An Immersive Ha Giang Loop Travel Guide

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Things to know about Ha Giang Loop Vietnam

What is Ha Giang Loop?

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Ha Giang Loop is a famous challenging trail leading to the north pole of Vietnam’s mainland. The landscape is featured by a majestic landscape of undulating mountain ranges and arduous bending paths. Freely venturing on roads and admiring the awe-inspiring landscape is the unique feeling when you explore Ha Giang Loop. As a remote region in northern Vietnam. Ha Giang Loop is also home to many minority ethnic groups such as Pa Then, Lo Lo, H’Mong, Giay, etc. You can make stops and visit local villages to intermingle with locals to learn about their life and culture. 

Ha Giang Loop weather

The weather in Ha Giang Loop typically comprises 4 main seasons spring, summer, fall and winter like the northern parts of Vietnam. Ha Giang Loop is situated in Ha Giang mountainous Province where you can spot the north pole of Vietnam. The typography is mainly high mountains with average ranges from 800 - 1200m (2,624 - 3,939 feet). Ha Giang Loop features many mountains which are over 2,000m (6,560f) above sea level. The temperature in Ha Giang is from 20 - 25 Celcius (68 - 77F). In the hottest months June and July, the temperature can reach 40 Celsius degrees (100F). In contrast, the coldest months January and February can go down to 2 Celsius degrees (35.6F) only.

Best time to do Ha Giang Loop

The best time to travel to Ha Giang Loop are April, May, August, September, October and November when the weather is sunny and moderate. This offers the clear and most beautiful landscape of the season. In April and May, all terraced fields in Ha Giang are flooded with water from upstream that reveal a charming view. When trekking in Ha Giang Loop in August and September, travelers are treated with a mesmerizing view of yellow rice fields. After harvesting the main crop of the year, local people in Ha Giang cultivate a buffer crop with maize and local Tam Giac Mach. You will find pinkish Tam Giac Mach fields when traversing on winding trails in Ha Giang Loop during Oct and Nov.

However, Ha Giang Loop is beautiful and kind to travelers all year around. The landscapes in Ha Giang Vietnam are different seasonally which offers travelers very unique experiences. It’s why Vietnamese, especially the young, make a couple of trips to Ha Giang to admire different scenes. Of course, Ha Giang Loop is picturesque all year around.
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The green and idyllic mountains in Ha Giang are colorfully decorated with pinky and reddish peach followers in spring. When summer comes, Ha Giang Loop landscapes are more greenish and luxuriant. It’s also the period with highest rainfall in the year; then all the terraced rice fields are full of water. From afar, these fields are like coated mirrors with reflection of sun beams, the sky and the mountain. Local people start cultivating their crops in summer; thereafter all the greenish terraced rice paddies turn yellow in fall. Visitors are amazed and awe-inspired by the mesmerizing view of paddy rice fields in Ha Giang Loop. By the end of the year, the weather in Ha Giang Loop decreases significantly down to just around 2 Celsius degrees (35.6 F). The mountains remain majestic in the more misty air. Travelers do enjoy the feeling of taking local rice wine and hotpot in this type of weather. 

How to get to the Ha Giang Loop

Ha Giang city is the gateway leading to Ha Giang Loop where tourists make their way to this charming capital city of Ha Giang Province first. The traveling distance from Hanoi to Ha Giang city is 320km (198.5 miles) taking 6 driving hours. From the 0 milestone, the beginning point of the 2nd national highway in Vietnam, you will enter the loop.

People go with different choices to traverse the loop depending on their interest. While the young people prefer adventure by renting motorbikes from Ha Giang City, some go with driver and private cars. There are local buses transferring locals to these places and you can join as well. The rates are reasonable but the itinerary is popular and less flexible. Private traveling group is more convenient because there are many fantastic viewpoints and villages en route for you to stop by.

Ha Giang Loop Map

Ha Giang Loop is a large area and much less populated. Therefore, a map of the loop is an essential part of the travel guide to Ha Giang Loop. Despite it’s easy to spot the main things in Ha Giang Loop, the most important thing to keep in mind is driving distances between stops. As there are no city lights in Ha Giang Loop’s trails, the weather gets dark quickly in the evening and is not safe for driving. Therefore, you need to manage your Ha Giang Loop itinerary well to reach the town before it’s too dark to drive. 

Refer below maps of Ha Giang Loop route for your references.  

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Top 10 Things to do in Ha Giang Loop On Your Trip There and Back Again

1. Ha Giang City and surrounding villages

Despite being the entrance to Ha Giang Loop, this city situated next to Lo River which is an attribute of Mekong River, is an atmospheric city. Different from big cities in delta regions, Ha Giang City is embraced by mountain ranges which grant us a cooler climate. 

It’s like the center hub gathering typical local specialties for your exploration. There are many local restaurants and big center markets that introduce authentic delicious Ha Giang delicacies and local products. This province shares a border with China where you also find imported products from Vietnam’s neighbor as well. Despite the crowds stopping by for a short time to check-in the milestone Km 0 in Ha Giang City, there are exciting local places to experience as well as visit tranquil local villages. 

What to see in Ha Giang City?

Milestone Km 0 - Ha Giang City

This spot is the iconic symbol showing that you are in Ha Giang City, the northernmost province of Vietnam. This place might be the stamp proving the accomplishment of an incredible journey. Finding this milestone in Ha Giang City, you just move straight forward to reach the Ha Giang Loop.

Ha Thanh and Thon Tha hamlet

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Ha Thanh hamlet is nearly 10 km (6 miles) from Ha Giang City center. These villages are home of Tay people whose stilt houses are covered with palm leaves roofs. The hamlet of Ha Thanh preserves authentic culture of Tay ethnicity. There housing original architecture is kept intact. Tay people also carry on their weaving traditional handicraft making nice bags, costumes, handkerchief and so on. From Ha Thanh, you also can make your hike to tranquil Thon Tha Hamlet.

Cao Bo 

Cao Bo Commune, 32 km (19.8 miles) from Ha Giang City, is the land of hundred ancient tea in Vietnam. Shan Tuyet is among the most tasty tea categories in Vietnam with pleasant scent and honey yellow color. There are tea trees which are up to 20m high and are roughly 500 years old. Hiking around the villages, you shall admire the picturesque landscape of the mountains, learn more about the tea plantation as well the tribe villages of Dao and Tay groups.

Nam Dam

Nam Dam commune is around 45km (28 miles) in the south-west of Ha Giang City which is on the way from Hanoi to Ha Giang. This village of 459 ha is the residing land of the Dao ethnic group who live in clay houses. Nam Dam currently  becomes a community of tourism where locals begin providing homestay for travelers. Your hiking in Nam Dam Ha Giang introduces the stunning mountains and clouds, terraced rice field, Nam Dam Lake, the 

Ha Giang Market

Ha Giang City's market is a big one with plentiful types of goods. You can find fruits, vegetables, regional produce, rare Chinese medicine ingredients, and clothes. It’s also a nice place to observe trading of goods and get some souvenirs as well.

2. Quan Ba Ha Giang

Quan Ba District, on the 4C route, is normally the first point of the Ha Giang Loop itinerary. It’s located around 60km (37 miles) from Ha Giang City, taking a 1.5 hour drive. This district spreads over 553,7sqkm (213 sq mile) and its population is around 60,000 people. While proceeding your way to Quan Ba, you can make many breaks to enjoy the landscape. Some main spots in Quan Ba to check out are Quan Ba Heavens’ Gate, Twin mountain, Lung Khuy Cave and Lung Tam Village. Nice spots in Quang Ba to check-out include:

Quan Ba Heaven's Gate

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Quan Ba Heaven’s Gate is the viewpoint on the highest mountain in Quan Ba District. Hiking up to the top you can cast a birds eye view of the beautiful scenes. After a long drive, it's an ideal time to have a break and enjoy some coffee. Reaching Quan Ba, you are almost half-way to the most favorable and popular overnight town - Dong Van. 

Lung Khuy Cave

Lung Khuy is a stunning cave of 1,000m long (0.62 miles). It is 5km (3.1 miles) from Quan Ba town center, and can be reached easily by plain road. You then will walk around 1km (0.62 miles) on an unpaved route to reach the cave's entrance. Visiting Lung Khuy Cave and explore the natural stalactites and stalagmites in the amazing cave on Ha Giang karst plateau. 

Lùng Tám Village

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Lung Tam, famous as a weaving village, is another interesting spot to visit in Quan Ba District. Local people use their traditional technique and their own hemp to make elaborate weaving products, especially using the Batik dyeing skill. Batik is the technique of using wax to draw the patterns on cloth which make it resistant to water and protect the light colors. The cloth after being dyed with indigo, shall be dipped in warm water for times to make the wax melted and slip away. The local people need to proceed with 21 steps to make a complete weaving cloth. It’s surely exciting to visit locals and learn directly about their works.

3. Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark and Tham Ma Viewpoint 

Dong-Van-Geopark

Leaving Quan Ba, you will carry on the journey on Ha Giang Loop, and find the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark. It’s an area with the highest density of karst mountains in Ha Giang. This plateau of 2,356 sq km (919 sq miles) is a UNESCO geopark with 60% of the surface being limestone. Not only providing values on geography, this geopark also treats us with an incredible view of these karst mountains.

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Traverse the meandering trails of Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark, you can make a stop at Tham Ma viewpoint. Standing from above, the iconic view of Tham Ma slope with winding bends comes out stunningly. There are adorable local children playing around to make friends with tourists.

4. Dong Van Ha Giang 

Dong Van is a district of Ha Giang Province which is close to China in the north point of Vietnam. This area is also the core part of the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark which depicts jaw-dropping mountain views. Dong Van Old Quarter is the most popular overnight place with many unique and ambientful homestays. The tourists normally spend the first night of their Ha Giang Loop tour in Dong Van old quarter. 

The altitude in Dong Van ranges from 1000 - 1900m making it pretty cold at night and early morning. Then prepare some jackets when you prepare for your trip to Ha Giang Loop. Fantastic must-see places near Dong Van center are Dong Van old quarter, Sung La Village, Meo King’s Palace, Pho Bang Village, Pan Hou Village.

Dong Van Old Quarter

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Dong Van Old Quarter appears like a beautiful picture of perfect blends between two tones of yellow sun beam and ancient houses’ gray walls. It’s definitely one of the highlights in your Ha Giang Loop travel itinerary. The houses of 2 floors with yin-yang tiles roof give us a warm welcome and cozy stay. Staying in and walking around the Dong Van Old Quarter gives us chances to interact with locals. Get to the local weekly fairs, you can observe beautiful people look charming in their colorful weaving dresses. Opened only on the weekend and festive days, the fair market is a gathering hub of various ethnic groups like Tay, Nung, Hoa, Mong, Han and so on. People come for selling, buying, eating, enjoying family meals or getting drunk in the morning. After dinner with local delicacies, you also can stroll around, taste local food, snacks or chill at a cafe. 

Sung La Valley

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Sung La, means isolated island, is a charming valley located around 23km (14 miles) from Dong Van Old Quarter. You can visit this village while driving from the Tham Ma viewpoint to Dong Van Old Quarter. From the Pho Bang road fork, you will catch the best view of the village. Going down to the villages, you shall learn more about the lifestyles and customs of the Lo Lo and H’Mong enthic groups. 

Pho Bang village

Pho Bang town is a neighbor of Sung La town where it is mainly resided by H’Mong and Hoa ethnic groups. This town was the economic and political center of Dong Van district in the past. These days, the quiet town with old houses, mossy walls, and yin-yang tiles roofs brings nostalgia, taciturn and peace. It is quietly situated deep behind that is often missed by the travelers; then look for this ancient Chinese corner while heading close to Dong Van Old town.

Meo King’s Palace

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H’mong Royal Palace or Meo King’s Palace is an incredible house covering 3,000 sqm (30,000 sq ft). Vuong Duc Chinh was the Meo King who made this house constructed in 1898. Located on a land hill appearing like the turtle’s shell which was believed to bring up a prosperous and successful life for the owner. 

This 2 florey Palace’s construction is a blend of French, Mong and Chinese architecture using rare woods. Divided into three main parts the front, center and back and constructed with pine woods, granite, greenstone, etc the Palace showcases an impressive carving, ornaments and curved roofs. 

5. Lung Cu Flagpole - Ha Giang

Lung Cu Flagpole, 25km (15.5 miles) from Dong Van Old quarter, is a symbol of Vietnam’s north pole. It takes around 1 hour drive from Dong Van town to Lung Cu Flagpole passing the paved and unpaved trails. Then you hike 15 minutes to the pole with the 54sqm (578 sq ft) Vietnamese flag. Standing from above, you can sightsee China’s mountains from afar. 

After casting an incredible view from Lung cu Flagpole, you can have a hike to visit nearby Lo Lo Chai Village. As a tourism community village, there are homestays for those who want to spend a night here. Besides, you also can trek your way to the other km milestone which separates China and Vietnam’s mainlands such as 428 milestone. Check with authorities before your trekking to make sure which parts you can enter. 

6. Ma Pi Leng Pass

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Ma Pi Leng Pass, at the altitude of 1,500m (4,920ft), is a must-see in your Ha Giang Loop itinerary. This 20km (12.4 miles) pass also named Happiness Road is among the most adventurous and jaw-dropping destinations in Vietnam. Ma Pi Leng pass means horse’s nose bridge, connecting 2 districts Dong Van and Meo Vac of Ha Giang Province. From the peak, as well as viewpoint, you can enjoy the panoramic view of Dong Van Karst plateau and greenish Nho Que River. 

7. Nho Que River trek and cruise

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From Ma Pi Leng Pass, Nho Que pleasant River is so charming and attractive. It’s much more spectacular when you make your way down. There are two main trails to go down; then get on a local boat at moderate rates to sightsee the river. Starting the boat trip from Tu San, you can experience thrilling rides on wanderous narrow paths. The other starting point is Ta Lang Village with a mesmerizing hike in 45 minutes (2 km or 1.2 miles) to go down river. There are nice paths around greenish gardens and idyllic mountains. It’s surely a lifetime hike. 

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Besides cruising with local boats and enjoying the landscape, you can go kayaking or surfing on Nho Que River. These equipment are available at the pier. You should prepare swimming suits and water resistant bags if you plan to do so. It takes around 3 hours to go down for a visit and return.

8. Meo Vac town Ha Giang

Passing majestic Ma Pi Leng Pass, you will arrive at Meo Vac town. Like Dong Van district, Meo Vac District also shares a border with China that both of them were severely affected by border fighting. 

Meo-vac-town

This karst mountain town is famous for the Khau Vai love market which has been practiced since 1919. This market happens only once a year in lunar March where people from different regions come to find a lover of their life. There are lively weekly markets in the town as well. You can come to enjoy local dishes as well as intermingle with locals. 

9. Du Gia village

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Located 70km (43 miles) from Ha Giang City, Du Gia Village is a tranquil and charming village of Yen Minh District. There are cozy and clean homestays in Du Gia for your overnight stay to make some hiking to surrounding villages the next morning. As Du Gia is among least touristy places of Ha Giang Loop, the hike to local villages of Tay, Mong people offers an authentic vibe. Beside, you also can visit the Du Gia National Park of 15 ha to get involved in nature and wildlife. 

If your travel scheduling to Ha Giang Loop is not so tight, have a further ride to Yen Minh district. This area also belongs to Dong Van Karst Plateau, but features a unique landscape of karst mountains and pine forest. 

10. Taste local food in Ha Giang

Vietnamese are excited to enjoy the local dishes when they travel to Ha Giang Loop as some are tasty, bitter and strange. Here below are local cuisine in Ha Giang:

Au Tau Porridge

This porridge’s main ingredient is Au Tau, a type of local root which is good for health and helps you get to sleep easily. Local people stew Au Tau with rice and pork leg in a few hours to make things all soft. Before eating, add raw egg, pepper, chilly powder and herbs. It’s tasty with natural sweet from bones broth and a bit bitter which is from Au Tau.

Horse’s viscera hotpot

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This dish of horse or buffalo's viscera hotpot is a controversial dish indeed. While local people of minority groups find it delicious, many tourists including Vietnamese are afraid and do not dare to try. But it’s a unique dish of the high mountains in Vietnam with all the intestines and other parts including some filthy ones cooked in a super wide pan over fire.

Dried buffalo

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Dried buffalo is made traditionally by soaking the meat in local seasoning ingredients, then having them hang in the kitchen. The smoke emitted from cooking by woods will make the buffalo stripes of meat dried; and seeped with a natural smoke scent.

Tam Giac Mach Flower pancake

Tam Giac Mach is a unique flower in Ha Giang Province, and attractive to visitors by its beauty. This plant is not a decorative flower, but a food crop for locals planted as the buffer season before the winter comes. Harvesting the seeds, villagers make tasty grilled pancakes that cost only half a buck. 

Shan Tuyet tea

Cao Bo Village in Ha Giang City is an ideal place for Shan Tuyet tea where there are many ancient tea trees. If you can make your trip to Cao Bo Village to taste the tea at their tea house, let’s buy some authentic tea from Ha Giang then. 

Egg stuffed steamed pancake

The steamed pancake in Ha Giang is more crystal and softer; especially dined with bone broth with green onions. It’s stuffed with eggs which can be well-done or medium rare. The ones from Hanoi and other delta provinces are stuffed with minced pork and ear mushrooms and have sweet and saucer fish sauce.

There are plenty of tours to Ha Giang Loops from Hanoi with different styles of motorbike tour over Ha Giang Loop, hiking and trekking to off-road paths, etc. Or else, a pleasant journey to Ha Giang Loop to admire the natural landscape, enjoy the cooling climate and taste local cuisine is already thrilling. 

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