Table of Contents
- Emergency contact numbers.
- Water Bottle
- Bug Spray & Sunscreen
- Rain Jacket
- Rain Cover & Dry Sacs
- Sweater or Sweatshirt
- Hiking Shoes
- Comfy, stretchy clothes.
- A bandana or scarf.
- Flip flops
- Two changes of clothes.
- A towel and a basic shower kit.
- Medicine / First aid kit.
- Torch / Headlamp.
- Travel Essentials
Regardless of the time of year, when traveling to Ha Giang you should make sure you pack the following in addition to your usual travel essentials. Even if you forget something, you can easily find most of what you need in Ha Giang city.
I first traveled to Ha Giang while living in HCMC. Going from one southern to northern of country, I figured that packing for a weeks in Ha Giang would be just like any other trip I had taken in the south of Vietnam.
I was only sort of right. While my bug spray and rain jacket were essential, I brought absolutely the wrong pair of shoes, and didn’t fully think about how the weather, traffic, the roads, accommodations ...
Now, after having spent quite a bit of time there, my packing list is much more Ha Giang-friendly. So for your next trip to Ha Giang, use this easy guide to help you figure out what to pack for Ha Giang:
Although there are ATMs in most villages now, it’s a good idea to take enough cash with you. There are many ATMs at Ha Giang city and other center towns (Dong Van, Meo Vac, Quan Ba ...). And remember there’s no ATM in Du Gia!
Emergency contact numbers.
There’s electricity and there’s also a mobile signal. So you’ll be able to make calls and send messages if anything happens to you. Bear in mind the hotel or rental service is always available to help if anything happens to you or your motorbike along the loop.
You can refill water bottles with filtered water just for free in a restaurant or hotel in Ha Giang, so save some money (and space in the landfills) by bringing your own water bottle and filling up as you go.
Bug Spray & Sunscreen
You can get both in Ha Giang city, but to avoid high prices and to make sure you have some right when you land (these aren’t “just in case” items; but no, malaria is not an issue). I’d suggest packing at least a small bottle of each before leaving. It might get really hot and sunny, so you better put some sunscreen on. Time flies on the motorbike and you don’t want to get a red face with white helmet marks. Also, if trekking or walking into jungly areas, you’ll want to avoid mosquitoes. So take a bug spray with you.
Even outside of the rainy season, which runs from June– August, there’s always the potential for rain in Ha Giang. It can rain along the way. Even if you come in the dry season. Northern Vietnam has tropical weather. That is why it has one of the leafiest, dense, beautiful landscapes you’ll ever see. There’s a chance you’ll find some rain anywhere in the road any time of the year. So it’s always a good idea to wear a light jacket that also helps you cover yourself from the rain. Rain jackets with zip slits under the arms are especially nice since they’ll get you some ventilation while keeping you dry(ish).
Rain Cover & Dry Sacs
For the same reasons, unless you’re bringing a highly water-resistant backpack, bring a rain cover for your bag as well. If you want to be super protective of your belongings, I’d even suggest packing your things in dry sacks, especially electronics, just in case.
Sweater or Sweatshirt
Though it’s usually hot and muggy throughout most of Ha Giang in the summer, it'll be cold in the evening, especially after rain. Furthermore, temperatures have been known to drop to as low as 0 degrees in Dong Van during the high season (December – January). A hoodie is perfect.
In northern Vietnam, especially in Ha Giang, there are some good opportunities for hiking and exploring the jungle. Wear proper, closed, strong shoes at all times. First, to ride your motorbike more comfortably. But also because you’ll want to stop many times to contemplate the landscape. And the terrain through which the Loop extends is very diverse! There are rocky areas, flat terrain, a lot of vegetation, mud… You may also want to get into one of the many trekking paths you will find on the way, or climb to the top of one of the mountains. So you better be ready!
Comfy, stretchy clothes.
A pair of leggings, some sweat pants or cargo pants would be OK. Your bump is going to thank you for that.
A bandana or scarf.
You’ll be driving for long periods at a speed of 30-40 kms/h. This is why you may want to protect yourself from the wind. And from little bugs on the road, too! Besides, a scarf or handkerchief can be helpful to protect you from chilly areas as well.
Light and waterproof footwear is welcome, especially in summer when you might want to swim in one of the rivers or waterfalls along the way. Of course, they also come on hand if you want to take a shower
Two changes of clothes.
That’ll be more than enough for a 3-5 day trip. Apart from the clothes, you’ll be wearing, take another pair of t-shirts, an additional pair of comfy pants, a sweater/hoodie, enough underwear, and socks. An extra tip before finishing the clothes section: dress the onion way. As the weather is so changeable, layering clothes will be super helpful. A short-sleeved shirt and a raincoat on top are more than enough for summer (April till October). If you’re riding in winter (December till mid-March), you might want to wear a sweater underneath that raincoat
A towel and a basic shower kit.
Most guesthouses/homestays along the way will provide you with a towel. But it’s always a good idea to take yours just in case.
Medicine / First aid kit.
You better bring some basic stuff just in case. Keep in mind that, although there are pharmacies in the villages, there’s also, at times, a long distance from one village to another. In any case, you’re not likely to find that very specific pill you’re looking for there.
Torch / Headlamp.
Many of the villages you’ll visit are definitely NOT tourist-oriented places. People live in a different way than you do. If you want to go for a walk after certain hours, you’ll need to use your own light in certain places. Besides, there are many caves to explore along the way, and a torch will be super useful there! Of course, the light torch of your phone will be ok if you have enough battery.
Then of course, make sure you haven’t forgotten to pack your usual hot weather travel essentials, passport, International driving license (if you want to ride a motorbike by yourself), toiletries, a camera (or your iPhone), chargers, and a good book (or your Kindle).