Tp. Hà Giang (Hà Giang city) is the capital of Hà Giang province, and the hub for travel around the area. Many travelers are short on time, so only stay in Hà Giang city long enough to rent motorbikes for their trip north around the Dong Van karst plateau. However, for those travelers who have some more time to explore, there are a several things to do around the city, which I will outline below.
––––––––––– In the city: –––––––––––
-Hà Giang mountain: At the western edge of Hà Giang city is a large hill, with a road half way to the top. At the end of the road is a path up to a temple. The path continues to a small shrine at the top of the mountain. This spot at the top provides a great view of the city. The start of the road up the mountain is at coordinates 22.8201N, 104.9813E.
-Bông Cafe & Hostel: This is a great place to stop and meet fellow travelers from all over the world. The place also rents motorbikes, organizes tours, and has English speaking staff that give good travel advice. It is located at 65 Minh Khai Street (s? 65, Minh Khai) in Tp. Hà Giang.
-Hà Giang Museum: The Hà Giang Museum (B?o Tàng T?nh Hà Giang) is on the corner of Tr?n H?ng ??o street and QL4C. It has displays on the various ethnic minority peoples of the area.
-Minh Khai Market: This produce market is near several of the hotels and hostels in the southern part of Hà Giang city off of Lê ??c Th? street. It is closed during the afternoon.
-Hà Giang Market: This is a large covered market where you can buy pretty much anything. On Sunday mornings, ethnic minority people from the surrounding area travel to the market to buy and sell things. The market is located at the north end of Tr?n Phú street, Tp. Hà Giang.
-Parks: There is an open square off of QL2 in the western half of the city (22.8266N, 104.9840E). People gather here in the evenings and walk around. There is another park leading from this point north along the Lô River, with zodiac animal statues in it. There is also a park off of QL4C at 22.8284N, 104.9829E.
-Mountain stairways: Off of Lý T? Tr?ng street at coordinates 22.8313N, 104.9911E is the start of a dirt road, and at the end of the road (22.8309N, 104.9922E) is an overgrown stairway. The stairs lead up into the hills to the east of the city, and were likely constructed by the military during the war with China to help defend the area. The stairs split part of the way up, with one set leading right up to the top of a hill overlooking Hà Giang, and the other set continuing straight. The stairs then split again, which a branch leading left. Each of the three points accessible by the set of stairs offer good views toward the west.
-Bia h?i place: My favorite place to go in the evening is the draft beer hall on a side road off of Minh Khai street (coordinates 22.8154N, 104.9877E). This a great place to drink some of the cheapest beer in the world, eat weird drinking snacks, and interact with locals. You are always bound to have a group of young guys come over to ask you to chug a glass of beer or two with them.
-Pool hall: About halfway between the two bridges in Hà Giang city, on Nguyê?n Tha?i Ho?c street, is a small two-table pool hall, on the left side of the road when walking north.
-Bánh cu?n place: On Lý T? Tr?ng street in Hà Giang city (at about 22.8285N, 104.9900E) is a secret little restaurant that only serves bánh cu?n. Bánh cu?n is a thin, steamed rice batter crepe wrapped around ground pork, dried onion, and chopped wood ear mushroom and shallots. The spot is usually open only in the evenings.
––––––––– Outside the city: –––––––––
-Ha Thanh Waterfall: West of Ha Thanh village is a small pool at the bottom of a little waterfall, which is a popular place for locals to swim. Swim across the pool and climb up to the second higher up pool, which is the nicer place to hang out. The waterfall is located at 22.8381N, 104.9322E, and the parking area is at 22.8398N, 104.9336E. Pay the guy at the house there for parking, then walk across the river to the field on the other side, where you will see the trail to the falls.
-Thôn Tha village: This is a really nice traditional Tày ethnic minority village outside of Hà Giang city. It consists of thatched stilt houses surrounded by rice paddies. There are several homestays in town, so you can stay the night, or hire a guide to explore the nearby mountains. The town center is near coordinates 22.833N, 104.946E.
-Ph??ng Thi?n Waterfall: There is a tall waterfall with a pool for swimming in Ph??ng Thi?n village, southwest of the Hà Giang bus station. At coordinates 22.7875N, 104.9661E, leave the road, and there will be a trail on the other side of the river. At the end of the trail, you will need to wade and swim your way up the river to the waterfall.
-Ph??ng Thi?n cave: Ph??ng Thi?n village also has a large cave, but I am not sure of its exact location, as I haven’t visited it yet.
-Short motorbike loop: A nice short motorbike loop is Minh Khai road to Quy?t Th?ng road to QL34, which takes you around the mountains at the eastern edge of the city.
-Trekking: The Ph??ng ?? valley (22.825N, 104.905E) is a great place to trek. A good place to start is Thôn Tha village. The whole valley is covered in rice terraces. The villages in the valley are mostly populated by the Red Dao ethic minority.
-Abandoned water park: There’s an abandoned water park (Công viên n??c Hà Giang) off of QL2 (22.829N, 104.956E) on the way to Thôn Tha village.
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