11 days, 10 nights – through North West 11 days motorbike tour.
Booking code of this tour: NW1101
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Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau. ~170 km, ~6 h.
Today is the first day of this through North West 11 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 reality, you ride on a very nice road 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: Lai Chau – Boating on the Black river. ~6 h.
After breakfast, we take the boat from Lai Chau to Nam Ma village (40 km from Lai Chau ~2h) with a stopover at Pa Po waterfall (20 km from Lai Chau ~1h). Beautiful waterfall! Arrive in Nam Ma, walk to Hoi Ca village (White Thai people), then have lunch in our captain’s house. This region is totally ignored by mass tourism and the welcome is exceptional. After lunch, boating upstream back to Lai Chau 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: Tam Duong – Sapa – Trekking. ~100 km, ~5 h.
In fact, this is 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. A cook and a porter are ready to join us for the 3-day trek to different villages. We go to Thanh Phu village by jeep (30 km, ~2 hours). From Thanh Phu, we walk for 4 hours, with a 2-hour stop for lunch in between, then to Xin Chai village where we meet Dzao people.
Day 7: Sapa – Trekking. ~20 km.
Change the valley from Xin Chai to Nam Khen village (Xa Pho people) in 7 hours walking with picnic lunch. We provide mattress (small), sheets, blankets and mosquito nets to sleep in a family house in Nam Khen.
Day 8: Sapa – Trekking. ~10 km.
From Nam Khen, we walk to Ban Ho in 4 hours. Then have lunch in Ban Ho. Swimming on the clear river if the weather is nice. Finally, return to Sapa by jeep and check in Cat Cat Hotel.
Day 9: Sapa – Coc Ly – Bac Ha. ~120 km, ~4 h.
Ride down to Pac Ngam to meet the boat that is waiting to take us to Coc Ly for the beautiful market (best on Tuesday) where you will meet H’mong, Dzao, and Phu La people. In fact, Coc Ly is wild, surrounded by forest, and could only be reached by boat or bike. We would leave the bike behind to enjoy the comfort of boating on Chay River for over 1 hour (20 km). Lunch in Coc Ly before coming back to Pac Ngam and ride up to Bac Ha.
Day 10: 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 11: 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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