Ma Pi Leng Pass – A place for adventure lovers in Vietnam

Vietnam is well-known among travelers around the world for its spectacular sceneries, from white sand beaches to mysterious jungles and caves; and of course, for high and magnificent mountain ranges also. If you love a little discovery for your Vietnam private tours, you should put Ma Pi Leng Pass into your schedule. A visit to Ma Pi Leng Pass in the northern part of Vietnam will definitely become one of the best road trips in one’s travel life.

Ma Pi Leng pass
Ma Pi Leng, one of the top 4 passes in Vietnam

Ma Pi Leng Pass map

The North of Vietnam offers travelers with various astonishing attractions such as Hanoi – the capital; Halong Bay – one of the world’s 7 Wonders; or Ninh Binh – a romantic countryside site. Besides these, the North can welcome you to visit plenty of mountainous areas and experience the authentic nature and village life of the minorities. The Ma Pi Leng Pass belongs to Ha Giang Vietnam, connecting Dong Van plateau and Meo Vac towns. It is close to the border between Vietnam and China. It sits on the altitude of approximately 1500m above the sea level.

Ma Pi Leng is considered one of the top 4 passes in Vietnam which are beautiful but also dangerous to travel. Its name, in Vietnamese meaning (to be more accurate, the name is coined according to H’mong language), means “the bridge of a horse’s nose” that describes the shape of it.  Some people compare it to The Great Wall of Vietnam. Though the pass’s length is only about 20 kilometers, it can challenge any first-time driver here.

Ma Pi Leng Pass
The winding road of Ma Pi Leng Pass

What to see in Ma Pi Leng Pass?

There is not really a certain attraction to pay the entrance fee to visit while you are riding through the pass. All you can see are endless limestone mountain ranges and a stunning view of the sky. Moreover, you can look down the Tu San Canyon and the stream of Nho Que River from high above. While you are driving through the pass, you might have to stop several times just because you will feel the urge to capture the views in front of your eyes which are like a fairytale.

Ma Pi Leng road
The road is winding but quite smooth to go

Endless limestone mountain ranges

From the moment you enter on the winding road, mountain ranges will get higher and higher with different shapes. Some of the mountain ranges are undulating and some of them are pointed like they can breach the sky. Some of the mountain peaks are covered with dark grey color and some with the bright green color of the trees. You will be led to this surprise to another one and be amazed by the tremendousness of nature. You feel yourself so small standing there.

Tu San Canyon and Nho Que River

From above, you can also have the chance to see the Tu San Canyon lying beyond the creek and the “sleeping beauty” Nho Que River. The river actually originates from Van Nam province, China and it goes a long way to Dong Van and Meo Vac towns in Ha Giang Vietnam. The river calmly flows and bends through the foot of mountain ranges. It seems to add more roman to the picture of the scenery of Ma Pi Leng Pass.

Nho Que River
A part of Nho Que River from high above

If you are lucky, you can catch the sight of the locals slowly riding a boat through the stream of Nho Que River. Continue to drive until the end of the pass, near Meo Vac town, you will reach Trang Huong Bridge, from which you can find the way to approach Nho Que boat station. Here, you can enjoy the boat riding on the river.

These are just some of the things you can do in Ma Pi Leng Passs, but there are lots of hidden gems and local experiences in Ha Giang are await you to explore.

How to get to Ma Pi Leng pass?

The most obvious way to admire the fullest beauty on Ma Pi Leng pass is to ride a motorbike on your own; as you can stop and jump down of the motorbike whenever and at whatever spot you like. If you are an expert in riding in Vietnam or in Southeast Asia, needless to say, you can hire a motorbike from Hanoi, or in Ha Giang town for your journey. If you are not well acquainted with riding a motorbike, you have a few options below.

A private transfer from Hanoi

It is highly recommended that you contact a trusted Vietnam local travel agency in advance to set up for a private car to Ha Giang. A travel expert will make sure that an experienced driver will be arranged for your trip. This way can be the most expensive, but you can also have the flexibility as well as safety.

Taking a bus from Hanoi

This is a more economical way to travel to Ha Giang. It is not difficult to purchase a bus ticket departing in the early morning or in the evening from Hanoi to Ha Giang. You are advised to contact a local travel agency or your hotel in Hanoi for a reliable bus company. Once you get to Ha Giang town, you can hire your own motorbike, use local bus or hire the motorbike service (or also called “Xe Om”) to explore the Ma Pi Leng pass.

The best time to visit Ma Pi Leng Pass

Ha Giang is beautiful all year round but each season in the year, it is not the same.

From January to March, in spring, usually during or after the Lunar New Year, the weather is not so cold. There is drizzle during the day but not considerably affect. This is the best season for apricot flowers, plum flowers, and yellow rapeseed flowers.

Plum flowers
Spring arrives in Ha Giang with plum flowers blooming

If you travel to Ha Giang in April, the weather is getting warmer as it is in the early summer. It hardly rains. Therefore, you will have the change to take part in the Khau Vai Love market and to know more about the culture of local people.

During June and August, the weather is hotter with constant sunshine. The sky can be blue and clear, but you might encounter showers in the day.

September comes, the rice paddle fields are getting ripped. The mountains are covered with stunning yellow color. In September, the weather is cooler as autumn is coming.

The weather in Ha Giang in October to December is cold but no rain; and you can also see the buckwheat flowers blooming.

In general, the best time to visit Ha Giang and make the drive through Ma Pi Leng Pass is September. Also meaning that it is the most crowded time. Otherwise, you can visit Ma Pi Leng Pass in other months, except for summertime (from June to August). It is because you might catch the rain and it is not safe for driving.

Ha Giang in September
The yellow paddle fields of Ha Giang in September

Suggested Ha Giang tours from Hanoi

Ma Pi Leng Pass is a symbol of Ha Giang province. It is also a great highlight in the north of Vietnam. You will not regret if you decide to take a trip here. Surely it will be one of the best sceneries you have traveled to in the world.

Minh Vu – Travel Specialist

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