Although we speak of the north of Vietnam we come to think of Sapa there are other areas in the country that offer spectacular scenery and away from the busiest tourist routes. Ha Giang is one of these wild, remote and also a little unknown areas of Vietnam. This is one of the areas we recommend when planning your trip to Vietnam.
What is Ha Giang like
Ha Giang is a province of Vietnam located in the far north of the country. In fact the northernmost point of Vietnam is located in this province and this makes Ha Giang share border for 270 km with the Chinese province of Yunnan. The capital of the province is also called Hà Giang and is connected by motorway to Hanoi, 320 km to the south.
What to do and visit in Ha Giang
The whole province has an eminently rural economy, communications are not very developed and it is not a destination that offers the attractions and typical comforts that western tourists look for. So if your intention is to visit an area of Vietnam not yet invaded by mass tourism and get into unknown territories, meet ethnic groups of Southeast Asia that are only in these areas and live a somewhat more immersive experience you should mark a stop in Ha Giang during your route through Vietnam.
Scenic and photographic tour
If you search online about the region you will surely read the term Ha Giang Loop, which could be translated as “the return by Ha Giang”. Most visitors to this remote area of Vietnam do so to travel the famous 4C road that runs through the region, the most notable being the Ma Pi Leng Pass, a high mountain pass with breathtaking views. The total route through the different cities of the province through the 4C road is called Ha Giang Loop.
Away from the traditional tourist routes
Ha Giang is one of the poorest and most rural areas of Vietnam. There is not much communication infrastructure, the territory is mountainous, with frequent fogs and low temperatures during the winter, and getting there is more complex than getting to other more well-known parts of the country. However, this isolation has given Ha Giang a personality of its own, with a cultural, ethnic and landscape richness practically intact.
How to get to Ha Giang
Ha Giang’s only connections with the rest of the country are by bus. You can get there from Hanoi by night bus or from Sapa by regular bus in about 6 hours.
Attractions in Ha Giang
We recommend that if you travel to Ha Giang you move in two ways:
- If you are skillful on wheels we recommend that you rent a motorcycle to tour the area.
- If you prefer comfort and quality information that you hire a personal guide who will help you to tour the province with total comfort.
In fact most activities in this area of Vietnam are based on guided tours that last several days, either through a trekking on foot, mounted on an SUV or 4×4, or with a field bike and a guide that takes you through the hidden corners of the forests of Ha Giang. It is also quite common to stay with a local family in “homestay” mode, that is, sharing your home and food with them as if you were just another member. In any case, with or without a guide, Ha Giang’s most outstanding attractions are its impressive landscapes and its ethnic groups halfway between Vietnam and China, including the H’mong, who have dominated much of this territory since the eighteenth century. In addition to the H’mong, the Tay, Dao, Nung and Lô Lô ethnic groups are also noteworthy. The most outstanding areas to visit during your trip to Ha Giang are the following.
The step of Ma Pi Leng
If you ride the Ha Giang Loop, Ma Pi Leng Pass or Ma Pi Leng Pass is one of the hot spots where you will have to stop. The views of the winding road (which you must have covered in order to get there) do not leave anyone indifferent. The Ma Pi Leng pass has a total length of about 20 kilometers and is at an altitude of about 1500 meters above sea level.
Dong Van Karst Plateau Karstic Geopark
The karstic geopark of Dong Van is a very important elevated plateau at a geological level because it is one of the few places in the world that shows how the earth’s crust has been formed. The area protected by the geopark occupies a very large area Ha Giang, so during your tour of the de facto area you will already be within it. Geologically located at the foot of the Himalayas, the Dong Van Karstic Plateau offers mountainous formations, capricious stone formations and very beautiful geological structures, as well as being an important paleontological site due to the large number of fossils that have been found in the area. The Dong Van Geopark has been included in UNESCO’s network of World Geoparks since 2010.
La Torre Lung Cu
The Lung Cu Tower or Lung Cu Flag point is a 30-meter-high tower-shaped monument on top of Mt. Lung Cu Peak, at 1,400 meters above sea level. The monument is crowned by a Vietnamese flag and was built to mark the northernmost point of the country (although the border with China is actually 3 km from there). From the top of the tower you will have a breathtaking view of the area.
Thon Tha Village
This village is one of the best options to perform a homestay, ie live for a few days with a Tay family from this area of Vietnam. The concept of homestay has been promoted by the same government of Ha Giang through a cooperative designed for this purpose to promote tourism to the area on the one hand, and improve the living conditions of the ethnic groups living there on the other. The idea of homestay is that the visitor is integrated into the life of the local people, preserving their social and cultural values while helping the locals to develop activities around tourism: trekking, tour guides … In the village of Thon Ta you will find friendly people and you can live for a few days as a local, knowing their culture, customs and food.
Lung Khuy Cave
Near the village of Tam Son, about 7 km from it, you will find the cave of Lung Khuy, a mandatory stop if you are in the area. In the cave, which is about 300 metres long, you will be able to see stalactites and very interesting calcareous formations in an enclosure recently opened to the public (it was opened to visitors in 2015). The route to Lung Khuy will allow you to observe and enjoy the landscape of the area.
Hoang Su Phi Rice Field Terraces
There are photos of rice terraces that remove the hiccups and some of them we can assure you have been taken in Hoang Su Phi, a rural area of several square kilometers of extension where about 50,000 peasants live. These rice terraces are in fact the base on which the population of the area is based. To tour the area of Hoang Su Phi we recommend hiring a guide who will show you the most impressive and hidden corners of this region that has been cut off from tourism development that has suffered Vietnam over the past decades. If you want to travel back in time during your visit to Vietnam, the rice paddies of Hoang Su Phi are a good way to do it.
Ha Giang Ethnic Museum
If you want to start or end your visit to Ha Giang with a more cultural content (the logical thing is to do it when you arrive to Ha Giang) we recommend you to visit the provincial ethnic museum of Ha Giang. The small museum is a sample of the ethnic richness of the area, through the clothing and description of the traditions of the different communities that live there. However there is not much information at historical level. If you are going to move around Ha Giang accompanied by a guide himself he will be able to offer you the information that you can find in the museum during the route.
- 1 What to do and visit in Ha Giang
- 1.1 What is Ha Giang like
- 1.2 What to do and visit in Ha Giang
- 1.3 How to get to Ha Giang
- 1.4 Attractions in Ha Giang
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