Dong Van karst plateau Geopark consists of four districts, namely, Meo Vac, Dong Van, Yen Minh, Quan Ba. Located in the North of Ha Giang province – Viet Nam. It shares border with China in the north, total area of over 2.346 km2 . The karst plateau is created by at least 80 percent limestone and many fossils of ancient creatures species from 400 – 600 million years ago. Its average elevation is 1400 -1600 meters above sea level.
Dong Van rocky highland Geopark is officially became the 77th member of the Global Geopark Network on 3/10/2010. It becames the first global Geopark in Viet Nam, the second in Southeast Asia (after Langkawi Geopark of Malaysia).
- Geological value
A survey conducted by scientists from the Viet Nam Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources revealed the finding of 13 fossil – geological formations in Dong Van, including Chang Pung, Lut Xia, Si Ka, Bac Bun, Mia Le, Si Phai, Toc Tat, Lung Nam, Bac Son, Dong Dang, Song Hien, Hong Ngai, and Lan Pang. Of which, Chang Pung is the oldest one with date of 540 million years.
In addition, 19 paleontology groups were also discovered in Dong Van, including Brachiopoda (Tay cuon), Tabulata (San ho vach day), Tetracoralla (San ho bon tia), Stromatoporoidea (Lo tang), Trilobita (Bo ba thuy), Polybranchiaspis liaojiaoshanensis (Ca co), Foraminifera (Trung lo), Tentaculies (Vo non), Conodonta (Rang non), Pelecypoda (Chan riu), Gastropoda (Chan bung), Cephalopoda (Chan dau), Bryozoans (Dong vat dang reu), Crinoidea (Hue bien), Sclerotesta (Vo cung), Ancient Crustacean (Giap xac co), Hydrilla verticillata (Thuc vat thuy sinh), Spirulina (Tao), and Chitinozoa. The paleontology groups have helped scientists draw a complete picture of development history in terms of geology of Dong Van Karst Plateau in particular and northeast Viet Nam and south China in general.
- Value of geomorphology
Thanks to weather changes and Dong Van’s geo-diversity, the karst evolution has created “rock gardens” and “rock forests” of diverse forms in the area, such as Khau Vai rock garden (Meo Vac) where tourists can contemplate the peaks of rocks in the shape of different kinds of flowers, Lung Pu rock garden (Meo Vac) with animal-shaped rocks such as tiger and dragon, Van Chai rock garden (Dong Van) with round flagstones arranged like thousands of black sea lions leaning one another getting some rest on the beach.
However, the ranges of pyramid-shape mountains with sky-high rocky ascents are popular images making Dong Van Karst Plateau more majestic. The caves system in Dong Van also is the results of the karst evolution and they turn into typical tourist sites such as: Dragon Cave in Sang Tung (Dong Van), Kho My cave in Tung Vai (Quan Ba), En Cave in Van Chai (Dong Van)
- Archaeological value
The results of archaeological excavations in Dong Van has proved this is one of those places to keep traces of prehistoric culture. Archaeologists have discovered on the rocky plateau 2 sites of the Paleolithic era are: Can Ty (Quan Ba) and Pho Bang (Dong Van) and 2 sites in the Neolithic in Bach Dich and Yen Minh Town (Yen Minh). In addition, the ancient pair of drums that Lo Lo ethnic people in Dong Van are storing is the typical relics for the Dong Son culture more than 2000 years ago.
- Ecological value of Dong Van Geopark
The scientists have also evaluated Dong Van Plateau as having a unique and diverse mountainous geo-ecosystem. Primitive forests here have been rather undamaged, habiting many rare floral species, including Burretiodendron hsienmu (Nghien), Taxus Wallichiana Zucc (Thong do), Amentotaxus hatuyenensis (De tung soc nau), Cephalotaxus hainanensis (Dinh tung), Podocarpus pilgeri Foxw (Thong tre la ngan), Cupressus funebris (Hoang dan ru)… especially over 40 species of orchids. Dong Van Plateau also has a rich diversity of habitat for fauna as scientists have spotted over 50 species of wild animals, birds and reptiles in the site such as Capri conrnis sumatresis (Son duong), Rhinopithecus avunculus (Vooc mui hech), Sus cristatus (Lon rung), Garrulax canorus (Hoa mi)…
- Dong Van district
1.1. Natural area
The area is 450 km2. The agricultural land occupies 27%, the remaining is the rocky mountains occupies 73%.
It is bounded by:
+ China to the North and Northeast
+ Meo Vac district to the East and East-south
+ Yen Minh district to the West and West-south
It shares border with China at 52km long.
Total number of population in Dong Van district is 73.000 people with 15.000 households (in 2014), including 17 ethnic groups living in 225 villages. Hmong people occupy 87%, and remaining other ethnic groups such as Nung, Dao, Lo Lo, Pu Peo, Tay.
Dong Van residents work in agriculture for living, especially they bring the soil to the holes on the mountain, then grown corn there. In the flat area such as Pho Cao, Pho Bang town, Ta Lung, Pho La, they cultivate some food crops, but not many.
The people in Dong Van live together with the rock, they use rock to make house, to keep soil for growing corn, break the rock to find water… and make walls to protect houses and our countries.
1.3. Famous place in Dong Van district
There are many national monuments in Dong Van district such as: Hmong King Palace, Lung Cu flag tower, Dong Van Old Quarter, Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark.
Traditional festivals of some ethnic people such as: Forest God Sacrificial Ceremony of the Pu Peo people (on the 6th of June in lunar calendar), Ancestral Worship Ceremony of the Lo Lo people (on the 14th of July in lunar calendar), Gau Tao Festival (spring mountain festival) of the Hmong people (from the 1st to the 15th January in lunar calendar, depend on each family)
Dong Van is situated in a temperate climate and divided into two seasons: Rainy (from May to October) and dry seasons (November to April). The annual mean temperature is 24 -28 degree celcius, while the winter temperatures may be down to 5 degree celcius.
Spring is the most beautiful season in here, when the yellow mustard flowers and pink blossom flowers are on the foot of mountains; people also visit here in October and November for the purple buckwheat flowers.
2. Dong Van Town
Dong Van Old Quarter was establish at the beginning of 20th century. At that moment, there were only a few Hmong, Tay and Chinese houses. After that, there were more and more people from other places go there to stay. In general, Dong Van Old Quarter have the typical architecture of Hmong ethnic people in highland with earthen walls, yin yang tiles and stone floor. In 1880s, French army occupied this area, they zoned and left some important buildings here, especially the market buildings built from stone in 1920s and still remain now.
There are 40 old houses in Dong Van Old Quarter aged 100 – 300 years old, the oldest is the house is belong to Luong family – Luong Huy Ngo who was Tay ethnic group, had power in Dong Van in the past. It was built in 1860 and is the Old Quarter coffee at the moment.
3. Dong Van local market
Dong Van local market was taken place in the center of the old quarter in the old buildings built in 1920. But now, the market has just moved to another place 200m far away from the old one. Dong Van market takes place in the early morning of every Sunday. Some people who live far away, need to wake up early and walk from 3AM, cross several mountains to the market. The women usually go to the market to buying and selling; the men go the to meet friends and drink wine, eat the horse soup (horse meat and intestines cook together), children follow their parents to the market to have some traditional food. On the day of local market, the old quarter become noisy, chaotic with many different colors on traditional customs of Dao, Hmong, Tay, Nung, Giay, Lo Lo ethnic people from all the mountains down to the market. They bring vegetables, wood, pigs, dogs, chicken… from their house (all make by themselves) to trade. Even if you don’t buy anything, the people still are very happy and friendly.