Heaven's Gate and Fairy Mountains

Around 45km out from Ha Giang City you will be in Quyet Tien Village and you may have stopped off for a quick break and a drink. If so, you will see the climb up to Heaven’s Gate. You could easily skip Quyet Tien and go straight up to the gate itself. Once again, it isn’t going to be a tricky drive, and it is only a gain of around 250m, but it is a scenic one.

Map

Heaven's Gate Viewpoint

At the top you will see a very narrow road cutting through two limestone peaks. This is where (in 1939) the French built a huge wooden gate (150cm thick) to block the road and passage on to the Dong Van Karst Plateau.

Once you have passed this point, you are officially on the Dong Van Karst Plateau, which is spread over 2,360km2. It is 90% karst limestone and covers 4 districts, Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van and Meo Vac.

Head on as short way and you will see a few roadside stalls and places to park. It is here that you can get off the bike and take a climb up to one of the peaks to get a great view of the valley below. Tam Son town is surrounded by 4 mountains and on the valley floor you will be able to see Fairy Mountains. These are called either Nui Doi (Twin Mountains) or Nui Co Tien (Fairy Mountains) in Vietnamese and are famous by legend.

Fairy Mountains - The Legend

A long, long time ago, there was a handsome young Hmong man who could play the flute beautifully. Often, whilst he played, a fairy would come down from Heaven to sit and listen to him. After some time, the two fell in love, got married and had a baby boy.

However, when the fairy’s father, the King Of Heaven, found out that his daughter had left the palace he demanded that she return immediately, leaving her husband and son behind.

The fairy, naturally very concerned for the well being of her young son, decided to leave her breasts on Earth so that her son would not come to harm.

You can still see the ‘breasts’ today in Quan Ba in the shape of two round mountains on the floor of the valley.

This is just a legend but many local people feel blessed by the presence of the mountains. They claim that because of them the valley benefits from good weather and fruitful crops. Who really knows?

Tam Son Valley

From here you wind down the slope and into Tam Son town. The local farmers here used to be predominantly rice-growers. Now, due to the rich soil and government assistance crops of kohlrabi, tomatoes, mustard greens, and potatoes are grown.

This has greatly increased the income of the locals and the variety in their diet. Overall, improving the quality of life in the area. The months of starvation each year are becoming a thing of the past for most families.

I remember coming to the area many years ago and wondering how people could survive in such a place. There were hardly any crops and there were the well documents months of starvation when the  locals didn’t have any rice at all. Now, it is quite different and startling even to see the wide variety of fresh vegetables available. 

Heaven's Gate and Fairy Mountains

It is well worth taking the time to stop at Heaven’s Gate, especially if it is a clear day. You might then go on to stay in Tam Son town or in Nam Dam village.

And, if you do have time in the area, you can visit Lung Tam Linen Co-operative or Lung Khuy cave.

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