Ha Giang is known for rewarding Ha Giang Loop motorbike tours, trekking, stunning views, and rolling rice terraces. The area is home to 22 ethnic minorities who together weave one of the richest webs of culture in Vietnam. Like many beautiful places, Ha Giang needs tourism that helps it preserve its nature and heritage. Read on to discover our top recommendations for a sustainable getaway in Ha Giang.
Learning about local culture is a great way to start your time in Ha Giang. Many minorities in this region still wear their ethnic dress, live in simple villages, and embrace ancient customs. The morning markets are the perfect place to witness the vibrant culture of the ethnic groups. Set aside time for Dong Van or Meo Vac, a charming Sunday morning market, or make the an-hour drive to Lung Phin Market to see locals trading all types of colorful wares and produce.
You can also get to know the ethnic groups through their unique handmade costumes. Spend some time learning about the styles of the different tribes through sewing, embroidery, weaving, or batik workshops. Each costume may take months to make. If you’d like to shop ethnic designs, drop in the Lung Tam Linen Cooperative to buy authentic bags, jackets, and pillows.
Tip: Vision Travel offers community-based tours for responsible travelers, ranging from motorbike rides to sewing classes to photography tours.
There are countless tour companies in Ha Giang, but choosing one that’s owned by locals and follows sustainable practices is the way to go. Before you head off, talk with your guide to decide on an itinerary that suits you. You may like to spend more time walking in the mountains, or learning about life in the villages. If you choose a multi-day or overnight trek, you’ll have a chance to sleep in one of the small ethnic villages in the mountains — a must-do experience!
Most treks begin with a walk to the wet market to buy food for your trip. Then, it’s an invigorating hike through the hills, full of exquisite panoramas and sweet mountain air. Follow your guide along winding paths, stopping for pictures along the way. Lunch is usually cooked over an open fire. Through the afternoon you may find yourself walking to scenic points, bamboo groves or waterfalls. Ha Giang has trails for everyone. Pace yourself and enjoy the view.
Tip: Vision Travel are known for excellent tailored tours led by local guides. These homegrown tours will give you context about Ha Giang’s history and the reality of life for its ethnic minorities today.
Choosing where to stay in Ha Giang is half the fun of planning your trip. In the town, or out in the terraces? A pool and buffet, or family-style hospitality? There’s lot to choose from in every category, but some of Ha Giang’s most unique accommodations are its homestays. Staying with an ethnic family supplements the small income they receive from farming and gives you the chance to hear stories about local life, taste delicious ethnic dishes, and make wonderful new friends.
If you are looking for a leisurely escape or a getaway with someone special, spring for a bungalow at Hoang Su Phi Bungalow - Nam Hong village. This mountain retreat is known for incredible views of Hoang Su Phi’s misty peaks and terraced valleys (especially from its two saltwater pools) however the lodge is also a leader when it comes to sustainability. To its credit, Hoang Su Phi Bungalow employs all staff from this village, recycles its wastewater and glass, reduces plastic and packaging, and buys from local suppliers.
You can’t leave Ha Giang without trying its famous herbal baths. The Red Dzao women have perfected the recipe for a healing soak, using bark and leaves harvested in the forests. The leaves are chopped and left to dry in the sun, then boiled in huge pots of water to create an aromatic, steamy blend used to soothe tired muscles, stave off sickness, and help women recover after childbirth.
Dedicate a few hours to visit the Nam Dam bathhouse in the village of Nam Dam or at Nam Hong village (Hoang Su Phi). Spend a half-hour soaking in a barrel full of bubbly, piping hot liquid for just 150,000 VND, then enjoy a late lunch or hot chocolate in the adjacent cafe, with Sapa’s magnificent views accompanying you every minute.
Tip: If you don’t fancy the ride to Nam Dam Village, you can book a healing herbal bath in town at Dong Van Resort or Truong Xuong resort, followed by a massage of your choice. Bliss!
Ha Giang flavors
Like the rest of Vietnam, in Ha Giang you’ll find just-picked produce to be the highlight of the table. Ethnic families dine mainly on herbs and vegetables, river fish, smoked pork, and smoked beef. There are some unusual ethnic dishes for adventurous travelers, but even picky eaters will love the region’s fresh handmade tofu and chayote leaves (rau su su) sauteed with garlic. Be sure to try Ha Giang’s famous black chickens, served in a warming soup, or grilled with spices.
If you’re a foodie, you might like to stay with Du Gia homestay or Ethnic House Lounge Bar & Hostel, where the chefs layout amazing hotpots, wood-fired barbecue dinners, and seasonal spreads made with ingredients from the local people.
Getting to Ha Giang
Ha Giang itinerary
There are now several excellent transport options to Ha Giang from Hanoi. Comfortable limo vans (from 350,000 VND) from downtown Hanoi take about six to seven hours and will drop you off in Ha Giang city, where you can take a taxi to homestays and lodges in the surrounding villages. To hire a private car and driver from Hanoi to Ha Giang costs about 3.5 million VND one way, you can contact Car & Motorbike rental in Ha Giang.