Explore the North Vietnam with mystic ethnic cultures & nice landscapes from the West to the East. Enjoy the colorful markets and local lives of Thais, Tay, Muong, H’mong, Dzao…
Day 01 : Hanoi – Mauchau. ~ 150 km
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 reaching 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 that makes it very fertile and rich in varied landscapes, medium mountains, forest, lake, rivers, and infinitude of small footpaths and offer many possibilities of 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 during trekking, boating or while driving.
Day 02: Mai Chau - Phu Yen. ~150 km
We go from Mai Chau to Moc Chau plateau where many fruit gardens and tea hills are lying along the road that gives the area a wonderful view! and then we ride down to the Black River where we take later the ferry to do to Phu Yen. This valley is populated by Thais and Muong Groups where the people keep always their original culture. 2 kilometers after the town – centre, we cross a bamboo bridge to arrive at our friend house where we pass overnight with a Thai family: simple life and warm welcome…will be a very nice experience for you!
Day 03: Phu Yen – Tuan Giao. ~ 210 km
The journey north continues onto Son La, following the 113 Highway. Along the way, there are superb landscapes with green valley and terraced rice fields. Passing the Bac Yen Mountain top, through Chen Pass to the largest "maize" and "manioc" forest, we arrive at Son La plateau.
After lunch in Son La town, we will visit the former French Prison and provincial museum. We have more mountain passes to challenge us, such as Son La, Chieng Pac, and Pha Din. You will enjoy the beautiful landscape on your way from Son La to Lai Chau town. The afternoon will provide free time to climb over the top of the Pha Din Pass - known as the interface between Heaven and Earth. Pha Din forms a natural border between Son La and Dien Bien Phu, the site of the decisive battle in Vietnam’s struggle for independence in 1954. Then we take time to travel to Tuan Giao to view the sunset.
Day 04: Tuan Giao – Sinho. ~ 150 km
Today we continue venturing in to northern Vietnam with the 98ksm remainder of the historical Highway 6. The road is rough, but the scenery is unbelievably beautiful and magnificent with the 7 tall passes cutting though steep mountain along the Da River flowing around the foot of the passes, which can be found nowhere else in the Northwest route. Moreover, part of the pleasure of travelling by motorbike in this region is the simple joy of the friendly smiles and greetings of the local people, which make the hardship all worthwhile. Along the way, we stop to visit the Black Thai, Kho Mu, Lu, Black H'mong, Green H'mong and White H'mong, just some of the many hill tribe groups and discover their simple lifestyles and colorful cultures.
Day 05: Sinho – Tam Duong. ~ 110 km
Due to the environment and a height of 1,700m, getting there is very hard journey, so the people living here mostly retain their long-lasting lifestyle. The unchanged way of life from ancient days is hard to maintain in the modern world, however it should be said that there is no way for urbanization to occur in these areas. Moreover, only a handful of tourist agencies can visit this remote area. The reason Sin Ho is regarded as the richest mountain market in the northwest province, is because anybody who is courageous enough to visit the area is rewarded with the fortune of visiting. This does nothing that limits the bright motley colors of traditional clothes of various ethics such as the Green H'mong, the Black H'mong, the White H'mong, the Dzao Dau Bang, and the Lu.
Sin Ho market lasts till late in the afternoon but due to a long hard road down the mountain, we need to prepare lunch and equipment for the trip. When arriving at the foot of the mountain we will ride along Nam Na River to Pa So. After climbing Hong Thu Man pass, home of the Dzao Khau and the H'mong people, we will reach Tam Duong, a small town surrounding by brilliant tea fields and a tapestry of green mountain ranges.
Day 06: Tam Duong – Sapa. ~ 70 Km
This morning finds us on the road for the 50km ride to the village of Lu ethnic minority whose origin comes from Lao. We’ll have a chance to see beautiful stilt houses and girls who blacken the teeth and have a seductive smile. After that we have to cross the Muong Kim River back to National Highway 4D to ride to Sapa.
Sapa was founded in the early years of the last century as a hill resort for the French administration at the time. It soon became famous in Indochina for its ideal climate. Nowadays, Sapa’s breathtaking scenery is some of the best in Asia.
Day 07: Sapa - Xin Man. 150 Km
The good side it is that we progress very slowly and benefit fully from the imposing site between China and Vietnam. Mysterious meetings of the end of the world and envision, like a volatile perfume. Reward: A superb hotel of nowhere awaits us in Xin Man.
Day 08: Xin Man- Luc Yen. 200 km
Long stage but on easy road. The landscapes are very varied, always skirting the border to finish in triumph in the valley of the palm trees of Luc Yen, at the Dao and Tay. If the invaluable stones interest you, the ruby rate/rhythm the life of the borough as of 5h of the morning at the market of the stones.
Day 09: Luc Yen – Thac Ba. 80 km
We follow along the side of Thac Ba lake with beautiful villages, limestone mountains, rice and palm fields.
Arrive in Vu Linh, a village of White Trouser Dao locates on the side of Thac Ba Lake. Leave the bikes in our host family - where we will stay for a night - and then we experience of paddling a small single boat by our feet with local people to discover the life of local Dao and Cao Lan minority people…
Day 10: Thac Ba – Babe. 220 km
Quite a long drive but easy from Vu Linh to Ba Be. We go throughout many small villages to reach Babe – the most beautiful natural lake in the north of Vietnam where you will appreciate the warmly welcome of ours host from ethnic Tay in their stilt - house.
Day 11: Babe lake and it’s around.
A full day to discover the beauty of Babe Lake and the culture of local people. Stay with our friends.
Day 12: Babe Lake – Quang Uyen. ~ 180 km
Beautiful ride up to Cao Bang province. Few passes from where you can dominate the area. The road is easy but many curves. We can stop a lot. All together, stop for drinks and food it should be an 8-hour journey. Then ride 1 more hour to reach the beautiful village of Quang Hoa, in the middle of a mountain cirque. This is the territory of Nung An people. Spend the night in our friend’s house.
Day 13: Quang Uyen – Ban Gioc – Quang Uyen. 100 km
Today we will take the opportunity to explore the spectacular scenery and wonderful world of local ethnic minority people. Along the way we will visit Ban Gioc waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Vietnam, which form a natural border between Vietnam and China. The echo of the falls can be heard kilometers away. In rainy season, the waterfall makes the scenery even more magnificent. While here we will take a bamboo raft trip and have a picnic lunch. We also have a chance to visit China on the other river bank. Before the sun sets, we ride back to Quang Uyen and visit Phjia Chang village, settled by Nung An ethnic people 300 years ago.
Alternatively, in the afternoon we will return to Quang Uyen town to visit some villages of Tay and Nung An people where they make incense and local rough paper from mulberry trees to burn when praying to their ancestors.
Day 14: Quang Uyen – Lang Son. 150 km
The most impressive landscape of Cao Bang is the riding from Quang Uyen to Dong Khe. The scenery of the road is unequalled with the steep limestone mountain and a green rows of sugar-cane fields. After seeing this scenic site, we continue our journey following the historical National Highway No 4 with the famous battles, such as Dong Khe, That Khe, Coc Xa or Lung Phay Pass….
The journey north continues along the National Highway 4 and follow the Ky Cung river which flows around the foot of limestone mountains to Lang Son where we pass overnight.
Day 15: Lang Son – Hanoi. 150 km
We will visit some war relics at the centre of Lang Son town or International Friendship border gate to buy a variety of Chinese goods. The return trip begins on National Highway No 1 with a possible visit to Chi Lang vestige surrounded by steep mountains.