Pao’s House: A Unique Cultural Identity Of The H’mong Ethnic

Among the countless village houses you pass by when you come to Ha Giang, Pao’s house is a particularly special and unique stop. So, what do you know about this house? What makes it attractive? All of this will be revealed right away.

The ancient house
The ancient house has stood the test of time and remains sturdy and resilient despite the passing years

Some information to know about Pao’s house in Ha Giang

When traveling to Ha Giang, you will be introduced to Pao’s house by the locals. And you, like many others, will surely have questions such as: Why is this place so well-known? Is this house a cultural landmark with historical significance? Who is Pao, and is he the village chief? Certainly, you will have these inquiries when hearing about this location.

Why is Pao’s house famous?

Pao’s house gained fame as it was chosen as the primary filming location for the movie “Pao’s Story.” The film was released in 2006 and received the Golden Kite Award for Best Film of the Year.

The film was adapted from a short story titled “The Sound of Lips Behind the Stone Fence” by author Do Bich Thuy. It was directed by Ngo Quang Khai.

After its release, the film quickly won the hearts of audiences and became the highest-grossing film of that time. Since then, Pao’s house has become a popular destination for young people and tourists to visit when they come to this remote region of the country.

The house became known when the movie "Pao's Story" was released
The house became known when the movie “Pao’s Story” was released

Who is Pao?

Pao is the main character in the movie “Pao’s Story,” portrayed as a beautiful Hmong girl. She was born into a family with parents and a younger brother. However, the person who raised Pao since childhood and showered her with love is her foster mother.

After an unexpected tragedy where her foster mother took her own life, Pao’s life is filled with ongoing difficulties. Determined to find her birth mother, she embarks on a journey that gradually unravels the family’s hidden secrets.

With her natural and gentle acting, the portrayal of Pao’s character brings tears to the eyes of the audience. Her life vividly depicts the culture, lifestyle, and spirit of the Hmong people living in the highland mountainous region.

The main character Pao in the movie
The main character Pao in the movie is beautiful, but her life is full of hardships

Who is the true owner of Pao’s house?

The true owner of this house is Mr. Mua Sua Pao. He is a respected figure in the Northwest region. According to local accounts, Mr. Pao held the position of platoon leader in the army of King Meo during the period prior to the August Revolution of 1945.

The house was built in 1947, and Mr. Sua Pao hired the most skilled craftsmen in the area for its construction. It took several years to complete the house. At that time, Pao’s house was the most magnificent house in the Sung La region.

Where is Pao’s house in Ha Giang?

Pao’s house is located in Lung Cam village, in the Sung La Valley of Sung La commune, Dong Van district, Ha Giang. This house is part of the cultural tourism village of Lung Cam, situated at the end of the road. The address is approximately 122km away from the city center of Ha Giang and about 25km from Dong Van town.

The cultural village is located alongside National Highway 4C, making it easily accessible for visitors to travel here and explore various tourist attractions along the way.

The house is located in the cultural village of Lung Cam
The house is located in the cultural village of Lung Cam, near the national highway, making transportation convenient

Road to Pao’s House from Ha Giang City

Although this tourist destination is quite far from the city center, it takes about 4 hours to travel to the location. However, the route is convenient and easy to navigate.

Travel Route

From the center of Ha Giang City, you have two options to reach Pao’s house:

Option 1: Ha Giang City, Bac Sum Pass, Quan Ba District, Can Ty, Yen Minh Pine Forest, Dong Van District, Pao’s Story film location.

This travel route has a length of 122km. If you’re traveling by motorbike, it will take you 4 hours to reach the destination. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to visit and explore prominent landmarks such as Thach Son Tran, Quan Ba Twin Mountains, Quan Ba Heaven’s Gate, Solitary Tree, Can Ty Ancient Citadel, etc.

However, if you choose this route, you will have to pass through Bac Sum Pass, which is a challenging uphill road. You need to have good driving skills if you choose to travel through this pass.

Option 2: Ha Giang City, Thuan Hoa Commune, Lung Pu Commune, Lung Tam Commune, Lung Ho Commune, Yen Minh District,Pao’s story film location.

This travel route has a length of 134 km. If you’re traveling by motorbike, it will take you a little over 4 hours. Although this route is slightly longer, it has fewer slopes and passes, and the road is relatively flat, making it suitable for everyone. Even if you’re not an experienced driver, you can still navigate this route as long as you pay attention to the road while traveling.

two routes to travel to Pao's house
You will have two routes to travel to Pao’s house


With the above travel routes, you can choose to travel by either motorbike or car. Most people traveling from the city prefer to join organized tours and travel by car. For those traveling by public bus, if not taking a tour, you can using Ha Giang motorbike rental and travel to the film location.

In the city center, there are many shops that offer motorbike rental services. You can inquire about their services and rent a bike from there. For backpackers, you can use your own motorbike for the journey.

To ensure a safe and smooth trip according to your plan, it is recommended to research and choose a reputable and reliable motorbike rental service. Typically, the rental prices range from 150,000 VND to 200,000 VND per day.

What makes Pao’s house different?

Of course, it is not an ordinary house. If it were similar to other houses, it would not have been chosen as the filming location for the movie “Pao’s Story.” So, what makes this house special?

the tourists in Paos House
The surrounding walls immediately captivate the eyes of the tourists

Unique architecture with a long history

Until the present day, the film set remains the largest staged house in this area. It is considered a “historic villa” with a lifespan of 80 years. Besides its ideological value and preservation of the culture of the Hmong people, the house is also a treasure for the local ethnic community.

The house consists of three sections: a main section and two side sections, built in a U-shape. The main section is a two-story building with a living room and several bedrooms. The side sections are divided into smaller rooms used for storing food, cooking, and raising livestock and poultry.

The house is constructed using precious and rare wooden columns, with compacted earth walls and a tiled roof. In front of the house, there is a spacious garden area. The house’s courtyard is paved with stones, making it relatively flat and clean, even during rainy weather.

The impressive highlight of the house is the wooden gate with a tiled roof on top. Instead of using iron hinges, the locals here use wooden hinges for the gate. According to their beliefs, using iron hinges would not reflect the owner’s good intentions, kindness, and hospitality. This is because such items, if made of iron, are considered dangerous, like a sword.

Certainly, many visitors will be captivated by the beautifully aligned and visually appealing stone fence here. These stones are meticulously arranged without the use of any binding material and are entirely handcrafted, yet they remain very sturdy.

Get to know the luxury living style of the old generation

Get to know the luxury living style of the old generation
Due to the chief of Lung Cam village, Mr. Pao’s lineage is considered to belong to the “old-money” community in the Sung La area. The ancient house with its exquisite design has become one of the “four great mansions” within the moutainous region of Ha Giang. Up to the present time, the house has witnessed four generations of living.

In the current house, there are two families living: the family of Mr. Mua Pai Tua, who is the grandson of Mr. Pao, and the family of Mr. Mua Sin Gia, who is the biological grandchild of Mr. Pao (referred to as “bac” in Vietnamese).

After the loss of their son in 1979, Mr. Pao also passed away shortly afterward. As the grandson, Mr. Tua took on the role of the pillar of the family, taking care of various matters. He undertook many different jobs in the border area to earn a living. His wife, Mrs. Ly Thi Chua, stayed at home to take care of the children and work on the farm.

Paos House (8)
Currently, there are two families from the Pao lineage residing in the house

Mr. Sin Gia, on the other hand, has two wives. His first wife was unable to have children, so he married a second wife. Currently, he has a considerable number of children. He and his grandchildren welcome tourists to visit the house on a daily basis. His two wives continue to work on the farm every day.

Many ancient stone objects are still preserved to this day. When you visit, you will see stone mortar for pounding rice, water containers, corn grinding mortars, and more. In the living room of the house, there are black and white portrait photographs of the generations in the Pao family hanging on the walls.

Explore the life and cultural aspects of the local people

Sung La Valley is not only inhabited by the Hmong people but also by the Lo Lo and Han ethnic groups. The houses here still retain their ancient charm, with only 36 households living amidst the majestic natural scenery of the Dong Van Karst Plateau.

When visiting Pao’s house, you will witness images of the locals diligently working in the fields or scenes of highland children playing joyfully in the peaceful surroundings.

Most of the houses here are handmade using precious wood as the main material. The surrounding fences are made of sturdy and durable stone. The tiled roofs are designed in an attractive yin-yang style, showcasing the local cultural identity.

Admire the vibrant floral scenery

If you stop by Sung La, you will not only get to check in at Pao’s house but also have the opportunity to admire the enchanting flower-filled landscape. The endless fields of buckwheat flowers are a sight to behold, especially in October or November. During this time, the area also hosts unique and remarkable festivals.

Flowers in Pao's house
Flowers are not only found in the fields and on the meadows but also placed along the veranda of the house

If you visit in December or early January, you will have the chance to admire the golden mustard flowers. In front of the gate or within Pao’s courtyard during this time, you will find baskets of yellow mustard flowers displayed. You can capture beautiful check-in photos in this setting.

If you are unable to plan your trip during the aforementioned months, you can visit in May during the flooding season or in September during the ripe rice season in Ha Giang. The fields during these times are adorned with additional rows of straight ”sa moc” trees, creating a unique and picturesque landscape.

The best time to visit the filming location of “Pao’s story”

Sung La Valley is often referred to as the “island in the rock plateau,” so whenever you visit, you can admire the breathtaking natural scenery in this place.

However, according to the travel experience shared by people, the best time to explore the film location is from September to January. During this time, the weather is beautiful with minimal rain, mild sunshine, and not too cold, making it ideal for traveling and sightseeing.

The most beautiful time is still to visit Pao's house in Ha Giang
The most beautiful time is still to visit Pao’s house in Ha Giang during the flowering season

In addition, during this time, various types of flowers compete to showcase their vibrant colors. You can not only check-in at Pao’s house but also admire the flowers and take photos with them. This will be a truly wonderful and harmonious experience.

How much is the entrance fee to visit Pao’s house?

Visiting Pao’s house, many people wonder if there is an entrance fee. Currently, if you visit the cultural village of Lung Cam, there is no fee. However, if you want to visit the interior area of Pao’s movie set, there is an entrance fee of 10,000 Vietnamese dong per person.

Children over 1 square meter will need to purchase a ticket, while children under 1 square meter can enter for free. Tickets can be purchased at the entrance of the house.

Paos House (11)
You will need to purchase a ticket to enter and visit the house

Additionally, some flower gardens located in front of the house may charge a fee for taking photos. The photography fee in the flower gardens ranges from 10,000 to 30,000 Vietnamese dong per person. If you’re interested, you can also rent traditional costumes for photography, which cost around 30,000 Vietnamese dong per set.

Things to know when visiting Pao’s house

In general, ethnic minority people, including the residents of Lung Cam and Pao’s family, are very friendly. They are always cheerful and welcoming to everyone who comes here. However, the local people have some taboos that you should definitely be aware of.

In traditional attire

Ethnic minority groups or the Hmong people living in Ha Giang have a taboo against wearing white linen fabric. This type of fabric is commonly used in funerals. Therefore, when you wear clothing made of this fabric here, it is considered a sign of something unfavorable.

Therefore, you should avoid wearing garments made of white linen fabric when visiting Lung Cam Cultural Village or other highland areas. Instead, you can choose outfits with vibrant colors. By wearing these colors, you will not violate any taboos here and you can capture stunning photos that will receive numerous likes.

In your actions

When strolling around and enjoying the scenery in the village, you should avoid laughing or speaking too loudly, refrain from whistling, littering, or plucking flowers in the garden without permission. These actions are disliked by the local people, especially whistling, which can be considered as summoning wild animals, storms, or malevolent spirits, causing disturbances in the village.

In the event that you pass by a local’s house and notice a cluster of leaves or a marked knife hanging, it is absolutely advised not to enter the house. This is a sign that someone is in confinement or performing a ritual to ward off evil spirits. The Mong people typically do not welcome guests into their homes under such circumstances.

If you are unaware or didn’t notice the marked pole and accidentally enter a house where someone is in confinement, upon leaving, you should leave behind a personal item of yours. According to Mong beliefs, if you leave without leaving any object behind, the soul of the confined individual may follow you and cause the child to become weak and ill over time.

When entering the interior of Pao’s house for sightseeing, even if you have purchased a ticket, you should still seek permission from the homeowners before entering. You should avoid touching any objects inside the house. Also, refrain from leaning or resting on the house’s pillars and avoid standing in the middle of the doorway, especially the main pillars and entrance. These are places where spirits and guardian deities reside within the house.

In addition, you should also avoid sitting on the first row of seats in the living room. These seats are reserved for the parents, and even if the parents have passed away, no one should occupy those seats.

Paos House (12)
Avoid sitting on the front seats and refrain from standing in front of the main entrance or leaning against the house pillars

In communication

When conversing, you should avoid using words like “Meo” or “Man.” These terms can lead to misunderstandings among the local people, as they may think you are referring to them. When engaging in conversation, it’s important to use polite and respectful language, speaking in a moderate tone without being too loud or displaying impolite gestures.

When encountering children here, no matter how cute and adorable they may be, it is advised not to touch their heads or hug them. This action can cause discomfort or illness to the children, as they may perceive strangers as having unfamiliar spirits.

With its remarkable architectural structure and strong local cultural identity, Pao’s house is truly an ideal stop for those who love to explore and experience new things. Don’t forget to capture your journey in this rocky mountain region!

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