After two weeks travelling in the big cities and well-known attractions of Vietnam, we wanted to see another side of the country. We had found a really good agency in Hanoi that was focused on authenticity and sustainable tours, working with the locals. So we decided to book at tour of the upper North region of Vietnam, called the Ha Giang province (pronounced Ha ZAHNG). It is a region of incredible beauty and rich ethnic traditions. There are more than 53 ethnic minorities in the country and this region you can find dozens.

Our first stop is near the town of Ha Giang itself, in the hills above, in a community of Black Tay, one of Vietnam’s many ethnic minorities.


Before planting the rice, it is very important to plough the fields. This is often done by water buffalos, but in this case it’s been replaced by an engine.


We will be sleeping here tonight with a family.


We will be sleeping all together in this communal room.


Preparing dinner!


Dinner looks delicious!


Living in a traditional house doesn’t mean you can’t get satellite TV and kung fu movies.


The next day, we go for a little hike through the villages.


Our next destination, Đồng Vă, is not very far away for a bird but you have to cross over from valley to valley, from mountain to mountain. The drive is spectacular, like a rollercoaster. It is not for the faint of heart.


On our way we make stops in local villages and at a farmer’s market.


We also stop in Hop Tien, a village specialized in weaving techniques and visit a Women’s Co-Op. The story of that place is truly incredible and we only learned fully about it when we returned home as it was covered by a NYTimes article that I invite you to read here. This co-op was created by a woman named Vang Thi Mai which I took a portrait below.



This kind of experience and visit makes you think and take things in perspective.


We continue on our way through the mountains and reach the city of Đồng Văn.

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