HA GIANG LOOP – 3 DAY EXTREME MOTORBIKE ADVENTURE IN NORTH VIETNAM

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Having heard nothing but great things about the extreme Ha Giang Loop in North Vietnam, I had to journey up into the mountains to experience it for myself.

The Ha Giang Loop road is an unforgettable 3 days – 350km – round trip adventure that will lead you through majestic landscapes of pinnacle limestone cliffs, deep craterous valleys and ancient traditional villages.

The Ha Giang region lacks infrastructure and it is far from westernised, though this ultimately helps to keep the place untouched and unspoiled.

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WHERE IS THE HA GIANG LOOP

The Ha Giang Loop is located 310km north of Hanoi in the Ha Giang region, Vietnam.

HOW TO GET TO THE HA GIANG LOOP

Hanoi to Ha Giang

The best way to get to Ha Giang from Hanoi is to take a bus that takes around seven hours for approximately 280,000 VND ($12). You can choose to travel on the bus during the day or take an overnight bus.

I recommend taking the overnight bus which leaves Hanoi at 19:00pm and arrives in Ha Giang at 3:30am. This way you will save money on one night’s accommodation.

Click Here to purchase your bus ticket online ahead of time to secure your seat.

Sapa to Ha Giang

If you are travelling from Sapa to Ha Giang you will have to take a seven-hour minibus that departs from the central bus station in Sapa town. Buses leave twice a day at 8am and 10am and the cost is 150,000 VND that is paid directly to the driver.

Again, organise your bus the day before travel via your accommodation in Sapa and they will contact the bus company to reserve you a spot.

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ha giang loop, ha giang tour, ha giang loop vietnam, ha giang loop road, ha giang motorbike loop, ha giang loop road vietnam, ha giang extreme northA hairpin road on the Ha Giang Loop

ARRIVING IN HA GIANG

When you arrive in Ha Giang on the bus, whether it be a 4am arrival from Hanoi or a 3pm arrival from Sapa, I recommend spending at least one night in Ha Giang.

I recommend this because it is likely that after a seven-hour bus journey to Ha Giang the last thing you will want to do is jump straight into the 3 days Ha Giang Loop adventure.

Also, you will need to organise a motorbike rental and get a map with valuable information before setting off on the most epic experience you will ever have – The Ha Giang Loop.

HA GIANG ACCOMMODATION: BEFORE & AFTER HA GIANG LOOP

Ha Giang has hundreds of accommodation options to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay in Ha Giang to fit the needs of budget backpackers and luxury travellers. See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:

Luxury: Phoenix Hotel

  • The only 4-star hotel in Ha Giang! The Phoenix features a restaurant and bar, garden terrace and mountain views. There are double rooms available with spacious living, private bathroom, free wifi and room service. Breakfast is also included for all guests.

Click Here to check rates and availability.

Mid Range: Kiki’s House

  • Rated one of the best accommodations in Ha Giang! Kiki’s House features a restaurant and bar, terrace, free wifi and close to nearby shops and attractions. They have family-sized rooms, double rooms and dorm rooms available. Kiki’s House also offer motorbike rental upon request. Perfect place to stay for families, friends and couples.

Click Here to check rates and availability.

Budget: Lila Inn

  • The best budget accommodation in Ha Giang! Located right in the middle of Ha Giang city featuring a big yard in the front for guests to enjoy a drink on hammocks under the shade of Bang Non trees, air-conditioned dorm rooms with large comfortable beds, 24/7 reception with good security, motorbike rental service (including protective equipment, straps & helmet), free drinking water, free wifi and shared bathrooms. They also offer free transfers from the Ha Giang bus station and can help organise your bus tickets.

Click Here to check rates and availability.

For all other places to stay in Ha Giang, Click Here to search on Booking.com

Note: The accommodations listed above will be sure to provide you with a map of Ha Giang Loop with clear directions, recommendations on where to stay along the way and must-see locations on the Ha Giang Loop.

Also, if you are travelling with a lot of luggage you are invited to leave your big bags at your accommodation and just take a small daypack on your 3 days Ha Giang Loop journey.

WHERE TO RENT A MOTORBIKE FOR THE HA GIANG LOOP

Most accommodations will likely have motorbike rental services or at least be able to point you in the right direction of where to get one.

Below is a list of scooters and motorbikes that are generally available for rent and approximately how much they cost:

  • Semi-automatic scooters: $7 per day
  • Automatic scooters: $9 per day
  • 150cc motorcycles: $17 per day

There is a reputable motorbike rental company in Ha Giang that I know of and you can head over to their website hagiangmotorbike.com to browse rental options.

I also know that Lila Inn offers reliable scooter and motorbike rentals for the Ha Giang Loop Vietnam.

For those who are not competent in riding a motorbike and would prefer to take a car around the Ha Giang Loop then this is also an option.

You can rent a five-seater car and an experienced driver to take you around the Ha Giang Loop for approximately $130. To book the car option you can organise this quite easily via your accommodation.

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HA GIANG LOOP ITINERARY

DAY 1: HA GIANG LOOP

Before you take off on your extreme Ha Giang Loop adventure, be sure to have a full tank of gas, plenty of drinking water, sunscreen and closed in shoes. Then once you are all set up and good to ride, it’s time to get the show on the road.

The best and most recommended route to take is to head clockwise around the Ha Giang Loop and make tracks to Dong Van to spend the first night.

I set off from Ha Giang at 8am and headed north into the mountains for what was the beginning of the most epic three days I have ever had.

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DAY 1: HA GIANG LOOP continued…

The distance between Ha Giang and Dong Van is 150km and it took me around six to seven hours including stops to get there.

The road started to wind higher and deeper into the pinnacle limestone mountains and after about an hour or two into the ride I was completely mind blown… mind blown at the sight of the mysterious landscapes that were unfolding in front of my eyes around every hairpin corner.

I stopped at least thirty times that morning to pull out my camera and the drone to capture the beauty of it all.

The first viewpoint I came to on the Ha Giang Loop was Heaven’s Gate. There is a small car park and a cafe in the clouds, perfect for a short pit stop to stretch the legs.

There are countless incredible viewpoints that can be found along the 4C main road between Ha Giang and Dong Van, it’s just a matter of cruising at a slow pace to soak it all in. 

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DAY 1: HA GIANG LOOP continued…

I arrived in Dong Van at around 3pm with no accommodation booked as of yet. I had a quick look at the booking.com app on my phone and I was able to find a cheap hostel, Dong Van B & B, to spend the night.

The cost for one-night accommodation was 130,000 VND for a bed in a dorm room and breakfast was included. To book Dong Van B & B in advance you can Click Here to check availability and rates.

There were a few hours till sunset so I took this time to relax at the hostel and recharge my camera batteries before heading out again to shoot the sunset.

I went into the city centre of Dong Van for an early dinner and then rode my motorbike to the top of a nearby mountain peak, making it just in time to watch the sun setting over the beautiful cityscape of Dong Van.

Back at the hostel, the staff invited me to join a family dinner of local cuisine for only 60,000 VND. I was still quite full from the meal I had only two hours prior to this but I couldn’t decline their kind invitation. 

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ha giang loop, ha giang tour, ha giang loop vietnam, ha giang loop road, ha giang motorbike loop, ha giang loop road vietnam, ha giang extreme north, heavens gateChasing the sunset

ha giang loop, ha giang tour, ha giang loop vietnam, ha giang loop road, ha giang motorbike loop, ha giang loop road vietnam, ha giang extreme north, heavens gateMade it to the top of the mountain to watch the sunset over Dong Van

DAY 2: HA GIANG LOOP

After a good night rest, I felt recharged and ready to continue the journey on day 2 of my Ha Giang Loop adventure. Before leaving Dong Van I went to check out the ruins of Don Cao French Fortress. Don Cao is a 5-minute ride from the city centre and there is a steep driveway that you can ride all the way to the top. Don Cao sits on top of the highest limestone peak in the Dong Van district offering 360-degree views at the top. 

After exploring the Don Cao French Fortress I set off in the direction of Meo Vac, a small industrial village about 40km from Dong Van. 

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DAY 2: HA GIANG LOOP continued…

One of the best viewpoints I found on this day was at Mai Pi Leng, just 10km outside of Dong Van. You will see a small tea house on the corner of a sharp bend around one of the mountain peaks.

Park your motorbike at the front and walk through the tea house to a spiral staircase out the back door. This will lead you down to a viewing platform that overlooks the impressive Song Nho Que River cutting its way through the valley and outrageous cliffs in the backdrop. 

As I was driving through Meo Vac, a storm cloud started to form above me, so I stopped in at a small convenience store to take shelter out of the rain.

I was told that Meo Vac was an optional place to stay for the second night out here on the Ha Giang Loop but it felt very industrial and not that appealing to me so I decided to keep on going.

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ha giang loop, ha giang tour, ha giang loop vietnam, ha giang loop road, ha giang motorbike loop, ha giang loop road vietnam, ha giang extreme north, heavens gate, mai pi lengOverlooking the Song Nho Que River at Mai Pi Leng

DAY 2: HA GIANG LOOP continued…

At the end of the main road in Meo Vac, you will have to make a right-hand turn off the 4C road and on to the 176 road. The 176 will take you south-east and back in the direction of Ha Giang.

The best place to stay for the second night is in Du Gia, a small village at the bottom of a valley between two mountains. The road towards Du Gia snakes up and over several ranges and the scenery just keeps getting more and more fascinating.

Again, I arrived in Du Gia without any accommodation booked and so I stopped in at the first hostel I saw, Du Gia Backpackers Hostel, and they offered me a private room for 100,000 VND including breakfast. If you wish to book this hostel in advance you can Click Here to check availability and rates.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at the hostel after the six-hour ride from Dong Van to Du Gia. The hostel put on a dinner for us travellers that were staying there and the cost was 80,000 VND for a big feast of local cuisine.

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ha giang loop, ha giang tour, ha giang loop vietnam, ha giang loop road, ha giang motorbike loop, ha giang loop road vietnam, ha giang extreme north, heavens gate, mai pi lengOn the road to Du Gia

ha giang loop, ha giang tour, ha giang loop vietnam, ha giang loop road, ha giang motorbike loop, ha giang loop road vietnam, ha giang extreme north, heavens gate, mai pi lengIncredible landscapes just outside of Meo Vac

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DAY 3: HA GIANG LOOP

Day three started off slow for me as I knew that the last leg of the journey back to Ha Giang was only a two and a half hour ride from Du Gia. I had a big breakfast and a coffee at the hostel in the morning before setting off. 

Before you leave Du Gia I highly recommend visiting the Du Gia Waterfall, a short ten-minute ride from the village.

If you are using google maps on your phone, the Du Gia waterfall is very easy to find. You’ll find a dirt carpark at the end of the trail, park your bike here and hike along the edge of the running stream for five to ten minutes until you reach the falls. 

When I arrived there was a young child playing in the dirt and he then insisted that I should follow him upstream to the Du Gia waterfall. He played the role of my tour guide even though it was impossible to get lost.

Before reaching the falls there is a number of rock pools and natural slides where there were a dozen local kids making the most of mother natures playground.

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DAY 3: HA GIANG LOOP continued…

The kids were showing off their skills by cliff jumping from the top of the falls into the deep rock pool below. I spent the best part of an hour here, swimming in the freshwater pools and cliff jumping with the locals!

As I made my way back to the carpark the same young kid insisted to walk me back along the trail to my bike. I had a scrunched up plastic bag in my backpack and so I decided to pick up some rubbish along the way, doing my little bit for the environment.

My good friend Jackson Groves came up with the idea of an ‘Adventure Bag’ and it means collecting a bag of trash whenever you are on a hike or on an adventure.

As I started to pick up some rubbish off the ground, I was so amazed to see the young kid follow my lead and he started to pick up handfuls of trash alongside me and help me to fill the ‘Adventure Bag’. A great way to influence the kids and I invite everyone to join the movement and give back to the environment. 

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DAY 3: HA GIANG LOOP continued…

I departed from Du Gia waterfall to make the two and a half hour journey back to Ha Giang and complete the extreme northern loop.

I started descending down a number of snaking roads through the mountain ranges and was silently wishing that the Ha Giang Loop would never end.

The last 20km of the road before reaching Ha Giang was not the most enjoyable as they are in the process of resurfacing the road. It was a bumpy, slippery, gravel road that forced me to ride at a max speed of 30km per hour. This 20km stretch of terrible road was the only bad experience I had on the Ha Giang Loop over the three-day duration.

I arrived back to Ha Giang at around 2pm and I decided to stay one more night in town. The following day I took a seven-hour bus ride back to Hanoi.

Of all the extreme adventures I have had on my travels over the past few years, the Ha Giang Loop makes it to the top of my list and I highly recommend it to all!

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THE HA GIANG LOOP – THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

The main thing I would like to point out here is the condition of the road on the Ha Giang Loop. No matter what your skill level is as a rider, the roads on the loop are in excellent condition in some areas and also sketchy and dangerous in other areas.

I can’t stress enough to pay full attention to the road and other road users take it slow and steady. There is no need to speed and be sure to make your self known on blind corners by sounding your horn.

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The weather can be very sporadic in the Ha Giang region, so be prepared to experience all the elements on your three-day adventure. Take a rain jacket in case it downpours and warm clothing for the cool temperatures at nights.

I recommend wearing a long sleeve shirt or sunscreen when riding during the peak sun hours of the day, otherwise, your skin will get burnt to a crisp.

There are ATM machines in the bigger towns such as Ha Giang and Dong Van if you do need to take out some cash.

There are minimal petrol stations along the Ha Giang Loop but I recommend to fill up your tank whenever you hit the halfway mark just to be safe. I filled my tank twice over the three days, once in Ha Giang and once in Dong Van. I spent a total of 200,000 VND for two tanks of fuel. 

HA GIANG LOOP MAP

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OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST IN VIETNAM

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions regarding the Ha Giang Loop, please drop me a comment below.

Happy Riding!

PIN IT FOR LATER !!

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18 Comments

  1. November 8, 2018 / 8:22 am

    Super useful! Heading to Ha Giang tomorrow morning.

    Thank you and happy travels 🙂

    • Jonny Melon
      November 8, 2018 / 11:37 am

      Great! You are going to love it.

  2. Sean
    January 24, 2019 / 11:56 am

    Planning to do this loop in October 2019, which month did you do it in?

    • Jonny Melon
      Author
      January 24, 2019 / 12:00 pm

      Hi Sean, awesome you’re going to love it! October would be an awesome time to do it. I did this trip in August 2018. Enjoy 🙂

  3. Valentin
    March 12, 2019 / 11:10 pm

    Hi !
    Possible to get the way you road on a map ? The place you see looks like amazing !

    Thanks a lot !

    • Jonny Melon
      Author
      March 13, 2019 / 5:50 am

      Hi, I am afraid I don’t have the map anymore but there is only one way you can do the loop so it’s very easy to navigate. When you arrive to Ha Giang and get your bike or car, you’ll be given a map for sure! Enjoy 🙂

  4. Aston
    March 20, 2019 / 6:14 am

    Hey Jonny!

    Thanks for posting this, its really helpful in helping me plan my trip!

    Just a quick question, after leaving Du Gia, did you have to pass by Tam Son Town or Quang Ba Town to get back to Ha Giang?

    • Jonny Melon
      Author
      March 20, 2019 / 5:55 pm

      Awesome, glad you love it Aston. I am not too sure about that one, there were so many towns and villagers that I can’t remember the names of. Best to ask when you pick up a map and a motorbike! Enjoy

  5. Remon
    March 30, 2019 / 1:58 pm

    Awesome shots! Didn’t you get any trouble getting your drone into the country? Or up in the air?

    • Jonny Melon
      Author
      March 31, 2019 / 1:59 am

      Hi Remon, Glad you love my shots! No, not at all, I didn’t have any issues getting it in and I was able to fly it pretty much everywhere! Good luck and enjoy!

  6. Hiki
    April 4, 2019 / 2:02 pm

    Hi, what do you recon of me and my wife on the same bike.?we going to the look on october.
    What do you do if you ride by yourself and the bike break down in the middle of nowhere?

    • Jonny Melon
      Author
      April 4, 2019 / 3:58 pm

      Yeah two people on a bike is fine. Just make sure whatever bike you get looks in good condition, has good tyres etc. I recommend booking through the hotel I mentioned in the article or the other bike rental guy in town. If you break down there are always people driving on those roads and will be sure to stop and help if need be. Enjoy your trip!

  7. Cristibe
    April 20, 2019 / 7:39 am

    Amazing shots! May I know which month you did the Hagiang loop?

    • Jonny Melon
      Author
      April 24, 2019 / 12:24 am

      Hey thanks alot! I went in August 2018

  8. Eleonora Macioci
    May 4, 2019 / 2:43 pm

    Hi Johnny! Thanks for sharing
    My boyfriend isn’t confident riding the motorbike, do you think we can arrange this by car by ourselves or it is ncessary a guide/ driver? The cost you tell us 130dollars is for car and driver for the tree days? excluded the driver overnights or incl?
    What do you suggest me to do since I really want to enjoy the landscape (maybe in the car if you are not the driver you will miss a lot of stops…) I think I need to let my boyfriend practice…

    Anyway did you went there with a guide as well? You had to pay his meals and nights?

    After the 3rd day on the way back it is possibile to come back by night train to Hanoi insted to stay in Ha Giang by night?

    Sorry for all this questions but I can’t wait to get there (on august too) and I want to be prepared!
    Thank you again!

    Nora

    • Jonny Melon
      Author
      May 6, 2019 / 1:30 pm

      Hey, Yes it is possible to do it by car and yes you will need a driver. I am not sure about what is included if you do the loop by car sorry. I did the trip solo with no guide and had to pay for my own food, fuel and accommodation along the way. Yes it is possible to head back to Hanoi on the 3rd day by bus or train. I hope this helps! Enjoy 🙂

  9. Jack
    June 16, 2019 / 5:35 pm

    Hi Jonny,

    Awesome blog and I’m sure it’ll come in very handy when i come to do the loop next month. I was just wondering how busy the roads are with regards to traffic etc? Thanks

    • Jonny Melon
      Author
      June 18, 2019 / 12:19 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this guide mate! The roads were not very busy at all when I did the loop which was good! Enjoy!

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