Remembering my trip to Ha Giang Vietnam brings back evocative memories. Amazing scenery with towering karst formations, winding valleys, and terraces of rice paddies. Beautiful friendly people, children that were bursting with excitement to talk to us. Delicious food, with crispy fried pork and their ‘Morning Glory’ water spinach fried in garlic every day.
To Bac Ha Market, To Market….
We hopped on our motorbikes and our guide took us to a market, not far from Bac Ha. Bursting with life, this is the place to buy puppies, ducklings, buffalo, meat, vegetables, clothing… anything you can imagine, it was here. This area is known for the local tribes and they are recognisable by their traditional outfits. While some people wore Western-style clothing, there were still many local women wearing somewhat traditional clothing.
Đồng Văn to Mèo Vạc, Ma Pi Leng Pass
This is one of the most incredible road journeys I have ever taken. We left Bac Ha in a 4WD with a driver and an English-speaking guide. I would recommend you do take a vehicle and a driver to fully explore the area. It means you have opportunities to stop and take photos (which you will want to do at every turn), and explore at your leisure. If you arrange through Mr. Dong in Bac Ha, it’s pretty cheap.
We drove to Ha Giang, then through Dong Van to Meo Vac. It requires a few days, and you will take more photos of rice than you ever thought possible. There is so much to see along the way. Fields of aromatic hemp, which the locals turn into long strips of fabric which is pasted to the roadsides to dry. Beautiful fields of rice, golden heads nodding in the breeze, ripe to be picked. Small villages with simple lives lived in traditional ways. Rice mills are powered by water. The water comes from the river and flows into the bucket end which is filled. The water gets heavy, tips the end down, suddenly lighter in comes back up and at the other end of the see-saw, it suddenly drops and the pounder drops onto the rice in the container (see photo below).
Along the way, there are some tourist attractions. There’s the Ha Giang palace, a beautiful but crumbling structure built by Vuong Chinh Duc (1865 – 1947). There’s Lung Cam Cultural & Tourist Village in Sung La Valley, where a very important Vietnamese movie was filmed in a century-old house. But as much as the attractions were nice (and pretty much deserted, certainly no other tourists), it was the daily life around us that was amazing.
Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark
Along the way, we travelled through Dong Van Karst Geopark. These formations were made when the soft calcium exterior of the landscape was slowly eroded away, leaving rock forests and amazing alien landscapes. Fossils in the area have been dated back to 540 million years ago, so it’s been around a long time. I don’t think there’s much more I can add here because I think the photos say it all. I loved Ha Giang North Vietnam, and can’t wait to go back and explore more.