Conquering one of Vietnam's toughest passes

By Hoang Phong    October 11, 2019 | 10:27 am GMT+7

The Ma Pi Leng Pass in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang offers spectacular landscapes to the daring and adventurous.

Connecting Dong Van and Meo Vac in Ha Giang Province, Ma Pi Leng is considered one the four most dangerous passes in Vietnam. Over the Ma Pi Leng, there has a mountain with 2.000 meters height located on the Happiness road connecting Ha Giang, Dong Van and Meo Vac towns. Ma Pi Leng was built from the 60s of the 20th century by workers who almost are from the Hmong ethnic minority.  Its name in the Hmong ethnic groups language literally means bridge of a horse’s nose.

Ma Pi Leng is often described as one of the four most dangerous passes in Vietnam. Soaring over the pass is a mountain 2,000 meters high along whose side is the Hanh Phuc (Happiness) Road connecting Ha Giang Town, Dong Van District and Meo Vac District in Ha Giang Province, around 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Hanoi, close to the China border.

The road was complete in 1965 after 11 years of construction mostly by workers belonging to the H'mong ethnic group. Its name in the H'mong language literally means "bridge of a horse’s nose."

Ma Pi Leng Pass is not long, stretching 20 kilometers (12.7 miles) but it is the most dangerous pass in the northern border mountain area. It is considered as the

Ma Pi Leng Pass runs 20 kilometers (12.7 miles) and is considered the most dangerous in the northern mountains. It has also been dubbed the "King" of Vietnam’s passes, the Great Wall of Vietnam and the Pyramid of the H'Mong. Negotiating the pass is a tough task even for the most seasoned travelers.

Although the pass is dangerous and scary, you will be rewarded with this lovely view of the turquoise Nho Que River below.

Although the pass is dangerous and scary, you will be rewarded with this lovely view of the turquoise Nho Que River below.

Taking a boat trip down the Nho Que River at the foot of the Ma Pi Leng Pass is a must-try experience on a tour of Ha Giang. There are 17 ethnic minorities who call the plateau home and live on cultivating rice along the basins of the Nho Que River and corn on the rocky mountain slopes.  

Taking a boat trip down Nho Que River at the foot of Ma Pi Leng Pass is a must-try experience on a tour of Ha Giang. There are 17 ethnic minorities who call the plateau home and live on cultivating rice along the basin of Nho Que River and corn on the rocky mountain slopes.  

Recently, the illegal construction of the  Panorama Hotel and Restaurant on a bend in the Ma Pi Leng Pass of Ha Giang Province triggered public controversy, with many people saying the building is not environmentally friendly and partly destroys the landscape.This outrage has prompted local authorities to make a decision that parts of the Panorama Hotel and Restaurant that do not affect the  landscape can be retained and remodeled into a rest stop for visitors  without accommodation and other services, and the rest of the structure  would be razed.

Recently the illegal construction of the Panorama Hotel and Restaurant on a bend in the Ma Pi Leng Pass triggered public controversy, with many people saying the building is "not environmentally friendly and partly destroys the landscape."

This outrage has prompted local authorities to rule that parts of the hotel that do not affect the landscape could be retained and converted into a rest stop for visitors without accommodation or other services, and the rest would be razed.

Sometimes, you will come across many H Mong people walking on the pass but also catch the image of a HMong man who got drunk and sleep in the middle of the road.

Sometimes you will come across H' Mong people walking along the pass, but occasionally also see inebriated H'Mong men sleeping on the side of the road.

Situated around 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Hanoi, Ha Giang has become an increasingly attractive destination not just because of its spectacular scenery, but also for its narrow, twisting roads and mountain passes that kindle the adventurous spirit.The tourism boom in recent years has seen many motorbike rental services springing up in the province. Foreign tourists only need to leave their passports and produce their motorbike driving license to hire a vehicle for around VND150,000 ($6.47) per day.

Situated around 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Hanoi, Ha Giang has become an increasingly attractive destination not just because of its spectacular scenery, but also for its narrow, twisting roads and mountain passes that kindle the adventurous spirit.

The tourism boom in recent years has seen many motorbike rental services springing up in the province. Foreign tourists only need to leave their passports to hire a vehicle for around VND150,000 ($6.5) per day.

A HMong man carrying a bundle of dried corn on his back rests on the road while walking home.

A H'Mong man with a bundle of dried corn stalks on his back rests briefly while walking back home.

Photos by Pham Hoang Cuong, Sinh Nguyen, Giang Huy

 
 
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