Ha Giang has so many incredible spots to visit, you could spend several weeks here without seeing it all. To help you choose which experiences to include in your itinerary, we’ve put together a list of 15 best things to do and see in Ha Giang for you to choose from.
Located right on the border with China and spread over rolling hills, impressive karsts and green valleys, Ha Giang is known as Vietnam’s last frontier.
Since Ha Giang is not the easiest place to reach, it’s less busy and offers travelers the chance to explore Vietnam’s raw beauty in a way few other places still do. Nature-lovers and adventurers will love Ha Giang for its unsullied nature and the diversity of ethnic minorities living in the towns and cities connected by this area’s steep winding roads. Keen to get off the beaten path (in every sense of the word!) and see a lesser-known side of Vietnam? Here are the 15 best things to do and see in Ha Giang to blow up your mind in coming trip to Vietnam
1. Thon Ta Village and Waterfall
While there is little to see in Ha Giang city, there are some interesting spots to visit close by. Thon Tha village is one of them. Only around 500 people live here but since tourists have been visiting for many years, there are plenty of nice homestays and many locals who speak English and are eager to be your guide.
A stop here is worth it as you’ll see how people live in this part of Vietnam. Many villagers run their own farm and live in traditional houses, renting out their extra rooms to travelers. This is your chance to sleep in an authentic stilted house, overlooking verdant rice fields and waving good morning to buffaloes when you wake up.
A short trek from town, you’ll find a beautiful waterfall which offers wonderful refreshment after a hike.
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2. Khuoi My and Tai Con Linh Peak
If you’re looking for a great trekking experience, head to Khuoi My village on Tay Con Linh Peak from Thon Ta. If you set out early in the morning, you’ll get there by lunchtime and have plenty of homestays to choose from for a meal. Hosts are known to be very welcoming and eager to share stories about their history, culture and traditions, so feel free to ask!
As you walk the mountain paths, Ha Giang’s countryside will unfold before your eyes and offer breathtaking views of rice fields, forests and surrounding mountains.
3. Ma Pi Leng Pass and Heaven’s Gate
As you head east from Ha Giang to Dong Van, you will start to see the landscape change to what you’ve doubtlessly seen on postcards of Ha Giang. The endless rice paddies will slowly give way to the famous limestone mountains, deep canyons and rocky structures which make this province so unique. All of this is part of the Dong Van kart Plateau, a UNESCO-recognized geopark.
You will make your way towards Quan Ba Valley where you’ll see the famous Fairy Breast Mountains, two round hills set in the middle of a perfectly flat valley. If you have some extra time, you can go there for a hike and a visit. Many locals do, as they believe it brings good luck.
Further along the path, you will get to Ma Pi Leng Pass, an impressive area with endless views of the Nho Que River, its canyon and the mountains rising steeply on either side. Take some time to stop along this road and soak up the view… chances are you’ll meet a few other travelers and locals doing the same.
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4. Dong Van
After a lot of driving, you’ll arrive in Dong Van, the largest town in Ha Giang province. It’s worth it to spend some time here as there are plenty of things to do and see in Dong Van. You can start by exploring the Old Quarter, Dong Van’s city center. It resembles a courtyard surrounded by traditional coin-roof buildings. Today, many of them have been converted into cafes and souvenir shops. This might come as a surprise, but the city is a popular stop among Vietnamese travelers who are exploring the Dong Van loop, so tourism in this area is more developed than in the rest of the province.
Once you’ve had enough of the town, you can climb a nearby hill to find the ruins of a French fort called Don Cao. From there you will also have breathtaking views of Dong Van and the surrounding countryside.
Not far from Dong Van, is Lung Cam Cultural Village where people from the Lo Lo, Hmong and Han tribes live together. Here artisans create beautiful local handicrafts like colorful hand-woven fabrics. Walk around and you can see them at work and maybe even learn how they make some of their masterpieces.
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5. Lung Cu Flag Tower
Around 90 minutes from Dong Van, another amazing sight awaits: Lung Cu Flag Tower. It’s a huge flagpole set very close to the Chinese border. You can climb up and enjoy stunning views of the green hills, jagged mountains and steep drop-offs from there. If the visibility is good, you’ll even get a glimpse of China!
6. Sa Phin – Hmong King Palace
Only a short drive from Dong Van is Sa Phin, the village home to an important historical site, the Hmong King Palace. It was built in the 1920s for Vuong Chinh Duc who was also known as the Hmong King. He was on good terms with the French during their colonial rule.
The palace is an interesting building with elements of European and Chinese style elements and was one of the most luxurious homes in the area. Richly decorated with beautiful carvings of flowers and decked out with the era’s most modern facilities, the palace was often the site of visits from dignitaries and important businessmen.
Today the palace is a museum and you’ll find some interesting pictures giving you an idea of the lives the owners led.
7. Sung La
Close to Sa Phin, Sung La, another small Hmong village is worth a stop as well, as the flower fields here are popular with travelers. To help visitors get good selfies with flowers, some business-minded locals have set up plots with little ‘flower meadows’. There you can pose and take photos for a small fee.
For a real meadow dotted with wildflowers, just head to the outskirts of town. There you’ll have the whole place to yourself and can enjoy the smell of all the blossoms around you without the crowds.
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8. Lung Tam
As you make your way around the Ha Giang loop, Lung Tam village is a fun stop if you are interested in local crafts and artwork. On your treks and drives, you might have already seen marijuana fields along the way and wondered what the plants are for. In Lung Tam you’ll find out!
Here, a group of Hmong women uses hemp to make wonderful fabrics. They dye them with natural colors and print, batik or embroider them with different designs. You’ll be able to see every step of their production process and maybe even give it a try yourself!
Of course, there is also a gift shop where you can buy some of their work. Still need souvenirs? This is probably one of the best places to get them as the products are reasonably priced and you know the proceeds go to the women and their community.
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9. Hoang Su Phi – Wonder of rice terraced fields
If you think Ha Giang don’t have graceful golden terraced rice fields like Sapa or Mu Cang Chai, we gladly to let you know that Hoang Su Phi in Ha Giang has some of the most dramatic and scenic terraced rice fields in Vietnam. For that Hoang Su Phi remarked as one of the best things to do and see in Ha Giang
Hoang Su Phi is a district in the western of Ha Giang Province coming near from Hanoi, at the foot of Tay Con Linh Mountain. Thanks to its geographic characteristics, coming to Hoang Su Phi during harvest season, travelers will have the chance to see the golden terraces covered in the white clouds.
The terraced fields has long been considered as the artworks of the locals’ hard work and no longer just agricultural cultivation. Hoang Su Phi offers breathtaking views of layers and layers of rice fields on mountain after mountain
When is the best time to visit Hoang Su Phi? Late September and October is the best time to visit and to witness the terraced fields turning golden and the hard labor of the people during harvest time. You can do a Hoang Su Phi Ha Giang photo trip from Hanoi with a guide.
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10. Dong Van Sunday Market
One of the must-do things to do in Dong Van is to visit the fair market that is held on every Sunday. Occupied at Dong Van Old Quarter, the market is a delightful highlight which turn the highland town vibrant and exciting from 5am to 10am every Sunday morning
The ethnic people, including Hmong, Tay, Nung and Hoa ethnic minorities stay true to their identity and tradition by dressing with their finest costumes to attend the weekly fair market. The event is a chance for local people to purchase their tribal goods, self-grown li, socialize, and eat good foods. It’s a very local, friendly atmosphere and you’ll find yourself enjoying the market in no time. So why not set your alarm and wake up earlier to join the one of the most important fair markets in North Vietnam? You won’t be disappointed
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11. Ride Motorbike on Ma Pi Leng Pass
Riding motorbike on Ma Pi Leng Pass will bring you exhilaration, that’s how beautiful the pass is. However, we only recommend those who have enough riding experience to take on the challenge because the road leading up Ma Pi Leng is no joke. It’s winding, narrow and two-way
Ma Pi Leng means a bridge of a horse’s nose, describing the shape of its shape. Have long been ranked by locals, Ma Pi Leng is among the top 4 passes in Vietnam which are both beautiful and dangerous. For those love adventure specially motorbike tour, this is great places to do it.
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12. Chieu Lau Thi Mountain
The Chieu Lau Thi Mountain is the third highest mountain in Vietnam and the second highest mountain in Ha Giang, after Tay Con Linh. Unlike Fansipan, there is no cable car here that will take you up easily. The climb is tough and tiring, but you will be rewarded with a beautiful view. There are hardly any tourists, but if you are planning to climb this mountain it is recommended to go with a guide
13. Du Già
Du Già is a small village located in a valley in Ha Giang province. It lays next to a river and it’s surrounded by beautiful, green hills. Du Già is one of the most common stops if you’re riding the Ha Giang loop for good things to do and see in Ha Giang
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With pine forests, granite mountains, quiet farming villages, and heavenly views in every direction, Ha Giang is like an illustration of how nature can flourish when unsullied. The trekking routes in Ha Giang fall far enough from the tourist circuit, so you can wander the mountains of Ha Giang uninterrupted for days at a time. Local interactions are based on mutual curiosity rather than commerce.
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It offers a diversified palette of landscapes and a pretty mosaic of ethnic groups, barely influenced by the turmoil and development of modern life. From the spectacular rice terraces of Hoang Su Phi and its various local tribes, to the breathtaking karst landscape of Dong Van and its White Hmong populated villages.
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Getting around Ha Giang
While distances from one town to the next are probably a bit too much by bicycle, it’s a fun way to get around in places like Dong Van. A bicycle is also a good way to explore the outskirts of a village and the surrounding rice fields.
To rent one, ask your hotel or hostel. They can suggest reliable shops where you can get a bike for a few dollars a day.
Getting from one town to the next in Ha Giang is easy and fun by motorbike. Streets are winding and steep, but generally well-paved so you can drive comfortably. If you’re an inexperienced driver, don’t underestimate these roads. You might want to consider getting a driver to be on the safe side. Today many adventurers do Ha Giang loop from Hanoi to explore the trail by motorbike
There are some bus companies operating Hanoi to Ha Giang city. Hence towns and villages in Ha Giang are reachable by buses. Once you arrive at Ha Giang bus station, you will easily find the next bus you need to get to Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van or Meo Vac, depending on what you want to see and do. Be careful to check the bus timings so you don’t miss the last one of the day!
Once you get to your destination, you can ask a xe om (local motorbike taxi) to take you to the sights you want to see. Make sure you know where you’re going ahead of time as many xe om drivers don’t speak English. Knowing numbers in Vietnamese will also be useful as it will help you negotiate rates.
Another good way to get from Hanoi to and around in Ha Giang is by private driver. To be sure you have someone waiting for you when you arrive in Ha Giang, book ahead with a travel agent in Hanoi. They have reliable contacts in the area and can help you plan your itinerary.
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To avoid missing anything in Ha Giang, opt for an organized Ha Giang tour. If your alarm bells are going off and you’re refusing this idea because you don’t want to be carted around on a bus full of tourists, don’t worry. Of course, there are tours like that. You’ll cover most of the best things to do and see in Ha Giang to offer.
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