Ha Giang is a border province and official Frontier Area, Hà Giang lies in the remote far northern region of the country. To visit this province is to journey back in time and encounter some of Vietnam’s most rugged and grand landscapes. Hà Giang is best experienced as a road trip on two wheels, soaking up the majesty of the landscape and the atmosphere of the remote towns and minority villages.
Most motorbike riders in Ha Giang have small scooters, however, a manual bike is much better as it gives you more power options and better suspension as well as a braking system.
Do you need a license to drive a motorbike in Ha Giang?
You’ll be able to ride a motorbike up to 50 cc without a license in Ha Giang, however these motorcycles are quite small and not suitable for extended travel throughout this area. For city travel, though, they’re perfect.
If you’re renting a more powerful motorbike, then you’ll need a drivers license. International Drivers Permits are given if your home country has signed under the 1968 convention (it’s the countries in green on this map). You need to have a motorcycle license from your home country and have it registered on the IDP. Note that if you’re from Australia, UK, USA and Canada, you’re drivers license is not valid.
You’ll need to transfer your license from home to a Vietnamese license in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh.
Many travelers don’t go through this process, however be aware that if you don’t have a valid motorbike drivers license in Vietnam, your travel insurance won’t be valid.
If you’re thinking about renting a motorbike in Ha Giang, you’ll need to be aware of the rules to follow to make your experience more enjoyable!
Rules to follow when motorbiking in Ha Giang
Below are a few rules on how to use a motorbiking in Ha Giang roads:
- Larger vehicles have right of way. Avoid anything bigger than you and slow down.
- Traffic is like a river, you have to flow in it. Riders will find a way to move forward.
- Use signal and the most important thing is the horn. People don’t care about the noise of horns.
- The speed limit in Vietnam is very low (25-80km/h). Don’t break the speed limit, a speeding ticket is expensive.
- Animals are everywhere in the country or on mountain roads. Dogs and chickens are the most then come water buffaloes, cows, pigs, and horses, etc. If you kill a dog or a chicken don’t stop, cry and feel sorry, it’s not your fault. Slow down when you spot these animals and don’t hit water buffaloes, cows, pigs, and horses, simply they are too big!
- Space between you and other riders (local people, guide, etc.) should be far enough in order to have no surprise. In cities or crowded roads, the traffic is usually slow. On wide-open roads or in the mountains, we suggest 10-20m. Don’t ever ride alongside your guide because he has lots of work to do.
- Be careful with split oil from trucks and buses at curves on the mountain roads, extremely slippery and we have had at least four small accidents related to this matter.
- Buy a good road book (Vietnam Atlas) and do the timing and routing before you start a ride. If you get lost, ask more than two people as they may use different mileage units or even directions.
- If the police stop you (this rarely happens), let contact the person where you rented a bike in Ha Giang. They will support you in this case.
- If the road is wet, use both brakes at the same time with more back brakes as if you apply more front brakes it slips. Most of our bikes have front disc brakes and on 250cc dirt bikes, you have front and back disc brakes.
- Do not drink and drive.
Safety and Guidance Tips for Your Ha Giang Motorbike Tour
Here are a few safety tips when doing a Ha Giang motorbike tour.
- Reasons for choosing a motorbike in Ha Giang
A motorbike is considered the best means of transportation for travelling mountainous areas due to its convenience and initiative. With a motorbike, one is free to go wherever he loves, despite all kinds of road’s condition. He can stop whenever he feels like to take photographs or relaxing, instead of depending on the driver or tour guide. Motorbike helps integrating people with nature and fresh air, and one will never be afraid of motion sickness.
If choosing a car, people are likely to waste hours sleeping in passenger’s seat with air condition, not to mention the car sick caused by consecutive slopes and mountain passes. Riding on the motorbike means living on every single kilometer of your itinerary! Moreover, one can ride a motorbike in any kind of terrains, and it is much easier to repair in case of breaking down.
- Which kind of motorbike and when?
100 cc-or-more semi-automatic motorbikes are all suitable for roads in Northern Vietnam’s mountainous area. The main criteria for choosing motorbike are a strong engine, gasoline-saving, and flexible packing space.
Weather is one of the most essential issues regarding planning for motorbike trip. The best time for exploring those mighty areas is from late September to the beginning of December or after Tet Nguyen Dan, when there is almost no rain and the temperature is cool. The spring’s rain and summer’s heat in high region somehow are hazardous for health as well as damaging to the road’s quality.
- Be well-prepared!
There are indispensable things that one has to bring whenever travelling to remote areas such as specialized clothes and shoes, personal stuff, map, contact information and medical bags. However, a motorbike trip requires more than that.
One will have to be well-prepared with a protective helmet and a motorcycle repair tool kit, and of course, certain skills of mending engine. An extra spark-plug and motorbike’s key are always in need. Remember to maintain the whole motorbike before setting off, change the oil and check its tyres, brakes, mirrors, horn and light. Fill up your motorbike with gasoline and know the location of gasoline station!
- On the way
If possible, travelling in groups of two or three motorbikes with one experienced leader is advisable. All members of the group are required to have detailed itinerary to get rid the risk of getting lost. People should not ride parallel to each other and talk while controlling the motorbike, thus, stop the bike if feeling a need for a conversation.
Pay attention to the bend and ones driving contrariwise and do not drive into other lane. Sometimes, there may be animals like buffaloes, cows, dogs or even pigs crossing the road, so one should decrease the speed and avoid making them panic. At night or in rain weather, when the vision is limited, travelers had better pause the journey for resting and safety reasons.
- Other things to remember
Do not ride when you feel tired or sleepy.
Do not ride after drinking alcohol.
Avoid riding too fast or stop without noticing.
Observe carefully and pay attention to road signs.
Bring your identity paper and driving license because there will be police checking along the road (however they will not be very strict to foreigners)
Be extremely careful when crossing the stream; be sure about the depth of the water to have the best arrangement.
Respect the ethnic minority people and their distinctive culture.
Protect the environment and always remember: Safe is of primary importance.