North Vietnam’s Ha-Giang Loop on Your Own

The Ha Giang Loop in the North of Vietnam

The Ha Giang Loop in northern Vietnam offers a breathtaking backdrop for a trip of several days on a scooter. Without a doubt, the region is one of the most spectacular in the country. Ha Giang is the northernmost city in Vietnam and lies directly on the border with China. The popular motorbike route leads along traditional villages of different minorities and offers spectacular views of rice terraces, karst rocks and canyons. The Ha Giang Loop is a must on any trip to Vietnam. We did it on our own in 3 days. We shared a scooter. If you feel insecure, you can also join a tour or ride in the back of an Easyrider. In this article, however, we will focus on the topic “Ha Giang Loop on your own.

In fairness, it should be said that you are certainly not the first person to come up with the idea of driving the Ha Giang Loop. Accordingly, depending on the season, it can get very crowded on the roads. Most accommodations have between 50 and 150 scooters for rent. Nevertheless, the loop is worthwhile and offers unique and spectacular experiences.

Everything you need to know about the Ha Giang Loop at a glance

Length: ~ 350 km
Duration: 3-5 days
Difficulty: medium
Road conditions: Mostly well-maintained roads, but some gravel roads, especially when there is construction on the main road.
Attractions: Gorgeous panoramas, caves, traditional einim villages off the main route, the road itself, the steep rice terraces, viewpoints.
Our route: Ha Giang – Dong Van – Du Gia – Ha Giang

We hadn’t decided beforehand how many days we wanted to do the Ha Giang Loop. We just set off and saw how far we could get and how far we wanted to go. Two of us shared a scooter and left most of our luggage in Ha Giang (most accommodations offer lockers for this). We’ll give you a brief outline of our itinerary, maybe it will inspire you :-).

Day 1: Ha Giang to Dong Van
We set off at 8:00 in the morning, refuelled the scooter in Ha Giang, Naomi carries a backpack on her back, I have one at my feet and we stow the remaining provisions in the helmet compartment. The first day takes us on a well-maintained road past rice terraces, beautiful viewpoints and karst rocks. After some time, we reach the so-called Fairy Breasts – two hills of the same size lying next to each other, resembling a breast. On the way, we make several stops to enjoy the beautiful landscape. The sky is a bit cloudy, which makes the mountainous scenery with its valleys appear even more dramatic. Most of the day’s highlights are around Quan Ba, and we particularly liked the Lung Khuy Cave, which most travellers skip because it is a bit out of the way and takes about half an hour to get there on foot. The cave itself is impressive, but so is the path leading off the main road. On the way to Dong Van we visit the mansion of the Vuong family and learn something about the architectural masterpiece of the small palace before we happily but visibly exhausted move into our room in Dong Van. We quickly buy an avocado for breakfast, eat a Pho Bo and then end the day with a beer.

View of the Fairy Breasts

Day 2: Dong Van to Du Gia
We skip the Lung Cu viewpoint as we both don’t really feel like it and leave again around 8:00 am. The views become more and more spectacular. After some time we reach the popular photo stop with the jutting rock. If you don’t have a head for heights, it’s better not to climb the ledge. Afterwards we do a part of the skywalk, which is also really beautiful. We continue over the breathtaking Ma Pi Leng Pass with its fantastic views into the canyon. The next stop is down by the river for a boat ride through the canyon. If we had to skip one thing, it would probably have been this. The ride is very nice but nothing more. But at 100,000 VND, it was the most expensive undertaking during the loop.

Day 3: Du Gia back to Ha Giang
We leave early in the morning to take a dip in the Playground waterfalls. Here you can jump into the water from various rocks – just my thing. After splashing around, we get on the scooter for a very long day. Still beautiful landscapes and views. After a while we are forced to stop. Blasting works for road construction make the road impassable for about 45 minutes. After we drove on again, we were sent on a diversion because the main road was closed. In the meantime, the tank was getting low and we could not imagine that we would find a petrol station in the next few metres. Fortunately, we just managed to reach a petrol station. As it was much later than expected, we decided to return the same way as on the first day – instead of an alternative route that is supposed to be much nicer.

Tips for the Ha Giang Loop

  • It is best to fill up at every petrol station along the way.
  • Pack sunscreen.
  • Comfortable trousers that pad the bottom a little.
  • Pack a rain poncho.

How to get to Ha Giang

Getting to Ha Giang is relatively simple. Depending on where you are coming from, there are of course different options. We rented a scooter in Cao Bang and returned it in Ha Giang at the end of the loop. Alternatively, we recommend taking the bus.

From Hanoi:
From Hanoi, there are several buses daily that go from the My Dinh Bus Terminal to Ha Giang. The journey takes about 6 hours and can be done either overnight or during the day. The overnight trip is not really recommended in this case, as you arrive at 2 or 3 in the morning and usually can’t get into your accommodation yet.

From Cao Bang By scooter/motorbike
As described above, we rented a scooter in Cao Bang and returned it in Ha Giang for an extra charge. The extra charge was just under €20 for dropping it off in Ha Giang – not cheap but we would do it again. The route from Cao Bang to Ha Giang alone is another highlight in itself.

What costs do you have to expect during the Ha Giang Loop?

You will find accommodation along the way in all price ranges – from dorms to relatively luxurious accommodation, there is something for everyone. The prices for food are the same as in the rest of Vietnam. For cheap accommodation, I would plan on about 5-7 € in a dorm and 1-2 € per meal. Add to that about 8 € per day for the scooter and ~ 5 € fuel costs. If you are alone, you should manage very well with 30 € per day. If there are two of you on a scooter, it will of course be much cheaper per person.

Packing List for the Ha Giang Loop

In the end, you don’t really need much for the Ha Giang Loop. As it is not unlikely that you will get caught in a rain shower in the highlands, you should definitely bring a poncho. We also recommend bringing a jumper and long trousers in case it gets a bit chilly in the evening.

  • Rain ponchos or rain jacket and rain trousers
  • 1 sweater and 1 large pants
  • Pocket knife to cut fruits and vegetables on the way
  • Snacks
  • Offline map such as
  • Head lamp
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen

Ha Giang Loop on your own or with a tour?

Those who know our blog a little will already know the answer – definitely on your own. This assumes, however, that you feel confident on a scooter/motorbike and that you are able to ride on unpaved roads. In the end, there are 3 ways you can do the loop:
1) On your own: You rent a vehicle and just drive off.
2) With a tour:in a group with a rented scooter (you drive yourself)
3) With a Tour & Easy Rider: in a group with a rented scooter (you sit in the back with an experienced driver)

Accommodation on the Ha Giang Loop

There is some accommodation in the various villages along the way. Ha Giang and Dong Van in particular are teeming with accommodation. Depending on the season, it may be advisable to book them in advance. However, I am sure that you can always find accommodation somewhere along the way. We didn’t pre-book anything and found accommodation everywhere.
Ha Giang:
Here we stayed at Hong Hao Hostel & Motorbikes for €5 per person in a super cosy and new dorm including breakfast. The beds had their own curtains and you could completely isolate yourself. However, if you are looking for something to socialise with, this is not the place for you. The people were more on their own and had prepared themselves for the upcoming Ha Giang Loop – just like we were at that moment.

Dong Van:
The Hong Hao Hostel also has accommodation in Dong Van, which was fine. Here we paid just under 10 € for a double room, so the price-performance ratio was absolutely fine. Breakfast was also included. However, next time I would probably prefer to stay in Phố Cổ Street, as the houses are much more original and you are right in the middle of the action in the old town. While we were there, there was not much going on, but I could imagine that this would change when it comes to high season.

Du Gia:
The small village of Du Gia actually offers the least accommodation. But even here it was no problem to find something suitable.

Police checks on the Ha Giang Loop

The police in Vietnam are often corrupt, especially in regions with many tourists. However, most scooter rental companies seem to have a good connection to the traffic police. We were assured several times that we should simply pass on the phone as soon as we were stopped. Our understanding is that you can drive a scooter in Vietnam with an international driving licence, but we can’t prove it exactly.

Frequently asked questions about Vietnam’s Ha-Giang Loop

If you do it on your own, you should expect costs between $ 50 and $ 80 for 2 people on a scooter, including scooter rental, accommodation, food and fuel.
For the most part, the roads are well maintained and easy to drive on. In between, however, there are also passages that are unpaved, especially when you leave the main route. But even the main route was unpaved in between.
This is rather difficult, as there are probably frequent police checks. As far as we know, an international driving licence is recognised.
The Ha-Giang Loop starts in the town of the same name, which is also the northernmost town in Vietnam. The loop is very close to the Vietnamese-Chinese border.
Of course, there are different models that are rented out at different costs. A simple scooter costs around 8 € per day.

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We are Julian & Naomi and we love to travel the world and immerse ourselves in other cultures. We have an adventurous, spartan, sustainable and reflective travel style. In our opinion, the greatest adventures are experienced when you do things on your own and try to live like a local. The taste of a country is best captured on the road
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