This Ha Giang travel guide has all you need to know to plan your trip to one of the most fascinating places in Vietnam. Don’t miss it!
If you are interested to read the whole story from our trip with more photos, I have written an article about our five-day trip in Ha Giang.
It boasts of the most majestic and impressive natural landscapes in Southeast Asia, yet so many travelers overlook it. Ha Giang is a fascinating place where apart from an inspiring scenery, you have easy access to the most rural and authentic side Vietnam.
This travel guide of Ha Giang is packed with the most up-to-date and reliable information (November 2017) to plan your trip and start making your itinerary.
Why go to Ha Giang?
Is Ha Giang worth it? There is no doubt that you will not fall in love with Ha Giang. So my answer is YES. DEFINITELY YES. Ha Giang had been on my list for some time. I told myself that I am not leaving Vietnam without seeing it with my own eyes. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this place years ago.
Since Ha Giang is not frequently featured in itineraries to travel through Vietnam, I feel I need to explain why this was my absolute favorite destination in the country. Ha Giang province is located in the most northern part of Vietnam, about 400 km northwest of Hanoi. This remote and mysterious province is a showcase of unbelievable mountain landscapes, limestone walls, roaring rivers, smiling people and hundreds of kids. Apart from its stunning scenery, Ha Giang is home to many different ethnic tribes like H’mongs. That is why Ha Giang is a great opportunity to peek into the rural way of living. It’s all very laid-back and serene, just how the Vietnam experience should be.
How to get to Ha Giang
How to get from Hanoi to Ha Giang
In Hanoi, you can catch a sleeper bus to Ha Giang from Mỹ Đình bus station. Buses leave almost every hour starting at 4:30 am till 1:30 pm. The night buses leave between 6 pm till 9:30 pm. The ticket should cost 200,000 dongs. The bus takes about 7-8 hours, give or take, with one mid-way stop as there is no toilet on the bus.
How to get to Ha Giang from other places
We live in Hai Phong (a city right next to Cat Ba island) and you can take a night bus from a bus terminal Ben Xe Cau Rao as we did. The bus ticket cost us 250,000 dongs and the journey took about 11 hours.
Things to keep note when purchasing bus tickets:
- Reserving bus tickets at hostel and hotels is the most assured way
- Be aware of fraud bus drivers at the bus station that will cheat your fares
- Buy the tickets only at the ticket counter
- If taken to the bus, do not pay before departure. The bus conductor will collect bus fares during the journey.
Best time to visit Ha Giang
Almost any time of the year is good to visit Ha Giang. There is really no best season for a motorbike ride. The hot and rainy season runs from April into October. The cold and dry season starts in November and ends in March.
Quan Ba Heaven’s Gate is located about 50 km north of Ha Giang town and it is the gateway to the geological park. Once upon a time, behind the gate was a kingdom of Hmong people with 4 districts Quan Ba, Dong Van, Meo Vac and Yen Minh. In 1939 the French built a huge wooden door, 150cm thick to divide this area from the rest. The door is no longer there, only a sign in both English and Vietnamese languages: Quan Ba Heaven’s Gate.
Ma Pi Leng
Treeless walls of limestone mountains raising hundreds of meters above the craterous Nho Que River valley – it was one of the best views in my life. So worth the trip up here for the views that you may only see once in a lifetime!! I was just blown away by the scenery and endless views of the landscapes.
Getting around Ha Giang
The easiest way is to rent a bike in Ha Giang. There are few different companies to choose from, but we rented our bikes from QT Bikes & Tours. We paid 200,000 dongs per day for Honda Blade, but you can choose from many more, for example, a dirt bike Honda XR for 900,000 dongs. Their bikes are new and well maintained. The guys in the shop will recommend you the best tour based on the number of days you plan to stay.
Where to stay in Ha Giang
I usually use HotelsCombined.com to find accommodations. It’s safe, easy and reliable. In this area, you can also use Airbnb or just follow the recommendation from the bike rental shop. We rented our bikes from QT and they told us exactly where we can stay in each place. All the places were amazing. We spent 5 days in Ha Giang province. When we arrive in the early morning we took another short nap in QT hostel (that is free if you rent a bike from them). Next two days we stayed in Du Gia village and stayed at QT Du Gia guest house (70.000 dongs). When we arrived at Dong Van we stayed in Da Nho hotel. Our last night we spent in a small village Nam Dam in an amazing homestay Hong Thu. All places are included on my map.
Cost of things in Ha Giang (as per November 2017)
Vehicle rentals: motorbikes in Ha Giang can be rented from 150,000 dongs/day.
Gasoline: depends on your bike, but we usually paid 60-70,000 dong for the full tank (Honda Blade semiauto)
Food: Local restaurants served main dishes starting at 70,000 dongs. A bowl of pho (noodle soup) starts at 40,000 dongs though. A big water bottle (1,5L) was around 20,000 dong.
Entrance fees: the only entrance fee we paid was at Lung Cu to get to the top of the tower and it cost us 20,000 dongs.
Accommodation: I’d say you can expect to pay somewhere around 70,000 per person in a hostel or homestay and around 500,000 for a medium-quality double room.
Ha Giang Travel Tips
1. Take your time to unwind. A three-day trip is not enough to truly feel the essence of Ha Giang. Four or five days is the best. In this case, longer means better
2. Make sure you bring enough cash
3. Keep your cool when driving! You will hear a lot of honks – there are so many winy roads that it is always better to announce your presence to everyone.
4. Don’t forget to bring these things with you:
- Extra socks
- Waterproof cover for your phone, camera and your documents
- Sturdy footwear/riding boots – never think of riding a motorbike in flip-flops or sandals
- Your personal medication/first aid kit
- Mosquito repellent & sunscreen
- Earplugs (for the bus journey or for sleeping at hostels)
Here you can find all details, which route we took, where we stayed and where I stopped to take photos.
Your blog truly inspired me!! My boyfriend and I will be following your itinerary to the T and we just wanted to check if you did the entire route without a guide? We will probably be staying at the places that you recommended as well, such lovely pictures! Also, did you book the homestays/hotels in advance? We will be heading to Ha Giang next weekend, with little to no preparation in terms of hotel bookings etc (dear me)!
We made the whole trip by ourselves. We didn’t book any homestays or hotels in advance either. However, we were there during the rainy season, so not many tourists were travelling in that area. Ask the bike rental guys where to stay as they recommended us all the hotels/homestays. I think they know the owners and know their availability. Enjoy it and be careful…some parts might be a bit tricky, but nothing serious.
We just went from Sa Pa to Ha Giant city then on to stay in Dong Van. We did it all by local buses booking via hotel reception in Sa Pa and Ha Giant and just walked down to the city center in Dong Van. The area is a little slower than usual right now according to the locals, but we got good deals on booking.com. still it is cheap enough you wouldn’t have to book ahead.
For those interested you certainly can do a great trip by public bus. If they have room and you wave they will pick you up between towns.
Our best day was walking 11 km in a loop from Dong Van, north around the mountain through Ma Pang, Ma Tia and Ma U and back to Dong Van behind the field behind the town. We enjoyed it more than Mai Pi Leng, but the weather was better too. Just don’t be afraid to get off your bike and walk a bit, or even do the trip with public transport. No tribal folks asking for anything. They just try their “hello?” and go about their day. Also at the market we got the same prices as locals without bargaining, for fruit and veg.
Hi, i am from Singapore. In dec, we are heading to Hagiang.
We have booked a driver n guide. Am wondering if in Winter, is there anything much to see in Hagiang
My GF and I are also from Singapore. We will be heading to Ha Giang on first week of Dec. Just wanted to say hi and see if you guys are also travelling on the same period.
Hi Ruby, Winter is not that rainy. However, it might be cold. So prepare yourself for that. I was there at the end of October, and it was wet and chilly, but we enjoyed it a lot anyway.
Thank you for your precious time writing an excellent review. Your satisfaction really inspires me a lot.
Thank you so much Ventori. Greeting from the Czech Republic.
Hello, I love this post! I just have a technical question: how do you rent a bike there? Do you need a driving licence?
I’m happy you love my post! You can check QT guys online and book it in advance. Or you ask the bus driver to take you to QT hostel where you can sleep for free for a few hours in case you arrive early in the morning and in the morning they take you to their motorbike shop. We needed only our passports. We didn’t have to show our driver’s licence.
Thank you for a wonderful review. I am going to Ha Giang next month and your post just convinced me that it was a right decision. What time of the year were you there? I am considering bringing a heavy raincoat but not sure if it’s a smart choice with the current temperatures.
Hi Masha! I’m really happy you like my article and that it helped you to decide to go to Ha Giang! We were there at the end of October and it was raining most of the time. But on the other side, I got some amazing moody photos 🙂 You can buy some raincoats there – I think you will be okay with some basic one. No need to have a heavy one. Enjoy it! And if you have more questions, let me know 🙂 Happy to help.
I greatly appreciate your article, you’ve convinced me to travel via motorbike through Ha Giang, Thank you!
I only have 2 nights and 2.75 days and I’d like to do as much of the loop as possible w/out it being rushed. Question for you- do you thinks it’s possible for a first time motorbike rider to make it from Ha Giang to Dong Van (137km) in 1 day. I’ll be leaving Ha Giang city around 7/ 8am.
p.s- Your photography is stunning.
Hi Scott, I’m happy I inspired you to go to Ha Giang. The roads to Dong Van are in a good condition so you might be able to do it. However, there is so much to see on the way that I’m a bit worried, you would want to stop to see those amazing views. But we drove from Dong Van to Nam Dam village in a day with stopping. So I guess you can do it.