This famous Vietnam Northwest 8 days motorcycle tour takes us deep into the Tonkinese Alps, where we will see no less than 14 different ethnic hill tribes, as well as ascending the highest road in Vietnam (and nine others!). The route takes us through deep rice terraced valleys, past the Dien Bien Phu battleground and finally to the Sa Pa hill station with its trekking options and friendly Dao and H’mong peoples. Use your bargaining skills at weekly hill tribe markets, enjoy the hospitality of the Black Thai people and test your skills on a demanding but forgiving 1,000-kilometre plus road.
– Ride length: 1,200 km
– Difficulty: Moderate
Booking code of this tour: NW804
The video below has some portions of this Vietnam Northwest 8 days motorcycle tour. In case you want to watch more videos of our Vietnam motorbike tours please check our YouTube channel.
Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau. ~170 km, ~6 h.
Today is the first day of this Vietnam Northwest 8 days motorcycle 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 – Phu Yen. ~150 km, ~6 h.
We ride from Mai Chau to Moc Chau on Highway 6, then turn to the Da River. After crossing the reservoir of Da river at Van Yen ferry, we ride on a secondary road until Phu Yen where we stay in a guest-house. In general, this ride is on the forgotten old Highway 6 is quite scenic and there is almost no tourist in this area.
Day 3: Phu Yen – Son La. ~140 km, ~5 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 or home stay.
Day 4: Son La – Muong Lay. ~200 km, ~10 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 Vietnam Northwest 8 days motorcycle tour even the road is in poor condition. Sleep in a hotel.
Day 5: 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 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 drive at the 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 – Trekking.
In fact, Sapa and Bac Ha are now quite touristy. However, we can trek to Ta Van village where is dominated by Giay people. We pass Lao Chai village on the way and lunch could be in Lao Chai, Ta Van, or wherever we want. The children will go together with you along the way. We stay O/N in a stilt house of Giay.
Day 8: Sapa – Lao Cai, ~40 km, ~1.5 h.
Depending on the group’s mood, we can either take it easy in Sa Pa town, or make excursions back to the top of the highest pass in Vietnam, or down deep into the amazing Sapa valley. All options are dominated by the crest of the enormous Fansipan mountain range that looms over 2,000 metres above us. The entire region is populated by H’mong, Giay, Tay and Dao people.
In the afternoon we head back down to Lao Cai, where we catch the overnight train back to Hanoi. Train leaves around 9pm. However, we must be at the station two hours before to guarantee a firm bike loading. In fact, there is limited space for motorbikes on this night train from Hanoi to Lao Cai. Arrive in Hanoi at 6 am the next morning.
Offroad Vietnam organizes only all-inclusive full package tours. The only exception is at the request of the travellers when they want to upgrade their accommodation for something more luxurious.
– Honda motorbikes, all fuel;
– Tour guide / Translator;
– Sleeping bags, mosquito nets, sheets, pillows and accommodations;
– Third party motorbike insurance;
– All food;
– All entrance fees, permits, tickets, boat trips, ferries, bamboo rafts, etc.
– Offroad Vietnam assistance throughout your trip;
– We also love to celebrate our guests’ birthday etc. well any excuse for a celebration on the open road.
* Personal expense (such as souvenirs), personal insurance, drinks, train or flight tickets, food and accommodation in Hanoi and tips are not included in our fee.
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