Ha Giang is one of the most sumptuous and least visited destinations in Vietnam, boasting stunning terraced rice fields in the north of the country. Getting there may require some research for travelers.

Traveling to Ha Giang

Ha Giang has kept its pristine landscape, which has withstood the ravages of time over the past 20 years, featuring spectacular geography and the diverse culture of many ethnic minorities. Here lie the most beautiful terraced rice fields, just like that.

On the way to discovering Ha Giang, you can also stop in many ethnic villages with unique cultures and ways of life.

Overall, you will uncover numerous fantastic mountainous landscapes with breathtaking hills and valleys, and the most beautiful place that should be on your list is the Dong Van Karst Global Geopark, which represents 400 million years of geological transformations – competing with Trang An in Ninh Binh.

saison eau route du bonheur ha giang

You should consider heading to the village of Hoang Su Phi to witness the most surreal landscape in the world of rice terraces. Then you can finish conquering the Dong Van Plateau, an exciting final destination is the Lung Cu summit with the Vietnamese flag fluttering in the wind, overlooking the border with China.

You can take a sleeper bus or a motorcycle to get to Ha Giang from Hanoi.

Private car and tour options are also available but quite expensive, so your best bet is to plan a Ha Giang adventure on your own. Just in case, Hanoi Journey is an excellent agency, with cheerful private guides.

But it will surely be more rewarding to personally explore all the places on the back of a motorcycle, right? And try to spend at least three days there to really discover Ha Giang to the fullest.

There aren’t many travel options to choose from, and although most of them are quite straightforward, there is one thing to consider if you want to fully explore Ha Giang’s beauty – obtaining a local travel permit to visit isolated and preserved villages, which are usually the most remote and beautiful destinations, such as Meo Vac, Dong Van, Lung Cu, etc.

Getting the Ha Giang Permit

piste Chin Khoanh ha giang vietnam

Getting a permit is not that difficult. When you book accommodation, just ask your hosts and they will surely help you to get one.

And if you have to do it yourself, once in Ha Giang, head to the immigration office located at 415a Tran Phu street. The officer will just need to record some information from your travel documents (for example, your passport) as well as your motorcycle registration number if you arrive by motorcycle.

The permit costs only about 10 USD, and there is also an office in the Meo Vac town police station in case you forget to get one in Ha Giang city.

Means of Transportation to Get There

By Bus

Mat de drapeau Lung Cu ha giang

It is relatively easy to book these buses, and the risk of being scammed is minimal, making it the most optimal option. You can ask your accommodation provider to help you book a ticket.

Tickets are available in almost all travel agencies in Hanoi, where you can get information about quality, services, and price.

You can also try booking online via vexere.com, which lists all the vehicle options (express buses and sleeper buses). To completely avoid scams, you should only book and then pay directly after retrieving the ticket.

The price ranges from 200,000 VND (about 8 USD) to 300,000 VND (about 13 USD), depending on the bus amenities (WiFi, power outlets, water and snacks, toilets, etc.). Unlike other popular routes such as to Ninh Binh or Sapa, there will hardly be any tourist guide to welcome you along the way, as the destination is not very popular among non-Vietnamese travelers.

col ma pi leng nho que ha giang

The bus usually stops once at a gas station where you can take a break and enjoy local snacks. It is also important to know that before heading to Ha Giang, the driver may go around Hanoi to pick up passengers and fill empty seats.

There are express buses and sleeper buses that depart almost every hour of the day, and usually, the pick-up service at your location of choice is also included with the ticket. Regardless, you should ask your hosts in Hanoi to book a ticket to Ha Giang and inquire about the departure options that meet your requirements. Here is an approximate departure and arrival time to facilitate decision-making:

  • Morning: 6:00 AM – 7:00 AM, arriving in Ha Giang at noon
  • Afternoon: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM, arriving at dusk or early evening in Ha Giang
  • Night: from 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM, arriving early in the morning. Sometimes it only takes three to four hours to arrive in Ha Giang at that time, but the driver will let you rest on the bus until the morning, so you should not worry about this.

Best Way to Discover Ha Giang – Riding a Motorbike!

vieille ville dong van ha giang 2

It’s the best way to get to Ha Giang and to discover the legendary loop with mountains and rice fields as far as the eye can see.

You should avoid leaving at night for your own safety, as trucks will think the road is empty and drive dangerously.

The journey takes about six to seven hours non-stop and it’s quite straightforward. And of course, the time will increase proportionally depending on how many times you want to stop to rest and take pictures.

How to get a motorbike in Hanoi

col ma pi leng nho que ha giang

Renting motorcycles in Hanoi is a popular choice for exploring Vietnam, and Rent A Bike Vietnam (https://rentabikevn.com/) offers a wide range of bikes for hire. Before embarking on an adventure, particularly to destinations like Ha Giang, it’s crucial to ensure that the motorcycle you rent is in excellent condition to avoid any issues during your trip.

Since gas stations can be few and far between, it’s advised to keep the fuel tank topped up and to seize every opportunity to refuel. Carrying an extra empty 1.5-liter bottle for extra gasoline can be a smart move for long stretches between destinations.

When it comes to purchasing gasoline, it is best to stick to official gas stations. Avoid buying fuel from local vendors who may sometimes dilute it to increase profits. Using adulterated fuel can lead to motorcycle malfunctions and could potentially ruin your travel experience.

By taking these precautions, you’ll be set for an unforgettable journey on the roads of Vietnam.

Riding to Ha Giang and planning your adventure

col ma pi leng riviere nho que

Getting to Ha Giang by motorbike is straightforward—just stick to the AH14 – QL2 (National Road No. 2), and you’ll get there in no time. Having GPS is also important in case you encounter any confusing intersections. The route is quite flat even before you reach Ha Giang, so you won’t have any trouble with 3G connectivity along the way. Just head north, and that’s the general direction you need to follow.

There might not be any major points of interest on the way to Ha Giang, but once you arrive in the city, an endless adventure unfolds. Prepare to conquer the winding mountain passes, capture photos of the stunning panoramic landscapes, and meet diverse ethnic groups.

Once you’re in Ha Giang city with your permit secured, make a checklist of these places and allot about three to five days to truly enjoy the region:

  • Meo Vac: Embrace the challenge with high-altitude motorcycle loops, and experience the Sunday market with all the local villagers from different ethnic backgrounds. Local delicacies, freshly boiled corn, and popping rice are ready for you to try.
  • H’mong Sa Phin Village: The old capital of the H’mong kingdom in northern Vietnam, you can visit the H’mong King’s Palace and learn more about Ha Giang’s history, as well as the connections between the H’mong and other local ethnic groups.
  • Ma Pi Leng Pass: Conquer one of Vietnam’s most challenging and beautiful mountain motorcycle roads. Words can’t describe its beauty, but the photo below will do it justice.
  • Hoang Su Phi: It boasts pristine nature, ethnic villages, cultural heritage, and stunning terraced rice fields.
  • Dong Van Karst Plateau Global Geopark: This is the highlight of the adventure. From the Quan Ba Gate to heaven at an altitude of 1,500 meters, a new world opens up to you: towering mountains that glow, colorful ethnic villages to explore, and the prestigious ancient town of Dong Van.

Traveling from Sapa (Lao Cai) to Ha Giang by Motorbike

bateau riviere nho que ha giang

If you’re imbued with a sense of adventure, traveling by motorbike is certainly the way to go. You will be rewarded with breathtaking and stunning natural scenery, as well as warm, welcoming, and hospitable locals. Watch how happy the children are when you wave at them! However, avoid giving them money or candy, as it can foster bad habits.

The most direct route to Ha Giang city is around 240 kilometers, but the most scenic and engaging route to Ha Giang, especially when riding a motorbike, is via the towns of Sapa – Lao Cai – Bac Ha – Xin Man – Hoang Su Phi – Ha Giang city (280 kilometers).

You may have been captivated by the gigantic mountain ranges of Sapa, but now get ready for the majestic terraced fields of Hoang Su Phi, which are part of Ha Giang province. I know the landscape is distracting, but you should pay attention to the road, especially on the Bac Ha and Xin Man sections. Carefully check your maps if you don’t want to end up lost in the Si Ma Cai district of Lao Cai province.

Originally from Lyon, I swapped the cobblestone streets of my hometown for the mystical mountains of Northern Vietnam. Trained as a journalist, I settled in Hanoi five years ago and quickly developed a passion for the cultural richness of the region. A specialist in Lào Cai province, I am also an experienced hiker, sharing my trekking experiences in remote areas and my encounters with local communities.

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