Ha Giang City Guide

Ha Giang City Guide

First published March 2024 | Words and photos by Joshua Zukas

Joshua Zukas

Joshua is a contributing writer for Vietnam Coracle. A freelancer whose body of work focuses primarily on travel & architecture, Joshua covers Vietnam regularly for Lonely Planet, Michelin Guide, Insider, Ink Global & many of Asia’s top inflight magazines. He also writes intermittently for publications such as The Economist, Wallpaper & Interior Design Magazine. He holds an MSc in sustainable tourism….read more about Joshua

Like many modest provincial capitals in Vietnam, Hà Giang City is an enjoyable place to while away a day or two. Traffic is light, the residents are friendly and there are a handful of things to see and do. While the architecture is nothing to write home about, the city’s setting – ringed by jungled mountains and sliced in two by a river – is undeniably appealing. The Sông Lô (Blue River) is brown and full of tangled reeds for much of the year, but reinforced and largely traffic-free waterside roads make for pleasant strolling. Most travellers see the city as a mere jumping-off point for the Hà Giang Loop with nothing to do. However, Hà Giang City has some interesting sights, good food and decent accommodation. The aim of this this guide is to help travellers make the most of those pre- and post-road trip periods.

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Hà Giang City, Vietnam
Hà Giang, Vietnam’s most northerly capital, sits on the banks of the Lô River

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Vietnam’s Most Northerly Capital & Gateway to ‘The Loop’

This succinct city guide is based on many trips I’ve made to the city over the past 10 years. During that time, I’ve watched Hà Giang grow from a sleepy city into one of the province’s more lively spots, with a sprightly weekend walking street and an ever-increasing number of bars, cafes and restaurants. All the information in this guide is categorised, which should make it easy to find what you’re looking for. (See Related Guides for more Hà Giang content):




See & Do


Eat & Drink

Transport, Bike Rental & Tours

Related Guides

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Hà Giang City

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Hà Giang City is at its most amicable in spring, from March to May, and autumn, from September to November. November is particularly pleasant, with sunny and bright days that rarely get too warm and cool mornings and evenings. The city can be very cold from late December to February and very hot from June to August. Note that Hà Giang City also sees bursts of heavy rainfall during the summer months. If you’re heading for the mountains, it’s worth keeping in mind that Hà Giang City can be warmer and drier than the provincial districts to the north and east. Even if the days are comfortable in Hà Giang City, you should still prepare for colder and wetter weather when motorbiking in the more far-flung corners of the province, such as the Hà Giang Loop and the Borders & Back-Roads route.

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Boy riding a buffalo, Hà Giang, Vietnam
A boy enjoys riding on the back of a buffalo after a summer downpour in Hà Giang

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See & Do:

Central Square (Quảng Trường Thành Phố Hà Giang) [MAP] makes for brief but pleasant ambling, but bear in mind that it’s almost completely without shade so it’s best visited in the early morning or late afternoon. The statue in the middle depicts Hồ Chí Minh flanked by smaller figures representing the different ethnolinguistic groups in the province. The prosaic text beneath reads: ‘Uncle Hồ with the ethnic groups’. The square comes into its own on weekend evenings when traffic is banned from the surrounding streets and a few dozen kiosks move in and sell cheap drinks and snacks. It can get very noisy, but the atmosphere is jovial and family friendly, usually with entertainment taking place on a makeshift stage near the river.

Provincial Museum (8.00-11am & 1.30-5pm) [MAP] was renovated in 2020 and is worth at least a couple of hours. If possible, it’s best to visit the museum before any road trips as it will help explain and contextualise the province’s rich diversity. Along with information on the geological and cultural history of the province, exhibits devote a lot of attention to exploring and celebrating Hà Giang’s 19 ethnolinguistic groups (more than a third of Vietnam’s ethnolinguistic groups are represented in this small corner of the country). Don’t let the first room’s lack of English signage deter you; the rest of the museum is much more friendly to non-Vietnamese speakers. A timeline illustrates when the different groups arrived in the province and there’s a useful map showing where they live. The short but dramatic climax of the exhibits on the first floor is a sound and light show that briefly chronicles the geological and ethnic history of the province. The visual highlight of the museum, however, is the footage shown projected onto a concave screen on the second floor. This video is 15 minutes or so, with some rather moving drone footage of rural life in the province. The second floor also has a map illustrating the days and locations of the different markets in the province, which is worth studying as it may impact your itinerary. The remainder of this floor details the three different ecotypes in Hà Giang – low mountains, karst plateau and Hoàng Su Phi range – and some brief information on the culture and customs of the different ethnolinguistic groups.

Núi Cấm (Forbidden Mountain) City Viewpoint [MAP] is a fun, sweaty climb (45-60 mins up and down, including time spent at the top), especially if you want to make sure that your legs are still working after a few days on a motorbike. To get here, drive up the steep road to Café Núi Cấm where you can park for free. From here the path is mostly stone steps, though there are also some muddy sections. On your way to the top, you’ll pass Chùa Hộ Quốc, a dusty pagoda that appears to be dedicated to Guanyin, the Goddess of Compassion. Once you reach the top, you’ll find an old French fort that is slowly being reclaimed by the jungle, giving it a somewhat Angkorian atmosphere. Unfortunately there’s no information, but presumably the fort was built around the same time as the Đồn Cao Fortress in Đồng Văn, so turn of the 19th century. Unlike the other forts in the province, here you’ll find several small shrines dotted around, possibly dedicated to those that lost their lives in the fort, only adding to the atmosphere of lost antiquity. There are also impressive views of the city and the encircling mountains.

The villages just a few kilometres west and south of the city are fun to ride around, though there’s nothing of specific interest that I could find. The best activity here is to drive around, get lost and perhaps you’ll chance upon an appealing homestay for a juice or a waterfall like this one. Some readers may be interested to know that some scenes from Neflix film, A Tourist Guide’s to Love, were shot in the area’s more picturesque corners.

Hà Giang City Museum
Exterior of the excellent Hà Giang Provincial Museum

Ha Giang Museum
Ethnographic map of the province in Hà Giang Provincial Museum

Quảng Trường Public Square in Hà Giang City
Sculpture depicting Hồ Chí Minh in Quảng Trường Central Square

Ruins on Núi Cấm Hill, Hà Giang City
Ruins of a French-era fort at the top of Núi Cấm

House used in A Tourist's Guide to Love, Hà Giang, Vietnam
House used in Neflix production, A Tourist’s Guide to Love, filmed in Hà Giang

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After some difficult years during the Covid pandemic, Hà Giang City’s accommodation scene is growing once again. This helps keep midrange prices down – a good room today seems to be the same price today as it was 10 years ago – but the dirt-cheap options have all but disappeared. Note that there is no luxury accommodation in the city, but there are some very comfortable options that, for the purposes of this guide, I’ve designated ‘high-end’. There are also some options just outside the city that are worth considering. (Other than the ones listed below, you can browse many more Hà Giang accommodation options on this page.)


Phoenix Hotel $50-$60 [MAP]: The best hotel in the city, at least according to Hollywood (this is where the production team from Neflix’s A Tourist’s Guide to Love stayed in 2022). The building is garish and characterless, the kind of rip-off Vinpearl-type hotel that you now find all over Vietnam, but the service isn’t bad and there’s a pool. Ask for a room overlooking the river for the best views. Downsides are the location – a 25-minute walk from the centre – and that they allow smoking in the rooms. Some rooms are smellier than others, so you can request to see a few rooms at check-in until you find the right one.

Hà Giang Historic House $50-$60 [MAP]: Another pricier option in the city run by a helpful and friendly family that can help arrange tours and motorbike rental. The rooms feel a little dark, but views over the garden and jungled mountains make up for it. From here it’s a 20-minute walk into town.



Luxury Hostel $20 [MAP]: It’s far from luxury, but this hotel is located in one of the more appealing residential neighbourhoods in town, and just a few blocks from the central square. The hotel is well-run, and the rooms are basic but clean and comfortable. You may have trouble convincing them to let you leave your motorbike inside overnight (like I did).

Nhật Bảo Hotel $20 [MAP]: This dated but adequate hotel overlooks the main square, which is nice in theory, but in reality means it can be very noisy, especially during the weekend. If you plan on staying here then pack earplugs.



Tiamo $15 [MAP]: Offering some of the cheapest private rooms in the centre of town, Tiamo is walking distance to the museum, central square and most of the city’s restaurants. The rooms are dated but clean enough.

Sky Building $10 [MAP]: This multipurpose building has a café-cum-hostel overlooking the river on the ground floor. It’s difficult to book the beds in advance, but they seem to always be available. You can also negotiate a half-day if you want some downtime before catching your bus.



Homestay Field $15 [MAP]: Highly recommended for the two bungalow rooms that overlook a pond. The charismatic owner speaks very little English, but that won’t stop her from throwing together a delicious dinner, even at the last minute.

NoMadders $25 [MAP]: With thatched bungalows and a quiet pool, this is one of the best places to stay, though the 10-minute drive in and out of town will deter some travellers. Still, this is an excellent place to relax for a night before or after a road trip.

Hà Giang City, Vietnam
Guest room in Hà Giang City

Hotel in Hà Giang City, Vietnam
View from a hotel balcony on the riverside in Hà Giang City

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Eat & Drink:

Hà Giang City has a decent food scene, with enough variety to keep you satisfied for at least a few days. Other than the places listed below, a good place to go hunting for food is the small grided neighbourhood north of the central square. Nguyễn Trãi and Nguyễn Thái Học streets also have varied restaurant and street food options.


Bánh Cuốn Quảng Trường Hà Giang [MAP]: This bánh cuốn (wet savoury rice flour pancakes) street kitchen probably offers the best breakfast in town. The bánh cuốn here is served the same way as in Cao Bằng Province with a side of hot soup. The serving matriarch can be a little brusque, but don’t let her scare you off.

Bánh Cuốn Bà Làn [MAP]: Another reliable bánh cuốn option but considerably more friendly. Ms. Làn, who serves in the evening as well as the morning, also dishes up the Cao Bằng version of the dish.

Quán Phở Nghĩa [MAP]: This decent enough chicken phở joint is one of a cluster on Nguyễn Trãi Street. Quán Nghĩa is busy in the mornings and then serves throughout the day until the broth runs out. You can usually order a lemon juice from the café next door.

DT Quán [MAP]: A little gem of a place that seems to be more popular with foreigners than locals, DT is open throughout the day and serves a variety of Vietnamese favourites, like nem lụi (pork skewers) and bánh xeo (fried savoury pancakes), popular dishes in Vietnam’s central and southern regions.



Bếp Việt [MAP]: One of the city’s more upmarket restaurants, prices here are similar to what you might find in equivalent establishments elsewhere in the country. While the a la carte menu is extensive, most locals come for the lẩu (hot pot).

Hương Sen Vegetarian [MAP]: Hà Giang’s obligatory vegan restaurant, Hương Sen serves meatless versions of Vietnamese favourites, including dumplings and hot pot. This is a small business and they may not have everything on the menu, so prepare back-ups when selecting dishes.

Pizza Here [MAP]: If you’re craving western food, this might be the best place in the city. There’s a good selection of pizza here, including tempting vegan and seafood options. The space is cosy and welcoming, and the back bar overlooks the river.

Mr. Hung Bar & Restaurant [MAP]: Standard backpacker fare that will satisfy a certain type of craving. The main draws are the pool table and rooftop bar with views over the river.



Trung Nguyên [MAP]: The best Vietnamese coffee that I managed to find served on a quiet street on the riverside. The juice menu is limited but fresh, and there’s also yoghurt drinks and iced tea.

Lofita [MAP]: Probably Hà Giang’s cutest café, Lofita serves a decent coconut coffee (cà phê cốt dừa), bubble tea and a handful of cakes and snacks.

Cafe Núi Cấm [MAP]: Perfectly positioned for a post-hike juice after walking up to the viewpoint (see above), part of the café is in – and on – a cramped and gutted bus. Best stick to the decked terrace, which also has a covered section. The drinks are average but this is the best view in the city.

Nhà Hàng Phố Beer [MAP]: This rowdy but friendly local bar serves cheap fresh beer when they have it and bottles when they don’t. Like all bia hơi bars worth their salt, there’s a good menu of snacks that can constitute a full meal.

Hà Giang Mama’s Homestay [MAP]: Offering familiar rowdy backpacker vibes on the outskirts of town.

Bánh cuốn in Hà Giang City, Vietnam
A plate of bánh cuốn in Hà Giang City

Cafe Núi Cấm, Hà Giang City, Vietnam
Cafe Núi Cấm at the top of a hill features a converted old bus

Cooking bánh cuốn on the streetside in Hà Giang City, Vietnam
Cooking bánh cuốn on the streetside in Hà Giang City

Noodle soup in Hà Giang City, Vietnam
Piping hot noodle soup for breakfast in Hà Giang City

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Transport, Bike Rental & Tours:

Annoyingly, the bus station is 3km south of the centre, and thus a little too far to walk from most hotels. Fortunately, most buses going to and from Hanoi leave from their offices, which are more central, or they’ll pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. I’ve used Quang Nghị several times and had no issues, but I’ve also heard horror stories! As of early 2024, it seems there are no reputable and reliable bus companies serving Hà Giang, so you may just have to take your chances. 

There are many motorbike rental outlets in Hà Giang City, including Ngân Hà TravelKiki’s HouseStyle Motorbikes, and QT Motorbikes. There’s no need to book your bike in advance; if the rental place doesn’t have the bike you want, simply move on to the next one. Prices range from 150,000vnd to 500,000vnd per day depending on the bike.

In terms of tours, Flipside Adventures runs bespoke self-driving experiences that specialise in off-road adventures. Cheap and cheerful tour agencies include Jasmine and Mama’s, though I can’t personally vouch for their quality and safety standards. With these cheap cookie cutter agencies you’re likely to be in groups of 30 people or more, which might dilute the sense of adventure offered by the province.

Ha Giang Loop by motorbike
Bike rental & tours for ‘The Loop’ are easy to find in Hà Giang City

Ha Giang Loop by motorbike
Hà Giang City is the gateway to the legendary landscapes of the Hà Giang Loop

*Disclosure: Vietnam Coracle content is always free and independent. Joshua has written this guide because he wants to: he likes Hà Giang City and he wants readers to know about it. For more details, see the Disclosure & Disclaimer statements and my About Page


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  1. David L says:
    March 11, 2024 at 7:45 AM

    This is a very well written guide. It seems a bit light on the food recommendations, so I’ll add some that I really enjoyed when I was there (all on the west bank – the ones we ate at in the main part of town weren’t as good):
    On the road south out of town, Phở Chua Lý Dính, 90C đường Nguyễn Trãi
    In the center below the lookout mountain, 2 Cô Lùn – Quán Ăn Vặt, 403 Nguyễn Trãi (bun dau, bun cha, etc)
    On a side road south lookout mountainT, Cơm rang giòn Vũ Béo, 25, 19 Tháng 5 street (nhau food including fried rice)

    1. Tom says:
      March 12, 2024 at 1:24 AM

      Hi David,

      Thanks for the additional food suggestions – sounds good.



  2. Nicolas says:
    March 10, 2024 at 7:09 AM

    Once again, amazing content on Vietnamcoracle! Thanks a whole lot.

    And “With these cheap cookie cutter agencies you’re likely to be in groups of 30 people or more, which might dilute the sense of adventure offered by the province.” that’s a given… Those huge tour group following a little flag is killing the area.

    I just don’t understand how backpackers went from adventure seekers, following bad maps on LP, finding your own ways, getting lost to just paying people to be told where to eat, sleep, drink, where to stop.

    Might just be me becoming an old cranky ‘back in my days’ type of guy, which could be even worse.

    1. Tom says:
      March 12, 2024 at 1:21 AM

      Hi Nicolas,

      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed this guide.

      Yes, Ha Giang is now receiving a much higher number of visitors than ever before and it remains to be seen how the province will deal with this. Some areas of Vietnam, such as Phong Nha, have managed to expand their tourism sector successfully without ruining the natural environment and the experience, so we’ll see.