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November 2022


One of the best things we did on our latest trip to Vietnam was explore the Ha Giang loop by motorbike. This is something that you can do either in a group tour or without a guide.

We joined a group for various reasons (we prefered having a driver, we didn't feel safe riding ourselves and we didn't know the roads nor route), and our group was a great mix of young and older travellers who all got along because of one thing in common: a desire for a bit of adventure!


If you're still deciding, here's a short video of our best bits. The views are spectacular and a motorbike ride is the best way to take it all in.




Still not sure? Here's 7 reasons why you can't miss it.


1. The Views

The number one reason to explore Hà Giang is to absorb the amazing views of the Northern Vietnamese rural landscape. The north of Vietnam is mountainous allowing multiple viewpoints to see rice fields, green and rocky mountains, and the windy roads that snake around them.

These views are very difficult to capture if you travel by car.


2. The motorbike experience Vietnamese style


Perhaps you're not interested in experiencing a motorbike ride in big cities like Hanoi nor Ho Chi Minh City. Riding the roads in Hà Giang is very different. There's nothing quite like the feeling of the wind in your hair and the clean air in your lungs as you glide along through the beautiful countryside.

Even my non-adventurous Aunty and mum found it thoroughly exhilarating!



3. You'll experience rural Vietnam


And I don't mean just taking in the magnificent views.


Along the way you'll pass through rural villages where you can stop, have lunch, and meet the locals. We met people from the Tày and Dao communities and also tried their delicious food.


If you're lucky you'll visit during market day when the local minority communities make a visit to the town centre wearing their traditional, colourful dresses.



4. You'll visit view points only accessible by motorbike



Famously and arguably the most dangerous road in Vietnam, the path up to Mỏm đá tử thần hay còn gọi là mỏm đá sống ảo aka, 'the cliff of death,' is a narrow one! With barely any room for two-way motorbike traffic the track that takes you up to the view point offers an amazing view....if you look down. At one point I yelped as our bike wobbled close to the edge. If you're scared of heights, it's best not to look down.


Once at the top, all the bikes are parked in a pack and you can climb up the rocky peak to the famous ledge for a photo opportunity. But be careful!



5. You'll be introduced to 'Happy Water'


One of the funniest moments during the loop, was being introduced to the local corn wine, AKA 'happy water'.


You'll be taught how to raise a toast in Vietnamese. Initially we thought that the tradition was something only belonging to North Vietnam. However, we accidentally stumbled into a Vietnamese wedding held at a restaurant in London and overheard tables chanting the same toast 'mot, hai, ba, uống!'


'Happy water' is homegrown, home made, and organic which means that, as well as heating up the body on cold nights, it leaves zero hangover!


6. You'll make friends and meet new people



Even if you don't join a tour and decide to travel the loop alone, you're bound to stop off at some of the view points where other travellers are lurking. When we stopped at a popular cafe in Meo Vac, we met some friendly people travelling the loop without a guide. Just chatting to them and experiencing good vibes made our day.


If you do join a tour, you'll be singing karaoke and dancing around with them on the last night of the tour for sure! If you're a bit nervous, the happy water will help :)


7. It's still (kinda) under the tourist radar



Every year the loop becomes more and more famous. When we rode the loop in October 2022, there were tourists both Vietnamese and foreigners. Unlike Sapa and similarly to Cao Bang, Ha Giang is eventually going to be full of tourists and the roads are going to be smoother and more comfortable - which may sound more appealing to some but depends on the kind of traveller you are!



So if you're planning a trip to North Vietnam, I'd highly recommend you take a few days out of your itinerary for this.



 


Still have questions? I've answered some common ones here:



Do I need to be able to ride a motorbike?

No. We specifically booked this tour because it came with a driver aka “easy rider”. None of us were comfortable riding up in the mountains having had some experience of the windy roads in Cao Bang.


Can I ride a motorbike alone without an easy rider?

Yes! We had a few people in our group who rode by themselves and it was a great way for them to experience the loop without the need of a GPS or getting lost!


Is it safe?

We felt super safe during the whole trip with our easy riders. Our riders were from the Tày community in the region so they knew the roads well. If any of the solo riders got stuck, they’d help out. No one ever got left behind.


How long does it take to cover the Hà Giang loop?

There are tours which offer up to 5 days and we met someone on the route who travelled the loop for 4 days. These tours will take you on a slower pace and allow you to make more stops, take photos, and explore.

However, the most popular trip is the 3-day tour.

For more details on the tour, click here.


How do I get to the Hà Giang loop?

The tour starts with a pick up at the Cheers Hostel in the centre of Hanoi. They will also bring you back here at the end of the tour.


How old do I have to be to ride the Hà Giang Loop?

My mum and aunty (both in their early 60s) thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Also in our group was a very lovely retired man who rode solo! As well as them, we had graduates fresh from uni in the gap years and we all got along great!


Can I do the trip in 1 or 2 days?

Unfortunately we aren't all lucky enough to have endless days of travel but due to the location of Hà Giang and the length of the loop, it would be very difficult to do it in less than 3 days and have the full experience. It takes 6 hours from Hanoi to Hà Giang so you'd already be spending a lot of time just getting to the location.


What do I need to take?

The Cheers Hostel page is very informative and lists their recommendations.

When we travelled in October, the temperature varied. During the day it was hot and sunny. However, the nights were cold or very cold! So definitely take a jumper and/or jacket!

I'd recommend spray-in dry shampoo. It was too cold to wash my hair on the first night and no hairdryer was to be seen during the trip ;D

Water is provided.

To see a full list of what I'd recommend to pack, click here.


What do we see on the route?

Each tour can vary in itinerary depending on factors like the weather.

As an example, this was our route detailed as in the map under 3 Day Trip (bottom right corner):

Day 0: meet at Cheers Hostel at 8pm, sleeper bus to Ha Giang, Cozy Hostel

Day 1: Ha Giang - Heaven Gate - Tam Son - Yen Minh - Dong Van

Day 2: Dong Van - Lung Cu - Ma Pi Leng - Meo Vac (homestay)

Day 3: Meo Vac - Mau Due - Lung Tam - Quan Ba - Ha Giang, Cozy Hostel (bus to Hanoi)



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