Ha Giang (pronounced Hazang) is a great spot to launch travels in the northern part of Vietnam. Although there is nothing particularly special about Ha Giang it is necessary to stop here to acquire a Travel Permit for touring Ha Giang Province by motorbike. Ha Giang is also a great spot to rent a motorbike for touring the country side. Jonny Nam Tram rents motorbikes and conducts organized tours of the area. He rents the smaller Honda motorbikes and 250cc enduros. Jonny doesn’t rent the old soviet Minsk bikes or the Chinese knock off Hondas but they aren’t worth the time, money, and headache anyway. There are a few other options for renting motorbikes but Jonny seems to have the best reputation and speaks better English than anyone else in Ha Giang. His wife also owns a small florist a block away from one of the only hotels in town, this also doubles as Jonny’s office. He can help you get the required permits for touring Ha Giang Province and can provide some basic maps of the region for the independent motor bikers. There is also no way to tour Ha Giang without the permit. Every hotel in Ha Giang Province will ask for the permit when you check in.
Getting to Ha Giang is pretty easy and usually takes about 8 hours. Buses run every morning to My Dinh, Hanoi and in the early evening for sleeper buses. About 3 blocks away from the bus station is a pretty typical hotel for this part of north Vietnam. There are several pho stands near by and a little restaurant that specializes in “meat on a stick”. They also serve the local rice wine/ moonshine in half liter water bottles for about 15,000 Dong or .75 USD. It’s the cheapest buzz in Vietnam. Further north along the river is the main city center where vendors sell fresh fruits and and vegetables.