When embarking on a journey to Ha Giang, Vietnam, there are crucial aspects that every traveler should be aware of. This collection of experiences provides invaluable practical knowledge that should not be overlooked. From understanding local customs to navigating the challenging terrain, these five essential pieces of information will enhance your trip and ensure a memorable and rewarding adventure in Ha Giang. So, let’s delve into the key details that will make your journey to Ha Giang an unforgettable one.
1. Which season is best for visiting Ha Giang?
If you are captivated by the magnificent natural beauty of Ha Giang, you are surely drawn to the charm of the triangular flower valleys, mustard flowers, or peach blossoms. Or perhaps you yearn to witness the golden terraced rice fields adorning the hillsides.
Due to the diverse and beautiful landscapes depending on different types of flowers, Ha Giang possesses its own unique beauty in each season. For instance, if you wish to admire the triangular flower fields, it is recommended to travel to Ha Giang in early winter (around late October to early November). This is when the triangular flowers bloom at their most enchanting state. The gentle hues of purple, pink, and white interweaving with the dense greenery turn Ha Giang into a dreamy floral sea.
If you are fond of the yellow color of mustard flowers, the ideal time to visit Ha Giang is in December. The most beautiful mustard flowers can be found in Quyet Tien, Pho Cao, and Sung La, with vibrant and evenly colored yellow blossoms.
For those who adore peach and apricot blossoms, the best time to visit is not during Tet (Lunar New Year) but approximately one month after Tet. The most beautiful peach and apricot blossoms in Ha Giang can be observed around March in the Gregorian calendar. This is also when the weather is mild, and Ha Giang shines with the colors of spring.
In the autumn season, around September, it is the perfect time for those who want to immerse themselves in the midst of the ripe golden rice forests atop Hoang Su Phi. However, before embarking on your trip, it is advisable to update yourself with the current situation through travel agencies or contact local residents, as the ripe rice fields do not exist for an extended period of time.
2. What to eat in Ha Giang?
According to the experiences of seasoned travelers, the delicious flavors of the mountainous specialties and rustic daily dishes in Ha Giang will undoubtedly captivate visitors. First and foremost, when you visit Ha Giang, you must try “thắng cố.”
Thắng cố can be made with beef, buffalo, or pork, but the most delicious version is made with horse meat. Thắng cố is prepared from horse offal, marinated with various spices such as herbs, diadem cardamom, lime leaves, lemongrass, and simmered for several hours. This dish is considered the “king” of every local market session. When you come to the market, you must sit with friends, enjoy a cup of corn wine, savor thắng cố, and engage in lively conversations.
Another must-try dish is “bánh hoa tam giác mạch” (triangle buckwheat cake). In Ha Giang, the stem of the buckwheat plant is used as a regular vegetable, and both the stem and leaves are used as medicinal herbs for stomach ailments. The buckwheat flower seeds can be used for making wine or creating bánh hoa tam giác mạch.
The harvested flower seeds are dried and ground into flour similar to wheat flour. The flour is then kneaded into cakes, steamed until cooked, and then grilled to enhance the aroma. The subtle fragrance emanating from the cake will surely satisfy the taste buds of visitors to Ha Giang.
The next dish, with an unfamiliar name and unique preparation, is “cháo ấu tẩu” (wild yam porridge). This porridge is made from a unique type of bitter tuber that has a chewy and creamy texture, known for its exceptional nutritional value.
The delicious Cháo ấu tẩu is achieved by simmering the wild yam for over 12 hours until tender, eliminating any toxins. It is then cooked with rice porridge and bone broth, along with pork shank. When serving, it is garnished with spring onions, chili, perilla leaves, and eggs. The bitter taste of the wild yam, the savory aroma of the pork shank, and the blend of spices create a flavor that will be unforgettable after just one taste.
Travelers coming to Ha Giang from Hanoi must try “bánh cuốn Hà Giang” (Ha Giang-style rolled rice cake). Unlike the traditional rolled rice cakes dipped in sweet fish sauce, the ones in Ha Giang are filled with eggs and served with a savory bone broth lightly seasoned with salt, topped with a few spring onion flowers and silk sausage.
For a long time, “thịt trâu gác bếp” (buffalo meat hung over the kitchen) has been a delightful dish, representing the cultural characteristics of the mountainous region. With challenging transportation and harsh weather conditions, the people of Ha Giang have devised dishes that can be preserved for a long time without altering their inherent flavors. Thus, “thịt gác bếp” (meat hung over the kitchen) was born.
After the buffalo is butchered, it is marinated with chili, ginger, and pepper, then dried and hung over the kitchen hearth. The distinctive marinade also includes dổi seeds and mắc khén, which cannot be found elsewhere.
When we mention “cơm lam” (bamboo-tube rice), we are referring to the mountainous regions. In Ha Giang, cơm lam is made with glutinous rice, regular rice, carefully cleaned, and cooked with underground spring water. It is then stuffed into young bamboo tubes, sealed with banana leaves, and placed on hot red charcoal. The cooked rice carries the fragrant aroma of sticky rice, bamboo, and banana leaves. It is enjoyed with sesame salt or, for a more exquisite experience, eaten with grilled stream fish.
Embark on a tantalizing food tour in Ha Giang and indulge in the unique flavors that await you. From mountainous specialties to rustic daily dishes, each bite tells a story of the region’s culture and lifestyle. Try the mouthwatering thắng cố and savory cơm lam, among other must-try dishes, all prepared with indigenous ingredients and traditional techniques. Don’t miss the vibrant local markets, where you can immerse yourself in the culinary culture of Ha Giang. Discover a food lover’s paradise and make your journey complete in Ha Giang. Join us on a remarkable food adventure!
3. Which itinerary is reasonable?
Practical experiences from various individuals who have traveled to Ha Giang have summarized some of the most reasonable itineraries to explore this region. Accordingly, it is recommended to spend at least 3 days for a comprehensive visit to Ha Giang. With a 3-day trip, the itinerary would be as follows:
Day 1: Hanoi – Quan Ba – Yen Minh:
In the morning, check into the hotel and enjoy Ha Giang’s specialties. Take some rest to recharge before starting the exploration of Ha Giang. Around noon, move to Quan Ba and Yen Minh after having lunch at the hotel. Along this route, you can visit the Twin Mountains and the Lùng Tám linen weaving village. In the evening, proceed to Nậm Bàn for entertainment, dining, and experiencing the mountainous environment before concluding the first day.
Day 2: Visit the Dong Van Plateau and the Lung Cu Flagpole.
From Quan Ba and Yen Minh, continue the journey to Pho Cao, Sủng Là, the Palace of the Hmong King, and check-in at the Lung Cu Flagpole. This entire route should be covered in the morning. After lunch, continue to visit the Lolo Chai village and then enjoy aromatic coffee at Cuc Bac Cafe with an exceptional view.
In the evening, return to Dong Van town for rest.
Day 3: You have a whole morning to stroll and explore the ancient town of Dong Van.
Learn about the lives of the local people and ethnic minorities such as Hmong, Lolo, Tay, and Nung. Conquer the Ma Pi Leng Pass and the Happiness Road. Take a boat ride to admire the Nho Que River and the Tu San Gorge.
Finally, have lunch and then hop on the vehicle to return to Hanoi with a mix of longing and nostalgia. Leave with the desire to visit Ha Giang once again in the future.
Embark on an unforgettable journey through the breathtaking beauty and rich culture of Ha Giang. Our expert team at Origin Travel has crafted a comprehensive 3-day itinerary tour to Ha Giang from Hanoi, that takes you to the region’s top attractions, including the Dong Van Plateau, the Lung Cu Flagpole, and the majestic Ma Pi Leng Pass. Immerse yourself in the ancient town of Dong Van and gain insights into the lives of the local people and ethnic minorities, adding a personal touch to your adventure. Ha Giang is a destination that will leave you awe-inspired and longing for more. Don’t miss out on this extraordinary experience and start planning your visit today with Origin Travel!
4. Where to stay in Ha Giang?
Although Ha Giang is a popular destination chosen by many tourists during holidays, the hotel and guesthouse services in Ha Giang are still limited and not diverse. It is common to encounter difficulties such as room shortages and price hikes during festive occasions. To avoid this, it is recommended to pre-book accommodations for your group before traveling.
For hotels and guesthouses: Previously, Ha Giang and its districts mostly had small hotels (slightly better quality than guesthouses). However, with the expansion of Ha Giang’s tourism industry, the demand for higher-quality services from tourists has increased. As a result, many good-quality hotels in Ha Giang have been newly built. Although they cannot be compared to large cities, these hotels are generally beautiful and provide various services for guests.
Guesthouses are one of the most popular types of accommodations in Ha Giang. Due to their affordability and abundance, guesthouses often attract young backpackers and budget travelers to Ha Giang. Essentially, guesthouses offer the same amenities as hotels, although the quality may be slightly lower. This is the basic difference. Moreover, with guesthouses, it is easier to negotiate accommodations for more people than the prescribed limit (usually 2 people per room) with a reasonable additional cost. Hotels tend to enforce this rule more strictly.
You can consider some names such as Ha Giang Historic House, Hoang Ngoc, Ancient Town, Golden Jungle House, etc.
In addition, camping is also a unique and worth-trying experience if you visit Ha Giang. If you enjoy a bit of adventure and wilderness, you can bring a tent to spend the night. This option is suitable for backpackers and independent travelers who prepare everything on their own. Of course, you need to equip yourself with a good-quality tent for overnight stays in the mountainous tropical region, where it often rains.
Furthermore, you should choose lower areas to set up your tent for a warmer experience. If you set up at higher elevations, remember to bring warm sleeping bags.
Homestays are a form of community-based tourism, suitable for travelers who want to explore, experience, and learn about the customs and traditions of local people. Here, you can eat, rest, and participate in activities with the host family to get a better understanding of their daily life and the distinctive cultural traits of each indigenous ethnic group. Currently, most tourist districts in Ha Giang have developed homestay services, with the most popular ones being in Dong Van, Quan Ba, Xin Man, and Hoang Su Phi.
5. How much does it cost to travel to Ha Giang?
According to calculations by experienced individuals who have been to Ha Giang, the cost for a 3-day trip to Ha Giang is around 1 million Vietnamese dong per person if traveling by motorbike and staying at homestays.
If a family of 4 people travels by private car and stays at hotels, the cost will be around 3 million Vietnamese dong. This means that the more people there are, the more cost-effective the trip becomes. You should consider inviting more people to make the Ha Giang trip more enjoyable, memorable, and cost-saving.
Experience the beauty of Ha Giang while staying within your budget! Proper planning is the key to an enjoyable and cost-effective trip. The total cost of your journey depends on factors like transportation and accommodation choices. To make the most of your budget, we recommend traveling in a group. By inviting friends or family, you’ll not only create cherished memories together but also significantly reduce individual expenses. For the best travel planning and group deals, choose Origin Travel as your trusted agency. Start organizing your affordable and unforgettable trip to Ha Giang today!