Lowering Dong Van Karst Plateau’s curtain of secrets (Part 1)

For once in a while, probably the most frequently provoked questions is: “Why do you travel?” In all those answers such as “because I love traveling”, “because I want to explore all the new lands”, or “because I want to conquer as many places as possible”, the probable core reason for all those sayings can be pressed down into only one single word: Curiosity. We all perceive well ourselves that human being’s curiosity is infinitive and compared as if it is a deep well without the bottom. And for that reason, it is somehow regarded as a reason, a cause, or even a kind of inspirational source triggers, for example, the “wanderlust” that has been talked about by people here and there. And of course, curiosity is only provoked when it is surrounded by what we usually call “the unknowns” or you know, “secrets”. Therefore, this time’s journey will be full of the unexpected and secrets only! If you have been curious enough, follow us to travel to Northern Vietnam to lower down the curtain of secrets of one of the top must-go destinations here in Northern Vietnam Đồng Văn Karst Plateau.

1. Where is Dong Van Karst Plateau?

If you are a travelholic and especially love wandering here and there to the faraway mountainous areas in the North, you will instantly recognize Đồng Văn Karst Plateau – one of the most famous and worth-visiting destinations of Hà Giang Province, which is also known as the starting point of the country. Hà Giang might not be an unfamiliar place to travel lovers, especially most backpackers.

The breathtaking Road of Happiness

The breathtaking Road of Happiness

To start with, this place is truly one of the most, to be said, attractive and thrilling journey you can ever have if you love the feeling of hanging over those narrow and crooked mounts of rocks, or driving around all the most breathtaking mountain ranges because Hà Giang owns many of the Northern famous destinations such as the Road of Happiness. If people have sometimes regarded “happiness” as “the little things” that you can easily and surprisingly find in your life, this Road of Happiness will lead you to happiness in a weird, and hard, and crooked way that you have never thought you would ever go through in your life. In addition, Hà Giang also owns one of the Four Great Mountain Passes of the North – Mã Pí Lèng, which is one of many amazing check-in spots on the bucket list of many travelers and also a very famous place for whoever loves a little bit of adventure while uploading their selfies on Facebook to add to their collection of “virtual life”. And there are also many other spectacular wonders that you will love to see such as Quản Bạ or Vương King’s Palace, etc. So, isn’t it great if you can be a part of a private tour in Ha Giang Vietnam?

2. How to get there?

It is not hard to travel to Hà Giang. Normally, a usual trip, if departing from Northern provinces or cities such as Hà Nội, takes nearly 7 hours by cars for a normal route of more than 300 kilometers. If departing from the South then obviously you will have to fly to the North because there is no airport in Hà Giang. Usually, when traveling to Northern mountainous sites, people would prefer traveling by coach, train to self-drive, or a motorcycle trip because the journey is quite long and therefore, you will have to drop by many stops before continuing on your trip. For the minor group including self-drive lovers would enjoy traveling their journey by motorbike because it is way cooler and doubles the fun.

Enjoying the thrill at Ha Giang

Enjoying the thrill at Ha Giang

In order to get to Hà Giang, you can choose from a few suggestions as Nước Ngầm Station, Giáp Bát or Mỹ Đình Station. There will be lots of coach operators there, and lots of drivers will come to ask you where you want to go. If you feel that you can trust them, accept the invitation to their coach. In fact, they are not bad or something so do not worry too much. They will guide you to the ticket counter where you can buy the tickets to Hà Giang. If you cannot rely on them, do not hesitate to reject the offer and go to buy the tickets yourself. Normally, a one-way ticket from Hà Nội to Hà Giang costs about 200.000vnd per coach with beddings, wifi and is quite convenient so we presume it is a suitable price for a 7-hour trip.

If you really really want to travel by train straight from Hà Nội to Hà Giang, you will be regretful to tell you that until this moment, there is no such trip. This means, if you are still dying to travel by train, you will have to catch the trip from Hà Nội to Lào Cai then take a coach from Lào Cai to Hà Giang. The traveling time for a normal train from Hà Nội to Lào Cai takes about 3-4 hours and from Lào Cai to Hà Giang by coach is also at the equal amount of time so the total traveling time for the whole trip is 7-8 hours. Therefore, we strongly advise that you should not choose this way because you will have to pass through lots of stops and change to different vehicles so it is really time-consuming and troublesome.

The last way is to travel by motorbike. When traveling by motorbike from Hanoi, you should remember to avoid some highways, especially Thăng Long because a few recent years, motorbikes are not allowed there and therefore, some police officers will knock on your doors if you travel this way. In addition, remember to bring your international driving license before jumping on the motorbike. Before starting the trip, you should also check from top to toe your motorbike and do not forget to bring from one to two spare cans of fuel because the trip is quite long and there can be no gas station for you to refuel. The most picked route by the most professional backpackers is Hà Nội – Việt Trì – Đoan Hùng – Phú Thọ – Tuyên Quang – Hà Giang.

About Đồng Văn Karst Plateau, well, it is tremendously huge spreading through four suburban districts Quản Bạ, Yên Minh, Đồng Văn, and Mèo Vạc of Hà Giang Province. In general, it is more like a stone complex and for that reason, includes a diverse of mini-spots to explore rather than just a single destination. Therefore, exploring Hà Giang will take a bit of time.

 Going to Hà Giang, the only vehicle you will need to use is motorbike because it is the most convenient and suitable for the mountainous topography here. If you have your own vehicle, you can easily travel without worrying about renting one. However, if you travel by coach or bus to Hà Giang, you will need rent a motorbike in order to travel. There are many renting spots with a very affordable price that you can make a reference here but keep in mind that they are all in Hà Giang City. The reason for this is that your coach or bus will be likely to drop in at Hà Giang City Bus Station so when you travel to Đồng Văn, you travel from Hà Giang City.

  • Phượt Motorbikes and Tour
    Address: 1 Nguyen Trai Street, Ha Giang City (30m from Ha Giang City’s Bus Station)
    Price: From 150.000vnd/day/motorbike with helmet, map, and protection equipment
    Tel: 0944 686 366 –
    02196 50 3333
  • HaGiangHostel and Motorbike
    Address: 54A Tran Phu Street, Ha Giang City
    Price: From 130.000vnd/day/motorbike with helmet, map, and protection equipment
    01666166968 – 0986846110 (Mr. Tac)

After successfully renting a bike, you will have to travel 43 kilometers more following the route 4C to Quản Bạ Suburban District, then to Cán Tỷ Mountain Pass, the infinitive pine forests to Yên Minh and Mèo Vạc Suburban District to start the journey discovering Đồng Văn Karst Plateau. The total distance from Hà Giang City to Đồng Văn is more than 100 kilometers so it will take some time and you will have to find a stop on the middle of the road to take a rét. Apart from the motorbike, you can also travel by coach to Đồng Văn with a very cheap price of 60.000 – 70.000vnd at Hà Giang City Bus Station.

  • Hà Giang City Bus Station
    Address: Road 19/5, Nguyen Trai Ward, Ha Giang City

3. What is the suitable time to visit?

We do not dare affirm that Đồng Văn Karst Plateau is the most beautiful in which season because each person will have his or her own feeling about it. However, the most suitable season, we assume, to travel Đồng Văn is still “the season of Hà Giang”, which means November and December because it is the season of triangle flowers – the unique one-of-a-kind beauty of the land. In this season, Đồng Văn also owns its very own wild original beauty of the karst and dunes. In addition, the weather also stands to the side of travelers because it is the end of Fall so there is slightly rain and the road is not so slippery; and it is not Winter yet so the weather is not so cold because Northern Winter usually comes late about January to February.

Beautiful white and pink triangle flowers at Ha Giang

Beautiful white and pink triangle flowers at Ha Giang

A proper journey to discover every corner of Đồng Văn usually takes about two days to nearly three days. One special thing that you should pay close attention to is the weekend market gathering on every Sunday, which is a great place to buy something from the Northern mountainous areas like Hà Giang. We must say that this is a very special and unique market gathering of Đồng Văn in which you can find most of anything that you want from Northern-pattern brocades, broidery, accessories to Hà Giang’s specialties such as alcohol. The detail of the market will be carefully reviewed in one of the following parts.

4. Tips for booking in Ha Giang

Probably what contributes to an amazing race is not solely the destinations but also the experience or the accommodation that you decide to stay during your trip. Coming to Hà Giang, you will have a handful of choice because as you know, Hà Giang is originally one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vietnam. However, everything is like two sides of a coin and sometimes you will find yourself sitting on the fence about whether to choose this or that because there are so many options and you do not even know what is the most suitable for you since you have never been here. To double the problem, it is even harder to find good and cheap accommodation during the traveling season like this.

Therefore, the first advice that we give you if you want a smooth and care-free trip to Đồng Văn is booking your room half to one month in advance to avoid out of the room and freely choose from suitable suits.

Most people when traveling to mountainous destinations will prefer staying in a homestay to the hotel because it is such an amazing experience of the local life while the hotel can be found most anywhere. Normally, cheap homestay in Đồng Văn only ranges from 150.000vnd – 300.000vnd per night so the total expense for staying more than two days here is only about 700.000vnd. That is super duper cheap!

On our website, you can find many suggestions of places to stay in Hà Giang so you can check it out. In this article, we only recommend some cheap and cool homestay for you to choose from.

Family Homestay Dong Van

The first homestay in the list is Family Homestay Đồng Văn. This is truly a great and friendly place to stay, and quite clean also. In general, it bears more resemblance to a mini dormitory with the main hall on the second floor and two lines of rooms on the two sides. About the rooms, Family Homestay offers fully room kinds from single to a “lone ranger”, double for sweet couples to dorm room if you go in group from 5 to 10 people. The atmosphere is also very warm and welcoming. Another interesting feature of Family is that if you have been familiar with sleeping on bed then you should forget that idea immediately when coming here because there will be no bed available for you! Well, it is not exactly that you will sleep directly on the ground but there will be a bedding for you to use. Most homestays in the mountain have this kind of arrangement so you should not worry about it. Actually, it is very comfortable, convenient and cheap. That is just what we call the mountain style!

Family Homestay Dong Van

Family Homestay Dong Van

Address: Đồng Văn Town, Đồng Văn Suburban District, Ha Giang City
Tel: 01629 110 567

Jungleman Homestay

The second homestay in this list will be a very interesting one with a super cool name also – Jungleman Homestay. People always have a joke that if you come here, you will turn into a genuine jungle man! It is not that they will make you live on the tree and hang like monkeys but you will learn dozens of cool stuff here through enchanting stories of the house owner about the history of Hà Giang from the ice age, along with packs of mysterious secrets about the land. You will surely adore Jungleman!

Address: Phuong Thien Ward, Ha Giang City
Tel: 0167 679 6999

Tay Homestay

The third one is Tay Homestay. If you have not known anything about Tày Tribe, this will be just the place for you to explore a little corner of Northern Vietnam’s tribe culture. From the plain and simple architect to the services are filled with Tày’s characteristic. Especially in every evening, you can have the chance to fill up your stomach with good foods and your soul with good music through the social event of Tày Tribe so it is gonna be thrilling!

A small corner of Tay Homestay

A small corner of Tay Homestay

Address: Group 2, Tien Thang Village, Phuong Thien Ward, Ha Giang City
Tel: 0948 301 972

Son Thuy Homestay

The last homestay in our list is Son Thuy Homestay. No offense but this is actually a very cool place for foreign visitors because most people say it makes them feel at home with the very “Western-like” architecture. Here they also speak English as well as other languages so it will be easier for you to communicate. Besides, you will absolutely fall in love with the dishes here. Not exaggerating but it feels like a 5-star mountainous restaurant!

Every homestay suggested here owns its unique feature that you will love to explore and to choose from. Despite you can choose other accommodations that fit you better, remember the tips that we provide at the beginning of this part to avoid the tendency of sleeping on the street when arriving at Đồng Văn!