We’ve been traveling to Vietnam for several years, but the Ha Giang Loop had been eluding us until now! On previous trips we had either run out of days or it had been the wrong time of the year. So on our last adventure to Vietnam we made sure not to miss this amazing ride! The Ha Giang motorbike route runs along the China Vietnam border, and the never-ending views seem to get better each day. This post will be a day by day breakdown with directions and tips to ensure you have as great of a Ha Giang tour as we did!
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Preparing for the Ha Giang Loop
Cash for Ha Giang
We took out all the money we would need for the trip (and a little extra) before leaving Hanoi. Many of the towns don’t have ATM’s or money exchange, and almost everywhere is cash only.
It’s best to plan ahead for the Ha Giang Loop and have all the funds you’ll need in hand. Make sure to check below for our budget breakdown!
Ha Giang Loop Clothing
Depending on the time of year this can be a VERY cold ride, especially if it starts to rain. We did our Ha Giang tour in April and had amazing weather, but the day before and after we left it was pouring rain! Luckily, in Hanoi they sell warm clothing for very cheap.
We already had what we needed in Hanoi, but our friends negotiated a North Face waterproof jacket for $12 USD and fleece lined waterproof pants for $8.
We also picked up some hats and gloves for about $1 each. Now you don’t have to go all out, but check the weather before and make sure to have some layers with you and something waterproof.
Ha Giang Vietnam Accommodation
Most of the places to stay along the Ha Giang Loop are very basic. Of course we will recommend some, but know that they’re probably not the level of comfort you might be used to.
Also, you should always book your accommodation a night or two beforehand. We saw a bunch of riders showing up and being turned away because the guesthouses were already full.
There are limited rooms in some of the towns with more and more people doing the Ha Giang motorbike route every day.
- Ha Giang (Night 1) – Lila Inn
- Yen Minh (Night 2) – Milk Milk Homestay or Homestay Hoàng Vũ!
- Dong Van (Night 3) – Ancient Town 29 Phố Cổ
- Du Gia (Night 4) – Du Già Village Homestay
Ha Giang Loop Cost Breakdown
- 1,400,000 VND – Transport Round Trip to Ha Giang from Hanoi
- 1,400,000 VND – Four Day Motorbike Rental (Automatic with Full Insurance)
- 930,000 VND – Homestay/Hostel Accommodations for Four Nights
- 200,000 VND – Gas For The Entire Ride
- 1,500,000 VND – Food, Drinks, & Snacks
5,430,000 VND Total For Two People = $234 USD or $117 Each
From the moment we left Hanoi until we returned 5 days later, the Ha Giang motorbike route cost us $117 each. Obviously what cost the most was the transportation to the north along with the motorbike. Still, overall we think it was a steal.
As we mentioned before this was just basic accommodations. This means private rooms in hostels or home stays, local meals, and family dinners. If you don’t mind roughing it, this self-guided Ha Giang tour is 100% worth every penny!
→ Combine the Ha Giang Loop with our amazing 11 Day Northern Vietnam Itinerary!
Getting to Ha Giang Vietnam
Day/Night Bus: $9-12 USD Each Way Depending on The Company
The bus is a fine option, but not what we would recommend. It turns the 5-7 hour ride to Ha Giang Vietnam into 12+ long hours! Some travelers told us that they had to switch buses and actually wait for 3 hours in the middle of the night for the next one to arrive. We’ve had our share of bad bus rides while backpacking, so we ALWAYS pay a little extra if it means better transportation.
Limousine Transfer: $12-15 USD Each Way Depending on The Company
Okay before you get all excited… This “luxury car” is not the stretch limousine you’re thinking of! In Vietnam it’s actually a nicer version of a passenger van that carries 7-8 people.
If you’re lucky it will have leather seats or wifi, and maybe even a TV playing english movies. Even though it’s not an actual limousine, it’s still worth it to upgrade to this instead of going on one of the bigger and more crowded buses.
→ Search for companies that make the trip from Hanoi to to Ha Giang!
Renting Your Motorbike in Ha Giang
Automatic: If you don’t have much experience riding a motorbike than this is the option for you! No worries with shifting gears, but we had a few issues with the steep hills on our automatic.
Semi-Automatic: If you know how to ride definitely go with a semi-auto for the Ha Giang loop. Better for hills, the cheapest option, and an overall more comfortable ride
Dirt Bike: For the most experienced of riders. Dirt bikes will go faster and even allow you to go off-road if need be!
Insurance: If there is anytime to get insurance it’s now. It might cost a little extra upfront but it’s well worth it. Our friends bike randomly fell over because the ground was rocky and unstable, knocking the frame that holds luggage off the back and scratching the bike. Instead of paying extra to fix it, we just returned the bike no questions asked. It should only cost you an extra 100,000 VND ($4 USD) per day for insurance.
Other Ha Giang Tour Options
Easy Rider: Easy rider is a popular ride service where you can travel long distances on the back of someone else’s motorbike. That’s right! They will take you on the full 3 night 4 day ride. If you’re not confident in your own motorbike skills this is a fun way to take your Ha Giang Tour. You can typically book this through your hostel as well.
Car With Driver: This would be the most expensive way to do the Ha Giang Loop, but the best option with a big group of people that want nothing to do with riding motorbikes. Take in the sights from the comfort of a car, and have the driver pull over whenever you wish.
Ha Giang Loop Motorbike Route: 4 Days 3 Nights
After a 5+ hour bus ride, getting our motorbike, insurance, and bag packed we were ready to go! The part that made this so easy was our hostel had all the equipment we needed. So when the morning came, all we had to do was jump on our bikes and take off towards the Vietnam China border.
For a place to stay we highly recommend LiLa Inn. It’s located in the center of Ha Giang Vietnam, and features an awesome outside lounge area with hammocks. Here you’ll find comfortable beds, 24/7 reception, and secure magnetic lock system.
The best part about LiLa Inn is the experienced motorbike rental service team that will provide training and equipment for your ride.
Also, they are one of the few places in the area that can set you up with an easy rider. They even have a meeting where they discuss the loop at 8pm every night! Also, the staff can book bus tickets to Hanoi, Spa, Ninh Banh, and anywhere else you’d like to travel in Northern Vietnam from Ha Giang.
→ You can use this link to book LiLa Inn and contact them directly for transfers by email at [email protected].
Ha Giang Loop Day 1
Ha Giang to Yen Minh
Distance: 102 km
Driving Time: 4-6 Hours
The first day of your Ha Giang tour begins with a long straightaway before you actually get into the mountains. Be careful as you head out of town because there is typically police looking to pull people over. We’ve dealt with these fines in other places like Mui Ne Vietnam, and it’s certainly a bad start to your day.
Once you enter the first mountain pass you’ll be completely blown away by the nature surrounding you. Be aware as this section tends to have more cars and motorbikes since it is the entry way to the Ha Giang motorbike route. From there, you can take many different roads throughout the northern province of Vietnam.
Heaven Gate Coffee Stop
The first day will be the shortest of the 4 days of driving, and a great way to ease into the ride. Make sure to stop at the coffee shop after Heaven’s Gate for an EPIC view over the pass!
Heaven Gate Coffee (Cafe Cổng Trời) will be a great choice for your first view of Ha Giang. Honestly though, every other turn will be amazing! So take your time and plan to make multiple photo stops.
Tam Son Lunch Spot
After Heaven’s Gate we road down the hill and into the town of Tam Son. Definitely fill up on gas here even if you’re not running low to be safe.
Gas only cost about $2 USD every time you fill up so there’s no reason not to stop when you can. Also, this is a good spot for lunch as there won’t be many more options until you get to Yen Minh.
We grabbed lunch at Cafe Yến Ngọc (Xa Lạ Quán) which was run by super nice locals and packed with other riders. The fried noodles, spring rolls, and soup we’re all decent.
It’s important to know that most of the food on the loop is very basic in Ha Giang Vietnam. It’s not going to blow you away like the food in Hanoi, but it will fill you up just fine!
Arriving in Yen Minh
The rest of your day will be filled with more views and great photo stops. Make sure not to pass up Lung Khay Cave! It should take less than an hour and is a must visit before continuing on.
When arriving in the town of Yen Minh you’ll quickly notice that there isn’t much going on. We took the late afternoon to rest and relax before enjoying a family dinner.
What is “family dinner” you might be wondering? For a small fee our hostel made a huge spread where everyone who signed up got to eat together and share highlights from the day on the road. This was one of the best meals we had on our Ha Giang tour, so don’t skip family dinner if you stay at 2A Homestay and Coffee!
*Since our visit the accommodation we stayed at has since closed. Other popular options in the area are Milk Milk Homestay & Homestay Hoàng Vũ!
Ha Giang Loop Day 2
Yen Minh to Dong Van & China Border Stop
Distance: 86 km
Driving Time: 5-7 Hours
The second day will only elevate your excitement as you’ll be heading (almost) to a different country! From Yen Minh you’ll have about 2 hours ride to the China Vietnam border. Again, make sure to fill up on gas and breakfast before heading off for the day.
Looking back as you’re leaving town will be an incredibly scenic view, and a reminder of why you did the Ha Giang Loop in the first place!
On the ride to the Lung Ca Flag tower you will see some of the most jaw dropping peaks of the trip. The massive canyons, rolling fields, and pointed green mountain tops look like they continue on forever in the distance.
Lung Cu Flag Tower
Once you arrive at the China Vietnam border you’ll have 2 options to get to the viewpoint. You should see a giant staircase leading from the bottom of the Lung Cu Flag Tower as soon as you pull up.
If you’re looking for an extreme fitness challenge you can start at the very bottom. However, most people drive a little farther uphill to the cafe parking lot where you can make a more manageable climb to the top.
After a small fee and short hike up you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of two different Asian countries! On one side you’ll have Vietnam, and the other will be China.
How often can you say that you’ve seen something this wild?? Funny enough, they actually don’t look that different from each other!
China Vietnam Border
As you’re heading back towards Dong Van you’ll see a bunch of motorbikes pulled over in what seams to be the middle of nowhere. This is actually the closest point to the Chinese border, and some take this opportunity to cross illegally into China.
While there are many stories about travelers going into China and having an epic afternoon, it can be very dangerous. The Chinese government has started to catch on to how popular this is and the area has since been patrolled. We recommend leaving illegal border crossings off of your Ha Giang motorbike route!
Night in Dong Van
When you ride into Dong Van you’ll quickly see that this is a much larger and developed town than Yen Minh. There is a huge local market in the center of town that gets swarmed on the weekends with locals from the surrounding villages.
Unlike most other places you’ll stop on the Ha Giang Loop, you’ll find plenty of restaurants to eat in Dong Van. You can find everything from local to western food, backpacker bars, and even a pizza place!
Ha Giang Loop Day 3
Dong Van to Du Gia
Distance: 71 km
Driving Time: 6-8 Hours
The third day of your Ha Giang tour is by far the most fun and beautiful of the entire ride. Some people choose to skip Du Gia and head back to the main town, and we URGE YOU not to do that! This will be the longest section of your Ha Giang motorbike route, but also the most rewarding.
Ma Pi Leng Pass
Ma Pi Leng Pass is the one that everyone imagines when they see photos of the Ha Giang Loop. The twists and turns of the road will leave you speechless as you take in the insane views of the mountains. The start of the pass is only 15 minutes from Dong Van so make sure to plan a good time to leave and keep an eye on the weather.
Our morning was a little cloudy and we regretted not doing the pass the night before just to see it before going back to sleep in Dong Van. Don’t take this the wrong way as it’s still amazing either way! Yet if you’re lucky enough to see it on a clear day you’ll get some of the most spectacular views in all of Asia.
Epic Lunch Stop
En route to Du Gia we highly recommend the Diem Dung Chan Pit Stop. It may look a little sketchy, but the food is solid and the views are beautiful. We’re probably sounding like a broken record here… But if you’re hungry don’t pass this up. There aren’t may places to eat after it on this stretch!
Ride into Du Gia
A couple hours from the start of the day you will start another harrowing climb up threw the massive green mountains. This is where you will get some outstanding views of the nature and rice paddies below.
Honestly, we’ve seen the famous rice paddies in Bali, but the ones on the Ha Giang Loop blow them out of the water! Once you start getting closer to Du Gia you’ll be driving through landscapes that you never thought existed.
Take us seriously when we say it really did feel like we were on a different planet! Multi-colored rocks, towering mountains, and tiny villages with not another tourist in sight.
Eventually you’ll arrive in Du Gia, a small village with a few restaurants and guesthouses. Although this is the first semblance of tourism you’ll have seen all day, Du Gia still retains its local spirit.
What to Do in Du Gia
After dropping your bags off it’s time for one more short ride that you won’t regret to end your day. There’s a waterfall about 10-15 minutes from the main town. It’s important to ask your guesthouse where it is because we had a lot of trouble finding it!
This is a good spot for a swim, but even if you don’t track down the waterfall it’s an absolutely stunning ride through the rice paddies as the sun goes down. Watch as the sun sets over the mountains, creating a cascade of colors over Du Gia. What a perfect end to your Ha Giang tour!
We stayed at Du Gia Backpacker Hostel & Trekking, and were provided dinner and breakfast the next morning. Dinner included a a delicious family style meal and unlimited rice wine (or happy water as our host liked to call it).
Our night ended with a karaoke machine coming out, and a lot of drinks and laughs. Be careful with the rice wine or you’ll be in for a very long day tomorrow!
*Du Gia Backpacker Hostel & Trekking is no longer open but Du Già Village Homestay is a popular option in town!
Ha Giang Loop Day 4
Du Gia to Ha Giang
Distance: 110 km
Driving Time: 4-5 Hours
There are actually three different ways to finish the Ha Giang Loop when leaving Du Gia. Check out the options below to decide what’s right for you. Remember that you will likely be very tired at this point of the journey!
Backtrack to DT182
You can ride back to the town of Mau De and cut back on the DT182 to Yen Minh. People take this road because it is the most complete and paved road (as of April 2019) to get you back to Ha Giang.
Complete Ha Giang Loop using DT176
On the map the “full loop” is essentially continuing on from Du Gia on the DT176 to Ha Giang. We spoke recently with others who did this route and said that it was an awful way to end the trip because of the terrible road conditions for the 5 hour ride. Until the road is updated we can’t advise taking this way on your Ha Giang motorbike route.
Du Gia Cut Through to the DT181
This is the way we took, and it was one of the most popular at the time. Instead of riding back to Mau De you just backtrack a short distance, and cut through on the DT182. You can read more about what we did below on our own Ha Giang tour.
Du Gia Cut Through
The road conditions on our Ha Giang motorbike route were surprisingly some of the best we’ve seen in Southeast Asia. Nonetheless, the ride back from Du Gia will involve some bumpy roads that weren’t yet finished! When you leave Du Gia you have to go back to Ha Giang Vietnam way you came for a little while before cutting onto the DT181.
As you come up over the mountain and pass through the small village make sure to get a photo! Once you get on the 181 the road will be fine for awhile before everything gets wild.
At the time they were in the middle of paving the roads so we had to push our bike around the huge construction vehicles. For a small stretch we couldn’t help but laugh as I jumped off the back, and Jake tried his best not to pop a tire.
These roads will hopefully be complete by the time you get to the Ha Giang Loop. The DT181 cut through will be another epic afternoon of crazy views and winding roads. When you get closer to town you’ll be back to doing the same stretch that you did on day 1, and most likely be ready for it to end.
Getting Back to Hanoi from Ha Giang Vietnam
After you’re sore and tired from a ridiculous 4 days, we recommend jumping on a bus and making the trip back to Hanoi that same night. I know it might seem like a lot after this exhausting ride, but you wont regret not adding another day of travel to your trip.
We spoke with our hostel 2 days prior to arrange this for us, got back to Ha Giang town around 2:30pm, and were on the shuttle back to Hanoi at 4pm.
When arriving in Hanoi we were let off on a random street in the dark which wasn’t ideal… Luckily, if you’ve spent any time in Vietnam you know that everything is just a grab taxi ride away. Order a grab (or hail down a regular taxi) to take you the final stretch to your hotel.
→ Hanoi Old Quarter in Vietnam: 12 Awesome Tips For Your First Visit
Should You Ride Vietnam’s Ha Giang Loop?
Yes! We know this is a massive amount of information, but we wanted to share as much as we could about our experience in Ha Giang Vietnam. The ride is long and can be challenging at times, but it is truly one of the most amazing treks you will ever take part in. If you’re up for an adventure definitely ride the Ha Giang Loop!
Have any questions about the Ha Giang Loop or want to share tips from your own Ha Giang tour? Please do so in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
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Thank you for writing in such depth about your trip; it looks and sounds fabulous. How I envy you the freedom of motorcycle travel. Being in our late 60’s, we won’t be venturing to do it by motorcycle, so can you please advise if there are “luxury” bus connections between these destinations, or even private cars which run this 4 night route as well?
I realise that being at higher altitude, the weather can be unpredictable. We are looking at doing it in late Sept or early October. Your thoughts on that time of year would be much appreciated.
Thank you in advance.
Hi! We actually know travelers who don’t feel comfortable with a motorbike and hired a car to transfer them for the 4 night loop! We are not certain about how to book this however I would recommend emailing Lan from Lila Inn – [email protected]
Let us know how it goes! Enjoy
Hi guys, sounds like an amazing trip! My partner and I are heading to Vietnam for a few weeks in January. We came across this and it looks perfect for us, However we are wondering if it’s perhaps to cold in the mountains that time of year to this on this trip ? Any reply would be greatly appreciated
Because you’re up high in the mountains unfortunately you’ll never know what kind of weather you’ll get. January and feb will definitely be colder which you can easily prepare for, but the visibility changes day to day. Depending on your itinerary it might even be best to make the decision closer to the date so you can keep an eye on the weather. Hope that helps! It was the best thing we’ve done in Vietnam.
Ha Giang is such a beautiful, dreamy and peaceful place! It is less touristy compared to Sapa, therefore I could totally immerse myself in the authentic and interesting local life with minority people. And the thrilling loop is absolutely worth trying when visiting Ha Giang by motorbike!!!
Btw, thank you for your informative and amazing blog post!
We totally agree! Ha Giang was one if our favorite adventures in Vietnam. Such an amazing experience! 🙂