Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of Dong Giang. Nestled in the hills of western Quang Nam, Dong Giang is one of the province’s best-kept secrets, brimming with waterfalls, forests, and tea hills. Along the rivers, the hardy Co Tu people live in tight-knit villages, hunting, foraging and following timeless traditions. This is a different side of Quang Nam that few travelers get to see; but once you do, you’ll remember it forever.
Here are a few must-do activities in Dong Giang.

Best day trips from Hoi An: Dong Giang's tea hills
The tea hills in Dong Giang are some of the most beautiful in Vietnam.
Best day trips from Hoi An: Dong Giang's tea hills
Walking around the hills is a refreshing and easy activity that will bring you closer to nature.
Best day trips from Hoi An: Dong Giang's tea hills
Locals in Dong Giang began growing green tea in the 1970s.

Go for a walk in the tea hills

You might catch a peek of the tea hills on the drive there, but walking amid neat rows of tea bushes covering the hills as far as your eyes can see, is always an unexpected treat. The dirt paths that encircle the hills are perfect for light trekking, with easy inclines and refreshing views that change around every corner. Be sure to bring your camera to snap pictures, then visit a tea farm for a cup of Dong Giang’s finest green tea.

Co Tu ethnic group in Dong Giang, Quang Nam Province
Y Kong plays and sings on the abel, a Co Tu instrument with two strings and a bamboo lath.

Meet Y Kong, a Co Tu elder

The Co Tu are one of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities, and about 2,000 of them live in Dong Giang District. At 97 years old, Y Kong is the eldest of Dong Giang’s Co Tu community. Born in this area, he still remembers long-ago hunts in the forests, and tribal ceremonies that lasted for days. His home is a mini-museum of Co Tu culture where you can admire detailed wood carvings, listen to Co Tu musical instruments, and ask questions about the Co Tu way of life.

Co Tu village - Dong Giang's cultural activities - Best day trips from Hoi An
Every Co Tu village has its own communal house.
Co Tu village - Dong Giang's best cultural activities - Where to go outside of Hoi An
A large area in front of the communal house is used for ceremonies and festivals.
Bho Hoong ethnic village - Dong Giang's best cultural activities - What to do outside of Hoi An
Many Co Tu still live in simple wooden houses.

Visit ethnic villages

Cross the bridge over the Kon River and you’ll find yourself in Bho Hoong, a small Co Tu village that’s big on charm. On a guided tour, you can step inside the guol — a communal house with a sloping grass roof and beautiful wood carvings — learn to cook Co Tu delicacies in a rustic kitchen, and meet the friendly residents, who will usually invite you for tea in their gardens filled with jackfruit, figs, turmeric and medicinal plants. Near the village you can explore hot springs, farms, and forests with the help of your Co Tu guide.

Co Tu meals in Dong Giang - Best places to go outside of Hoi An
The Co Tu use local spices, wild vegetables, and bamboo canes to create special dishes.

TIP: Bho Hoong Bungalows is a community-based tourism project run by Rose Travel. Several Moong houses have been set up comfortably for travelers to immerse themselves in the village. Stay overnight here to enjoy warm Co Tu hospitality and delicious ethnic cooking.

Trekking in Dong Giang - Best activities outside of Hoi An
It's a 90-minute trek from Bho Hoong Village to A-Reec Waterfall.
Trekking in Dong Giang - Best activities outside of Hoi An
Numerous streams wind through the valleys in Dong Giang.
Waterfalls in Dong Giang - Best things to do outside of Hoi An
A-Reec is just one of several waterfalls in the area.

Trek to A-Reec Waterfall

Trekking to A-Reec Waterfall is a rewarding experience for adventurous travelers. Only 3.5 kilometers from the main road, the trail passes through Co Tu farmland, rustling forests and clear streams. The last kilometer demands focus, but soon you’ll emerge at the waterfall. A-Reec cascades over three tiers, forming inviting pools of cool water perfect for a refreshing dip. Be sure to bring your hiking shoes, plenty of water, and a snack to enjoy at the waterfall.

Co Tu women in Dong Giang - Top places to go outside of Hoi An
Co Tu women learn weaving from the ages of 6 or 7 from their mothers.

Experience Co Tu crafts and music

The Co Tu have many rich cultural traditions that are still practiced in their villages. Co Tu men are skilled weavers, and will gather after the planting season to weave baskets and carrying packs from rattan and bamboo foraged in the forests. Co Tu women have a strong tradition of brocade weaving. The women grow cotton, spin it into yarn, and weave clothing for their families with vibrant patterns of red and orange and white beading.

Woven baskets in Dong Giang - Best day trips from Hoi An
Woven baskets are used in many parts of daily life for the Co Tu.
Bamboo weaving in Dong Giang - Top day trips from Hoi An
Bamboo and rattan from the forest is split and heated before weaving.
Basket weaving in Dong Giang - Best day trips from Hoi An
Basket weaving is usually done by Co Tu men in preparation for the harvest season.

The Co Tu have a range of unique musical instruments, such as the khen (pan-pipe), aluot (flute), and abel (two-stringed bamboo lath). Some instruments like the gong are played only at festivals and rituals, while others are used for folk songs and love duets. On special occasions, the Co Tu perform ‘Tung Tung Da Da’. Men and women in traditional costume dance in a circle around a bonfire, stepping to the sound of the gong.

Tips for travelers

How to get to Dong Giang

The western provinces of Quang Nam including Dong Giang are still new to tourism. For the best experience, go with a trusted tour provider from Hoi An who can arrange the best route and itinerary for you, and advise you on how to be a respectful visitor in the ethnic villages. You may choose to go by car or go on a back-of-the-bike tour, for a more adventurous ride.

When to visit Dong Giang

During the rainy season and after storms, the hiking trails in the forest are impassable and dangerous, even for skilled hikers. Visit Dong Giang’s natural wonders during the drier season, from March to September, for a safe and enjoyable excursion. Spring is an especially nice time to go, as the ethnic minorities celebrate with Ta Vat wine, ceremonial dances, and special food.

Dong Giang - Best places to go outside of Hoi An

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