Ha Giang Loop by motorbike – Safety & options

Embarking on the Ha Giang Loop by motorbike offers an amazing thrill, adventure, and a sense of freedom. Whether you choose to drive yourself, immersing in the incredible journey, or opt for the safer option of riding on the back of a motorbike with an easy rider guide, the experience is bound to be unforgettable. Just remember to adhere to the rules, possess a valid license, and prioritize safety while reveling in the local culture and breathtaking landscapes.
In this guide:

Ha Giang Loop by motorbike experience

Ha Giang ethnic minority driving motorbike

The Ha Giang Loop offers an extraordinary motorbike experience, as it was originally established as a popular route for motorbike enthusiasts. Whether you’re driving yourself or riding as a passenger, the sensation of adventure, freedom, and excitement is unparalleled.

The beauty of Ha Giang’s mountain scenery is simply breathtaking. With a 360-degree view surrounding you, capturing stunning pictures while driving or stopping to admire the landscapes is easy and highly rewarding on a motorbike.

Ha Giang Loop ethnic minority girl

Moreover, Ha Giang is home to a rich cultural heritage with a high density of ethnic minority groups. Exploring the region by motorbike allows you to immerse yourself in this unique culture. Witnessing colorful local women walking along the roads and in villages, experiencing vibrant markets, and following the footsteps of the locals on motorbikes bring you closer to the heart and soul of the local culture. It’s like stepping back in time and experiencing a truly authentic slice of life.

Option 1: Driving yourself

Ha Giang Loop by motorbike driving yourself

Driving yourself on the Ha Giang Loop provides the freedom to explore at your own pace and immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes. Feel the thrill of riding through winding mountain roads, stop whenever you please, and create unforgettable memories.

Tailor your itinerary to visit iconic spots like Ma Pi Leng Pass and traditional villages. Enjoy the panoramic views, vibrant local markets, and cultural experiences along the way.

Remember to prioritize safety: have the necessary motorbike riding experience and a valid motorbike license. Wear safety gear, stay aware of other vehicles, and exercise caution on the challenging roads.

By driving yourself on the Ha Giang Loop, you can have a personalized adventure, connecting with the beauty of Ha Giang while enjoying the exhilaration of the open road.

Option 2: On the back of a motorbike

Ha Giang Loop by easy rider with foreign travelers on the back of a motorbike with local guide

Opting to ride on the back of a motorbike with an experienced driver and guide provides several benefits:

  1. Thrill of motorbiking: Experience the excitement and thrill of riding a motorbike without the concerns of driving and navigation.
  2. No need for a license: You can enjoy the journey without worrying about having a motorbike license, avoiding problems with the police and insurance complications.
  3. More safety: Experienced drivers who very often drive the Ha Giang Loop are a lot safer option. They are both experience with driving and they are familiar with the roads, turns, and potential challenges along the loop.
  4. Local expertise: Your driver doubles as a guide, sharing insights into the local culture, pointing out hidden gems and can brings you off the beaten track to places and sights only locals know about.
  5. Communication assistance: Your driver can assist with translating menus, ordering food, and communicating with locals, ensuring a smoother and more immersive experience.
  6. Uninterrupted enjoyment: By not having to focus on the road, you can fully indulge in the stunning scenery and soak up the beauty of the Ha Giang Loop.

Law & rules of driving motorbike in Ha Giang

The rules of driving a motorbike in Ha Giang are the same as the rest of Vietnam. However, the law in Ha Giang is a bit more enforced by police. This is due to the popularity of self-driving on the Ha Giang Loop, including among inexperienced and unlicensed travelers, the region has seen a higher incidence of accidents compared to other areas in the country.

It is essential to familiarize yourself with the following important rules and laws to ensure a safe and compliant motorbike experience in Ha Giang:

  • Valid License: Ensure you possess a valid motorbike license recognized in Vietnam.
  • Helmet: Wear a helmet at all times while riding, as it is mandatory by law.
  • Right of Way: Respect the right of way of other vehicles and pedestrians. Yield when necessary and follow traffic laws regarding right of way.
  • Drive on the right dide: Always drive on the right side of the road, as it is the standard practice in Vietnam.
  • Traffic signals: Observe and follow traffic signals, including traffic lights and stop signs.
  • No alcohol and drugs: It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Avoid consuming these substances before or during your ride.
  • Speed limits: Adhere to posted speed limits and adjust your speed accordingly to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
  • Vehicle condition: Ensure your motorbike is in proper working condition, including lights, brakes, and tires, to comply with roadworthy standards.
  • Traffic violations: Avoid traffic violations such as reckless driving, running red lights, or driving on sidewalks. Violations can result in fines, penalties, or legal consequences.
  • Vehicle registration: Carry the necessary documents, including motorbike registration and insurance, as required by law.

Driving the Ha Giang Loop without a license

Motorbike license

In Vietnam, including Ha Giang, a valid motorbike license is required to operate any bike above 50 CC. It’s crucial to have a motorbike license specifically, as a car license does not suffice.

International Driving Permit (IDP)

Along with a motorbike license, an IDP is necessary. Vietnam recognizes IDPs from the 1968 Convention, not the 1949 Convention. Ensure you obtain an IDP in your home country before traveling to Vietnam.


Check with your insurance provider to understand what coverage is provided in case of an accident. Driving without a license may impact your insurance coverage, potentially leaving you liable for the expenses.


Police patrols are present along the Ha Giang Loop, and they actively check for proper licenses. If caught driving without a license, you may face a fine ranging from $80 to $100. While the police might allow you to continue driving, paying the fine does not grant you permission to continue driving without consequences. If stopped again by the police along the loop, you will be fined again.

Safety tips

  • Drive defensively: Be cautious and aware of your surroundings at all times. Anticipate the actions of other drivers and adjust your driving accordingly to avoid potential hazards.
  • Use a helmet: Always wear a helmet when riding a motorbike. It is essential for your safety and can provide protection in the event of an accident.
  • Wear long clothes: Wearing long clothes, such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts, can help protect your skin from sunburn, insects, and minor abrasions while riding.
  • Honking at sharp turns: Be sure to use your horn when approaching sharp turns to alert other drivers of your presence. This can help prevent collisions.
  • Overtake when confident: If you need to overtake another vehicle, only do so when you are confident and have a clear view of the road ahead. Use your mirrors, signal your intentions, and ensure there is enough space to pass safely.
  • Maintain a safe speed: Stick to a speed that is appropriate for the road conditions, allowing you to have better control of your vehicle and react to unexpected situations.
  • Stay hydrated and take breaks: Ha Giang Loop can be physically demanding, so it’s important to stay hydrated and take regular breaks to rest and rejuvenate.
  • Follow traffic rules and regulations: Adhere to traffic rules, signs, and signals to ensure a safer driving experience for yourself and others on the road.
  • Check your bike’s condition: Before embarking on the journey, inspect your motorbike’s tires, brakes, lights, and overall condition to ensure it is in proper working order.
  • Use (sun) glasses: Protect your eyes from dust, debris, and harsh sunlight by wearing sunglasses or protective glasses.
  • Check the weather: Before setting out, check the weather forecast, especially during the rainy season.
  • Be aware of road conditions: Ha Giang roads can be unpredictable, with bumpy sections, potholes, and potential obstacles such as livestock or trucks.
  • Gloves: Wearing gloves while riding provides added protection for your hands and enhances your grip on the handlebars. It can also help reduce fatigue during long rides.
  • Use closed shoes: Opt for closed-toe shoes while driving to protect your feet from debris and provide better stability on the foot pegs or pedals.

Renting a motorbike

Motorbike rentals

Renting a motorbike in Ha Giang is a straightforward process, as there are numerous rental shops in Ha Giang City, the starting point of the loop. Additionally, many hotels can assist you in finding a rental.

Types of motorbikes

Motorbikes with 50CC engines, which do not require a license, are not powerful enough to handle the challenges of the loop.

While it is possible to ride an automatic motorbike, it is generally not recommended for the Ha Giang Loop. Steep mountain passes can be demanding, and descending can be more hazardous without gear control, requiring you to rely heavily on braking.

Semi-automatic motorbikes, which offer gear options, are the most recommended and commonly used for conquering the mountainous terrain of the Ha Giang Loop, providing a safer and more manageable riding experience.

Big bikes and off-road bikes are generally suitable for highly experienced motorbike riders. These types of bikes offer more power, stability, and versatility, making them ideal for tackling challenging terrains like those found along the Ha Giang Loop. Renting such bikes may come with a higher price tag, but for motorbike enthusiasts who have a passion for riding, the experience and enjoyment they provide can be well worth it.

Cost for renting motorbike

  • Semi-Automatic: From 150,000 VND/ day (6 USD)
  • Automatic: From 250,000 VND/ day (10 USD)
  • Manual (big bike) – From 350,000 VND/ day (15 USD)
  • Dirt Bike – 550,000 VND/ day (23 USD)

What to look out for

  1. Check the brakes, lights, and indicators.
  2. Inspect the tires for wear and tear.
  3. Test the throttle, clutch, and brakes for smooth operation.
  4. Adjust and check the rearview mirrors.
  5. Ensure the horn is functional.

Car alternative

If you prefer not to drive the Ha Giang Loop by motorbike, there is a fantastic alternative: exploring the Ha Giang Loop by car. Opting for a car allows you to follow the same itinerary and experience the beauty of the loop. One of the major advantages of choosing a car is the enhanced safety it offers compared to motorbikes.

Additionally, you have the convenience of carrying more luggage and being well-protected against varying weather conditions, including heat, cold, and rain. Enjoy the journey with added comfort and peace of mind as you immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes of Ha Giang.

FAQ about driving the Ha Giang Loop by motorbike

Is driving the Ha Giang Loop by motorbike safe?

It depends on your level of experience and caution. The roads can be challenging, but with proper preparation and care, it’s doable.

Can I do the Ha Giang Loop by motorbike with a driver?

Yes, hiring an experienced “Easy Rider” as your driver is a popular option for those not comfortable driving themselves.

What is the Ha Giang Loop by Easy Rider?

The Easy Rider option allows you to experience the Ha Giang Loop with an experienced motorbike driver who knows the route well.

Is motorbike the only option to do the Ha Giang Loop?

No, you can also opt for car tours if you’re not comfortable on a motorbike.

Can I drive a motorbike in Ha Giang by myself?

Yes, if you’re experienced and have the proper documentation, you can rent a motorbike and do the loop solo.

Can I do the Ha Giang Loop solo?

Yes, if you’re an experienced rider and well-prepared, you can do the loop solo.

What do you need for renting a motorbike in Ha Giang?

You’ll need a passport and sometimes a deposit to rent a motorbike.

Do you need a driver’s license for driving the Ha Giang Loop?

Yes, you need a valid motorbike license and an International Driving Permit (IDP) with the motorbike category.

Is my car license from home enough for driving in Ha Giang?

No, you’ll need a motorbike license and an International Driving Permit with the motorbike category.

Are there police checks along the Ha Giang Loop?

Yes, there are occasional police checkpoints where documentation may be checked.

How much is the fine for driving without a license on the Ha Giang Loop?

Fines range from 1.5 to 2 million VND or 80 to 100 USD.

Can I store my luggage while doing the Ha Giang Loop?

Yes, most rental shops and accommodations offer luggage storage services.

Is it better to rent a motorbike in Ha Giang or Hanoi?

It’s generally better to rent in Ha Giang to avoid the long and sometimes risky ride from Hanoi.

Is fuel easily available along the Ha Giang Loop?

Yes, there are several fuel stations and local vendors selling petrol in bottles.

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