Our Asia Trip Diary – Part Eleven

Check out part 10 here!

On Monday we arrived at 3am at our homestay in Ha Giang after a long ride. We kept the day free. We had some rest, planned our next activity and Marnick went to a barbershop. 

Tuesday the real adventure started! We woke up early to start the Ha Giang Loop. We’ve planned three full days to drive this loop in the mountains on a scooter. We’ve been looking forward to this while we were still in Europe. 

The first day of the Ha Giang Loop was great. It was a warm and sunny day. Starting from Ha Giang, which is already located quite high, we drove only upwards to the first stop. This stop was the famous Heavens Gate. This viewpoint is one of the highest in the area and we enjoyed an amazing view. Little did we know this whole loop would be this beautiful. 

The sceneries we saw were amazing, and the trip was just getting started. After Heavens Gate, we continued our route. We drove via gorgeous valleys, between rocky mountains and through lots of traditional villages. My personal favourite is one village with only one straight street located in a long valley. I can’t find the name on the map, but it’s located on DT181. 

The people living in the villages don’t consider themselves Vietnamese. They have their own languages, their own clothing and their own traditions. The women are dressed very colourfully with crazy patterns combined. We see a lot of the women working in the fields and carrying baskets full of grasses, branches etc. A lot of times the ladies but also the children carry babies on their backs. 

Day one was a long driving day of 140 km. It was 5pm when the sun started to set. I was getting a bit anxious that we wouldn’t arrive at the homestay before dark. We ended up at our homestay at 6pm. The homestay was located in the middle of nowhere and we didn’t have dinner yet. We were so happy when the owner suggested making us some food. We had a lovely meal in this back-to-basic but cosy guesthouse. We slept right under the roof tiles underneath the thickest duvet we’ve ever seen.

We didn’t want to drive more in the dark, so we woke up early on Wednesday. It was a foggy start of the day. On this second day, we left the loop for a bit to drive up north to another famous spot. This time the place is also located high on a mountain but the view is not that special. 

Why we drove all the way there? A big Vietnamese flag is placed there, just a few kilometres from the border with China. It’s a famous place for the Vietnamese and they are really proud of it. When we arrived, soldiers were saluting the flag (this is not happening daily or weekly, we were just unlucky). We would have to wait for one and a half hours to climb up the flag tower. We didn’t want to wait just to climb the tower because we saw in other photos the view was not great. So we took our scooter and drove back to the loop. 

When we were planning the loop on Monday the weather forecast predicted a lot of rain. But after lunch, all the fog disappeared and the sun came out. We had another beautiful day. 

The highlight of this second day was driving the Mã Pí Lèng Pass. The drive has a view over a deep valley split by a turquoise river. The most gorgeous scenery we’ve ever seen! We had to pinch ourselves to believe this beauty was real. 

After driving along the Mã Pí Lèng Pass we drove almost 20 kilometres on a construction road… The lady from our hotel warned us they were working on the road but we never thought there would be road constructions for a length this far!  Anyways, the sun was shining and we made the best of it. 

On the second day (103 km) we didn’t make it too late. At 4pm we already arrived at the next hostel. We were exhausted! We showered, found some dinner in the village and fell asleep like babies. 

Thursday was the third and last day of the Ha Giang Loop. We woke up a bit later than usual. Also because we knew the last day would be only 87 kilometres. This time the weather forecast was right. It was cold, foggy and rainy all morning. Besides that, this road was again awful. No construction, just extremely bad roads. We were happy we found a place to have lunch in this no-man’s-land. Luckily, the fog disappeared and it stopped raining. (Or maybe we descended so much we were underneath the clouds?) We drove for two more hours and arrived at the hotel. So exhausted but yet so satisfied after this experience.

Friday we had a travel day from Ha Giang to Sa Pa. This bus ride took way longer than expected, but we made it. Sa Pa is a mountain city, also located in the north of Vietnam. We checked into our hotel and we had an amazing room overlooking the mountains. The room was so nice and we were so tired that we immediately extended our stay. So, we could have a chill day on Saturday, exploring the city at a relaxed tempo. 

Sunday we did a hike to some mountain villages through the rice fields. Another crazy adventure. Sa Pa is known for its gorgeous rice fields. Sadly we couldn’t enjoy the epic views of the rice fields because it was so foggy. We couldn’t even see 5 metres further at some places. It was a fun experience anyways and it included a delicious lunch. 

Now we’re packing again. Tomorrow we’re heading to our last stop in Vietnam… Hanoi!