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Hoang Su Phi is home to some of Ha Giang’s most magnificent cultivated topography. Rice terraces coil in ribbons around the hills to spectacular effect, luring photographers, hikers, and avid motorbikers. Ready for an adventure? Whatever you’re looking for, here are four things you’ll simply love about Hoang Su Phi.
Spectacular rice terraces
Hoang Su Phi's sheer rice terraces were sculpted over centuries of small-scale cultivation. Each season brings its own charm.
During the summer, the terraces bulge with ripening rice stems that blanket the hills in a vibrant green. By early autumn, the rice plants have turned a bewitching golden yellow, ready for the harvest. In wintertime, the lonely terraces fill with water, creating cascading rows of reflective infinity pools. Once spring comes, the terraces transform into anthills of activity, as the farmers plant a new crop.
Tip: The unmissable terraces have become synonymous with Hoang Su Phi, virtually every bend of the road offers picture-perfect scenery. Make sure you have your camera ready, as each vista will seem better than the last.
Vibrant Red Dao culture
Hoang Su Phi is mainly populated by the Red Dao, a subgroup of one of Hoang Su Phi’s largest ethnicities. Pretty Red Dao villages are dotted around the district. Each one offers a glimpse into a rich culture.
Like many other minority groups in Vietnam, the Red Dao live in raised houses on wooden stilts. Red Dao textile culture is highly developed, and you’ll find that many villagers – both men and women – still wear traditional dress. Red Dao men typically wear dark tunics and hats, while women wear longer tunics with arms and waistbands in bright colours.
Tip: For culture lovers, some Red Dao villages worth seeking out are Nam Hong, Nam Son, Thong Nguyen...
Hoang Su Phi is one of the best places in Vietnam to take on the roads. You’ll find quality strips of tarmac that weave around oval hills and sky-high dirt tracks that cling to near-vertical cliff faces. Whether you want a gentle ride following trickling rivers or an adrenaline-filled dirt bike experience, Hoang Su Phi provides the stage.
Notable main roads include the magnificent stretch between Quang Vinh town (Hoang Su Phi centre) and Ban Phung village. Off the main road, a ride up to Nam Hong village offers more great views on a mostly paved road.
Tip: In this remote part of Vietnam, the main roads are quiet, and the smaller roads are empty. It’s easy to plan your own routes with Google Maps. You can arrange basic motorcycles from your hotel in Hoang Su Phi, or rent dirt bikes from tour operators in Ha Giang city.
Undiscovered hiking trails
Hiking is a great way to absorb Hoang Su Phi's scenery at a slower pace. You’ll pass layers of rice terraces, tea and corn plantations, and higher up, primary tropical rainforest.
Hiking is an attractive tourist activity in Hoang Su Phi, but the Red Dao, Hmong have been roaming these hills for centuries. Until recently, villagers travelled almost everywhere by foot, creating a network of trails that zigzag up the valleys and into the mountains. These trails connect every hamlet and provide excellent hiking routes for long and short forays.
Tips for travellers to Hoang Su Phi
Transport to Hoang Su Phi
Hoang Su Phi is a six- to seven-hour road journey from Hanoi. You can arrange a direct bus or private car through your hotel. Alternatively, you can hop on public buses to Tan Quang town (in Ha Giang) and then find onward transport to Hoang Su Phi.
Accommodation in Hoang Su Phi
There are clean and basic hotels and restaurants in Hoang Su Phi town. Homestays sprinkled around nearby villages trade in warm hospitality and hearty home cooking. About 60km from the town, Hoang Su Phi Bungalow, Hoang Su Phi Lodge offers boutique bungalows and comfortable dorm beds.
Tours in Hoang Su Phi
You’re best off hiking with a local guide that can show you the most appealing routes. Mr Minh, the owner of Vision Travel, tailors private tours for his guests. For a longer route, Vision Travel offers an all-inclusive four-day hike, available online.