Meo Vac is a town on the east of Ha Giang province, connected to the QL4C south towards the Cao Bang Province and north to Dong Van, as well to Yen Minh through the smaller DT182 / 176 road.
Similar to Dong Van and Yen Minh the town is strategically located in a valley, with all roads coming down the hills offering some nice views when entering Meo Vac. Some might say just saying nice view does not give it enough justice.
Unlike the other places Meo Vac consists not only by one main road, but by two with some smaller roads, giving the whole town a much larger feel than Yen Minh or Meo Vac. The main area is probably around the indoor market and the stadium, where you find most accommodation and food places.
Meo Vac actually offers plenty of accommodation and food places, so it is well set up for tourists who visit it as part of a tour or doing the Ha Giang Loop. Though like every single place in the area it certainly has no touristy feel. You can really watch the locals doing their daily activities, hearing locals shouting Xin Caho or just waving and smiling. They people living here are very welcoming.
On mayor attraction of Meo Vac is the Sunday market – it is the largest market of the area. It is worth it to visit the place for the market alone. There are so many different stalls around and inside the indoor markets, with a large area where livestock is sold. You will not see many markets like this in the more touristy set up places throughout Vietnam.
Overall Meo Vac is a nice place to visit, worth more than just the usual one night. If you have the chance to be in Meo Vac for the Sunday market, you should do your best not to miss it.
Arrival / Departure
Buses depart to Ha Giang, Yen Minh and even to Bao Lac in the Cao Bang province. Unfortunately there seem no direct bus from Meo Vac to Cao Bang.
If you arrive by motorbike from Dong Van you will head down the main road QL4C, passing many local houses. Follow the road until you reach a roundabout near the stadium to find most accommodation.
Coming from the Cao bang province in the south you will enter Meo Vac via a rather impressive road winding down the hill, arriving at the stadium.
The final option to arrive is from Yen Minh from the DT182 road. Again, it is a nice way to arrive in Meo Vac as you are welcomed with a great view over the whole town. Follow the road until you pass the petrol station. You can find several guesthouses here, or you continue the road until you reach the stadium with more options to stay.
Meo Vac has enough guesthouses on offer. Most places are near the stadium, with a few ones located on the road DT182 coming from Yen Minh. Near the stadium you find two larger hotels (Hotel Hoa Cuong opposite the stadium and Khách Sạn Tiến Cường Hotel, which is the tallest building of the town). Along the road of the indoor markets are several smaller guesthouses, as well as on the QL4C road. it is certainly worth it to check some of the places, as they differ from prices and set up.
The most luxurious and most expensive place in Meo Vac is probably Meo Vac Auberge de Meo Vac – Mountain Lodge, located to the east of the town on a smaller path. it gets good review but I have not been there.
Food & Drinks
There are several food places throughout Meo Vac, most are near the stadium and indoor market.
My favourite place was by far Ngoc Lan Quan. It is near the Khách Sạn Tiến Cường Hotel, the road running parallel to DT182. I have eaten three times there, and the grilled meat and vegetables are very tasty – and the prices are low as well. It seems to be popular with locals as I met a few there, and you can easily spend a bit time there for a drink or two (they serve corn wine in bottles too). The family running the place (couple with a daughter) cannot speak English, but they are very friendly.
Opposite of the Ngoc Lan Quan is a larger food place (Mây Cồ Quán), but it was always empty.
At the entrance of the indoor market you can find some vendors selling Banh Mi and soup and their bits throughout the day. The stall next to the entrance in front of the bank sells good Banh Mi. There is also a little food place at the corner of the indoor market – the pho was not bad. However, two girls I met during my journey were not impressed with the soup served in one fo the food places opposite the entrance of the indoor market.
At the corner stairs lead to what seems to be a restaurant serving goat dishes, but they are not open every night.
If you are in Meo Vac during the market day, head into the indoor market. In the large main hall there are many little stalls serving various soup versions or rice dishes. It is a bit smokey due to all the fireplaces indoor, but it is a nice atmosphere with good soup (some of the chicken are a bit boney though).
I saw one or two places that look a bit more like normal restaurant. One was opposite the side entrance of the indoor market on the street of Khách Sạn Tiến Cường Hotel.
For drinks my favourite place were the outdoor seats next to the stadium. There are several vendors selling beer, lemon juice, fruit juices and coffee, as well as serving little snacks like meat skewers. It is nice to sit outside having a drink, and meeting some of the locals. Great to spend time in the morning, afternoon or at night.
There are two karaoke bars. One is next to the cattle market at the far end of the indoor market. The other one is opposite Ngoc Lan Quan. However, the karaoke takes place in private rooms and not in one large hall. They seem to be busy during the weekend, and you can sit dow in their lobby for a drink as well.
What to do
Meo Vac has some interesting bits worth spending time to explore them.
Meo Vac itself is actually nice. There are some typical colonial style buildings, and if you head to the cattle market you reach an area full of fields, which you can pass to get a different feel and view of the town. It is also strange to see a nice looking G3 football pitch there – it is actually great to see such facilities in a remote area. Some places in Western Europe could learn from that.
One interesting little road to follow is the one that leads from the petrol station (north of it) to QL4C – as it passes through an area highlighted as minority village. There are some nice looking building, and I think there seems to be a homestay as well.
One thing not to miss is the viewing point at the top of a hill, which was a pagoda before. From here you get a great view of the town and the surrounding area, an is the perfect place to watch the sunset and having a beer. To get there follow QL4C south, and after passing the stadium you will see a little road to your left after a sharpish corner, heading up a hill. Follow that road and you will see a car park to your right – and the stairs leading up to the viewing point.Walking up the stair is worth the effort – the view is just fantastic. You cannot beat relaxing here after a day on the bike. The road leading to the viewing point doesn’t look bad either, so following the road might be interesting.
At night a little stroll to the Uncle Ho monument is also a nice idea. It is along QL4C opposite the stadium. The road on that section is lid by little lanterns, and the statue itself is lid up as well.
The indoor market during the week is of no interest. I read somewhere that food stalls should be inside in the evening, but there none. However, during the day there are market vendors in the upper section, selling fresh food and other day-to-day goods for the locals.
The absolute highlight of Meo Vac though is clearly the weekly market on a Sunday. The town is absolute packed, you will even see people arriving from the nearby village the night before. From 6am the street around the indoor market is full of vendors selling anything locals might need. It is just fascinating to se the people wearing their traditional dresses selling goods from livestock to rice, corn wine and mobile phones. It is not aimed for tourists, and it is a perfect place to explore a real rural market. Here are more information and pictures about the market.