How to travel to Ha Giang for your best experience
Ha Giang Travel Guide 2020 – What to do, when to visit, and more…
Heading toward but wonder how to travel to Ha Giang for your best experience? Save your time by reading our article for a complete guide on the best things to do, the best foods to eat, and the best way to get to Ha Giang, if you are expecting a perfect trip to the legendary destination of Northern Vietnam.
About 320km away from the capital Hanoi, Ha Giang is the North pole of Vietnam, the final frontier bordering China, which is shaped with mighty forested limestones and granite mountains. Being famous for the picturesque scene of the vast pink buckwheat flower covering the entire stone plateau, Ha Giang is a fascinating place for both local and international tourists to watch.
In terms of natural beauties and indigenous culture, Ha Giang is inferior to no other. However, due to its high-altitude location and traveling difficulties, reaching Ha Giang might be challenging for some, but it is definitely worth your visit at last.
Once you get here, you will be overwhelmed by spectacular landscapes and eager to capture everything. With pine forests, granite mountains, quiet farming villages, and heavenly views in every direction, Ha Giang is like an illustration of how nature can flourish when unsullied. Let’s see some favorite tourist activities that may relieve your hunger for exploring.
- Go trekking in Ha Giang
1. Hoang Su Phi – Wherein the marvel golden terraced fields shine
Hoang Su Phi is a district in the west of Ha Giang Province, at the foot of Tay Con Linh Mountain. Getting to Hoang Su Phi, you will be charmed by the mighty pristine beauty of wild mountains and terraced fields at the altitude of 1.500m above sea level. This is also a long-term residence area of Dao, Tay, Nung, Mong, Co Lao, La Cha minority.
During the harvest season, the fields cover all over the valley with a brilliant yellow circle. In the afternoon sunlight, everything seemed to be dyed a warm yellow, whereas, at the sunshine, visitors can easily catch the clouds floating high at eye level, layering over Hoang Su Phi a fanciful view of peacefulness and tranquility. A true photographer wishes he has known about this place before.
Authenticity, tranquillity, and preservation – these are the best words to describe Hoang Su Phi. Especially, the authentic traditions of the local ethnic minorities are truly amazing for anyone who loves to discover the hidden lives of the less known world.
2. Dong Van Stone Plateau – the mysterious karst plateau geopark
Located on the height of 1400 – 1600 meters above sea level, Dong Van features a vast area of limestone which covers most of the four provinces of Ha Giang. The geographical characteristics of Dong Van Plateau are just as dramatic as it can get with sheer mountain cliffs running to the horizon. There’re huge mountains and deep canyons to be found here of which the highest peak is Mount Mieu Vac (1,971m) and the deepest canyon is Tu San (800m).
The town is also a good base for day treks around nearby minority villages and nearby sights such as the Lung Cu flag tower and the Lung Cam Cultural Tourist Village.
This is not only a tourism destination but also a mysterious place for scientists to discover. One of the mysterious things in Dong Van Rock Plateau is the scripts found on many rocks – ancient letters but until now, the meanings to these letters are left unknown. In December of 2010, at last, this was recognized by UNESCO and become a wonderful heritage of the world.
3. Sung La village – Where the flowers bloom on rock
From Yen Minh to Dong Van town, to Pho Bang fork, to where the pretty pass embraces a beautiful green valley, it is Sung La valley – “a rose” of stone plateau.
Sung La is like a peaceful and beautiful nature painting, located amid rugged mountains which is a totally dark color, and the strong houses with its ancient roofs by time. The H’ mong in Sung La is planting a triangular and flowering plant on the uphill. But growing corn, rice in the land where the flat and bottom of the valley. You will have the chance to see the green of the corn, rice, purple flowers of triangular flowers and yellow sunshine is the dark blue of the forest.
Spring is also the most beautiful season of this land as the flowers bloom throughout the high plateau. The fields of flowers make the natural scene which is harsh, cold and turned into a beautiful picture.
4. Mansion of the Wang – The gem in the forest
Started building in 1019 and totally completed 10 years later, with a total cost reaching to 150,000 silver coins (equivalent to 150 billion Vietnam dong at that time), the Wang’s mansion looks beautifully surrounded by pine trees, which has been originally preserved after the rise and fall of history, under sun and rain, so it brings with itself a fascinating historical story.
On the tortoiseshell-shape-hilltop with the rows of pine trees rising strongly, there is a house shaping Wang superbly growing as a print among blue space. This huge mansion is surrounded by high ancient green trees. Through long-time and history, this Vuong mansion still keeps its mysterious and beautiful nature. Visiting this precious mansion, you can find many treasures of the Vuong family. Stable woods used includes great stories to tell, which stay still during times and ages. You can ask your local tour guide for Vuong family history to listen to their stories and immerse themselves with nature.
- Go hiking in Ha Giang
1. Lung Cu flagpole – The first stroke that drawing Vietnam’s map
Being known as “a high forehead of the motherland”, where marks the extreme North of the country, Lung Cu is an interesting place for those who love to learn history because it’s where the sacred flagpole is placed on the highest ground. From a distance, Lung Cu is a spectacular sight with the view dominated by giant boulders and the national flag flying above Dragon Mountain, all set to the backdrop of magnificent forests. The flagpole has become an iconic tourist attraction of Ha Giang since it inspires a deep sense of pride in Vietnamese.
The route to the northernmost Lung Cu flagpole from Ha Giang’s center takes over the distance of 1.5 kilometers, then overcoming 389 stone steps and climbing more 140 spiral stairs right at the flagpole’s heart. Sound quite challenging, right? But the views on the top will reward your effort. From its top, visitors can see the whole of the beautiful and spectacular landscape under, like a watercolor painting with paddy fields and earthen-walled houses dot the sumptuous panorama.
2. Quan Ba Twin Mountain – The gate to the Heaven
Located about 46 km north of Ha Giang town, which is considered as Da Lat of the north, Quan Ba is the scenic district with spectacular mountains, poetic valleys, winding roads as well as the unique local culture.
Amid the rolling mountains and terraced fields, it is outstanding by two mountains of which strange round shape looks like the sleeping fairy’s full breasts called Quan Ba Twin Mountain, which surprise visitors at the magnificent beauty of the Creator.
Quan Ba Twin Mountains are a lovely sight to behold from the road. The two round-shaped green hills lying side by side in the middle of the rice field will surely catch your eyes because of its charming appearance.
Right near the Twin Mountains lies the Heaven Gate which is on a height of 1,500m above sea level, offering breathtaking views of the valley below. It’s such a wonderful experience to take in such scenery during your trip. To reach the Heaven Gate, you have to climb up a few dozen more steps to the highest peak which is the most ideal place to get a panoramic view of the Dong Van plateau, looking backward downhill and the zigzag road weaving between clouds and mountains.
(P/s: Quan Ba Twin Mountain is a beautiful symbol of the Dong Van Highland, which is the crystalline beauty of nature and tectonic. With this value, the mountain is recognized as the national scenic spot by the Ministry of Culture Sport and Tourism Vietnam.)
- Go biking in Ha Giang
1. Ma Pi Leng Pass – Get here if you dare
Ma Pi Leng means literally “Horse’s nose bridge”, describing the look of its shape. This 20mk-length pass has such high steep that makes horses stop breathing when climbing, but is a dream to drive down for brave adventurous travelers. It winds its way past shapely karst mountains, through tiny villages and allows for some outstanding views of the green Vietnamese countryside.
Riding on this pass, you’ll be amazed by the immense scenery of majestic and wild beauty. Along the way, there are almost vertical farms on the mountainside, thousands of gray mountains concatenate to the horizon and abyss underneath. Have long been ranked by locals, Ma Pi Leng is among the top 4 passes in Vietnam which are both beautiful and dangerous.
2. Happiness Road – the legendary path of blood and flower
Opened in the year 1965, Happiness Road has a total length of 185 kilometers, which has a long and heroic history of itself starting from the days even before its birth. Many volunteers, workers from several ethnic groups had joined hands to open the toughest mountain road in Vietnam, the very first road in Ha Giang. Some of them even sacrificed their lives in the span of 7 years of making this road. The name of the road is also the wish for happiness that the local people here sent to the future. Without Happiness Road, Ha Giang would be so remote to travel to that no one ever thought of coming here for tourism purposes.
This is also the road that those who love adventure, exploring the desire to visit is to admire the beauty of nature in the land of the country. Going down the steep slopes, you will enter the more picturesque area of Ha Giang with a sight of mountains dotted with few villages. Though the road is meandering and the bends of the sleeves are hard, but in front of the eyes is always a peaceful scene, beautiful to the heart of the rocky mountains that make everyone broach.
Happiness Road brings a change of beauty in each season. In the winter, the road is grayish-black patches of a clouded sky, misty mist. In the summer, the road glows with the sunbeds of the dawn on the rocky plateau or the rainbow after the sudden rain. From September to November, this road diminishes visitors by the yellow rice season, purple-pink of the buckwheat flowers and wild daisy flowers. Whoever comes here will surely treasure the unforgettable memory about Happiness Road.
For first-comers, we know there are a number of concerns of how many days to go, how many stops to make in Ha Giang. From a tourist’s perspective, we suggest an itinerary of 2D1N for you to discover the best of Ha Giang within permitted time.
Day 1: Ha Giang – Quan Ba – Dong Van
AM: After reaching Ha Giang province (from Hanoi), you may head toward Quan Ba district, which is 50km away, to witness the marvelous Twin Mountain and Heaven Gate. Enjoy a coffee time at the peak when taking a break after a long hike.
PM: Head to Dong Van town, which is another 40km riding, to join the afternoon market and socialize with locals. Visit the Mansion of the Wang, experience some of the best specialties of Ha Giang and stay at a hotel for the night.
Day 2: Dong Van – Lung Cu – Ma Pi Leng Pass
AM: Have a light breakfast then aim to Lung Cu mountain. Enjoy cool fresh air, capture giant fields of buckwheat flowers scene underneath and see over China land after conquering the Lung Cu peak. Return to Dong Van town for lunch and prepare for the next go.
PM: Head to Ma Pi Leng, the 30km length pass, to watch breathtaking scenery along the way. Visit Meo Vac town for a while then finish the journey of 2D1N in Ha Giang.
If you are a vetaren backpacker, please feel free to manage the trip your own and alter it when needed, else, we recommend you join a tour organized by a professional company, that can free you from hassles and keep you save throughout the journey.
Not only famous for gorgeous landscapes, but also for food specialties is Ha Giang. Food which is made of natural ingredients with a distinctive cooking method is, without a doubt, the thing that enthralls tourists charmingly in Ha Giang.
Au Tau Porridge, also known as bitter porridge, is a specialty of Ha Giang, which can be found everywhere from Ha Giang City to Dong Van plateau. A bowl of Au Tau has literally everything in it from all flavors of Au Tau and spice leaves to the balance of rice, herbs, and meat…. This dish is also a medicine to cure sick and cold.
Dried buffalo meat is famous over northwest Vietnam, not only in Ha Giang. This dish is a specialty of Black Thai people. The buffalo meat will be marinated then hung on the wooden bars on top of the kitchen’s fire. The smell of charcoal remains with the flavors of peppers, ginger and Mac Khen – a kind of forest pepper in northwest Vietnam.
Buckwheat flowers food-made are Ha Giang’s specialty. Buckwheat is known not only for its beauty but also for its tastiness. You can find many food-stall selling coal grilled Tam Giac Mach cake near Lung Cam cultural village, Vuong King palace, Dong Van market and Old Quarter. Tam Giac Mach flower is also used to make wine, cookies and soft cake….
Thang Den is a popular sweet soup dessert in Dong Van and Meo Vac when served hot can warm your body up in the cold night on the highland’s town. The small white balls made of glutinous rice are soaked in sweet syrup, topped with peanuts, sesame and coconut slices. This soup sure smells good.
Thang Co Dish is originally a traditional food of H’mong people, has become a common food among ethnic groups in the region. Thang Co’s main ingredient is horse meat. All parts of the horse are put in a big pan and fried. Men often eat Thang Co with wine while women eat the dish with Com Nam (rice balls) or men (ground maize).
Stuffed pancake in Dong Van is soft, full of onion and grind meat. Using your chopsticks and take a taste of this, you can feel warm inside your body.
Ha Giang experiences two main seasons: the rainy season from April to October – and the dry season from November to March. Along with these seasons switching, Ha Giang offers a different perspective at different times of the year, when visitors find Ha Giang at its own varied authentic charms. Let us offer you some great tips on which month to go to enjoy the most of Ha Giang during your trip.
January – March: It’s the time of peach and plum flowers to boom, also the time of the Lunar New Year with a festive atmosphere, when you will see the hills and mountains come back to life after their winter sleep. Peach and plum blossoms add dots of white and pink to the green hills, making for a wonderful view and beautiful scent.
April: On 27th on the third month of the year which falls in April, Ha Giang is bustling with Khau Vai annual love market, which is a special event that happens only once a year. On this day, vendors from all around the province come to sell their products in a flurry of color. Check when exactly it is this year as the exact date depends on the lunar calendar and changes every year.
May – July: During these months, terraced rice fields in Ha Giang are flooded in water to prepare for the rice season, making a poetic scenery. Farmers irrigate their rice fields which turn a rich vibrant green as a result. Get ready for some postcard-worthy shots during this time of year!
September – October: The rice fields turn yellow weaving through the mountains like golden ribbons and are almost ready for harvest. Another Ha Giang must-see for tourists who love to seek for wonder.
November – December: It’s time for buckwheat flowers to bloom on the terraced fields, also the time for buckwheat flower’s festival. This is when the small, pink flowers in the fields create a beautiful contrast to the grey mountains and green forests around.
Besides, there is a chance of snow, which is very rare over Vietnam, but luckily, it can be found at Ha Giang. Even if you don’t catch snow, the province is beautiful in winter as thick mist floats around the hills and makes you feel like you’re in a whole other world.
Geographically, Ha Giang was never an easy destination to travel, however, there are still available transportation that will help you to reach there, and you may find your best way to get to Ha Giang among them.
A cheap and comfortable way to get to Ha Giang from Hanoi is by night bus, which may take you around 7 – 9 hours of driving. There are several leaving Hanoi’s northern terminal every evening and the cheapest ones cost you less than $10. The buses have fully-reclining berths which make it easy to sleep. That way you can start exploring Ha Giang well-rested and make the most of your first day there.
By private car: The most convenient way to reach Ha Giang probably is by private car. In Hanoi, you will easily find travel agents who can help you book a private driver to take you to Ha Giang. Especially, if you’re traveling with a group of friends, this can be a fun and cost-effective solution. Going with a driver also adds flexibility as you can stop anytime you want, whether it’s for a photo or to try some food along the way. The cost starts from $100 and variable.
If you love adventure, head to Ha Giang on your own motorbike. The 300-kilometer ride will take you the better part of a day, especially if you want to make a few stops along the way.
To be safe, always ride with a helmet. It’s the law and it’s important since you’re probably unfamiliar with the rather creative driving style in Vietnam. When you’re ready to go, start your trip early in the morning to make the most of daylight. This is important as some mountain roads are poorly illuminated and you wouldn’t want to drive in the dark on winding roads you don’t know well.
Throughout this article, we wish you to have an idea of how to travel to Ha Giang for your best experience. As the professional agent and love-to-travel-around-Vietnam team, we are proud of Ha Giang and expect you to be happy the most while visiting here. If you have a question, please feel free to let us know. We always commit our best to make it your once-in-a-lifetime journey.