My first time in Ha Giang Loop was in December 2018 and second time in April 2019. Below are the details of the routes I did for my two trips.
First Trip (3 nights, December 2018)
Route summary: Ha Giang – Quan Ba – Yen Minh – Dong Van – Ma Pi Leng Pass – Meo Vac – Yen Minh – Quan Ba – Ha Giang
Total distance: 354km
Day 1. I took the morning VIP bus from Hanoi and arrived in Ha Giang after 1pm. I stayed in the city overnight.
Day 2. Route: Ha Giang – Quan Ba & Heaven’s Gate – Yen Minh – Dong Van. The total distance is 147km and took 10 hours including coffee and lunch breaks. I probably took longer than others as I was driving slowly (average of 20km/h).
Day 3. Route: Dong Van – Ma Pi Leng Pass – Meo Vac – Yen Minh – Quan Ba. The total distance is 144km and took 9 hours. The weather was horrible on this day – very foggy that I could only see few metres ahead, raining quite a lot and some roads were very bumpy.
Day 4. Route: Quan Ba – Ha Giang. The last day was only 63km long, so I took many breaks in between. Then I took a sleeping bus back to Hanoi at 9pm from Ha Giang city.
Second Trip (2 nights, April 2019)
Route summary: Ha Giang – Quan Ba – Yen Minh – Dong Van – Ma Pi Leng Pass – Meo Vac – Du Gia – Quan Ba- Ha Giang
Total distance: 332km
Day 1. Route: Ha Giang – Quan Ba & Heaven’s Gate – Yen Minh – Dong Van. Total distance is 128km and duration was 8 hours including all breaks.
I arrived in Ha Giang at 4AM this time and took a short nap at a hostel before driving to the loop. This day’s route was the same as my first trip except that I drove the shortcut from Quan Ba to Yen Minh. After about 15km from Quan Ba Heaven’s Gate, you’ll join a road beside the river and see that there are two different roads to Yen Minh – 41km and 22.6km. The longer road is passing by the river, where you can enjoy the river view and the other route is slightly steeper and has different set of sceneries to enjoy. The shorter route is still under construction process and is not yet updated on Google Map, but don’t worry, you’ll still get to Yen Minh.
Day 2. Route: Dong Van – Ma Pi Leng Pass – Meo Vac – Du Gia. The total distance was 97km and took 7.5 hours with many breaks for photos as the views were the best this day. There is a Tham Luong Waterfall only about 3km away from Du Gia town and it was perfect to go for a swim after a long day driving under the hot Sun! The road to the waterfall is quite tough, so be very careful when you drive.
Day 3. Route: Du Gia – Quan Ba – Ha Giang. The total distance was 107km and took 6 hours. The roads between Du Gia and Lung Tam town (a few kilometres before joining the nice and big road QL4C) were the toughest of all. You’ll meet a forked road somewhere between Du Gia and Lung Tam without any sign. I asked a local passing by and he said both would lead to Quan Ba, so I took the right fork (picture below).
Ha Giang – Quan Ba (QL4C)
Easy – Probably the best and easiest of all.
Quan Ba – Yen Minh (QL4C)
Medium – Lots of steep up and down the hills.
Medium to hard – On the shorter route to Yen Minh
Driving in the loop can be a challenge for many of us and especially for those who are not or less experienced with driving. Once you’re in the loop, most of the roads are narrow for two cars to pass at the same time and sides of the roads are mostly broken, making it even more difficult when a big truck or a car is passing by (and they drive fast!).
It is always the best to be extra cautious and drive at a speed you can control. The views are stunning and you’ll be tempted to steal a glance while you’re driving. But always put the priority on concentrating on driving and take as many breaks as you’d like to take pictures and enjoy the breathtaking views of Ha Giang.
For general information and tips on preparation for your Ha Giang motorbike trip, check my previous post here.