Traveling in Vietnam: Why you should visit Ha Giang

A Traveler standing on top of a mountain and enjoying valley view in Ha Giang province of Vietnam

If you are traveling to Vietnam and you don’t have Ha Giang in your itinerary, you have to change it. Ha Giang is one of the highlights in northern Vietnam. Nestled in the mountains is where you can find this wonderful province called Ha Giang. Often overlooked by tourists, this northern gem is a place that you need to visit if you appreciate unspoilt nature and mountains that will take your breath away. Only approximately 2% of international tourists find their way to Ha Giang. Perhaps it is the fact that the roads aren’t as developed here yet, or that there’s not as much public transportation to get here as to for example Sapa. But it shouldn’t be a reason for you to skip this part of Vietnam.

If you are coming from Hanoi, you can take the bus which will take about 10 hours. Don’t let this scare you off though – there’s often night buses that you can take (and very comfortable ones!). Once in Ha Giang you will be stunned by your surroundings. Here are some of the highlights in this area:

Dong Van Karst plateau

A view in Dong Van (Ha Giang)
A view in Dong Van (Ha Giang)

Perhaps one of the most popular places in Ha Giang, this was added to the UNESCO Geoparks Network in 2010 thanks to its geographical wonder. You will see formations of karst peaks here and its surface mainly consists of limestone. The oldest parts goes way back – nearly 550 million years, and is therefore a very important part of history. Ride through here with your motorbike or take a bus to this place. You will be very happy that you went here.

Ma Pi Lieng

A view of Ma Pi Leng pass in Ha Giang province, Vietnam
A view of Ma Pi Leng pass in Ha Giang province, Vietnam

Many people who has come this way says this is the most beautiful road in Vietnam. Although the connection between Meo Vac and Dong Van is only 20 kilometers long, it offers nothing but stunning views. This is hands down one of the absolute must-do’s in Ha Giang. Riding through the deep canyons and high mountains will overwhelm you with its natural beauty. If you prefer to not go on a motorbike by yourself, you can walk it or rent a motorbike taxi (xe om).

Ban Gioc Waterfall

A view of Ban Gioc waterfall in Cao Bang Province, Northern Vietnam
A view of Ban Gioc waterfall in Cao Bang Province, Northern Vietnam

No trip to Ha Giang is complete without visiting the majestic waterfalls. This waterfall separates Vietnam from China and is about a 2 hour drive away from Cao Bang. The roads are not so bad here either so if you are planning on going with a motorbike (which is highly recommended) then it’s a good place to go.

Khau Vai Love Market in Meo Vac

Also known as the “Love Market”, if you are in Ha Giang during the third Lunar month’s 26th day and lasts until the end of next day in Khau Vai commune. This market is very unique because it’s not really a market where people come to sell or buy goods. It’s more of a “dating” place. The festival originates from a love story where a couple from different tribes fell deeply in love, but their marriage was forbidden by the girl’s tribe. Battles and wars broke out and the couple decided it was better to break up with broken hearts than to see the violence continue. This market is a very special event for northern Vietnam and if you are lucky to be here during this festival, you will not only be able to taste some really delicious local food, but you will also learn more of Vietnam’s traditions and culture.

While there is a lot more to do in Ha Giang, these are some of the highlights which you should not miss out on. Even if it is a bit out of the way, Ha Giang is definitely worth the extra hassle. Before traveling to the country, don’t forget to apply for your Vietnam visa. You have three options, depending on which country you are a citizen of. You can apply for an E-Visa (which is not applicable for all so check first if you can apply for this), Visa on Arrival or go to your local or nearest Vietnam Embassy or Consulate to get your Vietnam visa.