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The Ha Giang Loop: Everything you need to know 2023

'The Ha Giang Loop in Northern Vietnam is the most beautiful place in all of South East Asia.' - literally every traveller I spoke to in Asia.


Imagine this: you're riding a motorbike through some of the most stunning geographical landscape you'll ever have the good fortune to see. Mountainous peaks rise above you for hundreds of meters, and below you the valley floor is hundreds of meters below you. The wind whips past you as you gaze at giant, mossy boulders the size of houses. At any one point, I could spot at least 80-100 different peaks in every single direction. And somehow, the peaks rise up in perfect, conical spheres, like little Hersey's Kisses. You'll see gigantic, brittle, volcanic rock that's tumbled down from the tops of peaks and are scattered across the landscape like loose pebbles. In between the rough black volcanic boulders are the most vibrant pink flowers growing in magnificent contrast. You'll pass through ethnic villages and meet locals farming in rice terraces or corn. There are corn fields in the most unlikely places; on near sheer cliffs, you'll find that people have found a way to harvest food. As it turns out, this is a UNESCO world heritage site and a UNESCO geopark - this is the most ethnically diverse region in the world; hosting up to 17 different ethnic groups in this area. The path you're on is cut into the side of the mountain, as you snake your way up and down valleys to see ginormous land formations dating back billions of years. You'll get to drive above canyons with sparkling aqua blue water reservoirs and you'll get a chance to dive into refreshingly cool waterfalls.


This is the ultimate Vietnam road trip!


Join a Ha Giang loop tour whilst it's still raw and untouched by tourism! Head to North Vietnam for your next adventure, all the travel tips you need are right here!



Girl standing in the sunset, above rice paddies in Ha Giang, Vietnam
Standing above the rice paddies in Ha Giang, Vietnam

Skip ahead to the sections relevant to you:


Everything you need to know about the Ha Giang Loop Vietnam

Things to know BEFORE you do the Ha Giang Loop

Ha Giang Loop Map

Ha Giang Loop Itinerary

Which tour should I book onto?

Cost & Prices

Should I self drive, or use an Easy Rider tour guide?

How long do you need to complete the Ha Giang Loop?

Where to stay in Ha Giang

What do I do with my luggage?

What do I need to bring with me?

Where to stay along the Ha Giang Loop

What bike should I get?

Do I need to travel the Ha Giang Loop by motorbike?



Everything you need to know about the Ha Giang Loop motorbike tour, Vietnam


If you're on the fence about a Ha Giang road trip... just do it! It's incredible. You will not regret doing the Ha Giang Loop motorbike tour (or doing the Ha Giang Loop by car!).


It's quite difficult to describe how mesmerising this place is, it's unbelievably cinematic and as a photographer, I was doing my best to capture the angles at every turn. But frankly, photos don't do it justice; photos and videos from even the most expensive equipment only give you a glimpse at what you should expect. Nothing can capture the feeling as the wind whips through your hair and arms, and you see deep valleys below you and peaks in every direction.


And lastly... Somehow, the Ha Giang loop is not very touristy - in fact, it seems like the only place I visited in Vietnam that was very raw and untouched. Sapa has become super popular with the backpacker trail and is becoming very touristy - expect market sellers to hassle you with wares. But, I would say that Sapa has some incredible viewpoints that are worth seeing.


Here's everything you need to know about the Ha Giang Loop, Vietnam... What are you waiting for? Get booking!


Things to know BEFORE you do the Ha Giang Loop Vietnam


Reading travel guides in advance is so useful, so here's everything you need to know before you do the loop!

  1. Learn a few key phrases in Vietnamese, or download the Google Translate app, and download offline Vietnamese translation.

  2. Download an offline version of Google Maps, or take a paper copy of Ha Giang Loop maps with you. IN some areas, there's no signal whatsoever, but I would say in 80% of it there was.

  3. Consider buying a local sim - unlimited data for an entire month costs about £6/7.50 USD.

  4. Take sufficient cash with you - there are ATMs along the route in various towns, but just to be sure.

  5. It can get extremely hot I'm talking 40+ Celsius degrees (104 Fahrenheit +). Make sure you have water on you at all times, plus sun cream

  6. I would recommend wearing clothes that cover up your body - I saw so many people with pretty horrendous sunburns!

  7. Free Wi-Fi is available almost everywhere - in all, tiny remote cafes in the middle of nowhere, to all the homestays.

  8. There's plenty of places to stop for food and drink - we ate in some places that looked very questionable but it's all very fresh food and I had no issues at all.

  9. If you are vegetarian, you might be fine, but if you're vegan, you might struggle in some restaurants that aren't in the main towns along the route. I use the word 'restaurant' fairly loosely - people open up their front doors and invite you in for some food. It's mostly common to have rice and noodles served on the menu.

  10. Get a helmet that has a visor. Trust me on this one - the wind and grit can dry out your eyes pretty fast, even if you have sunglasses on.

  11. Get travel insurance - trust me on this. I've met plenty of travellers that had accidents with cuts and scrapes and had to fly home to get medical treatment which is costly!





Steep mountain roads which zigzag, Ha Giang, Vietnam
Steep mountain roads which zigzag, Ha Giang, Vietnam


Ha Giang Loop Map



Whichever route you take, I found this map to be a handy guide! We took a little detour to the extreme north and visited the Vietnam-China border, drove past Yen Minh, Meo Vac mountain pass, Mau Due and Du Gia.


Ha Giang Loop Route Map with pictures



Which Ha Giang Loop tour should I book onto?


So... You want to book onto a Ha Giang loop tour! It is, after all, the best circuit Vietnam has to offer!


A lot of people just turn up and ask their homestay / hotel / hostel to organise it. Lots of hostels and homestays will offer the Ha Giang Motorcycle Tour as part of their offer. No need to prebook. This being said... it might be better to book a little in advance so you can make sure the group isn't too big, or there's enough room for you. It'll give you a bit of time to plan ahead and check out what homestays or hostels you think might be best. We booked through Lila Inn - I go into further details below.


As I travelled through Vietnam, plenty of travellers were advising me to go to Ha Giang. We are frankly running out of time in Vietnam - our visa expires in the next few days and decided to take the plunge. Let's go and do the Ha Giang Loop.


Ha Giang Loop Price


Have a look at some of the reviews; they say that this is the best tour in Vietnam. Or the best place they've visited.




Ha Giang loop cost & prices

We found that pries started from £140 (175 USD) for 3 nights with Lila Inn. Prices change depending on how many days you tour for, the size motorbike and whether you self drive or get an easy rider. There's also the above listed tours and you can check how much it costs to rent a bike per day.





Should I self drive, or use an Easy Rider tour guide?


Good question!


Self Driving

If you are a very confident driver, and have an international motorbike licence then, why not? Self drive! The roads, for the most part, are pretty well maintained, with the exception of a few off road sections. Be warned - the roads can be very winding and fairly steep in some sections.


Ha Giang Loop Police

TIP: Do not self drive without an international licence. They have started setting up police checkpoints and asking to see peoples' licences. If you do not have an international motorbike licence, they will take your motorbike.


I met some travellers who said they were never checked and that this is a 'scare tactic' to make people choose to go on an Easy Rider Tour (which is going to be more expensive as you have someone driving you around). This is not a scare tactic! I can confirm, this is not true - we were stopped almost immediately by the police as we left Ha Giang city to do the loop.



Ha Giang Easy Rider - Sitting behind a tour guide


Doing the Ha Giang Loop with a driver... This is your easy and very safe option. No need to worry about treacherous roads, steep inclines, winding roads, getting lost, not knowing where to eat etc. Your Ha Giang Loop guide has it all sorted. They do The Ha Giang Loop by scooter/motorbike for you!

The tour guides have done the Ha Giang Loop plenty of times and know it like the back of their hands - the likelihood of getting into any accidents of having any crashes is extremely low. Our guides have done the Ha Giang Loop over 150 times, I felt super safe with them and never felt like it was dangerous.


Motorbikes on the mountain, Ha Giang Vietnam
Ha Giang motorbike loop - Motorbikes on the mountain, Ha Giang Vietnam

How long do you need to complete the Ha Giang Loop?


The Ha Giang Loop: How many days?


You can take Ha Giang Loop tours that are 3 days, 4 days or 5 days.


The Ha Giang Loop 3 days is the minimum time you really need to do a circuit. The 4 and 5 day tour does a longer route, meaning you'll get to see more.


Ha Giang 4 day tour

Frankly, my butt was getting a bit tired by the third day, and I felt like this was plenty of time but I also wonder what else I would've seen on the 4-5 days. There are also some tours that will take you on a Ha Giang 2 days tour, if you're extremely limited for time, but I would recommend at least 3 if you can!




Rice paddies and the iconic Twin Mountains
Rice paddies and the iconic Twin Mountains

Where to stay in Ha Giang

There is plenty of Ha Giang Loop accommodation: take your pick from homestays, hotels and hostels in Ha Giang. Have a look below for some of the best places to stay in Ha Giang. I've shared some of the reviews I had from other travellers on other stays. Most people tend to stay at the home stay for one night only and move on!


Lila Inn

After getting some recommendations, we stayed with Lila Inn, it's the perfect place to stay! They have private rooms and dorms available. There's a lovely, friendly and relaxed vibe here. They serve a great dinner and call everyone to the table; mix with other travellers that have just done the loop or are about to do the loop. When we arrived, we sat down and met 3 other travellers that had just completed the loop; they confirmed, it was the most beautiful place they'd been to in all of Vietnam, and Southeast Asia.


Ha Giang Hostel

There's tonnes of reviews for this one. They organise great tours and there's an excellent social vibe.


Be's Home & Tours

This one comes with a smashing rating of 9.9 out of 10 on Booking, I'm really not sure if you can go wrong with this stay. It offers both dorm rooms and private rooms.


Yen Bien Luxury Hotel

If you're looking for something a little more luxurious then look no further than this little stay. Check out the pictures, they speak for themselves.



What do I do with my luggage during the Ha Giang Loop?


Take 3-5 days worth of clothes, put them in a small bag and leave the rest behind. Most homestays, hotels and hostels will hold your luggage for the duration of the trip. You will definitely no be able to take huge suitcases or huge backpacks with you.


The Ha Giang Loop: What to bring with me?


Don't overpack! All you need:

  • 3-5 days worth of clothes.

  • A toothbrush, toothpaste and any toiletries.

  • A swimsuit (for swimming in the waterfall!)

  • Sun cream - it is extremely hot during the day! I'm talking 35 -45 degrees (95-113F).

  • Sunglasses

  • Any medication you might need - painkillers etc.

  • Waterproof jacket - many tours actually provide you with a waterproof jacket, but I took one just in case!

  • Camera, battery chargers

  • Mobile phone + mobile phone charger

  • Enough cash - there are ATMs along the route but you don't want to be caught out in the afternoon heat without any way to purchase some water, or, if you get stranded without any petrol.



Where to stay along the Ha Giang Loop


Our tour was booked through Lila Inn and frankly it was brilliant, they organised all the best stays along the route. The homestays were amazing, and yes, we had private rooms and private bathrooms. Amusingly, many of the travellers told us they didn't book anywhere. Whenever they wanted to stop, they'd just find somewhere to stay for the night. Most places will have 'Homestay' written on a sign outside. Knock on the door and they'll welcome you in.


I was told some of the homestays were unreal - complete with a pool and ridiculous views that they had stumbled across.


We stayed at some of the most beautiful mountain lodges. Here's my pick:


Du Gia Panorama



I mean... views for days. And the bathroom is amazing, with its luscious stone basins and brass showers, with perfect peak views in all directions. This is right next to the waterfall - maybe just a 5-10 minute ride.


Bong Bang Homestay

Double rooms, triple rooms and dormitories available; there are plenty to choose from and the reviews come in high at 9.1.


Du Già Village Homestay

This homestay comes with a garden, terrace and bar, perfect for relaxing after a long day of motorbike riding in the hot, sweaty sun! It's one of the best places for mountain views.


Diễn homestay

Rated super highly at 9.6, you can't go wrong with this one. It's got a picture perfect panorama balcony available with all the rooms - because in all directions, it's scenic mountain views!






What bike should I get?


Depends how large an engine and how fast you want to go, and of course, the suspension. Here are some rough prices for motorbikes:


  1. 125cc Automatic – 200, 000 VND

  2. 110cc Semi-Automatic – 150,000 VND

  3. 125cc Manual – 250,000 VND

  4. 150cc Manual - 250,000 VND +


We hired a 150cc bike with Lila Inn and I highly recommend it - one of the larger bikes that have good inbuilt suspension. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE - you're going to want a better suspension. Your bum really does take a lot of the impact going over any pot holes or uneven roads.


Lila Inn gives you all the accessories you need including helmets with visors. They look after you and sort you out with everything you need. They will provide free motorbike lessons for those who aren’t so confident on a bike, plus a ton of useful information and recommendations for along the way, including a detailed map of the loop. Keep in mind that purchasing insurance is necessary when you rent your bike, and it can amount to almost the same price as the motorbike rental itself. Lila Inn offers discounted rates for renting the motorbikes for more than a couple days, so be sure to request a quote based on the duration of your trip.


Some people had bikes with additional seats that were a little more comfortable for your backside, it's always worth asking about this!


TIP: It is advisable to consider using a semi-automatic or manual bike instead of a powerful automatic when undertaking the drive. This is because opting for a semi-automatic or manual bike provides greater control over the challenging conditions of the mountain roads.





Things to see along the Ha Giang Loop


Keep a lookout for the following places, have a look at the full Ha Giang Loop Itinierary at the bottom of this blog for full details.


The hundreds of cafes & viewpoints along the way

Waterfalls

Locals doing their thing - stop to chat!

The Royal Palace: H’mong King’s Palace

Canyons with rivers and reservoirs

Hemp production farms

Plenty of Rice Paddies



Do I need to travel the Ha Giang Loop by motobike?


No! You can do the Ha Giang Loop by car. My tour guide Anh said he did the loop by car once, and it wasn't as good if you don't have an open top convertible.


"When there's a roof over your head, you don't get a full view of the mountains that rise above you, in the same way when you're on a motorbike."

This being said, I saw some people doing the Ha Giang Loop by a safari jeep - with an open top or convertible. This is probably the ultimate comfort, and if you're interested in doing the loop via car, have a look at some of the best car tours of Ha Giang here.




Ha Giang Loop Itinierary: 3 Day


So you want to do ha giang loop tour in 3 days...


This is the Ha Giang Loop 3 day itinerary we did with Lila Inn.



Embark on an unforgettable 3-day adventure that is still fairly unknown - The incredible Ha Giang Loop, Vietnam. It's not touristy, and perfect for a fun getaway. Immerse yourself in the captivating landscapes of majestic mountains adorned with limestone karsts, traverse challenging slopes and winding mountain roads, and delve into the local lifestyle, cuisine, and ethnic cultures at bustling markets and cosy homestays. This is the perfect Ha Giang Loop route.




Day 1: Lila Inn – Bac Sum Pass – Quan Ba Heaven Gate – Yen Minh Town – Tham Ma Pass – Nine Turn Pass – H’mong Palace – Dong Van Ancient Town


Start your day with a scrumptious breakfast at Lila Inn before embarking on your journey to Bac Sum Pass, a thrilling and demanding slope that showcases the grace and curves of the road as it dances amidst four magnificent rocky terraces.

Pause to appreciate the breath taking scenery and enjoy a coffee break at Heaven Gate, where you can ascend a tower to witness the panoramic view of Tam Son Town and the iconic Twin Mountains with their enchanting fairy's bosom shape.

Arrive at Quan Ba, where you can take a moment to rest before venturing through the cypress forest. This forest is home to the rare and endemic golden cypress, which grows on limestone rocks.

Indulge in a delicious lunch and relax in Yen Minh.

Continue your journey to Pho Cao and explore the awe-inspiring Dong Van Karst Plateau UNESCO Global Geopark, a magnificent landscape adorned with limestone formations. Visit the H'mong King's Palace, a historical and cultural treasure of the H'mong people, and delve into the history and architecture of this impressive structure.

Reach Tham Ma Pass, a significant historical site where horses were tested for their strength and endurance. Horses that successfully reached the pass carrying goods were well cared for, while those that failed were used for Thang Co, a traditional dish of the mountainous region.

Embark on an exhilarating drive along the Nine-Turn Pass, a road that winds and twists through steep valleys. Capture stunning photos and soak in the panoramic views of the flat valley encircled by limestone karsts. Take a short detour to Pho Bang, a vibrant market town near the Chinese border.

Visit the H'Mong King Palace – Vuong's Palace, the grand residence of Vuong Chinh Duc, a prominent mandarin under the Nguyen Dynasty. This magnificent house, constructed with the assistance of Chinese workers and H'mong craftsmen, showcases intricate wooden carvings that reflect opulence and prosperity.

Arrive at Dong Van, the northernmost district of Ha Giang province, renowned for its unique karst plateau geopark. Explore the rolling mountains, lush forests, and immerse yourself in the local culture and lifestyle. Don't miss the Dong Van market, a vibrant and colourful hub where you can find an array of goods and souvenirs.

Check-in at Trieu Nghi homestay, a cosy and comfortable accommodation nestled in the heart of Dong Van Old Quarter, by 6:00 PM.

Indulge in a delightful family dinner consisting of seven ethnic dishes, and unwind with a cup of tea at an ancient H'mong house café.


Day 2: Dong Van Ancient Town – Ma Pi Leng Pass – Nho Que River – Mau Due – Du Gia


Begin your day with a delicious breakfast before setting off to explore Dong Van Ancient Town. If it's Sunday morning, make sure to visit the Dong Van Ethnic Market to immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture and savour traditional cuisine. The the colourful attire of different ethnic groups is vibrant and stands out; stop to watch them gather goods and carry baskets filled with an assortment of goods, including vegetables, fruits, poultry, and livestock.


Continue your journey to Ma Pi Leng Pass, renowned for its awe-inspiring mountain and valley vistas. Considered the King of Passes in Vietnam, this pass offers the most spectacular mountain road in the entire country. Pause at the pit stop to marvel at the scenery and capture memorable photos. Embark on a 3km trek along the Ma Pi Leng Sky Path, ascending to the top of a rocky mountain to witness breath taking panoramic views.


Prepare yourself for an exhilarating ride along this road to the summit, with its sharp curves, hairpin switchbacks, and stunning drops. Often compared to Vietnam's Great Wall, this 20km climb will leave you in awe of its mesmerizing beauty. At the pass's pinnacle, a stone stele bears testament to the construction process. Along the way, you'll pass by the Tu San Chasm on Nho Que River, which boasts the title of South Asia's deepest canyon.

Continue your journey through the vast green mountains, revelling in the exceptional beauty of nature and the serene rice paddies that surround you. Experience the tranquillity and charm of Ha Giang.

Savour a delightful lunch and take a moment to relax in Mau Due.

As you approach Du Gia, prepare to be enchanted by otherworldly landscapes featuring multi-coloured rocks, towering mountains, and untouched villages. Du Gia, a small village with a handful of restaurants and guesthouses, exudes an authentic local charm that has yet to be influenced by tourism.

Check-in at Du Gia Panorama for a stay with unreal mountain views. Enjoy a lovely home cooked dinner at around 7.30pm and have a memorable evening on a hammock, or trying some of their rice wine.


Day 3: Du Gia – Lung Tam Linen Village – Yen Minh – Ha Giang City


Enjoy and relish in a delicious breakfast of banana pancakes (or fresh noodle soup) and a cup of coffee while basking in the glory of the golden hour sunrise over the picturesque mountain views.

Take a refreshing dip in Du Gia Waterfall straight after and enjoy its invigorating waters. Don't forget to bring your swimsuit.


Embark on your return journey towards Ha Giang City. Along the way, make a stop at Lung Tam Linen Village, a scenic destination where you can witness Mong ethnic minority women dressed in vibrant clothing and skilfully crafting linen from flax.


Nestled at the foot of hills in Quan Ba, Lung Tam Village entices travellers from far and wide with its serene landscapes and the warm hospitality of its Mong ethnic minority residents. Despite the hundreds of kilometres of winding roads required to reach the village, the genuine kindness of the locals, both young and old, creates a heart warming experience.

Continue your journey to Yen Minh and then to Ha Giang. Explore Tha Village, home to the Tay ethnic group, and gain insight into their distinctive culture and way of life.



Weather in Ha Giang Vietnam


Have a look closer at the temperatures below for more information.


When is the best time to go to Ha Giang?


Bear in mind that these are estimates only, and the weather can fluctuate wildly in the mountains. When we went in July (in all honesty, probably not the best time to go), there were some points in the day where it was reaching or exceeding, 40°C . 104°F and it is extremely hot to be on the back of a motorbike at this time!


January:

  • Temperature: 10-18°C (50-64.4°F)

  • Daylight Hours: Around 10-11 hours

  • Rainy Days: 5-7 days


February:

  • Temperature: 11-19°C (51.8-66.2°F)

  • Daylight Hours: Around 10-11 hours

  • Rainy Days: 4-7 days


March:

  • Temperature: 14-21°C (57.2-69.8°F)

  • Daylight Hours: Around 11-12 hours

  • Rainy Days: 5-8 days


April:

  • Temperature: 17-24°C (62.6-75.2°F)

  • Daylight Hours: Around 12 hours

  • Rainy Days: 9-12 days


May:

  • Temperature: 19-26°C (66.2-78.8°F)

  • Daylight Hours: Around 12-13 hours

  • Rainy Days: 12-15 days


June:

  • Temperature: 20-27°C (68-80.6°F)

  • Daylight Hours: Around 13 hours

  • Rainy Days: 14-18 days


July:

  • Temperature: 21-28°C (69.8-82.4°F)

  • Daylight Hours: Around 13 hours

  • Rainy Days: 15-18 days


August:

  • Temperature: 21-28°C (69.8-82.4°F)

  • Daylight Hours: Around 12-13 hours

  • Rainy Days: 14-17 days


September:

  • Temperature: 20-27°C (68-80.6°F)

  • Daylight Hours: Around 12-13 hours

  • Rainy Days: 11-14 days


October:

  • Temperature: 17-24°C (62.6-75.2°F)

  • Daylight Hours: Around 11-12 hours

  • Rainy Days: 7-9 days


November:

  • Temperature: 14-21°C (57.2-69.8°F)

  • Daylight Hours: Around 10-11 hours

  • Rainy Days: 5-7 days


December:

  • Temperature: 11-18°C (51.8-64.4°F)

  • Daylight Hours: Around 10-11 hours

  • Rainy Days: 5-7 days


Travel resources for your trip that are actually really handy!



Here's everything I use when I travel abroad, I strongly advise you to have travel insurance, and the other recommendations are also super handy!


  • Travel insurance - don't ever go on vacation without travel insurance, you never know when you might need it!

  • Tours - Compare tour prices on Viator and Get Your Guide

  • Hotels - I always use Booking as the more hotels I book, I get a higher Genius discount. I also compare prices on Expedia.

  • Airport transfers - I book through Viator or Kiwi Taxi.

  • E-Sims - purchase an e-sim with Airalo on your phone so you can make calls and have mobile data abroad! There's no need to remove your current sim card!

  • Car rental - if you're booking a car, I compare prices on Discover Cars.

  • Travel essentials - have a look at a full list of travel essentials that I use, including the best powerbank!


You might be interested in some of my other Vietnam guides:


Full guide to Hoi An

Hue Imperial City

Things to do in Da Nang

Where to stay in Da Nang

Ho Chi Minh - Things to do

The Ha Giang Loop

Best Cafes Hanoi



That's it! Let me know how you get on, I hope you have a blast!



Full disclosure! Some of the links here are affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission from every booking made. This is at no extra cost to you. It helps keep me writing and sharing my travel guides free of charge to you :) Thank you for your support!




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Hello

My name is Adriana Neptuna

I'm a full time travel writer, photographer and blogger.  I can't get enough of travelling and love sharing the best tips on your next destination so you can have the best time. I have an insatiable zest for life and I'm always walking around with a camera in hand.

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