I’d love to give you a straight and clear answer. Unfortunately, it’s impossible. And not only because climate prediction has always a margin of error. The thing is the weather in the more than 350 kilometers of the Ha Giang Loop is constantly changing. So in this post I’d love to share with you how the weather influenced my 3-day trip along the most recondite and beautiful areas I have ever seen. Luckily, it’ll give you a good idea of what’s the weather like in Ha Giang.
Before I start, I would like to state this: absolutely all the people I met before embarking on the adventure along the Ha Giang Loop seemed to be twinned by the same question. What’s the weather like in Ha Giang? In most cases, this question connects with these other two: What to pack for a ride along Ha Giang Loop? And, most importantly: Will I be able to see anything in a cloudy day?
The truth is there’s only one clear answer. The weather, as you go deeper into the spectacular Ha Giang Loop, changes constantly. The weather the day before is totally useless to predict the one out there up in the mountains. What is more, the weather at the exact time you are testing your bike, just minutes before leaving, might have nothing to do with the one you’ll enjoy (or suffer) an hour later.
So let’s start with facts…
What’s the weather like in Northern Vietnam?
To be more specific, most northern Vietnam has a tropical climate, although people here claim there actually are four seasons.
So December through February it’s the cold season. The weather in the lower valleys can reach 20°C/ 68°F on a sunny day, but up in the mountains temperature can easily go below 10°C / 50°F if it’s cloudy.
March till mid-May it’s spring season, and mid-September through November it’s autumn season. In both cases, temperature is quite pleasant, reaching the upper 20s°C on sunny days. And humidity is not that bad…
Mid-May till early/mid-September it’s summer season. Yes, it’s the hot season and the temperature can raise to higher 30s°C in the lower valleys. Plus, humidity is very high! This is also the season when it rains the most in the north. However, it’s tropical, so mostly thundery, heavy rain that doesn’t last long. Besides, it appears typically in the late afternoons and at night. And of course, you can also enjoy many days with no rain at all in this season!
To sum up, from a weather point, the peak seasons of northern Vietnam are from March until mid-May and from mid-September until mid-November. Why? Well, because these periods are supposed to be mild and not-so-rainy. But again, that’s a too-general statement…
Anyway, if someone asks me what’s the best time of the year to do the Ha Giang Loop, I would say there isn’t one. Simply because each season has its charm. If you go in May, for instance, in the nearly 70 kilometers that goes from Yên Minh to Meo Vac through Dong Van, you’ll see local farmers starting to work on the rice fields, preparing and cropping the land for the harvest season in October. Therefore, the fields seem to be covered by beautiful golden carpets.
But as I mentioned before, the climate in the mountains and in the valleys is practically unpredictable and changeable. And believe me, this variation adds an indescribable beauty to these unexplored lands. The colors of the vegetation and the water, the mountains casting huge shadows, the haze and the clouds breaking through the landscape, even hiding it until it abruptly reappears are, unquestionably, what makes the Ha Giang Loop a fascinating adventure.
So, trust me. Do not worry about the weather. I assure you that the views are equally breathtaking. No matter if you start your cruise in a sunny day, or if you encounter clouds and haze. In my experience, when we left Ha Giang town the day was quite cloudy, foggy and ready to rain at any time. But as we ascended in our way to Tam Son (around 51kms from Ha Giang) the sky cleared abruptly! At our first stop, at the Heaven’s Gate viewpoint, we enjoyed a stunning, clear landscape. However, it was foggy enough to induce myself in a clear state of consciousness. Yes, you are in Vietnam indeed.
From that first stop to the next one in Yen Minh, I lost count of the number of times I took off and put on my light jacket. And that was just the beginning! Especially because in your way up to Dong Van, you will go through a few forest areas. And here, the high conifers not only spread a fresh, sweet and delicious aroma. They also add cool breezes along the way. And then suddenly you’re in the open air again, and it’s time to take off your jacket again
Back to the route. After a couple of rounds of corn wine and a wild session of Karaoke in Dong Van, the weather could not have been more perfect. We enjoyed a completely clear sky, with a shining sun and a refreshing breeze. It was a delight to get to Ma Pi Leng for a short trek up to the mountain (1656 meters) to you see one of the most majestic views of the Ha Giang Loop. I suggest to shout your favorite word once you reach the top. And count the number of times that word reproduces in the air!
On our way to Du Gia (about 70 kilometers from Meo Vac; 90 kilometers in total from Dong Van) the valleys looked completely different. It’s incredible! Where did all these clouds come from? 10 minutes ago the sky was completely clear! But it couldn’t be more beautiful in its own way. The giant and imposing mountains trying to reach the sky, the small valleys in the middle, the traditional H’mong constructions here and there, almost hidden among the tremendous vegetation, and the sky about to explode… It was just breathtaking. Being a very sensitive person, it was so majestic, so enormous, that I cried a couple times. And I’m sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed it that much if it had been a picture-perfect sunny day. These images will remain in my memory forever!
So, I think Ha Giang’s Loop is simply beautiful, hypnotic and fascinating in any way. And it’s all about enjoying it by accepting humbly that nature is uncontrollable. My advice would be not to waste your time making calculations on how the weather will be. It’ll be completely useless. I rather suggest you to stay open minded. Because that will give you enough freedom to enjoy the uniqueness of each part. I’m sure you’re going to fall in love with this place.
Note: please remember to be respectful of the areas you visit. Don’t litter. Don’t be noisy or disrespectful towards the people living in these areas. Always ask before taking photos.