Tha hamlet is a peaceful mountain village, about 5km from the center of Ha Giang City, characterized by simple stilt houses, lush rice fields, and verdant rows of bamboo trees.
The hamlet has 500 Tay ethnic people who still live in stilt houses made completely of bamboo.
Officially recognized as a tourism and culture village in 2007, Tha hamlet has made a fortune out of its beautiful landscapes and rich cultural treasure of ethnic customs, costumes, and festivals.
Since the hamlet began offering homestay services, more foreigners have been coming to Ha Giang. Each year Tha hamlet receives as many as 2,000 visitors who stay overnight there.
In the past, villagers were dependent entirely on rice farming, vegetable gardening, and animal breeding.
Nguyen Van Thien, Secretary of the Tha hamlet Party Committee, said, “Since the community tourism model was deployed, households providing homestay services have more income. Most have earned an additional US$650 a year. Providing services has brought local farmers more income than just doing farming. We still encourage them to grow farm produce to sell to the tourists, but offering homestays is a good way for them to increase their incomes."
Community-based tourism is seen as an effective way to boost the tourism sector of Ha Giang province.
Ha Giang authorities have adopted policies which give each family offering homestay services US$2,600 to buy toilets, new furniture, and other home improvements.
Hoang Van Thuan of the Culture and Information Section of Ha Giang City, said, "Every year, we organize training courses on community-based tourism for local households. People are taught how to manage and operate a homestay service and how to welcome visitors, determine their preferences, and make appropriate sleeping and eating arrangements. We also help people to develop tours and tourism activities."
Ha Giang plans to replicate a tourism model under which village authorities work to identify local households that have the potential to provide homestay services, provide money to help people develop tourism products, and revive traditional crafts.