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Conquering the Ha Giang Loop on a Motorbike - Itineraries and Tips

ma-pi-leng-ha-giang-loop Ma Pi Leng Pass on the Ha Giang Loop

Ready for some adrenaline-rushing experiences in the most striking mountain loop in Vietnam? The Ha Giang Loop has gained itself a legendary reputation among adventurous solo travelers, thanks to the thrilling cliff-side roads with swooping twists and turns. There are majestic limestone pinnacles on one side, and a magical combination of roaring rivers and astounding forested valleys to marvel at on the other side. With that said, setting off on the motorbike trip in Ha Giang is undoubtedly not for the faint of heart. So let’s get on with the much-needed information for completing the Ha Giang Loop on a motorbike.

Ha giang river ha giang loop

Refreshing natural sites everywhere you go

limestone pinacles ha giang loop

limestone pinacles 2 ha giang loop

Mythical limestone pinnacles at Dong Van

Table of Contents:

1. Suggested Itineraries for Motorbiking in the Ha Giang Loop
2. What to Know Before Setting Off to The Ha Giang Loop
3. Where to Stay while Motorbiking in The Ha Giang Loop
4. How to Get to Ha Giang Province
5. Renting a Motorbike for the Ha Giang Loop
6. Tips for Riding a Motorbike in the Ha Giang Loop
7. Estimated Budget for Motorbiking on the Ha Giang Loop
8. What to Not Miss When Traveling in the Ha Giang Loop
9. What to Avoid When Traveling in the Ha Giang Loop
10. Our Takes on Conquering the Ha Giang Loop on a Motorbike

Suggested Itineraries for Motorbiking in the Ha Giang Loop

Option #1: For adventurers on a tight schedule

Ha Giang City - Quan Ba - Yen Minh - Dong Van - Du Gia - Ha Giang City
Total Distance: 301 km
Suggested minimum duration: 3 days

Day 1: Ha Giang City - Quan Ba - Yen Minh (102 km)
Day 2: Yen Minh - Dong Van - Du Gia (126 km)
Day 3: Du Gia - Ha Giang City (73 km)

Unless you’re pressed for time, or you want to explore the more unseen sides of the loop because it is not your first time in Ha Giang, this is seemingly the least appealing choice as you would miss a lot of iconic stops, such as the Ma Pi Leng Pass in the cover photo of this guide.

ha giang road 1

ha giang riverside road ha giang loop 1

Right from the starting point in Ha Giang City, the enchanting landscape immediately lures you in the excitement of the adventure

Ha giang quan ba heaven gate ha giang loop

One must never miss the opportunity to capture the legendary Quan Ba Heaven Gate on camera

ha giang yen minh ha giang loop 1

Mingle with the locals at Yen Minh District

ha giang doc tham ma ha giang loop

Riding through the Tham Ma Pass is one of those once-in-a-lifetime adventures

ha giang to dong van ha giang loop 1

The road to the Dong Van Karst Plateau can be very tricky - beware of twisty roads ahead

Option #2: The full Ha Giang Loop

Ha Giang City - Quan Ba - Yen Minh - Lung Cu - Dong Van - Meo Vac - Du Gia - Ha Giang City
Total Distance: 357 km
Suggested minimum duration: 4 - 5 days

Day 1: Ha Giang City - Quan Ba - Yen Minh (102 km)
Day 2: Yen Minh - Lung Cu Flag Pole - Dong Van (85 km)
Day 3: Dong Van - Meo Vac - Du Gia (97 km)
Day 4: Du Gia - Ha Giang City (73 km)

ha giang frontier area ha giang loop

border sign ha giang loop

Ha Giang Province lies in the northernmost point of Vietnam, so you’ll be passing by a lot of frontier areas - marked by a border sign.

Read Land Border Crossing in Vietnam if you plan to visit Vietnam’s neighboring countries, such as Laos & China.

road to lung cu flag 3 ha giang loop

Lung Cu Flagpole marks the northernmost point of Vietnam

road to lung cu flag 2 ha giang loop

The road to the flagpole during the rainy season is not particularly pleasant to travel through, luckily this slippery road is of a short distance

lung cu flag ticket ha giang loop

Ticket to the Lung Cu Flagpole is VND 25,000/adult. The parking is free.

lung cu national flag pole marker

Lung Cu national flagpole marker

lung cu flag on top of the tower

The Vietnam national flag raised at the top of the tower

lung cu view ha giang loop

View of the Lung Cu Commune taken from the flagpole

lung cu commune view from flag pole 4

View of the road to get up to the flagpole taken from the flagpole

Option #3: More adventures in the north

Ha Giang City - Quan Ba - Yen Minh - Lung Cu - Dong Van - Meo Vac - Du Gia (optional) - Bao Lac (for Cao Bang)
Total Distance: 427 km
Suggestion minimum duration: 4 - 5 days

Day 1: Ha Giang City - Quan Ba - Yen Minh (102 km)
Day 2: Yen Minh - Lung Cu Flag Pole - Dong Van (85 km)
Day 3: Dong Van - Meo Vac (or Du Gia) (97 km)
Day 4: Du Gia (or Meo Vac) - Bao Lac (143 km)

See also: Where to Stay in Cao Bang

ma pi leng pass 2 ha giang loop

The Ma Pi Leng Pass that has gained Ha Giang Loop its international fame - our team would visit again in a heartbeat

meo vac district ha giang loop

Road to Meo Vac District

meo vac market ha giang loop

You can spend some time in the local market (picture of the Night Market in Meo Vac that we drove by in daytime)

ban gioc waterfalls ha giang loop

Cao Bang also holds the luscious green color of untouched nature. In picture: Ban Gioc Waterfall in Cao Bang

Note that these are just estimated times. In reality, you will make countless stops along the way to fully take in the incredible nature of Ha Giang. So take the travel time on Google Maps and times it by 2 or 3 when planning your journey, as well as gasoline (no one likes to deal with a dead engine in the middle of nowhere.)

2. What to Know Before Setting Off to The Ha Giang Loop

Check the weather carefully before going to avoid unexpected storms and landslides. October to April is considered the best time to visit Ha Giang.

ha giang landslide ha giang loop

Avoid traveling during the rainy season in case of unwanted landslide

Don’t forget the quintessential:

  • Documents: passport, visa, International Driving Permit (IDP) or a Vietnamese driving license, travel insurance.

Get a quote by a leading travel insurance brand:

 

ha giang view 5 ha giang loop 1

See Vietnam Packing List

What you can buy at roadside mom & pop shops to prevent overpacking:

  • Raincoats (cheap quality) and toiletries (soap, shampoo)
  • Bottled water
  • Wet wipes to clean the dust off of your face
  • Disposable face masks

You will need to apply for a travel permit once arriving at Ha Giang Province. This can be done pretty swiftly for VND 200,000 at the Immigration office (292 Tran Phu Street, Ha Giang City), or have the local hotels to help you acquire one. From our experience, no one is likely to check you for the permit. Nonetheless, you will be fined up to VND 1 million if caught without the travel permit by the police.

Get a sufficient Vietnam mobile data plan. The cell signal on the remote mountainous area, however, can be unstable. Make sure you have the offline versions of essential apps, like maps or translation app.

Bring cash for gas and local purchases.

ATMs and cafes/hotels with wifi are abundant in the main districts.

3. Where to Stay while Motorbiking in the Ha Giang Loop

Despite presenting itself as a remote area, the tourist facilities in Ha Giang Province is growing with ample options for accommodations. You can easily come across homestays called "Nha Nghi" and budget hotels in the central districts, such as Ha Giang City, Yen Minh, or Dong Van. Our advice is to look up where to stay first and book online 2 days ahead, so you can plan and book as you go on your traveling route to avoid hotels overcharging when you don't have other options.

 

terraced fieds ha giang loop

terraced fields 2 ha giang loop

Panoramic views of the terraced fields

4. How to Get to Ha Giang Province

Unless you’ve decided on taking your motorbike from Hanoi and travel to Ha Giang, the most stress-free way is to find a sleeper-bus from Hanoi. Book your ticket online, get on the bus, and sleep your tiredness away while the bus travels through the night to get you to Ha Giang City (Ha Giang Province) in the early morning. The 300-km journey generally takes 6 - 8 hours. Noise-canceling earplugs or headphones are recommended for the long bus ride.

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5. Renting a Motorbike for the Ha Giang Loop

Renting a motorbike in Hanoi: This is ideal for traveling from Hanoi to Ha Giang, and to make more motorbike trips in the north of Vietnam. There is an abundance of options, especially in the Old Quarter, and most of the rental places can speak fluent English.

Renting a motorbike in Ha Giang: The homestays services in Ha Giang also offer motorbike rentals, and their motorbikes are usually the 125 cc type - which is more suitable for the mountainous terrains. Rental price ranges from VND 150,000 - 300,000/motorbike.

Some recommended places:

Ha Giang Creekside Homestay and Hostel

Anh Anh Motel/Motorbike Rental/Coffee

Lila Inn Travel Service

Read our Precautions for Motorbike Rentals in Vietnam.

bike maintenance ha giang loop

Check the quality of the motorbike carefully before setting off - Bike maintenance at Honda Linh Luc 4 Ha Giang

6. Tips for Riding a Motorbike in the Ha Giang Loop

  • Prioritize going on the national highway (marked as QL on Google Maps) since the roads are more developed.

underdeveloped road ha giang loop

The provincial roads (marked as DT on Google Maps) can be extremely muddy

  • When riding through extreme curves and your front sight is limited, honk first to inform the vehicles going in the opposite directions.

ha giang mountain pass road ha giang loop

The mountain loops are “sexy” to look at, and extra electrifying to ride through

  • Look out for the local drivers, trucks, and cattle! Not everyone pays careful attention to the road, especially the animals.

animals on the street ha giang loop

The most exotic commuters on the streets - cows!

  • Don’t risk going through the unfamiliar mountainous roads at night.
  • Always start your journey with a full tank. Though there are gas stations along the way, note that you will be riding on extreme mountain loops that will burn out your engine quite a bit. In emergency cases, you may come across roadside vendors with a can of gas placed on a couple of bricks.

7. Estimated Budget for Motorbiking on the Ha Giang Loop (per person per day)

Motorbike rental: VND 200,000
Fuel: VND 50,000
Accommodation: VND 200,000
Meals: VND 100,000
Water/Snacks: VND 50,000

Total: VND 600,000 (USD 26)

8. What to Not Miss When Traveling in the Ha Giang Loop

Don’t waste your once-in-a-lifetime chance of traveling in the most striking mountain loop arguably in entire Southeast Asia by just taking photos. Let all of your senses have a chance to experience the rhythm of the local life.

ha giang ethnic minorities

Life of the ethnic villages blends harmoniously with nature

Taste the Ha Giang cuisines to savor the oddly delectable dishes made only from rustic ingredients. You can easily find “Com Binh Dan” (a local eatery) or mountainside “tents” selling grilled corns and eggs. Listen to the vibrant sound of the ethnic markets as villagers haggling for the price, and maybe get your hands on some delicate handmade brocade fabrics or homegrown fruits. Go fishing in the nearby river, or hand-pick some wild herbs to create yourself a hearty dinner at a local homestay.

ha giang pho chua ha giang loop

Sour “Pho” - Pho noodles salad instead of the beef noodles soup

ha giang chao au tau ha giang loop

Au Tau porridge - the local specialty

ha giang meal at homestay rice black chicken ginger

A local meal in Ha Giang with black chicken

One thing for sure is that people in Ha Giang live very close to nature: kids jumping into the rivers naked for a quick dip, cattlemen raising their herds on the wild grassland. So once you’re here, allow yourself to detach from the modern devices and urban disturbances to fully immerse in the unspoiled nature of Ha Giang.

children in river ha giang loop

Local kids playing in the river with their buffalo - what a sight to see

9. What to Avoid When Traveling in the Ha Giang Loop

Be respectful:

  • Avoid using single-use plastics. Since this is a remote area, the waste disposal system is limited. Bring a foldable travel water bottle to keep you hydrated instead of buying dozens of plastic water bottles on your way.
  • Try not to take pictures of the locals without asking for permission.
  • Don't party too hard and disturb the peaceful atmosphere. The ethnic villages are absolutely serene, especially at night.
  • It is not the best idea to visit a school or hold a spontaneous charity trip without asking permission from the authority. Ask your tour operator/ homestay host if you need help with the language barrier.

Don’t fall into the tourist trap:

  • Don’t buy chewing gums/souvenirs from little kids on the streets.
  • Don’t give sweets or money to the children. They may ask you for money when you take pictures of them, so be careful.

10. Our Takes on Conquering the Ha Giang Loop on a Motorbike

We know that since you clicked on this article, your feet are already extremely itchy for the next adventure. All of our words cannot describe enough how rewarding a motorbike trip in Ha Giang feels. You must do it yourself, and there’s no better time than now!

Check out our Ha Giang Travel Guide for complete information to traveling in Ha Giang Province!

Copyright

© Written by Kim Hoang for itourvn.com | itourvn.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

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Comments

Guest - Katie Paige on Thursday, 12 March 2020 14:01

I'm doing the loop next week and your blog is so helpful. My feet are so itchy to go now >

I'm doing the loop next week and your blog is so helpful. My feet are so itchy to go now >
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