The start of the Ha Giang Loop
The Ha Giang Loop, spanning a large part of Ha Giang Province, begins in the town with the same name: Ha Giang or Ha Giang City (tp Ha Giang). This means to go on the loop, you first need to travel to the town Ha Giang. Since it is a loop, you will eventually return to Ha Giang City and take a bus back from there.
Ha Giang City is somewhat isolated, with limited transportation connections. The main route is between Hanoi and Ha Giang, and there are a few buses that also travel between Sapa and Ha Giang. If you are coming from other popular destinations like Ninh Binh, Halong Bay, Cat Ba, Mai Chau, or even further south such as Hoi An, you will need to travel to Hanoi first and then make your way to Ha Giang.
While you may come across “direct tickets” from other places, they always involve traveling through Hanoi as there are no alternate, faster routes available.
Traveling from Hanoi to Ha Giang
Only by road
When traveling from Hanoi to Ha Giang, it’s important to note that Ha Giang does not have a train station or airport, making road travel the only option.
The road between Hanoi and Ha Giang
The distance between Hanoi and Ha Giang is approximately 300 km, and the travel time typically takes around 6 to 7 hours, depending on the road conditions and traffic.
The journey starts with a nice highway from Hanoi, but as you approach Ha Giang, the road becomes more winding. It’s worth mentioning that a new highway is currently under construction to improve the connectivity between Hanoi and Ha Giang, although the completion date is uncertain.
General bus experience
Most bus services for the Hanoi to Ha Giang route offer the convenience of picking you up from your accommodation in Hanoi’s Old Quarter or have designated pick-up points in that area, eliminating the need to travel to a bus station. A smaller van will transfer you to the long-distance bus for the journey.
During the 6 to 7-hour trip to Ha Giang, there is usually a stop around halfway or at a mealtime, providing an opportunity to stretch your legs, grab a meal, purchase snacks, and use restroom facilities.
Upon arrival in Ha Giang, the bus company often provides drop-off service to your accommodation in town. If your accommodation is not along the main route, a smaller van will be used to transport you, unless it is too far from their regular route.
Option 1: Sleeper bus to Ha Giang (night)
The sleeper bus is a convenient and popular option for traveling long distances in Vietnam, including the journey from Hanoi to Ha Giang. One of the advantages of the sleeper bus is that it allows you to save daytime hours for other activities, while also benefiting from lighter traffic during the night, resulting in a slightly quicker journey.
The cost of the sleeper bus ticket for the approximately 6-hour trip from Hanoi to Ha Giang is around 250,000 VND or 10 USD.
Sleeper buses from Hanoi to Ha Giang typically have departure times ranging from 9:30 PM (21:30) to 10:30 PM (22:30), with an arrival time in Ha Giang around 4 AM. While some bus companies allow passengers to remain on the bus upon arrival to continue their sleep, it is advisable to arrange accommodation in Ha Giang town for a few more hours of rest. This ensures you can begin your Ha Giang Loop refreshed and well-rested later in the morning.
Option 2: VIP sleeper bus (night)
For those seeking a more comfortable journey, the VIP sleeper bus is an excellent option. Priced at around 350,000 VND (approximately 15 USD), it offers added amenities compared to the regular sleeper bus, making the extra cost worthwhile.
With only 24 seats instead of the usual 40, the VIP bus provides nearly double the space per passenger. Additionally, many VIP buses come equipped with features such as massage functions in the seats, USB charging ports, and onboard Wi-Fi.
Option 3: Limousine bus (Day)
For those who prefer not to travel by sleeper bus, especially if sleeping on a moving bus or driving through mountains at night is not you preference, the ideal alternative is the limousine bus. These buses are smaller in size and often less crowded, making it a more comfortable seating experience.
Priced at around 300,000 VND (approximately 13 USD), they provide a convenient and relaxed journey. Limousine buses typically depart from Hanoi between 6 and 7 in the morning, arriving in Ha Giang around 1 PM (13:00). If you plan to embark on the Ha Giang Loop, you can either start your trip immediately in the afternoon or take some time to relax in Ha Giang City and commence the loop the following morning.
If it fits better, there are also limousine buses available that depart from Hanoi in the afternoon, resulting in an arrival in Ha Giang later in the evening or around midnight.
Option 4: Private car (Day)
The final option for transportation from Hanoi to Ha Giang is to hire a private car, including a driver. While it is a more expensive option compared to buses, it offers the highest level of flexibility.
With a private car, you have the freedom to depart at your preferred time and travel door-to-door. You can also communicate with the driver regarding the speed he is driving, request restroom or meal breaks, and even make additional stops along the way.
However, if you plan to do the Ha Giang Loop, it is generally recommended not to hire the same driver unless it is arranged through a tour agency. Local drivers who are familiar with the loop can provide better guidance on the right places to visit, including sights, viewpoints, villages, and markets, ensuring a real experience.
Option 5: Motorbike
If you’re an adventurous motorbike enthusiast, you have the option to start your journey in Hanoi and ride all the way to Ha Giang. However, it’s important to note that the majority of the route consists of main highways, which are heavily trafficked by cars, buses, and trucks. The scenery may not be as picturesque as what you’ll experience on the actual Ha Giang Loop, with the more breathtaking landscapes appearing halfway into the journey.
Additionally, the trip is quite lengthy, which means you may arrive in Ha Giang feeling tired and potentially lose valuable time that could be spent exploring the loop. Nevertheless, if you have a passion for motorbike riding and sufficient time, it can still be an enjoyable adventure. Taking breaks along the way, the trip typically takes around 7 to 8 hours.
Booking the bus from Hanoi to Ha Giang
Most travelers that go to Ha Giang, go there for doing the Ha Giang Loop. If you don’t have a motorbike license or lack experience and confidence, it is advisable to consider an organized tour, either with a local guide on the back of a motorbike or by car. In such cases, the tour operator typically arranges the bus transportation, including pick-up from your hotel in Hanoi.
For independent travelers who wish to arrange their own transportation, there are several options for booking bus tickets:
Offline: In Hanoi’s Old Quarter, you’ll find numerous travel agencies that can assist in booking the bus tickets for you. This option is convenient as the agency can handle communication with the bus company, as they often don’t speak English.
Online: Booking bus tickets online is a viable and convenient option, allowing you to secure your seats in advance without the need to wait until you arrive in Hanoi. It’s worth noting that buses from Hanoi to Ha Giang can fill up quickly, so early booking is advisable. Popular online booking platforms include Vexere, 12go.asia, and Baolau.
FAQ about traveling between Ha Giang and Hanoi
How far is the drive from Hanoi to Ha Giang?
The drive from Hanoi to Ha Giang usually takes around 6-8 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
What is the distance between Hanoi and Ha Giang?
The distance between Hanoi and Ha Giang is approximately 300 to 320 km, depending on the specific route taken.
What are the transportation options from Hanoi to Ha Giang?
You have multiple options for traveling from Hanoi to Ha Giang, including sleeper buses, local buses, private cars, and even motorbikes for the more adventurous.
Is the road from Hanoi to Ha Giang safe?
The road is generally well-maintained and safe, but caution is always advised, particularly during the rainy season.
Can I also go directly from Hanoi Airport to Ha Giang?
Yes, you can go directly from Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi to Ha Giang. You can take a taxi to the bus station or pre-book a private car for the journey.
How frequent are the bus services from Hanoi to Ha Giang?
There are multiple bus services operating between Hanoi and Ha Giang, with sleeper buses being the most popular. They usually run several times a day.
Is there a direct flight from Hanoi to Ha Giang?
There are no direct flights between Hanoi and Ha Giang since Ha Giang doesn’t have a commercial airport.
Is there a train from Hanoi to Ha Giang?
There is no direct train service between Hanoi and Ha Giang. Ha Giang does not have a train station. The most common modes of transport are buses, private cars, or motorbikes for those looking for an adventurous option.