Are you planning on doing the Ha Giang Loop in the North of Vietnam? Great choice, this was one of the coolest adventures I went on during my nine months of traveling. Doing it as a vegan? I was honestly prepared for the worst because I couldn’t find anything on vegan choices along the four-day loop when researching it before. BUT it was totally possible to eat vegan on the Ha Giang Loop. Want to find out how? Keep reading!
This guide will not only explain to you how to be vegan on the Ha Giang Loop without having to rely on peanut butter and bread. I will also show you how you can do the Ha Giang Loop on around 20 to 25 Euros a day – accommodation, food, motorbike plus insurance, and activities included! So, this is also helpful for non-vegans looking into doing the Ha Giang motorbike loop. Scroll down to the end of this blog post for a detailed budget.
Ha Giang Map – The route of your Ha Giang motorbike loop
I did the Ha Giang Loop in four days so that’s what this guide is based on. However, it is also possible to do the loop in three days. The first two days would be the same but on the third day, instead of driving to Du Gia, you would drive from Meo Vac to Yen Minh and then to Ha Giang via Tam Son. I’ve included a picture of the Ha Giang map below. It is also possible to do the loop the other way around. However, I found this way to be the one most people do. This is fun because you end up meeting the same people on the loop over and over again. I’ve also created an interactive map where I marked all of my accommodations, restaurants, and points of interest to help you create the perfect route.
Disclaimer: Doing the Ha Giang Loop is highly dependent on the weather. I was really lucky when I did the loop but rain might make the drive more difficult/dangerous. Please keep that in mind.
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Before doing the Ha Giang Loop: Getting from Hanoi to Ha Giang
It is quite easy to get from Hanoi to Ha Giang. A lot of hostels and hotels will be able to book a bus for you; you just have to choose between a night or a day bus. I’ve heard of people taking a night bus to Ha Giang and starting the loop right when they arrive. However, I can’t sleep well on buses and I wanted to be focused when starting the loop.
Save money: book a package deal
My recommendation would be to book with Mama’s hostel in Ha Giang. They offer a package that includes your bus to and from Ha Giang, two nights at one of their accommodations (I stayed at Mama’s hostel but you can also stay at Mama’s homestay) – one before and one after the loop, breakfast, motorbike rental for three or four days, insurance for your motorbike and protection gear for elbows and knees for 1750000 Vietnamese Dong (67€). Also, they teach you how to drive a semi-automatic motorbike (trust me, you don’t want to attempt the loop on a scooter) and help you to get past the police checkpoint at the beginning of the loop. Plus, you can leave your big backpack or suitcase at their place while doing the loop. Apart from this, I would recommend not booking any hostels along the way in case the weather causes you to have to stop driving sooner one day.
Arriving in Ha Giang
I booked this package with them and decided to take a day bus from Hanoi to Ha Giang, arriving there in the afternoon. This left me enough time to practice riding the semi-automatic motorbike (you already get your bike the day before you start the loop and they don’t even charge you for it) and get some snacks in town. As this guide to being vegan on the Ha Giang Loop will show you, this is not necessary because there are ways to eat vegan on the Ha Giang Loop. But you still might want to take some fruits, vegan cookies or peanut butter and bread with you.
As for dinner this day, I joined the family dinner at Mama’s homestay which had some vegan options. There are also some vegan places in Ha Giang, one of which I talk about in my vegan food guide to Vietnam here. Now let’s get to the actual part about the Ha Giang Loop, shall we?
Day 1: Ha Giang – Tam Son – Yen Minh (105 km in total)
Breakfast – Vegan in Ha Giang: Mama’s Hostel – Bread with sugar
As I mentioned above, when you book the whole package with Mama’s hostel, your breakfast will be included. They don’t have any vegan options but you can ask them to make you some bread with plant-based butter and sugar. Sounds weird? Well, it became so popular at Mama’s Hostel that even some non-vegan backpackers asked for it for breakfast. Alternatively, you can just ask them for bread and eat it with the peanut butter you might’ve bought the day before.
Start the loop
Around 10/11 am, you will then start your Ha Giang Loop adventure. You can do the loop on your own but you will definitely meet some cool people at Mama’s hostel to join. I started the loop with three Dutch girls, two of which I met up with at every accommodation and one who drove the whole loop with me. Eline (check out her YouTube here and her Instagram here) is a fellow vegan which made being vegan on the Ha Giang motorbike loop that much easier. We left together with two guys working at the hostel who were there to help us get past the police checkpoint. However, when we got there, there was no one at the checkpoint so we could just drive past it ourselves.
On the way to Tam Son, your lunch spot for the day, you drive past some incredible nature, extreme winding roads and Heaven’s Gate, a great viewpoint. This depends on the weather though, you might not be able to see anything. Don’t be sad though, you will drive past Heaven’s Gate on your last day again. We had an amazing view on day one but weren’t able to see anything on day four.
Lunch – Vegan in Tam Son: Caffe Yen Ngoc – Noodles, pineapple on the house
There is one big street with a lot of restaurants and cafes in Tam Son. Caffe Yen Ngoc is more towards the end of that street. We explained to them what being vegan means and then ordered noodles and spring rolls. After talking to the kitchen, the waitress told us that the spring rolls were made with egg but that the noodles would be fine. When we finished our nice lunch, she also brought us a delicious pineapple on the house.
Post lunch, you will hit the road again. Shortly after your lunch stop, you will be able to drive to Lung Khuy Cave. We decided against it but did drive a little bit towards the cave which was nice. Whether you decide to drive to the cave or not, you’re guaranteed to have some amazing views along the way.
In the afternoon, you will reach Yen Minh. If you are looking for a place to stay, I can definitely recommend Bong Bang Homestay. Don’t expect anything luxurious! We spent the night in a dorm with 18 (later even 19) mattresses on the floor. But you will have a great time! Family dinner, karaoke, and jamming on a guitar – you don’t want to miss out on this experience. This is where we got together in a group of 18 people as well. During the day, we each drove in smaller groups but we would end up in the same place for the night which was always a lot of fun.
Dinner – Vegan in Yen Minh: Bong Bang Homestay – Family Dinner; tofu, veggies, rice, spring rolls, sweet corn
I have to admit that the staff at Bong Bang Homestay were a little bit annoyed at Eline and me for our vegan extra wishes. However, we still managed to get quite an amazing dinner. They prepared three “tables” (they were on the floor) with a bunch of food. One of the tables was just for vegetarians. A lot of the vegetarian dishes were vegan anyways (tofu, veggies, rice, sweet corn). They also prepared some vegan spring rolls just for us. Hence, it pays off to be persistent in saying that you’re vegan. We went from being told there was gonna be nothing we could eat to having a feast.
Day 2: Yen Minh – Lung Cu – Dong Van (83 km in total)
Your second day on the Ha Giang motorbike loop will start depending on how long you stayed up the night before socializing with the other travelers. Before you head off, you’ll have breakfast at Bong Bang Homestay.
Breakfast – Vegan in Yen Minh: Bong Bang Homestay – pancakes
They don’t offer a vegan option at Bong Bang Homestay but if you ask nicely, they will prepare some vegan pancakes for you. You will notice a trend here as this is all we had for breakfast the whole time being vegan on the Ha Giang Loop. I didn’t mind that but if you think you would get bored, just pack some snacks. Or bring peanut butter and bananas to spice up your pancakes.
On your way to Lung Cu, you will pass some incredible scenery again. I’m pretty sure you won’t miss any of the viewpoints. But have a look at maps.me (one of my must-have travel apps) before to make sure of it if you’d like. Also, you will drive close to the border to China on a big part of the road. There is one place with a border crossing which you can also see on maps.me. Obviously, it is illegal to cross the border to China without having a visa and I’ve heard that sometimes there will be police. You will, however, see Vietnamese farmers cross the border on their bikes, so it is possible and up to you.
Lunch – Vegan in Lung Cu: Trung Nguyen (?) – noodle soup
I am not sure whether that is the actual name of the restaurant we ate at but it was the only one I could find online. You probably won’t miss it though. It is the first restaurant (of maybe two or three) just when driving into Lung Cu before you get to the ‘center’ of the village. We took a little spin through the village (which will take you about three minutes) and decided that this was the one that looked the best. They also had some puppies playing around so that obviously helped. We explained what being vegan meant and got a noodle soup made by the lovely owner.
After lunch, we went up to Lung Cu Flag Tower to enjoy the view. You can park your motorbike in the center and take the stairs all the way up or drive halfway up and take the stairs from there. The entrance fee is less than 1€. Then, you will make your way to Dong Van. We found a cute little place called Green Karst Hostel where they made us a good deal. We paid around 3€ for an eight-bed dorm but ended up in a six-bed dorm with only two other people in the room. After an adventurous first night and a little rain on the second day, we just wanted to relax. Therefore, it was perfect.
Dinner – Vegan in Dong Van: Quang Dung – tofu in tomato sauce
We found Quang Dung on Happy Cow and were very happy with our choice. The place is run by a nice couple and they were really accommodating towards our vegan requests. Just explain to them that you don’t want any meat, fish (also fish sauce), milk and eggs. I went for the tofu in tomato sauce and don’t have any complaints.
Day 3: Dong Van – Meo Vac – Du Gia (97 km in total)
Breakfast – Vegan in Dong Van: Quang Dung – pancakes
We went to the restaurant of Green Karst Hostel (which was a few minutes away from the dorm we stayed in) first. Contrary to what we had read online, they weren’t able to prepare a vegan breakfast for us. That’s why we went back to Quang Dung where we had our typical vegan pancakes.
Not even ten minutes after leaving, you will already pass the first incredible viewpoint of the day from which you can see the Ma Pi Leng Pass. Believe it or not, there is another more spectacular one coming your way. Keep your eyes open for signs for the “Sky Path”. They will lead you to the probably most popular photo destination on the Ha Giang Loop. You can drive up to the rock but please only do so if you feel very confident driving – the path is very narrow in parts and there is a steep drop to one side. We decided to walk up which didn’t take that long either. After a little photo session, you’ll be ready to make your way to Meo Vac for lunch.
Lunch – Vegan in Meo Vac: Fast Food Quyet Hang – vegan burger
Fast Food Quyet Hang has a vegan burger and vegan pho on its menu. Also, they serve some freshly made smoothies and the staff is very nice. I went for the vegan burger and was happy with my choice.
The journey from Meo Vac to Du Gia is nice but nothing special. (At least I don’t remember anything but that might be because it was raining when we were driving that part of the Ha Giang loop). We had made a booking for the Backpacker Garden Homestay in Du Gia during lunch already. The plan was to meet up with a big part of the group of the first night. We wanted to make sure that they would be prepared for 18 people showing up at their place. Because the dorms were already full when we tried to book, Eline and I shared a little bungalow in the garden. It still only cost us just over 4€ per person and was simple but very nice. Another highlight of this homestay was some chicks Eline and I cuddled with.
Dinner – Vegan in Du Gia: Backpacker Garden Homestay – Family dinner; tofu, veggies, rice, spring rolls
The last night on the Ha Giang loop before returning to Ha Giang on day four called for another family dinner. The Backpacker Garden Homestay did not disappoint; for less than 2€ the vegan options included tofu, lots of different vegetables, rice and spring rolls. The owner of the homestay, his son and a German guy currently helping out at the homestay joined our dinner. We stayed up late, playing games and listening to music.
Day 4: Du Gia – Tam Son – Ha Giang (113 km in total)
Breakfast – Vegan in Du Gia: Backpacker Garden Homestay – pancakes
Before you embark on your last day on the Ha Giang motorbike loop, it’s time for your very last vegan breakfast on the loop which – no surprise – will probably consist of pancakes again. Again, explain to the owner of the homestay that you don’t eat milk and eggs and he will prepare some delicious vegan pancakes for you. You know the drill by now.
Before going back onto the loop, you have the opportunity to go to a waterfall. The drive there is quite challenging though and the weather wasn’t on our side. The last day’s roads are probably the most difficult to drive, with some big puddles and a lot of debris on the roads. Only until lunchtime though which you will spend in Tam Son again.
Lunch – Vegan in Tam Son: Caffe Yen Ngoc – rice with veggies, pineapple on the house
Like on our first day on the Ha Giang loop we had lunch at Caffe Yen Ngoc in Tam Son. I went for rice with veggies this time.
The last bit of your ultimate Ha Giang loop experience will take you back to Ha Giang, going past Heaven’s Gate and the extreme winding roads. When you arrive back in Ha Giang in the afternoon, you will probably want to take a shower and relax for a bit. You can just get your bags again at Mama’s homestay, use their bathroom and – if you’re not going to Hanoi on the night bus – claim your bed in one of the dorms.
Dinner – Vegan in Ha Giang: Thien Phuc – vegan vermicelli nem, sushi
For dinner, we went to a place called Thien Phuc which you can read more about in my vegan guide to Vietnam here. Since we both booked the package at Mama’s homestay, we could still use our bikes to get there.
All in all, doing the Ha Giang motorbike loop was one of my favorite activities during my nine months of traveling in total, so I would definitely recommend you try doing it as well! You won’t be disappointed! This is it as to how to be vegan on the Ha Giang Loop. Below, I’ve also included tips on how to budget for the Ha Giang Loop. I hope this blog post was helpful to you. Let me know of your experiences on the Ha Giang Loop!
Budgeting for the Ha Giang loop
Going on the Ha Giang Loop independently can be super cheap. See below how much I spent on getting to and from Ha Giang, everything concerning the motorbike and accommodation and vegan food on the Ha Giang loop. Prices are converted from Vietnamese Dong to Euro at the time I did the loop (May 2019). In addition to the 66.91€ for the package deal at Mama’s hostel, I spent 4.80€ on fuel, 11.10€ on accommodation, 24,40€ on food and 0.96€ for the entrance fee at the Flag Pole in Lung Cu. That comes to a total of 108.17€ for four days on the Ha Giang loop, which includes all the money I spent from leaving Hanoi on May 5th to coming back to Hanoi on May 10th. See below for a more detailed overview of what I spent.
Package Deal Explore Ha Giang (includes bus from Hanoi to Ha Giang and back, 2 nights at Mama’s hostel with breakfast, motorbike rental for 4 days, motorbike insurance for 4 days, protection gear for elbows and knees)
Fuel for all 4 days on the Ha Giang loop
Family Dinner at Mama’s hostel the night before the loop
Lunch Caffe Yen Ngoc, Tom San (Day 1)
Dinner Bong Bang Homestay, Yen Minh (Day 1)
Accommodation Bong Bang Homestay, Yen Minh (Day 1)
Breakfast + Water Bong Bang Homestay, Yen Minh (Day 2)
Lunch Trung Nguyen, Lung Cu (Day 2)
Entrance Fee Flag Pole Lung Cu (Day 2)
Dinner Quang Dung, Dong Van (Day 2)
Accommodation Green Karst Hostel, Dong Van (Day 2)
Breakfast Quang Dung, Dong Van (Day 3)
Lunch Fast Food Quyet Hang, Meo Vac (Day 3)
Dinner Backpacker Garden Homestay, Du Gia (Day 3)
Accommodation Backpacker Garden Homestay, Du Gia (Day 3)
Breakfast Backpacker Garden Homestay, Du Gia (Day 4)
Lunch Caffe Yen Ngoc, Tom San (Day 4)
Dinner Thien Phuc, Ha Giang (Day 4)
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