Motorbike Rental in Ha Giang
Ha Giang City is around 320km from Hanoi and it is the northernmost province of Vietnam. Roughly half of the province might be considered low land and the other half either mountain or high plateau. The scenery in most areas is stunning and this combined with the colourful blossom times and colourful people make for a fantastic holiday destination. If you are planning on driving there yourself look at my “Getting to Ha Giang’ blogs
If you visit Ha Giang Province you will most likely head to Ha Giang City as your first port of call. It is a sleepy little town with little going on so more people do not linger. They often get their bike as soon as they arrive and then head out on the loop or they may stay overnight and leave the next morning. When returning to Ha Giang City, they will usually do so in the early afternoon and then eat and get a bus back to Hanoi or stay overnight and then head on early the next morning.
There are few things to see in town and few people stay to see them. However, it is the start/finish to some of the most fantastic driving you are likely to experience.
The first thing to consider is whether or not you can drive legally and to do that you need a home license (yes, motorbike license) and an IDP (international driving permit. If you don’t know what they are, you don’t have them and you aren’t legal. Alternatively, you may have been in Vietnam a while and have a VNese motorbike license. Of course, that is acceptable.
Now, assuming you fit in to one of the two categories above you need to check to see if your insurance company will cover you for driving a motorbike in Vietnam. If they do, you are golden and off you go.
If you don’t have the above or your insurance won’t cover you then you have 3 choices.
- Drive illegally and take responsibility for yourself, your pillion and anyone you hit.
- Ride pillion on a bike with a friend who can ride legally.
- Organise an Easy Rider Tour. This is where you rent a bike with driver and you sit pillion and enjoy the ride.
Arriving by Bus
If you are are renting a bike in Ha Giang City, it means you have travelled up by minibus or coach bus. These buses are mostly night buses and it makes sense to save on a night’s accommodation. You will arrive very early in the morning, around 6am and you will probably be sleepy.
You can stay on the bus until about 7.30am; the driver will not wake you. But, it is noisy and quite light. Most people will get off the bus and get their bags to make sure all is ok and then head for their bike rental firm of choice.
It is wise to book a bike ahead or at least let the firm know that you are coming. You can then usually stay in their place (most firms also have a hostel or at least a shared room) for a few hours and also get a hot shower.
Be warned that in the high season (Spring and Autumn) it can be hard to find a rental, so book ahead. Some firms will ask you to pay online to book and it is easy enough to do with a credit card.
Kinds of Bike
You will be offered either semi-automatic bikes or manual bikes and these will cost around 150,000vnd for the semi and 600,000 for the manual (per day) you may be able to negotiate a better rate if it is low season or if you are taking the bike for a long time (more than 1 week)
The Semi-Auto Option
This is usually the Honda Wave Blade (or similar) and is very economical and easy to drive but not very powerful. It is possible to take two people on this bike, but it becomes underpowered and you really shouldn’t take too much luggage. You have been warned. There is a foot brake on the right foot (pedal) and a gear shift on the left (also a foot pedal). The from brake is on the handlebar and you use the right hand. It is quite simple. Remember though: Ha Giang is not the place to learn to drive. It is very dangerous mountainous terrain.
The Manual Option
This is usually the Honda XR150 which is a great bike. It is very easy to drive and also very economical for its size. It has enough oomph to get most of us up the hills but those coming from bigger bikes will feel it is a bit small. It is a larger bike so you need to be taller but there is more room and power for two people so it is safer in that sense. Also, the fuel tank is a whopping 13 litres, so you will not need to stop to refuel often.
All firms will provide two helmets with each rental bike. However, these are not great quality and it might pay for your own peace of mind to bring your own. The are bulky, though. You can also get knee and elbow pads in some firms and many also offer a raincoat; take it.
What to Bring
Small things like glasses and clothing like, strong shoes and trousers. Mosquito repellent is a great idea as is sunscreen and a bandana to cover the face.
Other things to bring are battery packs for the phone and all of your charging cables. There will be plenty of electricity on the loop and also plenty of wifi in restaurants, hotels and homestays.
Remember to have two stashes of cash. One small stash easily accessible for food and fines ( you may be stopped by the cops) and one larger but in a safer, tucked away place.
Where to Rent From
The best place to rent from is Giang Son motorbike rental.
QT motorbikes also features highly in reviews.
Every hostel and hotel will have motorbikes for rent. These will usually be the smaller semi-auto bikes but they will also be able to make the arrangements to get you are larger CC bike.
Rental Terms and Conditions
Firms will ask for a photo ID (passport) or a cash deposit to be left with them when you pick up the bike. It is returned when the bike is returned undamaged. If the bike is damaged you pay the cost to repair it and then get your deposit back.
Some firms now offer an insurance option which is usually about ½ the daily rate per day. This means that you do not pay for any damage to the bike when you return it. It also means that if you crash the bike and it needs to be transported back to Ha Giang, you do not pay for this. It does not cover your medical costs and it does not cover theft (but theft is unlikely)
You will be asked to pay the full rental fee before you take the bike. Be honest, and tell them your true intention. If you need to keep the bike longer, let them know in advance so that they can organize their inventory. It’s only polite to do so as they may have bookings.
When Renting, take care to...
When you pick up the bike you should check it over.
- Take a look at the general condition. Make a note of any broken parts such as mirrors or plastic fairing. Point this out to the firm and take a photo or video to avoid disagreement when returning the bike. NOTE: rental firms here are pretty good and don’t try to scam drivers.
- Check that you can see in the mirrors. They are useful.
- Take the bike for a quick drive and listen for any strange noise coming from the brakes engine or gearbox. If you hear anything say so and get it dealt with or get a different bike.
- Make sure the bike has enough power when loaded. Remember, you will be going uphill and may need to get out of the way, so speed is good in that situation.
- Check that the tyres have enough grip, more than 3mm is good, and that they are inflated correctly. That will help you stop and also save fuel.
Tips for Driving etc...
- Drive slowly. It is much harder to get hurt when you move slowly. Be aware that there may be pigs, chickens, dogs and children on the road and these are unpredictable creatures.
- Try to read the direction other users are taking and also try to signal with your own body language which direction you intend to take. Do not make eye contact and use peripheral vision.
- Remember that it is hard to manouvre when going uphill and loaded so stay in lane and do not venture to the other side of the road, especially on corners. The opposite is true for downhill stretches in that it will be much harder to stop and brakes can become hot and ineffective. Go slow.
- Do not make any repairs to the bikes without the permission of the rental firm. They will know if parts are changed. You can get ripped off by paying a high price for a cheap part and you can then also be charged again when the firm notice and want an original part not a cheap Chinese copy. Just call them and ask for help.
- If the police flag you down, you are obliged to stop. When doing so smile and be friendly. You may need to pay a ‘fine’ but it is often quicker and easier to do so.
- Wear a helmet
- Don’t speed – 40kmh in town and often 60kmh on the larger roads. Always look out for road signs as limits can change.
- Keep your hands on the controls i.e don’t take photos while driving
- Stay in lane
- Obey traffic lights – the red ones
- Don’t drink and drive – the permissible amount of blood alcohol in Vietnam is ZERO.
Ha Giang Permit
All non-Vietnamese visitors to Ha Giang are required to get a permit. This is really easy to do and costs about 230,000vnd per person. You can do this yourself and I have this blog here on how to do it. Or, you can ask either the rental firm or your hotel to do this. They will need to borrow your passport and it takes them about an hour to go to the office and be back.
Getting to and from Ha Giang
If you are renting a bike in Ha Giang, then you will be getting there by bus or by minibus. It is very easy to book a bus to Ha Giang and most people will take the a bus from My Dinh bus station. The day buses leave from 5am to 12 noon and the night buses leave between 6 – 9pm. Any of these buses costs 200,000vnd for a ticket.
If you prefer a bit more luxury or if there are a group of you going, you can get a small 16 seat bus that has been converted to carry 9 people in style. These are VIP buses and have comfy seats and TVs. They are more expensive at 300-400,000 but they will pick you up from your location in Hanoi so this makes life a little easier. It is easiest to book these online.
On return to Hanoi, you can ask the rental firm to book a ticket for you. This is quite easy for them and they will do it commission free. Just let them know in advance.
Places to Visit
If you are staying in Ha Giang, then there are several places in and around town that are worth visiting. These are:
Thon Tha village and waterfall
Ha Giang Museum
Ha Giang Market
A little way south of Ha Giang, about 25km, you will find Ho Noong and The Tea House of BaiYue Tribe. These can be good places to visit if you have half a day or more.
Places to Tour to
If you are planning a tour of the province, then there are too many places to list here. Some of the most famous would be: Heaven’s Gate, Quan Ba; Lung Khuy Cave, Dong Van old Town, Lung Cu Flag Tower and the majestic Ma Pi Leng Pass to name just a few.
You should take a look at our itineraries and get more of an idea from them.
Have a Good Trip
If you take note of all the information above, you are going to have a great trip to Ha Giang with minimal problems and discomfort. You should have no problems with rental and have all the info you need.