HA GIANG TO DONG VAN AND BACK, THE NORTHERN-MOST POINT OF VIETNAM

Lung Cu tower
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Here we go exploring Vietnam‘s north end, Ha Giang province, last tourism frontier in growing evolution.


HA GIANG

The city of Ha Giang, about 70,000 inhabitants, lies some 300 km north to Hanoi, developing along the banks of river Lo.
As told in our previous post, the bus from Cao Bang and Bao Lam dropped us south to the city, so we opted for a random guesthouse in the suburbs, as the only things we need here are a motorcycle and a bed.

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We plan our next days and as always we are rushing, wanting to see as much as possible. We walk out of our place at 7 am, booking another night and leaving our backpacks in the room.

This means that, whatever happens, we have to come back for the night. “Whatever happens” includes the 357 km we will ride by bike up and down the mountains, in the next 12 hours…

Hanoi to Ha Giang bus

Our trusty Honda Blade and Edo with some Marijuana leaves picked right along the road!

When we tell the woman who’s renting us the bike that we want to go to Dong Van and 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…

ALSO READ: Our 1 month itinerary guide to Vietnam


QUAN BA PASS

Time to go! 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.

book bus Hanoi Ha Giang

Riding up Quan Ba pass

Ha Giang how to go from Hanoi

Top of the pass

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 these roads full of airpins and beautiful viewpoints too.

Bus Hanoi Ha Giang how to book

Kids find shelter from the thunderstorm

 


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 limestone rocks. We are keen (Edo is, Ambra isn’t really) on extending the trip a little bit more before getting there, and decide to take a detour all the way up to Lung Cu, which is the northernmost point of Vietnam: a tower with a flag on top stands out in front of the Chinese hills, epic!

Lung Cu tower Ha Giang bus bike how to go

Lung Cu tower

tower at Lung Cu, Ha Giang province how to go

On top of the tower at Lung Cu, northern-most point of Vietnam, with views over China!


DONG VAN

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. The best thing to do is enjoying the stunning views, so we are happy that we can do it while travelling on our bike!

Another marvel 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.

Mai Pi Leng pass, Ha Giang Hanoi bus

Stunning Mai Pi Leng pass

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.

Farmers on steep slopes, Ha Giang bus how to book

Farmers on steep slopes

Local woman at Meo Vac, Ha Giang how to go

A local woman with a tiny basket on her shoulders, close to Meo Vac

Suddenly a deep canyon takes the scene, the view is simply mesmerizing! We literally don’t know where to look first, and we pull over to admire the landscape every two minutes.

View on the canyon, Hanoi to Ha Giang

View on the canyon

The valley widens, Ha Giang province Vietnam

The valley widens


THE WAY BACK HOME

But unfortunately our time is running out quickly, 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 amount of road to be covered at night time.

We only have time to stop and fill the tank once more (3rd time today!). At 7 pm there’s no more sunlight and we still have 60 km to go. It’s more dangerous to take bends and airpins in the dark, street lights are a prerogative of cities only, so we have to slow down. Our bottoms are worn by the saddle, and thousands of hateful butterflies are smashing on our faces!

The way back, Ha Giang loop how to do

The way back

It’s only at 8.30 pm that Ha Giang’s lights finally welcome us back, as we breathe a sigh of relief.

Mission completed: lots of wonders and amazing landscapes seen today, surely one should give it more time, but undoubtedly it was worth riding every single one of the 357 km today! In the end, it’s better to see a little bit than nothing at all.

We do recommend to spend at least 3 days/2 nights around Ha Giang, the motorbike lady was right!

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:
Bus Noi Bai Airport - Ha Giang $ 10.88–15.82 5h – 8h
  •   VIP Sleeper 41 11:00
  •   Sleeper 38 21:30, 21:45, 22:00
  •   VIP Bus 09:27, 09:28, 09:30
Taxi Noi Bai Airport - Ha Giang $ 138.62–426.54 4h 30m – 6h
  •   Comfort 3pax
  •   Van 9pax
  •   SUV 4pax
  •   VIP Van 9pax
  •   Economy 3pax
  •   Van 11pax
  •   Minibus 15pax
Bus Hanoi - Ha Giang $ 9.89–19.33 5h 10m – 6h 40m
  •   Sleeper 45 16:45
  •   VIP 20 12:25, 12:40, 22:10, 22:20
  •   VIP 18 Express 08:00, 08:30, 16:01, 16:25
  •   VIP 22 12:30, 12:45, 21:50, 22:00
  •   VIP 14 07:30, 07:45, 16:40, 16:55
Van Hanoi - Ha Giang $ 15.23 5h
  •   VIP 07:30
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