Ultimate Dong Van Travel Guide – What to Expect and Everything You Need to Know About Dong Van

This Dong Van travel guide is the ultimate resource for everything you need to know. We will answer some frequently asked questions such as: What are the top things to do in Dong Van? What are the must-try foods in Dong Van?

Located in the northernmost part of Vietnam, Dong Van is a town in the Ha Giang province that offers a unique experience for travelers seeking adventure, stunning landscapes, and cultural immersion. The district is home to the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark, a UNESCO-recognized site that boasts some of the most unique geological features in the world.

The Dong Van town, which holds the most attractions in the Ha Giang region. Let’s explore everything you need to know about this beautiful region with our Dong Van Travel Guide!

 Scenic mountain landscape in Ha Giang, Vietnam, featuring majestic peaks and lush greenery.
This is the view of the Lao Van Chai landscape on the road to Dong Van.

What to expect in Dong Van?

The most beautiful experience in Dong Van is traveling the road through the entire Karst Plateau Region. Along the loop, you can enjoy majestic views of mountains and rivers, and witness the daily lives of local people.

Next to Dong Van is Meo Vac, the district that holds the biggest ethnic market in the region! Read our Meo Vac travel guide to explore more destinations in the mountainous region of Ha Giang, Vietnam.
A scenic view of the road leading to Dong Van town, surrounded by lush green mountains and featuring a traditional mud-wall house in the foreground.
Road to Dong Van town

Attractions in Dong Van

1. Dong Van Karst Plateau Global Park

The region consists mostly of rocky mountain terrain and is well-known for its rich cultural heritage. You can cover the first three towns in one day, starting from Quan Ba (perhaps from Nam Dam Village, a small commune of the Dao People in Quan Ba).

Hmong lady working on a mountain slope near Meo Vac.
Hmong lady working on a mountain slope near Meo Vac.
Tham Ma Pass
Tham Ma Pass Dong Van

If you travel from Quan Ba to Yen Minh, you can visit Lung Tam commune to see the handmade hemp textiles made by the local H’Mong indigenous people. Then, on the way from Yen Minh to Dong Van, you can enjoy the beautiful road, stop by the Vuong Palace, visit Lung Cu commune, and finally stay in Dong Van district.

Hemp textile production in Lung Tam, Quan Ba.
On the road from Yen Minh to Dong Van.

2. Visit Vuong Palace

The Vuong Palace, also known as “Nha Vua Meo,” meaning H’Moob King Mansion, is a heritage site located in Sa Phin Village. The palace boasts an impressive scale and features the architectural style of southern China, with its yin-yang tilted roofs. two-story structures combined with clay exteriors.

It was once the fortress of the Vuong Family, a well-known H’Mong royal family in Ha Giang. Today, visitors can take a tour and experience the rich cultural heritage of this magnificent palace.

Vuong Palace - Sa Phin Commune, Dong Van, Ha Giang
The entrance to Vuong Palace.

3. Visiting the Dong Van Sunday Market.

The market is located in the center of Dong Van town and is a popular fair market in the region. It is open every Sunday morning, similar to the Meo Vac Market. Here, you can experience the vibrant culture of local people, including the H’Mong, Tay, Dao, Lo Lo and others. This market holds great significance for the local people, as demonstrated by the fabulous and traditional clothing worn by attendees.

The Dao people at Meo Vac market
The photo shows a group of Dao ethnic people socializing in a local market.

4. Ma Pi Leng Pass

Along the 22km winding road that stretches from Dong Van to Meo Vac, visitors are treated to an awe-inspiring display of natural beauty. The grandeur of the majestic mountains is matched only by the sheer magnificence of the Ma Pi Leng river flowing serenely below.

If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, you can take a short trekking trail known as the Ma Pi Leng Sky Path. The trail, which is approximately 2 hours long, snakes its way through the rugged terrain and offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. As you make your way along the path, you’ll be able to breathe in the fresh mountain air and appreciate the stunning vistas that stretch out before you. Whether you’re a nature lover or simply seeking a bit of respite from the hustle and bustle of city life, a visit to this area is sure to leave you feeling rejuvenated and inspired.

A local person walks along Ma Pi Leng Pass, with a stunning mountain landscape in the foreground and winding road in the background.
The Ma Pi Leng Pass
Two hikers walking on the Sky Path trail, which offers stunning views of the Ma Pi Leng mountain range in Ha Giang, Vietnam.
The short trekking trail on Ma Pi Leng

5. Dong Van Old Quarter

The Old Quarter is a street lined with many ancient houses, built during French domination. These impressive buildings have stone foundations, while some have mud walls and complex stilt house structures. This place is a great destination for architecture enthusiasts. However, this area has been converted into a busy street filled with restaurants. Some restaurants have successfully preserved the majestic beauty of old houses, but others have not. Despite this, the Old Quarter remains a great destination to enjoy local dishes and good coffee.

A lively bar scene in Dong Van Old Quarter featuring a local band performing live music for a crowd of patrons. The atmosphere is cozy and intimate, with warm lighting and rustic decor adding to the ambiance.
An ancient house in Dong Van, now known as Pho Co Coffee.
A beautiful sunset in the Old Quarter street, featuring the popular bar "Phien" and its cozy outdoor seating area. The warm lighting and rustic decor create a relaxed and intimate ambiance for patrons to enjoy.
Source: Vinh Gau – a famous Vietnamese travel influencer

6. The Viet Nam National Flag in Lung Cu

The Vietnam National Flag, located in Lung Cu commune, Dong Van, is the northernmost destination in Vietnam. Here, you can immerse yourself in the fantastic view of Lo Lo Chai Village located right beneath the tower. You can also take a short walk in the village and enjoy a cup of coffee.

Lung Cu National Flag
Source: Vu Tuan Anh

7. Nho Que River – Visit Tu San Canyon

The Nho Que river flows from China and meets the Vietnamese border at Lung Cu before continuing its journey to Meo Vac, Cao Bang. You can take a short boat trip to the Tu San Canyon, located underneath Ma Pi Leng.

nho-que-river-boating-8
View the Tu San Canyon from the Nho Que River.

8. Dong Van French Fortress

Located near the Dong Van old quarter, you can reach the top of this fortress by taking a walk on a small road. Local people call it “Don Cao,” which means high fortress, due to its structure being built on top of a rocky hill. This site provides a great view over the Dong Van district.

Dong Van french fortress
The view on top of Dong Van French Fortress

How to get to Dong Van

Find the exact location of Dong Van Google Maps.

The Dong Van district is located 400km from Hanoi and 150km from Ha Giang. To reach it, you can book a bus from Hanoi to Dong Van, rent a motorbike in Ha Giang, book a taxi, or reserve a tour with a travel agency that specializes in northern Vietnam.

If you’re looking for a responsible trip with a delicate and experienced car driver, then the travel agency in Hanoi is suitable for you.

Our recommendation for an experienced travel agency:

Bus: Vu Han Group – It costs 450,000VND per person to travel from Ha Noi to Dong Van District by sleeper bus. Alternatively, you can stop at Ha Giang city and hire a local tour operator for the Ha Giang Loop.

Motorbike Tour Operator: QT Travel – They can help you arrange a great tour with homestays, food, visits to attractions, and local activities at a much cheaper price than traditional travel agencies. This option is suitable for young motorbike enthusiasts!

Taxi: Any hotel you stay at in Ha Giang regions can help you arrange a taxi to Dong Van, but this can be expensive. However, you can design your own trip to explore Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van, and Meo Vac.

This mountainous region in northern Vietnam has a unique cuisine that is influenced by the local ethnic communities’ traditional dishes. Here are some must-try dishes that you should not miss during your visit:

Must-try dishes in Dong Van

Thang Co

Thang Co is a traditional soup of the Hmong people, one of the ethnic minorities in Ha Giang. The soup is made from horse meat, innards, and bones, and is flavored with local herbs and spices. It is a hearty and flavorful soup that is perfect for cold weather.

Thắng Cố - a local dish
Thang co

Men Men

Men Men is a sticky rice cake that is popular among the Tay ethnic group in Ha Giang. The cake is made from glutinous rice flour and is stuffed with a filling made from ground pork, mushrooms, and local herbs. It is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed until cooked.

Au Tau Porridge

Au Tau Porridge is a breakfast dish that is popular among the Nung ethnic group in Ha Giang. It is a thick porridge made from glutinous rice, black sesame seeds, and peanuts, and is served with crispy fried dough sticks.

Thang Den

Thang Den is a soup made from black beans and pork bones. It is a traditional dish of the Dao ethnic group in Ha Giang and is flavored with local herbs and spices. The soup is served with rice noodles and fresh herbs.

Five-Color Sticky Rice (Soi Ngu Sac)

Five-Color Sticky Rice is a colorful and festive dish that is often served during special occasions in Ha Giang. It is made from glutinous rice that is dyed with natural colors from local plants, such as turmeric, pandan leaves, and butterfly pea flowers. The rice is then steamed and served with a variety of toppings, such as fried pork belly, pickled vegetables, and boiled eggs.

A young H'Mong girl prepares colorful sticky rice for customers at the bustling Dong Van market in Vietnam. The vibrant hues of the rice and the girl's traditional clothing provide a vivid glimpse into local cultural traditions and daily life.

Restaurants in Dong Van

The town has many restaurants, most of which serve traditional Vietnamese food. Some of the restaurants feature local dishes such as Thang Co, Lap Suon, Corn Wine, and more.

green-karst-restaurant-in-dong-van-ha-giang

Suggestions for Restaurants:

  1. Green Karst Restaurant – This place is highly rated by travelers and locals!
  2. Lam Tung Restaurant
  3. Phiên Coffer, Bar & Wine

Accommodations in Dong Van

There are many options to choose from in this town, including hotels, lodges, homestays, hostels, and motels.

As mentioned before, our business, Chung Pua Guesthouse, is the only authentic ancient guesthouse in Meo Vac town. We take pride in the hospitality business and focus on preserving ethnic culture. We would also like to showcase our second property, Dinh Da H’Mong – Karstely Rock Lodge.

The hotel is inspired by the Ha Giang heritage architecture, such as Vuong Palaces and Chung Pua Ancient House.

Other accomodations:

Dong Van b&B Resort
Source: Booking.com