How to get a Ha Giang Permit
Hotels and tourist services will do this for you but they will charge. Why pay when it is easy?
You need to go to Ha Giang Immigration office, which HAS MOVED. It is now:
296 Tran Phu St, Ha Giang
Tel: 0868.405.972 ; 02193.875.210
The OLD OFFICE is a 415a Tran Phu. A lot of information on the net will tell you this. Both offices are quite close to each other so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
Official opening times are 8am to 8pm and closed for lunch between 1pm to 1.30pm.
NOTE: In our experience, working hours are more like 8am – 11 am and 2pm – 4pm. You can try going outside of these hours if you really need to but don’t expect much.
Step 1. Go to the office. The officers on duty will assume you are there to get a permit and will ask to see your original passport.
If you haven’t got your passport then offer them a photocopy of your passport information page AND your current visa as well as any legitimate proof showing why you don’t have your original passport (motorbike rental contract, visa extension in Hanoi…) and SMILE and be FRIENDLY.
If you are driving a motorbike you should have your bike registration plate number. Simply show them on a piece of paper.
Step 2. Pay 230,000vnd which is about 10usd. You will get a receipt.
Step 3. Walk away with your permit. That’s it; it is that simple. The officers will fill out the permit for you and hand it over. It takes 5 mins and the whole process takes about 15 minutes in all.
Is it really necessary?
Yes, and, No. You may not be asked for this in your whole time north of Ha Giang. On the other hand, you may be refused from some hotels or hostels without it, even though you have an original passport!! (more likely in Dong Van or Meo Vac where there are more police and tourists in general.)
Important Note: ALL guesthouses in Vietnam are required by law to register ALL guests, each and every day, to the local police. Whether they, actually, do this, or not, is a different matter. To do so, they need an official form of photo ID to register guests. This is usually your passport and in Ha Giang it can be your permit.
Police in Ha Giang
If you are stopped by the police, and this is happening more and more nowadays, they will ask to see your documents. One necessary document to have is a permit. If you do not have this, they have 4 options or a combination of them: to turn a blind eye, to fine you, to escort you back to Ha Giang, or to confiscate your bike. They could confiscate your bike, fine you AND escort you back to Ha Giang. However, that would be extreme, (worst case scenario) and you would wonder what you had done to deserve all of that??
Get at least one for your group. Most people do not have any trouble at all whilst north of Ha Giang City. Therefore, there is a myth that a permit is not necessary. A permit is easy to get and not too expensive. To avoid the ‘worst case scenario’ it could well be worth your money and time getting one.