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  • Writer's pictureIne Vandenwyngaert

Ha Giang Loop, Vietnam: How To Do The Ha Giang Loop By Motorbike (+ Highlights & Tips)

The Ha Giang Loop is a scenic motorbike route located in the Ha Giang province in northern Vietnam. Stretching over 400 kilometers (248 miles), this exhilarating loop has gained immense popularity in recent years. The northern part shares a border with China and is known for its rugged mountain landscapes and unique ethnic cultures. In fact, Ha Giang was cut off from the rest of Vietnam until the 1970s, so it’s often called Vietnam's "last frontier". Boundless and sparsely populated, it was the last part of the country to open up to tourism. The loop itself takes riders through winding mountainous roads, crossing picturesque valleys, towering limestone peaks, and quaint ethnic minority villages. In this travel guide, we share our complete itinerary for the Ha Giang Loop along with all the information you need to do the trip yourself and the must-visit stops along the way. We’ve broken the loop into 4 parts and we recommend making each part one day.



ha giang loop vietnam

 

Check out our video on the Ha Giang Loop to see the complete route and stops through our camera!




Important Things To Know


Best Time of the year to do the Ha Giang Loop


Before embarking on the Ha Giang Loop, take into account the season and weather forecast. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of driving the loop at the beginning of December, a time known for drizzle and fog. This meant that our mountain peak views were not fully visible for much of the time. As the loop ventures through high-elevation mountains, the optimal time to travel is during clear, sunny days. Based on advice from our guides, March to May and October to November offer the best chances of good weather and pleasant temperatures. The rainy season lasts from June to September, bringing heat and sun during the day, but also heavy rainfall in the evenings. This can lead to potential flooding, landslides, and road closures.


Type of motorbike to rent


To make it through the mountainous Ha Giang Loop, it's crucial to rent a semi-automatic motorbike (or manual motorbike). These are different from the typical scooters found in Southeast Asia. These bikes come with gears, so prior experience is essential. Look for a trustworthy company in Ha Giang City, like YOLO Guest House, as they take good care of their motorbikes.


Easy rider vs Self-drive


If it's your first time handling a semi-automatic motorbike or you prefer to soak in the breathtaking views, or you simply don't feel confident navigating mountainous roads, consider hiring an easyrider. Motorbike rental companies usually offer easy rider services, allowing you to join group or private tours.


Personally, we chose a private tour with two easy riders, one of whom served as an English-speaking guide, giving us the freedom to choose stops and tailor our experience. We booked with YOLO House and contacted them a few weeks before the loop. They arranged everything for us so we didn’t need to worry.


Additionally, if you decide to drive a motorbike instead of taking an easy rider, make sure you have an international driving license that allows you to ride this type of vehicle; otherwise, your travel insurance won't cover accidents. Keep in mind that the police do regular patrols along the loop, and hefty fines of up to 1.5 million dong or 60 US dollars are possible.


Ideal length to drive the Ha Giang Loop


Though there are numerous 3-day tours available, they can feel rushed, demanding extensive hours on the road due to the large distances. Give yourself 4-5 days to allow for more stops and make the journey more relaxed.


Road conditions Ha Giang Loop


The road conditions along the Ha Giang Loop leave much to be desired. Even experienced riders find the treacherous, winding turns challenging. Not to mention the sheer drops on either side of some narrow roads with no barriers. When we completed the loop, there was also construction on various parts of the loop. For example, the road from Mậu Duệ to Mèo Vạc village on the second day consisted mostly of dirt, complete with muddy and slippery sections. This was the most challenging part of the loop.


The Hà Giang Loop Overview


Find all the places to go, eat, drink, and stay along the route on Google Maps. To follow and save the list, do the following:


  1. Tap on the link to open it (click button below)

  2. Tap Follow. This list will now be added to the group of lists you follow.

  3. Optional: To unfollow a list someone shared with you, tap the list Saved.

If you follow the list we made, all our saved places of Thakhek will show up in Your Places. The places will also appear as suggested locations in Google Maps.



map ha giang loop vietnam


Part 1: Ha Giang City > Du Già


Distance: ~ 95 km / 59 mi (3.5-4 hours)

Highlights: Thai An village, viewpoint Lũng Hồ, Du Già waterfall

Where we stayed: Tom’s homestay

The loop starts and ends in Ha Giang City, where you can find a number of guest houses that offer motorbike rentals and group tours. It’s best to stay the night here before and after the loop.


From the city, you’ll head in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. We drove counter-clockwise to avoid some of the larger groups and tours. Normally, this means that you’d take the QL34 and DT178 roads to get there. However, the road conditions are currently very poor in that section and it’s not recommended to go this way. We drove the QL4C towards Tam Son, but soon turned to the right on a smaller road that winds next to the river. This made the drive slightly longer, but certainly not boring. There are many views of scenic rice terraces and steep mountains. You also pass remote villages. Our most memorable stop of the day was the Lũng Hồ Viewpoint, which looks out on a local village surrounded by lush green mountains as far as the eye can see.


Du Già was our last stop of the day. It’s a quiet village with a handful of guesthouses and homestays. There’s also a small waterfall right outside the town, which is a popular attraction among riders. And although it was too cold to swim, we simply enjoyed the relaxed and cheerful vibes here. It was a good ending to an adventure-filled day.



Lung Ho viewpoint ha giang loop vietnam
Lung Ho viewpoint


Part 2: Du Già to Đồng Văn


Distance: ~ 100 km / 62 mi (4-5 hours) (Add an extra 15 km for the Nho Quế River detour)

Highlights: Mậu Duệ, Mèo Vạc village, Nho Quế river boat tour, Ma Pi Leng Skywalk, Tu San canyon viewpoint

Where we stayed: H Garden homestay


We set off in the early morning while the local Saturday market in Du Già was in full swing. First we made our way to Mậu Duệ, where we stopped for a coffee and some local specialty meat.


Then, we encountered our first challenging roads of the day. After some nifty driving, we made it to Mèo Vạc, a town nestled in the rugged mountains. This is where we stopped for lunch.


Afterwards, we continued to Ma Pi Leng and the Nho Quế River. Standing on top of Ma Pi Leng provides a panoramic view of the river below, but it’s when you embark on a boat that you get to immerse yourself in the surrounding landscape… Make sure to save enough time for the boat tour as it’s a bit of a detour from the main road. It’s also one of the most popular activities in the area.


If it’s a clear day, you can later head towards Ma Pi Leng Skywalk. This viewpoint is supposed to be out of this world, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t cooperating with us that day. Our last part of the drive to Đồng Văn was in unforgiving mist and darkness, making for a sketchy finish to our 2nd day.



Nho Que River Ha Giang Loop Vietnam
Nho Que River


Part 3: Đồng Văn to Yên Minh


Distance: ~ 82 km / 51 mi (3 hours) including drive to Lũng Cú Flag Point & back

Highlights: Đồng Văn Sunday Market, Lũng Cú Flag Point, Hmong King Palace, Sa Phin Moon surface, Lung Cam cultural & travel village

Where we stayed: Little Nho homestay


The third day is the most cultural day along the Ha Giang loop as you’ll visit the northernmost part of Vietnam. We started our day with a visit to the iconic Đồng Văn Sunday Market, where different ethnic groups from the surrounding hills come to trade. It’s an entirely local affair full of color, with a diversity of fresh produce and goods for sale.


After our visit to the market and a short stroll around Ancient Street, it was time to move on. Typically, you ride to the border with China, where the Lũng Cú Flag Tower is located. This flagpole represents the country’s sovereignty and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.


However, due to poor weather conditions, we decided to skip this out-and-back journey. Instead, we made our way to the Hmong King Palace. This palace was built at the end of the 1800s and was the seat of the Hmong kings for over half a century. It’s a great place to learn more about the Hmong people.


As the driving time on this day is a lot shorter, there’s plenty of time for additional stops. We pulled over to explore the Moon Surface (Sa Phin) as well as Lung Cam cultural village, where we went inside a century-old traditional Hmong house.

The final destination of the day is the town of Yên Minh. Here, you can unwind and prepare for the last leg of the Ha Giang Loop.



Dong Van Sunday Market Ha Giang Loop Vietnam
Dong Van Sunday Market


Part 4: Yên Minh to Ha Giang City


Distance: 112 km / 69.5 mi (3-4 hours)

Highlights: Lung Tam weaving village, Lung Khuy cave, Quan Ba Heaven’s Gate, Twin Mountains

Where we stayed: YOLO House & Loop Tours


On the last day, you cover the most distance to get back to Ha Giang City. If you’re not in a hurry to get back, there are a few more interesting sites you can visit. The first one is the Lung Tam weaving village, where local Hmong women diligently work with looms to create beautiful fabrics and linens. The women were happy to show us the entire weaving process.


Another worthwhile attraction is Lung Khuy cave, located in a beautiful mountain area near the town of Tam Sơn. This cave only opened to the public in 2015 and is about 300 meters (984ft) long. We needed a torch to enter, but sometimes they turn the lights on inside.

After these activities, we had lunch at a local house. Our guide Hahn played us a traditional song on his flute before conquering the last stretch of road.


From Tam Sơn, it was another 50 km or 31 mi back to Ha Giang City. There are a few more famous viewpoints along the way, such as Heaven’s Gate and the Twin Mountains. But after that, the mountains start to become less jagged and the road more busy. Drive back to your guesthouse and take a well-deserved rest!



Twin Mountains ha giang loop vietnam
Twin Mountains


 

Use These Websites To Save Money On Your Trip To The Ha Giang Loop


 

Are you having a hard time planning your Ha Giang Loop route? Get our Interactive Travel Planner to keep it all organized.  



travel planner to plan thakhek loop laos



Need more travel inspiration? Check out our other destinations and articles about Laos:

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Hi! We are Ine & Zac. An international travel couple from Belgium and the US. We created World Wild Hearts to inspire life-changing travel experiences like we've had. Use these tips, stories, and guides to inspire your next adventure of a lifetime!

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