I have been to Ha Giang with my Vivutravel’s team last year and I was absolutely overwhelmed by the majestic beauty of this mountainous province. If you’re in Hanoi and wondering whether a trip to Ha Giang is worth it, you should read this blog! Here are 7 of my best travel experiences in Ha Giang that I am truly excited to share! For more information about Ha Giang overview, how to get to Ha Giang from Hanoi, when is the best time to visit Ha Giang, what to see in Ha Giang, What to eat , what to do, and so on, please check out my review about Ha Giang from A to Z as following.
1/ Ha Giang Overview
Have you heard about Ha Giang when you travel Vietnam? Or Do you know where is Ha Giang? It is very easy to search Ha Giang on Google Map. This province is located in the Northeast and it is the North Pole of Vietnam. It is far 300km from Hanoi and takes 6 hours to drive. The East of Ha Giang borders Cao Bang province, the West borders Yen Bai and Lao Cai provinces, the South borders Tuyen Quang province, the North borders China.
Like Sapa, Ha Giang is also home of many different ethnic people living here, including the Viet, Tay, Dao and H’mong, etc., with many customs, traditional cultures and lively festivals making Ha Giang become an attractive place for tourists. Besides, Ha Giang has a unique landscape of a mountainous province with many rocky mountains, dangerous but majestic pass, and stunning rice terraced field. That is why Ha Giang is a great place to visit in Vietnam to experience the rural way of living.
Children in Phuong Do commune, Ha Giang
2/ How to get Ha Giang from Hanoi?
You can get Ha Giang by road only because there is no airport and train station in Ha Giang. The highway up to Ha Giang is in fairly good condition so you can easy to get Ha Giang by motorcycle or by bus/coach.
By Motorcycle: If you like adventure, head to Ha Giang on your own motorbike or you can take a bus to Ha Giang city then rent a motorbike there. You can rent motorcycle at hotels with price about 120,000-200,000vnd/ day.
By Bus/Coach: There is also an overnight option by bus/coach. You can buy the ticket at My Dinh station or directly at Noi Bai airport if you fly from Ho Chi Minh or Danang. There are many Buses preserving the route from My Dinh ( Mỹ Đình) bus station to Ha Giang: Bang Phan (Bằng Phấn), Hung Thanh (Hưng Thành), Hai Van (Hải Vân), etc. The price from VND 300,000 – VND 400,000/ticket.
By private car: For safe, flexibility and enjoying the beauty of scenery along the journey, you should rent a private car with driver. Contact Vivutravel to get the best cost of transportation because our drivers have many experiences to drive in the mountain region. The cost of private car with driver is around 200usd-300usd for 2 or 3 days.
When is the best time to visit to Ha Giang?
Ha Giang is beautiful all year round, however, in each season, Ha Giang has a particular beauty.
Red silk cotton trees in full bloom along Nho Que river on Mar
Jan – Apr: Spring season: can see the peach blossom, plum blossom, yellow rape flowers and many festivals. Especially, if you visit Ha Giang on March, you can see the red silk cotton trees in full bloom along Nho Que river. The weather is still cold so you should bring warm clothes.
May - Jun: Can see pouring water season, the weather is warm or quite hot.
July - Aug: rainy season, storms and floods.
Sep – Oct: Autumn season, harvest time. This is the best time to see rice terraces in Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang.
Oct – Dec: The weather is colder and this is the time of buckwheat flower – the symbolic flower of Ha Giang
Except July and August, you can visit Ha Giang at any time. From Sep – Nov, many domestic tourists will come to Ha Giang to see the rice fields and Buckwheat flower, you should not to visit Ha Giang at weekends to avoid crowd.
3/ Top best places in Ha Giang you should not miss!
Ha Giang has many tourist attractions like: Hoang Su Phi, Quan Ba Twin Mountain, Dong Van Ancient Town, Ma Pi Leng pass, H’mong King Palace, Lung Cu flag, etc. In this blog, I will list all places in geographical order from Hanoi - Ha Giang - Quan Ba - Dong Van - Meo Vac.
Ban Phung village in Hoang Su Phi (Sep 2020)
Hoang Su Phi: From Hanoi, you will drive to Ha Giang province and turn left at Tan Quang town to go to Hoang Su Phi (55km, 2 hours) and turn right to get Ha Giang city (45km, 45 minutes). Like Mu Cang Chai (Yen Bai) and Sapa (Lao Cai), Hoang Su Phi attracts visitors by the beauty of many rice terraced fields. There is no hotel or resort in Hoang Su Phi but the homestays or bungalows are very clean, quiet and worth to experience. You can overnight at homestay at Ban Phung Village, Ban Luoc village, or Nam Hong village. Panhou Ecolodge and Hoang Su Phi Lodge are the 2 best places to stay in Hoang Su Phi if you prefer luxury accommodations. Contact Vivutravel to be offered the best rate.
Ha Giang city: after visit Hoang Su Phi, you have to come back the road to continue to Ha Giang city. In Ha Giang city, there is no much more thing to do or to see, just a stopover if you want to overnight after a long journey from Hanoi (300km). There are 2 biggest hotels in Ha Giang are Ha Giang resort 3 stars and Phoneix Ha Giang hotel 4 stars. If you want to visit something near Ha Giang city, you can go to Phuong Do commune to visit some ethnic villages like: Thon Tha village, Ha Thanh villages. You also can overnight at homestay here. In Ha Thanh village, you can see the traditional dance by the elder Tay People. The cost is around 45usd/show.
Quan Ba Twin Mountain
Quan Ba Twin Mountain ( Fairy twin mountain): From Ha Giang city, you will go 50km to get Quan Ba Heaven Gate and visit Co Tien (Fairy) Twin Mountain - a famous landmark in Quan Ba, located on the road from Ha Giang city to Dong Van. Coming here, visitors have the opportunity to admire the art of the nature given to this land. Visitors should climb to the top of mountain to have a nice view to see the twin mountain. It takes about 15-30 minutes.
Nam Dam Village: after visit Quan Ba Twin Mountain, you can visit Nam Dam village of Tay people (about 4km from Quan Ba). Visitors coming to Nam Dam could walk around the village, enjoy beautiful view of the village with the high mountains and the lovely terraced fields, houses of earthen walls gleamed in the sun. If you prefer to stay at homestay, you can consider staying at Nam Dam’s traditional houses. The houses' walls are built from compacted soil to make it cool in summer and warm in the winter, protecting the people here from inclement weather in the high mountains. With fully equipped facilities and equipments, the homestays will make visitors feel happy and comfortable.
Nam Dam’s traditional houses
Yen Minh Pine Forest: Yen Minh pine forest is about 20 km from Quan Ba town. This is a beautiful pine path and it was said that Yen Minh pine forest is “Dalat version 2″ in the Northeast Homeland. If you have enough time, you can stop to visit the forest and take photos, if not you can skip it.
Tham Ma Pass (Pho Cao Pass): After visit Quan Ba Heaven gate, you can head to visit Tham Ma pass (60km, about 1h45’) if you don’t have much time. Tham Ma is a slope with many bends connecting Yen Minh and Pho Cao Town. This is also the gate that takes visitors to the Dong Van Plateau. Even though they challenge the riders, but in return, they’ll be rewarded with the stunning perspectives when viewing those passes. There are many ethnic children wearing flower baskets behind their backs here. You can ask them to take photos if they agree and give them some pens/books/or school things, not candy, not money.
Pho Bang (Phó Bảng) Town: rom Tham Ma pass, you will go about 4-5km more and turn left to see Pho Bang Town. Tourists often skips this place or might be not know about the town because they will go straight from Quan Ba – Yen Minh – Sung La – Dong Van. But the town is extremely worth to see if you are not hurry. Pho Bang which was called ” forgotten ancient town” is hidden between the centuries-old limestone mountains. Life here is slow, gentle but simple. The houses are made with ancient colors, mixed with a hint of red and yellow, and discoloration with the years. It is hard to imagine that this tiny town was once the capital of the entire region. Here, there are only two main streets and dozens of clay houses with tiled roofs and walls and doors decorated with ancient parallel sentences in Chinese.
Vivutravel's client at Pao's House
Pao’s house (Lung Cam village): "Pao's house" today belongs to Lung Cam village, Sung La commune, about 10km from Tham Ma Pass. Lung Cam Village is the shared living place of three ethnic groups: Mong, Han, and Lo Lo. The main entrance to the village is now paved with clean concreted road running pass spacious fields. Pao's house, which was once the shooting scene of a famous Vietnamese movie, is now a must-see destination in Ha Giang province. The house is home to typical upland architectures, ethnic minority people's simple way of life, and humble locals.
The Palace of Vuong family ( H’mong King Palace): The H’mong King’s Palace is considered a gem of the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang, and is a popular tourist destination besides the Dong Van Stone Plateau. Lying some 130 kilometres of Ha Giang Town to the north, the century-old palace is still the largest construction in the area and boasts special architecture style.
Me in Lung Cu 2019
Lung Cu Flag Pole: Lung Cu flagpole, marking the country’s extreme north, is a popular tourist destination that inspires a deep sense of pride in Vietnamese. From a distance, Lung Cu is a spectacular sight with the view dominated by giant boulders and the national flag flying above Dragon Mountain. Visitors can stop to visit Lo Lo Chai village near Lung Cu. The village has homestays if clients want to overnight here. If you have enough time, you can drive about 4-5km to see the North Pole of Vietnam by asking the local people.
Dong Van Ancient Town: Dong Van ancient town is a major tourist attractions of Ha Giang. Dong Van town lies in the middle of the valley with four rocky mountains. The old town has 40 rooftops nestled under rocky mountains. The houses in Dong Van ancient town were built quite strange from wood, earth and stone with unique architecture. Visitor can stop at Dong Van town to eat and overnight. If you prefer hotels, you can book hotels (see the list of hotels in the end of this blog). In Dong Van town, you can see the ethnic market opened on Sundays only. At night, you can enjoy coffee or go shopping.
Trekking route in Ma Pi Leng pass
Ma Pi Leng pass (Meo Vac): From Dong Van town, you can visit Ma Pi Leng pass – 10km from the town. Ma Pi Leng Pass is not long but it is the most dangerous pass in the northern border mountain area. Over the Ma Pi Leng, there has a mountain with 2.000 meters height located on the "Happiness road" connecting Ha Giang, Dong Van and Meo Vac town. Ma Pi Leng began building from the 60s of the 20th century by workers who almost are the H'mong people. The road along the mountainside has romantic, spectacular scenery that is ideal destination for tourists. If you just sit on the car, stop on the road, you cannot enjoy the beauty of the pass. You should stop at Ma Pi Leng Museum then trek to the mountain. The road is easy to walk and you can see many local children on the both sides. See the Nho Que river from the top, you is definitely overwhelmed.
Nho Que river: Nho Que River is known as one of the most beautiful rivers of Vietnam. Nestled between the mountains with green water, from the top, Nho Que river is like a soft green silk ribbon among mountains. Recently, the local people in Ta Lang village have organized the boat trip tour along the river. You have to take a motorbike “Xe Om” or walk down to meet the boat dock. It takes about 1.5 hours – 2 hours for the trip. If you visit the river on March, you can see the red silk cotton trees in full bloom along Nho Que river.
Boat trip on Nho Que river
Meo Vac town: someone like Meo Vac but in my opinion, you should stop your trip in Dong Van because the accommodation in Meo Vac is limited and it is quite boring at night. Just sleep and nothing to do.
4/ What to eat/drink in Ha Giang?
Ha Giang does not have many specialties like others but if you go to Ha Giang, don’t forget to try Thang Den, Buckwheat cake, five-color sticky rice and black chicken hotpot.
Buckwheat cake: Buckwheat cake is made from the seeds of Buckwheat tree. The cake is soft and has pungent flavor of the tree. Enjoying a grilled buckwheat cake in the winter is so attractive.
Thang Den (Thắng Dền): Thang Den looks like the dish of floating cake in Hanoi. It is made of sticky rice flour with the filling peas. Flour will be kneaded into sphere shapes and boiled in a hot pot of water. The dish is coated with a sprinkling of sugar with an extra sweet kick of coconut milk.
Five-color sticky rice: Five-color sticky rice which converges not only the traditional values but also the beautiful meaning of human livelihood. This dish is made from rice that has 5 different colors; red, yellow, green,purple and white.
Dinner at homestay in Ha Giang
5/ Where to stay in Ha Giang? Hotels and Homestays in Ha Giang.
In Ha Giang, you can stay at hotel in Ha Giang city or Dong Van Town. Beside, you can stay at homestay (the stilt house or private room) or guesthouse.
List hotels in Ha Giang:
Phoneix Ha Giang Hotel 4*
Ha Giang Historic House3*
Truong Xuan Ha Giang resort 3*
Hoa Cuong Dong Van hotel 3*
Lam Tung Dong Van Hotel 2*
Truong Anh Dong Van hotel 2*
Guesthouse: available at Ha Giang city, Yen Minh, Dong Van or Meo Vac
Homestay in Ha Giang:
Homestay in Phuong Do commune (Thon Tha village, Ha Thanh village)
Homestay in Nam Dam village
Homestay in Lung Cu
Homestay in Dong Van
Homestay in Meo Vac
Homestay in Hoang Su Phi
6/ What to do in Ha Giang? Ha Giang tour packages?
Ha Giang is famous for adventure tours. If you have enough healthy and love adventure, you can do a motorcycle tour in Ha Giang in 3-4 days. The road in Ha Giang is not really too hard to go at all. You should be careful and have insurance for sure. Beside, you can rent a private car with driver to explore Ha Giang for safe and to avoid too tired.
Things to do in Ha Giang:
- Experience with homestays
- Trekking to visit rice terraces in Hoang Su Phi
- Trekking to visit Ma Pi Leng Pass and Nho Que river along mountains
- Enjoying the boat trip along Nho Que river
- Visit the ethnic market on Sunday in Dong Van
- Taking photos along the road
- Talking with the minority groups
- Enjoying coffee at Ma Pi Leng pass
Rice Terraces in Hoang Su Phi
Ha Giang tour packages: if you want to book tours in Ha Giang, you can plan your trip in 3 days or more. You also can combine with Sapa, Bac Ha ethnic market, Ba Be lake or Ban Gioc waterfall. It is also called the Vietnam Northeast tour - very interesting.
Hanoi - Ha Giang 2 days 1 night: too rush (not advise)
Hanoi - Ha Giang 3 days 2 nights
Hanoi - Ha Giang 4 days 3 nights
Hanoi - Sapa - Ha Giang 6-7 days
Hanoi - Ha Giang - Ban Gioc waterfall 6-8 days
Hanoi - Sapa - Ha Giang - Ba Be lake - Ban Gioc waterfalls 10-15 days.
How to take a boat on Nho Que river:
There are several ways to take a boat on Nho Que river but I’ve figured out that the way below is the most straightforward.
Firstly, book a boat by calling one of the boat owners below. (Make sure you ask someone to help you speak Vietnamese with them or it's easy to book with travel agent).
Mr Diep: 0865040992/ Mr Dai: 0964426017/ Ms Hoa: 0865818268 / 0856769000
Next, if you go by motorbike from Dong Van Old Town Market, take the main road to a place called “Lối xuống bến thuyền Tà Làng – sông Nho Quế” on Google Maps. Then, search Google Maps the way from there to “Bến thuyền hẻm Tu Sản”, which is the boat station where you can board a boat to explore the beautiful Nho Que river.
Me in the North Pole (Lung Cu)
7/ Some notes when traveling to Ha Giang:
- Check Ha Giang weather forecast well before you travel to Ha Giang. Usually there is light rain in September-October and there can be storms during the summer months. In January and February, thick fog can make it dangerous to drive here.
- Bring along your passport! Foreigners occasionally get their identity checked when travelling near Vietnam’s border.
- Foreigners are also required to apply for a permit when travelling to Ha Giang. The cost is 230 000 VND. Hostel / hotel staff in Ha Giang can help you arrange this. Otherwise, you can visit the immigration office in Ha Giang city (415A Tran Phu St.) to obtain this permit.
- A three-day trip is not enough to truly feel the essence of Ha Giang. Four or more days is the best.
- Make sure that you bring enough cash. Credit card is not acceptable and it is hard to find ATM.
- Don’t forget to bring these things such as raincoat, extra socks, sturdy footwear/riding boots, mosquito repellent, etc.
I wish you will have a great trip to Ha Giang, and as always, I would love to hear your own experiences when travelling here. If you need any information or want to book any tour in Ha Giang, please do not hesitate to contact me via Vivutravel.
By Lan Nguyen