Tucked away in the north of Vietnam, Ha Giang is a land of fantastic, staggering beauty. Steep, almost conical mountains, caves and grottoes adorn the landscape, where ethnic minority tribes still live and farm in ancient villages.
New York Times travel writer Jennifer Bleyer visited the province of Ha Giang recently, with her husband and young daughter in tow. Here’s how she described the region:
“Such reverence, we soon learned, was warranted, and it wasn’t just because of the region’s spectacular landscape. In an ever-shrinking world, Ha Giang, with its uniquely preserved tribal culture (nearly 90 percent of the population is ethnic minorities), is one of those rare places that hasn’t been corralled by modernity or prepackaged for visitors…During the past two decades, as Vietnam’s lowlands and urban centers have teetered on tracks of globalization and economic development, much of this distant 5,000-square-mile province has remained detached and frozen in the past.”
Activities include hiking with local guides, shopping in the traditional markets and exploring the palace of powerful Hmong leader Vuong Chinh Duc. A variety of companies offer custom tours, either in a car or on motorbikes.
However, before you visit you will need to acquire a Vietnamese visa. You’ll need to do this in advance, before the trip, as the country does not issue “airport visas” unless you have a letter indicating that you have been pre-approved for one.
You’ll need to send your passport off to get your Vietnam visa, along with your visa application. Check the expiration date on it before you do so, as you’ll need to have at least 6 months left on your passport to enter Vietnam.
For more information on getting a Vietnam visa, see Vietnamese Visa Requirements for Tourists.
In addition to your visa, you’ll also need a permit to visit Ha Giang. You can get your permits after you arrive in the city of Ha Giang.
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