Ha Giang Vietnam – An 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. Ha Giang Vietnam, considered as an alternative to Sapa recently, has stolen my heart from the very first time. Even the very bad car sick couldn’t stop me from coming there many times later.

Ha Giang – home to many ethnic minorities including Hmong, Dao, Tay, Giay, etc. is a remote area, closer to 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. Recently, Ha Giang Vietnam is becoming a popular destination for many travelers. I myself do believe that Ha Giang never makes any of these disappointed.

There are many beautiful places and things to see in Ha Giang Vietnam. Here are some my own experiences for the best experience in Ha Giang.

Things to see in Ha Giang Vietnam

Thon Tha Village or Ha Thanh Village – Phuong Do commune

As Ha Giang is recently considered as an alternative to Sapa in North Vietnam tours, 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. If you come here in April, 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

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. For me, this is one of the exceptional experiences I have made since staying in straw-thatched house reminds me of my childhood.


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

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. 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. If you come here at weekend, don’t forget to visit Meo Vac or Dong Van Sunday Market, one of the region’s biggest and most colorful with participants from Hmong, Tay, Nung, Hoa ethnic minorities.


Meo Vac Sunday Market

Hoang Su Phi

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.

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.


Phung Village

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. It is a colorful picture in spring from January to March as it fulfills with a lot of different flowers such as peach blossom, apricot, plum, etc. Also, spring 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.

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.


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 and the price from 10USD to 15USD/one way. The earliest one leaves at 7am and the latest one leaves at 21pm.  However, it is not really a smooth way to get a seat at local bus station. Your bus are expected to stop many times on the way to drop or recruit more people. Luckily, there are couple of bus picking up tourists from Old Quarter recently that makes it much more convenient to get Ha Giang with price ranging from 15USD to 20USD. Once you arrive to Ha Giang, let’s think about renting a motorbike to conquer the most dangerous but beautiful road of Vietnam.

However, I highly recommend the best way to get to Ha Giang is to arrange a car with Vietnam tour companies in Hanoi.

Then click this tour >> Explore unfold Ha Giang 5 days, you will have great chances to with many of cultural richness, diversity of minority people as well as stunning landscapes of Ha Giang Vietnam.

Happy travelling!


Van Do – Travel Specialist

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