Here we go exploring Vietnam’s north end, Ha Giang province, last tourism frontier in growing evolution.
We plan our next days and as always we are rushing, wanting to see the most possible. We walk out of our place at 7 am, booking another night and leaving our backpacks in the room. This means that, anything happens, we have to come back for the night. “Anything happens” includes the 357 km we will ride by bike up and down the mountains, in the next 12 hours…
When we say to the woman who’s renting us the bike that we want to go to Dong Van and be back the same day, she thinks we are crazy and laughs at us, saying we need 2-3 days and have to stop there for the night. But we have no time and Edo is determined, for Ambra’s joy.
QUAN BA PASS
From Ha Giang we take road QL4C and drive some 50 km up through the beautiful Quan Ba pass to reach the village of Tam Son on the other side.
A violent but short thunderstorm blocks us for half an hour, before getting to Yen Minh, another mountainous village. Distances between one village and the next are normally between 25 and 50 km, but it takes easily over an hour to ride the roads full of airpins and beautiful viewpoints too.
LUNG CU TOWER, TOP OF VIETNAM!
To reach our final destination of Dong Van we have to climb up on another pass, riding through an amazing lunar landscape formed by calcareous rocks. We are keen on extending the trip a little bit more before getting there (Ambra isn’t really), and decide to take a detour all the way up to Lung Cu, which is the northern-most highpoint of Vietnam: a tower with a flag on top stands out in front of Chinese hills.
We get back down on the other side and reach Dong Van, the furthest point from our home today: we are about 160 km away from Ha Giang town! We stop in Dong Van for a noodle lunch break. The town is very small and not really full of attractions, to be honest; even if it’s gonna be long, we aren’t desperate not to stop here for the night. The best thing to do here is enjoying the stunning views, we are lucky that we can do it while travelling on our bike!
Another wonder of this loop is Mai Pi Leng pass, in between Dong Van and Meo Vac villages, among steep sides covered by rice terraces, huts, and local people who climb and work at all altitudes and slopes.
Many ethnic tribes populate these areas, everybody helps working: women and children in the fields and on the roads carrying big loads on their shoulders, while men transport goods on their motorcycles or trucks.
Suddenly a deep canyon takes the scene, the view is awesome, we don’t know where to watch first, and we stop to admire the landscape every two minutes.
THE WAY BACK HOME
But unfortunately our time is running out, it’s 4.30 pm and we have to drive 160 km to get back, most importantly we have to reduce to the minimum the km to be driven at night time. We only stop to fill the tank once more (3rd time today). At 7 pm it’s dark and we still have 60 km to go. In the dark it’s more dangerous to take bends and airpins, street lights are a prerogative of cities only, our asses are worn by the saddle, and thousands of hateful butterflies are smashing my face!
Eventually at 8.30 pm Ha Giang’s lights welcome us back, as we breathe a sigh of relief. Mission completed: lots of wonders and amazing landscapes seen in one day, surely one should give it more time, but undoubtedly it was worth riding each of the 357 km today! Tomorrow we are continuing our journey west towards Sapa!
WHERE TO STAY:
- Primrose Homestay Cao Bang: the most established place in Cao Bang, the young staff is very friendly and welcoming, cheap prices!
- Ha Giang Backpackers Hostel: one of the first hostels to open in town, great hospitality and new interiors;
- you can pre book all your accommodation in Vietnam with free cancellation here.
HOW TO REACH HA GIANG:
- Various local minibuses: Cao Bang-Bao Lac-Bao Lam-Ha Giang, infinite hours, prices between 80,000 VND to 130,000 VND per person;
- Direct bus Hanoi-Ha Giang: 300,000 VND.
|Hanoi - Ha Giang $7 – $13 5h 10m|
|Hanoi - Ha Giang $16 6h|
|Hanoi - Ha Giang $16 6h|
- Book your tickets to travel in Vietnam on amt.12go.asia
- Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.