Ultimate dilemma: Choose Ha Giang or Sapa?
- on Nov 26, 2023       By: BN
Discover Ha Giang or Sapa? The best answer would of course be to say both as these two spectacular destinations in Northern Vietnam have many to offer their visitors. Due to lack of time, they must make a choice and for this, we will help them to decide.
Sapa, more easily accessible than Ha Giang
Sapa, a former health resort from the colonial era perched at an altitude of 1,600 meters on the side of the mountains of the Hoang Lien massif, is located some 320 kilometres from Hanoi. To get to Sapa in good conditions of comfort and not to waste time, you can take the night train which connects the Vietnamese capital and Lao Cain Town, on the edge of the Chinese border. Once you arrive in Lao Cain, you have one hour of road transfer to reach the altitudes where Sapa is nestled. There are different classes of cabins and trains meeting all your comfort requirements. With the new highway, Sapa is only a 6-hour drive from Hanoi whether you take the bus or the car.
Ha Giang is also 300 kilometres from Hanoi but the road which leads there crosses more rugged terrain and the journey time varies between 7 and 9 hours. There is the solution of the night bus which is less time-consuming but the comfort conditions leave something to be desired for more than one traveller!
Sapa/Ha Giang, the match of landscapes
Undeniably, Sapa dazzles its visitors with its breath-taking amphitheatres of rice terraces. Hiking in the grandiose scenery of Sapa's rice terraces remains an unforgettable travel experience. All the valleys around Sapa are sculpted with rice fields tumbling down into mountain waterfalls. Sapa is dominated by Fan Si Pan Mountain, the highest peak in Vietnam and the roof of Indochina with its 3,143 metres altitude. You can conquer it through a sporty climb lasting several days or simply take a cable car to reach its summit to enjoy a truly beautiful panoramic view.
Ha Giang is not left out in terms of landscapes and can win the match since the province offers its visitors an incredible variety of landscapes. Ha Giang, in the Hoang Su Phi district, is home to some of the most beautiful rice terraces in Northern Vietnam, classified as a national natural heritage. But Ha Giang is best known for being the territory of the fabulous geological park of the limestone and karst plateau of Dong Van, classified as a global geopark by UNESCO in 2010. Travelling through this majestic mineral universe is a true travel dream. It is only a tangle of limestone mountains, peaks, turrets and karst peaks where the stone villages of ethnic minorities nestle. It is so spectacular that Ho Chi Minh named the road which, from Dong Van, leads to the Ma Pi Leng Pass the “road of happiness”. At the pass, breath-taking view of the Tu San Canyon where the Nho Que River flows. Note that in November, while the rice fields are fallow in Sapa and throughout Northern Vietnam, the Dong Van geopark is adorned with a magnificent carpet varying from white to pink when the buckwheat flowers bloom.
On the other hand, discovering all the landscape riches of Ha Giang requires at least almost a week, including a round trip from Hanoi. In Sapa, all the landscaped curiosities are close to the city and with 2 days there, you can be amazed.
Sapa and Ha Giang, a true ethnic mosaics
If you want to meet the ethnic minorities of northern Vietnam, it is difficult to choose between Sapa and Ha Giang. These two destinations are home to a beautiful ethnic mosaic. It is still in Sapa and its region that you will encounter greater ethnic diversity. The best way to meet these people who are fiercely attached to their traditions is to go hiking in the mountains to reach isolated villages and hamlets where you can stay overnight with locals.
An excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in a complex and oh-so-fascinating culture
Sapa and Ha Giang are home to many ethnic markets where a large number of hill tribes gather. Going there is the perfect opportunity to meet the Hmong, the Dao, the Tay, the Giay, the Lu or the La Chi. Stunning in colours and scents, these markets are one of the cultural characteristics of these mountain people. It must be recognized that the province of Ha Giang is home to some of the most beautiful markets in northern Vietnam such as Dong Van, Meo Vac, Hoang Su Phi or the so-called love market in Khau Vai which only takes place once a year.
Sapa, winner of hotel comfort
Sapa is the most popular tourist destination in Northern Vietnam. As a result, the hotel offering is much more extensive than in Ha Giang. In Sapa, you will find a whole range of hotels, from simple homestays to 5-star luxury hotels and boutique hotels. In Ha Giang, homestays and 1 to 3-star hotels make up the hotel offering. To take into account if you want your trip to the North of Vietnam to rhyme with attention to small details and good manners.
If you have little time to devote to exploring Northern Vietnam and want optimal comfort conditions, Sapa is a better option compared to Ha Giang. Otherwise, Ha Giang is to be preferred. Less touristy, and more authentic, Ha Giang will amaze you with its spectacular landscape diversity that cannot be found anywhere else in Vietnam. Whatever you choose, know that a trip to the mountainous regions of Northern Vietnam will leave you with lasting travel memories!
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