Through The Eyes Of An Expert - February 2015
Ha Giang, the amazing Global Geopark
Recently, travelers keep talking about Ha Giang when visiting Vietnam. Where is Ha Giang and what exactly makes it a desire destination? Mr. Pham Tuyen, a senior travel consultant with 11 year working at Aurora Travel and 4 year experience as a tour guide in North Vietnam, shares with us his experience about Ha Giang.
Ha Giang map
Ha Giang is a northeast province bordering with China; it is around 300km north of Hanoi, with the main area belonging to Karst plateau, located 270km from the border with China. Thus, it is considered to be the northern frontier of Vietnam. Ha Giang is famous for its natural beauty of lush valleys, steep mountains, and plateaus, along with the rich culture of minorities and kermis markets.
2. What makes Ha Giang different from other Northern Vietnam areas?
Ha Giang is a new destination for adventure travelers, and while it is not a must -see place for many travelers, those who want to discover this country will be thrilled by the spectacular Karst Plateau and diverse ethnic minority culture. Dong Van Karst Plateau, the second global geopark in Southeast Asia, amazes with its spectacular limestone outcrops soaring skywards and deep valleys, such as in Quan Ba. There is also no other experience like visiting the Meo Vac area and witnessing its winding roads going up, down, and around the craggy peaks of mountains for kilometers. The Ma Pi Leng Pass, also located in Meo Vac, is the highest pass in Vietnam, and a great place to view stunning panoramic vistas of the area. There are also plenty of beautiful walks to be had in the small towns on the mountains like Sa Phin with the Vương family mansion and Lang Si village, as well as special ethnic markets that no other places have like the Khau Vai love market, etc.
3. You have traveled to Ha Giang many times, so do you have any advice for travelers before going to Ha Giang?
You should make sure you are a nature lover and in a good health condition. If your plans include trekking, climbing, or staying overnight in areas with harsh conditions, you should also seek the assistance of a local tour guide to accompany you on your trip. It is highly advised to be well-prepared for any kind of adventure or trekking trips.
Flower field in Ha Giang
4. How is the accommodation condition in Ha Giang? Has mass-tourism taken off there yet?
No,Tourism is still not developed there. No luxurious hotels can be found yet, but there are several standard, basic guesthouses and home –stays available in Ha Giang. Roads arein good condition but in bad weather, can be very dangerous, slippery, and small. It is also worth mentioning that since Vietnam road safety is not the same as what you would find in western countries, that often the biggest danger can be other drivers on the road! The area is also quite sensitive to political matters, and some permission from local police is needed before entering certain areas. This is easily attained through guesthouses in Quan Ba or Yen Minh. Most guesthouses can also assist you with booking local foods.
5. When is the best time to visit Ha Giang, and how can I get there?
The dry season runs from September to April, and is the best time to go to Ha Giang for optimal driving conditions, though, I myself advise to visit Ha Giang after the Lunar New Year when there are many local festivals. Especially, you need to check the schedule of kermises in this area to know the best days to visit.
6. Could you give us some ideal tour packages to Ha Giang?
Sure! Ha Giang is on the way from Sapa – Bac Ha to Lang Son, Ba Be – Halong Bay. You also can combine the Northwest and Ha Giang or Cao Bang, Ha Giang – Ba Be or vice versa. Here is a sample as: Tour 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau – Son la – Dien Bien Phu – Sapa – Bac Ha - Ha Giang – Cao Bang – Lang Son – Hanoi in 12 – 16 days Tour 2: Hanoi – Lao Cai – Sapa – Bac Ha – Ha Giang – Bac Kan – Ba Be – Hanoi – 8-10 days Tour 3: Hanoi – Ba Be – Ha Giang – Cao Bang – Lang Son – Hanoi with 6 – 8 days So it totally depends on our customers, which we can combine, advise, suggest, and then make a suitable itinerary with Ha Giang included. Thanks Mr. Tuyen for all of your advice! Quan Ba, Ha Giang H'mong village, Ha Giang