Yen Minh – Ha Giang

Yen Minh lays between Quan Ba and Dong Van, on the south-western edge of the Dong Van Plateau. Thus it makes for a natural stopping point once you’ve travelled through Heaven’s Gate on the way to Dong Van proper. Before reaching Yen Minh Town, we recommend making a stop at Lao Va Chai for a hike up to the viewpoint located here, as it offers some truly stunning views of Yen Minh Valley. Just make sure not to eat any of the leaves on the way up, as they’re incredibly poisonous!

Yen Minh Tour from Hanoi

Yen Minh in Ha Giang

While Yen Minh Town doesn’t have the same level of attractions and things to do as Dong Van or Meo Vac, it has managed to retain a delightfully authentic vibe, despite almost every traveller in Ha Giang stopping here for at least a short break. The food in Yen Minh is especially good for the region, with a local speciality consisting of rice paper rolls and a unique kind of thin and sticky rice cakes known as “Yen Minh Cake”. As mentioned, while there’s not much to do in the town itself, a walk out of town is highly recommended, as you’re quickly transported into a truly untouched vision of rural Vietnam, completely free of tourists. In the evening you can pay a visit to the stadium to watch the locals play football and volleyball, where the locals are sure to take notice of you sitting down to watch them play.

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Yen Minh Photos

North of Yen Minh Town is Na Khe Pine Forest, the unique nature of which has given the district the nickname of “Da Lat of the North” among Vietnamese. Indeed, as you travel through the think red pine forest to visit various H’mong villages such as Sung Trang, Phu Lung, Thang Mo and Bach Dich, you will feel as if you’ve suddenly left Ha Giang behind and been transported to the Central Highlands. This area is also home to the Pu Peo ethnic group, which with less than 1000 members is one of the smallest in all of Vietnam. If you’re in this area around 6th day of the 6th lunar month, you may be able to catch the Pu Peo Forest Festival, where the Pu Peo pray for water to feed the forest and perform animal sacrifices as well as many other cultural activities like music, dancing and games.

Going south of Yen Minh Town instead, you will find Du Gia National Park. Established as Vietnam’s 31st national park by the merger of the Snub-nosed langur habitat and Dua Gia Nature Reserve. The nature reserve now serves as a habitat for several critically endangered species, such as the Snub-nosed Langur. This means that wildlife and animal enthusiasts are sure to enjoy some time spent here trekking and searching for the rare and amazing animals who reside here.

Remote, rural Yen Minh is an unremarkable town surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery in Vietnam.

Yen Minh Travel Guides - Ha Giang

Terrace Field in Yen Minh Ha Giang

Yen Minh town may not be anything particularly special, but it has one of the most incredible approaches you’ll ever drive along. The Ma Pi Leng Pass, or “Heaven’s Gate”, is thoroughly deserving of its celestial moniker, taking you along treeless, near-vertical valleys beneath peaks that pierce the clouds.

Due to its high altitude, the landscape around Yen Minh is rather barren and rocky, making a stark contrast to the lush forests and lakes of the lower highlands – and making it an exceedingly difficult landscape to farm. Despite this, the local Hmong minorities have managed to adapt their farming style to the steep, rocky terrain, building terraces to grow corn and rice and making the most of the flat land along riverbanks in the Yen Minh Valley.

While you’re in Yen Minh – whether you’re on your way to Meo Vac, Ha Giang or Dong Van – make time to stop at the Vuong Palace, a Chinese-style mansion built by the local Hmong lords at the turn of the 20th century. These feudal lords controlled the region until 1945, growing rich from the production of opium, and their palace is the most interesting building in the region.