Vietnam’s northern highlands offer an enchanting escape into unspoiled nature, diverse indigenous culture, and the simplicity of life. For those seeking an immersive adventure, a 20-day journey through the provinces in northeast Vietnam promises a remarkable and unforgettable experience. Le Thi Xuan Phuong, a 30-year-old traveler from Da Nang, embarked on this soul-stirring expedition in June, where she encountered the breathtaking landscapes of Ha Giang, Cao Bang, Bac Kan, and Thai Nguyen provinces in the northeast region.
Embracing Ha Giang’s Natural Beauty
Subheading: Khun Village: An Idyllic Valley Haven
Phuong’s journey began in Khun Village, nestled in Bang Lang Commune, Quang Binh District, Ha Giang Province, near the border with China. Here, she discovered a serene valley adorned with rice paddies and peanut fields, where villagers engage in the timeless traditions of rice harvesting and peanut picking. Khun Village is home to four ethnic groups—Tay, Dao, Nung, and La Chi—each contributing their rich cultural heritage to the community.
Subheading: Hoang Su Phi: A Tapestry of Terraced Fields
Heading west to Hoang Su Phi District, Phuong marveled at the vast expanse of 3,700 hectares of terraced fields. These fields become even more enchanting during both the watering and rice-ripening seasons, creating mirror-like surfaces that reflect the sky and clouds. The district is a cultural mosaic, with the Dao, Tay, Nung, and La Chi communities adding their unique colors to the region.
Subheading: Tranquility in Low Mountainous Villages
The low mountainous region near Ha Giang city center welcomed Phuong with a serene ambiance amidst flat valleys. Tha Village, inhabited by the Tay people, exuded tranquility and authenticity. In early June, the village came alive during the harvest season, where the Tay people proudly preserved their lifestyle, cuisine, and traditional crafts.
Unveiling Cultural Gems in Cao Bang and Bac Kan
Subheading: Nam Dam: Serenity Amidst Untamed Forests
Phuong ventured to Nam Dam in Quan Ba District, a village inhabited by the Dao Cham people. Embraced by untamed forests, Nam Dam boasts serene lakes and streams that provide irrigation for the upland fields. The village’s unique houses are constructed from soil and roofed with yin and yang tiles, preserving the community’s way of life, activities, and religious practices.
Subheading: Captivating Beauty of Lao Xa
Lao Xa, a village of the Mong people, nestled in Sung La Valley, Dong Van District, Ha Giang Province, captivated Phuong with its houses nestled against rocky mountains, adorned with roofs covered in yin and yang tiles. The village is home to the Mua Se Sinh family, who have upheld the traditional craft of silver carving for three generations.
Subheading: Winding Roads to Dong Van and Meo Vac
The Dong Van rocky plateau showcased its beauty through winding roads that crisscrossed the mountainside, leading Phuong to the villages of Dong Van and Meo Vac. On these roads, she encountered Hmong women wearing quay tau as they journeyed to the fields. The quay tau, a symbolic basket made of bamboo, holds deep cultural significance for Hmong women.
Embracing Local Traditions in Cao Bang and Thai Nguyen
Subheading: H’mong Women and Vibrant Blue Flax Fields
Amidst the cornfields, Phuong discovered vibrant blue flax fields, holding cultural and spiritual significance for the H’mong people. During the flax’s maturity, H’mong families come together to harvest the plant, transforming it into yarn for making clothes.
Subheading: Vibrancy at Pac Mieu Cattle Market
In Pac Mieu Town, Bao Lam District, Cao Bang Province, a bustling cattle market brings locals and visitors together on specific days of the lunar calendar. Beyond the cattle market, Pac Mieu offers trading of local products, including pigs and chickens, and serves as a meeting point for people residing in the vicinity.
Subheading: Hoai Khao: A Haven of Dao Tien Tradition
Hoai Khao in Nguyen Binh District, Cao Bang Province, is an ancient village inhabited by the Dao Tien people. Amidst the terraced fields undergoing transplantation, Dao Tien women maintain their tradition of embroidering and using beeswax to create patterns on their skirts. Bees are kept in hives to sustain this tradition, and once the days of plowing end, the people visit the bees to collect wax for beeswax painting.
Subheading: Ba Be Lake: A Radiant Gem
Enveloped by lush forests, Ba Be Lake in Bac Kan Province mesmerizes visitors with its radiant green hue. Serene roads lead to the Pac Ngoi Village, home to the Tay people. Here, visitors can witness the morning mist swirling around cliffs as the tranquil lake reflects the early morning sky, creating a poetic scene.
Subheading: Thai Nguyen: The Green Tea Haven
Thai Nguyen is renowned for its tea production, and in the summer, the tea fields are vibrant and lush with young green buds. In the La Bang tea area of Dai Tu District, local residents actively engage in harvesting the tea. The Kem stream gracefully flows through the tea fields, enhancing the beauty of La Bang.
A 20-day journey through Vietnam’s northern highlands is an immersive experience that unveils the untouched beauty of nature and the richness of indigenous culture. From terraced fields and rocky plateaus to ancient villages and serene lakes, this expedition offers a fresh perspective on Vietnam’s northern wonders. The journey undertaken by Le Thi Xuan Phuong serves as a testament to the unyielding charm and simplicity of life that thrives in this captivating region.
Q: What are the provinces covered in the 20-day journey through Vietnam’s northern highlands? A: The journey covers the provinces of Ha Giang, Cao Bang, Bac Kan, and Thai Nguyen in northeast Vietnam.
Q: How can I experience the vibrant blue flax fields with the H’mong people? A: The vibrant blue flax fields emerge every summer amidst the cornfields. To experience this, you can visit the H’mong villages during the flax’s maturity and witness the harvesting process.
Q: What is the cultural significance of the quay tau basket worn by Hmong women? A: The quay tau is a symbolic basket made of bamboo and holds cultural significance for Hmong women. It is deeply linked to their cultural heritage and traditional way of life.
Q: How can I explore the tea fields of Thai Nguyen? A: Thai Nguyen is famous for its tea production. To explore the tea fields, you can visit the La Bang tea area in Dai Tu District, where locals actively engage in tea harvesting during the summer.
Q: Is the 20-day journey suitable for all types of travelers? A: The 20-day journey through Vietnam’s northern highlands offers a diverse range of experiences, from serene nature exploration to cultural immersion. It is suitable for travelers seeking an authentic and immersive adventure.