Story: Huong Quynh
Photos: Amachau

The Dong Van Plateau enchants visitors with its wild beauty

Ha Giang, where the Dong Van karst plateau is located, has become a favourite destination for adventurous travellers in Vietnam. Visitors are struck by Dong Van’s majestic scenery with layers of karst mountains that are recognised as a global geopark, and fascinated by the lives of the ethnic minority groups who live in this border region.

After passing more than 100km of mountain roads with very tight turns, tourists catch their first sight of the Dong Van karst plateau. Visitors are deeply impressed by this wild landscape of karst mountains and floating clouds. They are also moved by the terraced rice fields, rammed earth houses and rock walls built by the patient and brave local people, and by the sight of these people farming this hard land.

Covering an area of 2,356 square km, the Dong Van karst plateau lies more than 1,000 meters above sea level. according to UNESCO’s global geopark network advisory Committee, the Dong Van karst plateau is a special karst region that showcases the complex history of the development of the Earth’s crust. The plateau has hundreds of geological and geomorphic sites that are diverse and in good condition. as well as being of great scientific value, the plateau attracts visitors thanks to its beauty.

Visitors feel small and lost in this rocky landscape. Sharp rocks, steep mountains and deep ravines lie all around, except for the road ahead. The further you travel, the more you admire the strong will of the people who live in this wild area. They live on the rocks and confront the harsh climate to build a life. The grey colour of the rocks is no longer gloomy thanks to their green crops: rapeseed, corn, beans, and rice. The local people’s farming skills in this rocky region have been recognised as a national intangible Cultural Heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and tourism. They have gained knowledge of the natural conditions through many generations. along with their unique farming practices, they have created their own culture. Scenes of green corn fields and yellow rapeseed flowers remind us of these hardworking people.

The more you travel, the more you appreciate others. Everyone who comes to the karst plateau admires the determination of the people who built the road that links the districts of Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Meo Vac and Dong Van in the Dong Van Karst Plateau geopark. This road, Hanh Phuc (Happiness) Road, is more than 180 km long and took six years, a great deal of effort and even the blood of youth pioneers to build. Many of the builders came from ethnic minority groups in the northern mountains. The road takes visitors to sky-high mountain passes, including Mã Pì Lèng Pass. Here, visitors can stop to enjoy panoramic views of the mountains and fanciful clouds. Further below, the nho Que River flows peacefully as it has done for thousands of years. this view is said to be the most beautiful in the Dong Van karst plateau.