Ha Giang Loop

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Everything you need to know about the Ha Giang Loop

*Updated March 2020

The Ha Giang loop was the highlight of our time in Vietnam. Not only were the views incredible, but we also met some amazing people that we ended up traveling with for most of the country.

Below we will go over everything you need to know to plan your Ha Giang Loop Itinerary. Including how to get there, where to rent gear, some tips for the loop, and where to stay.

How to get to Ha Giang

When we arrived in Vietnam we knew we wanted to do the Ha Giang loop, however we had little information on how to get there. Especially since we also wanted to do trekking in SaPa first. After shopping around for bus tickets in Hanoi we found out how to get Ha Giang from SaPa with a combined bus ticket.

The combined ticket took us from Hanoi ➳ SaPa ➳ Ha Giang and gave us 4 nights in between Hanoi and Ha Giang. However, we ended up overpaying a bit ($22 USD/person) so we wanted to show you the fair rates for bus tickets to and from both places.

How to get to SaPa by bus
A Local Bus: Not very comfortable
Ha Giang Bus Shcedule/Prices

Sleeper Bus: 200,000 VND ($9 USD) |  7 Hours

VIP Limousine Van: 300,000 VND ($13 USD) 6 Hours

In our opinion, the sleeper bus is the best way to travel in Vietnam. Most of them have toilets, but be sure to ask before booking your ticket to see if yours will. However, the VIP limo van will get you there a bit quicker and have nicer seats with power outlets if you prefer that. The sleeper bus was a bit cheaper and had a toilet so we opted for that.

Local Bus: 200,000 VND ($9 USD) 9 Hours

Sleeper Bus: 250,000 VND ($11 USD) | 9 Hours

The local bus (pictured above) is what we took from SaPa to Ha Giang. It was certainly an experience but we wouldn't do it again. The local bus is a bit cheaper but only runs during the day which is kind of a pain. The sleeper bus from SaPa to Ha Giang only runs at night which will save you a night of lodging even though it's a bit pricer.

Where to rent your Gear

A friend of ours, also named Josh, completed the Ha Giang Loop a few days before we started. He recommended to check out Bong Hostel and told us it was the best place to rent motorbikes for the Ha Giang Loop. He was right! The guys at Bong Hostel were super nice, offered some great tips, and had totally reasonable prices (see prices pictured below). Here is what we got from them:

Cost: 250,000 VND/day or $11 USD/day | 150,000 VND Bike and 100,000 VND Insurance

Included: (1) Honda Blade 110cc Motorbike (Semi Auto Transmission), (2) helmets with full face visors, (2) sets of riding gloves, (2) sets of knee pads, (2) sets of elbow pads, Insurance covering any accidents on the bike

Insurance/Padding Recommendation: The elbow/knee pads were optional but we decided to take them. SO glad we did because we fell a couple times and didn't get any scrapes or bruises. Granted we weren't going very fast at all, but they definitely saved us from getting seriously messed up. We also ended up breaking one of the mirrors so the insurance came in handy since we didn't owe anything upon returning the bike.

Planning your Ha Giang Loop Itinerary

Some people plan this route out pretty extensively while others do it with a rough idea in mind and fly by the seat of their pants. We fall in the second category; we knew we wanted to do the loop but really had no idea what to expect. Luckily the guys at Bong Hostel have recommended routes to take and an excellent map to go along with it.

We didn't book any lodging when we left since we didn't know exactly how long we were going to stay out on the loop. It's worth noting that we did this trip at the beginning of March, which is towards the tail end of the dry season but it did rain a bit so definitely pack some waterproof clothing.

We packed one 40 liter backpack between the two of us and wrapped it in a plastic bag to waterproof our belongings. The pack was strapped to a rack on the back of the bike (pictured above). We locked our bigger packs together at Bong Hostel in the luggage room while we were out on the loop for no charge.

However, if you're pulling into a town after dark you might have to look around before you find a bed to sleep. This happened to us when we pulled into Du Gia (Yen Minh district) after dark. But luckily there was another homestay up the road that was completely empty so we had the place to ourselves.

3 Day Ha Giang Loop Itinerary
4 Day Ha Giang Loop Itinerary
5 Day Ha Giang Loop Itinerary
  • Day 4: 
  • Day 5:
    • Option 1: Yen Minh ➳ Ha Giang (110 Km | 3.5 hours)
    • Option 2: Du Gia ➳ Ha Giang (75 Km | 3 hours)
Map of the Ha Giang Loop itinerary

You will want to stay on the QL4C for a majority of the loop. However, if you have some extra time and feel like venturing off the loop we highly recommend checking out Cao Bang, the next province over. The views are just as incredible, but you'll see less tourists than in Ha Giang.

We would also recommend avoiding the portions of road outlined in blue on the map below because they are really bad, like horribly unpaved road. These portions are mostly unpaved so you won't be going faster than 10 Kph and it's quite dangerous if it's been raining. We would recommend staying mostly on the green highlighted roads but the red portions of the road are also okay for detours.

Tips for the Ha Giang LoopLoop
  • In order to get on the loop, head from the city of Ha Giang towards the QL4C
    • About 7-9Km outside of Ha Giang, on the QL4C, there is a police checkpoint that stops cyclists looking for international drivers licenses
  • If you don't have an international drivers license you will need to go when the checkpoint is closed
    • The checkpoint is closed before 7:00AM, from 11:00AM-12:30PM, and after 5:00PM
  • The earlier you start the first day, the better. We started around 6:00AM and easily made it to Dong Van from Ha Giang, which is about a 5 hour drive.
    • Since we got started to early the first day, we ended up doing the loop shorter than we anticipated.
  • Be sure to take breaks and stretch, your butt will hurt from sitting on the bike if you drive too long.
  • Make sure you have enough petrol before getting started for the day. There are usually petrol stations in the towns and villages but there are also long stretches between each point of civilization.
  • There are a surprising amount of home-stays and hostels long the way so don't worry about booking ahead.
    • However, you will want to find lodging before dark because all the other people doing the loop will also be looking for a place to stay at the end of the day.

Quan Ba District

The first day of our Ha Giang Loop itinerary will take you through Quan Ba, a town that is approximately 50 Km from Ha Giang. This portion of the loop is famous for the Heaven's Gate Pass which has amazing views overlooking the valleys of Quan Ba.

We left Ha Giang around 6:00AM and made it to Heaven's Gate around 7:30AM where we stopped at Cafe Cong Troi to have some morning coffee. The views from here were absolutely breathtaking and were an awesome way to start out the loop.

Ha Giang Loop Itinerary
Heaven's Gate Pass
Ha Giang Loop Itinerary
Coffee at Heaven's Gate

Yen Minh District

If you decide to follow our Ha Giang Loop itinerary then you'll drive through the Yen Minh district twice, most likely on your first and last day. Our first day was absolutely perfect weather, super sunny and breathtaking views. The town of Yen Minh wasn't as impressive as the views along the way so we decided to keep driving onto Dong Van.

Everything you need to know about the Ha Giang Loop

The next time we drove through Yen Minh the weather wasn't as nice, however, we had met an awesome group of people at CND Hostel and ended up finishing the loop together. We also stayed at an amazing homestay in Du Gia called La Leng Homestay.

La Leng and her family were sooo nice and welcoming. We pulled into town after dark and the popular backpacker hostel was totally full. After a quick panic we drove up the road a bit until we found her homestay. We ended up having the place to ourselves and we had a delicious homestyle dinner together and plenty of happy water (rice wine) to share.

Ha Giang Loop Itinerary
Our new mate, Kieran
Ha Giang Loop Itinerary
Some cool friends we met along the way at CND hostel

Dong Van District

We know everyone will agree, but Dong Van was our favorite part of the Ha Giang Loop. Mainly because we met a group people at CND Hostel. The 7 of us ended up finishing the loop together and became great friends. In fact, we actually traveled for most of the Vietnam with a Dutch couple that we met from this same group.

Besides meeting great friends, this portion of the Ha Giang Loop has a couple amazing passes. Namely the Tham Ma and Chin Khoanh Passes (pictured below) which have pull-off points to admire the remarkable landscape.

Ha Giang Loop Itinerary
Tham Ma Pass
Ha Giang Loop Itinerary
Chín Khoanh Pass

Also located in the Dong Van district is the Lung Cu Flag Point, which is the northern most point in Vietnam. In fact, you can even make your way to China near this point. However, we decided not to go because it was getting near dark and heard the landscape was the same on both sides of the border. But if you have the time it might be worth checking out, or even going into China to have lunch.

Meo Vac District

The weather can change fast on the Ha Giang loop which we experienced quite a bit in Meo Vac. At some points we were driving through thick fog that limited vision to nearly 10 meters. After literally driving through the clouds, we came upon a breathtaking pass with a teal river winding through the limestone mountains. This place was definitely one of the highlights of the loop, it almost reminded us of the glacial blue waters of Banff National Park.

Everything you need to know about the Ha Giang Loop
Everything you need to know about the Ha Giang Loop

Despite the less than ideal weather, we still made a couple stops to admire the scenery (and snap a few group pictures). Nonetheless, the rice fields reminded us of a time in SaPa, but I think the mountains here were much more impressive.

Ha Giang Loop Itinerary
IMG_2689-2 - 600 16x9

Where to stay on the Ha Giang Loop

If you're wondering where to stay on the Ha Giang Loop don't worry, there are plenty of home-stays and hostels to find along the way. Like we mentioned, we didn't book anything ahead and didn't have any real issues finding lodging for the night. Most people doing the loop don't book ahead but they will find a place to sleep before dark.

It's best to figure out where you want to end up by lunch time in order to make a plan for how long it will take you to get there. We only ran into one issue when we were pulling into Du Gia (Yen Minh district) after dark. The first hostel we pulled into was totally booked, but we found a homestay nearby that was totally empty.

However, strangely enough sometimes it is cheaper to book online via Hostelworld or Booking.com instead of paying cash in person. So if you'd like to get a small discount on your first booking then feel free to click on our affiliate links above. Full disclosure, we get a small commission from the links which we greatly appreciate 🙂

Below are a couple of the hostels/home-stays we stayed at along and one that came highly recommended to us by a friend. CND Hostel is in the Dong Van district, Le Leng Homestay is in Du Gia (Yenh Minh district), and Hong Thu Homestay is in the Quan Ba district near Heaven's Gate.

Dorms: 80,000 VND/person ($3.50 USD)

Private Rooms: 250,000 VND ($11.00 USD)

Amenities: Wifi, Excellent Location/Atmosphere, Parking, Family Style Dinner for additional cost

We had an awesome time at CND Hostel. They offer a big family style dinner for an additional cost of about 80,000 VND/person ($3.50 USD). It includes an all you can eat spread along with some happy water (rice wine). The atmosphere of this place was so welcoming and the perfect place to end our first day.

Dorms: 80,000 VND/person ($3.50 USD)

Private Rooms: 150,000 VND ($6.50 USD)

Amenities: Wifi, Excellent Location/Atmosphere, Parking, Family Style Dinner for additional cost

We had such a lovely experience here. We showed up late at night with 7 people and they had ample room for all of us. La Leng and her family welcomed us and cooked a delicious family style dinner for us. The hot showers felt amazing and it was much cheaper than the hostel down the road.

Dorms: 100,000 VND ($4.25 USD)

Private Rooms: 200,000 VND ($8.50 USD)

Amenities: Wifi, Parking, Mosquito Net, Hot Showers, Shared Bathroom, Optional Breakfast (50,000 VND extra)

Since we left so early on the first day we ended up just passing through the Quan Ba district. However, this place came highly recommended to us by one of our friends who completed the loop. It's located just near the Heaven's Gate Pass which is only about 45-50 Km from the city of Ha Giang.

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By |2020-03-08T08:00:37-04:00March 7th, 2019|Asia, Vietnam|2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Oriol June 26, 2019 at 6:31 am - Reply

    Hello! do they rent you a bike without international driving licence ? CAR international driving licence is allowed to use a motorbike for the loop? Is there more police controls after the ha giang one? Did you cross the control or did you avoid it? Looking forward to hear from you!
    thank you!

    • worldlywander June 26, 2019 at 2:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Oriol, most motorbike rentals in Ha Giang do not require an international driving license. However, they may ask you for a copy of your passport or to hold onto it as a deposit. Bong Hostel does not require leaving your passport, they only request ID to rent the bike.

      The only police control we are aware of is roughly 9-11km outside of the city of Ha Giang. We were told that they are open from 7:00AM-11:00AM and from 12:30PM-5:00PM. Since we started the loop during their off-hours we never encountered the police, and we never saw another checkpoint once we got on the loop. We also never encountered any police returning from the loop back to Ha Giang city. Thanks for asking and let us know if you have any other questions 🙂

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