Off the Beaten Path in Vietnam

In the North of Vietnam, close to the border with China, there is an area called the Ma Pi Leng Pass. It is the most spectacular route and ideally should be explored by motorbike.

Dong Van is located in the Ha Giang Province and is the base to explore the full Ma Pi Leng circuit. It is also the main area for the Karst plateau geopark which runs through Meo Vac, Dong Van, Yen Minh and Quan Ba. The Geopark contains fossils that date back 600 million years and the mountain region can reach as high as 1600m above sea level. This ancient landscape was once covered by sea. Due to its tectonic heritage, it has been transformed into some of the world’s most natural wonders. If you are willing to take on some serious trekking, you will come across multiple settlements, scattered across these mountain ranges. Here the H’mong people live in their purest form. They cultivate land, wear traditional garments, have a family and marriage system that goes back centuries and they only show themselves around the major towns when the weekly market is open to sell their goods.

When it comes to accommodation, there is plenty to choose from. The cost for a room is generally around €5 – €8 and most places include breakfast. English speaking people are hard to come by and speaking a little French will help. If you are simply keen to get a taste of something truly wonderful that is not easy to come by, then this region is the place for you. I can honestly say from the bottom of my heart and from my past experiences that the Dong Van mountain ranges and the surrounding area is up there in my top three destinations on the planet so far.

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