Ha Giang, the province in the North of Vietnam, is well-known among the young with its breath-taking scenery. Many ethic minorities with exclusive traditional features all dwell together in this landscape, which makes Ha Giang become a multi-culture destination. If you want to discover Ha Giang, Ha Giang Loop should be a great choice since it is the opportunity for you not only to contemplate the imposing appearance of this mountainous area but also experience the traditional custom in each district of Ha Giang.
I. Overview of Ha Giang Loop
Ha Giang is located in the northmost point of Vietnam that has a border with China. This is the home of many ethnic groups living on more-than-1000-meter-high rocky plateaus. Every ethnic of Ha Giang has their own traditions and customs, which diversifies the cross culture of this province. Since most of the residents in Ha Giang live in agriculture, the environment here is well-protected and tourists coming to Ha Giang can admire the pristine appearance of this remote mountainous area.
Ha Giang Loop is a 375-kilometer road around Ha Giang Province. The loop winds through deep and charming valleys, imposing mountain ranges and primitive villages perched on high rocky slopes. On the way discovering Ha Giang, tourists can catch the image of locals dressed in their colorful traditional costumes, groups of kids playing happily on the road side as well as hard-working farmers in the terrace fields.
For tourists who are finding an off-the-beaten-path journey to escape from the hustle and bustle of crowded cities, Ha Giang Loop can be a perfect selection. With a motorbike and some close accompanies, tourists can start their adventure around Ha Giang. The trip will give tourists an interesting insight into the landscape with unique and diverse culture, stunning scenery and friendly people. It can be said that Ha Giang Loop is one of the best adventurous journeys in Vietnam.
II. Best Time to Visit Ha Giang
In each season, Ha Giang has its own beauty, but the time of spring, autumn and winter are supposed to be the best time to start your trip to Ha Giang.
Spring time in Ha Giang is from late January to March. At this time, Ha Giang is covered by the white and pink colors of various flowers: peach blossoms, plum flowers, white apricot and colza flowers. From deep valleys to high mountain slopes, along curved paths and next to thatched houses, everywhere in Ha Giang can tourists catch the sight of appealing flowers. Not only that, the time after Tet holiday, many traditional festivals of the local are held, attracting both domestic and international tourists.
Coming to Ha Giang in autumn, tourists will get a good chance to see Ha Giang with its new clothes. Terrace fields in September and October turn into yellow, which look like a giant carpet covering hills and valleys of Ha Giang. The weather at this time is not so hot as in summer, and the rain begins to decrease, so it is an ideal time for an outdoor journey.
In winter, Ha Giang is relatively cold, and the temperature decreases significantly on high mountains. At the end of December, Ha Giang is covered by thick fog and drizzling rain. However, Ha Giang at this time is a paradise of buckwheat flowers, the symbol flower of this mountainous landscape. A festival of this flower is also held in winter to introduce buckwheat flowers to tourists.
III. A Four-Day Adventure of Ha Giang Loop
1. Day 1: Ha Giang City – Quan Ba Yen Minh
Distance: 100 kilometers
Driving time: 3 hours
What to See:
- Bac Sum Pass
On the way exploring Ha Giang Loop, you should not ignore Bac Sum Pass, the mountain slope connecting Vi Xuyen District and Quan Ba District. This pass curves around the foot of a twin mountain. From above, the path looks like a huge snake crawling on the green mountain of Ha Giang. Each bend seems to be a challenge for travellers, and the gift for your effort is waiting at the end of the road. The higher you get, the more spectacular scenery you can see.
- Heaven Gate
Heaven Gate is located in Quan Ba District, which is between Bac Sum Pass and Tam Son Valley. As its name, Heaven Gate offers a stunning view of mountains in Ha Giang. From afar, tourists can catch the sight of Fairy Mount covered by white clouds and fog. So impressive is the view of Heaven Gate that it is seen as a striking picture of Northeast mountains. For the young who love taking photos, Heaven Gate is a must-stop destination.
- Yen Minh Pine Forest
Besides imposing mountains, the road from Ha Giang city to Yen Minh goes over Yen Minh pine forest, which is a tranquil stopover for relaxing after hours of driving. Yen Minh pine forest is as charming as a pretty girl of a mountainous area, and tourists will get relaxing moments when getting into this forest. There you can find your soul meeting nature in harmony and all your exhaustion seems to be gone with the wind.
2. Day 2: Yen Minh – Dong Van
Distance: 85 kilometers
Driving time: 3.5 hours
What to See:
- Tham Ma Pass
The zigzag paths are the most popular things in Ha Giang. Anywhere in this landscape, you can see narrow roads winding through high mountains or terrace fields. Tham Ma Pass in Ha Giang is a part of “the happy road” which was made and protected by the sacrifices of many previous generations. There is a rest stop on the top of Tham Ma Pass, where tourists can meet local children dressing in their colorful traditional costumes. In this stop, besides enjoying the stunning view below, tourists can take photos with the friendly children.
- Lung Cam Village
Lung Cam is a cultural-tourism village in Dong Van District. It is said that Dong Van is a destination preserving unique and typical cultural traits of Ha Giang. The popular architecture in Lung Cam Village is stone houses with brown brick tiles that have existed for more than hundreds of years. Around each house is a stone wall built without any binders. All the traditional values of the local community are reserved in these houses.
- H’mong Royal Palace
H’mong Royal Palace is also known as the Palace of Vuong Family. In the past, this palace used to be the largest house in Dong Van District, which was the accomodation of the most wealthy family in this area. H’mong Royal Palace was built with the architecture styles of H’mong, France and China, so it is a unique construction that cannot be found anywhere in Vietnam. Thanks for being well-preserved, this palace is still in good condition and becomes one of the most attractive sites among the young.
- Dong Van Karst Plateau
Another place of interest in Dong Van District is Dong Van Karst Plateau. For scientists, this plateau is recognized as a global geopark because it contains exclusive and typical evidence to the development of the Earth surface. For the locals, the plateau is the proof for their efforts to control nature and cultivate on a plateau full of rocks. For young travellers, Dong Van Karst Plateau is an obstacle on the way that they want to conquer and shoot memorable moments.
- Lung Cu Flag Point
Lung Cu Flag Point marks the northmost of Vietnam. This flag point was built in 2010 and became one of the most visit-worthy locations in Ha Giang. After passing a 389-step stair, tourists will reach the foot of Lung Cu Flag Point. Look up and you will see a huge national flag flying on the sky, which is the symbol of the everlasting spirit of Vietnamese for thousands of years. From this viewpoint, tourists can contemplate the breath-taking beauty of Dong Van Plateau like a masterpiece of the Creator.
3. Day 3: Dong Van – Meo Vac Du Gia
Distance: 95 kilometers
Driving time: 3.5 hours
What to See:
- Ma Pi Leng Pass
For many adventurous travellers, Ma Pi Leng Pass is the most spectacular and stunning pass in North Vietnam. One side is high mountain cliffs and the other is a deep defile, Ma Pi Leng Pass becomes the road all trekking-lovers want to conquer. At the top of the pass, from Panorama Viewpoint, you can catch the striking appearance of mountains and terrace fields. Below your foot is Tu San defile, the location all visitors wish to set foot on at least once.
- Nho Que River
It can be said that Nho Que River is a silk ribbon of mountainous area in Northeast Vietnam. With a clear and blue flow, Nho Que River captures the attention of all travellers coming across Ma Pi Leng Pass. The most beautiful section of Nho Que River is the narrow one in Tu San defile, where tourists can hire a boat going along the river and touching the crystal water of the river. Admiring the beauty of mountains and sky from this point is an unforgettable experience on your way conquering Ha Giang Loop.
- Nham La Viewpoint
The road from Meo Vac District to Du Gia Town is more difficult to drive with full of obstacles, so you should pay more attention on your road. On this way, tourists will pass through pristine pine forests, grandiose mountains and vibrant terrace fields. So attractive is the sight that tourists have to stop at Nham La Viewpoint to see by themselves all the beauty of this path. From Nham La point, tourists can see paddy fields on hills and mountain slopes, which can be much impressive in the harvesting seasons.
4. Day 4: Du Gia – Ha Giang City
Distance: 100 kilometers
Driving time: 4 hours
What to See:
- Du Gia Town
Not as famous as Dong Van or Meo Vac District, Du Gia is a small town nestling in a green valley of Yen Minh District. In this town, tourists can get to a daily market of the locals where people sell their farming products. On the road sides, ethnic women and children in their colorful dresses are chatting happily and inviting tourists to buy their goods. Besides, in Du Gia, you can take a trip to Du Gia National Park, which is a 15-hectare reserve of Ha Giang with precious fauna and flora species.
- Lung Tam Village
Have you ever wondered how the meticulous brocade fabrics were made? In Lung Tam traditional craft village, you can find the exact answer for your question. Lung Tam Village is located in Quan Ba District, right on the way you get back to Ha Giang City. Most of the families in this village earn for their living by weaving brocade. The products are colorful fabrics, dresses, shawls and bags in various patterns. In Lung Tam Village, you can buy some brocade items as souvenirs reminding you about your trip to Ha Giang Loop.
IV. How to Get to Ha Giang?
Ha Giang is about nearly 300 kilometers to the north of Hanoi center, and it takes you at least 6.5 hours to go by motorbike and 6 hours to go by coach to reach Ha Giang city center. To ensure your safety, you had better go to Ha Giang city by coach, then hire a motorbike there to start your adventure.
From Hanoi city center, you move to My Dinh Coach Station to buy a coach ticket to Ha Giang. Due to the long journey, you should choose the coach departing from Hanoi at night so that you can reach Ha Giang the next morning.
The best means of transport to take the Ha Giang Loop is motorbike. In Ha Giang center, you can find a lot of places for hiring motorbikes, and this service is even included in your hotel or homestay. The loop consists of sinuous mountain paths, so you should hire a tracker or a manual transmission instead of an automatic transmission.
V. Extra Tips
- A map is an inevitable item that you have to bring for your trip. In some locations of Ha Giang, the Internet connection is not stable, and even cell phone reception is not good enough for you to search your way on Google map.
- You should rent a manual transmission motorbike instead of a scooter. You may not overcome passes of Ha Giang Loop with an automatic transmission.
- If you still worry about your journey, just join with a local travel guide who has experienced this loop many times. They will show you where to go and what to do.
- Simplify your baggage. Since most of your time is moving by motorbike, you should only carry necessary things such as personal effects and clothes for some days.
- Remember to drive carefully. The motorbike loop is quite dangerous with many passes and potholes, so you should watch out for your road as well as other drivers.
- Wear proper clothes. You should wear as comfortable as possible, because too tight or too loose clothes may distract you from driving. Don’t forget to carry a pair of shoes that comforts you.
- Refuel your motorbike whenever you can. Finding a gas station in a mountainous path is not easy, so you should fuel up when coming across towns.
- Prepare a raincoat. Unpredictable rain is a part of this journey, especially on high mountains. Therefore, you should bring your raincoat while taking Ha Giang Loop.
- Winter clothes are necessary. The weather in Ha Giang is rather cold, especially at night.
- If you need some information about the way or accommodation, don’t hesitate to ask the locals there. They are very helpful and hospitable to give you some instruction.
Ha Giang Loop is really a chance for tourists, especially the young, to get off-the-beaten-path, to discover news things and to escape from the busy life. A four-day trip of a motorbike loop will take you to new landscapes, with friendly locals, splendid natural scenery and exclusive cultures. After this journey, you can know more about Ha Giang, the land in the north most of Vietnam, where people live in harmony with nature.
Keyword: Ha Giang Loop: An Adventurous Journey in the North of Vietnam