Guidebook Ha Giang, aka Shangri-La

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Ha Giang, aka Shangri-La

“A sweep of dazzling slopes, serrated ridges and hanging valleys,” is how Jennifer Bleyer at The New York Times describes “the place that some call Shangri-La.” Ha Giang sits in a mountainous northern region of Vietnam, close to the border with China, a six-hour drive from Hanoi, “and a world away, a place where currently very few tourists visit,” says Anna Murphy at The Telegraph. “Such is the comparative rarity of tourists in Ha Giang that we were as much an object of fascination to them as they were to us,” she writes,”a fact that lessened that uncomfortable feeling of voyeurism that you can sometimes suffer when you travel off the beaten track.” Most of the dwellings are “traditional wooden affairs ... the Red Dao houses built on the ground, the Black Dao houses on stilts,” and outside several homes “a woman was winnowing rice using a large flat-bottomed basket, tossing the rice up high into the air to separate it from the dry husks.”

“The scenery reminds me of a classical Chinese painting,” writes Marco Ferrarese at Traveller, “with all the stereotypical mist, cone-shaped rock pinnacles, green moss, and the odd lonely villager standing alone atop gravity-defying limestone corners.” This “treeless land” is still “the reign of the H'mong,” and there’s a “charming wooden palace of the H'mong king” -- a “small but opulent castle” incorporating three stone courtyards “shaded by a patch of mountain forest.”

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