Australian Newspaper Provides Helpful Advice For Navigating The Ha Giang Loop In Vietnam

Cathy Finch recently took an exhilarating journey through the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang in Vietnam, navigating its winding roads by motorcycle. In a recent article for the Herald Sun newspaper, she shared her thrilling travel experience.

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The author detailed that their journey wound its way high above rivers on rocky, dusty country roads, clinging to the edges of cliff faces and weaving through limestone pinnacles and verdant, picturesque fields of rice.

She highlighted that the 350-kilometer loop road is an immensely popular choice amongst thrill-seeking tourists, despite it still being a less trodden journey due to its location in the far-flung north of the nation.

Photo: Lily's Travel Agency
Photo: Lily’s Travel Agency

Winding through some of the most breathtaking scenery in Southeast Asia, a motorbike ride on this route is a must for travelers looking to get close to the landscape and experience the thrill of continuously narrow and snaking bends. From the lush green rice paddies and dense jungle of Vietnam to the awe-inspiring mountain passes of Laos, this route is a feast for the senses. From the majestic beauty of the Mekong Delta to the otherworldly landscape of the 4000 Islands, this is an adventure you won’t soon forget. So, if you’re looking for a unique journey that will make memories to last a lifetime, this is the ride for you.

She described the loop as an exhilarating rush, open to the elements and enjoying the challenging terrain and stunning landscape. Every mountain village along the way welcomed the group with warmth, offering fun interactions with the locals and a chance to experience both local food and customs. It was a truly unforgettable experience!

She also proposed numerous ways for visitors to complete the Ha Giang loop by booking tours or conquering it solo on a semi-automatic motorbike.

Photo: Vietnam's Coracle
Photo: Vietnam’s Coracle

The author suggested that travelers book a trip to ride as a passenger behind a friend, or alternatively choose the most popular ‘easy-rider’ option, which allows them to sit on the back of the bike, enjoying the scenery, while an experienced local takes care of the driving.

She revealed that QT Motorbikes and Tours, Ha Giang have an excellent reputation for new bikes, whilst encouraging travelers to undergo a trial ride before renting.

She also recommended that visitors take time off the motorbike to enjoy a relaxing boat ride along the Nho Que River, a gorgeous and meandering stream that carves its way through sheer limestone cliffs. Moreover, cleansing the dirt off with a dip at Du Bia waterfall is also a particularly invigorating activity.

Photo: Life of Doing
Photo: Life of Doing

Her group was absolutely delighted with the local cuisine as they indulged themselves in breakfasts and dinners with local homestay owners, taking breaks during their loop for delightful lunches and ordering a variety of authentic and scrumptious local dishes every day. Popular Vietnamese meals include Banh Mi, Pho, Bun cha, and Banh xeo, accompanied by ‘Happy Water’, the local rice wine, she said.

This 350-kilometer loop road, named for its circular route from Ha Giang township and through the Ha Giang province back again, is an adventurer’s paradise and a genuine off-the-beaten-track experience. Located in the remote north of the country, on the border with China, the route winds through some of South-East Asia’s most breathtaking scenery, making it a popular motorbike ride. Travelers can enjoy the thrill of continuous, snaking bends and form a close connection with the spectacular landscape.

The region is home to many traditional ethnic groups, including the Hmong people. As you ride through the mountains, you will see them going about their daily lives. This area of Vietnam offers a unique cultural experience, as it is common to stay in homestays and eat dinner with local families, as highlighted by Mad or Nomad.

Photo: Vietnam Chronicles
Photo: Vietnam Chronicles

For an exciting solo journey, many companies rent out the manual or semi-automatic bikes necessary to complete the loop. Semi-automatic bikes offer the power needed for the ride without the hassle of a clutch, allowing you to take the ride at your own pace. Additionally, you can book a variety of homestays along the way while carrying only a small backpack with your essentials. Moreover, most companies will store your luggage free of charge until your return.

Additionally, it’s important to carry a few essentials like water, a first aid kit, and a map.

An international driver’s license is technically required to drive a motorbike in Vietnam, but it is not always enforced. Therefore, solo travelers should be aware that they may incur fines at checkpoints along the loop in the absence of one. To ensure a smooth experience, it’s important to rent a bike from a reputable company and check the condition of the bike before renting. QT Motorbikes and Tours, Ha Giang, has a good reputation for providing quality bikes and they even allow you to trial ride before renting. Additionally, don’t forget to bring a few essentials such as water, a first aid kit, and a map.

A border province and official Frontier Area, Ha Giang lies in the remote far northern region of Vietnam. Visiting this province is like taking a journey back in time, where you can encounter some of the country’s most grand and rugged landscapes. To truly appreciate the beauty of Ha Giang, it’s best experienced as a road trip on two wheels, giving you the opportunity to savor the majestic scenery and the atmosphere of the remote towns and minority villages.

Photo: Vietnam Coracle
Photo: Vietnam Coracle

September through November is an ideal time to explore the beauty of Ha Giang Province, with cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. During November, the province is abuzz with the annual Buckwheat Flower Festival, attracting visitors from all over the country. From April to June, the weather is pleasant and warm, while July and August are typically hot and humid, with regular monsoons.

The small city of Ha Giang is the gateway to the province and is situated approximately 300km from Hanoi. Buses travel day and night from the capital, ranging from sleeper buses to smaller VIP mini-vans. Depending on the vehicle and driver, the journey there typically takes around six hours. Public transport in Ha Giang Province is relatively limited. Experienced drivers can rent a motorcycle in town. Alternatively, travelers can book a tour, either on the back of a motorbike or by private car.

Charlotte Pho