I just spent an amazing three days motorbiking round the Ha Giang loop in northern Vietnam. Fantastic thing to do, just mind blowingly amazingly spectacular. However, I had a bit of a stressful time making the connection between my plane arriving into Noi Ba airport and the bus to Ha Giang, but it all worked out in the end so I thought I would help any others making the same trip in future.
I was booked on the 9pm night bus from Hanoi Noi Ba airport to Ha Giang, I booked through vexere.com. The main thing to know if you are doing this connection, directly from the airport to the bus (rather than through Hanoi city centre) is that the bus does not actually stop at the airport. It stops about a 5-10 minute taxi or 40-50 minute walk from the airport.
I didn’t know this until about 10 minutes before I was due to get my bus when vexere.com people finally whatsapp’ed me the location I needed to get my bus from. These are the co-ordinates where I met the bus (21.2173150, 105.7776410), and a screenshot below.
The problem is that the taxi drivers at Hanoi airport are pretty dodgy. They’ve also been waiting in a long queue to pick up a lucrative fare to Hanoi city centre and they don’t want to take you 5 minutes just to join the back of the airport queue. Therefore I had to pay 200k VND (USD $9) for the short trip (which is about the same as the price of the 6 hour trip from Hanoi to Ha Giang). I think you *could* probably walk from the airport to the bus place, along the highway, it wouldn’t be a lot of fun, and would take about 45 mins to an hour.
When vexere text you the details of your bus (which probably won’t be more than an hour before you are due to get your bus), they will also text you the colour and number plate, which is useful, because if you are stood in the right place for the bus, there will be lots of other buses going to different places, and also different companies going to Ha Giang. There is a lot of large billboards along the road, and there will be other travellers waiting for buses, but no bus company signs. My 9pm bus actually arrived at about 9.45pm, which was good because I was running late.
In order to get the details from vexere, you need to ring them up and request the details. They generally speak English, but you have to chase them up to get the details.
The final thing is that, when you arrive in Ha Giang, some companies let you sleep on the bus until 6am and some don’t. Mine didn’t but there was a delightful Australian guy who was insistent that they stay in Ha Giang so he could have a lie in, which obviously didn’t work out for him. Also, in terms of getting off the bus in Ha Giang, it stops in a bunch of places, and the one I wanted was the first one, I missed my stop because I was super groggy and so I had a 45 minute drive round town followed by a 45 minute walk to the hostel. If you are in the same situation, just insist to the driver/assistant that you are getting off and they’ll wait for you to get your shit together (probably).