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Visit The Colorful Dong Van Market In Ha Giang, Northern Vietnam

Dong Van Market in Ha Giang

As one of the best Ha Giang ethnic markets, Dong Van Market is a must-visit destination if you wish to discover the culture, ancient architecture, and meet many ethnic groups from northern Vietnam. The unique feature of Dong Van Market is that it only opens once a week, so not all tourists have the opportunity to visit it. The ethnic market has long become one of the cultural beauties of the people of Dong Van town in particular and Ha Giang province in general.

I. Overview of Dong Van Market

Dong Van (Vietnamese name: Đồng Văn) is a district located in the north of Ha Giang province, in the Dong Van karst plateau, and shares a border with China.
Visiting Dong Van district in Ha Giang, you will not only be amazed by the majestic landscapes of limestone mountains but also have the opportunity to discover the daily life of ethnic minorities at Dong Van Market, which reflects the rustic beauty and cultural authenticity of the mountain inhabitants.

Dong Van Ancient Town

Dong Van Ethnic Market is located at the foot of Don Cao mountain and serves as an exchange and trade place for the ethnic groups of Ha Giang, such as the Tay, Nung, Han, Hmong, Hoa, Dao, etc. During your visit, you can experience many interesting activities. For example, you can directly observe the simple life of the ethnic minorities, listen to their local languages, and taste delicious specialties. In particular, Dong Van Market offers a wide variety of specialties, souvenirs, and handicrafts that the locals cultivate and make themselves.

II. Opening hours of Dong Van Market

Dong Van Market in Ha Giang takes place only once a week, on Sundays. Due to the difficulty of travel in Ha Giang, where villages are far apart, Sunday is designated to allow residents to prepare their goods for sale and to do their shopping.

On market day, even before sunrise, mothers prepare the products they have grown and made at home to sell or exchange. Sometimes, children accompany their parents to help with the selling.

The main products at Dong Van Market are agricultural products and livestock such as piglets, cattle, chickens, etc. Sometimes, exchanges are made directly, as in the past when money did not exist, by exchanging vegetables for meat. This feature also attracts many tourists.

Agricultural products are the main items sold at the Dong Van Market

Additionally, Dong Van Market will choose a day in the middle of the month to organize ethnic cultural programs, offering many experiences to tourists. On that day, you can discover many unique folk games of Ha Giang, such as ethnic jumping, bird fights, and brocade weaving. It will be an opportunity for you to better understand the cultural beauty of the ethnic groups of Ha Giang.

III. What to do at Dong Van Market?

1. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of the market

Upon arriving at Dong Van Market, the first thing you will see is the lively image of the locals browsing the market to buy, sell, and exchange goods. The inhabitants carry woven bamboo baskets on their backs or large bags to hold the food and essential items they buy for their families, to be used for a week.

Local people carry a bamboo basket on their backs to buy items for their families

At the market, people not only use money to buy goods but also directly exchange the products they raise or grow. Additionally, Dong Van Market is an opportunity for the residents to meet and reconnect after a week. After shopping, they take the time to catch up and discuss everyday life issues. You can easily see men gathering, holding glasses of wine, and chatting together.

2. Savor the culinary specialties of northern Vietnam

The cuisine of the Northeast has long been renowned in Vietnam for its culinary specialties. Among them, at Dong Van Market, you can discover a variety of dishes at the street stalls, such as chả trứng (stuffed omelette), rượu ngô (corn alcohol), xôi ngũ sắc (multi colored sticky rice), cơm lam (rice cooked in bamboo), and trâu gác bếp (dried buffalo meat).

Dried buffalo meat in Ha Giang

The uniqueness of these dishes lies in their frequent accompaniment by a spicy chili, which is also a local specialty in Ha Giang and a sought-after condiment by many visitors who enjoy hot flavors.

3. Discover the unique architecture and history of Dong Van

Dong Van Market was built between 1925 and 1928. It is designed in a U-shaped structure when viewed from above, facilitating trade and the exchange of goods.

The market's architecture also reflects Vietnamese and Chinese styles, influenced by its geographical location, giving the Dong Van ancient town a distinctive character.

All construction materials are made of stone, extracted from the Ha Giang karst plateau. As a result, Dong Van Market appears very solid and imposing amidst the high plateaus and steep mountains.

4. Buy unique handcrafted souvenirs in Ha Giang

At Dong Van Market, you can buy renowned culinary specialties such as dried buffalo meat and corn wine to give as gifts.

You can buy traditional costumes at Dong Van Market.

Additionally, handmade items decorated with the traditional patterns of the local ethnic groups are also highly appreciated because they are unique to Ha Giang and very colorful.

5. Participate in cultural exchanges by wearing the traditional costumes of the ethnic groups

Another experience appreciated by tourists is the colorful traditional costumes of the local inhabitants. Not only can you admire them, but you can also wear these clothes directly by renting them at Dong Van Market. Many international tourists love the traditional costumes with beautiful fabric and affordable prices when they purchase them.

While walking around the market in traditional clothing, you also have the opportunity to meet and discover many fascinating cultural aspects at Dong Van Market. The market is naturally a meeting place for many different ethnic groups. Thus, you will see many different ethnic groups wearing their traditional costumes, through which you will discover the cultural image of several ethnic groups during your visit to Dong Van Market.

Traditional costumes of ethnic groups in Ha Giang

IV. FAQ about Dong Van Market in Ha Giang

1. When is the best time to visit Dong Van Market?

Dong Van Market opens every Sunday, and a major cultural event takes place in the middle of the month, organized at the market for tourists. Therefore, it is advisable to plan your visit so as not to miss the market opening day.
It is best to visit Dong Van Market around 9 AM until noon, as this is when the market is most lively. The afternoon is generally when the locals start cleaning up after having sold all their products.
A tip is to visit Dong Van Market in Ha Giang in September, as you will have the chance to admire the rice terraces during the ripe rice season, which cover the mountains in a golden color.

2. How to get to Dong Van Market?

To get to Dong Van Market, you must navigate winding passes around the mountains. It is advisable to rent a car with a private driver or book a motorcycle tour for a complete and safe experience of the Ha Giang loop tour.
If you want to explore the Ha Giang loop and the ethnic markets on your own, you can rent a motorcycle in downtown Ha Giang. Make sure you are well-equipped for riding, with gloves, a jacket, and a determined attitude to cross the mountain passes.

3. What to prepare when visiting Dong Van Market?

You should prepare warm clothes as Ha Giang is a mountainous region where temperatures are often lower and colder in the evening. You should also bring sports shoes to facilitate your movements and visits to the market as well as other pedestrian areas.
When visiting Dong Van Market, you will surely buy many souvenirs. Therefore, it is advisable to have Vietnamese currency to facilitate purchases, as there are few ATMs and no bank transfer services, card payments, or euros available at the market.
Dong Van Market is a must-see site in Ha Giang

Dong Van Market in Ha Giang is a must-visit with many interesting activities for visitors. You can find numerous colorful traditional costumes and handcrafted souvenirs there. If you have any questions about this destination or need advice for your travel itinerary in Vietnam, feel free to contact Autour Asia, your Vietnam travel company.

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