Want to get off the beaten track (in every sense of the word) and see a lesser-known side of Vietnam? Here’s our guide to Ha Giang with a 3-day itinerary.
With rugged mountains and steep slopes, Ha Giang isn’t the easiest place to get to. For that reason, it is less crowded and offers travelers the chance to explore the raw beauty of Vietnam in a way that few other places offer. Ha Giang would be a perfect place for nature lovers and adventurers seeking unspoiled nature and cultural diversity.
There are two seasons in Ha Giang: the rainy season from April to October and the dry season from November to March.
1.April to October
The weather in the rainy season is usually hot and humid, with constant rain. Traveling to Ha Giang during this time, you will feel sticky from the humidity and wet from the sudden rains. Be very careful on the winding, slippery and narrow mountain roads, where many landslides occur after heavy rains.
However, once the rain ends, it becomes clearer for the captivation of beautiful scenery: majestic mountains, green valleys and rice terraces in “water fall time” – between late May and early June.
In April, you can attend the Khau Vai Love Market, a special event that only happens once a year. On that day, vendors from all over the province gather to sell their wares in an explosion of color. The date changes according to the lunar calendar, so be sure to check when exactly it is this year so you can arrive on the correct date.
From May to June, the local ethnic people bring down rainwater from the mountains to their rice terraces and begin a new rice harvest. It is refreshing to see the local farming activities in the terraced rice fields with buffalo ploughing, harrowing and sowing on the sloping terrain of the high mountains.
From afar, the water-filled rice terraces look like a shining mirror reflecting the sunset, sunrise &; blue sky. How wonderful to visit the terraced rice fields of “falling water” & “ripe golden rice”. A note for those who want to visit Ha Giang during this season is to always check the weather forecast.
2. November to March
It’s definitely going to be cooler and less rainy in the dry season. If it does rain, it won’t be a big downpour like summer showers, but a small one. As the weather cools down and may be colder, there is a chance of snowfall in the high mountains in January or February. As for weather conditions, the dry season is the best time to travel to Ha Giang.
In November comes the flowering season of buckwheat. This is when the small pink flowers in the fields create a beautiful contrast with the surrounding grey mountains and green forests. The best place to observe the rice terraced landscapes in Ha Giang is Hoang Su Phi district. You can link the trip to Sapa, Bac Ha market and visit Hoang Su Phi rice terraces.
In December, the valleys and hills at the foot of Ha Giang stand out with the yellow carpets of blooming kale flowers, so picturesque for your postcard-worthy photos.
Then comes the spring season “between January & April”, Ha Giang’s landscapes are full of life with spring flowers blooming and reach their peak beauty in March. Feel free to embrace Ha Giang’s most beautiful moment when peach & plum orchards bloom in their full scale with pink peach blossoms & pure white plum blossoms along with their pleasant fragrance.
It is about 280km from Hanoi to Ha Giang, which is almost 6 hours’ drive. So that you won’t get lost among so much information, we gathered here some ways to travel from Hanoi to Ha Giang. You can make your final decision considering price, comfort and safety:
By night bus
Pick-up station: Mỹ Đình bus stationPick-up time: almost every hour from 4:30 am to 1:30 pmDuration: 7-8 hoursConvenience: there will be single beds for each guest. The bus usually has 2 floors for you to choose. It is equipped with air conditioning. The trip will be long, so there will be short stops where you can get off the bus to go to the toilet. Risk: some bus driver may overload his bus to use the number of guests in one shot so it would be cramped inside.
Duration: 7-8 hoursConvenience: you can travel at your own pace. You can make stops along the way to take photos in memorable places.Risk: bike/car breaks down in the middle of nowhere; bumpy road; dangerous turns.
Let’s tour the sublime nature scenes you can immerse yourself in when you arrive in Ha Giang.
Fairy Sound/Twin Mountain (Núi Cô Tiên/ Núi Đôi)
Arriving in Quan Ba District, the first thing to see is Quan Ba Twin Mountains (also known as Fairy Mountains), the special art created in this land by Mother Nature. Between the mountains and rice terraces are twin mountains with shapes resembling the two breasts of a fairy, narrated by the locals in this interesting fairy tale: “Long ago, there was a handsome young H’mong man who was very excellent at playing the flute.
The sound of his flute attracted a fairy who came down from heaven to watch him play. Later they fell in love, married and had a beautiful son. However, the King of Heaven asked the fairy to return when he realized that his daughter had left the palace. With her motherly love for her newborn son, the fairy decided to leave her breasts on earth to feed her son before flying back to heaven.”
Quan Ba’s Heaven’s Gate (Cổng trời Quản Bạ).
With an admirable height of over 1,500 m and located about 43 km from Ha Giang city, this place also marks the beginning of another famous place “The Way of Happiness” (Con đường Hạnh Phúc) and is the first gateway to the rocky plateau of Dong Van Ky.
To visit the Heaven’s Gate, you have to climb a few dozen more steps to the highest peak. The scenery is worth the wait and the effort. This is the most ideal place to have a wide view of the Dong Van plateau. Looking ahead is a large valley with rolling meadows, yellow rice terraces mixed with the brown color of the earth. It highlights the twin mountain Quan Ba or Fairy Mountain, which makes visitors feel as if they are floating in the sea of clouds.
Dong Van – Đồng Văn
Dong Van is a highland border district of Ha Giang Province, about 150 km north of Ha Giang Province. Dong Van district attracts visitors thanks to the fresh air and many unique tourist attractions:
Lung Cu Flag Tower on Lung Cu Peak (also known as Rong Mountain) at a height of about 1,470m. This tower has everyone’s gaze with a total height of 34.85m. From Lung Cu Peak, you can admire the spectacular natural scenery of the Dong Van karst plateau, terraced rice fields blending harmoniously with ethnic villages. At the foot of Rong Mountain are two lakes called Dragon Eyes, symmetrically located on the two sides of the mountain.Residence of the Vuong family – a former villa of Vuong Chinh Duc – who used to be recognized as a king who ruled the Dong Van Plateau region in the late 19th and early 20th century. Built in 1919 and completed in 1928, the residence has a huge area of nearly 3,000 m², surrounded by an arch-shaped mountain range. Nestled in the karst plateau of Dong Van, Lung Cam Tren Cultural Village in Sung La Commune is home to Mong ethnic groups. The village attracts visitors with its unique customs, beautiful scenery and friendly people. You can enrich your cultural perspective by immersing yourself in the idyllic life of ethnic minorities through centuries-old old houses, green corn fields, colorful flower gardens; or enjoy the special dishes of the local people.
Ma Pi Leng Passage – Đèo Mã Pí Lèng
Ma Pi Leng is the name of the steep stretch of mountainous road in Ha Giang province, about 20 km long, located on “The Road of Happiness” (Con đường Hạnh Phúc) linking Ha Giang city with Dong Van and Meo Vac districts. Ma Pi Leng in the language of the Hmong people means “Horse Nose” in reference to the steep mountain slopes. The road winds along the cliffs, passing the peaks of Ma Pi Leng at an altitude of 2,000 meters, below is the Nho Que River, light and thin as a thread.
With rugged terrain and spectacular unspoiled scenery, Ma Pi Leng Pass deserves the title of one of the “Four Great Passes” in the northern region of Vietnam (with Pha Din, O Quy Ho and Khau Pha Passes). One cannot miss the Ma Pi Leng Pass when visiting Ha Giang.
Meo Vac – Mèo Vạc
Meo Vac market is located in a valley surrounded by mountains for hundreds of years. The markets are open every Sunday. It is the convergence of the cultural quintessence of ethnic minorities on the stone plateau of Ha Giang province. Meo Vac market contains unique features unlike any market in Vietnam, which explains why it attracts hundreds of domestic and foreign visitors. It is a unique attraction that cannot be missed when traveling to Ha Giang.
Day 1: Hanoi – Ha Giang City – Quan Ba – Yen Minh – Dong Van
Day 2: Dong Van – Lung Cu Flag Tower – Ma Pi Leng – Meo Vac – Mau Due – Du Gia
Day 3: Du Gia – Lung Tam – Ha Giang City
I’ve always been an adventurer since I was little. My mother must have had a hard time getting me to sit still or stay at home. Every trip for me, whether long or short, low or high budget, always makes me fall in love over and over again with the magnificent nature, unique culture and endearing locals.
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