This amazing 10-day Northwest Vietnam motorbike tour takes you to explore one of the most mysterious areas of Vietnam with the rich culture of ethnic groups, traditions, and customs. In general, the landscape is magic and local people are very friendly.
For people who have very limited time or don’t want to negotiate with traffic between Hanoi and Sapa, we designed two short riding versions in 4 days and 5 days. Please note these tours cost more per day due to extra train tickets.
Below is a video clip that has some portions of this Northwest Vietnam by motorbike trip. In case you want to watch more videos please check our YouTube channel.
NORTHWEST VIETNAM DETAILED ITINERARY
Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau. ~170 km, ~4-5 hrs.
We start around 9.30am and leave Hanoi from the West end. We start late to avoid crazy traffic in the inner city.
Prepare your bikes and begin our adventure on the “iron buffalo”. We first ride on the beginning part of Ho Chi Minh Highway. Then turn to a small, zigzag road round mountain feet. Pass through villages of Muong minority villages near Kim Boi Hot Spring for a drink or swimming before lunch in Muong Khen – a Muong village in Hoa Binh province.
In the afternoon, we climb up mountain passes with beautiful scenery of rice fields and valleys before descending into Mai Chau, a village of White Thai minority. You do short hiking around the village, through rice-fields to discover local people’s lives.
Dine with a Thai family where we spend the night with. Finally, we join the traditional dancing group of the village, hand-in-hand and drink ruou can.
Day 2: Mai Chau – Phu Yen. ~150 km, ~4 hrs.
A real challenging ride, after an hour on the new Highway no. 6 we make our own way on to the torturous and bumpy road to explore the H’mong hill tribe’s colourful customs and majestic mountainous scenery. Visit our H’mong friends’ families, walk in the village and then continue on the dirt road to Moc Chau.
These beautiful grasslands of Moc Chau have the best of both words and breath-taking scenery. In fact, it is favoured by nature and covered with clouds all year round. It seems to offer an ideal climate condition in Northwest Vietnam. In general, Moc Chau’s flora is diverse, ranging from forest and tea plantations to fruit hills.
Moreover, we can walk to the local dairy farms and try products from the local processing factories. Dairy produce is Moc Chau’s specialty being exported to many other countries.
We drop down to the Da River and take a boat to pass the river. Then we ride along the river to visit Phu Yen valley. In fact, Phu Yen is one of the most prosperous and beautiful villages of Thai people in Northwest Vietnam.
Day 3: Phu Yen – Son La. ~130 km, ~3-4 hrs.
A short distance but we ride on the road 37 up to Bac Yen mount which is on a small & wild road. Enjoying the beautiful scenery of mountain views and terraced rice fields growing on the mountainside.
Then cross Black River on to the Son La plateau to the largest “maize” and “manioc” forest.
After lunch in Son La, we have time to visit the former French Prison and provincial museum. Finally, ride to the hot spring to wash out the dust.
Day 4: Son La – Dien Bien Phu. ~170 km, ~4-5 hrs.
We have more challenging mountain passes, such as Son La, Chieng Pac, and Pha Din. Along the road, we make many stops to visit ethnic villages of Thai, Khang, Kho Mu, and H’Mong.
At the moment the Pha Din Passes – the longest mountain pass in the Northwest of Vietnam is under construction. Thus the guide will lead you through the mountain feet and valleys on a small and rocky road.
After the lunch in Tuan Giao, we follow the road 279 onward to Dien Bien Phu. Here is the site of the decisive battle in Vietnam’s struggle for independence in 1954.
Day 5: Dien Bien Phu – Lai Chau (Tam Duong). ~210 km, ~5-6 hrs.
Continue our riding up North direction through mountain passes and forest on the road 12. During the rainy season, there may have some difficult parts with landslides and mud. Therefore, it makes the journey an adventure before arriving into Muong Lay town (Lai Chau before) for lunch.
In the afternoon, we ride along the Nam Na river on a good road and have many chances to visit local hill-tribe villages.
Day 6: Lai Chau – Sapa. ~100 km, ~3-4 hrs
In the morning, ride for the ~50 km to the village of Lu ethnic minority whose origin comes from Lao. We’ll have a chance to see beautiful stilt-houses and local cultures, where the women who blacken the teeth and have a seductive smile. Then we have to cross the Nam Mu River back to National Highway 4D to travel to Sapa.
We will enjoy a picnic lunch at the top of Tram Ton Pass, the most beautiful one in Sapa. In the afternoon we are free to explore Sapa, which is usually engulfed by clouds. After enjoying an Artichaux cup of tea, a special drink from Sapa, we walk to discover this charming town and meet the host people who are the soul of this area.
Day 7: Sapa – Bac Ha – Xin Man. ~140 km, ~4 hrs.
In the morning, we ride down to Lao Cai town with a visit to Lao Cai border gate with China. Then roll along the route 70 to Bac Ngam for a nice break, taking pictures of the beautiful scenery of mountain and river view. We head up the mountain pass to Bac Ha for our lunch and short hiking to some H’Mong villages there.
In the afternoon we continue the small trail to Xin Man in the rocky, muddy and slippery for a taste of motorbiking in Vietnam.
Day 8: Xin Man – Luc Yen. ~120 km, ~6 hrs.
One special day begins by heading South direction on the bumpy, dirty, and muddy road. Luckily, we climb up to the top hill on a good condition road, enjoy your riding down the hill with beautiful scenery of rice paddies on the mountainsides toward Xin Man which seems to be impossible in the rain. While riding, you can stop at many villages to chat and talk with local people and discover their culture.
After about 3 hours of riding, we reach a good road, but still small and wild. That would be great for rolling a bike through rice fields, limestone mountain karsts of Luc Yen.
Day 9: Luc Yen – Vu Linh. ~80 km, ~2-3 hrs.
In the morning, we ride southeast direction, along the side of Thac Ba lake with beautiful villages, limestone karsts mountain, 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 paddling a small single boat by our feet with local people to discover the life of local Dao and Cao Lan minority people, etc.
Day 10: Vu Linh – Hanoi. ~165 km, ~ 4-5 hrs. End of Northwest Vietnam ride.
Easy return to Hanoi on the Chay River Bank passing through many peaceful villages of Tay and Viet people. Then stop in Son Tay for lunch.
Arrive in Hanoi around 4pm, before rush hours.