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Ha Giang Loop in Vietnam: Ultimate Guide and Itinerary (2024)

Ha Giang loop is a circular route in the far north of Vietnam, on the border with China, and is best explored on two wheels. You will drive through beautiful scenery while surrounded by huge mountains, glorious rivers, and stunning rice terraces. Ha Giang region simply has it all.
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Arijana & Matej
Arijana & Matej

Croatian-Slovenian full-time travel duo, photographers, bloggers and travel journalists for over 4 years. We write in-depth travel guides about destinations we have personally visited, providing practical travel tips and recommendations.

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In this ultimate travel guide, we detail everything there is to know, the things to do on the Ha Giang Loop, as well as motorbike rental tips, accommodation recommendations, and all the important travel tips for having a safe motorbike adventure.

Please note that this is an extensive Ha Giang Loop guide. If you’re looking for something specific, please check the table of contents to navigate quickly.

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About the Ha Giang Loop Motorbike Adventure

Ha Giang is sometimes called the ‘Sa Pa of a decade ago’ because it is still not as developed.

However, doing the Ha Giang Loop around the stunning Ha Giang province in North Vietnam is becoming increasingly popular every year as travel around the area has become more accessible.

What started as a motorbike adventure turned into a loop for all types of travelers.

So if you’re not confident in driving but still want to do it on two wheels, there are easy rider tours, which you can join – you sit on the back of a skilled rider-guide’s bike.

And if you are traveling as a family or don’t want to sit on the back of a bike, you can do the loop by car.

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This in-depth guide to Ha Giang Loop includes information not only from our personal experience of driving 800km in 8 days around the province but also from considerable research on the best and most up-to-date information for the most epic motorbike adventure in North Vietnam.

2024 UPDATE

In mid-March 2024, we completely updated and refreshed this guide to include all the latest information, including an optimized itinerary with tips on how to customize it to fit your budget and the time you have for this part of Vietnam.

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Ha Giang Ultimate Guide To A RoadTrip of a LifeTime

Why is Ha Giang so special?

We knew Ha Giang would be amazing from the first photos we’ve seen of it on social media. You have likely also come to this guide after seeing the amazing views and experiences of others, especially on TikTok or Instagram. And let’s just say it’s even more beautiful than it looks.

Remote places you visit on the Ha Giang Loop are quite poor but full of the friendliest people and the most outstanding landscapes in Vietnam. But we can assure you that no photos or videos can justify the beauty and feelings you get on the roads of Ha Giang.

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Overlooking Tu San Canyon from Ma Pi Leng Pass

It was hard to capture the essence of Ha Giang and its stunning scenery, but we think we have done quite well in the over 100 images we attached to this extensive guide. Hopefully, you won’t only look at the photos but will eventually decide to go there and see it for yourself! Then you will understand what we’re talking about. We couldn’t help but smile all the time, with our eyes wide open, trying to take it all in.

Our experiences on the loop around the Ha Giang province, the things we saw, and the locals we met are still among some of our top moments in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. They are not something we will easily forget or brush off as just another thing ticked off the to-do list.

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Somewhere between Yen Minh and Dong Van

Did you know? We explored Vietnam for over 1.5 years
and wrote more than 30 detailed travel guides to help you plan your trip! ❤️

Read them all here!

Ha Giang Loop Location: Where is the Ha Giang Loop?

The Ha Giang Loop is a 3-day motorbike adventure covering 350km, taking you through stunning limestone cliffs, valleys, and charming villages in the northern Vietnam province of Ha Giang, located about 300km north of Hanoi.

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Somewhere in Ha Giang

Ha Giang Loop Length

The Ha Giang Loop’s standard version is three days and 350 km long, covering all the main destinations, such as Tham Ma Pass, Dong Van, Ma Pi Leng Pass, Tu San Canyon, and Du Gia.

The longer version of the Ha Giang Loop includes detours to other spots, like the Lung Cu Flag Pole, the northernmost part of Vietnam, also known as “The North Pole, ” right on the border with China.

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Du Gia Waterfall

Ha Giang Loop Route

The standard clockwise Ha Giang Loop Route starts in Ha Giang City, begins with a long drive to Dong Van, and then continues to Meo Vac and Du Gia before returning to Ha Giang City.

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Ha Giang Loop Map

We created a Ha Giang Loop Map that you can refer to when planning your motorbike adventure. It will help you easily navigate between the different towns on the correct roads.

How to get to Ha Giang for the doing the loop

Bus from Hanoi

The easiest way to get to Ha Giang from Hanoi to do the loop is by a sleeper or limousine bus, which takes around 7 hours and costs about 10 to 15 USD.

The bus from Hanoi to Ha Giang is not only the most convenient but also the most affordable transport option.

Over the years, the buses have only gotten better. You can now find quite luxurious sleeper buses and limousines (minivan/minibus), which provide more comfort at a still low price.

Bus from Sa Pa

The best option for traveling to Ha Giang from Sa Pa is by bus, which takes 7 hours, costs 15 USD, and covers a distance of 230km.

To book transport in Asia, we always use 12go, the top transport booking platform in the region for flights, trains, buses, and taxis. Their user-friendly platform makes booking a breeze.

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Our comfy minivan transport to Ha Giang

Ha Giang Loop Tours

One of the safest and most hassle-free ways to do the Ha Giang Loop is with an easy rider tour, which we especially recommend if you’re not confident in your driving abilities.

Easy Rider is when you hop on the back of the motorbike of a skilled local driver who will also be your guide for the Ha Giang Loop.

These are the guys and girls you can trust 100% to comfortably and safely take you around the glorious mountains and roads of the Ha Giang loop.

Easy Rider Tour

The Easy Rider tours on the Ha Giang Loop mostly provide an all-inclusive package with all costs covered. The package will likely also include transport from Hanoi. Make sure to ask the tour operator upon booking, as they can arrange a good price even if it’s not included.

The Ha Giang Loop Easy Rider Tour includes:

  • Motorbike rental and repairs (if needed)
  • All costs included for gas/petrol
  • Accommodation for all days
  • English-speaking Tour Guide
  • Water and food, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Safety equipment and gear (protective pads for knees and elbows)
  • Rain poncho and luggage cover
  • First aid

Recommended Easy Rider Tours:

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Du Gia Waterfall

Self-drive Tour

A great alternative to easy rider tours is to book a self-drive tour, which includes bike rental and a local guide around the Ha Giang Loop. This way, you can enjoy the freedom of riding the loop by yourself but on an organized trip. The tour also includes accommodation costs, safety equipment, gas, entrance fees, and food.

Ha Giang Loop by car

The safest and most comfortable option for doing the fascinating Ha Giang Loop is to do it with a driver in a car.

While cars are not the “classical” mode of transport for the Ha Giang Loop, it’s definitely something we’d recommend to families or simply those not comfortable riding a motorbike themselves and neither as passengers.

And hiring a private car is also the best way to do the Ha Giang Loop as a family with children.

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Best time to do the Ha Giang Loop in North Vietnam

The best months for a Ha Giang Loop adventure are September to November and March to May. These autumn and spring periods are the best time of year for a not-so-wet and not-so-hot Ha Giang Loop experience.

However, the temperatures on the Ha Giang Loop are pleasant year-round.

Ha Giang Dry Season: October to April

Ha Giang Rainy Season: May to September

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However, during the winter months, especially from November to February, temperatures in Ha Giang can drop to 5°C (40F) at night but stay a nice 15 to 20°C during the day (60-70F).

The summer period from June to August is the hottest time to do the Ha Giang Loop, with temperatures going up to 35°C (95F).

That being said, it is hard to pinpoint which month is the best to do the Ha Giang loop, but not only because of the weather. Each month offers something different in the area as well.

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Best time for golden rice fields and blooming flowers

  1. Doing the Ha Giang Loop from early September to early October is best to see golden rice fields.

  2. To experience the buckwheat flowering season, you should do the Ha Giang Loop in October or November.

  3. Visit in Spring (March to May) for blooming flowers and pleasant temperatures around the Ha Giang Loop.

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How is the Ha Giang Loop in the rain?

We completed the Ha Giang Loop in the first half of October, which is supposed to be an excellent month for riding the Ha Giang Loop. It’s supposed to be pretty warm (average of 27 degrees Celsius – 80F), and in theory, it shouldn’t rain that much.

However, out of 8 days, we had only two perfectly sunny and hot days! For four days, we had heavy rains, which was why we had to extend our initially five planned days. At some points, we were even freezing, so a good rain jacket was absolutely necessary.

TRAVEL TIP

If you plan to travel the Ha Giang Loop in the cold months, book a stay with heating, or pack some extra warm clothes.

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Riding the Ha Giang loop in the rain

On the other hand, some travelers who had finished the loop just before us had five days of perfect weather. Their days were sunny and warm. So we simply didn’t have luck!

However, even with so much rain on the Ha Giang Loop, you can have a great time, as did we. Don’t bother too much with choosing ‘the perfect month’. Always prepare accordingly.

In summary, the best answer for how the weather is on the Ha Giang Loop is unpredictable – any time of year! That is why you must be prepared for all weather and road conditions (rain, sun, fog, cold…).

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Roadside waterfall above Du Gia village

Ha Giang Loop Packing List: What to wear and pack for the loop?

The best packing list for the Ha Giang loop depends on the month of your trip, but you definitely need one waterproof/windproof jacket, raincoat, hoodie, long pants, short pants, a swimming suit, and an extra pair of shoes.

Essentially, you need a good mix of everything.

Personally, we missed an additional hoodie and long pants during our road trip. As we experienced a LOT of rain during our trip, our pants got wet after a minute on the bike.

Having an extra pair of pants to change into is a great idea. Especially during the more muggier months, when clothes don’t dry easily.

Another personal recommendation and a top travel tip for the Ha Giang Loop is to take shoes you don’t feel sorry for. It’s super easy to get them dirty beyond recognition or even scratch or damage them.

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Matej washing Arijana’s white Converse after she stepped in deep mud. 😅

Finally, while it’s not something to pack, don’t forget to buy travel insurance for your trip so you are covered if something happens.

And if you plan on doing the Ha Giang Loop without a license (we don’t recommend it), the best scenario is to get travel insurance that covers you even without a license or a helmet.

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Road from Dong Van to Meo Vac along the Ma Pi Leng Pass

Ha Giang Loop Permit

For a long time, the Ha Giang Loop Permit was enforced, but it was not required during and a short time after the pandemic.

However, since 2024, it has again been enforced at some police checkpoints around the relevant districts and by hotels/hostels.

While hotels are less likely to check it, it can happen, as they must report data about foreigners staying at their property. Plus, police can turn you around or even take you back to Ha Giang if you don’t have a permit. And that’s not something we want!

So what exactly is the Ha Giang Loop Permit? It’s a 10 USD permit that allows you to visit the border areas (frontier districts) of Ha Giang – Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van, and Meo Vac. These districts border China and are all part of the Ha Giang Loop.

Simply think of the Ha Giang Loop Permit as a 10 USD entrance fee to the best motorbike adventure in Southeast Asia.

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How to get the Ha Giang Loop Permit

Your tour agency will handle your permit if you’re traveling around Ha Giang Loop on an organized tour.

For do-it-yourself trips while self-driving the Ha Giang Loop, you need to get a permit at one of the province’s immigration offices.

The best option is to get the Ha Giang permit at the Immigration Office in Ha Giang City for about 10 USD. If you’re traveling by bike, you must provide your passport and motorbike plate number with some basic personal information.

IMMIGRATION OFFICE

The immigration office in Ha Giang is located at 36 19 Tháng 5, P. Nguyễn Trãi, Hà Giang, and is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

You can find it as the “Department of Immigration” on Google Maps. Since the immigration office moved locations several times in recent years, many guides will still have outdated information.

An alternative is to get the permit in Meo Vac, at Meo Vac Police Station, but that’s only relevant if you’re joining/starting the loop from Cao Bang.

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How much does the Ha Giang Loop cost?

Ha Giang Loop costs $30-$40 per day on a budget.

However, the total expenses for the Ha Giang Loop can vary depending on your preferences and travel style. And while it’s not the cheapest experience in Southeast Asia, it’s definitely not expensive and worth every penny.

For more comfort, a better bike, and nicer accommodation, you can expect to spend $50-$70 per day on the loop.

Ha Giang Loop price per day:

  • Motorbike rental: 7 to 20 USD per day
  • Food and water: 4 to 10 USD per day
  • Accommodation: 10 to 30 USD per night

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Ha Giang Loop Guided Tour Price

The Ha Giang Loop Tour price with easy riders is between 200 USD and 300 USD, which often includes everything for the trip, including accommodation, food, bike rental, a tour guide, and likely also some happy water – rice wine (similar to moonshine).

Shorter two-day tours can cost just 150 USD, while more advanced tours, like the Ha Giang Loop Dirtbike Tour, cost around 500 USD.

Ha Giang Loop Easy Rider Tours:

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Ha Giang Loop Motorbike Rental Cost

Motorbike rental for the Ha Giang Loop costs between 7 and 20 USD per day. Semi-automatic scooters cost 7-10 USD, and fully automatic bigger engine bikes cost upwards of 15 USD.

Our bike, a Honda XR 150, cost us around $28, including bike insurance. It’s one of the more expensive options, but so worth it!

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Our trusted Honda

View of the Tu San Canyon

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Accommodation Cost

Accommodation options on the Ha Giang Loop range from budget guesthouses and hostels starting at $5 per night in a dorm to $12 in private rooms, while $25 will be enough for a night in a more upscale hotel.

In the route itinerary and where to stay sections below, we recommend the best accommodations for each town.

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Food Cost

Food costs are relatively low on the Ha Giang Loop, with delicious local meals available for as little as $2-$5 per meal.

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Renting a motorbike for the Ha Giang Loop

One of the most important decisions for your Ha Giang Loop adventure is choosing a good-quality bike from a reliable rental place.

For your safety, rent from a reliable company. The last thing you want is your bike breaking down while on the road. And since the road trip itself is challenging, you want to lessen the problems as much as possible.

TRAVEL TIP

While arranging a motorbike on arrival to Ha Giang is always possible, we highly recommend reserving one in advance with your chosen rental place. We discuss the best ones in the next section.

Another option is to book your motorbike rental for the Ha Giang Loop online.

You can select the bike type and have it waiting for you in Ha Giang, or even get it delivered to your hotel.

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We rented and self-drove the Ha Giang Loop with a well-maintained Honda XR150 bike, and we still regard it as our top Vietnam experience.

Best motorbike rental places for the Ha Giang Loop

The most straightforward way of self-driving the Ha Giang Loop is to rent a motorbike from one of the reputable motorbike rental shops in Ha Giang City which are known for bikes in good condition.

We rented our bike from QT and had a really good experience.

Top Ha Giang Loop motorbike rental shops:

  • Giang Son Hostel and Motorbike
  • QT Motorbikes and Tours
  • Style Motorbikes

Giang Son’s bikes can also be booked online in advance. We highly recommend this option due to the popularity of Ha Giang Loop. And so you don’t waste too much time on your first morning.

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What is the best motorbike for the Ha Giang Loop?

Dirt bike – Skilled riders

The ultimate best bike for the Ha Giang Loop is a fully manual dirt bike, which is the best option for a comfortable ride, even on the most rugged roads.

We rented the Honda XR 150cc, which was a great choice as it was very comfortable for both of us, even with a big bag strapped behind, and one bag in front of Matej.

PROSCONS
great for offroad and bumpy roadsbig and heavy
comfortableharder to drive as it’s a manual
powerfulno storage space under the seat
big tires – much safer, lots of grip

These bikes are great for regular roads, bumpy roads, and even a bit of off-road. Because of that, we could choose a slightly different route at some parts of the loop.

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Yes, that’s a waterfall on the road. But don’t worry, this was an exception. 😀

Semi-automatic – Recommended

Semi-automatic bikes are the perfect option for doing the Ha Giang Loop for everyone.

You can change gears to conquer hills a bit easier, but it also stays in gear by itself when you stop. This helps a lot when you must stop in the middle of a hill.

PROSCONS
great for most roadsa bit uncomfortable for taller riders
comfortable for most peopleneeds a bit of getting used to
easy to drive
stays in gear without having to hold the clutch or go into neutral

Having a semi-automatic bike also means you won’t have to use the brake as much as a fully automatic one. This helps in wet conditions along the Ha Giang Loop, so you don’t over brake and slip.

Additionally, you won’t get to the point of your brakes overheating and failing (this happened to us in Bali, and it is terrifying when you are midway down a steep slope).

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Automatic – NOT RECOMMENDED

Riding an automatic bike in Ha Giang is not recommended as it’s unsafe and dangerous. And only the locals (not many) do it.

It’s very likely that the rental companies won’t even want to rent you one (or at least we hope so).

Do you need to be an experienced rider for the Ha Giang Loop?

If you are not an experienced rider, the rental company can help you get comfortable riding and share some tips and tricks for a more leisurely ride. However, absolutely take your time before setting off on the loop in that case and don’t rush it.

But, you must understand that Ha Giang is NOT the place to learn how to drive a motorbike.

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Twists and turns of Ha Giang Loop

We urge everyone reading this to consider driving the Ha Giang Loop by yourself only if you have driven a motorbike before and know how to react fast when you suddenly have to brake, speed up, or avoid an obstacle.

While the roads on the Ha Giang Loop are mostly fine, the roads are dangerous mainly because of tourists with no prior experience.

But the most important action, or rather inaction, is knowing when to brake or not brake, as you can easily over-brake and slide off the road. We had a few situations where we almost slid, and we’re so thankful for our bike (fully manual with nice big tires and great grip).

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Where to stay on the Ha Giang Loop?

The recommended towns to stay in on the Ha Giang Loop are Dong Van, Meo Vac, and Du Gia. We personally also stayed in Yen Minh town, which is convenient for those doing the loop counter-clockwise or who are taking it slower.

There are plenty of accommodations on the route these days, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that fits your needs.

Best hotels on the Ha Giang Loop:

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The most common accommodation option on the Ha Giang Loop is homestay-style places. These are favorites for solo travelers and backpackers, as they’re the most common to have dorm-like rooms with more beds.

We stayed in the Du Gia Homestay, one such accommodation in Du Gia. At night, you can enjoy a communal dinner and relax with some drinks. But it’s more of a young party-ish kind of place, with thin walls, so if you’re looking for a good rest, rather choose something else.

Homestays and guesthouses are also places where you will surely be offered some rice wine, the local alcohol, also known as “happy water.”

Du Gia Homestay was absolutely the place we loved the most on the loop. We stayed in a private room that was located above a small pond and had the most stunning morning view. Everything was super clean, including the shared bathroom.

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Du Gia

Should you book your accommodation before or on the spot?

We were finding accommodation on the Ha Giang Loop directly on the spot. That option has both good and bad sides.

The bad is that you can stay without some good accommodations as they will be full. And the good is that it gives you more flexibility. We’ve experienced both, and looking back, we would definitely recommend booking accommodation in advance. We almost stayed without any place to sleep in Du Gia, which is not ideal. 😁

If you want to save yourself from stress, book your accommodation for Ha Giang Loop in advance. At least for the “secure” nights.

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Where and what to eat on the Ha Giang Loop?

The local food on the Ha Giang Loop is delicious, and you won’t miss out on anything!

It’s easy to find local restaurants along the Ha Giang Loop, and all homestays usually also offer dinners.

Recommended restaurants:

Don’t worry if you’re vegetarian or vegan, as finding veggie food on the Ha Giang Loop is very easy. You just have to let your homestay or guest house know in advance, and in a local restaurant, you can ask them to make you something vegetarian or vegan as well. There are usually at least a few veggie dishes on the menu anyway. All of the above-recommended restaurants have veggie options.

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Looks simple, but it’s one of the tastiest veggie dishes in Vietnam

Tofu with tomato sauce, morning glory, vegetarian Pho, fried noodles, and some cooked veggies on the side are the most common vegetarian dishes in more rural areas, so make sure to ask for those. Eating these dishes daily can be a bit monotonous, but you’ll survive as it’s yummy!

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Tofu in tomato sauce (Đậu phụ sốt cà chua) at a local street food spot in Ba Dinh, Hanoi, Vietnam

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The best way to navigate the Ha Giang Loop is via Google Maps, but remember to not always trust it 100%. Use Google Maps to set out the route, and take the driving duration with a grain of salt, as it doesn’t account for your driving speed or how many spots you will make.

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Also, don’t trust Google Maps on the last part of the Ha Giang Loop when leaving Du Gia. It will tell you to go south on a dangerous road instead of taking the faster and more reliable road north and then west.

Following our Ha Giang Loop Map is a great way to stay on the right roads. A detailed overview of the itinerary is in the next section.

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Ha Giang Loop Itinerary

The standard Ha Giang Loop itinerary follows the road QL4C from Ha Giang through Tam Son, Yen Minh to Dong Van, and Meo Vac. Then, the roads DT182 and DT176 take you to Du Gia (Lang Cac) before heading back north on DT176 to reach DT181 for the return trip to Ha Giang.

Time needed: 3 days

Ha Giang Loop 350km Route

  1. Ha Giang

  2. Tam Son

  3. Yen Minh

  4. Dong Van

  5. Meo Vac

  6. Du Gia

  7. Ha Giang

For the things to do while on the Ha Giang Loop, head to the next section, “Things to do on the Ha Giang Loop,” which details all the must-visit spots around the province.

Ha Giang Loop 4 Days/3 Nights Itinerary

This 4-day Ha Giang Loop itinerary involves 3 nights while on the loop, giving you four full days to drive around and explore all the main spots.

We highly recommend following this itinerary, so you can have enough time and don’t need to be rushing the whole time. However, it is possible to do it faster if you drive all the way to Du Gia on day 2 instead of sleeping in Meo Vac.

Day 1 of Ha Giang Loop

Route: Ha Giang City – Tam Son – Dong Van, 150km, 4 to 5 hours of driving

Accommodation: Quang Trung Guesthouse, Nha Co Lao Xa Hmong Homestay

Places visited: Heaven’s Gate, Twin/Fairy Hills, Yen Minh, Tham Ma Pass

Optional places to visit: Lung Khuy Cave, Lung Tam Village, Hmong King Palace, Lung Cu Flagpole (Northernmost Point of Vietnam)

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Heaven’s Gate

The first day of the Ha Giang Loop usually involves the most driving, as you try to reach Dong Van, about 150km away.

Most travelers usually choose to stay in Dong Van for the first night of the Ha Giang Loop. However, Yen Minh is a better choice if you’re taking it slow. If you rush to Dong Van, you have a lot to see in one day. But if you’re short on time, it’s still definitely doable.

Day 2 of Ha Giang Loop

Route: Dong Van – Skywalk – Ma Pi Leng Pass – Tu San Canyon – Meo Vac, 25km, 1 hour of driving

Accommodation: Lo Lo Homestay

Places visited: Skywalk, Ma Pi Leng Pass, Tu San Canyon, Nho Que River Boat Trip, Meo Vac

Optional places to visit: Dong Van Market (Sundays only)

Starting your second day of the Ha Giang Loop in Dong Van, you can begin with a drive to Lung Cu Flagpole if you didn’t manage on Day 1. Otherwise, if you’re there on a Sunday, check out the Dong Van Market.

Then, continue your journey towards Meo Vac, stopping by the famous Skywalk and finally crossing the stunning Ma Pi Leng Pass, which offers fabulous views of the Tu San Canyon.

Once across, go for a boat ride on the Nho Que River through the Tu San Canyon you saw from the road above.

Meo Vac is a great choice for the second night and offers a nice variety of accommodations. If you don’t plan to visit many things on this day, you might already be able to go to Du Gia. But we recommend taking your time in the area between Dong Van and Meo Vac, as it’s the most beautiful part of the loop.

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Day 3 of Ha Giang Loop

Route: Meo Vac – Du Gia, 75km, 3 hours of driving

Accommodation: Muong Tra Garden Homestay, Chien’s Lodge

Places visited: Roadside viewpoints, Du Gia Waterfall

Optional places to visit: Meo Vac Market (sundays only)

On day 3, depart early from Meo Vac. If it’s a Sunday, check out the Meo Vac Market. Otherwise, start your journey towards Du Gia. On the way, pass by stunning roadside viewpoints like the “M shape turn Viewpoint” before reaching the village.

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If you didn’t manage to do the boat ride in Tu San Canyon the day before, do it this morning.

Day 4 of Ha Giang Loop

Route: Du Gia – Ha Giang, 115km, 3.5 hours of driving

Accommodation: Odyssey Hostel, Be’s Home, or late sleeper bus to Hanoi

Places visited: Viewpoints on the road

Optional places to visit: Any places you missed around Tam Son on day 1, like Lung Khuy Cave or Lung Tam Village

Important note: Do not take the road south out of Du Gia! It is badly damaged, muddy, and easy to get hurt on.

On your last day, leave Du Gia early for Ha Giang City and stop at some amazing viewpoints of valleys and mountains. This is also the time to visit some spots around Tam Son/Quan Ba, like Lung Khuy Cave, which you might not have had time for on the first day.

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If you have extra time on the last day, we recommend going slow and not rushing back to Ha Giang. This means you’ll need to sleep in the city and continue your travel the next day, but it’s absolutely worth it. Go for a relaxed lunch, take in the views, and take it easy.

Otherwise, you can catch the night sleeper bus to Hanoi.

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On the way back from Du Gia to Ha Giang, you can also take the alternative route through Thuan Hoa instead of Tam Son.

It’s shorter and also very scenic, as it passes over a high mountain pass with several waterfalls, some of them right by the road.

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Waterfall right on the road on the route from Du Gia to Ha Giang City through Thuan Hoa

Things to do on the Ha Giang Loop

Ha Giang Loop is not an experience where you want to be checking spots off your to-do list.

So we will mention the places we visited and what you can see on the loop. However, remember that these are all scenic roads, and you’ll be stopping A LOT at random spots just because they’re so beautiful. Therefore, expect to drive a bit longer than planned.

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Here are the top things to do on the Ha Giang Loop.

1. Heaven’s Gate

This is where the amazing views start. Heaven’s Gate is the top place to visit on the Ha Giang Loop, mostly because it’s also the stop where everyone takes their first break on the loop. So it’s hard to miss it. We also recommend the viewpoint cafe here, where you can try a delicious smoothie, coffee, or tea while enjoying the view.

2. Twin/Fairy Hills – Fairy Bosom

Just a bit further along the road from Heaven’s Gate, you’ll arrive at Tam Son and Quan Ba, a village situated in a valley surrounded by small round-shaped hills, Núi đôi Cô Tiên.

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There are two hills very close to each other, known as Twin Hills. You’ll easily spot them from the road. If you have time, explore the area around you, maybe check out the rice fields area and check what the friendly locals are doing.

You can also stop at the viewpoint before reaching it – Fairy Bosom mountain viewpoint.

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3. Lung Khuy Cave

The Lung Khuy Cave is one of the less crowded places on the Ha Giang Loop and still somewhat off the beaten path. It was discovered in 2015, and according to reviews and photos, most people like the cave and its impressive formations.

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The parking area is approximately 4 km away from the main road, and the last part involves hiking for about 20 minutes. On one part, if the road is a bit more damaged, you will have the option to be driven up on a bike by a local for about 2 USD per round-trip.

The entrance fee to Lung Khuy Cave should be around $2, and the parking fee is $0.2. Inside, a concrete path with handrails circles the cave. Bring enough water for the hike up and down and for all the sweating you will do in the cave.

If you don’t have enough time, you won’t miss out on much if you already visited some other caves in Vietnam (such as the ones in Phong Nha). We had to skip the Lung Khuy Cave because of a lack of time.

4. Lung Tam Village

Another spot nearby Tam Son is the Lung Tam Village, a popular place on the Ha Giang Loop to see the traditional hemp weaving process.

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There are two parts to Lung Tam, one at the road level and one high on the hill, reachable by a treacherous road. We went up the road halfway before turning back, as it was just too sketchy at that time.

In the lower part of the village, you can visit the Lung Tam Linen Cooperative, the best place on the Ha Giang Loop to buy handmade Hmong clothing and handicrafts and observe how they’re made.

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Visiting the Lung Tam Village is a great way to sustainably support the efforts to maintain the local traditions and culture of the ethnic minorities in the northern Vietnam provinces.

From the village, you can cross this stunning bridge over the Lo River that has become a popular photo spot.

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5. Tham Ma Pass

On the way from Yen Minh to Dong Van, you will conquer the Tham Ma Pass, the most Instagrammable mountain pass of the Ha Giang Loop. The road is the loop’s most dramatic zigzag path, often referred to as a snake, and with that particular angle, it looks perfect!

Tham Ma Pass is the best viewpoint on the Ha Giang Loop, right after the Ma Pi Leng viewpoints.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: Tham Ma Pass is also the spot where you’ll find the famous “Flower Girls of Ha Giang.” We’ve been looking forward to seeing them as we saw photos of these local kids everywhere online. But somehow, this is the only place on the whole loop that we saw them.

Why? Because that’s where they work. These poor kids are used as photo props for many tourists (especially those that come with bus tours).

People are dragging them (yes, literally dragging) all around for that perfect photo. We almost cried as we couldn’t stand watching that. So please, if you come there, ignore those little girls, and don’t use them for photos! They should be in school, not working the whole day like this. If everyone did this, they wouldn’t be forced to come anymore.

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We aren’t necessarily completely against giving something to the local kids or locals here, but not like this – not when it’s obvious that they are a tourist attraction. Another reason to be careful about giving treats or money to children along the way is that it encourages begging.

6. The Vuong family palace – Hmong King Palace

Located between Yen Minh and Dong Van town, the Vuong Family Palace is the best place to visit on the Ha Giang Loop to see traditional architecture and historical relevance.

The Vuong Family Palace, also known as Dinh Vua Meo, was built in the 19th century as the home of an influential family (known for opium). It was constructed by stone artists from Yunnan (China) and local Hmong builders during the French colonial times. It’s essentially a mix of Vietnamese, Chinese, and French elements.

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Unfortunately, you won’t likely be able to find much information about the Hmong King Palace in English on the spot. So, if you plan on visiting, we recommend reading about it beforehand.

It’s very important to the Vietnamese but mostly uninteresting for foreign visitors, so most people skip this place for the reasons mentioned.

We, in the end, skipped it as well, as it was extremely crowded due to tour buses.

7. Lung Cu Flagpole

A must-visit for most doing the Ha Giang Loop is the Lung Cu Flagpole, also known as “The North Pole” because it marks the northernmost point of Vietnam with a huge Vietnamese flag on a large tower.

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You must pass the gates and drive up to the ticket office, where you can park your bike. From there, you must climb stairs to the flag tower and then some more stairs to get to the very top of it.

We personally didn’t like this place too much. It was way too crowded for our taste, and the view wasn’t spectacular like other places in Ha Giang, especially because there was a lot of construction work all around.

TRAVEL TIP: This location is quite busy and lacks great views. So continue the road north for another 10 minutes to reach the actual Northernmost Point of Vietnam right at the China border, with better views and much fewer people. Click here for the location on Google Maps. But don’t follow the directions, as you first need to turn left at the flag pole and not continue on the wide road.

8. Dong Van

Dong Van is the biggest northernmost town of the Ha Giang province (only 20km from the Chinese border). It is mostly known for the Dong Van Market on Sunday mornings and the designation of the Dong Van Karst Mountains as a UNESCO Geopark Site.

While Dong Van preserved a part of the ancient town, it is now also well-built for tourism, with many accommodations, cafes, restaurants, and shops. However, it’s still very much local with little to do except being a great stopover on the loop as a place to stay and recharge batteries with a nice hot bowl of Pho or similar.

Tip: A hotpot is a great dish to enjoy in Dong Van town, and veggie versions are also easily found.

9. The Skywalk

The Skywalk is the most famous attraction and thing to do on the Ha Giang Loop.

Going by the name, you would expect something fancy, but no, it’s nothing like that. Maybe the word Skywalk is not the most suitable one.

If you checked some photos from Ha Giang online, the Skywalk is that long rock poking out of a mountain, boasting a fantastic view of the valley beneath.

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Ha Giang Loop’s famous “Skywalk”

To reach the skywalk, you have to drive on a narrow path to reach the location. Ensure you’re confident enough in your driving skills, as there is a massive drop from the side of the mountain and no fence. If not, just walk from the parking lot for about 20 minutes.

From where you park your bike, you climb a rocky hill and reach the point where the ‘perfect’ rock points out. That’s it! We almost missed the place because we didn’t know that was it.

TRAVEL TIP: Don’t visit if you’re scared of heights!

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Stunning views at the Skywalk

When we were there, some workers were mining rock from big boulders on the side of the path, which made it even trickier, as we had to drive over a sand pile just about wide enough for a bike.

2024 UPDATE

You are supposedly no longer allowed to drive up to the Skywalk alone. Instead, you can walk or pay 100K VND (4 USD) for a local to take you up on their bike. You can also ask them to drop you off at another spot further along, the White Cliff.

We’re happy we managed to drive up, but we can understand why it’s no longer allowed. However, it’s likely just a form of scam by the locals, trying to earn some money.

Judging by our experience and recent reviews, you can simply ignore anyone at the “gate” and drive up. It’s actually a regular road (just a bit narrow) used to reach some other villages higher up.

An alternative way to get to the Skywalk is to take the narrow road up the hill near Mã Pí Lèng Pass Viewpoint.

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This is the exact hill.

10. Ma Pi Leng Pass

Ma Pi Leng Pass is the mountain pass between Meo Vac and Dong Van and goes up to 1500 meters above sea level. The Ma Pi Leng Pass is approximately 20 kilometers long and offers the most majestic views of the whole Ha Giang Loop.

You are presented with an incredible view of Tu San Canyon, the deepest canyon in Southeast Asia, and the Nho Que River. The views are outstanding, and this whole area is one of our favorite areas to explore on the Ha Giang Loop.

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Best spots with a view on the Ma Pi Leng Pass:

  • Ma Pi Leng Panorama Cafe: This cafe offers fantastic views, and we recommend grabbing hot cocoa while there. The entrance fee is 20k VND (about $1), which can be exchanged for a drink, or you can just buy a drink without taking the ticket. This place will most likely be crowded, as many tour buses also stop here.

  • Mã Pí Lèng Pass Viewpoint: This superb panoramic viewpoint is at a higher elevation than the panorama cafe, but it offers a better view of the lower part of the canyon. Next door is the Meo Vac Visitor Center, where you can buy traditional baked goods, get a coffee, or buy souvenirs.

  • Rock Viewpoint: A minute’s drive down from the viewpoint, you’ll notice huge rocks overlooking the canyon on the side of the road. Here you have to jump over the fence and then climb the rocks for a majestic view.

  • Roadside Viewpoint: A turn or two away from Ma Pi Leng Panorama cafe, you’ll notice a sharp curve with a beautiful view (photo below). You can’t miss it.

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Rock Viewpoint

Did you know? The Panorama Cafe at Ma Pi Leng Pass was actually an illegally constructed hotel forced to turn into a rest stop/sightseeing spot.

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The view from Panorama Cafe is supposed to be amazing, but we saw nothing but fog. 😅

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That’s Panorama Cafe in the background. 😁

If you want to stay right on the Ma Pi Leng Pass with fabulous views, you can check the Ma Pi Leng Eco Lodge instead. Or, just before coming down the pass from Dong Van to Meo Vac, you can sleep at the Ma Pi Leng homestay, which is a great starting point for hiking around the area.

If you’re up for some hiking, there are two off-the-beaten-path trails along the Ma Pi Leng Pass, the Great White Cliff Viewpoint and Sky Path Grotto, which offer fantastic views.

Check the Ma Pi Leng Pass Sky Path trail on AllTrails for navigation and more information.

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View from the Ma Pi Leng Eco Lodge

11. Tu San Canyon

The best thing to do on the Ha Giang Loop is a boat ride through the Tu San Canyon on the Nho Que River.

We highly recommend this experience. It’s amazing to see the canyon from the top. But it’s even more amazing from below, where you get a closer look at the river cutting through the high mountains!

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In the past, you had to walk for 15 minutes down a steep path to reach the marina for the ride on the Nho Que River.

But now, it’s a lot simpler. You can drive completely down road 193A to reach the dam area. There, you can find a large parking lot. You pay 5000 VND for parking and 120K VND (5 USD) for the boat ride, including a shuttle bus/tram that will take you to the Nho Que River boat marina.

We recommend the Tu San Canyon boat ride early in the morning to avoid the crowds. As we went in the early morning, there were only a few people on the boat with us, so it was much more pleasant. The best way is to leave the Meo Vac area early in the morning and visit then.

For a bit different experience, you can also rent a kayak to go through the Tu San Canyon.

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Notice how tiny kayaks look. 🙂

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The Nho Que River marina.

Note: There used to be another wharf/marina on the side of Dong Van (Ta Lang Harbour), but it is no longer operational due to the construction and updating of the one at Meo Vac.

12. Meo Vac Market

There is a huge market in Meo Vac, which takes place every Sunday morning. People from surrounding villages gather to buy things and socialize, and the crowds are unbelievable.

We have been to many markets in Vietnam, but none were so alive and raw! People were walking with cows on the streets, not those that you usually encounter on the side of the road. These cows were getting crazy and trying to run away. Kids were walking with chickens in their hands, etc.

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And most people were walking (we rarely saw someone with a bike) from all those small mountainous villages to even get to the market. That’s why the streets were so full!

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We didn’t have enough time to properly stroll around the whole market as we had to leave Meo Vac in the morning, so we only saw a small part of it. There was so much action on the streets themselves that we can only imagine what it looked like in the heart of the action. That’s on our bucket list for the next time!

TRAVEL TIP: Try to schedule Meo Vac or Dong Van (there’s a similar market there as well) for the weekend and attend the market in the morning. After the market, spend some time on the streets to witness people returning home with all the goods. It’s quite a unique sight.

13. M shape turn Viewpoint

On the way between Meo Vac and Du Gia, you will pass the viewpoint of the famous M-shaped turn (or W-shaped, depending on who you ask). It’s a really cool part of the road, passing through small minority villages and stunning landscapes.

The same road also delivers other stunning viewpoints of terraced rice fields, valleys and just beautiful nature in general.

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14. Du Gia Waterfall

One of the highlights of the Ha Giang Loop motorbike adventure is the Du Gia waterfall right outside Du Gia village. This is the place where you’ll need that swimming suit we mentioned earlier in the packing list!

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On the way, you’ll pass through a village and meet a lot of friendly kids on the road. The scenery on the way to the waterfall is crazy beautiful, so don’t miss out on this place. We stopped a few times just to take it all in, as the valley is absolutely stunning.

During our visit, we weren’t sure if we were on the right path, but we just kept going straight and eventually heard the sounds of the waterfall. But now it’s very well marked.

But the road to the Du Gia waterfall can be somewhat bad, so even though we had a dirt bike, Arijana had to step off a few times.

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The first waterfall is the most impressive and has the biggest pool. If it’s warm enough, you can take a swim here, climb the waterfall, and visit the other ones!

It was raining the morning we visited, making the rocks slippery, so we couldn’t climb it. Arijana tried and fell as she slipped on the rock. 😀 Later, we learned that there are usually ladders there, and that’s how people climb it, but they weren’t there during our visit.

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2024 Update: Since the reopening of Vietnam after the pandemic, Du Gia Waterfall has unfortunately become a lot more commercialized. Now, there is a cafe near the waterfall, which usually blasts loud music. Something that completely ruins the tranquil atmosphere in such a scenic place.

In addition, a fence was put in place, as well as signs forbidding jumping, due to an accident involving a drowning tourist in 2023.

Top travel tip: Du Gia Waterfall is a series of small waterfalls, so to avoid the crowds at Du Gia Waterfall, you can continue the path on the right side. It follows the river upstream, where you’ll find more waterfalls, hardly any people, and definitely no loud music. Now, let’s hope this part doesn’t get ruined as well!

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Multiple pools at Du Gia Waterfall

The rest of Du Gia

Du Gia doesn’t have a strict to-do list, so the best thing to do is to drive around checking out small waterfalls along the way (you can climb the rocks to get up close).

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We also drove past some small villages where we stopped by the locals and tried to learn more about them and their daily lives. People in Du Gia are lovely, so we encourage you to stop by and interact with them. But please be respectful, this is not a human zoo.

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Stunning river above Du Gia

IMPORTANT: As a last reminder, do not travel out of Du Gia on road 176 going south, as it’s in really bad shape and dangerous. Instead, go back north to one part to connect with the road that goes between Tam Son and Meo Vac.

Ha Giang Loop Guide FAQ

In addition to answers found in the comments at the end of the article, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about the Ha Giang Loop here.

Should you do the Ha Giang Loop solo or on tour?

Doing the Ha Giang Loop solo is the best experience, as it allows you flexibility and choice on what to see and for how long. Although, tours with easy riders are a great option if you don’t want to organize the Ha Giang Loop yourself, or simply don’t want to drive. An alternative option with a guide is the self-drive tour.

Can you drive the Ha Giang Loop without a license?

We do not recommend riding the Ha Giang Loop without a license unless you have plenty of experience. Plus, driving without a license on the Ha Giang Loop means that if you crash, your travel insurance will likely not cover it unless you get insurance that covers it.

Can you drive on the Ha Giang Loop without prior bike experience?

Riding the Ha Giang Loop as a beginner without prior bike experience is not recommended, as it has some challenging roads and passes to conquer.

Can you drive an automatic bike on the Ha Giang Loop?

It’s not recommended to drive an automatic bike around the Ha Giang Loop, as it’s the least safe option. A semi-manual one is the next best choice.

How long is the Ha Giang Loop?

The standard Ha Giang Loop is 350km long and takes 3 to 5 days to complete, depending on your travel style.

How much does the Ha Giang Loop cost?

Overall, budget-conscious travelers can expect to spend around $20-$30 per day for the Ha Giang Loop, while those seeking more comfort may spend upwards of $50-$70 per day on this motorbike adventure.

How much does motorbike rental cost on the Ha Giang Loop?

Ha Giang Loop Motorbike rental costs between 10 and 15 USD per day for a standard bike and upwards of 30 USD for a better bike.

Can you do the Ha Giang Loop from Hanoi?

Yes, you can do the Ha Giang Loop from Hanoi by first getting a minivan or sleeper bus to Ha Giang City, and guided tours often include it in the package.

What are Ha Giang Loop Easy Riders?

Easy riders is a term used for the tours that take travelers around the Ha Giang Loop – you don’t drive, you sit back and relax, so it’s easy, and you’re still riding it!

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Final thoughts and travel tips

You can leave unnecessary stuff in a hotel’s storage while you are on the loop. Not all hotels in Ha Giang City offer this service, but it’s worth asking before arriving. This is especially useful if you’re self-driving, so you don’t have to take all your stuff on the bike. If you’re going on an organized tour, they can arrange it for you.

Always start the drive from one place to another early in the morning. We still explored a bit every morning, but we suggest leaving at 9 am at the latest. You’ll be stopping a lot on the way, and you don’t want to be driving much in the dark, trust us.

Avoid giving treats or money to children along the way because it encourages begging, plus kids will be sent to parade for tourists rather than go to school (a great example is Tham Ma Pass).

DO NOT LITTER! Unfortunately, some parts of the loop will be full of trash. Of course, part of this comes from the locals, as this is a very poor area. But a big part comes from tourists, too (single-use raincoats, bottles, trash bags, etc.).

Use this article and our itinerary as guidance, but don’t strictly follow everything on it. This adventure should be more about the experience than checking the locations off your list.

Ha Giang is unique because you can take the loop ten times, and we can guarantee that you’ll have a different experience each time. That’s why many travelers we met were repeating the loop. The road conditions and weather will be different each time, people will change, etc.

Honda XR150 motorbike on the Ha 
Giang Loop - Ha Giang Loop Travel Guide - Ha Giang Loop Guide
One of the sunny days somewhere above Du Gia

And after all, Ha Giang is still a relatively unexplored area. The attractions we pointed out are just the main ones that are already established, but there is so much more waiting for you if you go a bit outside of the main route. And that’s the magic of Ha Giang!

Our curiosity is killing us, and we can’t wait to go on the Ha Giang Loop again to explore everything that we didn’t so far and even go a bit more off-road.

Don’t forget that you can also do the Ha Giang to Cao Bang Loop! We would love to try that, as it passes through one of the most stunning roads ever. It goes over the Me Pia pass and takes you to the incredible Ban Gioc Waterfall! In that case, some rental companies like QT allow you to rent a bike in Ha Giang and drop it off in Cao Bang.

Did we convince you to do the Ha Giang Loop?

Let us know your thoughts, and we’re here for any questions you might have!

We’ll also do a video of our road trip, so make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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Arijana & Matej
Arijana & Matej

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We're Arijana and Matej, a couple and travel blogging duo from Croatia and Slovenia who thrive while slow-traveling. And we have been doing it for over 4 years.

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12 Responses

  1. Hello liked your report but its pretty confusing betwen day 3-5 the morning market and so on is not really good listed, it looks like day 4 already started but then later you point out day 4….

    thank you anyways i will do it (during my 3 months in south east asia)

    1. Hi Felix!

      Thank you for your message. 🙂

      The morning market in Meo Vac is only on Sundays, so we put it at the end as an optional visit as it all depends on when you arrive at Meo Vac (morning, evening, afternoon) and what day. So, for example, if you do come in the morning to Meo Vac, then you can do it that day straight away (let’s say that’s day 3), but if you arrive later, then you do it the next morning (if that’s a Sunday), so let’s say day 4.

      We hope that makes sense!

      Our guide gives you options to do in each place (like Meo Vac), and it’s not precisely organized in any order in those places because it depends on what you want to do anyway.

      But thank you again for this comment. It made us realize that we could provide a better itinerary. And we will do exactly that very soon!

      Warm regards from Chiang Mai ♥
      Arijana & Matej

  2. Your writing blew me away. You make me.determined to do this loop, this year. Plus returning the bike in Cao Bang. Does that mean that I don’t go back to Ha Giang? Will I miss much if I skip going back to Ha Giang?

    1. Hey Jonathan, thank you for the kind words!

      If you start your journey in Ha Giang city, and then continue all around to Dong Van, Meo Vac, and then finish in Du Gia before heading out to Cao Bang, you won’t really miss anything if you don’t return to Ha Giang.

      The other way around, where you would go in the way we personally did, so from Ha Giang to Du Gia, then Meo Vac, Dong Van, and back towards Ha Giang, that would mean you finish in Ha Giang City and have a much bigger distance to cover.

      So extending the Ha Giang Loop with Cao Bang is best done if you do it clockwise as mentioned: Ha Giang City to Dong Van, Meo Vac, Du Gia, then towards Cao Bang.

      Have a blast!

  3. Hi,

    Me and my girlfriend are planning to do the loop in December 2023. Will it be safe to rent a semi automatic with two people riding it?

    Great article
    Thanks
    Ioannis

    1. Hi Ioannis,

      Yes, you can rent a semi-automatic and ride it with two people, as most of the bikes you can rent in Ha Giang all come with a metal rack at the back where you can put your bag. 👍

      The only thing with the semi-automatic bikes is that they are a bit smaller and your legs are bent a bit more than on others, so they might hurt after a long drive if you’re tall. But you just take breaks a bit more often and you’ll be fine.

      Thank you for the kind words, and have a great time!

      Arijana & Matej

  4. Hi! Thanks for all this info. We plan to go in March. Did they ask for your motorcyle drivers license? We have international driverse licenses, but not motorcyle licenses from home. Will we actually need those?

    1. Hi Amy!

      It’s likely that you can make it around the whole loop without being stopped by police.

      But it’s really more a matter of safety than anything else.

      Keep in mind that most insurance companies won’t cover you for driving without a proper license in case something happens.

      Check if your home license covers a motorbike. If it does, great!

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