Three famous highland towns in Vietnam

Leaving busy streets to go to towns with pristine beauty, visitors will experience very peaceful moments. Here, you can admire the majestic mountains and experience the lives of local people.


Meo Vac town (Ha Giang)

Meo Vac town is located in the Dong Van karst plateau park in Ha Giang province. It is the highland district in the North pole of Vietnam with a majestic view and peaceful atmosphere. Meo Vac is not only a charming land, but also an ideal destination for tourists who love exploring.

Meo Vac is in a small valley. The main terrain of Meo Vac is karst landscape, mostly created by limestone with Nho Que river flowing through. Most land used here is for agriculture, which accounts for about 12,100 ha. Local people exploit and cultivate many medical plants, herbs, ginseng, etc.

Going on a journey to Meo Vac, visitors not only can immerse themselves in the incredibly charming space, but also get to know about the unique culture of the ethnic people when visiting the Vu Mong carnival, Khau Vai or Phong Luu love market.

More importantly, it would be regrettable to come to Meo Vac without conquering Ma Pi Leng pass. Ma Pi Leng is a mountain range with a height of 2000 m above sea level, located in the territory of Ba Vi commune, Meo Vac district. This pass is considered the top mountain pass, also the most amazing wonder of Ha Giang. Ma Pi Leng is very attractive to visitors, especially international tourists, who come here to admire the majestic natural scenery in one of the top four moutain peaks in northern Vietnam.

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Meo Vac town attracts visitors with its wild beauty. Photo: Phonghh, Hoangyen93123, _Sundaew, Calvinthaipham.

Dong Van town (Ha Giang)

Dong Van is a mountainous province of Ha Giang, which is famous for Dong Van karst plateau park. Many people imagine a barren landscape with only rocks and mountains. On the contrary, this land nurtures many beautiful, colorful and sweet flowers. The beauty of Dong Van stone plateau is a place full of majestic and romantic specialties.

Dong Van is located at the north pole of Vietnam, and the highest protruding point on the map of Vietnam. Dong Van is 155km apart from Ha Giang city, where Lung Cu flagpole marks the extreme North of our country, making the border division between China and Vietnam. Dong Van stone plateau is at an average altitude of 1,000 – 1,600m above the sea level, with an area of nearly 2,356km² stretching across the area of 4 districts: Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Meo Vac and Dong Van of Ha Giang province.

This is one of the special limestone areas of the country, containing historical information of the earth’s crust development. Dong Van contains 80% of the limestone area, made up of various environmental conditions and development stages, lasting hundred million years. That’s why Dong Van is well-known for stunning landscapes including mountains, majestic caves, colorful flowers in forests.

The most beautiful tourist attraction is the old town of Dong Van. It is very enjoyable and exciting to wander in the old town to explore the culture, cuisine and traditions of the highland people. Such a good experience when discovering this ancient town.

Dong Van Ancient Street is a nearly one-kilometer long street that was formed nearly a century ago, with the typical architectural features of the highland people, such as yin and yang roofs, natural stone floors and yin and yang tiles. The ancient town has more than 40 houses 100-300 years old, in which the house of Luong family is thought to be the oldest. On every full-moon night, the street is colorfully lit with red lanterns of various sizes. It also serves food and has other cultural activities in those days.

In addition, Cat King’s Palace is a special destination that you should not miss in Dong Van discovery journey. This is a unique building that was built in the early 20th century, modeled on Chinese architecture (Manchu’s life) with beautiful curves, sharp lines and delicate sculptures. It was not only a mansion, but also a defensive fortress during the historical period. The King Palace with an area of over 1,000 meters has been recognized as a national art architectural monument.

From Dong Van town you can also easily explore other famous tourist destinations such as Cat King’s Palace, Ma Pi Leng, and especially the Lung Cu Flagpole where anyone coming to Dong Van has to check once. Tourists traveling to Ha Giang often choose to take a bus to Ha Giang. When you arrive in Ha Giang city, rent a motorbike to travel to Dong Van, Meo Vac, Lung Cu flagpole. You will go through most of the attractive tourist spots in Ha Giang.

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Dong Van old town with a total length of about 1 km. Photo: Chan.laca, Nhinhteo, K.h.i.n.

Sapa Town (Lao Cai)

Sapa is a small, mountain town in Lao Cai Province. It is located about 350 km northwest of Hanoi. Here’s where you’ll find the Hoang Lien Son range of mountains, which includes Fan Si Pan—the country’s highest peak.

This quiet Vietnamese town is home to different ethnic tribal groups. There are five main ethnic groups in Sapa: the Hmong, Dao, Tay, Giay and Xa Pho. It is said that Sapa was first occupied by the first four groups, since the Vietnamese from the lowlands (better known as the Kinh) did not colonise the highest valleys.

These days, Sapa welcomes a diverse range of visitors, attracted by the highland tribes, iconic rice paddies and forest treks. The whole area is blessed with awe-inspiring natural beauty.

Hiking and enjoying nature is the name of the game in Sapa. The most prominent attraction in the area around Sapa is Fan Si Pan, which is the highest mountain in Vietnam. It’s only 19km from town. This may seem like a short distance, but the trek is not easy; the rough terrain and unpredictable weather present some difficulties.


Fan Si Pan can be found in Hoang Lien National Park, which is an attraction in itself. The park covers a picturesque mountain landscape and several forests, and serves as the habitat for a diverse set of animals. Some species can only be found in northwest Vietnam and are highly endangered. Nature lovers will truly appreciate this park.

Other attractions that are part of the Hoang Lien National Park include the Cat Cat Village and the Ta Phin Village and cave.

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In Sapa town, there’s a small museum and a modest cathedral. Photo: Chimifarmmocchau, H.tong298, Nguyendinhdat0906, _Minahh6.

Moc Chau (Son La)

Known as Da Lat in the North for its temperate climate and its magnificent natural setting, Moc Chau awaits summer visitors with open arms who are only waiting for the holidays to go there. Located almost 190 kilometres from Hanoi, this gem of the mountainous North is ideal for spending a weekend to immerse yourself in the nature and cultures of Thai and Hmong. Renowned for being one of the most beautiful plateaus in Vietnam, Moc Chau also stands out as a must for a trip to Son La which is known for wild landscapes and astonishing ethnic wealth. On winter or summer days, in foggy or sunny weather, this beautiful plateau has what it takes to enhance your trip with a festival of colours and scents through its meadows.

Here are the top destinations in Moc Chau:

Land of tea, the first Vietnamese drink, the Moc Chau plateau is known for endless green tea plantations. Result of the hours of work of the farmers, the luxuriant cultures will put your eyes full of them, in particular in Tan Lap about 20 kilometres of the town. Please don’t forget the plantations forming a grandiose heart not far from the town. This place has charmed the young and couples who have come in large numbers to take beautiful photos. It’s a taste and sensual speciality to see without hesitation.

Along the way to Tan Lap town and about 16 kilometres from Moc Choc village, spans over more than 100 hectares the most beautiful valley of plum trees of Moc Chau. To admire her magnificent sight, go there in late January until mid-February to immerse yourself in the white fields. Between April and May, appetizing fruit is ideal for an equally pleasant stroll.

Located between Dong Sang and Xuan Nha towns, Ban Thung Cuong or Thong Cuong is a small Hmong village lost in an ocean of white mustard flowers in bloom. You can go out and meet the little Hmong in front of the traditional house or young girls in colourful dresses going to school, the sweetness of life is felt here.

It is in Dong Sang ward that you arrive in Ban Pa Phach or Pa Phach village, a mustard paradise of Thai and green Hmong. This plant is cultivated by almost all households for the extraction of oil. Nestled between the wooded karst mountains, the path to Pa Phach is quite winding and completely misty at the end of the afternoon. When spring arrives, the place is adorned with plum blossoms which are just as picturesque to see.

Neighbour to Pa Phach, Ban Ang or the Ang village, also located in Dong Sang ward, is known for its pine forest which has nothing to be ashamed of with Da Lat. With two natural lakes nearby, this haven of freshness invites to a totally relaxing excursion. You can have the opportunity to have contact with the Thai people and to discover their daily life, culture, breeding and crafts such as brocade weaving, basketry and manufacturing of cotton mattresses.

Also nicknamed Ban Vat or Nang waterfall meaning She, this beautiful stop is part of Thai history in Muong Sang ward, Moc Chau today. 100 metres high and 70 metres wide, it is well worth going to cool off, especially in its best period between May and September.

Culminating at nearly 2,000 metres at the Vietnamese-Laotian border, the roof of Moc Chau, Son La is accessible for hikers of all levels. The panorama of sumptuous landscapes shared by two countries should delight any nature lover.

Located at the Long Sap border crossing, this small market that comes alive every day is a meeting place for traders from two countries. On nearly 400 square metres, stalls are filled with everything, household goods, food and clothing. They exchange Vietnamese and Laotian currencies. A double encounter with the colourful men and women of two neighbouring peoples is definitely worth it.

To stay in Moc Chau, you have a range of choices between hotel, hostel and homestay to choose from. The accommodation is the most numerous and varied in Moc Chau town. There are also houses on stilts for groups found near the pine forest in Ang village.

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Photos: Chimifarmmocchau, H.tong298, Nguyendinhdat0906, _Minahh6.

Compiled by Le Ha

Photos: Zing