The Hmong king’s palace in Ha Giang


On a tour of Ha Giang Province we visited Dong Van Plateau and decided to take a day to see the palace where the king of the Hmong people lived early last century. The palace of Vua Meo, where the king of H'Mong lived last century in Dong Van Plateau, Ha Giang Province - Photo: Lam Van Son … [Read more...]

Exploring Ha Giang’s ethnic royals

My Tran Vuong Thi Cho (R), niece of H'Mong king Vuong Chinh Duc, talks about the stone bathtub which the H'Mong queens used to bathe in with goat milk We were warmly greeted by Vuong Thi Cho, niece of the king, who was our tour guide and took us on a fabulous and fun tour of the palace. She also spilled some information and stories about the king and the royal family. One such tale I remember is that Duc, dubbed as Vua Meo (king of H'mong people), was also the founder of the famous Vuong Dynasty, the largest in Ha Giang Province at the time, and lived in his unique, luxurious palace shaded with green samu trees. The empty Sa Phin Market and distant mountains blanked in mist Vuong Palace was built with solid stone, wood and terracotta tiles in ancient Chinese architectural style typical of the Man Qing era. It covers a total area of 1,120 square meters and it was built on an elevated site located in Sa Phin Valley in Lung Phin Commune, Dong Van District. The palace was … [Read more...]

Coming round mountains to Tay Bac


Tay Bac, the mountainous region in the northwest of Vietnam, is famous for beautiful terraced fields, colorful love markets, magnificent mountains and valleys. The terrain is fascinating for tourists who can discover many riddles of nature and indigenous cultures. The spectacular hillside-hugging road to the northern province of Ha Giang has a few hair-raising turns but the marvelous landscape is irresistible for nature lovers and adventurers. I came to Meo Vac, a mountainous district in Ha Giang Province where tourists can visit Khau Vai love market, in the late afternoon. The topography is limestone mountains that impose over the poetic Nho Que river running through. The love market often opens on the nights of 26th and 27th days of the lunar month. Shops trade till after midnight and local residents also stay up late. Their life rhythm is slow; the market is busy but I still sense a tranquility of there that is different to the markets in lowland regions. In contrast, Meo Vac … [Read more...]

Autumn sights attract tourists

Hanoi is dyed in Autumn colours. (Credit:

VietNamNet Bridge – Hanoi is dyed in Autumn colours while carpets of ‘tam giac mach’ (buckwheat) flower, ‘da quy’ (wild sunflower) and white canola in blossom in Ha Giang, Moc Chau and Da Lat are offering visitors an exhilarating chance to immerse themselves in the heaven of nature and flowers. Ha Giang glows with pink buckwheat blossoms Buckwheat (scientifically known as Fagopyrum Esculentum) is a plant with clusters of small pinkish white flowers and edible triangular seeds. When harvest season has just finished, the northwest mountainous region is covered with pink as the buckwheat flowers blossom. Visitors to Ha Giang from the end of October to the middle of November are enthralled by the pure beauty of the scenery. The nearly 300km journey from Hanoi to Ha Giang seems to be shortened at this time of year thanks to the magnificent wonders of nature. In Lung Cam field covered in ravishing pinkish buckwheat flowers, visitors are eager to immerse … [Read more...]

Cultural characteristics of the Bo Y


(VOVworld) - The Bo Y have the smallest population of the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. About 3,000 Bo Y people live in a few hamlets in Quan Ba and Dong Van district in the northern border province of Ha Giang. On today’s "Colorful Vietnam, Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups" segment, we will introduce the Bo Y. The Bo Y, also called the Pu Y, Chung Cha, Trong Gia, or Tu Di, live mainly by cultivating terraced fields and raising cattle and poultry. They forge farm tools and housewares and make wood products and pottery. Women grow cotton, weave cloth, and make clothes and accessories. The Bo Y in Ha Giang are patriarchal, which means the husband decides everything. 3 or 4 generations live together in a house. Ngu Khoi Phuong, a researcher of the Bo Y, said: "The Bo Y now have 10 clans. They have maintained their traditional lifestyle and customs such as organizing New Year celebrations, weddings, and funerals. They have their typical folk singings. About 700 Bo Y people live in … [Read more...]

Unlocking Tourism Potential on Dong Van Karst Plateau


Preserving cultural values together with developing tourism, developing agricultural economy and enhancing livelihoods for ethnic minorities on the Dong Van Karst Plateau are big concerns of Ha Giang province. How to turn difficulties and obstacles into opportunities on this land? Tourism development has posed hard challenges to provincial authorities and destabilised determinations of local people. Community tourism development was initiated immediately after Dong Van Plateau is recognised as a global geopark. The park is home to 250,000 residents, of which over 70 percent are the Mong people. The Advisory Council for Global Geoparks Network (UNESCO) regarded Dong Van Karst Plateau as one of particular limestone areas that contain typical prints about the earth's crust development history, natural phenomena, natural landscapes, unique scenery, biological diversity and long-standing cultural traditions of indigenous communities. Dong Van Karst Plateau is home to a range of unique … [Read more...]

Pu Peo worship of the Forest Genie and forest protection

Preparing glutinous rice cakes for offering

(VOVworld) – The forest is a life-giving resource for the Pu Peo people of Ha Giang province. Every year, they dedicate a ritual to the Forest Genie to pray for favorable weather, bumper crops, and animal fertility. In this week’s edition of "Colorful Vietnam, Vietnam’s 54th ethnic groups", Vinh Phong takes you to Ha Giang province to participate in a Forest Genie worship ceremony of the Pu Peo. The worship of the Forest Genie is one of the oldest rituals of the Pu Peo. It’s a cultural and religious event for the whole community.The Pu Peo worship genies of brook, river, forest, and mountain, who protect their lives. Luu San Van, a researcher of ethnic groups in Ha Giang province, says the Pu Peo have always lived in harmony with nature. They respect and protect nature and consider the forest their friend. Protecting the forest means they will have water for cultivation and wood for building houses. Van says: "The Pu Peo don’t have pagodas or temples … [Read more...]

Ha Giang Buckwheat Festival 2015 to Open in Nov


The Ha Giang Buckwheat Flower Festival 2015 will be held the first time in four districts of Dong Van, Quan Ba, Yen Minh and Meo Vac in Ha Giang province from November 13 to 15, 2015. The festival aims to promote special cultural values of the Dong Van Karst Plateau and to attract visitors and develop the buckwheat flower into the tourism brand of the karst plateau and also Ha Giang province. The opening ceremony themed "Karst Plateau - Thousand blooming flowers" will be held in the evening of November 13 in Dong Van district. The programme will include many excellent art performances featuring the legend of the buckwheat flower, a typical flower of Ha Giang in general and Dong Van in particular. Besides, many attractive cultural activities will also be organised in the frame work of the festival like the night of buckwheat wine with the theme of "Love on Karst Plateau", the display of the buckwheat flower and flower products, a photo exhibition on buckwheat flower themed "Wild land … [Read more...]

Immunisation does save lives

A medical staff gives advices on how to use drugs to Mong ethnic women at Lung Tao Commune, Dong Van District of northernmost Ha Giang Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Tung

HA NOI (VNS) — Most Vietnamese children aged 12-23 months were fully vaccinated before their first birthday, experts told a workshop held by Viet Nam's Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS2014) yesterday. MICS, the world's largest source of statistical data on the well-being of women and children worldwide, indicated that while more than 82 per cent of Vietnamese children aged 12-23 months were fully vaccinated, the coverage was higher among Kinh (the Vietnamese majority) children at 84.6 per cent compared to ethnic minority children at 69.4 per cent. Poor households possessed the lowest coverage at 72.2 per cent, compared to 87 per cent coverage in households of other wealth categories. Experts noted that immun-isation played a key role in the country achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015. The report also indicated disparities in the death rate for children-under-five. While it remained relatively low in cities and … [Read more...]

Earthen-wall houses of the Pu Peo

An earthen house of the Pu Peo in Ha Giang province

(VOVworld) – The earthen-wall house is typical of ethnic groups in the mountainous province of Ha Giang, including the Pu Peo. The Pu Peo believe that the success or failure of a family depends greatly on the land and the house they occupy. So choosing land and building a house is an important process that consists of several steps. It’s the custom of the Pu Peo to choose small valleys in deep forests to build houses, and form hamlets. The natural conditions are suitable for them to grow wet rice, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and keep bees for honey. To choose suitable land, the head of the family puts some grains of rice in a small hole and covers them with a bowl. After 3 days he lifts the bowl. If the grains remain there, it’s a good place to live. Lu Pa Sau, a Pu Peo man who lives in Dong Van district, Ha Giang province, says:"We build the main pillar first, then the frame, then the earthen walls. We choose yellow soil because it makes the walls firm. Walls made … [Read more...]

Ha Giang Buckwheat Flower Festival 2015


(TITC) - From 13 to 15 November 2015, Ha Giang Buckwheat Flower Festival will take place in Dong Van Karst Plateau, Ha Giang Province. The festival has held for the first time to honor the unique cultural values of Dong Van Karst Plateau, contribute to attracting visitors and developing the buckwheat flower into tourism brand of the karst plateau and also Ha Giang Province. The opening ceremony themed "The karst plateau – thousand blooming flowers" will be held in the evening of 13 November in Dong Van Town (Dong Van District) with many excellent art performances reappearing the legend of the buckwheat flower. Besides, many attractive cultural activities will also be organized in the frame work of the festival, such as the night of buckwheat wine with the theme "Karst plateau’s love"; display of the buckwheat flower and flower products; photo exhibition on the buckwheat flower themed "Wild land of the buckwheat flower"… To Ha Giang Buckwheat Flower Festival … [Read more...]

Northwest river captivates intrepid explorers

Running free: Children playing in a buckwheat field in Lung Cu Hamlet, Dong Van District. — VNA/VNS Photo Lam Khanh

by An Vu It was the beginning of winter in the northern province of Ha Giang. Tran Anh Tu, 30, said he still remembered the fog covering the endless mountain ranges on two sides of the Gam River. They took off on a journey straight out of a fantasy, gliding along in a high-speed boat down the river. The quiet limestone islands with rock pillars stood amid the clouds and sky, and the tiny boats travelling to nowhere stirred strange emotions within him. This was one of the most beautiful scenes along the Bac Me – Na Hang waterway, said Tu, who recently returned from a two-week northwest exploration tour run by The He Tre (Young Generation) Tourism Company. Tu kept saying he wanted to go back some day – with the same tour, journey and destinations. "I'm looking forward to seeing how the Gam River and people's lives have changed," he said. Gam River, one of the beauties of Cao Bang, Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang provinces, is described as the flowing hair of a sleeping, … [Read more...]

Art & Entertainment News 15/6


VN photo shortlisted in Britain Ly Hoang Long figures among the world's top environment photographers, with one of his photos being included among the top 111 photos of an international contest in the United Kingdom. His photo, entitled Checking Fishing Net, features a fisherman checking his nets in a blue-water river, an idyllic scene in Viet Nam's countryside. More than 10,000 entries by photographers from 60 nations in the world were received by the Environmental Photographers of the Year contest, which focuses on issues ranging from sustainable development to poverty, climate change and human rights. The shortlisted entries will be displayed at The Royal Geographical Society Exhibition in London from June 22 to July 10, before being displayed in a mobile exhibition around the United Kingdom. The winner of the 5,000-pound (US$7,800) award, which was set up in 2007 by the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), will be announced on June 25. Long, … [Read more...]

Ha Giang shows off buckwheat

HA GIANG (VNS) — The northernmost province of Ha Giang, which has the largest area under buckwheat in the north-western region, will organise the first ever buckwheat flower festival in early October when fields in full bloom and look most beautiful. The festival will be held in Dong Van District together with a H'Mong panpipe festival, a tourism fair, and a photo exhibition about the Dong Van Karst Plateau, a member of the Global Network of National Geoparks. Buckwheat flowers are small and turn from light pink to light purple several days after blooming. Their beauty has attracted a large number of tourists to Ha Giang's buckwheat flower fields in recent years. The province plans to bring more under the plant in Dong Van District, including in seven communes that are popular tourism spots. — VNS … [Read more...]

Ha Giang province to host buckwheat flower festival


The northernmost province of Ha Giang will hold the first ever Tam giac mach (buckwheat) flower festival in early October, when the plant fully blooms. Buckwheat (scientifically known as Fagopyrum Esculentum) is a plant with clusters of small pinkish white flowers and edible triangular seeds. H’Mong ethnic residents grow two crops of Tam giac mach every year, as it also blooms between April and May. The flowers are sensitive to sunlight, turning from white in the early morning to pink in the afternoon. Buckwheat creates striking sights when blossoming, making it a tourist draw in Ha Giang, as well as neighbouring mountainous areas such as Lao Cai province. The provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism will organise the festival in Dong Van district, as instructed by the Ha Giang People’s Committee. Various activities will be held as part of the event such as a H’Mong panpipe festival, a tourism fair and a photo exhibition about the Dong Van … [Read more...]

Drawing Japanese Investment into Ha Giang


At VCCI Head Office in Hanoi, an official delegation of Ha Giang province held a meeting with the Embassy of Japan, business associations and organisations in Vietnam and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) to attract ODA capital and concessional loans of the Government of Japan; encourage and attract Japanese companies to invest in Ha Giang, and organise Japanese delegations to survey investment environment and opportunities in Ha Giang. Mr Nguyen Dinh Khang, Deputy Secretary of Ha Giang Provincial Party Committee, said Japan has supported and invested in local socioeconomic development through specialised credit programmes for small-scale rural infrastructure development, part of a credit agreement between the Government of Vietnam and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Typical projects include Ban Tan Irrigation Upgrading Project in Trung Thanh commune, Vi Xuyen district; Tien Yen - Huong Son Road Upgrading Project in Yen Ha commune, Quang Binh … [Read more...]

Centuries-old trees in northern Vietnam recognized as national heritage


Ten centuries-old banyan trees in a northern Vietnamese province, home to the UNESCO-recognized Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark, were named national heritages on Monday. The Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment handed the certificate of recognition to the authorities of Dong Van Town, located in Dong Van District in Ha Giang Province, the government portal reported. Four of the trees are aged between 515 and 570 years. The trees are a great asset of the Dong Van geopark, which was recognized by the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network in 2010 as one of 77 geological parks in the world and the second in Southeast Asia, after the Langkawi Geopark in Malaysia. Located at an altitude of 1,000m-1,600m, the plateau is one of the country’s most unique limestone areas, which contain significant imprints of the development of the earth's crust. The park is also highly appreciated for its rich biodiversity. The newly recognized banyan trees also … [Read more...]

Old banyan copse becomes national heritage

The old banyan copse. Photo: VACNE A group of banyan trees with the oldest dating almost 600 years old in Thien Huong hamlet, Dong Van district in northern mountainous Ha Giang province was recognised as a national heritage on May 11. The copse consists of more than ten trees, four of which are between 515 and 570 years old. The Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment (VACNE) awarded the banyans the title in a bid to boost relevant preservation programmes. According to Chairman of the Dong Van People’s Committee Hoang Van Thinh, the copse holds a special spiritual meaning to the community in addition to its ecological value. The Tay, Mong, and Giay Ethnic groups in Thien Huong have long considered the trees their protective gods, building a shrine under its branches and establishing rules to guard the forest. In the New Year, locals bring offerings and have a ceremony praying for bumper crops, good health and happiness. To date, the … [Read more...]

Military Medical Academy provides free TB checkups

The medical staff screening the locals.

PANO - The mission of the Military Medical Academy, Dong Van District Military Command (Ha Giang province) and Dong Van district People’s Committee on April 19th held an information dissemination program and provided TB screenings for minority ethnic people of the district, mostly the Hmong people. This time, the mission conducted the dissemination and provided check-ups right on the market day. In the morning of the day, the mission screened 200 people and found five cases possibly and four others contracting TB. Apart from the screening, the mission also handed out 300 leaflets with basic knowledge on the disease and 240 medicine portions to cure coughing and other common diseases. Major General Dong Khac Hung, Deputy President of the Military Medical Academy, noted that this information dissemination and checkup programme was successful due to the right selection of place and time. The event could capture the attention of more locals. Translated by Huu Duong … [Read more...]

Growing rice on rock plateau in northern Vietnam


Farmers have to chisel rock to create hollows and fill them with soil for cultivating rice on the Dong Van rock plateau in the northern province of Ha Giang. With a lot of efforts and labor, Mong ethnic minority people living in the Ma Pi Leng Mountain have grown their crops that way. The Mong people have a proverb, "No mountain is higher than the knee of the Mong people," meaning that they can overcome the hardship and challenges of Nature. These people have a special variety of rice called Khau Mang since it produces fragrant and tasty rice seeds. The price of Khau Mang is always around twice that of other rice varieties. Vu Se Co is the farmer who owns the biggest amount of rice on the rock plateau in Dong Van, with over a hectare and a half. He resides in Ma Xi B Village in Ma Le Commune of Dong Van District. The road leading to his house can challenge even the most experienced driver because it is often slippery over morning dew or after a rain. The road is wide … [Read more...]