Welcome to your ultimate guide to the Ha Giang Loop in Vietnam, a thrilling motorbike adventure that sweeps you across stunning mountain landscapes, refreshing waterfalls, and welcoming local hostels!
It’s a journey for the bold and the adventurous, where every stop, twist, and turn is a delightful surprise. There are no absolute certainties here – except the guarantee of an experience that will last a lifetime.
Whether it’s a surprise detour to a swimming pool on a hot day or an unexpected waterfall visit, this journey is as fluid and as thrilling as the rivers you’ll pass along the way.
We’ll dive into all the practicalities, starting with getting to Ha Giang from Hanoi, packing the essentials for your trip, and choosing the perfect accommodation for your adventure. I’ll share my honest review of the Bong Hostel Ha Giang Loop Tour and their accommodation, giving you a glimpse into what awaits you at this exciting destination.
I’ll share top tips on passports, safety, police checks, and why choosing an ‘easy rider’ might just be the best decision you’ll make.
So pack your bags, rev up your engines, and join me as we navigate the breathtaking landscapes and exhilarating experiences of the Ha Giang Loop.
Let’s get this adventure started!
What’s so special about the Ha Giang Loop?
The Ha Giang Loop in Vietnam’s Ha Giang Province holds cultural significance due to its ethnic diversity and traditional villages. It’s home to various ethnic minority groups, each with their own language, customs and clothing. Along the loops, you can witness the traditional way of life in villages with ancient architecture and terraced rice fields. The region’s vibrant festivals and emphasis on sustainable tourism and cultural preservation add to its cultural importance.
The history of Ha Giang spans thousands of years. It was inhabited in ancient times and came under Chinese influence during various periods. It later became part of French colonial rule and witnessed the struggle for independence. Following the Vietnam War, the region underwent post-war development, leading to its present-day cultural identity as a region with a rich history, diverse ethnic groups and stunning natural beauty.
How to get to Ha Giang
When travelling to Ha Giang, you are likely to start from Hanoi. I highly recommend booking a sleeper bus through the hostel that you choose, this means that they organize the pickup from your hotel in Hanoi and they drop you off at the right hostel when you arrive in Ha Giang.
The journey from Hanoi to Ha Giang takes around 6-7 hours so it’s worth buying tickets for the slightly more expensive but comfortable cabin bus. We paid 400,000 Dong per person for the cabin bus (~£13). The bus will stop along the way for a lunch break (if you take a daytime bus). If you take an overnight bus, it’s likely that your bus might have a toilet on board or the driver will stop and turn the lights on to let everyone know it’s a toilet stop.
Bong Hostel: Choosing the right tour for you
Before planning to do the Ha Giang loop, I had seen so many TikToks and Instagram videos of people doing the loop with Jasmine Hostel. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing this hostel, I had seen so many people doing it with them that I wanted to choose a different hostel with a bit less of a party vibe!
I came across Bong Hostel on Google and messaged them via WhatsApp to enquire about prices, dates and whether we should choose self-riding or easy-riding. They were so helpful and responded to my questions quickly. At the time, my partner Brett and I were travelling with our friends Matt and Chan so we all agreed that Bong Hostel looked like a good option.
Bong Hostel organized the bus for us from Hanoi – Ha Giang, we got dropped off right outside the hostel and got shown to our room quickly.
Bong Hostel accommodation
This was actually the first time I had ever stayed in a hostel, so I had nothing to compare it to, but we were shown to our dorm and each had our own bunk bed with a privacy curtain, pillow, duvet, towel, and charging port. The bed was super comfy and the room had great air conditioning so we had a great sleep that night! In the morning you can order breakfast for free in the common area before you start the tour.
The hostel also has storage lockers where you can keep your large backpacks and suitcases while you do the loop. Bear in mind that you must bring your own padlock to secure the locker.
Bong Hostel tour
- Duration: 3 Days, 2 Nights
- Drivers: 5 (4 easy-drivers, 1 spotter)
There were 9 people in our group in total, Brett, Matt, Chan and I all had easy riders and the other 5 people were self-riding. I loved the fact that the groups are small because you get to know everyone really well and make great friends over the course of the trip.
Our easy riders were lovely too, mine was called Thuong and he was especially attentive and offered to take pictures whenever we stopped at a viewpoint. I had complete trust in our easy-riders, Thuong was an experienced driver and I felt totally safe on his bike!
Days on the Ha Giang Loop
I’m quite sure you will just be in awe for most of your trip to Ha Giang! The scenery is like nothing I’ve seen before, mountain after mountain, turn after turn. There is of course a lot of driving involved so you spend the majority of your time on the bike. However, you stop so many times along the way to have a rest, stretch your legs and admire the stunning views!
There are a few stops where you can climb up some rocks and get some awesome pictures at the top. At many of the stops, there is also the opportunity to buy drinks and snacks.
You will also get to visit local villages and interact with the local children who are so sweet! These interactions were the highlight of my trip.
Depending on the time of year that you go, the road conditions, the locations of the police checks, and the route is open to change. The drivers decide what they want to do depending on the day. For example, on our trip it stated that swimming stops weren’t included, but because it was so hot the drivers took us to a swimming pool on the first day and then to a waterfall on the last day. This was a really welcome inclusion to our trip and made it even more memorable for us!
Nights on the Ha Giang Loop
Depending on which hostel you choose and which kind of vibe you prefer, your evenings could be filled with happy water, dancing and karaoke or they could be more low-key depending on your preference. We were lucky to experience a mix of both!
On our first evening, we arrived at Milk Milk Hostel with loads of other travelers and enjoyed a feast of noodles, rice, meats, vegetables, spring rolls and so much more! The happy water was flowing (as were the beers) and people quickly got started on the karaoke.
The staff stopped the music at around 10:30 pm and then everyone headed up to bed by 11:30 pm-12 am. We had the best night getting to know the people in our group better and some of us were even a little hungover on day 2!
On the second night, we arrived at a hostel and it was just our group staying there, so we had a bit of a quieter evening. We all enjoyed yet another feast put on by the generous staff at our hostel. There was more happy water passed around to get us in the mood for some karaoke! This was a really nice evening because we all got to chat in a quieter setting and reflect on the journey that we had spent together so far.
The road conditions
For the first 2 days, the roads were in good condition with minimal potholes and bumps. However, on the third and final day, about 30km of road was unpaved gravel/dirt. It was tricky to navigate and the drivers had to be extra cautious as some of the road was on the side of a cliff with a steep drop on the other side.
It’s safe to say my heart was racing in these parts! But luckily, our group was totally fine and they handled the bad road conditions really well.
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Honest review of Bong Hostel Ha Giang Loop Tour
I was highly impressed with our entire experience with Bong Hostel. The communication we had before arriving there was very clear and helpful and they organized all of our bus transfers for us. The hostel itself is clean, well-run and the staff speak good English so communication is not an issue. The drivers are so sweet and helpful throughout the entire trip and they made it really memorable for us. I loved the fact that we had one party evening and one more relaxing evening, it was the perfect balance.
- Cost of the trip: £359 for 2 people. This included the bus transfers to and from Hanoi, a one-night stay at Bong Hostel, 3 days and 2 nights Ha Giang Loop tour with easy-riders and all food and happy water included.
What to pack for the Loop
I had seen so many different recommendations of what to pack for the loop before I did it and I didn’t know until the day before when I saw the weather forecast what I should actually pack!
I did the loop at the end of May (2023) and it was super hot. This is what I recommend taking with you:
- Small backpack
- Underwear (duh!)
- Shorts x 3
- T-shirt x 2
- Tank top x 1
- Universal Adaptor + Phone Charger
- Power Bank (optional)
- Lightweight rain coat (optional)
- Soap + Shampoo
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Sunglasses (check out these hiking sunglasses)
- Small first aid kit
- Plastic bag for wet/dirty clothes
Of course, if you are going at a different time of year, the weather could be much cooler or warmer, so make sure to check the weather before you go and try and pack as lightly as possible!
Check out our hiking gear guide.
My top tips
1. Passports: You don’t need to take your passport with you on the loop. I recommend locking it safely away in your big rucksack that you leave at the hostel. All you need is a picture of your passport on your phone.
2. Bring a padlock so you can secure your belongings in the storage locker.
3. Bring cash with you, as you need to pay for your drinks and any snacks you want to buy.
4. Bring a swimming costume and a towel, even if swimming isn’t included in your tour.
5. Apply sun cream! Cover up when you’re riding. We saw people who were very sunburnt on the first day and it would be uncomfortable to sit on the bike like that afterward.
6. Police checks: If you don’t have an International Driving License and you want to self-ride, some hostels (like Bong Hostel) will still let you ride. They allow you to do this but they cannot guarantee that you won’t be stopped, fined and potentially have the bike confiscated.
When we went, we had a spotter who drove ahead and checked for police stops. We only encountered 1 police stop and those of us on easy-riders passed through first. We then got off the bikes to allow our riders to circle back and pick up those who were self-riding without an IDP so they could be brought through the police check without any issues.
7. Only self-ride if you feel confident: The motorbikes you get to ride are semi-automatic and not everyone in our group had ridden one of these before. They take some getting used to as you have to change gears using your foot. Bong Hostel offers a lesson in the morning before you set off on the first day.
8. Don’t feel bad about getting an easy rider! Getting easy riders was one of the best choices we made! We were all free to enjoy the scenery and be present in the moment rather than focusing on the road. There is no shame in easy riding and it was actually really fun! Brett also thought it was more comfortable than driving yourself.
Wrapping up my journey through the Ha Giang loop, it’s evident that the experience is far more than just a motorcycle tour. It’s an immersion into an enchanting world of towering peaks, dramatic passes, and vibrant cultures.
My recommendation to future adventurers is simple: embark on this journey with an open mind and a willingness to adapt to the unexpected. The conditions might be tough, and the itinerary might change, but that’s part of the thrill. Use my packing list as a guideline but also tailor it to your needs and the weather conditions at the time of your trip.
Whether you choose to ride solo or opt for an easy rider, the goal remains the same: to witness the mesmerizing beauty of Ha Giang, immerse in its rich culture, and make unforgettable memories. For us, getting the easy riders was a winning choice, allowing us to soak in the sights without worrying about the road. But, at the end of the day, it’s about what suits your comfort and confidence level.
So, are you ready to strap on your helmet and kickstart your own Ha Giang adventure? Remember, the journey is as rewarding as the destination. Safe travels, fellow globetrotters!
Check out our guide to backpacking by motorbike!