Hoa Binh (VNS/VNA) – Located in the
northwest with an altitude of 1,200m – 1,500m above sea level, Hang Kia
and Pa Co communes in Hoa Binh province are covered by clouds almost

This place is not only a great hideaway from the summer heat
but also worth a visit in the autumn.

Leaving from the centre of Mai Chau district and after travelling about
30km over the mountain 1,200m high above sea level, we reached Pa Co commune
and after about 10km more, Hang Kia.

Looking down from above we saw the green colour of the mountains and forests,
hiding a glimpse of the roofs of the ethnic Mong people in the foggy space. We
were interested in the landscape from the small, winding road with steep,
narrow bends to the tea hills, stone fences, yellow canola flowers in front of
each porch.
Going deeper into the villages, sometimes we found Mong women embroidering and
their children playing.

The piles of firewood piled in the middle of the yard and the thin smoke
rising from the top of the kitchens helped us leave our worries behind to
enjoy a sense of peace.

Besides the road to explore the villages, we went to destinations with pristine
beauty such as tea hills and plum gardens in Ta Xong A, Ta Xo and Thung A Lang.

Along the road connecting the hamlets, the high points in the mountain are
ideal places to see clouds.

There is Heaven Gate or on Sam Tha mountain you can see Pu Luong peak of
neighbouring Thanh Hoa province and Pha Luong peak of Son La province.
Hang Kia – Pa Co has many small valleys interwoven between the Hang Kia – Pa Co
nature reserve. The terrain is mainly steep hills and mountains with ‘cat-ears’

Pa Co commune’s population accounts for 99 percent of the Mong who
maintain many traditional crafts such as weaving, indigo dyeing, wax
painting, and iron forging.

According to the Hoa Binh provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism,
brocade products of Pa Co have been shipped to many domestic and
international markets.

Hang Kia – Pa Co used to be a busy place for the drug trade but now life here
has returned to peace, with infrastructure like schools, medical stations and a
telecommunication network, improving people’s lives.
Many households have
started to develop a form of homestay tourism.

In Hang Kia, we stayed at Y Mua homestay at the entrance to the village and
enjoyed mountainous life.

Waking up early in the morning in the chilly weather, we felt the fresh air
of the dawn and watched clouds floating at our feet. Without the hustle
and bustle of the city, we wallowed in the wild natural landscape and the
hospitality of the village.

Climbing to the Heaven Gate, a unique ‘cloud hunting’ spot located 1,100m
above the sea, we saw the sea of white clouds floating.

In Hang Kia – Pa Co, we experienced mountain climbing, picking wild tea and
forest vegetables, farming with villagers, gathering on the porch to embroider
dresses, learning to draw wax and brocade weaving.

In the evening, we enjoyed the cuisine of the Mong, like maize wine, thang
co (horse meat and offal stew), banh day (round rice
cake), men men (steamed minced maize), chicken, pig and bamboo
shoots mixed with mac khen, an indispensable spice in the mountainous

After that, we relaxed and soaked our feet with medicinal herbs in the cool
weather, and drank a glass of maize wine and watched the starry night sky.

Y Mua homestay is one of two homestays in Hang Kia, open 2012. The owner of Y Mua
said when there are many tourists, the homestay needs 15 people to work.

“For many years, the local government has always wondered how to increase the
income of the local people in Hang Kia and Pa Co. Up to now, the development of
eco-tourism and community tourism has been identified as a direction for the
people of the two communes to develop their economy while preserving and
promoting their unique cultural values,” said Dang Mai Son, Chairman of the Mai
Chau District People’s Committee.

“Currently, tourists and domestic and international travel agencies have started
to know Hang Kia – Pa Co, but in the two communes, there are only several
households doing community tourism combining providing service travel. These
activities are also fragmented,” said Son.

According to Son, recently, Mai Chau district has held many meetings with
locals to encourage them to register for the development of homestay service,
while the rest of the households are encouraged to farm clean
produce to serve tourism.

Households running homestays are trained to improve their business management
and tourism skills, and are supported by the tourism authority with facilities
such as blankets, curtains, beds and wardrobes to serve tourists./.