Ha Giang is known as Vietnam’s final frontier and possesses one of the most astonishing natural settings in North Vietnam. This scenic province is home to many marvelous mountainous vistas and distinctive cultures of highland ethnic minority groups in Vietnam.
Particularly, it’s hard not to fall in love with the sight of carpets of pinkish white buckwheat flowers covering the deep valleys and terraced fields, surrounded by steep forested karst and granite outcrops. It’s extremely relaxing to watch the buckwheat flowers turning from white in the morning to pink in the afternoon.
Terraces of Blooming Buckwheat Flowers (Source: Internet)
This November, the Buckwheat Flower Festival is held in Ha Giang for the third time, which is something hundreds of thousands of domestic and international visitors are looking forward to.
The story of the Buckwheat Flower Festival
The Buckwheat Flower Festival (Lễ Hội Hoa Tam Giác Mạch) is a Vietnam festival held annually to honor the unique cultural values of ethnic minorities of the karst plateau of Ha Giang, and their amazing ability to withstand harsh conditions. It’s also a chance to promote the sublime and romantic natural setting that Mother Nature has kindly blessed Ha Giang with to domestic and international tourists.
Ethnic minority girl standing in a blooming buckwheat field (Source: Internet)
The view of pure and delicate buckwheat flowers blooming all over the plain is absolutely dazzling and ethereal, but the legend attached to it makes it even more enchanting:
According to mythology, every year, the two fairies Rice and Corn would descend down to the Earth to sow seeds for the year’s crops which were tended by the villagers. The leftover husks, on the other hand, would be thrown into a ravine, untended. By the time grain provisions ran low, constituting a “hungry period”, villagers set out to find other food substitution resources.
While hiking down the ravine, they got caught up with the breathtaking sight of tiny pinkish white flowers blanketing the mountainsides. They also started to notice triangle seeds with a thick brown-black outer shell nestled inside the delicate petals. Due to being too hungry and helpless, they decided to cook the buckinis (activated buckwheat), which to their surprise, were as delicious as rice and corn. Buckinis are also brimming with goodness, and are especially full of protein. The people were no longer suffering from starvation.
Since the seeds were believed to be the offspring of the rice and corn husks, villagers decided that it should be a type of “mạch”, which means wheat. And the name “Tam Giác Mạch” means triangle wheat.”
The duration of the festival
The third Buckwheat Flower Festival takes place in Ha Giang City and the four upland districts of Dong Van Plateau: Ðồng Văn (Mông ethnicity), Quản Bạ (Dao ethnicity), Yên Minh (Giày ethnicity), and Mèo Vạc (Lô Lô ethnicity)
Themed as “the Love Song Sprouting from Barren Rocks”, this year’s Buckwheat Flower Festival promises a festive season full of fun and excitement. This year’s festival is expected to be spanning over a month (it has been pushed back from October 4 to November 24 due to heavy rainfall slowing down the budding process). Many exciting activities are to be held throughout the duration of the festival such as:
- From 8pm – 9:30pm on November 24: The opening ceremony held at Dong Van Town’s Stadium.
- November 25: Music concerts held in 3 locations in the Lung Cu Flag Tower area.
- December 2 – December 3: Paragliding over blooming buckwheat fields and karst mountain ranges, taking off from Po Lo peak and landing onto the field right before Dong Van General hospital. 40-60 paragliders are expected to join the activity.
- The gastronomy experience with local beef steak on the karst plateau.
- The international geological park fair on agricultural products.
- Traditional art performances and folk games of ethnic minority groups.
- The 2017 Ha Giang Mint honey product contest.
- The seminar on the application of technologies and management solutions to improve the local mint honey industry.
How to get to Ha Giang
Travel on your own
Since Ha Giang town is located 318km from Hanoi, the best and most convenient way to get there is by (sleeper) bus Mỹ Ðình Bus Station, situated 13km from Hoan Kiem Lake, has the most extensive system of sleeper buses and is the latest and most well developed bus station in Hanoi. One of the most common international tourists’ pet peeves is probably the fact that the buses are designed for Asian-sized bodies. Hence, unless you’re short and petite, you may find the bunks a bit cramped.
My Dinh Bus Station (Source: Internet)
Here at My Dinh Bus Station, you'll find around 20 buses departing throughout the course of the day from 4am to 9pm (mostly these two time frames) to Ha Giang Bus Station. The bus journey takes roughly 7 hours with one mid-way stop in Phu Tho Township for food and some light refreshments.
You can either buy tickets directly at the bus station or have your hostel/hotel book them for you. Keep in mind that there will be lots of touts at the station vying for your business so make sure you always buy tickets at the counter. Either way, you’re expected to pay around 200,000VND/person (except when traveling during peak holiday seasons).
Book a Vietnam tour
If Hanoi, Halong, and Ha Giang are the only destinations on your North Vietnam itinerary, traveling on your own is perfectly fine and exciting at the same time. However, if you are looking forward to further discovering magnificent natural settings as well as the colorful and rich cultures of the ethnic tribes, the best option is to go for a tailor-made tour.
Ha Giang, Sapa (Lao Cai), Yen Bai, Hoa Binh etc., are some of the best destinations in North Vietnam for adventurous, nature-loving souls as well as cultural buffs. Fortunately, it’s very easy and convenient to find a Vietnam tour operator that allows you to customize your own itinerary according to your will. helloVietnam tour operator will also give you honest and unbiased advice on the best time to travel as well as the best routes to save time and money.
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