NORTHWEST VIETNAM OFFROAD MOTORBIKE TOUR TO SAPA WITH NIGHT TRAIN BACK
updated: October 3, 2017
By Minh Hoang
This 7-day North-West Vietnam Motorbike tour to Sapa will be started from Hanoi then keep riding on off-beaten tracks over Mai Chau, Phu Yen, Son La, Muong Lay, Lai Chau, Sapa, Lao Cai, where are known as the most typical exciting places for adventure motorbiking trips.
Day 7: Sapa Motorbike Tours to Lao Cai – Night Train back to Hanoi
Day 1: Northwest Vietnam Offroad Motorbike Tour to Sapa via Son La, Lai Chau : Hanoi Dirty Motorcycle Tours to Mai Chau (Hoa Binh) – Motorbiking Tours to Tribal Villages
In the morning we start our motorbike tour by leaving Hanoi on dyke roads to avoid the heavy traffic around 9 am , we ride our motorcycles west to Mai Chau, an area of beautiful landscape and home to the Thai ethnic minority. We will ride 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: Northwest Vietnam Offroad Motorbike Tour to Sapa via Son La, Lai Chau : Mai Chau Dirty Motorcycle Tours to Phu Yen (Son La) – Offroad Motorbike Tours to some 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 countryside 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 mountain town (a district of Son La Province in the Northwestern region of Vietnam), where we stay in a basic guest-house.
Summary: Distance: 140 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Guest-house
Day 3: Northwest Vietnam Offroad Motorbike Tour to Sapa via Son La, Lai Chau: Phu Yen Dirty Motorcycle Tours to Son La City – Offroad Motorbike Tours to Remote Tribal 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: Northwest Vietnam Offroad Motorbike Tour to Sapa via Son La, Lai Chau: Son La Dirty Motorcycle Tours to Muong Lay (Dien Bien) – Offroad Motorbiking Tours to nearby 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.
Heading out northwest from Tuan Giao the road passes isolated communities of Hmong and Thai people, whose small villages settle on the banks of dark green rivers and on the steep slopes of the mountains. Afterwards, by a forest stream the road begins to climb up the high Xa Tong pass. At the top for sunset before dropping sharply into the deep Lai Chau valley. Muong Lay old town was sunk in early 2010 and our new place for overnighting is new town, which is located on higher level.
Summary: Distance: 220 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Hotel
Day 5: Northwest Vietnam Offroad Motorbike Tour to Sapa via Son La, Lai Chau: Muong Lay Dirty Motorcycle Tours to Lai Chau Town – Offroad Motorbike Tours to Tribal Villages
After breakfast we will start our easy day along stunning gorges and passing Sin Ho town – the “second Sapa” of the northwest. Flying far from the well-known and colorful markets of Sapa, Bac Ha and Can Cau, is the bewitching northwest mountainous area of Vietnam with the remote town and market of Sin Ho, the roof of Lai Chau province. Sin Ho town is located on the highest peak of the Sin Ho plateau in Lai Chau province, over 2,000m above sea level, and surrounded by verdant mountain ranges and clouds.
On the way we will have interesting stops to visit H’mong and Dzao villages before motorbiking down to Lai Chau, where we spend night at the hotel.
Summary: Distance: 130 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Hotel
Day 6: Northwest Vietnam Offroad Motorbike Tour to Sapa via Son La, Lai Chau: Lai Chau Dirty Motorcycle Tours to Sapa (Lao Cai) – Sapa Motorbike Tours to Villages
We motorcycle head 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. Overnight in Sapa.
Summary: Distance: 80 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Hotel
Day + Night 7: Northwest Vietnam Offroad Motorbike Tour to Sapa via Son La, Lai Chau: Sapa Dirty Motorbike Tours to Lao Cai – Night Train back to Hanoi
Free time in Sapa, spending time to visit the town, shop handicrafts for souvenir or chat with locals, whose speak very good English, will tell you lovely stories about their traditions. And the afternoon, we ride down to Train station in Lao Cai city, catch the night train back to Hanoi.
Arriving Hanoi by next early morning.
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NORTHWEST VIETNAM OFFROAD MOTORBIKE TOUR TO SAPA WITH NIGHT TRAIN BACK Rating: 9.8 out of 10 based on 373 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)