Things to do in North Vietnam: the Ma Pi Leng Pass

Where is the ma pi leng pass

The incomparable Ma Pi Leng Pass is situated between Dong Van and Meo Vac, two towns in the far North of Vietnam.

After six months riding a motorbike in Vietnam, the Ma Pi Leng Pass is probably my favourite stretch of high way. This is a big statement for me to make, as I rode a motorbike all over Vietnam. I even rode the popular Hải Vân Pass, made famous when it was featured in an episode of Top Gear.

(Watch the vlog: The Legendary Hai Van Pass)

Why visit the Ma Pi Leng Pass

If you ask me, the Hải Vân Pass is more famous for one reason alone: it is situated between Da Nang and Hue, two tourist destinations of the coast of Central Vietnam. This means the Hải Vân Pass is much more accessible than Ma Pi Leng.

They say good things come to those who wait, and good things certainly come to those who venture deep into the North of Vietnam. The Ma Pi Leng Pass, in the Ha Giang province, was the most beautiful motorbike ride I have found.

The journey between Dong Van and Meo Vac should not take more than an hour of driving, though you should account for a few stops for photographs.

Motorbiking the ma pi leng pass in vietnam

Best photo stop on the ma pi leng pass

There is one look out spot you will certainly not want to miss: a stunning look out spot over the steep valley below.

The look out on the Ma Pi Leng Pass is very easy to spot from the road. It's situated just behind a small, salmon coloured building. Inside you can find snacks, refreshments and souvenirs. There is no need to buy anything though, and you will not be hassled. Walk through the building and then down a spiral staircase. Then, be prepared for your jaw to drop.

Look out on the ma pi leng pass

Look out on the ma pi leng pass

You should be pleasantly surprised by how few tourists there are. When we visited, we had the whole place virtually to ourselves. This is another advantage of heading out to the lesser known Ma Pi Leng Pass: it often feels you have the most incredible road imaginable all to yourself.

So enjoy the scenic ride between Dong Van and Meo Vac. Take your time, and perhaps even take a couple of selfies.

Dan Vineberg Ma Pi Leng Pass Vietnam

Overlooking the mountains in north vietnam, ha giang region, ma pi leng pass

Video footage of the ma pi leng pass

If you know The New Travel, then you know I like to film whenever I get the chance. Here's a quick 2 minute look at the incredible views from the Ma Pi Leng Pass, between Meo Vac and Dong Van.

Because honestly,  I could dust off the thesaurus and try to find all the fancy four-syllable words to do the Ma Pi Leng pass justice. But sometimes it's better to let the footage speak for itself:


Other things to do in the Ha Giang province of Vietnam:

* A trip to the Dong Van Sunday Market, perhaps the most unique market I have ever visited.

* The Lung Cu Flag Pole, the mighty structure that stands high above the rugged hills of Vietnam's northern border.

* The Ha Giang Motorbike Loop, a 3 or 4 day motorbike look that includes a stop at the Lung Cu Flag Tower. This video, How to Do The Ha Giang Motorbike Loop, provides a brief overview.

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