Dong Van, Ha Giang, Vietnam
Second to Ha Giang, Dong Van is the most common stopping point in the Ha Giang Loop. Because of this, there’s usually a good social atmosphere, providing opportunities to meet other motorbike travelers. The city is a bit more developed than the others, with more amenities, and a famous old quarter. Like Meo Vac, Dong Van is a good place to stay while exploring Ma Pi Leng and the area around it. In the hills to the north there are a few villages and pathways to explore that provide great views of Song Nho Que (river) and the Tu San Abyss it flows through.
Dong Van Map
Where to stay in Dong Van
Lam Tung Hotel: $19 – $26 private 1 – 3
+84 219 3856 789
Đường Phố Cổ kéo dài, thị trấn Đồng Văn, huyện Đồng Văn, tỉnh Hà Giang, Phố Cổ, Đồng Văn, Hà Giang, Vietnam
Lam Tung is a Vietnamese style hostel, that has clean soft beds, and very helpful english speaking operators. It’s located in the center of Dong Van, on the edge of the old quarter, and surrounded by good places to eat.
This is a good place to stay if you’d like a break from the traditional homestays, and hostels. If you’d like a nice mountain view, request a room on the 7th floor. Also, you may want to try the Black Chicken at the nextdoor Lam Tung restaurant.
Dong Van H’mong Homestay: $11 – $38, Small dorm, 2 – 3
+84 379 313 563
Đồng Văn, Đồng Văn District, Ha Giang, Vietnam
This traditional Hmong homestay is a nice place to get some first hand experience with the Hmong culture. The family running the place is super friendly and helpful, and the father speaks great english. They may invite you to explore the farm, try traditional clothing, learn a traditional dance, and cook with the family.
The Homestay is located a bit out of town, up on a hill, with an outdoor seating area that provides a nice place to relax. Though a bit rustic, the place is clean, and the beds are soft. They have a small dormitory, and a few private rooms available. Breakfast is included in the price.
Stilt House Hostel: $5 – $11, Dorm, Private Double
+84 96 959 34 06
Đường Hạnh phúc, QL4C, Đồng Văn, Hà Giang 20000, Vietnam
The Stilt House is a newly built traditional style homestay, that provides a fun place to meet other people. Like other homestays they do a family style dinner for an extra 100k (~$4.30). They do a good job at creating a social atmosphere, with a pool table, table tennis and karaoke in the evenings. The homestay is located in a nice setting 2km from Dong Van center, not far from the Ma Pi Leng Pass. They offer dorm beds, and private doubles, with shared bathrooms.
Where to eat in Dong Van
Green Karst restaurant and Bar: $ Asian, Vietnamese, Western
The Green Karst is one of the better places in town. It gets pretty busy during travel season, so be ready for a longer wait on those days. They offer Vietnamese and asian fusion dishes, and a handful of wester meals. The menu is in english with photos, making ordering much easier. Some favorites of the place are the smoked duck, hot pot, and the bacon and egg breakfast. Upstairs they have some covered open seating, making it a nice environment to grab a bite.
Bong Restaurant: $, Asian, Vietnamese, Western
Very similar to the Green Karst, Bong offers a wide range of western and Vietnamese meals suitable for foreign travelers. Like the Green Karst, they get busy, and can take a bit to serve you during peak hours. Their menu is in very clear english. All in all, a good spot to grab a hot meal.
Quang Dung Restaurant: $-$$, Vietnamese
Nha Hang (restaurant) Quang Dung is a super tasty place to grab some vietnamese food. They do have a few western snacks, but nothing to get excited about. Their menu is in broken english, with great prices considering the portion sizes. This is my personal favorite in Dong Van.
What to do in Dong Van
Because of Dong Van’s Close proximity to Meo Vac, you may also want to check out my list of things to do in Meo Vac, as they can be done from Dong Van as well; things like boating the river, riding to China etc.
The Dong Van Sunday Market is the largest in the geopark. Here ethnic minority groups come together to sell brocade, goods, food, and livestock. It’s an interesting look into the life of the ethnic groups, and provides plenty of photography opportunities. The market starts as early at 6am, and usually slows to a stop around 10-11am.
Dong Van Old Quarter is in the center of town. Here there are plenty of cafes, restaurants and souvenirs shops. This area of town is over 100 years old. In recent years much of the old quarter has been renovated. However, you can still find chinese influence with features like terracotta roofs, wood beams and mud walls.
Đồn Cao Viewpoint
Just to the north of the Dong Van city center is a tall peak that provides great 360º views of the area. On top of the peak is the remains of a fortress, which you can explore. You can hike there in 15 -20 minutes from Dong Van Old Town. Go to the end of the closest road to the peak, there you’ll find the paved path that winds to the top.
Ma Pi Leng Skywalk Hiking Trail
If you would like to take it slow and enjoy some world class views, you can hike the Skywalk Trail. The hiking trailhead starts on the west side of QL4C just before the Dong Van Bar Coffee. I have roughly marked it on the route map, but you can easily find the trail on the Maps.Me app for an additional reference.
The trail cuts into the cliffside, and climbs high up the mountain to a small pagoda, shrine and viewpoints. After the viewpoints you have the option of continuing northward until it drops down and reconnects with QL4C, or heading back down to the starting point. Continuing northward past the viewpoint the trail will take you through some small mountain villages and crops. If you decide to walk the whole trail, rather than in and out, you may want to organize a bike waiting at either end of the trail. Walking along the QL4C may not be very enjoyable during lots of traffic.
The hiking trail is well built, with handrails and artificial steps for ease and safety on some sections, and has about 300 meters of elevation gain up to the viewpoint. After the viewpoint the trail meets up with a paved single track path that leads back to the highway.