DONG VAN KARST PLATEAU GLOBAL GEOPARK
Pretty long name, but if you want some official name to call area where the loop take places it would be this one. It’s a UNESCO geopark, whatever that means.
The base route is around 340km. It takes 2 days 1 night and you can extend it to 4 days, or even longer.
Basically what you do on the extra days is extra stops, some on the main road to get inside some villages, other attractions are detour from the main road. This post is written for the 2 days tour (for the time recommendation). And the places visited are from the 3 days tour.
Don’t pay to much attention to the cities, the best of the tour is actually the places in between the cities.
If you’ve heard about taking the bus to Dong Van rent a motorbike and go forward I don’t recommend, the road from there it’s nice, it’s the best but that doesn’t mean the rest is bad, also you will miss the whole “getting there” feeling, seeing how the amazing place becomes even better everytime.
Just one more city, you can enjoy the random streets if you have a lot of time or need to spend one day resting, otherwise take a look on your way to start the loop and coming back.
If you travel Vietnam by bus probably you will get here around evening/night get your motorbike or tour ready for next day to start in the morning.
HA GIANG TO TAM SON
First section of the loop. Not bad but nothing compare to the rest, don’t waste to much time with stops for pictures here, save it for next places.
Quan Ba Pass (Heaven’s Gate): Don’t mistake it with the chinese site with same english name! Even tour agencies in Vietnam sometimes use pictures of the chinese “heaven’s gate”. This pass is basically a section of this route, the most important point is the viewpoint next to the information center looking over Tam Son.
LUNG KHUY CAVE
From the town of Tam Son it’s a 1 hr. hike to the cave entrance (50.000 VND). The cave is pretty nice and big enough to contemplate walking slowly for around half an hour.
TAM SON TO YEN MINH
Same as previous section, nice but the really good one is yet to come. However here you have the first detour, very short one totally worth it. I call it “the bridge” because no idea of any official name for this place… Great view of the river with mountains and buffalos. Should take minutes to get here and back to the main road, don’t spend hours taking pictures. Good place to come on sunny days.
If you do the 3 day loop you will probably spend the night at Yen Minh.
Ha Giang Dong Van Loop
YEN MINH TO DONG VAN
Finally movie-quality landscape! there isn’t a single point to stop and watch, the whole area is amazing, specially the second half, just watch at those mountains.
Here you can do some extra stops if you have the time before ending the day in Dong Van town.
LUNGCAM CULTURAL TOURIST VILLAGE
A small traditional village (10.000 VND) famous because a movie was filmed here, it looks good but it’s very small, only one building is nice to get in to take some pictures, skip it or do it very fast. You will see similar places everywhere.
HMONG KING’S RESIDENCE
Not actually a king, he was called this way because of respect, drugs in the story, sounded interesting even for me, and I don’t care too much to hear this kind of things from tour guides… that asides, this house looks interesting enough to make a stop if you have the time, the architecture is nice and you can spend some time walking around, unless you’ve already seen similar places in china.
LUNG CU FLAG TOWER
People say amazing view blah blah… but for for me it is just a 360 degree view of some nice mountains but full of roads and houses, and a soviet style construction with a big flag looking to the other side of the border with china. Takes couple hrs. to get here and come back, not possible to do it on the 2 day tour, and not really important in my opinion, ok to skip it.
You can also add the “border” (checkpoint) with china, some people do it but I have no idea about it.
DONG VAN ON A BAD WEATHER DAY
Next section (to Meo Vac) is the most pretty one, in case there is bad weather but not feeling like staying in town then you can come back to Hmong King’s Residence and Lung Cu Flag Tower and maybe some extra stop on the way that wasn’t on my tour.
DONG VAN TO MEO VAC
The best view on the whole loop, make sure to make a stop at the Ma Pi Leng Pass viewpoints, if your times are flexible try to wait for nice clear sky to come here, usually at noon or a bit later.
This is one of the places you will see on pictures hanging on restaurants and tour agencies on the area.
Unfortunately because of the weather I couldn’t get any really good picture here…
Note: as a tourist, Meo Vac means the district, not the town.
MEO VAC TO YEN MINH
One last look at the pretty mountains, more easy to take pictures here, the road is more friendly to make stops at good spots, and more quiet but still good.
Ha Giang Dong Van Loop
YEN MINH BACK TO HA GIANG
Same road you used before. Is there anything else to say? Oh yes! remember to return the motorbike when you finish if you rent one.
check my blog for info about getting a vehicle, prices and more
Day 2: Yen Minh to Dong Van