FULL VIETNAM NORTH-WEST MOTORBIKE TOUR TO HA GIANG AND CAO BANG
updated: September 27, 2017
This 13-day Vietnam Motorbike Tour known as the fullest and nicest Vietnam Northern Motorcycle tour starting from Hanoi to Mai Chau, Phu Yen in Son La, Than Uyen in Lai Chau, Sapa, Bac Ha, Ha Giang, Dong Van, Meo Vac, Bao Lac, Ba Be , Na Khan brings you a really special chance to experience the stunning beauties of Northern Vietnam with its many beautiful mountain passes, friendly people, and breathtaking landscapes and not unless can-not-be-ignored destinations in Ha Giang Province.
Day 12: Boat ride on Ba Be lake and Motorcycle Tours to Na Khan (Bac Kan) – Swimming on the lake
Day 13: Na Khan Motorcycle Tours to Hanoi
Day 1: Vietnam Motorbike Tour to Ha Giang, Cao Bang via Sapa: Hanoi Motorcycle Tours to Mai Chau (Hoa Binh) – Motorbiking Tours to local villages
Start our motorbike tour by leaving Hanoi on dyke roads to avoid the heavy traffic around 9 am, we ride our motorbikes west to Mai Chau, an area of beautiful landscape and home to the Thai ethnic minority. We will motorcycle on Highway 6 passing extensive farming lands comprising a sea of paddy fields split by tree-lined roads punctuated by limestone karst scenery.
After a light lunch in Hoa Binh Province, we cross Thung Khe, one of the most beautiful mountain passes in North Vietnam then descent to the mountain valley settlement of Mai Chau. After dinner we join performance, where you can dance and share a range of special liquors (rice wine) with the locals. Overnight in a house-on-stilts of the Thai people.
Summary: Distance: 160 km Meals: Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Home-stay
Day 2: Vietnam Motorbike Tour to Ha Giang, Cao Bang via Sapa: Mai Chau Motorcycle Tours to Phu Yen (Son La) – Offroad Motorcycle Tours to Tribal Villages
Mai Chau is one of the closest places to Hanoi where you can experience a ‘real’ Montagnard village. In the morning we take a short walk around village to discover local life. Life in the side starts early so by sunrise there is a wealth of activity. The Thai women are masterful weavers who ensure that there is plenty of traditional-style clothing to buy in the village centre. You will see women weaving on looms under or inside their houses in the village We can buy some handmade traditional-style clothing, knife or cross-bow.
After breakfast in home-stay, we say goodbye to villagers and leave Mai Chau around 10 am. We ride from Mai Chau to the direction of Moc Chau, where we have lunch. This highland town produces some of Vietnam’s best tea and is a good place to stock up. The surrounding area is also home to several ethnic minorities, including Green H’mong, Dzao, Thai and Muong. Moc Chau boasts a pioneering dairy industry that started in the late 1970s with Australian (and, later, UN) assistance. The dairy provides Hanoi with such delectable iuxur us as fresh milk, sweetened condensed milk and little tooth-rotting bars called “Banh sua”.
After lunch, we turn to the less travelled Road 43 leading to the Da River, crossing the reservoir of Da river at Van Yen ferry, then ride on a beautiful winding secondary road until Phu Yen where we stay in a basic guest-house.
Summary: Distance: 140 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Guest-house
Day 3: Vietnam Motorbike Tour to Ha Giang, Cao Bang via Sapa: Phu Yen Motorcycle Tours to Son La City – Offroad Motorbiking Tours to Hilltribe’s Villages
Continuing our motorbike tour on the almost empty Road 37 we enter mountains heavily populated with Black Thai people, who work on large terraced rice fields. The winding road passes through many Thai villages and fields and provides a great opportunity to watch country life passing by. We continue through rolling hills before rising up to the sugar cane growing areas on the cooler Son La plateau.
Late lunch in Son La City, the capital of Son La Province, before we visit The Old French Prison & Museum. It was once the site of a French penal colony where anticolonial revolutionaries were incarcerated. It was destroyed by the infamous “off-loading” of unused ammunition by US warplanes that were returning to their bases after bombing raids, but it has been partially restored.
Rebuilt turrets and watch towers stand guard over the remains of cells, inner walls and a famous lone surviving peach tree. The tree, which blooms with traditional “Tet flowers”, was planted in the compound by To Hieu, a former inmate from the 1940s. To Hieu has subsequently been immortalised. with various landmarks now named after him. Overnight in Son La City.
Summary: Distance: 160 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Hotel
Day 4: Vietnam Motorbike Tour to Ha Giang, Cao Bang via Sapa: Son La Motorcycle Tours to Than Uyen (Lai Chau) – Offroad Motorbike Tours to Tribal Villages
Heading out northwest from Son La, the road crosses a series of mountain passes and areas of busy Black Thai activity. Children walk to school, kids tend buffaloes, women plant rice seedlings and men pull the buffalo. Then we come to the beginning of the very long and steep Pha Din pass where at the top we have vast views of the surrounding mountains, then down the other side on very steep sealed road. Lunch in Tuan Giao.
Turn to the almost empty winding Road 279 leading to Pa Uon bridge. The first span of the Pa Uon bridge spanning the Da river got connected on Highway 279 in Chieng On commune, Quynh Nhai district, Son La province. The bridge invested by the Ministry of Transport lies within the food-avoiding highways and provincial roads project after the Son La Hydro-electric Power project had been deployed, contributing to forming the nearest road between Son La and Lai Chau provinces.
The construction of the bridge started on May 28, 2007. It opened to traffic on April 30 and put into use in July 2010. Continuing on the empty winding road until we get Than Uyen Town, Lai Chau Province. Overnight in Than Uyen.
Summary: Distance: 180 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Hotel
Day 5: Vietnam Motorbike Tour to Ha Giang, Cao Bang via Sapa: Than Uyen Motorcycle Tours to Sapa (Lao Cai) – Sapa Motorbiking Tours to Villages
We motorcycle straight toward the main Fansipan Mountain range. There is also the option for a very challenging back route which takes us through several river crossings. The massive mountain range dominates the road until finally we must make a splendid climb up from Binh Lu and up to the top of the highest road pass in Vietnam (Tram Ton Pass).
Crossing into Lao Cai Province at over 2,000m the views looks out over the main range for miles and miles, before we descend to the mountainous Sa Pa valley. Sa Pa is located in Lao Cai Province, north-west Vietnam, and 350 km north-west of Hanoi, close to the border with China. Sapa is famous both for its fine, rugged scenery and for its rich cultural diversity. French used to consider Sapa as Summer Capital of Northern Vietnam in the early decades of the 20th century. Its naturally gifted beauty keeps attracting more and more people to spend their vacation there since then. Particularly, the place is the foremost choice for honeymoon couples! Overnight in Hotel.
Summary: Distance: 110 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Hotel
Day 6: Vietnam Motorbike Tour to Ha Giang, Cao Bang via Sapa: Sapa Motorcycle Tours to Remote Villages – Homestay Tours with the Hilltribes
Depending on the group’s mood, we can either take it easy in Sa Pa town, or make excursions back to the top of the highest pass in Vietnam, or down deep into the amazing Sapa valley to do home-stay in peacefull village. All options are dominated by the crest of the enormous Fansipan mountain range that looms over 2,000 metres above us. The entire region is populated by Hmong, Giay, Tay and Red Dao people. Stay in Sapa or home-stay in village.
Summary: Distance: 40 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Hotel or Home-stay
Day 7: Vietnam Motorbike Tour to Ha Giang, Cao Bang via Sapa: Sapa Motorcycle Tours to Bac Ha (Lao Cai) – Offroad Motorbike Tours to Tribal Villages
Motorcycle down from Sapa to Lao Cai City and then have a coffee-stop on the bank of Nam Thi river, which is Vietnam – China border. Enjoy your coffee while taking the view to China.
Head to Road 70 before turn to Bac Ha on Road 153. Long touted as the weekend alternative to Sapa, this small highland town doesn’t have the same dramatic location of its more il-lustrious neighbour, but it is calmer when Saturday comes. It fills up to choking point on Sunday morning, when visitors flood in to meet the Flower H’mong at the Sapa Motorbike Tour to Bac Ha Market – morning market. Compared with Sapa, tourism is still in its infancy here and during the week the town has a deserted feel. Bac Ha is a good base to explore the surrounding highlands. Around 900m above sea level, it is noticeably warmer than Sapa.
One of Bac Ha’s main industries is she manufacture of alcoholic home brews (rice wine, cassava wine and corn liquor). The corn hooch produced by the Flower H’mong is so potent it can ignite! Bac Ha is the only place in Vietnam where you’ll find this particular moonshine; there’s an entire area devoted to it at the Sunday market. Overnight in Bac Ha.
Summary: Distance: 120 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Home-stay
Day 8: Vietnam Motorbike Tour to Ha Giang, Cao Bang via Sapa: Bac Ha Motorcycle Tours to Ha Giang City
After breakfast, we take a motor ride on the track to Xin Man and Hoang Su Phi on many small; back roads with scenic mountain views. Xin Man is right on the border between Vietnam and China. It is, as of this writing, well hidden and completely surrounded by wild mountains and forests.
There’s a single road from Xin Man to Hoang Su Phi. Hoang Su Phi is among the most untouched area of Ha Giang Province of Vietnam. The area was separated from the mainstream society until very recently. Passing Hoang Su Phi, we will be charmed by the pristine beauty of the wild mountains and the authentic culture of the local ethnic groups which include: the Nung, the Flower H’mong, the Tay and the Ha Nhi People…After lunch, join the main road heading up to Ha Giang City, where we stop for the night and apply for a permit.
Summary: Distance: 200 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Hotel
Day 9: Vietnam Motorbike Tour to Ha Giang, Cao Bang via Sapa: Ha Giang Motorcycle Tours to Dong Van (Ha Giang) – Offroad Motorbike Tours to Tribal Villages
After getting the permit for motorbike tour in border areas at Ha Giang’s Immigration Police, we ride on small challenging mountain roads (but incredibly beautiful) on the land of colorful mountain hill-tribes. Motorcycle up the Ma Pi Leng Pass. Here is yet another amazing place, with cloudy mountain ranges and the poetic Nho Que river winding off in the distance.
It is really difficult to find the exact words to describe Ma Pi Leng Pass, located between Dong Van and Meo Vac, near the northernmost tip of Vietnam, as a painting of astonishing beauty and magnificence that captures the eyes of all viewers and nature lovers. Ride on a zig-zag track until reaching Vuong Family’s Residence, 14 kms before Dong Van.
Vuong Family was considered the King of the Hmong People in Dong Van, Ha Giang. Their residence was built in the scenic valley of Sa Phin with Chinese architecture. The whole house was built out of wood and rock only. The rocks for the buildings were imported from China. Vuong Family Residence is a masterpiece of man work in the valley of heavenly beauty of Sa Phin.
This is a remote area and we can meet the hard-working local people here. It is inspiring to see how they survive as they manage live in the rocks.When we reach Dong Van Town we will have some extra time to wonder the ancient streets lined with H’mong homes of clay bricks and tiles roofs built centuries ago.
Summary: Distance: 160 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Hotel
Day 10: Vietnam Motorbike Tour to Ha Giang, Cao Bang via Sapa: Dong Van Motorcycle Tours to Bao Lac (Cao Bang) – Offroad Motorbike Tours to Tribal Villages
The road is still under construction and tracks what make the ride relatively long in spite of few kilometres. The landscape is among the most beautiful of Vietnam, and the slow tempo is only more appreciable. We motorcycle across the wild regions of the mythical province of Ha Giang, Meo Vac is included. It shares the border with Dong Van District of Ha Giang Province and Bao Lam District of Cao Bang Province. Meo Vac has most of the terrain in the Rock Plateau of Dong Van and above 1000m above sea level.
Meo Vac has a harsh climate in the winter which is from November to April with dry and freezing cold weather. It is inhabited by different ethnic minorities including the H’mong, the King, Tay, Dzao…Most ethnic groups have maintained their culture untouched from the outside world.
In the afternoon, we stop for the night at Bao Lac, the ethnic crossroad of Northeast Vietnam. Many other ethnic groups on the two sides of the border meet at the market every Sunday.
Summary: Distance: 80 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Hotel
Day 11: Vietnam Motorbike Tour to Ha Giang, Cao Bang via Sapa: Bao Lac Motorcycle Tours to Ba Be National Park (Bac Kan)
Beautiful motor ride down to Bac Kan Province. Few passes from where you can dominate the area. The road is easy but there are many blind curves before we turn to Ba Be lake (inside Ba Be National Park). Ba Be National Park is an abundant bioreserve area containing the world’s only fresh-water karst lake and several rare species of fauna and flora. Ba Be lake in VietnamThe biodiverse 10,048ha park – home to 1,268 species of flora and fauna, a series of caves and a gigantic fresh water lake – was established in 1992 by the Vietnamese Government to preserve forest ecosystems in the northeast.
Ba Be is home to over 3,000 people from the ethnic minorities of Tay, Nung, Dao and Mong, who live in 13 villages within the park. The Tay people have inhabited Ba Be area for centuries and make up 58 per cent of the population within the park’s boundaries.
Motorcycle into Bac Ngoi village, which is located inside Ba Be National Park. Our home-stay in Tay’s family is right by the side of Ba Be lake with wonderful and peaceful view.
Summary: Distance: 140 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Home-stay
Day 12: Vietnam Motorbike Tour to Ha Giang, Cao Bang via Sapa: Boat ride on Ba Be lake and Motorcycle Tours to Na Khan (Bac Kan) – Swimming on the lake
Half-day boat-ride on the lake to the other side, where we can explore Dau Dang waterfall on Nang river. As one of the 27 ASEAN heritage gardens, Ba Be has the potential to attract nature lovers with its 450ha natural fresh water lake, and 553 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.
According to a survey from the Viet Nam Institute of Geo-sciences and Mineral Resources, over 11,000 years ago, an earthquake caused a collapse of the subterranean Nang River, creating a natural dam which led to the formation of Ba Be Lake. Lunch in a village near by Dau Dang waterfall before back to home-stay. Get on our bikes and take a half-day ride on countryside to Na Khan. This Nung’s village is in middle of nowhere. We have last experience on the trip to share the meals and house with locals.
Summary: Distance: 80 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Home-stay
Day 13 : Vietnam Motorbike Tour to Ha Giang, Cao Bang via Sapa: Na Khan Motorcycle Tours to Hanoi
Easy motor ride in the morning, passing peaceful villages and rice fields before reaching very busy road in the afternoon. Traffic is getting worst and worst on Road 3, the way back to Hanoi, so we should be back before rush hour. Finish our trip around 4 pm.
FULL VIETNAM NORTH-WEST MOTORBIKE TOUR TO HA GIANG AND CAO BANG Rating: 9.8 out of 10 based on 368 reviews.
* ACCOMMODATION: – We endeavour to select a combination of good quality hotels that reflect the character of the local area as well as being as centrally located as possible, all the while striving to keep the cost affordable.
– Your trip will stay in a range of hotels / guesthouses with standardized quality.
– Please be aware that some hotel rooms, especially those in major urban centres or older cities, may be smaller than what you are used to in other parts of the world. Standards and ratings may also be different to your home country.
– Rooms are en-suite and either twin- or triple-share, depending on what you have booked. If you are a solo traveller, you will always be sharing a room with someone of the same sex otherwise you can pay a supplement to possess a single room
– If you are traveling as a couple and would prefer to have a double bed, please officially request a double room with us. We never presume that two people traveling together are a couple, even if you share the same surname, unless informed otherwise.
* MEALS: – Your included meals are detailed in the ‘More Inclusions’ section of this document.
– Breakfasts are included every day in the hotel (except on the first morning). They are usually ‘continental breakfasts’, which are typical in most countries. A typical breakfast may consist of cereals with milk or yoghurt, bread, croissants, cold meats, cheese and a range of spreads, with fruit juice, tea or coffee to drink. It is rare to get a hot breakfast in Asia, though on some occasions there may be some hot food available as well. Included evening meals are in local restaurants or accommodation places, and are either two or three courses. In most cases table water is provided with the meals, and if you wish to purchase additional drinks you can do so at your own expense.
– If you have any dietary requirements we will make every effort to cater to your specific needs as long as you advise your travel agent when you book, or make note by email before you set out. But please be aware that although we will do everything in our power to arrange it, we cannot guarantee that every restaurant we use will be able to cater to all dietary needs, particularly in Asia. We also cannot cater for tastes or dislikes, as most of our included evening meals feature a set menu.
* Ten Tips to Survive Vietnam’s Traffic: + DON’T spend hours waiting to cross the street on foot: that constant tide of traffic won’t stop until late at night, so
+ DO as the Vietnamese do: take the plunge and inch slowly across. Observe the Miracle of the Red Sea, as the traffic parts like magic, flowing smoothly in front of you or behind, meeting up again on the other side.
+ DON’T make any sudden or unpredictable movements: freeze if you have to, but never lunge forward or backward towards the safety of the sidewalk. In fact, you can do just about anything, but do it with conviction!
+ DON’T forget, if you’re riding or driving, to look where you’re going – all the time: if you hit anything in front of you, then it’s your fault.
+ DO give way to any vehicle bigger and noisier than yours. Trucks and buses are particularly dangerous: often old, sometimes unsafe and usually all over the road.
+ DO watch out for unfamiliar obstacles: water buffaloes, rocks of various sizes, broken-down trucks…, people sitting in the road, missing bridges, girls in ao dai cycling five abreast, slow-moving mountains of farm produce, dog fights, impromptu football matches, piles of building materials – and almost no light on anything at night..
+ DON’T hesitate to take evasive action – even if this sometimes means leaving the tarmac or coming to a dead stop.
+ DO try to avoid getting involved in one of the all-too-frequent minor accidents that plague Vietnam’s roads (and the major ones as well, of course), but if you are unlucky,
+ DON’T lose your cool, in spite of the interference of the large and vocal crowd that may gather: try to settle things amicably and swiftly. Sometimes, paying a reasonable amount of money will save you a lot of hassle.
+ DO remember that the only rule is: you’re not allowed to bump into anybody… irrespective of what they did or should have done, or of what the road signs or traffic lights were telling them to do. Some people still seem to think that anything red means forward, comrade
* Tipping for guides & mechanic: Our crews never expect tips themselves and will not ask for any; that’s not what friends do! However, so if you are really satisfied with all of what they did for you, please don’t mind tipping them a bit with a normal norm of US$ 7 – US$ 10/person for a guide per day and US$ 3 – US$ 5/person for a mechanic per day. (just don’t forget Mum’s souvenir).
+ Motorbike(s) (Honda or Yamaha)
+ Driving gears
+ Gasoline on tour
+ English or French speaking guide
+ Mechanic (only for group from 6 passengers)
+ Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary (based on twin or/and triple shared)