Amidst the hustle and bustle of tourist groups traveling to Ha Giang, Pho Bang remains peaceful, rustic, and simple. If you are looking for a place to experience a slow-paced lifestyle, this is a destination you should not miss.
Overview of Pho Bang Town
Pho Bang Town, also known as Pho Bang, is a small town located in Dong Van District, Ha Giang Province. The town is situated near the border with China, adjacent to Ma Latt Pha District, Yunnan Province in the north, Pho Cao in Ha Giang to the south, Pho La to the west, and Sung La Commune to the east. The total area of the town is only about 11km2 with a population of over 3000.
It is home to 14 different ethnic groups, including the Kinh, Mong, Tay, Giay, Nung, among others, with the largest populations being the Mong and Han Chinese. This diversity contributes to the unique and distinctive culture of the town.
Pho Bang is located approximately 120km from the city center of Ha Giang. In the past, the town was vibrant and served as one of the prominent economic centers in the district. However, since its relocation, Pho Bang has become peaceful, serene, and often overlooked, earning it the nickname “the sleepy town.”
Amidst the majestic mountainous landscape, Pho Bang stands out with its melancholic, gentle, and ancient beauty. It is serene and tranquil, in stark contrast to the bustling atmosphere of the district center or the nearby Yen Minh road. Surely, when you come here, you will be captivated by the peaceful and contemplative atmosphere of this small town.
How to get to Pho Bang, Ha Giang
To reach the “sleepy town,” you will have to go through two routes. The first route is from Hanoi to Ha Giang City. The second route is from the center of Ha Giang to Pho Bang.
The total distance of the journey is about 400km. It is advisable to plan and arrange your trip accordingly. The travel route includes several mountain passes and steep slopes that can be challenging to navigate.
For the first route, you have various transportation options to choose from. You can take a passenger bus, a limousine, or a palace cabin-style car. Depending on the chosen mode of transportation, ticket prices will vary, ranging from around 200,000 VND to 550,000 VND per ticket. Typically, a cabin in the palace-style car is designed for two people.
Additionally, you can use personal vehicles for transportation, such as a motorbike or a private car. However, if you opt for this mode of transportation, you need to be confident in your driving skills, have good health, and be familiar with the routes.
Once you have arrived in the city, you can choose to Ha Giang motorbike rental to explore. The rental cost for motorbikes here is very reasonable, usually around 180,000 VND per motorbike for two people. When renting a motorbike, you will be provided with a helmet, raincoat, and a tourist map of Ha Giang.
The second route is from the center of Ha Giang to Pho Bang. From there, you follow National Highway 4C. When you reach Lung Cu, you continue for about 17km and pass through hills and the triangular buckwheat flower fields of Ha Giang. At the intersection, you turn left and you will see Pho Bang.
The road leading to the town has some sections paved with concrete similar to a national highway, but most of it is rocky and difficult to traverse, especially during rainy weather and fog. However, once you overcome these challenging stretches, you will witness a small town nestled at the foot of towering and majestic rocky mountains.
What mode of transportation should you choose to travel to Pho Bang town?
You can choose any mode of transportation to reach this small town: motorbike, car, or taxi. However, for easy access to small villages and winding roads in the area, a motorbike is still the most suitable option.
By riding a motorbike, you will not only admire the beautiful natural scenery on both sides of the road but also enjoy the fresh and cool air of the mountainous plateau. It’s an experience that is unique to this region and not found in every destination.
If you are an adventurous traveler, you can use the same means of transportation to explore Pho Bang. For those who travel by bus to get here, you can rent a motorbike in Ha Giang city and make your way to the town.
As mentioned before, the cost of renting a motorbike here is quite reasonable, and there are several rental shops for you to choose from. Therefore, you can confidently prepare everything for your journey to explore this mountainous region.
Which season is the most beautiful in Pho Bang?
The people and landscapes here remain the same throughout the year. Only the natural scenery changes with each season. Therefore, you can visit Pho Bang at any time of the year. Regardless of the season, the town still possesses a serene beauty, in contrast to the hustle and bustle of urban areas.
In the spring, the town adorns itself with vibrant colors of flowers. From the pink of peach blossoms to the white of apricot blossoms, plum blossoms, or the yellow of mustard flowers that still linger. During this time, the weather is still cool, and you can sit with the locals by the fire, roast corn and sweet potatoes, have conversations, and admire the weathered old porches that bear the mark of time.
In the autumn, the “sleepy town” captivates hearts with its gentle and poetic beauty. The weather in the town during this time is cool and pleasant. The sky is clear with wispy clouds drifting across the jagged rock mountains. In the morning, you will witness the enchanting scenery veiled in mist.
If you visit during autumn, you will be able to admire the golden ripe rice fields. The rice fields here may not be vast, but the locals still diligently cultivate their crops. The atmosphere is lively, filled with laughter and chatter on the harvested fields, creating a sense of closeness and simplicity.
You can fully immerse yourself in the experience by joining the locals in harvesting rice. It will be a fascinating and memorable experience, where you will gain a deeper understanding of the hard yet joyful lives of the people in this charming little town.
Towards the end of autumn, Hà Giang is famous for its buckwheat flowers. These are characteristic flowers of the highland rocky plateau. Buckwheat flowers bloom in October and November. The scenery in Pho Bang becomes even more picturesque with delicate blossoms. The colors are not just monochromatic but a blend of pure white and gentle pink hues.
The triangular flower blooms all over the village’s pathways. You will easily come across children weaving flower garlands or carrying baskets full of flowers along the village roads. The space is truly peaceful, rustic, and capable of captivating people’s souls.
In addition to the triangular flowers, along the village’s roadside, you can also see patches of orange daisies. Children dressed in traditional costumes with various patterns playfully enliven the streets, adding vibrant beauty to the surroundings.
If you visit Pho Bang in December, you will have the opportunity to admire the golden fields of blooming mustard flowers. This color brings vitality to the scenery amidst the freezing winter weather. If you’re lucky, you may even witness snowfall during your visit to the town at this time.
What attracts tourists to Pho Bang Town, Ha Giang?
Pho Bang Town is not only famous for its ancient beauty and prominent features that strongly reflect the traditional culture of ethnic minorities, but also for its simple, leisurely, and uncomplicated way of life.
Ancient traditional houses
The town is nestled amidst the towering and rugged Cat’s Tooth Mountains of the Dong Van Karst Plateau. It possesses a gentle and strangely peaceful beauty. In stark contrast to the fast-paced modern life, the people in the town remain simple, humble, and unpretentious.
As soon as you step onto the small road leading to the town, you will notice the charming little houses with moss-covered roofs and earth walls bearing the marks of time. All of these elements create an atmosphere of antiquity and great mystery.
Amidst the increasing number of high-rise buildings, the green moss-covered walls with silver-colored wooden doors adorned with red Chinese couplets will stand out and attract everyone’s attention in Pho Bang Town, Ha Giang.
The gentle and leisurely life of the people
As you walk along the village road, you will witness the lives of the highland ethnic people. Amidst the serene surroundings, you will come across scenes of elderly individuals sipping tea, grandmothers sitting by the door and looking outside, and children playfully sharing some gifts.
The pace of life here seems to beckon you to slow down and savor the most peaceful and relaxed moments. Your weariness, worries, and anxieties will be shed away when you arrive in this “sleepy town.” Here, you will experience a simple and gentle way of life, with fresh air and a close connection to nature.
Although the lives of the people here are difficult, they still manage to exude the inherent joy and resilience of ethnic minorities. Despite their outward hardships, you will always see smiles on their faces. It is certain that envy, hatred, or deceit have no place in their lives.
You will also witness the diligence and meticulous labor of Pho Bang’s women as they craft handmade products, and the men carrying their burdens as they go to work day after day.
Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the local markets
The ethnic highland markets are one of the special highlights of the local people. Their distinctive culture is vividly displayed through the activities at these markets.
If you visit Pho Bang during the days when the markets are held, you should not miss the opportunity to explore Pho Cao Market. The market takes place once every six days, with a one-day shift in the following week. The market gathers people from various ethnic groups. This will be a chance for you to learn about the culture of each ethnic group in Ha Giang, the frontier region of the country.
The market is not only a place for cultural and artistic exchanges but also offers a wide range of products such as traditional fabrics, musical instruments like the khèn, ethnic costumes, knives, baskets, and more. You can easily purchase or rent traditional costumes to capture memorable photos. Many specialties of Ha Giang are also sold at the market, including triangular sticky rice cakes, “banh bo” (a type of steamed rice cake), “thang co” (a traditional dish), roasted corn, Shan Tuyet tea, multicolored sticky rice, buffalo meat, pork, and sausages.
You can taste these specialties right at the market or choose to buy them as gifts for your loved ones. Unlike the tranquil atmosphere, the market is bustling with lively activities, filled with laughter and lively conversations.
What to eat when visiting the “sleepy town”?
Pho Bang, as well as other places in Ha Giang, offers a wide variety of dishes for you to enjoy. You can taste the specialty dishes mentioned above. Additionally, it is famous for dishes made from free-range pork, chicken hotpot, or thang co (a traditional dish).
All the dishes are made from locally sourced ingredients that are raised, grown, or foraged by the local people. With its vast land, fresh air, and abundant diverse produce, the food here is not only fragrant, delicious, and enticing but also carries the distinct characteristics of highland cuisine.
In case you don’t prefer the specialty dishes, you can try everyday meals at the restaurants in the town. There are several eateries in Pho Bang that offer a variety of dishes. Here are some options you can consider:
- Thach Ma Restaurant
- Tu Nu Restaurant (Hoan Thung)
- Thu Thuy Restaurant
- Vuong Gia Restaurant
- Pho Nui Restaurant
- Phuc Cai Restaurant
Where to stay in Pho Bang, Yen Minh?
Although there has been an increase in the number of tourists visiting Pho Bang, Ha Giang, the accommodation services here are still not fully developed. Therefore, to avoid any inconvenience, it is recommended to book a room in a homestay or guesthouse in advance.
Van Hoa Guesthouse
- Address: Pho Bang Town, Dong Van District, Ha Giang
- Phone: 0345 094 985
- Room rate: 200,000 VND/night
Located right in Pho Bang town, Van Hoa Guesthouse offers affordable accommodation. The guesthouse has a one-story design with various types of rooms. Each room can accommodate up to 4 people, and there are also single rooms available for couples.
All rooms are equipped with necessary amenities such as air conditioning, TV, and furniture. The rooms have en-suite bathrooms for guests’ convenience.
The spacious grounds of Van Hoa Guesthouse provide ample space for recreation and parking. In the guesthouse’s garden, there are beautiful purple cornflower flowers that you can admire and take photos for check-in purposes.
Pho Bang Guesthouse
- Address: Pho Bang Town, Dong Van District, Hà Giang
- Phone: 0971 959 522
- Room rate: 300,000 VND – 400,000 VND per night
This guesthouse is newly built, so it looks modern and beautiful. It has a spacious courtyard, so guests don’t have to worry about parking. The accommodation is located on a hill with a view of the mountains and forests, providing a cool and airy atmosphere.
The rooms here are simply decorated but equipped with all the necessary amenities. Since it is newly constructed, the service quality is friendly and welcoming.
In addition to the mentioned places, you can consider and choose accommodation near the town area such as:
Phuc Anh Homestay
- Address: 69 Tran Hung Dao, Yen Minh Town, Ha Giang
- Phone: 0836 461 985
- Room rate: from 350,000 VND per night
Ma Le Homestay
- Address: Ma Le Village, Dong Van District, Ha Giang
- Phone: 098 295 11 90
- Room rate: from 400,000 VND per night
Hai Linh Guesthouse
- Address: 16A Tran Hung Dao, Yen Minh Town, Ha Giang
- Phone: 0358 169 919
- Room rate: from 200,000 VND per night
Thien An Guesthouse
- Address: 175 Tran Hung Dao, Yen Minh Town, Ha Giang
- Phone: 02193861421
- Room rate: from 250,000 VND per night
Some great travel tips for Pho Bang
- The roads in Ha Giang are winding, steep, and have many sharp turns. When traveling, pay attention, observe, and thoroughly check your vehicle before hitting the road.
- You can combine visiting Pho Bang with other attractions along the route from Ha Giang city to Dong Van, such as Pao’s house, Pho Cao, Dong Van Karst Plateau, Ma Pi Leng Pass, etc.
- If you can’t find accommodation, you can ask locals for a place to stay. The people here are friendly and will not refuse if you have good intentions.
- The weather in Ha Giang, including the small town, can change rapidly. To ensure safety and fully enjoy the beautiful scenery, check the weather forecast before you go and avoid going on rainy or cloudy days.
- You can bring snacks, books, or old clothes as gifts for children in the highland areas.
Over the years, with the changes in the district and Ha Giang, Pho Bang town remains there, preserving its familiar and close-knit characteristics. Surely, you will have an incredibly memorable experience here. Wishing you a safe and enjoyable journey.