There are 3 operators that run from Ha Giang to Ninh Binh, with 1 departure per day. If you decide to take a bus, you can take the Sleeping and Tourist options.
Spending time in the far north of Vietnam is an exhilarating experience. You're practically on the border with China, and there won't be too many tourists that can claim to have gotten this far on their travels. But when you've got to head back to reality, you've got to go. And here's how...
Finding out how to get from Ha Giang to Ninh Binh is pretty straightforward. Just keep reading. Basically, you can only travel directly by road. There are trains via Hanoi, but these are infrequent, time-consuming, and require an expensive taxi ride for the last leg of the journey.
There aren't any flights either, so if you think you can just whizz from one place to the next, forget it. This is Vietnam. There simply isn't that much interest in daily domestic flights to far-flung places.
Taking a sleeper bus is the best way to travel from Ha Giang to Ninh Binh. Three daily departures are organized by three different service providers: The Long Travel, NB Open Bus, and Cau Me. This journey takes approximately eight hours and 30 minutes.
Buses are comfortable, air-conditioned, and very affordable. Prices start from US$15 for the sleeper bus run by Cau Me and rise to US$18 for the sleeper buses provided by The Long Travel and NB Open Bus.
These buses are designed to travel through the night and, as such, you can enjoy a good night's sleep as the seats turn into beds. Seats in the buses recline to practically horizontal. Don't forget a travel pillow, earplugs, and a hoodie to get really cozy.
If you're looking for an alternative to bus travel, it's also possible to drive the Ha Giang to Ninh Binh distance of 322 kilometers (200 miles) by private car or minivan. It can be an expensive ride, however, it usually knocks at least three hours off the driving time.
Minivans can often hold up to nine passengers. Something to think about if you're traveling in a small group or with newfound friends. You can't rent a car unless you’re Vietnamese, so private cars and minivans will have their own driver.
If you're not too worried about the expense, taking a car or minivan is actually a rather comfortable experience. It's also much more flexible as you don't have to wait around at the bus terminal for the bus to leave. In addition, you can get picked up at your hotel or hostel.
Since the distance from Ha Giang to Ninh Binh is lengthy, there's quite a lot to see from your window. You’ll drive through a gorgeous mountainous region with lots of lush green forested foothills.
As your journey begins, you'll no doubt see much of Vietnam's classic rural scenes—thickets of bamboo, tiered rice paddies and agricultural fields with hard-working laborers and their water buffalo.
Keep your eyes glued to the window for the rural communities you might pass on either side of the road. Kids might be off to school, families off to work, and local people will be taking their wares to and from the market.
Getting from Ha Giang to Ninh Binh often requires overnight travel. This means you won't see much if you're tucked up and snoozing through the majority of the trip. But if you stay awake, you’ll see the odd brightly lit night market or the artificial lights from a service station.
As you get closer to larger urban areas, such as Tuyen Quang, you'll notice how traffic increases and roads become wider to accommodate the steady flow into the city. Hanoi is even more intense and provides ample entertainment while traveling around the city limits, even at night.
Taking a sleeper bus is the best way to get from Ha Giang to Ninh Binh if you're on a budget.
Taking a bus from Ha Giang to Ninh Binh
A bus gives you every opportunity to get some rest as you travel and allows you to get to know a few of your fellow passengers simultaneously.
Buses are air-conditioned, WiFi accessible and also feature reclining seats. You can expect to find a complementary blanket to combat the air-conditioning, as well as a few snacks and cold drinks to help you stay sated and hydrated as you travel.
The sleeper buses on this route don't have washrooms. However, this really does make for a better ride as you won't have the inevitable smell when the bathroom door opens and closes. Phew!
You will, of course, be making several comfort breaks along the way. It’s a good excuse to use the facilities, stretch your legs and maybe purchase a late-night meal from an overpriced tourist restaurant.
Buses are all pretty similar with prices starting from as little as US$15, not bad for an 8.5-hour journey.
Taking a minivan from Ha Giang to Ninh Binh
If money is no object, the best mode of transport from Ha Giang to Ninh Binh is a minivan. Prices for a whole 9-person vehicle, plus driver, start from around US$131.
This is a quicker way to travel than a sleeper bus, but it will cost you more.
Nevertheless, minivans are a good option if you're traveling with lots of luggage or as part of a large group.
Taking a private car from Ha Giang to Ninh Binh
Taking a private car means you'll also have the luxury of your own driver. Unfortunately, it’s not legal to drive in Vietnam unless you're a Vietnamese national.
Hire cars are expensive compared to sleeper buses, but they provide peace, quiet, and privacy. Prices for a 3-seater vehicle with a driver start from US$58.
This is often the transport of choice for families or those who have a plane to catch.