Ha Giang City – travel guide & 7 things to do

Nestled within the scenic landscapes of northern Vietnam, Ha Giang City marks the captivating starting point of the renowned Ha Giang Loop. As a vibrant urban hub and the capital of Ha Giang Province, it welcomes travelers embarking on this multi-day adventure from Hanoi to explore the province's natural beauty, ethnic diversity, and captivating culture.
In this guide:

Ha Giang City in brief

  • Serving as the capital of Ha Giang province
  • Home to a population of just more than 56,000 residents, representing 22 diverse ethnicities
  • Lack of an airport or train station
  • Approximately 6 to 7 hours’ drive away from Hanoi
  • Notable as both the starting and ending point of the renowned Ha Giang Loop

Ha Giang City – the start & end of the Ha Giang Loop

Ha Giang City serves as both the starting and finishing point of the renowned Ha Giang Loop, a scenic route that brings you to Ha Giang province’s key highlights.

From Ha Giang City, you have the options of hiring a car with a driver, self-driving a motorbike, or embarking on the journey with a local guide on a motorbike (easy rider). The loop, which spans at least 3 days but can be extended to 4 or 5 days, concludes back in Ha Giang City, where you can return to Hanoi.

How to get there

Ha Giang City is accessible solely by road, as it lacks an airport or train station. The most convenient access points are from Hanoi, although connections between Sapa and Ha Giang are also available. Regardless of your starting point within (northern) Vietnam, the route typically involves passing through Hanoi, as it serves as the main gateway to Ha Giang City.

The journey from Hanoi to Ha Giang takes approximately 6 to 7 hours.

Options for traveling from Hanoi to Ha Giang:

  • Sleeper bus: Operating at night, this option allows you to save daylight hours for exploration in Ha Giang. However, nighttime travel on buses doesn’t suit everyone’s preferences, and the quality of sleep can vary. VIP buses with enhanced comfort are also available.
  • Limousine buses: These comfortable buses run during the day, with departures from early morning to early afternoon. Morning departures get you to Ha Giang City by noon, offering the chance to rest, explore the city, or even start the loop upon arrival.
  • Private transfers: Renting a car with a driver is another option. While not necessarily more comfortable than limousine buses, private transfers offer greater flexibility in terms of pickup times and locations.

Best things to do in Ha Giang City

1. Countryside & villages

stilt houses of Tay minority between the rice fields in Thon Tha Village

The real charm of Ha Giang City lies just beyond its borders. Venture into the nearby ethnic villages, where traditional houses dot the picturesque landscape of green rice fields, grazing buffaloes, rolling hills, and lush forests. Thon Tha Village, in particular, offers an immersive experience with the option to stay overnight in a homestay.

2. Walk along the river

Take a leisurely walk along the city’s riverbank, especially in the evenings when the atmosphere is delightful. Cozy coffee shops and eateries line the riverside, offering a relaxing setting. During the day, consider a drive or motorbike ride alongside the river, where it meanders through mountains, villages, and serene countryside.

3. Number 6 waterfall

Ha Giang waterfall between jungle

When summer brings its rain, it’s the ideal time to visit a nearby waterfall just a short distance from the city. The rainy season enhances the waterfall’s beauty, and the warm weather makes the natural pond inviting for a refreshing dip. The waterfall is surrounded by villages and verdant forests.

4. Ha Giang City viewpoint

Ha Giang city viewpoint in the mountains

Situated just 1.5 km from the bustling city center on the city’s western edge, the Ha Giang City Viewpoint offers a stunning panoramic perspective of the landscape below. To get there, drive up to Cafe Nui Cam, a local hotspot that marks the beginning of your uphill journey.

From the café, you’re in for an climb—approximately 800 steps. While it may sound daunting, rest assured that the ascent is well worth the effort. As you make your way up, you’ll be rewarded with increasingly expansive views of Ha Giang City, culminating in a breathtaking 360-degree panorama at the top.

This viewpoint is especially popular for catching the sunset. You can also take a moment to explore the nearby old war ruins and a temple.

5. Local eateries and street food

Dive into the local culinary scene by indulging in street food and dishes at small eateries. Sample Vietnamese classics like pho and banh mi. Embrace the city’s atmosphere further by spending time at local cafes, perfect for people-watching while sipping traditional Vietnamese coffee.

6. Landmark 0

Ha Giang Landmark 0

Capture the moment by taking photos at Landmark 0, the zero milestone that signifies stepping onto the Ha Giang rocky plateau. Although not a formal tourist attraction, it has become a symbolic check-in point for many, offering a sense of arrival in this captivating region, especially for Vietnamese tourists.

7. Ha Giang Museum

While not the most extensive museum in Vietnam, the Ha Giang Museum can be a worthwhile visit on a rainy day. Though mostly in Vietnamese, the museum sheds light on the region’s history, geography, nature, and the diverse cultures of its ethnic minorities. Traditional tools, clothing, and dwellings are among the exhibits that offer insights into local life.

Tips for staying here

1. Thon Tha village alternative

As Ha Giang City offers limited atmosphere and not many things to do, it’s worth considering an alternative like Thon Tha Village.

Situated just beyond Ha Giang City, Thon Tha is a Thay ethnic minority village with stilt houses nestled amidst picturesque rice fields. Some of these houses function as homestays, allowing you to experience an authentic stay with a local ethnic family. Beyond simply lodging, daytime exploration provides an opportunity the beautiful countryside, while evenings offer a chance to engage in cultural exchanges with your hospitable hosts.

2. Skip or stay overnight?

In terms of logistics, including Ha Giang City in your itinerary is not a must. You have the option to kick off your Ha Giang Loop immediately upon arrival in Ha Giang City, and straight on the end of your loop back in Ha Giang City you can take the bus back to Hanoi. Opting for this approach can help you save both time and money.

3. Eating & drinking

Ha Giang City doesn’t boast a vibrant nightlife, but you might find a bit more social interaction at the hostels where fellow travelers gather for drinks. The city hosts a considerable number of restaurants, some even serving Western cuisine. If this appeals to you, make the most of it, as during the loop, you’ll likely be indulging in local fare at native eateries and homestays.

4. Arriving at night

When arriving on the night bus from Hanoi to Ha Giang City, you might reach as early as 4 AM. To ensure a well-rested start for your loop journey, it’s advisable to book a hotel room for a few additional hours of sleep. If you do the Ha Giang Loop by tour, this is normaly already included. With the benefit of some extra rest, you can kick off your loop adventure after a leisurely breakfast around 8 or 9 AM.

Excited to visit Ha Giang? Book your local experiece here!