Driving 50km out of Ha Giang Town, we reached the upland border district of Hoang Su Phi, nestled at the foot of the imposing Tay Con Linh peak, via twisting and curving mountain roads, cut into the mountain side like chalk snakes.
Our journey took us past dimly visible terraced fields, perfect examples of ethnic minorities’ agricultural labour, reclamation and settlement, awe-inspiring during harvest time when layers of golden rice glitter across mountain after mountain.
Chief of staff of the District People’s Committee, Xen Thang Long, said that, “The district is currently completing necessary procedures to have the Nam Ty, Ban Luoc and Thong Nguyen Commune terraced fields recognised as national heritage sites.”
According to Long, October harvest time is definitely the best month to visit in order to witness ethnic minority farmers at work in the beautiful yellow rice fields.
Hoang Su Phi, at 800m above sea level, consists of high mountains, deep valleys, many streams and primeval forests, extremely suitable for adventurous and explorative travel. The area also hosts an array of ethnic minorities including the Dao, Mong, Nung, Clao and La Chi, each with its own folk songs, dances, folk games, festivals and activities such as the Nhay Lua (Jumping Fire) of the Dao, Long Tong (Going to the Field) of the Tay and Cung Rung (Worshipping Forest) of the Nung.
In order to attract more visitors, Hoang Su Phi has opened a Sightseeing Tower in Bac Quang Road as well as hosted exhibitions and flower gardens in the district centre. The tourist areas of Thong Nguyen-Nam Hong-Giang Thuong have also been upgraded.
“Thirteen out of 25 communes have been asphalted. Public teams have been set up in every commune in order to serve tourists,” said Long.
Traditional craft villages focused on forging (Le Hong Phong in Nam Son Commune) and weaving (Ho Thau and Nam Ty) have been developed alongside four Red Dao and Mong tourism villages where visitors are welcomed into local houses.
Visiting the Pan Hou Ecolodge Village Resort in Thong Nguyen Commune, located in a beautifully remote area of green mountain jungle, beautiful valleys, streaming rivers and ethnic minority villages, we could not help but feel surrounded by nature. The resort includes 12 bamboo houses that, while excluding television and internet, include 2ha of ponds and flower gardens.
Before leaving Hoang Su Phi, we had the chance to visit the Hoang Su Phi market that spreads along 1km every Sunday. Having had a small taste of the area and its peoples, we certainly cannot wait to return again soon.