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.
Sapa to Ha Giang
If you are traveling 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.
A 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.
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 offers motorbike rental upon request. Perfect place to stay for families, friends and couples.
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.
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN HA GIANG, SEARCH ON AGODA OR 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 traveling 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.
BOOK A HA GIANG LOOP TOUR
The tour includes pick-up from Ha Noi or Sapa, the 3 day Ha Giang Loop on motorbikes with a safe and experienced easy rider, off the beaten track adventure, authentic experiences with the locals and an exclusive kayaking tour on Nho Que River.
Head over to the Ha Giang Epic Tour website to see great reviews, the full itinerary and to book online in advance.
My stallion – 150cc motorcycle for $17 per day
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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The phenomenal scenery on the Ha Giang Loop
The journey begins on the Ha Giang Loop
Ha Giang Loop Vietnam
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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Heavens gate viewpoint – Ha Giang Loop
Impressive limestone pinnacles – Ha Giang Loop
The road to Dong Van – Ha Giang Loop
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.
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 center 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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The food court in Dong Van – Ha Giang Loop
Chasing the sunset . – Ha Giang Loop
Sunset over Dong Van
DAY 2: HA GIANG LOOP
After a good night’s 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 center 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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Driveway to the Don Cao Fortress
Rice terraces in Dong Van – Ha Giang Loop
Don Cao Fortress – Ha Giang Loop
The entrance to Don Cao Fortress – Ha Giang Loop
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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Mai Pi Leng viewpoint
Incredible mountains at Mai Pi Leng
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 travelers that were staying there and the cost was 80,000 VND for a big feast of local cuisine.
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On the road to Du Gia – Ha Giang Loop
Incredible landscapes just outside of Meo Vac
Arriving into Du Gia – Ha Giang Loop
A small stream divides two mountains
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 nature’s playground.
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My local guide at Du Gia Waterfall
The trail to Du Gia waterfall
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 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.
Mother Nature’s playground – Ha Giana Loop 3 days
Emerald pools at Du Gia waterfall – Ha Giang Loop
Drone shot of Du Gia waterfall
Natural water slides at Du Gia waterfall
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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Enjoying the last bit of the journey – Ha Giang Loop
Beautiful rice terraces – Ha Giang Loop
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 night.
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
MORE VIETNAM TRAVEL GUIDES
Vietnam Travel Guide: 4 Week Vietnam Itinerary
Ho Chi Minh City Guide: 7 Things To Do In Ho Chi Minh
Nha Trang Travel Guide: 3 Things To Do In Nha Trang
Hoi An Travel Guide: 4 Things To Do In Hoi An
Ninh Binh Travel Guide: 3 Things To Do In Ninh Binh
Da Nang Travel Guide: Golden Bridge Ba Na Hills
Cam Ranh Travel Guide: Things To Do In Cam Ranh
Ha Giang Travel Guide: 3 Day Ha Giang Loop Adventure
BEST HANOI TOURS
Another option for accommodation in Vietnam is to stay at an Airbnb, which generally has some great deals in Vietnam.
MY CAMERA GEAR
• DSLR Mirrorless Camera: Sony A7ii
• Drone Camera: DJI Mavic Pro 2
• GoPro: GoPro Hero 7 Black
• Everyday Lens: Sony F2.8 24/70mm
• Camera Bag: Lowepro Protactic 31L
• Selfie Stick: Sandmarc Metal Edition 1.2m
• Tripod: Joby Flexible GorillaPod
• GoPro Dome: Underwater GoPro Dome
• Power Bank: Anker Powerbank
• External Hardrive: WD Elements 4TB
WHAT TO PACK FOR VIETNAM?
• Waterproof Phone Case: Universal Waterproof Case
• Reusable Water Bottle: Hydro Flask Water Bottle
• Rain Jacket: North Face Rain Jacket
• Water Shoes: Slip-on Water Shoes
• Day Bag: Nomatic 20L Day Bag
• Power Adapter: Universal Power Adapter
• Packing Cubes: 4 Set Packing Cubes
• Microfibre Towel: Quick Dry Travel Towel
• Travel Insurance: World Nomads Travel Insurance
• Money Belt: Hidden Money Belt
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions regarding the Ha Giang Loop, please drop me a comment below.
PIN IT FOR LATER !!