In Meo Vac, a town of roughly the same size and vintage as Dong Van, Mr. Anh told us about the local annual a�?love marketa�? that is held near there each March, when ethnic minorities from all over the area flock here in search of romantic partners. Circling back, we passed through Lung Phin, where another market is held every six days in accordance with the lunar calendar and thousands of people representing every tribe in the region congregate in a burst of rural commerce. Mr. Anh regaled us with images of the frenetic exchange of horse saddles, dried mushrooms, gingered sausages, water buffalo, cardamom pods, plastic shoes, bright ribbons and embroidery thread, all traded along with gossip from the hilltops and accompanied by bowls of horse meat soup and shots of corn whiskey.
a�?NextA�time you come here, you must make sure to see it,a�? Mr. Anh said.
We nodded, flush with fantasies of returning someday. For now, the town was still, with just a few old men smoking bamboo pipes and children running in the street. We gazed back at them, and the road unspooling behind us, and embarked on the long descent to the bottom of the rocky plateau.
IF YOU GO
Spring and fall are the best months for travel in Ha Giang; the weather is temperate and generally clear.
Visas are required for American visitors a�� a one-month, single-entry visa is $20.
The easiest way to get to Ha Giang is by private car or motorbike from Hanoi. For public transportation options, forgo the clunky sleeper train-bus combination that we used and instead take one of six daily buses from Hanoia��s My Dinh bus station straight to Ha Giang town. The buses leave between 4 and 6 a.m., and the seven-hour trip costs 120,000 Vietnamese dong (about $6.35 at 19,000 dong to the dollar). From there, public transportation is extremely limited, and it is advisable to rent a car or motorbike.A�vietnam travel