The northern mountainous area of Ha Giang has become an attractive tourist destination for its natural beauty and a wide variety of unique foods.
Rocky mountainsides are covered with green corn in early summer, followed by the only rice crop of the year. From the high mountains, one has a great view of the deep valleys below with terraced rice fields where H’Mong farmers work.
Ha Giang spinach has shoots as big as asparagus sprouts and yellow flowers. It has become a common food source for people living in the lowlands where fresh vegetables are in great demand.
All year round, the cool temperature of the mountains, especially in the districts of Dong Van and Meo Vac, offer favorable conditions for local people to grow fresh crops such as cucumbers and Dutch beans.
In these two districts fresh rice always cooked in aluminum pots and kept warm with coals, making the rice more delicious than rice cooked in electric cookers in lowland areas.
Normally, in order to fully explore the four mountainous districts, a tourist has to spend a night in Ha Giang after traveling 320km by car from Hanoi. The following morning they continue their trip around high mountain slopes and often stop for lunch in the town of Yen Minh.
The food here is unique, featuring boiled spinach, young corn ears, minced meat and stream shrimp fried with lemon leaves.
In winter, Chinese sausage and smoked meat are specialties. The sausage is minced meat mixed with spices, stuffed into a small pig intestine and baked on hot coals before being put on a smoking shelf.
The smoked meat is part of the rump, lean and fat, mixed with the shoulder of a young pig which has been cut into long pieces and salted for a week before being hung on the smoking shelf. After it is cooked, the taste of salt and fat may seem strange to someone unfamiliar with this delicacy.
The heart of the northernmost area of Vietnam is Dong Van town. The centre of the stone highland region features the majestic beauty of three market rows that the French built in the 1930s when they discovered this area.
If you come to the rocky highlands, try “ga meo“, a special, local variety of chicken. The chicken’s feet, crest, skin, meat and bones are all black. It is often boiled, deep fried or cooked with ginger. The Ga meo meat is quite unusual; firm but not tough, lean but tasty.