Experience of self-sufficient travel to Ha Giang in 2024

If you are fortunate enough to set foot in the northernmost region of Vietnam, you will easily realize that Ha Giang is not only home to the Ma Pi Leng Pass – one of the four great mountain passes of Vietnam but also the “stronghold” of the triangular circuit flower, and a place where you can immerse yourself in the famous Khau Vai love market. Because it is still quite wild and somewhat dangerous, you need to know some travel experiences in Ha Giang to explore them most vividly.

Table of Contents

What’s special about traveling to Ha Giang?

Ha Giang – a promised land captivating countless souls of wanderers, longing for a journey through its enchanting landscapes like those of fairy tales. Ha Giang – a place everyone desires to visit, to behold the allure of triangular circuit flowers, the hidden beauty of mountain passes, or to conquer the lofty peaks.

Ha Giang is famous for its treacherous mountain passes and dreamlike scenery.

Located in the northernmost region of Vietnam, Ha Giang is a renowned tourist destination, on par with Sapa and Hanoi. Here, the scenery enchants and mesmerizes, but it’s the beauty of the people, the culture, and the varied emotions that linger after the long journey.

Visiting Ha Giang, you’ll be captivated by its majestic and alluring mountains. Or in October to December, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in the faint fragrance and witness the purple hue covering the small villages. Ha Giang tourism also features the magnificent and splendid Ma Pi Leng Pass. Travelers often say, “To go to Ha Giang without conquering the Ma Pi Leng Pass is a failure.”

What else does Ha Giang have to offer? There are two most famous routes, where you’ll encounter new and adventurous experiences.

  • The Dong Van – Meo Vac Route: This route gathers attractions that will surely captivate you, including the northernmost point, the Ma Pi Leng Pass, Dong Van Ancient Town, and the highland markets.
  • The Hoang Su Phi – Xin Man Route: Where you’ll find the breathtaking terraced fields.

Perhaps the most enticing aspect of Ha Giang is renting a motorbike, gathering a group of friends who share the passion for travel and adventure, and riding along the winding mountain roads to fully embrace the beauty of nature.

The ideal time for a complete trip to Ha Giang

Honestly, true adventurers heading to Ha Giang never really think about the timing; they just feel the urge and go, without much consideration. They hear that this season the buckwheat flowers in Ha Giang are beautiful, so they set off. That’s the mindset of adventurers from the northern region. However, if you’re from the south or central regions, it’s better to learn a bit about the weather, the destinations, and what stands out in each season to plan ahead.

Traveling to Ha Giang in March

In March, Ha Giang can dazzle you with its countless shades of pink from peach and apricot blossoms blooming abundantly under the spring sun.

Cherry blossom season arrives in Ha Giang.

Exploring Ha Giang in April

In April, there’s still a lingering scent of cherry and apricot blossoms, but the Khau Vai Love Market festival is the highlight. As one of the biggest festivals of the year, it’s a chance for young men and women to meet, mingle, and even for couples separated by fate to chat and bond.

Ha Giang in May-June

Visiting Ha Giang during this season, you’ll find it irresistibly charming with waterfalls cascading down the terraced fields. It’s no longer just a scene in a picture; you can feel the coolness as you witness the waterfalls rushing down from the mountains, meandering through the small terraced fields, creating a vibrant scene. During this time, locals also start rushing to the fields to sow the first seeds for the next season, creating a bustling atmosphere.

Traveling to Ha Giang in September, October

A golden landscape emerges from September onwards, as the terraced fields start to ripen and burst with life. With such a breathtaking natural setting, merely observing isn’t enough; you have to smell and feel the gentle fragrance of the new rice to fully appreciate it.

Traveling to Ha Giang from October to December

The transitional period between October and November sees Ha Giang immersed in the purple hues of buckwheat flowers, covering the entire region in a tranquil and dreamy atmosphere. Flowers bloom everywhere, from the hillsides to the alleys, symbolizing the resilience and vitality of the people in this land.

Then comes December, the season of yellow mustard flowers, illuminating a corner of the sky. The tiny mustard flowers, bursting with vitality under the sun and wind, become a prominent highlight amidst the greenery of the mountains, creating a romantic and poignant space.

Travel experience in Ha Giang – 4 most common ways to explore

There are 4 common ways to travel to Ha Giang that most people choose:

  • Option 1: Travel by personal vehicle (motorbike or car)
  • Option 2: Take a bus from Hanoi to Ha Giang, then rent a motorbike/car for sightseeing and exploration.
  • Option 3: Join a motorbike tour from Hanoi
  • Option 4: Join a car tour from Hanoi

At DanangPrivateCar.com, we’ve had the opportunity to experience almost all of these transportation methods. However, determining which option is the best is extremely difficult because it varies from person to person – based on individual health, finances, personal needs, etc. Below, I will analyze the specific advantages and disadvantages of each option for you to consider.

Option 1: Self-driving by car/motorbike to Ha Giang

DanangPrivateCar.com has only one piece of advice for you: DO NOT choose this option if traveling by motorbike, as it can be extremely challenging and dangerous. Furthermore, the road from Hanoi to Ha Giang city is not particularly scenic, so traveling by motorbike doesn’t offer much excitement. Of course, except for those passionate about motorcycling and conquering challenging routes.

If you have a car for transportation, it’s a great suggestion because you can have full control over everything, especially the safety and assurance of the vehicle you use for the trip. Moreover, traveling by car allows you to carry more luggage. However, it’s crucial to ensure that the driver is experienced in long-distance driving, physically fit, and particularly knowledgeable about the route from Hanoi to Ha Giang.

Route guide from Hanoi to Ha Giang

Starting from Hanoi, there are two routes for you to choose from, and since the distance is nearly 300km, it will take about 6-7 hours to reach your destination.

  • Route 1: Via the Nội Bài – Lào Cai expressway: This route is relatively easy to travel, but it’s only suitable for cars, as motorcycles are not allowed.
  • Route 2: Via National Highway 32: This route is suitable for both motorcycles and cars. Although it may be a bit longer, around several tens of kilometers, it offers a smoother journey, making it safer and more convenient.

Option 2: Taking a bus to Ha Giang and then renting a motorbike/car

This is also the option I highly recommend you choose! This method saves a lot of time. Instead of spending 6 – 7 hours riding a motorbike, with this amount of time, you can take the opportunity to have a rest, for example, if the bus departs at 10 pm, you’ll arrive around 4-5 am. You’ll have enough time to arrange your belongings and start your journey on the same day. If you only have 2-3 days on the weekend, taking a bus is the most reasonable option.

Renting a car for Ha Giang tourism Personally, I prefer the type of sleeper bus because it’s comfortable, spacious, clean, private, and above all, safe. This type of sleeper bus has 22 high-class cabin beds, equipped with wifi, curtains, entertainment screens, and massage beds.

Option 3: Private car with driver from Hanoi to Ha Giang

This is also a very interesting option you may consider, as it provides both safety and a complete experience of the beautiful scenery.

With the private car rental service with a driver in Hanoi from VnCarRentals.com, it will be an excellent choice for your group, family, or a large group of people as it helps you save money as well as travel time. You won’t waste time looking for public transportation to get to the bus station. With our service, we will pick you up directly, and along the way, our professional drivers can also stop for rest breaks and sightseeing.

Book your trip from Hanoi to Ha Giang with our private car rental service today for the best journey.

Where to stay when traveling to Ha Giang?

According to the travel experiences of young backpackers, Dong Van and Meo Vac are two areas where you can find hotels and guesthouses that suit your preferences.

In Ha Giang, besides Dong Van and Meo Vac, which are the areas with the most hotels and guesthouses, Ha Giang City, Quan Ba, Yen Minh also have plenty of hotels, not inferior in number. In case you can’t find accommodation in the two mentioned areas, you can venture a bit further away, sometimes finding cheaper options.

Note: Room availability in Ha Giang is always limited, especially during holidays and festivals. Particularly from October to December, when buckwheat flowers bloom, almost all hotels and guesthouses are fully booked. Homestays with views of the buckwheat flowers are usually fully booked months in advance. Room rates during peak seasons are typically higher, but if you visit on normal days, it won’t be too expensive.

Travel to Ha Giang – should you stay in a hotel, guesthouse, or homestay?

You can choose to stay in a hotel or homestay depending on your preferences. If you’re traveling with a group of backpackers, to save costs, you might want to rent a guesthouse or homestay with rooms for a large group. On the other hand, if you’re traveling with family, including adults and young children, it’s better to go to Dong Van and stay in a hotel for a comfortable rest.

For groups of around 6-8 people who want to admire the triangular flower fields, it’s advisable to rent a homestay in the Lung Cu area, Dong Van, or in the town of Meo Vac. Some homestays have beautiful views of the flower fields, and you can imagine waking up every morning with the breeze blowing in. Opening your eyes to see a field of purple triangular flowers swaying in the wind is quite satisfying.

Suggestions for hotels, guesthouses, and homestays in Ha Giang

With the development of tourism, accommodation services in Ha Giang have also been gradually improving. Currently, there are hundreds, even more, hotels, guesthouses, and homestays with various styles and prices for you to choose from. Here are some suggestions:

  • Golden Jungle House: 39 Hai Ba Trung, Nguyen Trai, Ha Giang – Tel: 037 679 6999
  • Ha Giang Historic Hotel: 209 Minh Khai, Ha Giang City, Ha Giang – Tel: 0974 087 988
  • Homestay Ben Suoi Ha Giang: 50 Hai Ba Trung, Alley 12, Nguyen Trai Ward, Ha Giang City – Tel: 09144701033
  • Tay Village Homestay: Phuong Thien Commune, Ha Giang City Lan Huong Guesthouse: 31 Nguyen Trai, Ha Giang City – Tel: 0219 2211 172
  • Son Thuy Guesthouse: QL2 Phuong Thien, Ha Giang City – Tel: 0219 3868 861
  • Dao Lodge: Nam Dan, Quan Ba, Ha Giang

Ha Giang travel experience – must-visit destinations

Traveling to Ha Giang is similar to Sapa, with numerous beautiful places worth visiting. It’s challenging to explore everything in just one trip. With a 4-day 3-night itinerary, you can visit the hottest spots suitable for this timeframe, such as:

Ha Giang travel – conquering destinations for adventurers

The most amazing part of a trip to Ha Giang is probably riding a motorbike on winding, challenging mountain passes. It’s an unforgettable experience, a bit risky perhaps, but reaching the summit of a pass and looking back at the winding road can leave you awestruck.

Mountain passes

Ha Giang, with its hilly terrain, is famous for its many winding mountain passes that challenge even experienced drivers. If you’re an adventure enthusiast, you should conquer Tham Ma Pass, which twists and turns between two towering mountain ranges. Bac Sum Pass, located between Vi Xuyen and Quan Ba, takes you to the Dong Van rocky plateau, or Chín Khoanh Pass.

The Ma Pi Leng Pass road to Ha Giang

Especially, you can’t miss Ma Pi Leng Pass – one of the four great mountain passes in Vietnam, renowned for its treacherous route stretching over 20km. Ma Pi Leng is on the Happiness Road, connecting Dong Van and Meo Vac town. Ma Pi Leng is not only the most beautiful pass in Ha Giang but also the most challenging one for passionate adventurers.

Lung Cu Flagpole

Lung Cu Flagpole is located in Lung Cu commune, Dong Van, with an altitude of nearly 1,470m above sea level. This place is known as the northernmost point of the country, with significant importance for Vietnam. When you touch the fluttering red flag with a golden star, you’ll feel a sense of pride for the brave and resilient country.

The Lung Cu Flagpole has an elevation of up to 1,470 meters

Border milestone 428

Also located in Lung Cu commune, Dong Van, border milestone 428 is known as the Border Milestone, adjacent to Yunnan Province, China.

Traveling to Ha Giang – Captivating destinations that hold travelers’ feet

Hoang Su Phi

It’s true to say that Hoang Su Phi is most beautiful during the flooding season. In May, as locals rush to the fields to begin a new season. Then, by September, those once flooded fields transform into shimmering golden terraced rice fields ready for harvest.

Terraced fields in Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang

Sung La Valley

If you’ve been enchanted by the majestic scenery of Ma Pi Leng Pass, don’t miss Sung La – a small valley nestled amidst the rocky plateau. This place mesmerizes travelers with its lush mountain forests, vibrant green fields, and quaint roadside cottages. Sung La still preserves the authentic culture of ethnic minorities, with images of girls carrying baskets to pick vegetables or calmly weaving fabric.

Sung La Valley

Dong Van Old Quarter

Dong Van Old Quarter is famous for its well-preserved ancient houses with thick adobe walls. If you’re fortunate to visit during the full moon, you’ll witness a unique spectacle with lanterns adorning every corner of the old town.

The ancient town of Dong Van is home to just 40 households

Vuong Family Mansion

The Vuong Family Mansion, known as the King of the Hmong’s Palace, was built nearly a century ago. Constructing this unique mansion cost the owner 15,000 silver coins, equivalent to 150 billion VND today. To this day, the Vuong Family Mansion maintains its mysterious charm, nestled in a secluded valley, making it a worthwhile visit.

Yen Minh Pine Forest

Some call the Yen Minh Pine Forest the “Second Dalat” of Vietnam. As soon as you enter the pine forest, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a tranquil wilderness, where the air is incredibly refreshing, making you never want to leave.

Twin Mountains in Quan Ba

Another fascinating destination in Ha Giang is the Twin Mountains in Quan Ba. At first glance, the twin mountains resemble the rounded, ample bosom of a twenty-year-old woman.

These are just a few of the highlights that everyone loves about Ha Giang. Those planning to return for a second or third time can explore many other destinations to make their trip complete.

Traveling to Ha Giang and the most exciting experiences

Admiring the blooming buckwheat flowers across the hillsides

In Ha Giang, flowers bloom in every season, but December is the season of buckwheat flowers, a species whose name alone conjures up the beautiful land of Ha Giang. Every year, as October approaches, young men and women eagerly start planning their trips for the end of October to November to admire the beauty of this legendary flower.

Buckwheat flowers in Ha Giang

Do you know where the most beautiful place to admire buckwheat flowers is? It’s Sủng Là, everyone. Not only are there vast fields of flowers, but this place is also known as the “place where rocks bloom flowers,” symbolizing the vigorous and resilient life of the people in the highlands. Additionally, if you want to admire the panoramic view of buckwheat flowers, you should visit Lung Cu, Pho Bang, and Ma Pi Leng.

Going to the Market Fair in Ha Giang to Explore Local Culture

The market fair – a beauty of the highlands that you can’t miss when traveling to Ha Giang. Market fairs are where you can find all the beauty of the local culture, the people of the few ethnic groups living in the northern mountainous region. The market is a place where you will be immersed in the vibrant colors of clothing, of traditional fabrics. Whenever there’s a market fair, people flock from all around to exchange, trade the products of the mountains and forests.

The Sapa Love Market has existed for a long time, and its specific origins are not well-documented. However, it has been around for a considerable period and has become a part of the traditional way of life for the H’mong people

At market fairs like the fabric sewing market, Pho Cao market fair, or Meo Vac market fair, you will surely find specialties unique to the mountainous regions, perfect for buying as gifts. Not only are there hearty mountainous dishes like corn porridge, corn cakes, or mountainous fermented meat, but also simple products like a few kilograms of rice, a bunch of wild vegetables, or a bunch of bananas. All of this creates a beautiful, poetic, and colorful scene.

The market fair in Ha Giang is also where the distinctive characteristics of each ethnic group are shown, evident through the clothing they wear. When the market fair comes, everyone dresses up, choosing the most beautiful outfits for themselves. And it seems that people come here not just to trade, exchange what they have, but also to enjoy themselves, to meet and connect with others.

Admiring the Terraced Fields on the Hillsides

“The terraced fields” – a real-life painting amidst the mountains and sky of Ha Giang, is undoubtedly a destination that you – travelers passionate about tourism or nature lovers – would want to get closer to. Hoang Su Phi is one of the few places in Vietnam that possesses the most beautiful terraced fields.

Terraced fields in Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang

Every harvest season, around September or October, Hoang Su Phi seems to put on a new coat, and if you visit around June or July, the rice fields are still lush green. If you have the opportunity to visit here in October, you will have the chance to participate in the new rice ceremony. According to the Red Dao people, they believe that rice has a soul, and every harvest, there are scattered grains everywhere. They perform rituals to send these grains back.

Traveling experiences in Ha Giang: What delicious dishes and specialties are there for gifts?

What delicious dishes are there in Ha Giang?

Five-color sticky rice

The colors in the sticky rice are not from artificial coloring but are cooked from various forest leaves. Each leaf will be extracted for its color, so the sticky rice will have all 5 favorite colors.

Thang Co

Regarding its origin, this dish might sound a bit scary, but locals love it. They use the young gut of horses, and when cooked, Thang Co doesn’t have a strong smell, only a mild one. When you taste it, you’ll feel the aroma of herbs, lemongrass, and cardamom. In the cold Ha Giang afternoons, sipping a bowl of hot Thang Co is even more precious than the most exquisite delicacies.

Thang Co at Dong Van Market, Ha Giang

Buckwheat triangular cake

This type of cake is made from buckwheat seeds, and its taste is unique, not easily confused with any other kind of cake. According to Ha Giang travel experiences, this distinctive cake is often sold at local markets, priced from 10 to 15 thousand dong per piece.

Egg rolled rice cake

You can consider this dish as a breakfast specialty in Ha Giang. You know, the weather in the early mornings here is quite cold, so people often prefer hot dishes. Thus, they sit at stalls, wait for the rice cakes to cook, then add a thin layer of egg, roll it up, and it’s ready to eat. Interestingly, people here don’t eat it with sweet and sour fish sauce but with broth made from bones, which is very unique. You can find this dish in Dong Van Old Quarter, local markets, or in the city.

Meaningful specialties to buy as gifts when traveling to Ha Giang

Buffalo meat cooked on a wood stove

While buffalo meat cooked on a wood stove is considered a specialty of Ha Giang, it’s not exclusive to the region. Other provinces like Son La, Dien Bien, Hoa Binh, Lai Chau, and Lao Cai also have this dish. The flavor might vary slightly from place to place due to differences in local culinary styles. Therefore, if you have the chance to visit various provinces in the northern region, you can try and compare the taste of buffalo meat cooked on a wood stove in each place.

Even though buffalo meat cooked on a wood stove is a specialty of the northern mountainous region, it also appeals to the taste buds of people from other regions. The meat is hung over the stove, giving off a faint aroma of chili, pepper, ginger, and the savory scent of the meat itself.

Corn wine

April is the corn harvesting season in Ha Giang, making it the perfect time to produce corn wine. To make this fragrant corn wine, people select plump, evenly-shaped corn kernels to ensure the best flavor. Making corn wine requires a lot of time and effort, so buying this specialty as a gift for your loved ones to taste is a must.

Peppermint honey

Peppermint honey in Ha Giang is distinct from other types of honey because it has a sweet, refreshing taste combined with the aroma of mint. A liter of peppermint honey costs around 400,000 VND, but buying it directly from the harvesters might be cheaper. Therefore, when visiting Ha Giang, make sure to visit local markets or households to find some unique items to bring back home.

How many days are enough for traveling to Ha Giang?

Unlike Danang or Hue, if you only have one day to explore Ha Giang, it’s probably not enough. Ha Giang is quite vast, with tourist destinations spread out from Dong Van, Meo Vac to Yen Minh. Moreover, to truly experience Ha Giang, you must spend time visiting villages, immersing yourself in weekly markets to see the charm of this place.

According to DanangPrivateCar.com, you probably need at least 2 days and 3 nights for sightseeing and adventure in Ha Giang, which is quite reasonable, enough for you to visit several places. If you don’t have much time or find the motorcycle ride from Hanoi tiring, you should take a night bus the day before and arrive in the morning, which is just right to start your journey on the first day. Departure time is from Friday night, enjoy Saturday and Sunday, then take a night bus back on Sunday to arrive early Monday morning and head straight to work. If you feel rushed, you can request an additional day off for relaxation.

However, for professional adventurers, to have enough time to explore the beauty of this land, you should plan a 3-day, 4-night trip to Ha Giang. There are very few tourist areas in Ha Giang; mainly, it’s about exploring and experiencing. The most captivating aspect of Ha Giang is still its advantages of mountains, rivers, and terraced fields. If you visit at the end of November, you will see a vast sea of buckwheat flowers blooming stunningly, driving you crazy with their beauty.

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