With its pristine and remote beauty, Pho Cao becomes a “special” piece of the Northwest mountains, where rocky plateaus are abundant. And undoubtedly, you will be enchanted by the scenery and the people here on your first visit. Let’s take a tour with us to explore this humble street!
An overview of Pho Cao
When people mention traveling to Ha Giang or Dong Van, they often talk about Hoang Su Pho, Mo Po Long Pass, and Nho Que River. However, very few know about the existence of Fox Street. Perhaps that’s why this place retains its simplicity and serene beauty, captivating the hearts of those who come here.
Where is Pho Cao? It is a valley located in Dong Van District, Ha Giang Province. The valley is quite close to National Highway 4C and about 20km away from the Dong Van rocky plateau. Pho Cao is the home of four main ethnic groups: Dao, Mung, Hon, and Pu Poo.
The houses in this valley have been built for a long time, with walls stained with the colors of time. This place has enamored countless people with its diverse and breathtaking natural scenery.
The picture of Pho Cao changes with each season in Ha Giang. During spring, the place is filled with the pink hues of cherry blossoms and the white color of apricot flowers. In summer, the landscape becomes enchanting with the glistening water flowing over the terraced rice fields.
As autumn arrives, the scenery turns vibrant with the golden color of ripe rice. In winter, you will have the opportunity to witness vast fields of buckwheat flowers or yellow mustard flowers. If you’re lucky, you might even see falling snow.
Therefore, if you want to find the most beautiful time to visit this remote valley, you will have to carefully consider and plan. Because surely, you wouldn’t want to miss any of the beauty that unfolds with time in this place.
Guide to getting to Pho Cao in Ha Giang
The distance from Hanoi to Ha Giang is about 300km. To reach Pho Cao, you will need to stop in the center of Hà Giang and then continue your journey.
Traveling from Ha Noi to Ha Giang:
For this journey, you can travel by bus, car, or your own motorcycle. If you choose to go by bus, you can catch one at My Dinh Bus Station. There are many buses operating the Ha Noi – Ha Giang route, so you can choose a reputable bus company and a suitable departure time to purchase your ticket.
The ticket prices range from around 200,000 to 300,000 VND per person. To save time on the journey, you can take a night bus, and by the next morning, you will arrive in the high rocky plateau area.
If you prefer to travel by car or your own motorcycle, you can take two routes. One is to head towards Thang Long Bridge, and the other is to go via Son Toy. By using personal vehicles, you will have the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the picturesque views of the lush and tranquil mountainous forests on both sides of the road. It will undoubtedly be a wonderful and memorable experience
Traveling from Ha Giang to Pho Cao:
Once you have arrived in the center of the high rocky plateau area, if you came by bus, you can using a Ha Giang motorcycle rental and continue your journey. If you traveled by your own motorcycle or car, then you can use that vehicle to proceed.
This remote valley is about 120km away from the city center and is close to National Highway 4C, so it’s not difficult to find the way. From the city, follow National Highway 4C towards Dong Van and then proceed to Fox Street in Dong Van, Ha Giang.
Although the route is not hard to find, there may be some challenging stretches along the way. You should observe the road carefully and pay attention to your speed to ensure safety while traveling.
The uniqueness and attractiveness of Pho Cao
Unlike other famous tourist destinations in Ha Giang, the number of visitors to this valley is sparse, mainly consisting of backpackers. But if you happen to miss this place, it would be truly regrettable because the valley holds some special features:
Unique architecture of wall houses
Why are they called “wall houses”? Many people might wonder about this. Wall houses are houses made of soil on the rocky mountainous region. In the 1990s, such earth-wall houses were not uncommon in Vietnam. However, at present, you can mostly find them among the ethnic groups of the Northwest mountains.
When you visit Pho Cao in Hà Giang, you’ll admire the distinctive architecture of the yellow-painted wall houses. This is considered a characteristic feature of the valley, which is at the northernmost region of the country.
The wall houses here are rectangular in shape, with one main entrance and no windows. The roofs are covered with tiles, following the characteristic yin-yang style of the highland ethnic groups. The walls are constructed from materials such as straw, soil, bamboo, and wood combined together.
Despite the seemingly intricate design, the interiors are spacious and comfortable. Remarkably, all these houses are built entirely by hand without the use of any machinery. That’s why, even after many years, the houses remain sturdy and can withstand wind and rain.
Discovering the vibrant market fair
A trip to Ha Giang would be incomplete without experiencing the local market fair. The market fair here is not just a place for trading agricultural products, goods, and local specialties, but it also strongly reflects the culture, way of life, and activities of the ethnic groups.
If you get the chance to visit the valley on any of the seven market days in a week, don’t miss waking up early to explore the Pho Cao market fair. This is the renowned market fair of Dong Van and is still widely recognized and mentioned by many tourists.
When the mist still veils the streets and houses, the market is already in full swing. However, the market only takes place for a short period. Therefore, if you want to visit the market, remember to wake up early and head there.
The market fair offers a diverse range of goods, mainly products that are self-cultivated, self-raised, and locally made. You can easily find various specialty products available at the market, which you can purchase as souvenirs for your loved ones.
Admiring the breathtakingly beautiful natural scenery
If you are a nature lover, passionate about plants, flowers, and leaves, then Pho Cao is an ideal destination for you. The scenery here is simple and rustic, reminiscent of the ancient Vietnamese countryside.
Visiting this remote valley, you will not only marvel at the majestic mountains and forests but also be enchanted by the beauty of various flowers blooming on the barren land. From the buckwheat flowers blooming in October and November to the mustard flowers, cherry blossoms, and apricot flowers in December and January.
The vibrant colors of these flowers, blooming and spreading their fragrance across the fields, illuminate the old-fashioned atmosphere of this place. Surely, it will provide a stunning background for capturing some amazing photographs.
Understanding the life and culture of the local indigenous people
The life and culture of the fellow ethnic community in this misty valley are also worth exploring. Although the economic conditions of the people have improved, they have preserved the distinctive cultural aspects.
The people here live with warmth and friendliness. They diligently engage in various daily activities, such as hunting in the forests, farming, animal husbandry, weaving, crafting, and more. Through interactions or the stories they share, you will experience their sincerity and honesty that comes from within their hearts.
If you have the opportunity to visit here during the Lunar New Year, you will have the chance to participate in unique festivals such as the Gau Tao festival of the H’mong people, the Long Tong festival of the Chinese ethnic group, the Sac festival of the Dao people, and others.
Delicious dishes in Pho Cao Ha Giang you shouldn’t miss
The high rocky plateau of Ha Giang not only boasts stunning landscapes but also offers a rich and diverse culinary experience. The local cuisine here carries the essence of the mountains and forests, featuring ingredients that are self-cultivated, self-raised, and homemade.
You will have the opportunity to indulge in dishes that are not only visually appealing but also truly captivating in taste. Many dishes in Pho Cao and Ha Giang have left a lasting impression on tourists, making them unforgettable experiences.
So, what delicious dishes should you try and indulge in? If you have the opportunity, you can savor the following famous dishes: buckwheat cake, buffalo meat cooked in a hearth, pork cooked in a hearth, Shan Tuyet sweet soup, Vietnamese sausage, five-color sticky rice, steamed rice cake, and corn wine.
Each dish has its own unique flavor, and undoubtedly, the taste of these dishes will make you remember this region fondly. You can choose some of these delicious foods as souvenirs to bring back for everyone.
Some nearby tourist destinations near Pho Cao
As a location within Dong Van District, there are many famous and mesmerizing tourist destinations surrounding Pho Cao that you can include in your itinerary to explore the Dong Van Plateau. Here are some suggestions for you:
Lung Cu Flag Tower
From this valley, you can travel about 22km further to reach the base of Lung Cu Flagpole. This is considered an important landmark that affirms Vietnam’s sovereignty.
The Flag Tower stands on a hill at an elevation of 1600 meters above sea level. Therefore, the sensation of ascending to the summit and touching the national flag will be very sacred and amazing. From this vantage point, you can fully admire the panoramic view of Ha Giang.
Dong Van Town
A bustling and lively town in the northernmost region of the country. Here, you not only have the opportunity to participate in ancient market fairs but also experience and observe the daily life of the local people. There are many interesting and unique things for you to explore in this area.
This is the hidden gem of Hà Giang. Pho Bang is only about a 30-minute motorbike ride from Pho Cao. Therefore, you should not miss this lesser-known tourist destination.
This ancient town is famous for its peaceful, gentle, and intimate beauty. The life of the people here still retains the unique characteristics from ancient times. Particularly, the houses here have been built for a long time, stained with the marks of time, and carry the distinctive features of the ethnic minority culture.
Vuong Family Mansion
This is a historical landmark. The mansion is a place associated with King Meo Vuong Chinh Duc, who played a significant role in safeguarding the nation’s borders.
The mansion was constructed in the late 19th century. It is not only the residence of the Vuong family but also a solid and fortified defensive position.
Even after more than 100 years, the designs, architecture, and ambiance of the mansion remain preserved just as they were originally.
Some notes when visiting Pho Cao
If this is your first time visiting this valley, you should take note of the following:
The valley is located on the national highway, but there are some difficult stretches of mountain passes, narrow curves, and steep slopes. If you travel by motorbike, be cautious and observant. It’s advisable to choose a manual motorbike instead of a scooter, and make sure to thoroughly check your vehicle before heading out.
Whether you visit in winter or summer, you should still bring a jacket as the nighttime temperatures here can drop quite low. If you visit in winter, it’s essential to bring gloves, warm socks, a hat, and a scarf to keep your body warm.
To explore as many tourist destinations in this area as possible, plan your itinerary and arrive here early.
The scenery here is beautiful, so make sure to fully charge your camera and phone to capture all the breathtaking views.
Check the weather before starting your journey. If you’re not confident in driving, avoid going on rainy or foggy days.
If you are looking for a peaceful, gentle, and intimate tourist destination in Ha Giang to better understand the people, landscapes, and way of life here, then Pho Cao is an incredibly ideal destination. Plan your schedule and make an appointment with this misty valley.