From Hanoi to Ha Giang: heading to the North of Vietnam on two wheels

From Hanoi to Ha Giang

The previous days in Hanoi we decided to rent a bike and planned a route towards the North of Vietnam to do the loop of Ha Giang, as you can read here.

Monday,  january 28th 2019

Hanoi to Vu Lihn (Family homestay)

We woke up ready to go to the North of Vietnam, to Ha Giang. Despite some last minute doubts about renting the motorbike from Hanoi, we decided to just do it. We took a Grab (Asian Uber) and went to the place of Mr. James, where we had been the day before, and finally rent a Honda wave for 11 days for 90USD. We had to leave a passport as deposit for the bike, but got a photocopy of it with us. Always make copies!

The price seemed a bit expensive after renting a car for 8€ per day in South Africa, but we’ve seen this is the average price here.

Off we go!

So we get our bike, set the GPS, managed to put our daypack on the front and the bigger backpack on my back, on a way that it’s resting on the motorbike and the weight isn’t on me. We head to the gas station to fill up the tank for 50k VND (1’9€) and off we go!

Ready for our motorbike route from Hanoi to Ha Giang
Ready for our motorbike trip

There’s so many motorbikes in Vietnam, that the highway has a special lane for the motorbikes, separated from the rest. We’re glad it’s like this, because truck and bus drivers are always on a rush, passing everyone even on blind corners!

After 120km we fill up the tank again for 40k VND (1’4€). Looks like we’re not going to spend too much in petrol!

Heading out of the main road, we start driving on a secondary road passing by rice fields and a background of mountains. A very positive surprise to see such beautiful scenery all of a sudden!

Rice fields in Vietnam
Rice fields in Vietnam

A homestay in an isolated village

And after 5 or 6 hours with many stops for pictures and snacks, we arrived in Vu Linh. This is a small village near a lake, half way between Hanoi and Ha Giang. Here there’s not much other than a couple of homestays (all named the same: Vu Linh homestay, family homestay, farmstay…). When we arrived, we actually entered the wrong one, but luckily ours was just around the corner.

We sit down to enjoy this isolated place, where not much is happening. The night comes and it gets dark. We get a delicious dinner for 80k (2’5€) with the sound of hundreds of frogs coming from the watery fields, and nothing else. A great place to experience calm!

We looked at the route for the next day, and went to sleep to get a much needed rest.

Tuesday, January 29th.

Vu Lihn to Ha Giang

It’s very nice waking up in this peaceful area with the sound of animals telling us it’s time to get going. We spoke with a couple that had driven the same route in opposite direction and they told us not to take the main way, because they had 20km of mud road.

The way to Ha Giang
The way to Ha Giang

So we took an alternative way, a road by the lake. It was a beautiful ride, but all of a sudden the road ended. As usual in these moments, there’s someone magically passing by in this remote place. He shows us on the map which way to go, and we follow him. We had to drive back 14km, which on a motorbike on these kind of roads means around 20 minutes.

Then we were finally on the right road towards Ha Giang. It was another long day riding, but we really enjoyed it. We arrived in Ha Giang at the dream hostel in the afternoon and we went to buy fruits at the local market, one of our favourite things to do! It’s always interesting to try new fruits that we don’t even know their names, or how to eat them. The locals look at us with a strange look when we take pictures of those things unknown to us.

Back at the hostel, we planned what route to follow for the famous Ha Giang loop along the mountains. Then, we got dinner and went to bed. Here’s where we’ve discovered for the first time that Vietnamese people have a big preference for hard mattresses. Very, very hard! Oh well, good night…

 

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