(Last updated: April 6th, 2020 – Added How to take a boat on Nho Que river)
In this Complete Ha Giang Travel Guide article I’ll cover the following topics:
- Best time to visit Ha Giang
- Travel to and around Ha Giang
- Accommodations in Ha Giang (plus List of hotels in Ha Giang and List of homestays in Ha Giang)
- Ethnic markets in Ha Giang
- Nho Que River Boating
- Suggested Itinerary for a trip to Ha Giang (4 days 3 nights)
- Summary of tips for travelling to Ha Giang
- Tip for solo travelers to Ha Giang
Feel free to comment below if you want to share any other tip you have about traveling to Ha Giang 🙂 This Ha Giang Travel Guide will be updated regularly, so it’ll be great if you can contribute with any tip or information regarding travelling to Ha Giang.
You might also want to check out these articles before reading this Ha Giang Travel Guide
When to visit Ha Giang?
The best time to go to Ha Giang is … anytime. Yes, Ha Giang is beautiful all year round. There are certainly more popular times when travelers flock here and accommodations tend to run out, such as:
- September – October: when the yellow rice terraced fields are ready to be harvested
- November – December: when buckwheat flowers bloom all over the valleys
- January – February: when plum and peach flowers bloom
- In April on the day of the Khau Vai Love Market (27/03 Lunar Calendar) and during the time water is poured all over the rice paddy terraced fields
However, even if you visit Ha Giang when it’s less inundated with tourists (such as during the summer months), you will still find Ha Giang’s beauty intact. Rain or shine, the awe-inspiring mountains are always there to wow you.
Please note: Check Ha Giang weather forecast well before you travel to Ha Giang. Usually there is light rain in September-October and there can be storms during the summer months. In January and February, thick fog can make it dangerous to drive here.
How to travel to and around Ha Giang?
Get to Ha Giang from Hanoi
From Hanoi, you can go to Ha Giang either by motorbike (which takes from 8 to 10 hours as the distance from Hanoi to Ha Giang is 300 km), by rental car, by coach or by night bus (with berths).
Coaches from Hanoi to Ha Giang: Coaches and night buses from Hanoi to Ha Giang mostly run from My Dinh station. I’d recommend booking your coach ticket via vexere.com, where you can compare the price and time of different buses and pay online using Visa or Mastercard. Otherwise, buying tickets directly at My Dinh station is also fine. Some coach companies also allow you to bring along your motorbike for an extra fee (call them to check beforehand).
Hiring a car from Hanoi to Ha Giang: Here are some travel companies you can contact. Note that drivers often don’t speak much English. You will also need to find an English-speaking guide (US$25 – US$45 / day) who will explain to you about the places and assist you if something happens on the road.
- US$440 / 4-seat car / 5 days
- US$485 / 7-seat car / 5 days
Including gas, road tolls, parking fees and driver
1,800,000 VND / day / 7-seat car including gas and driver
Get to Ha Giang from Sapa / Lao Cai
There are 2 daily coaches (6am and 11am) that depart from Lao Cai to Ha Giang City. The coach takes around 5-6 hours and costs VND 120 000 / ticket (around US$6). If you’re in Sapa, this means you need to go back to Lao Cai the night before departure to Ha Giang.
Note: Please go to Lao Cai Bus station and check the bus timetable there beforehand as departure time might change.
Travel around Ha Giang
After arriving in Ha Giang city the next morning, you can take another bus to Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van or Meo Vac depending on your travel itinerary. Remember to ask the bus driver about the return time, in case you want to get back to Ha Giang city.
Then, you need to catch a motorbike taxi (xe om) to the attractions in these districts. You’d better have your itinerary ready by the time you find a xe om in Ha Giang city. You can then show him places in your itinerary that you want to go to. The main disadvantage of xe om (motorbike taxi) is that most of the time, you will find it hard to communicate to the driver without knowing Vietnamese.
Here are some buses from Ha Giang city to Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van and Meo Vac. (Source: cungphuot.info)
Ha Giang City – Quan Ba
CƯỜNG THÚY (Runs from Ha Giang at 5-6am) – Tel: 0915 407522
THẮNG PHƯỢNG (Runs from Ha Giang at 11:30am) – Tel: 0915 185434
TÂN YÊN (Runs from Ha Giang at 12:00) – Tel: 0912 369134
Ha Giang City – Yen Minh
NGỌC CƯỜNG (Runs from Ha Giang at12:00-13:00) – Tel: 0904 256279
HOÀNG TUYÊN (Runs from Ha Giang at15:30) – Tel: 0912 120566
Ha Giang City – Dong Van
CẦU MÈ (Runs from Ha Giang at 5:00-12:00) – Tel: 0915 448933
A SINH (Runs from Ha Giang at 5:00-12:00) – Tel: 0984 520371
TRUNG YẾN (Runs from Ha Giang at 12:30) – Tel: 0979 682261
Ha Giang City – Meo Vac
HOÀNG TÀI (Runs from Ha Giang at 5:00-11:30) – Tel: 0912394082
CẦU MÈ (Runs from Ha Giang at 5:00) – Tel: 0167 2116226
NGỌC KHÁNH (Runs from Ha Giang at 9:00) – Tel: 0987 382992
QUANG NGHỊ (Runs from Ha Giang at 10:30-12:30) – Tel: 0946744733
Alternatively, you can rent a motorbike in Ha Giang city and ride by yourself. Prepare a photocopy of your passport for the motorbike owner to keep. Here are some addresses where you can rent motorbike in Ha Giang:
QT Motorbikes and Tours (English-speaking)
Add: Lam Dong St., Phuong Thien, Ha Giang city
Tel: 097 527 87 11
Mr. Nam (English-speaking)
Tel: (0219) 3846129
Bong Hostel (English-speaking)
Add: 63-65 Minh Khai St., Ha Giang city
Tel: 091 512 19 87
Add: To 18 phuong Nguyen Trai, close to the bus station
Tel: 094 171 99 55 / 0988 470863
Add: 218 To 15, Phuong Nguyen Trai
Tel: 0973 695 983 / 0976 290 839
4 Cau Me, To 18
0918 656 838 / 0964 056838
To rent 4-seat to 29-seat cars in Ha Giang City, contact Mr. Vinh (Tel: 01646115115). This option is suitable for groups of 3 or more people.
Accommodations in Ha Giang
Ha Giang has become increasingly popular to Vietnamese tourists in recent years. During holidays and the weekend, it might be difficult to book accommodation here. My advice is therefore to avoid travelling to Ha Giang during these occasions.
There are more accommodations in Ha Giang City, but sometimes due to your own itinerary, it is more convenient not to stay in the city center, but rather in Dong Van, Yen Minh, Quan Ba or Meo Vac. Be aware that hotels in Ha Giang look more like motels, so don’t expect high standards of services. In addition, not many hotel staff there can speak English. Hence if you want to call the hotel to book a room, ask someone who can speak Vietnamese to do that for you.
List of hotels in Ha Giang City:
Ha Giang Resort (Truong Xuan Ecolodge) is a nice place with English-speaking staff, river-view rooms and motorbike rental. You can book a room here via booking.com or agoda as well.
Bông Hostel / Cafe 63 – 65 Minh Khai St. / Tel: (+84) 091 512 19 87. This place has been recommended a lot recently by backpackers to Ha Giang. Free travel advice.
Ha An Guesthouse: 168 Tran Hung Dao / Tel: (+84) 219 3866 242
List of hotels in Dong Van:
Lam Tung Hotel (with lift): To 3, Thi trán Dong Van (can be booked from booking.com)
Time to famous attractions (by motorbike): 20 min to Ma Pi Leng and The Vuong Family Mansion, 35 min to Lung Cu Flag Tower
Hoang Ngoc Hotel: (0219) 3856020
Distance to famous attractions: 24km to Lung Cu Flag Tower, 13 km to The Vuong Family Mansion, 16km to Ma Pi Leng, 24km to Khau Vai Market
Cao Nguyen Da Hotel: (0219) 3856868
Khai Hoan Hotel: (0219) 3856147
Xuan Thu Guesthouse: To 2, Thi tran Dong Van
Lung Cu Guest House: (0219)3856216
List of hotels in Quan Ba:
Nui Doi Guesthouse: (0219) 6510789
Anh Hoat Guesthouse: (0219) 3847189
Cao Nguyen Motel: 250 000 VND / single room, 350 000 VND / double or triple room –
567 Guesthouse: (0219) 3846129
List of hotels in Meo Vac:
Hoa Cuong Hotel (most modern hotel in Ha Giang until now): (0219) 3872888
Auberge de Meo Vac (authentic lodge with rooms decorated in local styles, quite expensive)
Nho Que Guesthouse Basic guesthouse with free wifi: (0219) 3871322
Khau Vai Guesthouse: 0917 706503
List of hotels in Yen Minh:
Thao Nguyen Hotel (1*): (0219) 385 2287
Phuong Nam Guesthouse: (0219) 385 2174
Minh Hai Guesthouse: (0219) 3852109
Na Ma Hotel: (04) 44506070
List of homestays in Ha Giang:
Nam Dam Homestay
The most famous homestay in Ha Giang, Nam Dam Homestay is located in a beautiful Dzao Village in Quan Ba District.
A private Tay family’s homestay with magnificent views of the rice terraced fields, this new homestay in Ha Giang has received quite a few positive reviews from travellers. Tho Homestay is located between Ha Giang and Sapa, making it an ideal stop for those travelling by motorbike.
This homestay-style accommodation is nestled within a village of Dzao people in Quan Ba District. Rooms are spacious with lots of facilities like a proper hotel. There are double, twin, single and dorm rooms to choose from. You can make bookings conveniently via tripadvisor and agoda.
Tien Thang Homestay
Only 5km from Ha Giang City center, Tien Thang Homestay has become a favorite spot for foreign tourists who want a similar experience to Mai Chau’s. The locals here are the Tay ethnic minority, who live in stilt houses with an ancient style.
Ban Tuy Homestay
This homestay is suitable for large groups as it offer very spacious dorm rooms. The hosts here are famous for their hospitality.
Tha Village Homestay
Tha Village is only 2km from Ha Giang City center. The homestays here also belong to the Tay ethnic minorities, with ancient stilt houses surrounded by picturesque rice paddy fields. The locals around here are also famous for their hospitality and friendliness.
There is a number of homestay offers in Dong Van, too. However, services at these places vary. You should check the place before you agree to stay and ask if they have hot water and if the price includes any meal. The price is normally 100 000 / pax, but you can also negotiate with the owner for a reduced price.
NOTE: The list of accommodation in Ha Giang above is consolidated from various sources, especially cungphuot.info –> Thank you very much!
Ethnic markets in Ha Giang
Here are some popular ethnic markets in Ha Giang which are also easy to access. Note that these markets all start very early in the morning, at around 6am.
Ethnic markets in Dong Van
Dong Van Market: Every Sunday morning in central Dong Van town
Ma Lé Market: Every Saturday morning, around 10km from Dong Van town centre
Pho Cao Market
Lung Phin Market
Ethnic markets in Quan Ba
Quyet Tien Market: Every Saturday morning
Quan Ba Market: Every Saturday morning
Ethnic markets in Yen Minh
Yen Minh Market: Every Sunday morning
Du Già Market: Every Friday morning
Ethnic markets in Meo Vac
Meo Vac Market: Every Sunday morning in the town centre
Nho Que River Boating
The beauty of Nho Que river is undeniable, as it gently flows across rugged mountains in the north of Vietnam like a green sewing thread when seen from above. Boating on Nho Que River in Dong Van, Ha Giang is an unforgettable experience, as you can fully immerse in the breathtaking beauty of nature with scenes of imposing mountains on both sides.
How to take a boat on Nho Que river
There are several ways to take a boat on Nho Que river but I’ve figured out that the way below is the most straightforward.
Firstly, book a boat by calling one of the boat owners below. (Make sure you ask someone to help you speak Vietnamese with them).
- Mr Diep: 0865040992
- Mr Dai: 0964426017
- Ms Hoa: 0865818268 / 0856769000
Next, if you go by motorbike from Dong Van Old Town Market, take the main road to a place called “Lối xuống bến thuyền Tà Làng – sông Nho Quế” on Google Maps.
Then, search Google Maps the way from there to “Bến thuyền hẻm Tu Sản”, which is the boat station where you can board a boat to explore the beautiful Nho Que river.
NOTE: It’s a rugged zigzag path that is not easy to go. Remember to be extra careful!
The price is VND 150,000 per person for a 30-minute boat trip on Nho Que river. Simply sit back and enjoy the amazing landscape here!
Suggested 4-day Ha Giang itinerary
Ha Giang Travel Guide
This Ha Giang itinerary is for those who travel from Hanoi to Ha Giang for 4 days and 3 nights (actually you’ll only spend 2 days around Ha Giang). This can be quite rush, but is ideal for those with limited time.
Check the map below for more info about the routes (click to zoom).
Day 1: Take a night bus from My Dinh Bus Station in Hanoi to Ha Giang. Spend the first night on the bus.
Arrive in Ha Giang city at around 4-5am. Have breakfast and rent motorbike in Ha Giang city, or find a xe om (motorbike taxi) and show him your intended destinations for the day.
Depart to Quan Ba (50km) and visit Quan Ba Valley. Visit Lung Tam Weaving Village.
Depart to Yen Minh: The route will be Quan Ba – Can Ty – Na Khe – Lao Chai – Yen Minh (40km). You will ride past the Yen Minh Pine Forest, which can be foggy during the winter months.
Stop at Yen Minh for lunch.
Depart to Pho Cao (10km) then to Sung La (10km). These are great places for photos, as you will be able to see villages of local ethnic groups where houses are built by stacking stones together.
Depart to Sa Phin (5km) and visit the Vuong Family’s Mansion
Depart to Lung Cu (22km) to visit the Lung Cu Flag Tower – the northernmost point of Vietnam’s territory. The distance is around 25km.
You should leave Lung Cu for Dong Van by 5.30pm lest darkness makes it harder to drive.
Spend the night in Dong Van
Visit Dong Van’s old town and Dong Van market
Depart to Meo Vac (~ 40 km) and behold Ma Pi Leng on the way
Have (early) lunch in Meo Vac
Depart to Ha Giang City (160km)
Visit Tha Village with ancient stilt houses (2km from Ha Giang City)
Catch the night bus from Ha Giang back to Hanoi. Spend the night on the bus.
Arrive in Hanoi early in the morning
Any tip for a solo traveler to Ha Giang?
The more well-prepared you are, the better experience you will have!
Also, don’t be discouraged by the stereotype that Ha Giang is only meant for mass tourists and adventurous strong men on motorbikes. Ha Giang can be a great destination for anyone, including solo travelers. Just read about Ha Giang and plan as much as you can before departure, and you’ll be absolutely fine!
Summary Ha Giang travel guide:
- Book things (hotel, motorbike, etc.) beforehand when you’re still in Hanoi so as not to become too shocked by the effects of language barrier. Find someone who can speak Vietnamese to help you with the booking.
- Bring a list of essential Vietnamese phrases to communicate with locals (eg. How much is this? What time does the bus leave? Etc.)
- Bring along your passport! Foreigners occasionally get their identity checked when travelling near Vietnam’s border.
- Foreigners are also required to apply for a permit when travelling to Ha Giang. The cost is 230 000 VND. Hostel / hotel staff in Ha Giang can help you arrange this. Otherwise, you can visit the immigration office in Ha Giang city (415A Tran Phu St.) to obtain this permit.
- A first-aid kit will also come in handy
- Avoid the weekend and check weather forecast before you go
I wish you a great trip to Ha Giang, and as always, I’d LOVE to hear your own experiences when travelling here.
This Ha Giang Travel Guide is meant to be updated regularly. Therefore, if you have any other tips about Ha Giang travel that you want to share, please don’t hesitate to comment below! Let’s help each other enjoy the beauty of Ha Giang (while it lasts) 🙂
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