Challenging Grand North Loop in 14 days / 13 nights.
Booking code of this tour: BN1402
The video below has some portions of this Challenging Grand North Loop in 14 days. In case you want to watch more videos of our Vietnam motorbike tours please check our YouTube channel.
Day 1: Hanoi – Yen Binh. ~170 km, ~6 h.
Today is the first day of this Challenging Grand North Loop in 14 days. 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 hours.
Ride to the west direction by the small road towards Son Tay to the Da River which we cross a ferry to penetrate in the valley of artisans, thus named because it is here that one bleeds the trees with lacquer to extract the invaluable substance from it. We will have the honour to meet the two uncles / artisans, last heirs in date to this prestigious artisan tradition of which the ancestor was the first to discover their secrecies in Vietnam. There are many generations.
We have lunch with the uncles and visit their field. We then carry on our road, cross the Red River and go to Yen Binh, at the edge of the Thac Ba lake.
Day 2: Yen Binh – Bac Ha. ~150 km, ~4 h.
Day 3: Bac Ha.
Located at the heart of a mountainous circus, near the Chinese border, the ethnic groups on both sides of the border meet every Saturday morning at the market of Can Cau. It is one moment very moving which takes us out of time.
The afternoon, we visit artisan workshops Ban Pho held by the association of the H’mong women.
Day 4: Bac Ha – Luc Yen – Vu Linh. ~180 km, ~6 h.
We start the day by strolling around Bac Ha to meet with many ethnic villages in this area. We then move towards Thac Ba lake. From Bac Ha to Luc Yen, the road is easy.
After Luc Yen, we take a small dirt track bordered by palm trees, in the middle of the karsts until Vu Linh (70km). Finally, we arrive at a traditional village of Dao where we sleep in the family of our friends. Honestly, the welcome is exceptional.
Day 5: Vu Linh – Bac Can. ~200 km, ~9 h.
Day 6: Bac Can – Ba Be. ~50 km, ~2 h.
Arrived at the boat captain’s house, where we will have dinner and spend the first night in his stilt-house.
Our captain brings us through one of the last bastions of primary jungle of Vietnam, crossing the lake, and then descending the Gam river until Dau Dang fall. Memorable meal at Ong pirate, the cook of the jungle. Then there are choices, digestion with the fall or promenade with the meeting of the surrounding villages.
We will spend the night in our captain Mister Dang (Zi Dang for the close friends) or with the forest guards’ stilt-house close to Ong Pirate.
Day 7: Ba Be – Quang Hoa. ~170 km, ~6 h.
Beautiful drive up to Cao Bang province. There are few passes from where you can dominate the area. The road is easy, however there are many sharp turns. While riding, we can stop a lot. All together, with stop for drinks and food it should be an 8-hour journey. Then drive 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 in our friend’s house.
Day 8: Quang Hoa – Ban Gioc – Quang Hoa. ~100 km, ~3 h.
After obtaining permission from the border police, we make our way through spectacular scenery to Vietnam’s most impressive waterfalls. Weather permitting we can swim right up to where the 50 m high falls hit the river.
Day 9: Quang Hoa – Na Tau – Quang Hoa. ~50 km, ~1 h 30 min.
After many long days, we have one of the easiest days on this Challenging Grand North Loop in 14 days to recover.
Na Tau is a completely unknown area that we propose to discover it by raft and motorbike. In general, rivers and waterfalls everywhere are extremely beautiful and wild. It is only 15 km from Quang Hoa. On the return, we invite you for the aperitif at the village of Phuc Sen, artisan village Nung An, the owner is the brother of our host.
Day 10: Quang Hoa – Mau Son. ~190 km, ~7 h.
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 area 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 11: Mau Son – Bai Chay. ~200 km, ~8 h.
We have a long ride mainly on secondary road, passing many coal mines along the road. The road goes down towards the plains. In fact, some sections are still in poor conditions and today is one of the most demanding days on this Challenging Grand North Loop in 14 days.
Arrive in Bai Chay. Check in.
Day 12: Bai Chay – Halong. ~170 km, ~4 h.
Arrived at Bai Chay wharf, a private boat is waiting for us to cruise through myriads of limestone in Halong Bay. Depending on mood, we could visit caves, in particular Thien Cung cave, meet people at the floating village of the anglers or make stopover in a wild creek etc.
At the end of the day, the boat drops anchor in a creek not far from “Ba Trai Dao” island. Dinner and sleep on boat.
Day 13: Halong – Cat Ba. Boating.
Cruise to Cat Ba. In reality, Cat Ba is the far end of Halong Bay. Cat Ba still live from the resource that the sea offers. Generally speaking, the tourism is developed and of high quality. The Cat Ba Bay is a condensed of Halong Bay, its labyrinth of limestone so dense that it is difficult to imagine we are on the sea.
We created this itinerary – the floating village Van Gia. They are our personal friends and the relation with them is intimate, even knowing that some companies now also pass through there.
Finally yet importantly, Monkey Island (Cat Dua Islet) was totally ignored by mass tourism when we propose to stop there. It has got nothing special beside the fact that there is nobody except monkeys and one family who takes care of their security.
Arrive Cat Ba and check in hotel. Take a sampan to the floating restaurant for dinner.
Day 14: Cat Ba – Bai Chay – Hanoi. ~170 km, ~4 h.
After breakfast, we take another 4-hour boat cruise to see the East part of Halong Bay (Bai Tu Long) which was beautifully framed in the French film Indochina starred by Catherine Deneuve.
Lunch at Hai Ninh restaurant before driving 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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