The Ha Giang Loop Vietnam

Ha Giang Loop 4-Day Itinerary with Map – Tour + Motorbike Routes

Last Updated on May 29, 2022

Picture a 300km-long road where spectacular scenery, breathtaking views, unspoiled nature, and colorful ethnic groups unravel in front of you. That’s it, it’s the Ha Giang Loop in Northern Vietnam.

Ha Giang province is by far the most magical place in Vietnam, it’s also the perfect place for a motorbike road trip – but if driving is not your thing, you can also do the Ha Giang Look via a tour.

Most of the province is part of the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark featuring amazing karst peaks, black limestone rocks, high mountains, along with deep valleys, and winding rivers. Some of the rock formations there date back from the Cambrian (about 550 million years ago).

The road is spotted with small villages, sometimes just a couple of houses, and endless fields, the locals living mostly from farming. The villagers managed to tame the mountains and create terraced rice, corn, tea, and flax plantations, among others, creating spectacular scenery along the way.

The villages are pretty far apart from each other and the traffic really light, you will get the feeling of the remoteness of the province. The clouds in the morning give it a surreal touch, prepare to be amazed!

Travel tip – Before any international trip, make sure to get travel insurance and check visa requirements.

Related – Everything you need to know before a trip to Vietnam

Here is a sample Ha Giang Loop 4-Day Itinerary (see below for more details):

  • Day 1: Ha Giang to Yen Minh – 96km
  • Day 2: Yen Minh to Ma Le – 44km
  • Day 3: Ma Le to Du Gia – 104 km
  • Day 4: Du Gia to Ha Giang – 68km

Ha Giang Loop Itinerary Map

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ha giang motorbike loop, Vietnam

Ethnic minorities in Northern Vietnam

The Ha Giang Loop is not all about the scenery, it’s also about the rich ethnic diversity of the Ha Giang province. Along the way, you will meet many people wearing colorful traditional clothing, especially at the local markets. The markets are also the best places to buy handicrafts and try local food (ask before you start on which dates and where the markets are held).

Related – Vietnam Bucket List – Top Destinations to Add to your Itinerary

Du Gia Market - Ha Giang Loop - Vietnam - Ethnic minorities
Du Gia traditional market

The people here are unbelievably friendly, expect the children to wave at you and try to high-five you when you pass by them on your motorbike. You will only see smiling faces along the way. Try to stop in small shops to have a drink, this is the best way to interact with locals (bring a translator).

Locals usually don’t mind having their picture taken but always ask first, they’re pretty shy about it.

On your way, you can expect to meet mostly with Tays, Black Hmong, Lolos, and Nungs. The men usually are dressed the same way: with a beret and a Chinese-like black shirt. You will differentiate the women with their clothes:

  • Tays women wear a black costume with a colorful belt and usually wrap their hair in a black shawl.
  • Black Hmong women wear a short black skirt and black leg warmers; they have an embroidered jacket with two parts hanging on each side which they bring in front and hold with a belt. They wear a big silver necklace and wrap a shawl around their head.
  • Lolo traditional clothing is probably the more colorful of the Ha Giang province, they wear a colorful skirt and an embroidered jacket full of colors, they wear a hat with ribbons and trinkets.
  • Nung women wear black clothes with red embroideries, and a red “hat” made of fabrics and jewelry.
Ha Giang, Woman walking along the road

Along the main road don’t expect to see exclusively traditional houses, you will pass many small cities, and even in the villages you’ll mostly see concrete houses, if you want to see a more rural lifestyle you’ll have to take the small roads, usually in bad shape though.

Read more about ethnic minorities in Vietnam.

Ha Giang Motorbike Loop 4-Day Itinerary

The Ha Giang motorbike loop will take you around 4 days to complete, which is ideal if you want to see everything.

If you’re in a hurry, you can skip Du Gia and from Niem Son go back to Yen Minh and then to Ha Giang City. You can do this Ha Giang loop in 2 days, but you’ll have to rush and miss many interesting places.

Where to spend the night

Day 1: Ha Giang to Yen Minh – 96km
Day 2: Yen Minh to Ma Le – 44km
Day 3: Ma Le to Du Gia – 104 km
Day 4: Du Gia to Ha Giang – 68km

Day 1 – Ha Giang to Yen Minh

On the first day, head to Yen Minh.

On the way, make a stop at Lung Tam, a Hmong Village, famous for its flax weaving. You can visit the cooperative where they will show you the traditional process from A to Z, they will even let you try some of the steps. After, you can stop by the shop and help support the local economy by buying a small souvenir. You can also check out the market if you are here on the right day.

To get to Lung Tam from Ha Giang, you have to options the main road or the more scenic route along the river. Both feature incredible scenery and viewpoints.

If you take the road following the Song Lo River, make sure to stop at the Little Ma Pi Leng Canyon to take in the view.

If you take the main road, make sure to see some of the highlights like the Quan Ba Pass and the Twin mountains (stop at Quan Ba town, towards the middle you’ll see stairs, take them for an incredible viewpoint). Near Quan Ba, you can also take a small detour to visit the gorgeous Lung Khuy Cave.

(Quan Ba town is also known as Tam Son, Quan Ba is the district and Tam Son the village)

From Lung Tam head to Yen Minh through the main road. There you can spend the night at Milk Milk Homestay (dorms and private rooms).

Flax field - Vietnam - Ha Giang Loop
Flax field

Day 2 – Yen Minh to Ma Le

On the second day, make a stop in Sa Phin to visit the Vuong Chinh Duc Palace (also known as Dinh Vua Méo). The palace was built at the beginning of the 20th century and is a place rich in history. The entrance fee is 40k and should include a guide. The palace is open every day until 5 PM.

From Sa Phin, exit the main road and drive all the way up to the Northernmost Point of Vietnam and the famous Lung Cu flag tower – you can park at the gate of Lung Cu or keep going a bit. Make sure to get all the way on foot and climb up the Lung Cu tower to get a stunning view of Vietnam and China. Along the way, you will find plenty of amazing viewpoints and magical landscapes.

Head back to Ma Le for the night, a Lolo Village. There you can stay at Ma Le Homestay, an amazing guesthouse in Ma Le with a super friendly staff. The village is really nice as well, with a lot of traditional houses and very welcoming people, definitively worth a stop.

Ma Le Village - Buffalo - Ha Giang Loop - Vietnam

Day 3 – Ma Le to Du Gia

The stretch of road from Ma Le to Du Gia is definitely the best part of the Ha Giang Loop.

Make a stop at the market in Dong Van and stroll around, it’s similar to a regular Vietnamese market but it still is a nice stop. There you can try the delicious fried bananas if you want a snack. In Dong Van, you can also visit Dong Van Old Quarter, with its preserved architecture and its fort overlooking the city.

Next head to Meo Vac, the scenery from Dong Van to Meo Vac is just amazing, it can get really clouded, giving it a surreal vibe, you literally end up in the clouds with just the tips of the mountain getting through. Make sure to stop at the Ma Pi Leng Pass to enjoy the view – you can also go down to the Nho Que River and take a boat ride to explore some more.

From there you have two options, either you head straight to Du Gia or you pass through Niem Son first (there’s a direct road from Niem Son to Du Gia, but it’s not on Google Maps, you will find it on Maps Me though.)

Du Gia is a small village surrounded by rice fields and mountains. If you have time, you can spend one more night there and hike to other villages in the area and/or to some waterfalls.

You will find a couple of welcoming guesthouses in the village. Du Gìa – Mường Trà Garden Homestay is a nice option with dorms and private rooms – and a beautiful garden and tasty meals.

Ma Pi Leng Pass - Dong Van - Ha Giang loop - Vietnam
Ma Pi Leng Pass – Between Dong Van and Meo Vac

Day 4 – Du Gia to Ha Giang

On the fourth day, you can hang around a bit in Du Gia, take a stroll around the village and hike to one of the nearby waterfalls – before heading back to Ha Giang City and finishing the loop.

Local woman cleaning the rice - Du Gia - Vietnam

For this last section of the loop, many people choose to make their way back to Yen Binh because the direct road from Du Gia to Ha Giang is in a terrible state. If you take the shortcut, about 20km of the road is just terrible (dirt road with patches of old concrete, and a lot of mud), but it’s doable, just go slow, and you’ll be fine.

Ha Giang Loop Vietnam
Near Dong Van

How to get to Ha Giang City from Hanoi and Sapa

It’s an 8 hours drive from Hanoi, many buses depart daily from the My Dinh bus station (280,000 VND) – there are day and overnight buses.

You can also arrange this with one of the many travel agencies in Hanoi. They’ll come to pick you up at your hotel in Hanoi and drop you off at your hotel in Ha Giang.

It’s also an 8 hours drive from Sapa, buses depart daily from the bus station (150,000 VND), if you miss it you can always catch a bus for Lao Cai and then for Ha Giang. You can plan a stop in Bac Ha, a small village known for its Sunday market, but you’ll have to spend the night there and catch a bus the next day.

There are also several buses for Haiphong (Halong Bay) and from Cat Ba, ask your hotel to arrange it for you.

You can also get from Hanoi to Ha Giang by motorbike, either with your own or a rental. The roads are pretty good, but the journey is quite long so you might want to plan to stop for the night along the way (Ba Be Lake is a great spot in between).

Ha giang loop
Traditional house in Ma Le Village

Doing the Ha Giang Motorbike Loop – Useful Tips

  • During high season you should probably book a room a couple of days in advance, many of the villages don’t have a lot of accommodation to offer; even though I went during low season, all the places I stayed were fully booked.
  • If it starts raining, just stop somewhere and wait for it to stop, it’s not worth it, and the roads become more dangerous.
  • Regarding driving a motorbike, be careful the roads are good but not very large, don’t hesitate to use the honk in the turns! I wouldn’t advise someone who never drove to start with this road and most important when you rent a motorbike ask for a good helmet!
  • Try not to do it alone, it’s safer and more fun to be in a group. It’s really easy to meet people who are about to start the loop in Ha Giang.
  • Between November and March, it gets pretty cold in the mountains, you should pack a good jacket.
  • Ha Giang permits: Officially you are supposed to buy a permit (about 10$) to be allowed in this area, but no one checked if I had mine, at the time I was there (November 2017) I hadn’t heard of any backpackers who were asked for it either.
  • Make sure to have offline maps (Maps.Me is great) and an offline translation app.

Ha Giang motorbike rental: you’ll easily find a bike for rent in Ha Giang, the price is usually the same where ever you ask. You can either rent from your hotel or from one of the many rental companies in Ha Giang.

Renting a motorbike in Ha Giang is a bit more expensive than in the rest of Vietnam, we paid 170k dongs per day for a Honda Win, make sure it works well before taking it.

Ha Giang Loop Tours

For the ones who don’t want to drive a motorbike, you can still do the Ha Giang Loop. Either by bus (but you will be missing some of the villages off the road) or with a private driver. It is possible to do the Ha Giang loop by car. Many tour agencies offer this service, you can choose to go by bike or by car, more expensive but totally worth it if you can’t drive by yourself.

Here are a couple of Ha Giang Loop Tour options:

Check out some of the other destinations in Vietnam you can visit:

Like it? Save it for later – Ha Giang Loop Motorbike Itinerary:

Ha Giang Loop - Vietnam Travel Guide

8 Comments

  • Ha Giang is such a beautiful, dreamy and peaceful place! It is less touristy compared to Sapa, therefore I could totally immerse myself in the authentic and interesting local life with minority people. And the thrilling loop is absolutely worth trying when visiting Ha Giang by motorbike!!!
    Btw, thank you for your informative and amazing blog post!

    Reply
    • You’re welcome. Yes, Ha Giang is a unique place, one of a kind.

      Reply
  • This is something I missed on my trip to Vietnam! You’ve given me a reason to go back and explore a whole new area. Great tips–I’ll be saving them for my return someday. 🙂

    Reply
  • Northern Vietnam looks like such a special place. Must be cool to learn about different cultures!

    Reply
  • What an adventure! I don’t know if I would be quite as brave as you, but it truly sounds like a life changing experience!

    Reply
  • This is a great guide, I would love love LOVE to visit SE Asia! xo, Brittany

    Reply
  • Everything looks so lush! I had no idea there was such beauty in rural Vietnam!

    Reply

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