Ha Giang Km 0
You can find Km O in Ha Giang City quite easily. It is on the main road but easy to miss if you are driving as you’ll have to pay attention to the traffic. If you have no idea what it is and are wondering, read on.
What is it
Km O Ha Giang is small granite monument marking the start of the ironically named ‘Happiness Road’. The modern day QL4C that leads, 185Km, all the way to Meo Vac in the northeast tip of Ha Giang Province.
Where is it
The marker is in a small park on the side of Highway 2, the main road from Hanoi to Ha Giang. It is easy enough to see if you are walking or looking out for it but can be easily missed. Plenty of tourists will have driven straight past it without noticing or caring.
Why is it there
The monument is there to mark the start of the ‘happiness road’ that leads all the way up to Meo Vac in the North. Most importantly it is there in remembrance of the 7 years of labour and struggle that it took to cut the road out of the jungle. It is in memory of those who suffered and those that died working on the road.
What is the history behind the road
Happiness road was built between 1959 and 1965 and is 185Km long. It took an estimated 2 million working days and was constructed by:
1,300 men and women, from 6 mountain provinces: Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Lang Son, Thai Nguyen, Tuyen Quang and Ha Giang and 2 delta provinces: Nam Dinh and Hai Duong. There were also 1,000 people from 16 different ethnic groups who volounteered to assist with construction.
It is now the route of the modern day QL4C, going through Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van and on to Meo Vac,
Think about it for a second. It was built without the modern equipment that you are likely to see repairing it nowadays. Workers used just hoes, shovels, hammers crowbars and wheelbarrows. They suffered food shortages, salt deficiency, lack of green vegetables and water On top of that they had to put up with fierce Summer heat and icy Winter temperatures. All in all, it doesn’t sound like Happiness.
What is around it
There is a small public park around it all shaded with trees. People go there in the morning and evening to exercise with friends, play with their kids or to drink at small street vendors. It is lively at these times but relatively quiet at other times, especially in the heat of Summer.
Who visits it
As said, many locals visit but so do a lot of tourists. Some foreigners on tours will visit here. Usually the ones in smaller groups and a few independent tourists that have researched the area. The vast majority of tourists are domestic because they are more interested and have better access to information on the region. It is also because they are usually in large groups with a guide who knows the area very well.
You are also very likely to see a few foreigners or groups of young Vietnamese taking a photo at the marker to begin their loop tour.
There are also those tourists who like to ‘check in’ and there is a contingent of locals who wish to visit landmarks such as this and the northern, eastern, western, southernmost points etc….
Should you visit it
Yes, why not? It need only take a few minutes out of your trip and then you have a nice momento of the beginning of the loop. If you have more time either at the beginning or the end of your trip, you might want to hang out there watching the locals.
The start of something
Km 0 is a great place to take a souvenir photo when you start your Ha Giang Loop. If you are interested in doing the loop, then check out these itinerary links. The will give you an idea of what is possible.