QUAN BA, HA GIANG
Quan Ba, a scenic district in northern Ha Giang province is a gateway to the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark. High rocks, small, deep valleys, winding roads, and unique local culture make Quan Ba a tourist attraction. Located between 1,000 and 1,600 meters above sea level, Quan Ba district comprises a township and 12 communes inhabited by 16 ethnic groups, 60% of them Mong, 14% Dao, and 11% Tay. Quan Ba is the only place in Vietnam that is home to the Pu Y ethnic group of 880 people. The Tay live in stilt houses with palm thatch. The Dao build their mud house and grow wet rice at the foot of the mountains. The Mong live in the high mountains and mainly cultivate maize. The local traditional crafts are weaving, carpentry, and pottery. The Tay, Mong, and Dao in Quan Ba embrace a rich treasury of folk cultures with numerous legends, fairy tales, poems, and folk tunes.
Quan Ba is full of exceptional sites such as the Dong Van Heaven Gate, the Can Ty walls, Kho My Tung Vai cave, and Thach Son Than mountain. On the Dong Van karst plateau are two limestone peaks that evoke the shape of two female breasts that are associated with a Mong legend about a fairy named Hoa Dao (peach blossom) who fell in love with a Mong man. They got married and had a little boy. Furious, the Jade Emperor forced Hoa Dao to return to heaven. Upon leaving the earth, she left her breasts to feed her baby. Later, her two breasts turned into two mountains that the locals dubbed “Fairy Mountain”. Nguyen Tuan Khoa, a photographer from Hanoi said “Tourists, passing through Quan Ba, stop to contemplate the beautiful landscapes and these two breast-like mountains. I have been here several times and each time have been strongly impressed.”
In Quan Ba, tourists can explore ethnic villages and hamlets like Hop Tien village’s brocade weaving craft, or the Tày Cultural Village in Tam Son township. They can also listen to Then singing and Tinh zither music and attend the rite of passage to adulthood of the Dao, hear the prayers for a good harvest of the Nung and Tay, join the Gau Tao feast of the Mong, and observe the worship of the forest genie by the Pu Y.
The Quan Ba, Quyet Tien, Tung Vai, and Trang Kim markets sell local products and specialties. It would be a shame to stay in the area without sampling ethnic culinary specialties like corn alcohol, smoked pork, farm pork, corn flour, and black-legged chicken. Quan Ba has landscapes of striking beauty and meeting its ethnic minorities is an unforgettable experience.