Wake up early for a second day on wheels. If the hairpin bends on your approach to Yen Minh had you quaking in your boots, take a deep breath and remember that as long as you take it slow and steady, lorries barreling around blind bends really aren’t as scary as they seem. Twist and turn your way north with a quick stopover at the beautiful Vuong Family Mansion – a colonial-era palace built by the French to appease the powerful H’mong king – and the hectic local market in its vicinity.
From here, you have two choices; make the 25km trip to Lung Cu, Vietnam’s most northerly settlement on the border with Yunnan, or head directly to charming Dong Van. It’s a tough choice, but ultimately a leisurely late lunch at Dong Van's Quang Dun Restaurant (19 Pho Co) followed by an alfresco coconut-spiked bac xiu coffee in the town square is the clear winner. Treat yourself to a little luxury and lay your head Hoang Ngoc Hotel (47 Ba Thang Hai Street) with private rooms starting from $135. Should you succumb to the allure of Vietnam's ‘north pole’, you'll be rewarded with bragging rights and excellent Instagram-friendly selfies with China looming in the background.
The crowning glory of the Ha Giang loop constitutes the 22km stretch of road from Dong Van to sleepy hill town Meo Vac. Ma Pi Leng pass (pictured), considered to be northern Vietnam’s most spectacular vista, offers a winding cliff-hugging road with magnificent vertigo-inducing views of the emerald green valley below. Pause mid-way at the strategically located rest stop with a tranquil mountainside garden that offers stunning panoramic views of the pass. Meander on to Meo Vac and recharge your batteries at Mr Hung Guesthouse (43 Hanh Phuc) with a traditional home-cooked meal and amateur cocktails from Mr Hung’s impressive spirit collection.