September 12, 2016

Ha Giang

trekking ha giang

Ha Giang province is located in the northern mountainous area of Vietnam, sharing its borders with China in the north, Tuyen Quang province in the south, Cao Bang province in the east, and Yen Bai province, and and Lao Cai province in the west.

Trekking is the best way for you to explore Ha Giang off the beaten path places, and to experience the local customs and traditions of several ethnic groups living in Ha Giang Vietnam.

The mountainous and hilly terrain causes difficulties for travel and transport of goods, but in return it bestows beautiful travel sites with dozens of rivers and streams, fascinating caves, historic and cultural relics and a treasure of traditional cultures of the ethnic groups, which all enchant the visitors.

We at Hiking Vietnam provide a wide selection of off the beaten path treks in Ha Giang province, offering you the chance to visit this beautiful region with such attractions as Ma Pi Leng pass, Ha Giang waterfall, H’mong King palace, Lung Cu flag pole and more.

Ha Giang map

How to get to there?

ha giang trekking tour

How to get to Ha Giang from Hanoi?

Private car with driver

Ha Giang city, where most traveler will start exploring the province, is located 320 km from Hanoi. Most people rent a private car with driver to get this destination. The road trip takes approximately 6 hours. You can be picked up at any place in downtown Hanoi, at any time in the day which may fit your plan.

Local bus

Most buses depart from My Dinh bus station in Hanoi (some 10 km, 6 miles west of Hoan Kiem Lake). Day buses leave from 5.30 am till 12.30 with close to hourly departures. Night buses depart from 18.00 till 21.30.

Both day and night buses are sleeping couches (with no toilets inside). The bus journey takes roughly 7 hours with one mid-way stop. Note that night buses arrive Ha Giang city very early, but most bus companies let customer stay on-board and continue sleeping till dawn arrives.

How to get to Ha Giang from Sapa?

Private car with driver

If you travel solo, taking a local bus will save. But if you travel in a small group, we recommend booking a private car with driver. The journey from Sapa to Ha Giang offers scenic views. You can stop on the way to take picture.

Local bus

From Sapa there are two buses daily. One at 10am and at 10pm. The journey takes about 7 hours. You can book a ticket at Sapa bus station or at any travel agency in town.

Ha Giang travel permit

Ha Giang travel permit

Ha Giang is one of few places in Vietnam where foreigners are required to obtain a permit to travel. The province shares a 270 km long border with Yunnan province of southern China.

Ha Giang permit is required to travel on the road north from Tam Son to Dong Van and Meo Vac. The permit is also required for trekking in remote areas such as Hoang Su Phi, Xin Man, Thong Nguyen.

If you take a guided tour with Hiking Vietnam, they will take care of the paper. If you travel solo in Ha Giang, your hotel or hostel will be happy to assist you to get this provincial admission permit.

What is the best time to take a hike

The climate is divided into two distinct seasons in the region including the rainy and dry season. Depending on the altitude, climate will change. The province is good to visit throughout the year.

September to November and March to May are when the temperature is most pleasurable, in their mid 20’s. December and a bit into February the temperature falls, especially in the mountains so carry some good clothing. December and January are the two coldest months. There are years when snow has been falling over Ha Giang mountain peaks.

October and November is peak season for local Vietnamese tourists. It is the time when the buckwheat is flowering and expect that hotels, hostels and motorbike rentals can be very busy. It is a very good idea to book your stay and activities in advance during these months.

It is a great time to take a hike after the Tet Holidays which happens around late January or in February. At this time, the scenery is quite pleasant and serene. The magnificent mountain tops that are hidden behind the clouds and the fragrance of the wild peach flowers will influence and soothe your senses.

The summer months can be quite rainy and in lower altitudes humid. The rainy season (May to September) is not suitable for trekking or hiking. During this time June and July are the two hottest months. The temperature can be around 38 – 42 degree C outside. There are sometimes land erosion and landslides.

What to explore in Ha Giang Vietnam?

The province is surrounded by typical Vietnamese countryside that includes rice fields terraces, green natural caves, cascading waterfalls and green tea fields. While wandering through the high mountains of Ha Giang you will be surprised to see such a variety of plants in one area, firs growing next to banana trees.

Ha Giang city

ha giang city

The city is the beginning of a famous journey called the “Ha Giang loop” that is a road that goes through the very top of the mountains, next to the border with China. To fully immerse into the landscapes of Vietnam it is advised to travel by car.

Ma Pi Leng Pass

ha giang vietnam 6

Ma Pi Leng Pass is not included in any hiking loop trip. But the car trip offers the opportunity to stop at the pass, and do a 4 miles walk down Pai Lung village. Driving up to Ma Pi Leng Pass is quite difficult but a stop in this pass will have a spectacular overview.

Looking to the north and northeast, thousands of gray mountains concatenate to the horizon. 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.

Quan Ba Heaven Gate

ha giang vietnam 10

Quan Ba Heaven Gate is situated about 1,500m above sea level. This is the entrance of Dong Van Karst Plateau. The road to Quan Ba Heaven gate is winding, twisty crossing limestone mountains.

From the top of the Heaven Gate, you could look down across a large valley of unending terraced fields, displaying a charming beauty like a paradise dimly visible through the clouds.

Dong Van Karst Plateau

ha giang vietnam 3

Dong Van Karst Plateau is situated north of Ha Giang, near the Chinese-Vietnamese border. This plateau is covered by karst mountains. It includes 4 districts of the province including Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van, and Meo Vac. Dong Van Karst Plateau is a great place for having short walks and day hikes.

Hoang Su Phi

Hoang Su Phi is an upland district of Ha Giang province. Recognized as National Heritage in 2012, Hoang Su Phi terraced rice fields is an ideal destination for sightseeing as well as photographers.

Hoang Su Phi is one of the best places for trekking in Vietnam where grandiose mountains may challenge your spirit for real. Breathtaking landscapes, meetings with local ethnic minorities and learn from their life’s stories are nowhere can be found in the world.

H’mong King Palace

ha giang hmong king palace

H’mong King Palace is located in Xa Phin village of Dong Van district, which is around 24km away from the district’s centre. With an area of 1120 m2, this edifice was built in the early twentieth century in the form of the letter 王 (meaning “king” in English).

H’mong King Palace is not only a historical relic but also a fabulous architectural landmark of local ethnic groups. This edifice is also a destination always interested many visitors.

Lung Cu Flag Tower

Built on the top of Dragon mountain, in the district of Dong Van and modeled on the flag tower of Hanoi. Plug in the 12.9m flagstaff is a national flag with an area of 54m², representing for 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam.

At the foot tower, there is a commemorative house, where displays production tools, costumes and cultural products of all ethnic groups living in Ha Giang Vietnam. The staircase that leads to the summit has 389 stone steps but to reach the top of the tower, you must also climb a spiral iron staircase of 140 steps.

Pho Bang Village

Pho Bang village is a peaceful and calm village. It is located at about 117 km from the province’s capital. The village is home of Hoa and Mong ethnic groups. The traditional houses in Pho Bang village embrace the traditional architecture. They have wooden columns and mud walls.

Meo Vac

ha giang vietnam 9

Meo Vac is a district of Ha Giang province. The district’s capital is also called Meo Vac which lies snugly in a smallish valley surrounded by rocky mountain. The journey from Dong Van to Meo Vac which goes along the spectacular Mai Pi Leng Pass is a must-do in Vietnam. We recommend you to complete the route either by car or by bicycle.

There are different ethnic minorities groups living in Meo Vac including the H’mong, the Kinh, Tay, Dao, etc. Most ethnic groups have maintained their culture untouched from the outside world.

Local markets

ha giang vietnam 8

There are several ethnic markets in the region, such as Quan Ba market, Yen Minh market, and particularly the Khau Vai love market attracts many visitors. Most of local markets are held on Sunday morning, some other according lunar calendar.

Dong Van market

Dong Van market is held every Sunday morning. On sale are local products made by Mong, Han, Dao, Giay and Tay ethnic people. To reach the market on time they have to leave their homes very early in the morning or even one day earlier.

Khau Vai love market

Khau Vai Love Market is held only on the 26th and 27th of day of the third Lunar month. In there, both single and married people in different ethnic groups can come to find ones’ ideal life-partner and sharing their feeling and understanding to each other.

Ha Giang hiking trails

Short walks are available in many places including Quan Ba, Dong Van, Meo Vac. These hikes begin from district and commune’s center, taking you to different hill tribes villages. You may need 2-3 hours for these walks.

Ha Giang hiking trail: Vi Xuyen to Hoang Su Phi

Ha Giang hiking trail: Vi Xuyen to Hoang Su Phi

Ha Giang loop trekking Thong Nguyen

Ha Giang loop trekking Thong Nguyen

Dong Van 3 hour hike

Ha Giang Dong Van 3 hour hike

Dong Van 3 hour hike is a very nice short hike in this amazing region of Vietnam. You will cross very small villages with no tourists. You will go through a very small village and stay on the same level instead of going down and up again.

Dong Van half day walk

Ha Giang Dong Van half day walk

Easily accessible via an old road walk although downwards route. Downward route not for the feint hearted at sections steep and overgrown.

Views at the top made the walk 100% worth it!

Quan Ba loop walking

Ha Giang Quan Ba loop walking

Long and hard treks are only available in the northwest of the province in such places as Hoang Su Phi, Xin Man. You can either hike around these places for multiple days or take a long hike from/to Bac Ha.

Ha Giang Sky Path: Ma Pi Leng walk

Sky path: Ma Pi Leng walk

Self-guided trekking

Ha Giang is one of the least visited places in Vietnam where lodging, transport conditions are limited. Very few people speak English in this region. Independent trekking is possible. But a good trip also requires much preparation.

If you are interested in discovering Ha Giang without a guide, take a local bus from Hanoi. Once you reach the city, you can either rent a motorbike (Vietnamese driving license is required) or keep taking another bus for Dong Van or Meo Vac.

Ha Giang hiking tours

trek hike ha giang vietnam 4

At Hiking Vietnam we provide a wide selection of off the beaten path treks in Ha Giang province, offering you the chance to visit beautiful scenery and to experience the rich ethnic culture.

Where to stay on your Ha Giang loop trip?

ha giang homestay

Trekking in Ha Giang you are supposed to be lodged at local homestay which are very simple and basic. If anyone looks for a Ha Giang trekking tour that includes luxury lodge, comfortable mountain resorts, then Ha Giang should not be on the list.

When you hike around Ha Giang, most of the nights will be spent in local stilt house where the conditions are simple. You share the house with family or other guests. The bathrooms are located outside the house. Air-conditioner is not available. They provide only fans. Therefore at Ha Giang hiking tours are recommended in the winter when it is not hot – you will not need neither fan nor A/C.

Additional question

Do you have any questions about Ha Giang that you want to ask us? Is there anything you think I should discuss about this destination that we left out… that we should include in future updates to this article? Visit our FAQ page or leave a comment with your questions and we’ll write you back with a response just as soon as we possibly can.

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