13 days / 12 nights – Grand North Loop 13 days motorbike tour.
Booking code of Grand North Loop 13 Days Motorbike Tour:BN1302
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Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau. ~170 km, ~5 h.
Today is the first day of this Grand North Loop 13 days motorbike tour. Before starting to ride, we will have a short briefing to let you know about the rules. In addition, the guide will show you how to understand him by his body language. We start around 9.30am after the rush hour.
We leave Hanoi around 9am following the Red river road to Son Tay and then another Black river road to Hoa Binh. This is longer than taking the Highway 6 but saves you hours in crowded traffic.
The valley of Mai Chau lies between two rivers: the Da River and the Ma River. Therefore, Mai Chau is very fertile and rich in varied landscapes, medium mountains, forest, lake, rivers, and infinitude of small footpaths and offer many possibilities of a trek. In the valley of Mai Chau and its surroundings are Muong, White Thai, H’mong (in the height), and the Dao who we meet at the markets or in their villages during trekking, boating, or while driving.
Day 2: Mai Chau – Son La. ~185 km, ~9 h.
On good road looking high over distant mountains, we head up into a forested region populated by H’mong people before descending into a mountainous tea-growing region. Soon after we follow a long valley floor covered in a sea of rice surrounded by Black Thai villages all the way to Son La with its bargain-filled market. Sleep in a hotel.
Day 3: Son La – Muong Lay. ~200 km, ~10 h.
There are 15 passes in total. In general, you ride on very nice roads with a stunning landscape. Probably the most beautiful journey of the whole trip even the road is in poor condition. Sleep in Lan Anh Hotel.
Day 4: Muong Lay – Lai Chau. ~120 km, ~6 h.
In general, this is the most demanding and remote section of the drive which takes us upstream along the left side of a Black River tributary through the forest on a bumpy dirt road past isolated pockets of Tay, Thai, H’mong, and Man peoples before breaching a pass to enter the Tam Duong plain, which is covered in shark’s teeth-like limestone karts. We would visit a Mang village near Sin Ho, the guide will buy some food to give to the head of the village, and he later distributes our donations to the villagers. We stay in a hotel.
Day 5: Lai Chau – Sapa. ~90 km, ~4 h.
Tam Duong market in the morning. There are colourful Montagnard groups living in Tam Duong: Black H’mong and Dzao. Then around 10 am a beautiful ride at the slow pace on the bumpy road to Sapa. We will have a big breakfast because there is nothing to eat on the way, just ourselves with the wildness. We stay O/N in Cat Cat Hotel.
Day 6: Sapa – Bac Ha. ~90 km, ~4 h.
The ride from Sapa to Bac Ha takes ~4 hours, down from Sapa to Lao Cai (34 km) and then up to Bac Ha (70 km) with a stunning landscape. We check in a hotel before having lunch. In the afternoon, we trek to Lung Phinh village of Flower H’mong people. Stay overnight in Bac Ha.
Day 7: Bac Ha – Luc Yen – Vu Linh. ~180 km, ~5 h.
We start the day by strolling around Bac Ha to meet with many ethnic villages in this area. We then move towards the lake Thac Ba. From Bac Ha to Luc Yen, the road is easy and sealed all the way. After Luc Yen, we take a small dirt track bordered by palm trees, in the middle of the karsts for 70 km. Finally, we arrive at Vu Linh, a traditional village of Dao where we sleep in the family of our friends. The welcome is exceptional.
Day 8: Vu Linh – Na Khan. ~165 km, ~6 h.
You ride from Vu Linh to Na Khan through Tuyen Quang. In general, the road is sealed almost all the way. However, the last part (10 kilometres) is wild and bumpy. Na Khan is a Tay village, lost in the middle of the primitive forest. Mr. Lo, chief of the village will welcome us to his house.
Day 9: Na Khan –Ba Be. ~50 km, ~2 h.
A short drive from Na Khan to Ba Be on a bumpy road. Then have lunch at our captain’s house. Easy boating on the lake and river. Go to the market (if it is the day you arrive). Stop at a waterfall, beautiful swim, etc. Ong pirate, the chief of Dau Dang waterfall where we enjoy dinner. Down the waterfall, we could visit the village and a small school (only a few pupils during the summer). We propose to stay in the stilt house of forest guards.
Day 10:Ba Be – Quang Hoa. ~170 km, ~8 h.
Cross Ba Be lake to come back to our captain’s house. Then a beautiful ride up to Cao Bang province. There are a few passes from where you can dominate the area. The road is easy but there are many curves. While riding we can stop a lot. Altogether, with stops for drinks and food, it should be an 8-hour journey. Then ride 1 more hour to reach the beautiful village of Quang Hoa, in the middle of a mountain cirque. This is the territory of Nung An people. Spend the night at our friend’s house.
Day 11: Quang Hoa –Mau Son. ~200 km, ~7 h.
Honestly, today is the best riding day of this Grand North Loop 13 days motorbike tour.
We slowly leave the region of the karsts to find the forest. Then descending by famous colonial road N. 4 until the frontier city of Lang Son. We then climb Mau Son mount (1.541 m) to spend the night at its top from where we dominate all the areas to which China is near.
Stay in a hotel in a former French atmosphere, which is recently restored.
Recently, we received some complaints about room service and prostitution in Mau Son. In case you want better hotel rooms, we could stop in Lang Son city.
Day 12:Mau Son – Bai Chay. ~180 km, ~7 h.
We have a long ride mainly on a secondary road, passing many coal mines along the road. The road goes down towards the plains. In fact, some sections are in bad condition.
Arrive in Bai Chay (now Halong city). Check-in a hotel in Tuan Chau.
Day 13: Bai Chay – Halong – Hanoi. ~180 km, ~4 h. End of Grand North Loop 13 Days Motorbike Tour.
A boat is waiting to take us to discover the Halong Bay. We first visit Thien Cung cave, then a fishing village through myriads of limestone. Later, have lunch on the boat before coming back to Bai Chay and ride back to Hanoi.
We try to arrive in Hanoi before 5pm to avoid rush hours. Otherwise, you should be good with city traffic from the experience you got over the last days.
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