Hoang Su Phi is a northern Vietnam gem that you really have to add to the bucket list!
You might come across Hoang Su Phi as part of your trek into the northern part of Vietnam, especially if you’re doing the HaGiang Loop. It is, in fact, very similar to the terrain you’ll come across on the Loop, but different enough to provide you with another great motorbike tour of this magnificent region…
One great option for exploring Hoang Su Phi is to take a Vietnam Tea Tour. This tour will give you some great insights into how the locals live, and especially how they cultivate the tea that they grow so copiously in this area. Highly recommended, and definitely do an overnighter in a local homestay, it’s an experience that’ll stay with you forever!
Hoang Su Phi: a little background
Hoang Su Phi is actually one of the two mountainous districts that lie to the west of Ha Giang province. This area is actually quite populated – which the local roads can confirm, what with numerous buses, motorbikes, and buffalo farmers strutting their stuff. There are some 12,000 families in the area, mostly belonging to the minority tribes of Dao, Tày, Nùng, Mông, Cờ Lao, and La Chí.
Best time to visit Hoang Su Phi
It’ll be the rice fields you’re coming for, if you really want to have a stunning road trip. And because there is only one real rice season in the area, September is the best time to come to Hoang Su Phi. At this time, the rice fields are ripe and ready for harvest, and are a stunning sight to see!
You could also try visiting in May, during the rainy season and when the rice terraces will be full of water. It makes for some great photos, though you’re more likely to get caught in some rain yourself…
How to get to Hoang Su Phi from HaGiang
If you’re looking to get to Hoang Su Phi from the nearby town of Ha Giang, it will take you around 3-4 hours (if you’re coming from Hanoi, it will probably be best to stop at Ha Giang and proceed from there, whether independently or as part of a tour). The map below shows the best route to get to Hoang Su Phi from Ha Giang.
What to see and do in Hoang Su Phi
The main attraction in Hoang Su Phi has to be the stunning landscape. Just enjoy those amazing mountains, adorned with steep rice terraces almost everywhere. I actually did my trip there in September, so got to enjoy the ripe rice fields in full golden bloom, almost begging me to take pictures of them before being harvested! This for me, is the real Vietnam, so just finding your own way around the region is a great experience!
There are some great little villages to check out, including Phung, hidden between the mountains of Tay Con Linh and Gia Long. It’s an amazing romantic spot, with great views out across the rice terraces. In addition, try to check out Nam Hong or Nam Khoa.
If you’re in the vicinity on a Sunday, watch out for the local Hoang Su Phi market, where the local minority groups gather to sell their wares every week. They usually start very early, around 6am, so you’ll have to rise with the sun to catch the market in full flow! The market takes place on the long main street in Vinh Quang town in Hoang Su Phi District.
The rest of your time on the road in Hoang Su Phi is likely to be focused on keeping your eyes on the winding road and bends, the small herds of water buffalo being led uphill/downhill, and the small, sparkling waterfalls on the mountainous side of the road that are almost everywhere…
For food, you could try the local boiled rice soup (cháo ấu tẩu), which is famed for its soothing taste, especially when eggs, onions and spices are added. And if you’re feeling very adventurous, don’t miss the local La Chi minority specialty, rat meat! I’ll be honest, I didn’t have the stomach for it…
Where to stay in Hoang Su Phi
For the ultimate Hoang Su Phi experience, you just have to stay in a local homestay. There are some superb little options, and if you’re heading out on a Vietnamese Tea Tour, they’ll have the perfect accommodation lined up for you according to your own tastes and budget.
If you’re heading out on a solo adventure, you could try stopping by at some of the local homestays in Ban Luoc village (try the Canh Homestay or the Dang Nam Homestay), or Ho Thau village (try the Chan-Mui Homestay or Long-Chieu Homestay). There are some other great options in various other villages, so if you fancy being really adventurous, check them out as you come across them. Note that many homestays now have Western toilets and have been fairly recently refurbished, so your experience will likely be a very pleasant one!