The districts of Quang Binh and Bac Quang make up the southernmost portion of Ha Giang Province, and this location means that they’re outside of the traditional “Ha Giang Loop”, which leads to few travellers stopping here or indeed even passing through when compared to districts like Dong Van, Hoang Su Phi or Meo Vac.
Quang Binh is the western of the two districts, and has in recent years undergone several initiatives intended to turn it into a community-driven tourism haven. The crown jewel of this effort is easily Chi Hamlet, located 14 kilometres from the district capital and inhabited mostly by Tay who constitute 96% of the village’s population, joined by small groups of Kinh, Nung and Dao. The success of these initiatives will be apparent to anyone who has visited other Tay villages, as you will quickly notice that unlike in other places, the Tay customs and culture are alive and well here, and have not been replaced or encroached on by broader Vietnamese or Global trends and cultures.
The district capital of Yen Binh has little to offer travellers other than perhaps as a place to stop for some refreshments and a meal before continuing east. Driving from Yen Binh it won’t take long to reach the village of Pa Then, home to the ethnic group of the same name. Numbering only around 6000 people, this ethnic group is among the smallest in Vietnam. Visiting the village is a great way to get some insight into a unique and rare culture of Northern Vietnam, and if you are visiting between mid-October and the lunar new year (usually around February) then you can watch the amazing displays of Fire Dancing in the village square after the sun sets.
Moving on to Bac Quang to the east, the district capital of Viet Quang lies close to the border with Quang Binh, and while the town itself doesn’t have much in terms of attractions, there are several interesting sites to visit around it.
First up is Quang Minh Lake, perfect for an idyllic sunset picnic or hiking trip around the serene lakeshore. Second is Kiem Hamlet, a charming Tay village that is now an ecotourism project, a great place to visit for travellers wishing to get close to Tay culture and way of life or give back a little to the communities that they visit by helping out with various daily tasks.
East of the capital and Khiem hamlet you can find Trong Con. This is a historical monument built to honour martyrs of the revolution and its location is significant as it is the site of the first revolutionary base in the province, from which the revolution eventually spread to the rest of Ha Giang.
Continuing north from Trong Con you will reach Nam Pu cave. Set inside the heart of an ancient forest, this cave is a mere 10 meters wide at the entrance, but as you descend deeper into the earth, the chasm opens up wider and taller. The cave is reminiscent of Phong Nha Cave in Central Vietnam, as there is a stream running through the middle of the cave that travellers can float along on a small boat.
All in all, while a visit to Quang Binh and Bac Quang might not be the most exciting part of Ha Giang when compared to Dong Van or Meo Vac, those with a few days to spare would be well served by not skipping this amazing part of the province that so few ever get to see.