At the foot of Lũng Cú National Flag Tower, the country’s north pole in Lũng Cú Commune, Đồng Văn District, there is a miraculous village, which is often depicted in legends.
Its name is Lô Lô Chải.
The village is nestled in the rocky plateau of Hà Giang Province and considered one of the most remote villages in the north of the country. Visitors to the village can easily spot the flagpole, which is about 1.4km away.
The village offers some wonderful sightseeing, with green colours falling into the rocky mountains, not to mention the unique culture and architecture.
Lô Lô Chải has also become a community-based cultural tourism village with homestays.
The main road, which leads into the village centre, is full of daisies. Visitors should traverse the road at a leisurely pace and see the village. They will recognise familiar trình tường (earthen) houses which appear after the stone fences, with maize hung on the houses and peach trees grown in front of them.
Near the village is a large natural lake which makes the atmosphere more fresher.
With the difficult, mountainous terrain, and frequent bad weather, especially in the winter, locals live in a self-sufficient way by growing maize, rice and vegetables.
According to Sìn Dỉ Gai, head of Lô Lô Chải, the village is home to nearly 100 households, with some 90 per cent of them Lô Lô ethicity.
Lô Lô Chải village is the only place in the province still home to the traditions of the Lô Lô people, with their earthen houses with rammed-earth walls, clay roofs, stone fences, traditional industries such as embroidering, woodwork; and traditional festivals such as lễ cúng thần rừng (ceremony of forest worship) and lễ mừng lúa mới (new rice ceremony).
According to Trần Văn Mạnh, a Hanoian backpacker, visitors should sleep one night in the village to experience the daily life of people here.
“Waking up with a cup of tea, seeing the thoughtful elderly, chattering children as well as women dyeing cloth or making cakes, you will be very happy as you notice that life is very simple. Time seems to stand still here,” said Mạnh.
Mạnh said there are many homestays in Lô Lô Chải, such as Homie homestay, Cực Bắc (North Pole) homestay, Sister’s homestay and Bar as well as Lô Lô Chải homestay.
The homestays have been designed and renovated on existing foundations of houses built by Lô Lô people.
In addition to cultural experiences, visitors can also enjoy local traditional dishes such as chicken, black pork, buffalo meat, buckwheat flower wine and maize wine.
In the weekend evenings, cultural performances take place at the village's cultural house.
According to Mạnh, in Lô Lô Chải, you should check out the North Pole Café which is the most famous destination in the village.
The founder of this café is Japanese Yasushi Ogura, who loves Hà Giang for its pristine beauty and unique culture of local ethnic communities. He invested his money to help Dỉu Di Chiến’s family construct a coffee shop to help improve the lives of locals and boost community-based tourism.
The shop is an upgrade of Chiến’s house. The original architecture of the house has been maintained with a fence made of stones and a thick wall that keeps it warm in winter and cool in summer.
Ogura then invited people to teach Lục Thị Vấn, Chiến’s wife, English as well as how to make coffee and drinks. After that, Ogura handed over all business activities to Vấn and her husband.
In front of the cafe sit old peach trees. In the spring, they have many crimson flowers, while in the summer, they are full of fruit.
Thanks to its charming culture and unique architecture, in recent years, the beauties of Lô Lô Chải has become known to many tourists and it's a must-see place in Hà Giang. VNS