Ma Pi Leng pass – the way to the Heaven’s Gate

The Ma Pi Leng Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 1.500 m (4,921 ft) above the sea level, and approximately 200 kilometers at length situated between Dong Van and Meo Vac, two towns in the far North of Vietnam, close to the border with China. It’s said to be the most astonishing mountain road in all of Vietnam.
The incomparable pass belongs to Ha Giang province. It’s located along the asphalted but bumpy National Road No. 4C, nicknamed as Hanh Phuc (The Happiness Road). The climb is very challenging and dangerous. It’s the most difficult pass to build but also the most fascinating and beautiful pass to enjoy in Vietnam. The road was built in the 60s of the 20th century by a lot of workers who worked very hard for 11 years to build this road.

Ma Pi Leng pass
It is known as the King of the Vietnamese mountain passes.There are sheer drops virtually along the entire route and enough hairpins to make a whirling dervish dizzy. The road along the mountainside has romantic, stunning scenery that is ideal destination for riding motorbike. A quick glance at the map at its sheer drops and serpentine twists and turns, confirms that this is no hype.The 20km long climb inspired many people to travel to witness its breathtaking beauty.
The road to the summit, regarded as “Vietnam’s Great Wall”, feels like a scene from a fairytale. This is an exquisite winding mountain drive with sharp and blind curves and hairpin switchbacks leading the traveler over the mountains. At the top of the pass there’s a stone stele recording the marks in the construction process.
Ma Pi Leng Pass belongs to Ha Giang province; it is dangerous road with 20 kilometers length. Over the Ma Pi Leng, there has a mountain with 2.000 meters height located on the ‘Happiness’ road connecting Ha Giang, Dong Van and Meo Vac town. Ma Pi Leng began building from the 60s of the 20th century by workers who almost are the H’mong. In the beginning, to accomplish their tasks, construction workers had to carry explosives and move along the sides of the mountain by securing themselves to ropes.

Ha Giang MaPiLeng1

The earliest passes were wide enough only for horses pulling carriages and people to walk through. It wasn’t until much later that the authorities allowed the widening of these passes. Just a few years ago, the paths at Ma Pi Leng were extremely bumpy and riddled with stones. They were also not wide enough for two cars traveling in opposite directions. Nowhere else in Vietnam is there a place as mighty and wild as Ma Pi Leng. Looking toward the north and northeast thousands of gray, rocky mountains form layers along the horizon. Right beside the road are deep valleys, at the bottom of which lies the Nho Que River, where cool water flows peacefully. On the mountain pass in Meo Vac, trees are scattered; along with stones, which have been lonely through years and centuries. Mong aborigines are in favor of living in mountain tops, or at least along the sides of the mountains. They absolutely refuse to move to the plain. Neighbors take a half of day to walk from this mountain to other to visit each other.

Nho Que River

Scenery in Ma Pi Leng pass is unique with majestic and wild beauty. Looking to the north and northeast, thousands of gray mountains concatenate to the horizon. Net to the road is abyss, below is the Nho Que River which weaves its way like a silver ribbon through limestone ravines with cool water. Some say that Observations is the best teacher proving that reading is nothing if there’s no real experience. If you want to enjoy your holiday completely, grab your bag and Vietnam in general and Ha Giang in particular are waiting for you. See Ha Giang Destinations to know more about what to see.