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Ha Giang Travel Guide – Best time to visit Ha Giang, Vietnam

December 19, 2023
Ma Pi Leng pass, Ha Giang-02

Ma Pi Leng pass, Ha Giang

Ha Giang is a rugged and remote province in northern Vietnam, bordering China. It’s known for its breathtaking mountain scenery, ethnic minority villages, and adventurous activities like trekking and motorbiking. If you’re looking to get off-the-beaten-path in Vietnam, Ha Giang is an excellent choice.

So when is the best time to visit this mountainous region? Read on for everything you need to know about planning your Ha Giang trip.

Where is Ha Giang, Vietnam?

Ha Giang province is located in far north Vietnam, bordering China to the north, Cao Bang province to the east, Tuyen Quang and Yen Bai provinces to the west.

The provincial capital, also called Ha Giang, is around 320km north of Hanoi. It’s very remote and takes an 8-10 hour bus ride to reach from Hanoi.

Ha Giang has Vietnam’s northernmost point – Lung Cu flag tower sits right on the border with China.

The topography is very mountainous and home to the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. There are also highlands, limestone mountains, and dense forests. The landscapes look especially stunning viewed from Ha Giang’s winding mountain roads.

Some key destinations in Ha Giang province include:

  • Ha Giang city
  • Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark
  • Lung Cu flag tower
  • Ma Pi Leng pass
  • Nho Que river
  • Cao Bang province
  • Tuyen Quang province
  • Meo Vac district
  • Dong Van town
  • Yen Minh town

So in summary, Ha Giang borders China and is located in a very mountainous region of northern Vietnam. It offers incredibly scenic landscapes but is more remote and difficult to reach than other parts of Vietnam.

How is Ha Giang’s weather? When is the best time to visit Ha Giang?

Ha Giang province has a subtropical highland climate. This brings warm summers and bitterly cold winters.

There is a rainy season from May to September, with the heaviest rainfall in July and August. The winter months of December to February can get extremely cold in the mountains.

Here are the average temperatures in Ha Giang:

  • Winter (December-February): 5°C to 15°C (at lower elevations), below freezing at higher mountain elevations.
  • Spring (March-April): 15°C to 25°C, comfortable and not too hot.
  • Summer (May-August): 25°C to 35°C, very hot with high humidity and heavy rains.
  • Autumn (September-November): 15°C to 25°C, warm days and cooler evenings.

So when’s the best time to visit Ha Giang? The ideal months are March-April (spring) and September-November (autumn).

Why are spring and autumn the best times for Ha Giang travel?

During spring and fall, you get warm sunny days that aren’t too hot. This makes exploring Ha Giang’s mountains and nature more pleasant.

The cooler and drier weather also creates excellent visibility for enjoying Ha Giang’s famous mountain views and landscapes.

Spring and autumn avoid the heavy rains of the summer. Roads are less likely to get flooded or have landslides.

Temperatures dip below freezing in the winter mountains. During spring and fall, the weather is cooler but still comfortable enough for activities like trekking or motorbiking.

There are also fewer tourists in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall compared to summer and winter. So you’ll get to better experience Ha Giang’s raw natural beauty without crowds.

While spring and fall are ideal, the summer months (June-August) can still be a good time for adventurous travelers who can handle hot and humid weather. The lush green landscapes look beautiful and you’ll enjoy warmer conditions for swimming in waterfalls or rivers.

Just be prepared for intense heat, afternoon thunderstorms, and some travel delays from flooding/landslides if going in peak summer.

The winter months (December-February) bring very few tourists, pure blue skies, and a tranquil atmosphere to Ha Giang. However, bitterly cold weather in the mountains with below freezing temperatures can be challenging. Roads may be icy and certain high passes or treks may close.

But for off-the-beaten-path adventures, Ha Giang in the winter can be unforgettable if you come well-prepared with proper gear for cold weather exploration.

How to get to Ha Giang from Hanoi?

The journey to Ha Giang is part of the adventure. You have two main options to reach the provincial capital:

By Busses to Ha Giang

  • Most visitors take the sleeper bus from Hanoi’s My Dinh bus station to Ha Giang city.
  • The bus journey takes 8-10 hours depending on road conditions. Buses run daily and departure times are usually evening (around 18:00-22:00).
  • Booking bus tickets in advance, especially for peak seasons is recommended.
  • Prices range 250,000-300,000 VND per person.

By Private cars to Ha Giang

Hiring a private car and driver for a two day journey from Hanoi is another option, but more expensive than the bus. Benefits include flexibility in customizing your trip.

  • Total costs for a private car transfer from Hanoi range 100 USD/day depending on vehicle size and number of travelers.
  • Drive time is 7+ hours with stops along the way. An overnight midway in a city like Thai Nguyen breaks up the long drive.
  • Can customize route to visit highlights like Ba Be national park before reaching Ha Giang city.

By Motorbike

If you enjoy riding motorbikes and want to explore the beautiful landscapes, you can rent a motorbike in Hanoi and ride to Ha Giang. The route is around 320 kilometers and takes approximately 7-8 hours. Make sure to have proper safety gear and a valid driving license.

So in summary, sleeper buses offer the cheapest and most common way to reach Ha Giang province from Hanoi. For a private, flexible transfer, hire a car and driver but costs will be higher.

Either transport option provides an exceptionally scenic ride through northern Vietnam’s mountainous landscapes. Making the long journey part of the Ha Giang adventure!

Best things to do in Ha Giang

Once you arrive in the provincial capital, Ha Giang city makes an excellent base to explore Ha Giang province’s top attractions.

Here are among the best activities and things to do on a visit to Ha Giang:

1. Ha Giang motorbike loop

The epic Ha Giang motorbike loop is easily the most popular tourist activity. Riding this 300km circular route on a rented bike lets you take in all Ha Giang’s iconic mountain scenery.

Along the loop you’ll traverse high mountain passes, stunning valleys, limestone rock formations, colorful tiered rice terraces, and dizzying serpentine roads.

Highlights of Ha Giang motorbike loop:

  • Sung La Valley with towering limestone peaks
  • Heaven’s Gate mountain pass
  • Ma Pi Leng pass – Vietnam’s most beautiful road
  • Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark
  • Lung Khuy Cave
  • Nho Que river windey road
  • Valley of the Ho Chi Minh Road

Riding the loop yourself on a motorbike gives ultimate freedom. But joining a group tour is easier for navigating. Or hire a guide to show you the route if traveling solo.

This epic loop can be done in 2 days or stretched into 3-4 days with overnight stops in places like Dong Van or Meo Vac to explore the area further.

2. Stunning roads & mountain passes

Ma Pi Leng Pass

Ma Pi Leng Pass

Cruising along Ha Giang’s winding mountain roads featuring gorgeous vistas is an experience in itself. The roads passing through valleys and over the rocky peaks leave an unforgettable impression.

Some of the most beautiful roads and passes include:

  • Ma Pi Leng Pass – the most famous stretch of the Ha Giang Loop with nonstop views. This steep, narrow portion of mountain road boasts vistas over limestone karsts, rivers, and valleys not found elsewhere in Vietnam.
  • Heaven’s Gate – Photogenic mountain pass marked by an amazing layer cake rock outcrop and panoramic overlooks. Known as the entrance to Ha Giang province by road from the south.
  • Quan Ba Pass – Winds through a valley surrounded by double karst peaks called Twin Mountains. Stunning scenery leading into and out of the pass, especially at sunrise/sunset.

Virtually anywhere along the roads during the epic loop offer wondrous views. But these passes stand out as nature’s greatest roadside masterpieces you’ll want to admire.

3. Hoang Su Phi

Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang, Vietnam

Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang, Vietnam

Hoang Su Phi is one of Vietnam’s most beautiful and pristine regions perfect for trekking. It sits southwest of Ha Giang city in an incredibly remote mountainous area.

Towering limestone peaks, dense jungle forest, terraced rice fields, and cascading waterfalls characterize the scenery. Several ethnic minority tribes inhabit small villages scattered throughout the Hoang Su Phi mountains.

Top things to do in Hoang Su Phi include:

  • Hike to waterfalls like Dao Thinh with guide
  • Visit Black H’mong villages like Thon Tha, Lo Lo Chai
  • Explore abandoned French Villas
  • Relax in natural pools at the bases of waterfalls
  • Overnight homestay with ethnic minority family

The natural beauty, cascading waterfalls, rural villages, and unspoiled remote feel make Hoang Su Phi an essential region to see in Ha Giang province.

4. Best ethnic minorities markets in Ha Giang

One of the top attractions is experiencing the colorful hill tribe markets and villages found in the region. Some best places include:

  • Meo Vac Sunday Market – Fascinating ethnic minorities market happening every Sunday with over 30 different tribes. Features water buffalo and cow trading, traditional food & handicrafts. Great people watching!
  • Dong Van Market – Large Sunday market also in a scenic town with French colonial-era architecture in the karst plateau.
  • Yen Minh Market – Held every Sunday too featuring the Lo Lo ethnic people wearing beautifully embroidered headdresses and indigo clothing. Authentic cultural experience.

Visiting any of Ha Giang’s regular ethnic minority markets provides an insight into the unique cultures living in the mountains here. It’s like taking a step back in time seeing tribespeople barter and trade water buffalo amongst the lively markets while wearing traditional outfits.

5. Local minority villages

Thon Tha Village in Ha Giang

Thon Tha Village

For a more intimate cultural experience, consider an overnight village homestay. This allows visitors to see what daily life living in a remote tribal village is like.

Some top minority villages to visit in Ha Giang include:

  • Lo Lo Chai Village: Lo Lo Chai stands as a village worth visiting in Ha Giang, providing tourists with a distinctive cultural encounter. Situated merely one kilometer from the Lung Cu flag tower, it presents breathtaking views of Ha Giang’s landscapes and signifies Vietnamese authority over the northern border region. Presently, the village serves as the cultural hub for the commune, drawing interest from both local and international visitors.
  • Thon Tha Village: ThonTha village, home to the Tay ethnic minority, provides a serene and quiet atmosphere with traditional stilt houses overlooking rice fields and lush palm-covered hills. The picturesque scenery and deep cultural heritage are sure to captivate any visitors upon their arrival in the village.
  • Nam Dam Village: located approximately 50 kilometers from the city center of Ha Giang, is a must-visit pristine village in the region. It proudly preserves numerous cultural aspects, customs, and traditions specific to the Dao ethnic minority group in Ha Giang.
  • Du Gia Village: Like other villages in Ha Giang, Du Gia, home to the Tay and Hmong ethnic minority groups, is also appealing to tourists by its tranquil atmosphere. This land possesses majestic mountains, waterfalls, clear streams, and magnificent terraced rice fields.

Visiting local tribal villages lets you witness a more authentic side of Ha Giang’s minority way of life. Through homestays and community-based tourism, local families also earn income from providing this cultural experience.

6. Trekking in Ha Giang

The rocky limestone mountains make Ha Giang province a top trekking destination in Vietnam. Some epic hikes include:

  • Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark: This UNESCO Global Geopark offers various trekking routes that take you through marvelous karst formations, scenic valleys, and traditional ethnic villages.
  • Ma Pi Leng Pass: Trekking along the famous Ma Pi Leng Pass will reward you with breathtaking views of deep canyons, towering cliffs, and the Nho Que River snaking through the valley.
  • Hoang Su Phi Rice Terraces: Known for its enchanting rice terraces, Hoang Su Phi offers captivating trekking routes that allow you to witness the beauty of terraced fields and interact with local ethnic groups.
  • Lung Cu Flag Tower: Trekking to Lung Cu Flag Tower, the northernmost point of Vietnam, offers not only an exhilarating hike but also panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.
  • Thon Tha Village: Located near Dong Van, Thon Tha Village offers a unique trekking experience where you can immerse yourself in the local Hmong culture while discovering the stunning terraced fields and traditional houses.

Please note that trekking in Ha Giang can be physically demanding, so it’s important to be well-prepared, wear appropriate gear, and consider hiring local guides for a safe and enjoyable experience.

From day hikes to overnight peak climbs, Ha Giang offers awesome trekking terrain through tropical valleys and forests or up rocky summits. Guided routes possible for all skill levels.

7. Historical buildings

Here are a few historical buildings in Ha Giang:

  • Dong Van Ancient Town: Recognized as a national relic, Dong Van Ancient Town showcases traditional architecture and preserves the unique cultural values of the local ethnic communities. Walking through its narrow streets, visitors can admire old houses with traditional tiled roofs and wooden structures.
  • Vuong Palace: Also known as “Hmong King’s Palace,” the Vuong Palace is a must-visit historical attraction in Dong Van district. It was the residence of the Hmong ethnic king during the French colonial era. The palace stands out with its distinct blend of Chinese and Western architectural styles.
  • House of Hoang Su Phi’s Head: Located in Hoang Su Phi district, this historical building symbolizes the local governance during the feudal period. It features a traditional wooden structure and serves as a historical relic showcasing the cultural identity of the Tay ethnic group.

Although the province of Ha Giang is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, these historical buildings provide an insight into the region’s traditional architecture and cultural heritage.

8. Lung Cu flag tower

Lung Cu Flag Point, Ha Giang

Lung Cu Flag Point

Perched dramatically on a peak along Vietnam’s northernmost border with China stands the Lung Cu flag tower. This towering Vietnam flag overlooks rural China on one side and towards Ha Giang province on the other.

Visitors can climb the steps to the tower base for perfect photo ops. Seeing Vietnam’s border flag at this scenic outlook surrounded by mountains makes for an impactful experience.

The flag tower area also features gift shops, a ethnic Red Dao village, and former army bunkers to explore. It gets crowded with domestic tourists on weekends but offers an iconic Ha Giang sight.

9. Homestay experience

A homestay in Thon Tha Village

A homestay in Thon Tha Village

For cultural immersion with Red Dao, Black H’mong, or Tay minority tribes, an overnight homestay lets you become part of a local family. This hospitality income helps remote highland communities preserve traditions.

During homestays visitors can:

  • Sleep in traditional wooden stilt houses
  • Wear handmade ethnic minority clothes
  • Learn handicraft skills like embroidery or basket weaving
  • Share meals with the family
  • Join farming, harvesting activities in rice paddies
  • Play traditional musical instruments like khen flutes

Experiencing genuine local life through homestays in villages like Lung Tam or Thu Trung provides once-in-a-lifetime cultural insight plus scenic landscapes.

Best hotels & hostels in Ha Giang

Here are top-rated lodging options in Ha Giang province from cozy budget stays to nicer hotels with amenities:

  • Ha Giang Eco Backpacker Hostel – Popular hostel in Ha Giang city center with single & dorm beds. Offers breakfast, motorbike rentals, friendly staff.
  • Huy Hoan Hotel – Mid-range hotel with amazing city views from the balconies. Rooftop lounge, free breakfast & WiFi.
  • Dong Van Town Hotel – Nice newer hotel right in scenic Dong Van town center. Gorgeous karst plateau views from the rooftop cafe.
  • Hoang Ngoc Hotel – High-end luxury hotel set on a hilltop just outside Ha Giang city. Features an infinity pool with spectacular mountain vistas. Excellent service.

From backpacker dorms to sleek hilltop resorts, Ha Giang province offers diverse lodging options to match any budget and style!

What to Eat in Ha Giang

When hungry in Ha Giang, fuel up on delicious Vietnamese dishes plus some unique local delicacies. Here’s what to try:

  • Pho – Signature Vietnamese noodle soup. Ha Giang pho features clear broth with chicken or beef topped with loads of fresh herbs.
  • Corn wine – Strong local alcoholic drink distilled from fermented glutinous rice. Different flavors like thistle flower or plums infuse the liquor with fruit essence.
  • Sticky rice – Steamed glutinous rice cooked in bamboo pipes is common in meals and a tasty snack.
  • Grilled skewers – Street food grills serve seasoned meat, mushroom, or tofu sticks with peanut dipping sauce. Cheap, quick local snack.
  • Buckwheat flower cakes – Crispy fried savory cakes made from buckwheat flour and scallions. Iconic specialty of minority hill tribes.

Don’t miss washing down the spicy cuisine with a shot of fruity corn wine too!

Itinerary 3 days in Ha Giang

Planning a quick weekend or long weekend trip to Ha Giang? This flexible 3 day Ha Giang itinerary covers all the highlights:

Day 1: Arrive & Explore Ha Giang City

  • Morning bus from Hanoi arrives in Ha Giang mid-day
  • Check-in hotel & freshen up
  • Grab lunch at a local restaurant
  • Afternoon seeing Ha Giang city sights like old French buildings
  • Evening drinks watching sunset over city from a rooftop cafe

Day 2: Start Ha Giang Loop – Dong Van Karst Plateau

  • Pick up rented motorbike & embark on the famous loop
  • First stop Heaven’s Gate mountain pass for views
  • Continue riding past vistas of limestone outcrops
  • Spend afternoon seeing top attractions around Dong Van like old quarter
  • Overnight Dong Van to further enjoy the area

Day 3: Finish Ha Giang Loop – Return to Hanoi

  • Early morning sunrise at iconic Lung Cu flag tower by the China border
  • Finish epic Ha Giang loop with country’s best mountain road Ma Pi Leng Pass
  • Stop to see minority hill tribe villages and rice terraces along the way
  • Return motorbike in Ha Giang city late afternoon
  • Evening bus back to Hanoi after an action-packed 3 days

This is just a suggested fast-paced itinerary for Ha Giang province. Additional days would allow seeing more remote sights like Hoang Su Phi or the epic trek to Mount Fansipan.

But this three day tour hits the most beautiful sections along the can’t-miss Ha Giang motorbike loop route. Witnessing the Heaven’s Gate pass, conquesting Ma Pi Leng road, and reaching the China border Lung Cu flag tower will create an unforgettable northern Vietnam memory!

Ha Giang Travel Tips

To make the most of your Ha Giang adventure, keep these need-to-know travel tips in mind:

1. Recommended days to stay

Most visitors take 2-4 days to ride the scenic Ha Giang loop. But additional time lets you go deeper exploring isolated areas like Hoang Su Phi.

Here’s a breakdown of suggested durations:

  • Quick Weekend Trip – 2-3 Days Covers Ha Giang city sights plus highlights of the loop like Dong Van, Lung Cu, Ma Pi Leng Pass. Return to Hanoi.
  • 1 Week Trip – 5-7 Days Complete full Ha Giang Loop with extra time for side trips to minority markets, villages, contact nature destinations like Hoang Su Phi region.
  • 2+ Week Extended Trip – 10-14+ Days See the entire province in depth: Ha Giang loop, remote Hoang Su Phi, Ban Gioc waterfalls, cavern caves, and attempt Fansipan summit trek. Or just take it slow enjoying valleys & roads.

Ha Giang’s remote location means just getting there requires a long journey. Attempting to see it quickly in 1-2 days would mean very long days rushed sightseeing.

Plan at least 3-5 days to properly experience Ha Giang’s gorgeous landscapes, adventurous roads, and vibrant cultural immersion.

2. Where to go next?

From Ha Giang province, popular next stops in northern Vietnam include:

  • Ba Be National Park – Pristine nature destination with scenic combination of mountains, forests, and the stunning Ba Be Lakes. Lots of boating, hiking, and outdoor fun. Overnight boat tours are excellent. Ecolodges available.
  • Cao Bang – Rugged, untouched province to the east of Ha Giang near the Chinese border. More off-the-beaten-path adventuring and landscapes await without the tourists.
  • Mai Chau – Idyllic valley a few hours south of Hanoi where you can bike through small villages, rice paddies, and stay overnight in traditional stilt houses run by the White Thai ethnic minority group.
  • Sapa – Former French hill station town renowned for epic treks amongst rice terraces and overnights in hill tribe villages inhabited by Black Hmong people in colorful dress. More touristy than Ha Giang but still very scenic.

Ha Giang works well combined with any of these other northern Vietnamese destinations to maximize your time seeing a diversity of highlights.

3. Ha Giang with kids

While very adventurous, Ha Giang offers plenty of family-friendly experiences too like:

  • Boating tours down the Nho Que River
  • Easy nature walks through hill tribe villages
  • Trying unique traditional foods at lively markets
  • Interacting with animals like water buffaloes up close
  • Learning local musical instruments like khen flutes

Most homestays and hotels also accommodate children. And being carried on the back of a parent’s motorbike allows kids to intimately see gorgeous scenery along Ha Giang’s roads.

So don’t rule out Ha Giang for a family trip! With the right balance of activities, kids can absolutely enjoy the culture and landscapes.

4. Language

Vietnamese is the main language. Ha Giang has many ethnic minority tribes who speak their own native dialects.

Among hotel staff and other tourist industry workers, English is often limited. Knowing some key Vietnamese phrases helps greatly for menus, directions, transactions, etc. Google Translate app aids communication also in lieu of Vietnamese fluency.

Expect mainly Vietnamese, limited English use in more rural areas away from Ha Giang city.

5. What to bring

Essential items to pack for your Ha Giang trip include:

  • Light jacket – Gets cool riding a motorbike all day
  • Raincoat – Afternoon tropical showers common even in dry season
  • Face mask – Protects from road dust / sun
  • Hat – Shields from the intense mountain sunlight
  • Hiking shoes – For light trekking through villages and trails
  • Powerbank/portable charger – For keeping devices charged, electricity access limited
  • Offline Maps – Enable GPS navigation in remote areas without cell service
  • Southeast Asian power adapters if coming from abroad

Bring proper clothing for the season, but be prepared with layers and rain protection as mountain weather fluctuates.

A hat, face mask, sunglasses and sunscreen are vital for motorbiking under high UV exposure all day.

And have offline navigation maps available for when deep in the countryside without mobile data.


Here are quick answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about traveling in Ha Giang province:

Is Ha Giang safe for tourists? Yes! While remote, Ha Giang sees growing tourism yearly and has good tourist infrastructure along main sightseeing routes. Solo female travelers are common too. Practice the usual Vietnam travel precautions.

When is rainy season? Peak rainfall happens May-September, especially mid summer. Expect hot, humid weather with occasional heavy downpours. Landslides can disrupt travel during storms. March-May sees fewer tourists, affordable prices if you don’t mind some rain.

Can you drive in Ha Giang without a license? Yes. Foreigners and locals alike can legally rent motorbikes in Ha Giang without a permit. No license or prior experience required. Take things slow since mountain roads have sharp curves, steep drops and occasional reckless drivers.

Is Ha Giang wheelchair accessible? Unfortunately no. The entire province is very mountainous without wheelchair accommodating infrastructure. Treacherous roads require able bodies for self-driving. Altitude could also cause issues. But car tours with help navigating between sights may allow appreciating landscapes. Chat with your hotel about potential assistance available.

Can you pay with credit cards? Bring plenty of cash! While top hotels may accept plastic, most lodging, restaurants and activities are cash-based with Vietnamese Dong preferred over US Dollars. Some ATMs can be found in Ha Giang city but won’t work elsewhere. Exchange currency upon reaching town to cover all bases. Apps like Google Pay won’t work up here either!


That sums up everything to know for an incredible trip in Vietnam’s northernmost Ha Giang province!

From the stunning loop roads to vibrant markets and inimitable cultural immersion, Ha Giang delivers unforgettable travel experiences found nowhere else.

Journey through this remote tropical alpine region for an adventure to remember among sky-high karst peaks, winding rivers and colorful hill tribes.

Just be sure to time your travels for the ideal conditions of spring or autumn. Then prepare for an utterly epic motorbike journey traversing Vietnam’s most jaw-dropping mountain landscapes in unmatched Ha Giang!