What to Pack for the Ha Giang Loop: Essential Gear and Tips
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission if you click a link and make a purchase. There’s no extra cost for you, and I only recommend products and companies I use. Learn more.
Your approach for packing for the Ha Giang Loop should be the same as packing for any other travel – less is more. Most travelers take two to four days to do the loop, so you only need the essentials. Even if you’ll be spending a week exploring the mountains of northern Vietnam, you should still pack light. It makes maneuvering your motorbike easier.
I’ve got you covered on what to pack for the Ha Giang Loop: everything you need, what to leave behind, and how to be prepared no matter what season you go or what the weather is like. With this packing list, you’ll be ready for an unforgettable adventure that’s going to be one of the highlights of your time in Vietnam.
Where to store your luggage
You don’t need to bring your luggage when doing the Ha Giang Loop, and you actually don’t want to because it’ll weigh down your motorbike. Instead, take a daypack for holding everything you’ll need while you’re gone. I saw only one or two bikes on the loop that had large 50+ liter backpacks strapped to them.
If you’re doing a Ha Giang Loop tour or doing it on your own from a hostel/hotel in Ha Giang, they’ll store your luggage at no extra cost.
Clothes and bags
Comfort is key on this road trip. When deciding what clothing to take, choose pieces that are breathable, you don’t mind getting dusty, will keep you warm (if you’re going in the cooler months), and you’ll be comfortable sitting in all day.
- Daypack – I recommend either a 20 or 25 liter backpack. It’s the perfect size to fit all your essentials and a bit more. I used my 20L Osprey Daylite Plus Pack, which had just enough room to fit all my clothes and toiletries.
- Sling or waistpack – Your daypack is going to be strapped down on the back of the motorbike, so it’s a hassle if you want to get anything out of it. For your most important items and things you’ll be frequently reaching for, like your wallet and phone, put them in a sling or waistpack. It’s not the most fashionable, but my FREETOO Waist Pack was roomy and comfortable. I shoved everything in there – my phone, wallet, passport, chapstick, hand sanitizer, lotion, GoPro, sunglasses, toilet paper – and had room to spare.
- 3 underwear – I recommend bringing lightweight underwear that can be hand washed and dries quickly.
- 2 bras (for females)
- 3 tops
- 3 bottoms – Make sure you’re okay with your bottoms getting dusty. Road conditions can be rough sometimes. You’ll be driving on some dusty, dirt paths and through a few puddles. Even if you’re doing the loop in the summer, it’s best to wear long bottoms in case you fall off your bike.
- Light jacket or fleece
- Rain jacket or poncho – If you’re doing the motorbike loop in the dry season (October to April), you’ll experience little or no rain. However, it doesn’t hurt to come prepared with a light rain jacket that packs down small. In the rainy season, a poncho is the best option for keeping you and your items dry.
- Sneakers or boots – To protect your feet, you absolutely need closed toe shoes. You’ll do some walking on road and dirt paths to get to viewpoints, so athletic shoes or boots wil do. I wore my ASICS Gel-Kayano running shoes, which are comfortable and breathable.
- Flip flops – Bring flip flops or sandals for the communal bathrooms and to air your feet out at the end of the day.
- Swimwear (optional) – There are a few waterfalls you can swim in along the Ha Giang Loop: Du Gia Wterfall, Waterfall Number 6, and Thac Tien Waterfall. Bring your swimsuit if you plan on going for a dip.
- Buff (optional) – Buffs are multi-purpose. Wear it around your neck to prevent the back of your neck from getting sunburnt. Pull it up over your nose and mouth when driving on dusty roads. Or use it as a headband to get your hair out of your face.
- Rain cover for your daypack (optional)
Additional clothing to bring during the winter
The Ha Giang Loop is doable in the winter, depending on your cold tolerance. I went in mid-January and it was manageable. Some days were gray and windy, while others were crisp and sunny. The key to surviving is layers and a warm puffer.
- Gloves – The cold and wind will quickly turn your hands into popsicles, making it difficult to operate your bike or take photos. Pack warm gloves to keep them toasty during the drive.
- Hat – Make sure your hat can fit under a helmet.
- Sweater or hoodie
- Puffer jacket
- Toiletry bag – If you’re staying in hostels or homestays, you’ll be sharing a bathroom. Pack a toiletry bag to easily transport your toiletries when it’s time to get ready in the morning and at night. I’ve been using the Wayfarer Supply Hanging Travel Toiletry Bag for four years. It has plenty of room, lots of organizational compartments, and a hook.
- Face wash
- Body wash
- Quick dry towel
- Medication – Although Ha Giang has pharmacies, you’ll be mostly passing through small towns for the rest of your trip. There may not be pharmacies, so plan ahead and pack any medication you need.
- Hand sanitizer – Bathrooms won’t always have soap, so bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer.
- Spare toilet paper – If you’ve traveled southeast Asia before, you know not every bathroom has toilet paper. And if you haven’t, you don’t want to realize there’s no toilet paper after you’ve done your business. Carry around a few sheets of toilet paper and you’ll be prepared for any bathroom situation.
- First aid kit (optional) – It’s never a bad idea to take a travel-size first aid kit. Or at the least, some bandaids. But ideally, you won’t need any of it because you’ll emerge unscathed.
- Shampoo and conditioner (optional) – If you’ll be on the loop for more than a few days, bring shampoo and conditioner. Basic accommodations, like homestays and hostels, won’t provide these.
- Bug spray (optional) – Bug spray is a must during the spring, summer, and fall. But if you’re doing the Ha Giang Loop in the winter, you won’t need it.
- Feminine pads, tampons, or a menstrual cup (for females)
- Cellphone and charger
- Travel adapter
- Portable power bank – Expect full days on the road, especially when you go with a tour. Make sure you’ve got enough power for all the photos and videos you’ll be taking throughout the day with a portable power bank. I recommend the Anker PowerCore 10000, which I’ve had since 2016. It’s roughly the size of a deck of cards, charges your phone two to three times, and still works as well as the day I got it.
- Camera, battery, and charger (optional) – I brought my DSLR camera with me and snapped some stunning photos when we stopped at viewpoints, so it was worth it for me to bring. I also had my GoPro but didn’t end up using it. Instead, I found it easier to use my phone for videos.
- Passport – If you’re going with a tour group, you won’t need your passport/ID. But it’s an important document that’s better to hold on to, rather than leave behind with your stored luggage. If you’re doing the Ha Giang Loop on your own, you might need your passport to rent a bike or stay at an accommodation.
- Cash – Small villages only use cash, and some public bathrooms require a small fee to use. Before you leave Ha Giang, make sure you have more than enough cash to cover the entirety of your trip. For group tours, you’ll pay for everything before you set off. The only cash you’ll need is for buying your own snacks or drinks and for tipping your easy rider (if you have one) or tour leader at the end.
- Travel insurance – Biking the Ha Giang Loop is a safe activity, but there are risks. Accidents happen, even to the most experienced bikers. Before you go, make sure you have travel insurance that will cover any damages to you and your belongings.
- Reusable water bottle (optional) – Although I brought my water bottle, I rarely used it because the tour provided water. If you’re doing the loop on your own, you’ll need to buy water since it’s not safe to drink tap water in Vietnam. Because of that, you likely won’t use your water bottle either.
More resources for traveling Vietnam
- How to Solo Travel Vietnam
- 5 Best Hostels and Homestays I Stayed at in Vietnam
- 5 Complete Itineraries to See North Vietnam in 7 Days
- Three-Day Ha Giang Loop Tour With Cheers Hostel: Tour Review & Recap