Escape the Crowds: Hagiang – Your Authentic Alternative to Sapa

Had been working as a tour guide for few years, I have had chances to reach many places in Vietnam, especially the northern part of the country and love them all. The breathtaking mountainous landscape, friendly people make me feel warmly welcomed all the time. But among these beautiful places, Ha Giang – the final frontier is my most favorite destination. Even the very bad car sick couldn’t stop me from coming there many times later. In this blog, I will share with you best things to do in Ha Giang – one of the hidden gems in the Vietnam Package Tours and all things you need to know for the best experience.

Is this worth going to Ha Giang?

Yes, it is definitely worth going to Ha Giang, and indeed it should be on the top list for those who are interested in beautiful nature, diverse culture, and want a little bit of adventure.

Ha Giang – home to many ethnic minorities including Hmong, Dao, Tay, Giay, etc. is a remote area, closer to the neighboring country of China than it is to Hanoi. Since it is far away from city center and the transportation was not very good, tourism left it behind the development. Thus, everything remains untouched on this beautiful land with breathtaking karst mountains, steep mountain pass, winding roads and colorful villages of many ethnic people of Vietnam. Recently, Ha Giang loop is becoming a popular destination for many travelers. I myself do believe that Ha Giang never makes any of these disappointed.

9 Authentic things to do in Ha Giang Loop

Thon Tha Village or Ha Thanh Village – Phuong Do commune

As Ha Giang is recently considered as an alternative to Sapa in North Vietnam, Thon Tha Village which is 6 km from Ha Giang city can be the first stop in this tour. Those two villages offer opportunity for you to stay with Tay ethnic minority and enjoy beautiful and peaceful landscape.

Special event in April: If you come here in this month, you will have chance to join in one of the most famous festival “Lau then”, in which people offer things for the God of Heaven to pray for a safe and fruitful year.

If the homestay is not one of your favors, there are hotels located in Ha Giang city, though, they are not luxurious one.

Thon Tha Village in Ha Giang
Thon Tha Village

From Thon Tha, you can trek to Ha Thanh village which is about 14km and to Khuoi My (home to Red Dzao people which is about 19 km and enjoy breathtaking view on the road.

Quan Ba Pass

Located 40km north of Ha Giang City, Heaven Gate of Quan Ba pass should be a stop in your list. At the top of the pass, about 1500 meters to sea level, you will have amazing view down to Tam Son valley with Impressive Twin Mountain, often called Fairy Breast by local people.

Quan Ba Pass is also the gate to Dong Van Karst Plateau – a UNESCO recognized Geopark in Vietnam. If you would like to experience more local life and stay at traditional homestay, there are some of Red Dzao people available in this area. Dao houses here are mainly built from local materials like wood, bamboo, cork, leaves, clay. For me, this is one of the most exceptional experiences I have made since staying in straw-thatched house reminds me of my childhood.

Twin mountain in Ha Giang
Twin mountain

Vuong Palace

In the centre of Sa Phin Valley, a very unique and rare architecture stood by – the famous Vuong Palace, built in 1914 by Vuong Chinh Duc who was considered as Hmong King of the area. The palace includes 4 transversal houses and 6 lengthwise houses. All having two floors and a total of 64 rooms. Most visitors are impressed with its detailed decoration of animals which has different symbol meanings. During your visit, a lot of stories about the family will be revealed for your information.

vuong palace in Ha Giang
Vuong Palace

Dong Van & Meo Vac – Ma Pi Leng Pass

Ma Pi Leng Pass that connects Dong Van and Meo Vac can be considered as the most exciting part of Ha Giang, Vietnam. The road offers such a grand view with deep valley and amazing scenery. This road is the place where most of motorbike travelers in Vietnam want to conquer.

Ma Pi Leng Pass in sunset
Ma Pi Leng Pass in sunset

Still, please consider carefully before deciding to ride a motorbike even if you are a good motorbike rider. The better way is renting a car with a guide so that the guide can take you to walk on the trail used by local people.

Whether you stay in Dong Van Town or Meo Vac Town, there is a way to go up to the top of mountain and have the best view to the area.

Dong Van Plateau in Ha Giang
Daily life of local people at Dong Van Plateau

The number 6 Waterfall

You may hear about Du Gia waterfall, which is also an amazing waterfall. But it’s more popular than the number 6. If you want to experience immersing yourself in natural without too much crowd, then the number 6 will be the best choice. It’s located in Ha Thanh Village, 8km away from city center. Nestled amidst the unspoiled beauty of Ha Giang’s landscapes, this hidden gem offers an enchanting experience that will leave you in awe.

Ha Giang waterfall - the number 6 waterfall
The pristine of number 6 waterfall in Ha Giang

Meo Vac Cattle Market

Meo Vac Cattle Market, also held on Sunday, gives you the chance to explore the H’mong culture and meet the local people. Here you can see their traditional outfits; the men dressed in their simple black attire, and the women dressed in their beautifully embroidered ensembles and colourful head scarfs. Many of the villagers bring their finest animals either to sell or simply to show off their hard work. The usual market rhythm of bartering and chit-chat is accompanied by an orchestra of animal noises and the sound of children playing

ha giang local market
Meo Vac Sunday Market

Hoang Su Phi Rice Terrace

Located about 350km from Hanoi, it takes you about 8 hours to get to Phung Village, central of Hoang Su Phi. Maybe, the thinking of a very long drive will discourage from coming there. However, the grandiose landscape of rice terraces of Hoang Su Phi will never disappoint you upon coming here.

The best time to come here is Autumn, from September to October when all the rice terrace change into yellow color. There are several villages where you can get homestay service, but for me the best experience is at Phung village – home of La Chi People. Waking up in a traditional house, looking over the window, welcoming sunrise, seeing could flying on top of the house is the wonderful experience everyone could wish once in their life.

Phung Village in Ha Giang
Phung Village

There are actually several ways to get to Hoang Su Phi. If you start from Hanoi, you should spend one night in Ha Giang city or Phuong Do commune and do some trekking before getting there. Most of travelers combine Bac Ha Lao Cai with Hoang Su Phi and then go to the other destination such as Quan Ba, Dong Van, Meo Vac. I think it is the best way to discover Ha Giang.

Boat trip on Nho Que river

Nho Que River located on the foot of Ma Pi Leng Pass, appears be a shimmering green thread when viewed from above, hidden in the middle of the mountains.

Cruising along Nho Que River is one of the most exciting things to do in Ha Giang. Sitting on a boat, you can see the beautiful natural scenery and the majestic Tu San Abyss Alley.

Boat trip in Nho Que River
Relaxing in boat trip

The ticket price for Nho Que boat is 120,000 VND (~$5) per person, including the transit to the pier. The boat trip is about 30 minutes.

Nam Tan Cave

When exploring the wonders of Ha Giang, one of the must-visit destinations is the breathtaking Nam Tan cave. In local language “Nam” means water and “Tan” means flowing, so it means the cave has underground water flow.

A true highlight of this experience is the chance to witness the cave’s pristine condition, nestled in an old forest. Unlike more popular tourist destinations, Nam Tan remains unspoiled and offers an authentic encounter with nature’s wonders. The absence of crowds allows you for a serene and immersive experience.

Nam Tan Cave in Ha Giang - best thing to do
Amazing formation in Nam Tan Cave looks like lotus (Image: Giap Van Hai)

From Ha Giang city you can ride motorbikes or drive cars (about 100km from the city, 30km from Bac Quang), then you must ride motorbikes since the road is so hard to go and offroad about 2.5km. Then you will go through the jungle for another 2km. It’s not easy to access so if you’re an adventure traveler, you should give it a try.

Best time to visit Ha Giang

Since the weather in Ha Giang is clearly classified into 4 seasons as spring, summer, autumn and winter, it offers different form of landscape.

For me, the time I like most about Ha Giang is September and October when the color of rice changing into golden yellow creates a gorgeous picture.

Also, spring (from January to March) is the season of New Year and festival, ethnic minorities get dressed with their most beautiful custom; they sing, drink and dance with their traditional folk song. Summer is the time local people prepare for their planting rice. All rice terraces covered with water creates a spectacular view look like slow-moving waterfall in May. The fields are fully green and fluorescent green during June, July, August, which makes everyone feel refresh and peaceful.

Golden rice fields in Ha Giang vietnam during autumn
Beautiful golden rice terrace in Ha Giang Vietnam

How to get to Ha Giang?

You can simply go to My Dinh local bus station to catch a bus to get to Ha Giang. The duration is about 6-8 hours. Local buses company: Quang Nghi, Bang Phan, Quang Tuyen …etc. You can find tickets at different time on

Another way is choosing a limousine bus from Old Quarter. They will pick you up at your hotel or usually at Hanoi Opera House cost around US$ 20 – $ 25/ per person.

However, I highly recommend the best way to get to Ha Giang is to arrange a private car with trusted private Vietnam travel agent in Hanoi.

Then you can find the tour Explore unfold Ha Giang 5 days to have an overview of activities and accommodations. You will have great chances to with many of cultural richness, diversity of minority people as well as stunning landscapes of Ha Giang Vietnam. This tour can be designed only for you, which suits most with your travel style, so can send us by clicking on the button below.

Recommended Ha Giang loop itineraries

Ha Giang Itinerary in 7 days

  • Day 1: Ha Noi – Ha Giang – Thon Tha
  • Day 2: Thon Tha – Khuoi My Trekking – Ha Giang
  • Day 3: Ha Giang – Quan Ba Pass – Dong Van
  • Day 5: Dong Van – Ma Pi Leng – Meo Vac
  • Day 6: Meo Vac- Yen Minh – Du Gia – Ha Giang
  • Day 7: Ha Giang – Hanoi

Ha Giang Itinerary in 5 days

  • Day 1: Ha Noi – Ha Giang – Thon Tha
  • Day 2: Ha Giang Quan Ba – Dong Van
  • Day 3: Dong Van
  • Day 4: Dong Van – Meo Vac – Quan Ba
  • Day 5: Quan Ba – Hanoi

Where to go next?

After immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of Ha Giang, Vietnam, there are several captivating destinations to consider for the next leg of your journey. If your exploration in Ha Giang leads you to Meo Vac, you can continue your adventure by heading to Bao Lac, Cao Bang, or Ba Be National Park. Alternatively, if your Ha Giang experience concludes in Hoang Su Phi, you can venture to Bac Ha and then make your way to Sapa.

Finding your flexible holiday packages Vietnam to Ha Giang with us:

Or if you are looking for more Vietnam itinerary ideas, here are our Vietnam package tours you can find different samples from 3 weeks to one week.

Van Do - Indochina Voyages Travel Expert

Van Do – Travel Specialist

4 years as a tour guide on the road, 5 years tailoring exotic trips – with extensive knowledge of off-the-beaten-path destinations enable her to craft bespoke itineraries that are full of surprises.

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