Ma Pi Leng Pass, a must for your bucket list
An adrenaline rush will accompany you while traversing what is considered to be the most beautiful yet most dangerous road in Vietnam, the Ma Pi Leng Pass connecting the towns of Dong Van and Meo Vac in the northern province of Ha Giang. Peaking through the steep drop of 1500 meters will get your heart pumping fast with only tiny roadside bricks to protect you from falling. Part of the Dong Van Karst Plateau Global Geopark, Ma Pi Leng Pass should definitely be part of your checklist when visiting Vietnam.
Although stretching only a short span of 22 kilometers, driving this mountain pass could take you up to 2 hours to finish, not because of rough road conditions (in fact, it is well-paved), but because you couldn’t help stopping from time to time to breathe in the beauty of nature it shows from different angles along its entirety. The road combines the stunning emerald Nho Que River flowing along the Nho Que Valley and the countless high karst peaks surrounding it.
Instagram-worthy shots of Ma Pi Leng Pass
A viewpoint providing perhaps the most picturesque angle lies somewhere in the middle of the entire stretch. Park your vehicle and go inside the souvenir-shop which has a stairway leading to a platform you should not miss taking pictures from. Surprisingly, free wifi is available on this middle-of-nowhere spot so you could post your instagram-worthy shots right away.
Weather is an important factor when visiting Ma Pi Leng Pass as fog and rain increase its danger factor. On a good sunny day, probably the best time to visit is at noon. When the sun is at its highest, colors are bright and neither side of the valley is darkened by its own shadow.
The pass was established around the 1960s for and by local ethnic minorities who dominated the China-Vietnam border, during which volunteers died as they cliff-hanged to build each inch of the road. Nowadays, more common than foreigners are these minorities using this road, sometimes on foot, as part of their daily trade. Some of them would even risk to stop motorbike of foreigners to beg for money.
Foreign visitors and younger Vietnamese pilgrim this expanse which is only one of the highlights Ha Giang province has to offer. Other scenic spots include the molehills of Quan Ba, the Heaven’s Gate, and Lung Cu Northernmost Pole, all doable in just 2 days.
/// Written by Jonai Republica, Vietnam