Du Gia Waterfall. The Ma Pi Leng mountain pass. The Dong Van karst limestone Plateau and the H'Mong King's palace. The Ha Giang Loop is easily one of Vietnam's best. Take the overnight bus from Hanoi, collect your motorcycle in Ha Giang, get on the road and experience it for yourself.
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Day 1: Ha Giang – Tam Son
Dong Van back roads; Dong Van Plateau; Lung Khuy Cave
Our first riding day is not difficult at all and we can take plenty of detours to get on more rugged roads or stop off at viewpoints or sights. We also have time to stop off and chat with the locals and, if lucky, visit any local markets that are being held in the area. We start out on flat terrain but quickly ascend up onto the Ha Giang Plateau. It will be cooler up here. We stay that evening in a local homestay run by the Dao people.
Day 2: Tam Son – Yen Minh
Dong Van back roads; Yen Minh pine forest
This day takes us along the valley floor before ascending into the Yen Minh pine forest. It’s a great feeling to be surrounded by the mountains on either side. We can drive through the forest or take a newly constructed shortcut across quite barren hills. I guess the choice depends on how we are feeling after feasting the evening before. We can stay in a regular hotel or the small group of local homestays that has been developed and we can eat in the homestay or the local market for a bit of colour.
Day 3: Yen Minh – Dong Van
Hmong King’s Palace; Lung Cu Flag Tower
This is a short hop, of only 50km, on the main road but we do not take the main road. We head off onto the smaller roads and take little detours so that we can see what is going on in the villages. We may find that some roads are blocked but we an always get around that. This is why having plenty of time and only a few Km to go pays off. We stay in a large hotel tonight where we can clean up and relax in style.
Day 4: Dong Van – Meo Vac
Ma Pi Leng Gorge; Nho Que River; small H’Mong tracks
This is a very short route and that allows us time to get up late, visit a few sites such as the skywalk or the fortress and still make it to Meo Vac in time for tea. A very relaxed day which has a little more sightseeing than riding. It’s worth it but we can also choose to explore the dirt tracks in the area if that is preferred.
Day 5: Meo Vac – Du Gia
Du Gia Valley; Du Gia Waterfall
This is our longest day so we need to be rested and ready to drive. Again, we can choose the easy tarmac route or the extremely technical mountain path route. They really are chalk and cheese. We pass through Mau Due and then on to Du Gia where we stay at a luxurious homestay serving wonderful food. It is an easy day tomorrow so perhaps let your hair down a bit.
Day 6: Du Gia – Ha Giang
Little Ma Pi Leng Canyon
We are under no pressure to make the distance today as Ha Giang is only a short way away. We can choose to lay in, explore the area or get back to Ha Giang and look around there. The first half of the route back is more scenic mountain driving but then we need to get on the main road again so it’s good to just get it done. We can eat in Ha Giang before dropping off our bikes and then getting our bus back to Hanoi.
Honda Future 125
The Honda Future is our most powerful semi-automatic motorbike, and makes for a surprisingly capable tourer.
fuel injected: easy to start and good throttle response