pass is famous for its majestic beauty and challenging terrain. The pass cuts through limestone cliffs and offers stunning panoramic views of the Nho Que River. On clear weather days, you can witness breathtaking scenes from the mountain peaks and the endless river below.

Ma Pi Leng Pass
Ma Pi Leng Pass

Lung Cu

Located about 30km from the town center, Lung Cu is easily recognized by its iconic flagpole – known as the Lung Cu Flag Tower. When visiting Lung Cu, you can hike to the top to see the flagpole and admire the beautiful landscape of Vietnam. Additionally, you can catch glimpses of the mountains of China from the other side. The scenic road from Ha Giang city to Lung Cu, covered by the beautiful mountains of Ha Giang, is a picturesque sight not to be missed.

H’mong King Palace

Situated in Sa Phin Valley, about 15 km from the town, the H’mong King Palace is a historical testament. Built in 1902 by skilled Chinese craftsmen, the wooden palace for the H’mong King stands as a century-old monument today, welcoming visitors to step back in time and explore the fascinating past of this region.

Hiking

Lastly, with its unique geographical location, Dong Van Old Town is a great spot for hiking. You can plan a day of hiking through the mountains and explore local ethnic minority villages. Additionally, you can spend time admiring the vast and majestic natural landscapes with endless fields.

Read more: Ma Pi Leng Pass – Legend of cloudy roads

What to eat when coming to Dong Van Vietnam?

The cuisine in Dong Van features some of the signature dishes of Ha Giang, which can be found throughout the province. However, Dong Van offers many renowned places for visitors to enjoy these local delicacies.

Chao Au Tau (Porridge with Ấu Tẩu Root)

Cháo Ấu Tẩu is a distinctive dish in Ha Giang. The ingredients include ấu tẩu root, rice, pork, sausage, eggs, vegetables, and other components. The ấu tẩu root, also known as ấu tàu or thủ ô, is a familiar plant to locals, commonly grown in the highlands of Ha Giang. The fresh root is toxic, but with local preparation methods, it becomes a delicious dish. The root also has medicinal properties, aiding in the relief of colds, muscle relaxation, fatigue reduction, and improving sleep. To prepare the porridge, the root must be soaked in concentrated rice water for about 10 hours and then simmered for several more hours until soft and the toxins are eliminated.

Recommended places: Mộc Miên Porridge, porridge stalls in Dong Van Market.

Banh Cuon (Steamed Rice Rolls)

This dish is made from rice flour, meat, wood ear mushrooms, bones, sausage, and spices. The rice flour is soaked overnight to soften and then mixed with spices. When a customer arrives, the batter is poured onto a hot steamer to make fresh rolls. After about 3 minutes, the rolls are filled with pre-prepared meat and mushrooms, then garnished with fried shallots and cilantro. Unlike the rice rolls served with fish sauce in many regions, Ha Giang’s rice rolls are eaten with a bone-broth soup. The soup, made from simmered pork bones, has a naturally sweet taste. According to locals, the hot soup is perfect for the cold mountain mornings.

Recommended places: Bà Hà Rice Rolls, Cô Liễu Rice Rolls.

Banh Tam Giac Mach (Buckwheat Cake)

This cake is made from buckwheat seeds, which are highly nutritious. After each harvest, the seeds are dried, some are fermented to make yeast, and the rest are used to make buckwheat cakes. The seeds are ground into flour, kneaded into dough, and shaped into flat, round cakes with a diameter larger than a hand span. The cakes are steamed and grilled over a charcoal stove and taste best when hot, with a mild sweetness.

Buckwheat cakes are sold at markets, roadside stalls, and near tourist areas.

Thang Den

Among Ha Giang’s snacks, Thắng Dền is notable. Sold in Dong Van Old Town and local markets, this “playful dish” has a special charm. A bowl of Thắng Dền includes round glutinous rice flour balls boiled and served in a ginger syrup, topped with black sesame or crushed peanuts.

Men Men

Mèn Mén is a rustic dish tied to the local lifestyle. The rocky highlands are not suitable for rice cultivation, so cornmeal (or Mèn Mén) is the staple food for the H’mong people. Initially, Mèn Mén was a daily dish, gradually becoming popular at local markets to showcase culinary culture. To make Mèn Mén, dried corn is processed through multiple steps like pounding, sifting, and steaming. Mèn Mén has a fragrant corn flavor and is often eaten with broth.

Ca Phe Cuc Bac (Cuc Bac Coffee)

Cuc Bac Coffee is located in Lo Lo Chai village, a small village at the foot of Lung Cu Flag Tower, less than 1 km from the Vietnam-China border in Lung Cu commune. The café was established by Mr. Ogura Yasushy, a Japanese man who lived in Vietnam for many years and has a particular fondness for Ha Giang. The café features the traditional earth-wall architecture of the Lo Lo people, with rustic and old-fashioned stone fences, yin-yang tiled roofs, earthen walls, and wooden gates. The café not only serves traditional Vietnamese drip coffee but also Japanese matcha green tea.

Some important notes when traveling to Dong Van

  • Identification documents: This is an indispensable item for any outing, that is, bring identification documents.
  • Cash: in Ha Giang, cash is an inseparable item. It’s very difficult to find an ATM, a QR code or a transfer request. Therefore, all purchases and sales in Ha Giang are in cash.
  • Clothing: appropriate clothing will help you have a more complete experience. If you go to Ha Giang in the summer, you need to bring short clothes with good sweat-absorbing material. If you go in winter, you need to bring warm, thick clothes. Hats, hats, scarves to protect health, avoid sunlight, and avoid dust.
  • Personal medical equipment: some medicines such as pain relievers, headache medicine, personal bandages, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, etc.
  • Some technological devices: cameras, phones, backup chargers,…
  • A few snacks: Some snacks such as: dry food, snacks, chocolate,… and bottled water, will help you maintain energy throughout the trip.

Dong Van Town is a true treasure of northern Vietnam, offering a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re exploring the vibrant Dong Van Market, hiking through majestic landscapes, or savoring local delicacies, every moment spent in Dong Van promises to be unforgettable. Plan your journey with Lily’s Travel and immerse yourself in the authentic charm of this unique destination. Embrace the adventure and cultural richness that Dong Van has to offer, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

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

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