Hoai Khao Village in the northern province of Cao Bang, surrounded by rice terraces and cool weather, is home to the Dao Tien ethnic minority group, who mainly live on farming.
Hoai Khao Valley, home to the village, is nearly 1,000 meters above sea level in Quang Thanh Commune, about 60 kilometers from downtown Cao Bang. The village is home to 34 families, all of the Dao Tien ethnic minority, the only Dao group to wear skirts embroidered with the images of coins.
In October 2020, Hoai Khao Village was marked for community-based tourism development due to the rich cultural values and lifestyle of the Dao Tien. Currently, there are three households in Hoai Khao Village running homestays, with business heavily affected by the new Covid wave that resulted in travel restrictions.
A lone villager amid a rice terrace. Locals mainly cultivate rice in the summer thanks to rainy weather, in addition to relying on water from streams.
Visitors to Hoai Khao will come across this symbolic wooden altar that typically hosts Dao Tien coming-of-age ceremonies. Such festivities are held only for teenage boys over the age of 10 in honor of their ancestors and parents. They are not considered grown-up unless they partake in the event.
In addition to rice, corn is also grown as a food source. After harvest, it is dried and stored in separate warehouses.
Hoai Khao is dotted with traditional wooden homes featuring up to five rooms and roofed with yin-yang tiles. Each family has a wooden grain store separate from the main house.
The Chu and Ly families dominate Hoai Khao. On the side of their homes, a stone temple is used for ancestor worship.
Their outfits are hand-spun and hand-embroidered. Traditional Dao Tien clothing comprise indigo fabric, with pattern created using beeswax. In addition, women wear silver jewelry to highlight their attire. Each person has their own set of silver rings.
Dao Tien women use heated beeswax to print patterns, then embroider images of plants, animals and human figures onto their clothing. Traditional techniques and a hard-working ethic ensures a viable livelihood selling dresses, tablecloths, headbands, and wall decorations.