The Biggest Must-do of Southeast Asia

By Emma Phillips, Singapore Management University, Singapore.

If you are ever studying, working, or travelling in Southeast Asia, then one trip you absolutely must do is the Ha Giang Loop. It consists of four days riding through Northern Vietnam witnessing beautiful panoramic views and the opportunity to spend time with many of the locals. What more could you want?

We arrived at Hanoi airport and a bus came to pick us up to take us to Jasmine Hostel in Ha Giang. This took between 6 and 7 hours and was the first sleeper bus that I had taken. Surprisingly, it was really comfortable, and both my friend and I managed to sleep. I would definitely recommend a bottom bunk if you can so you are able to leave all your belonging near you in the aisle.

At around 2am we got to the hostel and were given a room to sleep in for the rest of the night.

Day One

At 10am everyone was in the hostel reception for a briefing of the tour and to be split into groups. People who were driving themselves were assigned motorbikes and the rest of us were introduced to our easy riders.

The rest of the day consisted of multiple viewpoints and a trip to Lung Khuy Cave. The final stop at sunset was particularly beautiful. One of the tour guides had brought a speaker so we played music and watched the sun go down.

Every night on the Ha Giang Loop we stayed in a different homestay. They were all very nice. In fact, they were way better than any hostels I had stayed at previously!

Day Two

On the second day all of us woke up early for breakfast. On this trip with Jasmine Hostel, all main meals are included. I opted for bread and eggs, but there was also fruit and pancakes.

We then set off on our bikes again. First, we stopped at Tham Ma Pass where the local children were playing instruments and selling flowers. Then we went to Pao’s House, Lung Cu Flag Tower, and the China – Vietnam Border.

Lunch on this day was particularly exciting as the restaurant was home to some adorable puppies and a large selection of meat, vegetable, rice, noodles and tofu dishes.

Finally, we went to the biggest tourist hotspot of the Ha Giang Loop – the Sky-Walk. Everyone stops to get a photo on this overhanging rock. Some people even do handstands!

This particular evening was one of my favourites from the whole of my year abroad. At around 5pm we checked in to Mèo Vạc homestay and got ready for dinner. On this night, all the groups were together along with the locals in the village. We ate lot of good food, drank happy water, and did karaoke. Throughout this whole trip the Vietnamese hosts were so friendly and accommodating which made the trip unforgettable.

Day Three

The highlights of the penultimate day were the little villages that we drove through and Tu San Canyon. We went on a boat trip, took lots of photos and enjoyed the views.

The final home stay in Du Gia was also gorgeous. It was right in the middle of the mountains and had big open windows so you could see the landscape as soon as you woke up.

Day Four

The last day was mostly driving. We did stop at Du Gia Waterfall for a quick swim although it was quite cloudy and not very warm.

At the end of the day, we got another sleeper bus back to the airport ready for our flight back to Singapore in the morning.

Top Tips

  • Visit between February and May. I have heard that December time is cold and from May the climate becomes increasingly hot and rainy.  
  • If you are going on a big backpacking trip, bring a smaller bag which can fit 3-4 days’ worth of clothes in. The bag needs to be able to go on the back of a motorbike.
  • Wear sportswear for comfort. What you wear may get dirty so don’t bring anything expensive or light-coloured. You could bring a slightly nicer outfit to wear in the evening, although this is not essential.
  • Only drive yourself if you have prior experience on a motorbike. The roads are narrow and dangerous. The easy riders are more knowledgeable on the area.
  • Go with Jasmine Hostel. Genuinely could not recommend them more.

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