Dong Van is the destination in Ha Giang Province that has received the most attention over the years and rightly so. It resembles Sapa in many ways except the fact that backpackers and travelers to the small city will not be harassed by the local hill tribe people. Planning a trip to Dong Van should revolve around staying for the market day when local hill tribe people descend to the city to sell livestock, produce, imports from China, goods from Vientam, locally distilled rice wine, and many other things. There are several hotels in the city center, take some time and check out a few. Several of them offer balcony views of the surrounding mountains for just an extra 30,000- 40,000 dong extra. Restaurants, mini marts, and coffee shops are located throughout the town square.
Dong Van is also makes a good starting point to see Lung Cu Flag Tower 20km (12miles) to the northwest. It’s a very scenic ride, if its not to cloudy, that passes through small hill tribe villages and towering limestone karsts. If you plan on making the trip there make sure to bring your passport and Ha Giang permit. The staff at the military checkpoint will demand to see them and won’t let you up to the flag tower with out them. The top of the hill where the flag tower is offers stunning views of China which surrounds the hill on three sides. The road there also passes within 50m of the Chinese border, so don’t make any wrong turns.
The Vuong Palace is also another interesting sight 24km (15 miles) west of Dong Van. It was constructed in 1920 and took nearly 8 years to build. Workers were brought in from Yunnan, China to work alongside Hmong craftsmen. The detailed carvings in the stone and wood are worth noting in addition to the architecture of the compound with various courtyards.