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Ha Giang Province

Hà Giang is a province in the Northeast region of Vietnam. The province's name derives from Sino-Vietnamese. It is located in the far north of the country, and contains Vietnam's northernmost point. 

Find out about the history, geography and important Hmong King's residence below.

Photo: Heaven's gate viewpoint on the road from Ha Giang to Dong Van

General information

Hà Giang is a province in the Northeast region of Vietnam. The province's name derives from Sino-Vietnamese. It is located in the far north of the country, and contains Vietnam's northernmost point. It shares a 270 km long border with Yunnan province of southern China, and thus is known as Vietnam's final frontier. The province covers an area of 7945.8 square kilometres and as of 2008 it had a population of 705,100 people.

The provincial capital, also called Hà Giang, is connected by Highway 2 and is 320 km away from Hanoi. The border crossing is at Thanh Thủy, 25 km from the capital, Hà Giang city. It is one of the poorest provinces of Vietnam as it has mountainous topography with the least potential for agricultural development.


Hà Giang is bounded by Cao Bằng, Tuyên Quang, Lào Cai, and Yên Bái provinces and has common international border with China in the north. Hà Giang has many high rocky mountains, limestone formations and springs; the important mountains are the Cam and Mo Neo. The major rivers of the region are the Lô River (Hà Giang town is located on its left bank) and Mien River.

The topography of the province of Hà Giang is fairly complex with "temperate, but highly localized montane weather patterns create variable conditions among different regions". It has impressive limestone and granite peaks and outcrops. It has three regions. Climatically, it has two seasons, dry and monsoon, dependent on the altitude of the region. The two northern Indochinese climatic zones on the border influence the climate in that part of the province. The lower areas in the province comprise low hills, the Lô River Valley and the town of Hà Giang.

Archaeological excavations carried out near Hà Giang town at Doi Thang (Pine Hill) have established the region's antiquity to about 3000 years back. During the Bronze Age Tay Yu tribals (of the, with culturally rich traditions ruled over the region; Archaeological findings in the form of bronze drums of that age used for ceremonial purposes is traced even to its present use by the Lô Lô and Pu Peo tribes of the region (Mèo Vạc, Hà Giang province).

What was later called Hà Giang Province by the French was part of bộ Tân Hưng[disambiguation needed] in ancient times, one of 15 bộ in the nation of Văn Lang. During the Ming Dynasty occupation of Vietnam, at the start of the 15th century, it was known as the district of Bình Nguyên, before being changed to Bình Nguyên in 1473, and later renamed châu Vị Xuyên.

The French occupied this region in 1886, establishing their military garrison on the east bank of the Lô River and which became later in 1905 one of the four major military establishments in French Indochina in North Vietnam. The Vietnamese Dao tribals rebelled against the French colonial rule first in 1901 led by Triệu Tiến Kiến and Triệu Tài Lộc, which was quelled, and the former was killed in the war. However, in 1913, Triệu Tài Lộc organized another rebellion with the help of Triệu Tiến Tiến, another member of his clan, which lasted for two years till 1915. Their slogan was "No Corvees, no taxes for the French; drive out the French to recover our country; liberty for the Dao." This revolt was known as the "White Hat Revolt" since the Vietnamese carried a white flag engraved with "four ideograms to Quốc Bách Kỹ" (meaning "White Flag of the Fatherland"). The rebellion spread to Tuấn Quang, Lào Cai and Yên Bái. In 1915 the French ruthlessly suppressed the rebellion, deporting many Vietnamese and hanging at least 67"rebels".

Before 1975, Hà Giang comprised the districts of Đồng Văn, Vị Xuyên, Xín Mần, Yên Minh, Hoàng Su Phì, Bắc Quang, Thanh Thủy, and Quản Bạ.

H'Mông Kings Residence

The history of the H'Mông Kings of the northern region of the province bordering China (Đồng Văn and Mèo Vạc) is also integral to the province as the Hmong people have dominated the region from the late 18th century. The Vương family of the Huang clan established their rule at Đồng Văn and Mèo Vạc, which was endorsed by the Nguyễn Kings.

During French colonial rule, French further supported the King to keep their hold on the border territory. Vương Chính Đức was recognized as the king of the H'Mông people in 1900. A palace befiting the king was built between 1902–03, at Sà Phìn (16 km west of Đồng Văn town) by inducting Chinese architects. The King's loyalty to the French was evident in the support that the French got from him during their campaign to put down a rebellion launched by the local tribes. In recognition, the King was given the rank of a General of the French Army (a fully uniformed King's picture is seen in the interior rooms of their palace).

The increasing opposition by the Vietnamese to the French rule saw the King adopting a neutral stance. Vương Chú Sển who succeeded his father after the latter's death in 1944, however, pledged support to Hồ Chí Minh. The historical palace of the Vương King was built in the traditional norms of Northeast Asian royal palaces. The palace built on the "Geomantic principles" has four double storied wings planned in 19th-century southern Chinese town house style with "mui luyen" ("yin-yang") tiles. The two wings are linked by three open courtyards. A moat surrounds the palace. Tombs of the royal family members, which are intricately carved in wood are located outside the palace walls. Only the walls of the buildings are made of bricks, while the other components of the buildings are made of wood.

New Market
Dong Van
Ha Giang Province

Phone: +84 (0) 168 7540 762