How Hard Is Riding The Ha Giang Loop?

Natalia Boquet

If you’ve heard amazing things about Ha Giang and are interested in doing the Ha Giang loop, then the first thing that might have come to your mind is How hard is riding the Ha Giang loop.

Of course, the answer depends on your riding skills. So first, the easy one: if you’re an experienced and confident rider, you’ll be more than fine. But if you’re not, I’d recommend you to reflect thoroughly whether to ride or not along the Ha Giang loop.

If you’re not an experienced rider, you might be also interested in reading Am I skilled enough to ride the Ha Giang loop?

To help you make up your mind about riding the loop or sitting pillion (behind someone), I’ll try to be as precise as possible describing the difficulties of the route in this post:

  • 1. A lot of sharp corners, both up and downhill

If you ask anyone who’s done it how hard is riding the Ha Giang loop, “sharp corners” will surely be the first warning. Not only is this the main difficulty you’ll find along the way, but we could simply describe the whole loop with these words. If the first sharp, uphill corner you meet freaks you out, then turn back, because it’s not going to get any better. But go through it safely, then celebrate, even if it wasn’t easy, because it is going to get better! You’ll overcome these corners more easily time after time, and will feel a specialist after a couple of hours.

how hard is riding the ha giang loop sharp corners
A nice view of some of the sharpest corners along the Ha Giang loop

A tip for your first ones: do them as slowly as you need and honk to warn vehicles coming from the opposite direction. And of course, always keep as close to the right that you can.

  • 2. Some (but not many) very bumpy roads

If you plan your route correctly, most of the roads will be in very good conditions. However, between Du Gia and Ha Giang you have two main possible routes, and none of them is ideal. In any case, you’ll go through very bumpy roads in a few sections. But they’re short, so the pain won’t last that long. Put first gear, ride as slowly and steadily as you can and throw a few curses if you need to… I promise it’ll be over soon.

Bear in mind roads are being permanently fixed and improved in Ha Giang. So maybe you’re lucky! In any case, make sure you check on the road situation with local guides or fellow riders before hitting the road.

  • 3. You’re in Vietnam

After 15 minutes in any place in Vietnam, you’ll understand why this is a challenge itself. You have to be extra careful, as drivers might not be as attentive as you might expect, to say the least. In these particular routes, be especially aware about locals short-cutting in corners. Remember to honk for them to know you’re coming! What is more, you’ll meet some kids riding motorbikes, and they’ll probably lack full control of the vehicle. But I also have some good news: the traffic will be light all along.

how hard is riding the ha giang loop
You’ll be amazed by the amount of things (and/or people) a Vietnamese rider can take with her/him
  • 4. It’s a long way!

Depending on the route you choose, the so called Northern Ha Giang loop is between 290 and 380 kilometers long. So riding it is more than overcoming a two hour crazy route. Make sure you feel confident enough along the first ten or twenty kilometers, as there are a lot more to come. And you don’t want to ride 380 kilometers with fear.

  • 5. … and there’s the weather

Vietnam is green for a reason; it can rain on any day of the year. You are now to do an adventure in a mountainous area, where weather is quite unpredictable too. And it can change a lot and quickly throughout the day. So even if you come in “dry” season and you wait for the forecast to promise sunny days for the following whole week to hit the road, you might get some rain. So be prepared to tackle those curves on wet asphalt… and occasional mud.

how hard is riding the ha giang loop fog
A foggy morning in Ha Giang…

If you decide to rent a motorbike to do the Ha Giang loop, make sure you choose one that responds to your needs and riding skills. If the route looks too hard, remember you can always opt for a booking a tour in Ha Giang, either to ride behind an expert guide or to sit in the pillion.

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Our Writer

Natalia Boquet / Language teacher & translator

Besides traveling, Natalia enjoys cooking (vegetarian), biking, climbing and gardening. Her interests also include literature, movies and politics. She spent a month in Ha Giang in March 2019.

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