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November 2022

If there's one person who demonstrates that you're never too old for adventures, it's my mum. At 62, she encouraged me to book this 3 day motorbike trip for us when I hesitated. "If we don't do it now, I might not be able to do it next time." She reasoned, referring to her age and health. So we booked it and it was the best decision ever!

I'm normally not a fan of group tours. I prefer the flexibility of travelling without a structure and with the freedom to take my time (and lots of photos).

However, there are some things in Vietnam that are just too tricky to do alone and travelling the Hà Giang Loop is one of those trips, especially as none of us were comfortable riding motorbikes!

It is possible to travel the loop without a tour and without a guide but the North is mountainous and the roads aren't always smooth. Some roads are extremely narrow and dangerous. If you're confident on a motorbike and usually ride at home and safely then youll be fine! If you're unsure, it's safer to travel with a group/guide as they will know the roads well.

The tour provided by Epic Tours/Cheers Hostel offers the option to ride a motorbike yourself or ride the loop with an 'easy rider'. We got an easy rider which meant that we didn’t have to be in the driving seat. We could do the tour but as passengers on a motorbike and enjoy the trip just the same!

This map shows example itineraries to the route. Depending on the weather and time, routes may vary.


Booking the trip via Cheers Hostel was super easy. Any questions I had were answered really quickly via WhatsApp and it was simple to book our places.

Their website is also really informative with tips from what to bring, to what to expect.

Day 0

We were instructed to head to Cheers Hostel in Hanoi at 8pm where we would pay for the tour, meet our group and catch our transport to head up north.

The hostel was very accommodating and we were offered free coffee and tea in their small common area. After final toilet trips, we all bundled on to a mini bus which took us to the bus station to catch the sleeper bus.

Be warned, the road to Ha Giang is windy!! The curves are plentiful and the drivers don’t like to slow down for them! If I didn't lie down, I would have fallen off the top bunk!

The bus left at 9pm and we were meant to arrive at our hostel in Ha Giang at 3am. However, we had a couple of stops on the way from people sending up goods and one very long stop where the drivers were just casually having food and a cigarette with their friends. Something often seen in Vietnam.

We arrived closer to 4am with someone waking us up calling ‘Cozy! Cozy!” At first I had no idea what he was talking about but then I realised that the name of the hostel where we were staying was called Cozy Hostel!

We were allocated beds in the dorms where we could catch a few more hours of sleep before waking up for breakfast at 8am the next day.

Day 1

Hà Giang - Tam Son - Yen Minh - Dong Van

8am breakfast. The sun was shining but the temperature was considerably colder than in Hanoi. There was lots happening. From our Vietnamese bikers cooking us breakfast to riders trying on their bike helmets and protective gear. Some of our group were riding themselves and the majority were passengers with an ‘easy rider’.

Meeting our drivers

We were introduced to our drivers who helped us prepare. None of our drivers spoke much English, so luckily my mum's bilingual skills came in handy. Ly was the only one who spoke English and was our guide as well as an easy rider for one of our group. Anything we needed, we could go to him when our Vietnamese failed us!

The drivers packed our backpacks into big plastic bags (although I noticed not driver did this) and strapped it tightly to the back of the bike. This was to protect it from the rain and dust (day 2 was extremely dusty).

Then we were off!

We were all first taken to the...petrol station. Can't leave without it of course.

On the road

Then we were off again! All riding in a line, we left the city towards the rural roads.

For our first day the roads were fairly smooth and as we entered the mountainous regions, the views became incredible. We were given opportunities to rest (after sitting on the bike for a while, the bum needs it!), take photos and, if we were at a cafe, have a drink.

Our drivers were on hand to supply us with water that they'd strapped to the back of the bike and our guide, Ly, provided us with information. Since my mum could speak to the drivers, not only in Vietnamese, but also in Tày (she's a Nùng but the language is the same), we also got extra information about the places.

Since there aren't enough words to describe how wonderful the view is, here are some photos from the first day.

Quan Ba Heavens Gate:

Tham Ma Pass

Lunch was in the town of Yen Minh at Lý Thị Chương Homestay. This hidden place served delicious local food and serving us were girls dressed in Red Dao dresses and accessories.

Rice, tofu, vegetables, spring rolls and pork.

After a short break, it was back on the bike to take in more views and a stop off at the H'mong King Palace before arriving at our accommodation for the night in Dong Van.

It was cold. Luckily we'd brought layers but the contrast between the day's strong sunshine and the cool temperatures of the evening, left us feeling chilly. After a rest in our hotel rooms we came down for dinner which was located in a covered area but still with the night air around us.

Happy water

To warm us up, the drivers introduced us to their local, homegrown corn wine, aka 'happy water'. Served in tiny cups the warming liquid tasted like sake and is thought to help warm up the body. It certainly felt warm as it slid down our throats!

We also learned how to say 'cheers' in Vietnamese before drinking.

MộtHaiBadzô, HaiBadzô, HaiBauống!

Only a few minutes later, another driver came round to propose another toast. Then the driver whose birthday it was. Then our own drivers.

This is their way of relaxing after a day on the bikes, warming up for the night and conking out in their beds. The best thing about happy water is that it's organic and pure which means zero hang over in the morning!

Thankfully the accommodation, although a bit chilly, provided hot water so that we could wash off the suncream, dust and heat up a little before bed.

Day 2

Dong Van -Lung Cu - Ma Pi Leng - Sky Path - Meo Vac - Mau Due - Lung Ho villages - Du Gia

Our drivers

Breakfast was served by our drivers again. Being a driver does not just entail riding a motorbike with a passenger on the back. The older, more responsible drivers also were our breakfast chefs and waiters! They helped the homestay owners in the kitchen and served us coffee when we came down.

We were particularly looked after by our drivers I felt. One day I decided to pack my drone battery pack in my backpack rather than in it's case to lighten the load. My driver had been carrying my case for me (yes, so cute) and in the morning when I handed him the case, he ran over to my mum in a panic saying the case was missing things! Bless.

In turn my mum and Aunty tried to feed them with whatever snacks we bought on the way!

Ma Pi Leng Pass

On the 3 day tour, there's not enough time to go up to Lung Cu, despite it being on the itinerary. We went directly to the famous Ma Pi Leng Pass. A narrow road that leads up to Mỏm đá tử thần hay còn gọi là mỏm đá sống ảo aka, 'the cliff of death'! With barely any room for a 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.

Other villages we rode through were Meo Vac, Mau Due and Lung Ho where lunch was in the most beautiful place.

We ended the day in a beautiful village, Du Gia. After checking into our homestay we hopped back on the bikes to a nearby waterfall where we could take a dip. The sun was already going down and along with it, the heat of the day, so we didn't go in but others in our group did.

At dinner we had local Vietnamese food and of course, happy water. But this time the drivers were extremely enthusiastic! Before I realised, we were all very happy indeed. Out came the karaoke, the music, disco lights and we were all having a brilliant time! And there I was thinking I was too old, along with my Aunty and mum, to get drunk and party like these youngsters!

Day 3

Du Gia, Meo Vac - Lung Tam Village - Sky Gate - Hà Giang

On our final day, we set off after breakfast and saw the most beautiful views before heading back to Cozy Hostel where we'd get our bus back to Hanoi at 4pm.

Along the way we stopped off at Lung Tam village where we visited a small workshop where women were weaving hemp to make products such as clothes, blankets and purses.

We were given a tour and explained how the traditional 'machines' worked. We saw how the material was made, dried, stretched, weaved, coloured and smoothed to finally make a beautiful piece of fabric.

Of course, after the tour we were shown across the road to a shop where they sold their products to tourists. An old lady of 100 years old teaches younger females how to make these products so that they can continue to make a living and her skills are passed down. I bought a lovely hemp tote bag. The material is strong and came in very handy during the rest of my trip in Vietnam and it's also something I currently use at home!

The trip left such an impression on us that we swapped numbers with the people in our group and also with our drivers. Even after a week my mum, Aunty and I were still talking about it and reminiscing our funniest experiences on the bikes!

I'd highly recommend the Hà Giang Loop and I don't have anything bad to say about Epic Tours who provided us with this amazing experience!

TOUR OR EXPLORE (independently):


If you want to explore the route but can't or are uncomfortable riding a motorbike around the mountains of Ha Giang, you can join a tour and you'll have a great time! Otherwise, if your motorcycle-riding abilities are strong, you can take to the road by hiring a bike and going on an adventure!!


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