Vietnam: Ha Giang Loop with easy rider

The Ha Giang loop (or Ha Giang loop): when I started to organize my itinerary in Vietnam, I had never heard of it before! Like many travelers, I was only planning to go to the village of Sapa in the north of the country for a trek. However, during our stopover in the Philippines, I met two travelers who told me about this famous loop of Ha Giang, promising me breathtaking landscapes and a unique experience.

A little later, Ha Giang then became the region that I would not have missed on this trip under any circumstances. Due to lack of time, I then eliminated Sapa from my schedule to have time to discover Ha Giang and I remain convinced that it was an excellent decision.

The Ha Giang loop will remain my fondest memory of this trip to Vietnam, a region still unspoiled from tourism where I then found the authenticity that I had so far lacked in the country and especially the wonderful landscapes of an extraordinary variety. Through this article, I take you with us on the Hapiness Road, in the north of Vietnam, very close to the Chinese border.

How do I get to Ha Giang?

Ha Giang Province is located in northern Vietnam, near the border with China. The start of the loop is in the city of Ha Giang. To get there, there are night buses that leave Hanoi at 8:00 p.m. and drop you off around 4:00 a.m. in Ha Giang City.

In our case, we left from Cat Ba Island. We booked the whole trip in one of the agencies on the island including the bus, the Cat Ba – Haiphong ferry, then the bus again to Hanoi, a van to take us from the Hanoi agency to the last one sleeper bus, then the sleeper bus which takes us to Ha Giang. So we left Cat Ba at 3:30 p.m. and arrived in Ha Giang around 4 a.m. for around € 16.

Prepare the Ha Giang loop

If you know how to drive a two-wheeler (unlike us), you will have no trouble finding a motorbike to rent in the city and all you have to do is conquer the loop in total freedom. It is advisable to do this in three days to have time to enjoy it, but you can do it in two days if you are in a hurry, or in four days if you want to take the time to test the other small paths at the inside the loop. Provide an international permit as they are apparently verified for hire.

On our side, not knowing how to drive two-wheelers, the situation turned out to be more complicated. We wanted to hire a car first because the road is known to be quite good. However, we did not find anyone able to hire us a car without a driver. So we set out to find easy-riders who would take us on the loop.

Reservation at Dream Hostel

We wandered around Ha Giang a bit before finally finding our happiness at Dream Hostel . Two options are possible, either you just take the driver, but you will have to assume the other costs (gasoline, meals and nights for you and your drivers) or you take the all-inclusive option (which we have done) in order to have nothing more to pay.

We therefore opted for the 2-day solution at $ 55 per day per person which included our two motorcycle drivers, gasoline, bottled water, lunch and dinner on the first day, the night in a homestay, breakfast and lunch on the second day. We also booked for one night at the Dream Hostel in order to leave for the loop only the next day. I am recommending this hostel, impeccable dormitory and bathroom, a nice view of the canal and lovely staff (who speak English, too!)

Ha Giang Loop – The Circuit

Here you will find the itinerary that our drivers followed as well as the stops we made. Other routes are possible because there are other routes within the loop and whose landscapes are certainly just as exceptional.

Ha Giang – Quan Ba

We leave Ha Giang around 9 am. The hustle and bustle and the horns of the city disappear after just a few minutes, we meet fewer and fewer people and we already feel the mountain. We then make a first stop at Quan Ba, where we admire the view nicknamed Heaven Gate from the top of a belvedere. There, already, the rice fields in the middle of the mountains and the mist sweeping these green landscapes put us in full view!

Quan Ba ​​- Yen Minh

We continue on winding roads, towards Yen Minh where we will have our lunch break. I absolutely do not regret having a driver, while he is driving I can quietly admire the mountains that surround me and fill my eyes with their grandeur.

Yen Minh – Xa Phin

After lunch, we continue for the second part of the day. The landscape changes completely: after the rice fields, then the mountains covered with pines which reminded me of the Alps of our home, we then pass to a completely lunar valley. Little vegetation, the ground has an orange color and limestone rocks are emerging from the earth everywhere. We enter the region of the H’Mong, a minority who make a living from agriculture. We can see them everywhere, working the land. Dozens of people work on each plot of land, from the youngest to the oldest.

We stop a few kilometers later after the village of Xa Van Chai. A belvedere allows us to admire the road that winds between the mountains.

This road, nicknamed Hapiness Road, was built during the years 1959 to 1965 by more than 1300 volunteers for 7 years, working in all weathers, with the most rustic means possible in order that the inhabitants of these isolated mountain villages have the opportunity to travel and thus have access to health and education.

At this place, we also meet H’Mong children. When you want to take a picture of them, they get caught up in the game by doing super serious poses, it was so cute!

We hit the road again. The next stop is at Xa Phin, where our driver explains that we are going to visit the home of a former H’Mong king. It is a large wooden cottage, the visit is not particularly interesting, except that it is the only king’s house that I have visited in my life where bling-bling and gilding was not in the game!

Xa Phin – Dong Van

We then continue the road to Dong Van, where we will spend the night. We cross plains of green rice fields. As for Dong Van, I expected a tiny village, it is actually a real small town in the middle of the mountains.

Overnight at H’Mong Homestay in Dong Van

Our homestay, the H’Mong homestay, is located outside the city, isolated in the middle of the fields. When we arrive, there is hardly anyone. Then every 10 minutes, new adventurers keep arriving with their motorcycles, we even end up wondering where everyone is going to sleep!

At 7 p.m., the managers of the homestay invite us to sit down to dinner and we are then served like royalty. At least 10 dishes on each table, three kinds of meat, tofu (tofu in Vietnam is incredibly well prepared, don’t hesitate to try it!), Vegetables for all tastes and, of course, rice! The managers then begin to bring in the bottles of corn alcohol, a specialty of the region. I had already endured rice alcohol in Indonesia (I’m really not a fan of these extremely strong spirits), now I find myself begging our hosts to stop filling my glass every time I go. decides to drink it out of politeness.

During this time, the Vietnamese drink glasses after glasses. So you can imagine the rest of the evening: karaoke, then a H’mong dance show by the owners of the homestay, and finally, we finished by the fireside, trying to communicate with an adorable Vietnamese completely drunk who did not understand a English word but which by the gestures made us die of laughter!

Day 2: Dong Van – Ma Pi Leng Pass

After swallowing delicious honey pancakes, we leave for our second day on the loop. As soon as we leave Dong Van, the scenery is already wonderful. The limestone mountains form perfect domes, planted in the middle of a large open valley, and are magical in the midst of the fog.
We then arrive for our first stop and which was my favorite spot over these two days: the Ma Pi Leng pass and the Tu San canyon in which a river flows. It was after this stop that I decided that the Ha Giang loop would definitely be in my top of the most beautiful things to experience in Asia.

My Pi Leng Pass – Yenh Minh

After this stop, we take the road to Ha Giang. We cross the village of Meo Vac, where it seems, it is very interesting to go on the day of the ethnic market. Then we continue to Yen Minh, where we have lunch in the same restaurant as the day before.

Yen Minh – Ha Giang

Although I had seen the landscapes before, I still noticed a million things that I had not noticed, rice fields that I had badly examined, a stream that I had missed ect. At the time, I was afraid that it would be a little boring to follow the same road but in fact, it was not. There is so much to see on this loop, the landscape is so varied, that I think you can do it 10 times and find new things to admire on the way with each passage.

The Ha Giang loop was therefore one of the best experiences I have had in Asia. During our itinerary in Vietnam, we followed the very classic path, from Hoi An to Hanoi via Tam Coc and Halong Bay and that lacked to my taste of authenticity and adventure. However, in Ha Giang, I had the impression of living a privilege, admiring landscapes still little exploited. The Ha Giang loop is inevitably becoming more and more famous and I think I was very lucky to have discovered it at the right time, as long as it is still a little preserved. If you go to Vietnam, I can therefore only advise you to go there very quickly, before it becomes the new Tam Coc! And if you want to discover my other articles on Asia, it’s here .

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