VIET NAM NEWS
Original link on Viet Nam News website: http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/Travel/199306/Off-road-tours-offer-rocky-path-.html. In fact, Viet Nam News is a leading news agency in Vietnam in English.
The northern mountainous region is one of the country’s most beloved destinations for local and international travellers, but if you want a real adventure, you should visit the area on an off-road motorbike tour.
The offroadvietnam travel company, the only of its kind in the north of Viet Nam, has been operating since last year, offering its services to experienced riders from mainly Australia, England, the US and Canada.
Over 500 bikers have taken in 130 rocky road voyages in the mountainous provinces of Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Cao Bang, Bac Can, Tuyen Quang and Lang Son – covering some of the most challenging roads in the country.
“Northern mountainous provinces are well-known destinations on the travel map of Viet Nam, which can be accessed by bus or train in just a few hours. But we want to provide another angle on landscapes in the rocky region by using off-road vehicles with more stop-offs,” said offroadvietnam manager, Anh Wu.
“We are the only travel agency in the north supplying advanced motorbike tours,” the 37-year-old manager says.
“We don’t experience many problems on our tours, flat tyres are probably the main one. We prefer Hondas because they are the most commonly used and travellers can find garages everywhere or repair the bikes themselves,” said tour guide Hoang Ngoc Minh.
“The company has 60 motorbikes from 100-250cc, but Baja XR 250 and GL150 are the favourite choice for off-road tours. Of course, we have conducted detailed surveys to offer the best and safest vehicles and accommodation.”
Minh, who has 10 years experience in two-wheel travel, says tourists prefer home-stays, which help them learn more about the lives of ethnic groups such as Mong, Tay, Dao, and Nung in the typical northwestern provinces.
After a 220km, seven-hour ride from Ha Noi, travellers arrive in Vu Linh Village, Yen Binh District where they spend their first night with the Dao people.
The village, which has welcomed 400 foreign tourists since the start of this year, offers breathtaking views from a footpath that snakes around a 200sq.km lake.
“I’m sure that you are invited to drink at any house. Hosts in the rustic village warmly welcome all guests,” said the guide.
“Travellers love to stay in stilted houses with palm roofs and fresh air of the lake. Visitors find a quiet country life where they are offered traditional Dao food including grilled fish, beef, chicken and the most favourite – tofu.”
Touring Ha Giang
Ha Giang is best seen by motorcycle, featuring roads that zigzag up and down hills 1,000m above sea level but the company has more than 150 itineraries to offer riders in Viet Nam.
As Minh suggests, the 10-day and 9-night route from Ha Noi that winds through the gemstone of Luc Yen District, Yen Bai and Ha Giang provinces before crossing the forest road into Hoang Su Phi District and on to Bac Ha town in Lao Cai Province.
“It’s the most interesting journey in the north because you have many stops with ethnic groups along the way. The route requires different vehicles such as motorbikes, boats, and rafts,” Minh says.
“You will cover the most beautiful sites in the northwestern area including the rocky plateau of Dong Van District in Ha Giang.”
Motorcyclists will ride 150km on the second day along roads dotted with green palm trees, from Luc Yen to Ha Giang.
A night stay in Ha Giang town will refresh weary riders before they wind from the town of Quan Ba to Cong Troi (Heaven’s Gate).
The next three days are the most tiring as adventurers ride for 270km from Quan Ba, through Yen Minh, Meo Vac valley, and Dong Van town and back to Quan Ba again, due to a lack of connecting roads.
There are plans for the karst landscape of over 2,350sq.km ranging across the districts of Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Meo Vac and Dong Van expected to be recognised as a UNESCO Geopark soon.
The seventh and eighth days see trippers back to Ha Giang and through the forests of Hoang Su Phi and Xin Man districts to Bac Ha, which is home to 50,000 Mong people.
Bac Ha is also well known as the land of Tam Hoa plums harvested every April, with thang co (horse meat soup) and maize wine.
Day nine and ten – the last days of the tour – are easier as riders take the main road for the final 360km journey from Bac Ha back to Ha Noi.
To offer even more flexibility and extensions to your tour, offroadvietnam connects tours with Sinhbalo Adventures who offer biking and cycling trips, Motorbike Thailand for touring on modern road bikes, Dancing Roads for motocross adventures and James Barbush in Laos.
Offroadvietnam travel manager Anh Wu reminds trippers who want to experience this adventure that they should be proficient riders and reserve at least US$300-500 to pay for the tour.
“We will provide trans-Viet Nam or other specified options on motorbikes such as the Ho Chi Minh Trail and mountainous area. You can discover anywhere you want in Viet Nam,” said Anh Wu.