|Quan Ba mountains (Photo: VInh Phong)
Located at an altitude of between 1,000 and 1,600 meters above sea level, the Dong Van Karst Plateau crosses Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van, and Meo Van districts, with a wide range of geological, topographic, cultural, historical, and biological values.
On October 3, 2010, the Plateau became Vietnam’s first UNESCO Global Geopark. In 2014 and 2019, UNESCO again recognized it as a member of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network for the periods of 2015-2018 and 2019-2022.
In early September, the Dong Van Karst Plateau was again recognized for the third time.
Nguyen Van Son, Chairman of the Hà Giang provincial People’s Committee, spoke at the ceremony to mark the event last month: “Dong Van Karst Plateau, which used to be a relatively unknown, rocky region, has now become an attractive tourism destination. Cultural heritage sites and unique cultural values have been developed into diverse and distinctive tourist products. These sites include the Lung Cu Flagpole, the Vuong House relic site, Dong Van Old Quarter, Tu San Alley, Ma Pi Leng Pass, the Mong Panpipe Festival, the Khau Vai Love Market, Nậm Đăm ethnic cultural village, as well as Pa Vi, Lo Lo Chai, and Mong Resort villages."
|H'Mong village resort (Photo: Vinh Phong)
The number of visitors to Ha Giang has steadily increased, from 2,000 people in 2010 to more than 2.2 million last year with 3 million expected this year. The sustainable growth of tourism has contributed to improving the livelihoods and incomes of the residents, while reducing poverty in the Dong Van Karst Plateau, according to Mr. Son.
UNESCO Global Geopark Dong Van Karst Plateau is now a popular destination for both domestic and international tourists, making Ha Giang among the world’s top 25 most attractive destinations as voted by the New York Times. It has also received the title of “Asia’s leading emerging destination” at the 30th World Travel Awards for Asia and the Pacific.
Visitors to the Dong Van Karst Plateau can easily find information at four tourist information stations in the geopark’s districts and explore four tourist routes: the Journey to the Root of Life, the Rhythm of Life on the Rocks, the Journey to Pride and Happiness, and the Journey to a Green Future. They can also visit the Dong Van Cultural Space Museum of the ethnic groups in the region.
|Mekdala Nounou from Laos says she enjoys her trip to Ha Giang (Photo: Vinh Phong)
Mekdala Nounou is a Lao tourist: “I have been in Vietnam for 6 years. This is my first trip to Ha Giang and the Dong Van Karst Plateau. I should have visited the place earlier. The magnificent mountains, the imposing scenery and the pure atmosphere are astonishing. I really love this place. I have just spent three days visiting Dong Van Karst Plateau. I’m very impressed with the local people. They are very hospitable and friendly. I enjoy the local food, too.”
Over the past 14 years, Ha Giang province has made all-out efforts to protect and develop the geopark in a sustainable manner by preserving and promoting the geological, cultural, and natural heritage values of the Dong Van Karst Plateau and the distinct cultural identity of the 17 local ethnic groups.
Trieu Thi Tinh, Deputy Director of the Ha Giang provincial Culture, Sports, and Tourism Department said: “From being recognized three times, Ha Giang has gained valuable experience in building tourist products in the geopark. We are ready to collaborate with domestic and international organizations, as well as businesses, to develop tourism in Ha Giang. We hope to receive more support from the central government, ministries and sectors, especially from organizations and businesses at home and overseas to create attractive tourism products and work out orientations for tourism development.”
Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Dao Cuong said: “Ha Giang province needs to focus more on developing tourism based on the rich cultural diversity of its ethnic groups. It’s important to continue to preserve and promote geological and cultural heritage values as well as the landscape in the Dong Van Karst Plateau. We need policies and mechanism to attract more investment while harmonizing preservation and promotion to maintain the recognition of the UNESCO Dong Van Global Geopark. We also need to implement recommendations of experts and organizations to honor the heritage values of Vietnam and the world.”
Receiving recognition as a member of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network for the third time is a driving force for Ha Giang province to boost its economic and tourism development and to preserve and promote its heritage values and landscapes.