Through NorthWest Vietnam in 10 days / 9 nights.
Booking code of this tour: NW1004
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Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau. ~170 km, ~6 h.
Today is the first day of this through NorthWest Vietnam in 10 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 hours.
Once out of the Red River Delta, which brims with traditional farming activity, we pass through limestone monoliths and into foothills populated by Muong people. We head straight at the main range before breaching a high and beautiful forested pass, which descends into the hidden valley of Mai Chau where we spend the night with friends in a traditional Thai stilt house.
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.
Day 2: Mai Chau – Son La. ~200 km, ~8 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, ~8 h.
There are 15 passes in total. In general, you ride on very nice roads with stunning landscape. Probably the most beautiful journey of the whole trip even the road is in poor condition. Sleep in a hotel.
Day 4: Muong Lay (Boating).
After breakfast, we take the boat from Muong Lay to Nam Ma village (40 km from Lai Chau ~2h) with a stopover at Pa Po waterfall (20 km from Muong Lay ~1h). Such a beautiful waterfall! Arrive in Nam Ma, walk to Hoi Ca village (White Thai people), and then have lunch in our captain’s house. In reality, this region is totally ignored by mass tourism and the welcome is exceptional. After lunch, boating upstream back to Muong Lay in 3 hours.
Day 5: Muong Lay – Lai Chau. ~150 km, ~7 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 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 6: Lai Chau – Sapa. ~100 km, ~5 h.
Tam Duong market in the morning. There are colourful Montagnard groups living in Tam Duong: Black H’mong and Dzao. ~10am: a beautiful ride at a slow pace on 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 7: Sapa – Bac Ha. ~120 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 stunning landscape. We check in a hotel before having lunch. In the afternoon, we trek to Lung Phinh village of Flower H’mong people. Finally, stay overnight in Bac Ha with a family or in a hotel as you wish.
Day 8: Bac Ha – Coc Ly – Bac Ha. ~80 km, ~2 h.
In the morning, we could visit the village of Ban Pho to meet the association of the H’mong women who do some beautiful craft there.
Then we propose to go down from the plateau of Bac Ha to join a small road, which skirts the Chay river from where we go up towards China, to the village of Coc Ly. It is the occasion to meet the various ethnic villages: H’mong, Phu La, and Tay. In fact, it’s best to be in Coc Ly on Tuesday because there is a great traditional market.
Day 9: Bac Ha – Luc Yen – Vu Linh. ~180 km, ~6 h.
We start from Bac Ha and then ride down to Luc Yen. Ride on to Vu Linh in about 2 hours around the lake on a small road lined with palm trees and scenic mountain views. It will be dark already. However, the welcome is exceptional at Dao village of Vu Linh.
Day 10: Vu Linh – Hanoi. ~200 km, ~7 h.
Come back to Hanoi by Song Thao and then Son Tay. In general, it’s a very nice road.
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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