8 days, 7 nights – Northwest 8 days motorbiking of Vietnam.
Booking code of this tour: NW802
Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau. ~170 km, ~6 h.
Today is the first day of this Northwest 8 days motorbiking of Vietnam. 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: 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 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. ~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: beautiful drive 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 6: 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 7: 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 8: 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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