Dong Van Ancient Street: Where History Comes Alive

In the remote reaches of northern Vietnam lies a hidden gem that whispers tales of the past with every cobblestone underfoot and every weathered facade that graces its winding lanes. Welcome to Dong Van Ancient Street, a place where history comes alive, inviting travellers to step back in time and immerse themselves in the cultural tapestry of centuries gone by.

History of Dong Van Ancient Street

At a lofty 1,000-1,600m elevation, this ancient town is surrounded by rugged, forest-blanketed mountains on all sides. And if you visit in winter, be prepared for a crisp chill that’ll have you snuggling up in all your layers!Back in the early 20th century, this little quarter was just a home for a few Tay, Mong, and Hoa families. But as the Nung and Dao ethnic groups migrated in over time, the vibe became more lively and vibrant.Despite Ha Giang’s development pushes in recent decades to boost tourism, Dong Van has thankfully retained its ancient, rustic charm in the most captivating way. The winding stone alleys, carved into the mountainside, will make you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a forgotten realm.

Architectural Marvels

Dong Van’s ancient quarter is a time capsule with 40 stone houses nestled beneath cliffs. Faded hues from weathered facades blend with warm sunlight and mossy overhangs. The iconic tube houses with black tiled roofs epitomize northern border architecture. Vibrant red lanterns add a cozy radiance to the timeless atmosphere.
One of the defining features of this ancient street is its architectural heritage. Here, traditional Hmong and Tay legacy mingle with French colonial buildings, creating a captivating blend of styles that is both eclectic and harmonious. Wandering through the narrow alleyways, visitors are treated to a visual feast of intricately carved wooden balconies, and ancient stone houses.

Cultural Heritage

But Dong Van Ancient Street is more than just a collection of old buildings; it is a living testament to the rich cultural heritage of the region. Here, traditional crafts and trades continue to thrive, passed down through generations. Visitors can witness artisans at work, weaving intricate textiles and crafting pottery. Festivals and events throughout the year offer a glimpse into the vibrant traditions and customs of the area, from colorful processions to lively market days.

Exploring Dong Van Ancient Street

Exploring Dong Van Ancient Street is a journey of discovery, with surprises waiting around every corner. From ancient temples and pagodas to bustling markets and quaint tea houses, there is no shortage of attractions to captivate the curious traveller. Whether strolling leisurely along the cobblestone streets or delving into the hidden alleys, every step reveals a new facet of this enchanting destination. Visitors can immerse themselves in the hustle and bustle of daily life, striking up conversations with friendly locals and sampling delicious street food along the way.

What to eat in Dong Van

If you find yourself wandering the ancient streets of Dong Van in Ha Giang province, you’re in for a real treat! The street food stalls here are a treasure trove of regional specialties. We’re talking all the iconic Ha Giang goodies to snack on or bring home as edible souvenirs for your loved ones.But here’s the real insider tip – time your visit for weekends or festivals if you can. That’s when the real stars come out to play! I’m talking must-try delicacies like silky banh cuon (steamed rice rolls), hearty buffalo stew simmered overnight, and the showstopper – ngũ sắc xôi, a kaleidoscope of sticky rice colors that’s almost too pretty to eat. Almost.The flavors here are just totally unique, from the grassy notes of Bac Me rice to the chewy of thit trau gac bep (dried buffalo meat). Even humble dish like au tau porridge is famous for its fresh local ingredients.

Getting There 

From Hanoi, your first stop is the Ha Giang city area. There are so many bus options between the two running from like 5am to 9pm daily. It’s super easy to find a time that works for your schedule. The bus is a nice chill way to conserve energy for all the epic adventures awaiting in Ha Giang! Most routes depart from My Dinh bus station.Now I know some of you prefer the wind-in-your-hair, motorbike road trip experience. If that’s your vibe and you have solid long-distance riding skills, the Hanoi to Ha Giang route could be an epic self-drive option (just go with a bigger squad for safety!). But if you’re more of a newbie rider, the bus is probably a better choice.Once you make it to Ha Giang city, you’ve still got another solid 100km stretch to reach the Dong Van ancient town itself. Fair warning – this road is no joke with steep mountain passes and cliff drops. If you’re on two wheels, time your journey properly and avoid driving at night at all costs for your safety!

Tips for a Memorable Visit

For those planning a visit to Ha Giang, there are a few tips to keep in mind. The best time to visit is during the dry season, from October to April when the weather is cool and pleasant. Be prepared for varying weather conditions, as the mountainous terrain can lead to sudden changes in temperature and rainfall. Above all, approach your visit with an open heart and an open mind, and prepare to be enchanted by the timeless beauty of this historic street.


In the heart of northern Vietnam, amid the rugged landscapes and timeless traditions, lies a place where history comes alive with every step. Dong Van Ancient Street is more than just a collection of old buildings; it is a living testament to the resilience and creativity of the human spirit. Whether drawn by its rich history, its stunning architecture, or its warm hospitality, you can choose one of our Ha Giang tours to step back in time and discover the true essence of Vietnam’s northern highlands.
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