We arrived in Hanoi city and had planned to do a couple of days checking out the city, doing a bicycle tour that a friend of mine had recommended (thanks Baz), and then head to one of the main attractions of Vietnam, Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But, as soon as we arrived in Hanoi, the weather was horrible for the activities and sights we had wanted to see and do, and backpackers that we had spoken to that had seen Ha Long Bay said it wasn’t as good as they had thought because the fog had ruined it and they ended up drinking every night. So we just took a couple of days to chill out and get some sleep.

Everyone usually goes to a place called Sapa from Hanoi. It’s in the country and is known for its beautiful scenery, but word on the grapevine is that it’s flooded with backpackers and the locals set up lots of tours for them. If you haven’t realised yet, we don’t necessarily like doing the tourist stuff, unless it’s been highly recommended to us by friends.

Whilst chilling out for those couple of days in Hanoi, we found a place in Northern Vietnam that most backpackers haven’t heard about. It’s called Ha Giang, known for its underrated scenery. Boo ya! We caught a bus the next day that took 6 hours. Luckily, we met this one cool dude from California on the bus who was meeting his Aussie mate in Ha Giang, who was a school teacher. We hopped off the bus when the Californian dude got off and hoped we’d be able to find somewhere to stay. The Aussie bloke was there when we all arrived and he was kind enough to point us the right direction for a guest house. If it wasn’t for him we would have probably slept on the street as it was pitch black, no street lights, and nothing seemed to be open.

The next day we had a nice sleep in, got some Pho Bo (beef noodle soup) for breakfast then had organised some bikes for our 3 day tour of the far north of Vietnam. We both upgraded our bikes compared to the previous ones we have rented. Eb got a faster scooter that was semi-automatic and I got a proper motorbike this time. We also got a map from the place that we rented the bikes from and the owner mapped out the best route for us to take. We were well prepared.

Day 1 was so awesome. We left at 9:00am and set off on our 148km bike ride from Ha Giang to Dong Van. The scenery was mind blowing. If you’ve read our previous blog posts on the Hai Van Pass and the Phong Nha national park, this scenery as compared to those places was one notch ahead of them. Soaring up the mountains, cruising down through valleys, riding next to rivers, through small villages, waving to locals as we drove passed, while on our much more improved bikes, it was jaw dropping, seriously. I wish you all could have been there to experience it with us. We had one minor mishap on our ride today. EB had a fall. Because I was so excited with my upgraded bike, I was ahead testing my motorbikes handles and speed, and I wasn’t aware that EB had fallen off. Usually we always travel together (I swear I’m a good boyfriend), and I show EB which paths she should take and at what speed. But she became a lot better and confident and let me ride ahead every now and then. But this time I rode ahead and pulled to the side of the road to wait for EB, I noticed it took her longer than usual to catch up. I initially thought she had pulled over because I had seen some local kids on the side of the road and I thought she would have taken photos and spoken with them. I turned the bike around to see where she was and when I caught up to her, I saw that her bike was on the ground and she was standing next to it, with those local kids looking at her. I rushed to her aid and was so glad that it was only minor, but also feeling terrible for riding ahead. She had gone a bit too quick on this corner that had loose gravel which made her lose control. She had a grazed elbow, hip, and had a cut on her knee. I’m so grateful that it was only a minor accident! Luckily, EB was fit to continue on riding (such a trooper) and the bike had no major damage, just a few scratches. We rode to the next village to have a drink and to recuperate.

After that we rode together all the way to Dong van, arriving around 5:30pm. We checked into a guesthouse, got some Pho Bo, and are now relaxing for day 2. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about being on a motorbike. The feeling of being in control and getting that air on your face, witnessing this crazy scenery. It gives you a sense of freedom. To experience this with my girl, is second to none.

Stay tuned for Day 2.

KeL

(To our parents, please don’t stress about us on the motorbikes. We are completely fine and we think it’s a lot safer riding on bikes in the Vietnamese countryside than what it’s lead on to be) IMG_2718 IMG_2721 IMG_2722 IMG_2738 IMG_2743 IMG_2745 IMG_2751 DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO IMG_2754 IMG_2761 IMG_2762 IMG_2766 IMG_2768 IMG_2775 IMG_2778 IMG_2784 IMG_2792 IMG_2805 IMG_2808 IMG_2811 IMG_2815 IMG_2832 IMG_2837 IMG_2839 IMG_2843 IMG_2848 IMG_2850 IMG_2863 IMG_2876 IMG_2880 IMG_2883 DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO IMG_2896 IMG_2893 IMG_2891

7 thoughts on “Ha Giang to Dong Van

  1. As always great post -love the photos and text … BUT no visors on those helmets ??? 😦 and Kellen no pressure but please ride behind EB from here on in….. 🙂

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  2. Spectacular photos guys, gotta get back there. Hope you didn’t do too much damage coming off the bike Eb, pretty easy thing to do over there, I wouldn’t have left you behind, wtf Boofhead, thought I told you to look after her. Oh, hang on, now I remember, it was the other way around. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t enjoy, take care.

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  3. Lovely lovely pictures. EB, i’m glad you’re doing all right after your fall!!! Great that you chose to go to Ha giang instead of Sapa. (I’ll be volunteering in Ha giang!:D) Hopefully we’ll bump into each other in Laos! X

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  4. Hi David,

    Yes we both did! Kel got sick in Ho chi minh and I got sick in Siem reap, Ho Chi Minh and Varanasi, India. All most likely due to the water/food.

    Yep we both took the usual vaccinations – yellow fever, hepatitis a and b, tetanus, diphtheria, measles. I think there might be another but can’t remember. If you have more questions, I’m happy to answer them 🙂 thanks, Elizabeth

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    • Thanks for the reply!

      When you went motorbiking, what kind of clothes did you wear? How many layers? did you buy more clothes when you got to Ha Giang?

      I’m going in December. Does it get colder than 0 degrees Celsius?

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  5. Hey David!
    No problem 🙂
    We both just wore jeans on the bottom, a t shirt and a jacket on top with sneakers. It was pretty hot but we wanted to be protected if we fell over. You can see in some of the pics what we wore.
    I just googled temperatures for December and it says 18-24 degrees celcius so not very cold. It will be cold in Hanoi though just so you are aware.
    Feel free to ask any other questions 🙂
    -Eb

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