After following the highway 4C for about 160 km from the center of Ha Giang, you will arrive at Dong Van township where you should not miss a tour of the old town. Perched at 1,600 meters, Dong Van township was home to Tay, Hoa, and Mong ethnicities in the early 20th century.
In 1920, the old township was renovated by the French, who brought new construction materials and Western architecture. Laterite houses with stone columns and decorated with red lanterns blend harmoniously with traditional clay buildings.
Most of these houses belong to the Luong Huy family. Luong Huy Ngo of the Tay ethnic group says these houses are still in good condition.
"The houses of this type are very comfortable. It is cool in summer and warm in winter. The wall thickness can be up to 85 cm. The wall part near the door is thinner, 65 cm. To build such a house, it takes about one month with the help of six people divided into two teams," Ngo noted.
"One team is responsible for carpentry and the other for masonry. The first team erects the wooden columns. Today, it is impossible to use only heartwood as in the past, so newer columns are less resistant. The second team prepares a kind of mixing clay,” Ngo added.
Located a hundred kilometers from the old quarter, the residence of Vuong, formerly named "Mong King Castle" is a major attraction in the region. The residence, which covers nearly 1,200 square meters, is surrounded by majestic mountains.
It was designed by Vuong Chinh Duc, from a wealthy and powerful Mong family, who controlled the whole Dong Van region.
Vuong Thi Cho, a fourth-generation descendant shared, "The wages paid to architects and workmen to build the house were equivalent to VND150 billion. The materials were all from Dong Van. You see, these two stone columns symbolize the poppy fruits. The workers rubbed the stone columns with silver to give them a silver color. Each column is worth about VND900 million."
Besides the main building, the residence includes several houses for guests, as well as living rooms, a heating room, and an indoor stone pool for bathing baths in goat milk. The owner constructed his residence as a fortress with tall fortified stone walls.
The three rooms of the main building are surmounted by stone blockhouses. At the back, there is a large stone basin to collect rain water.
Cho stressed, "Since Dong Van Karst Park was recognized by UNESCO, more tourists visit the residence. Each month, we welcome about 3,000 visitors and on public holidays, about 1,000 tourists a day. From September, there are more foreigners arriving”
The original appearance of the Vuong residence and the old town of Dong Van district has resisted the ravages of time. Their cultural authenticity seduces tourists without a doubt.