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12 Days West to East Cycling Holiday in Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

Mountain Biking Tour in Northern Vietnam

This unique cycling tour in North Vietnam takes place against a backdrop of endless lush green paddy fields and irregular tree-covered limestone mountains. Providing a fleeting insight into the traditional lives, friendly tribes, and exotic landscapes of north-west and north-east Vietnam, this cycling adventure also delivers surprisingly good riding across the mountainous area of in North Vietnam. There are technical sections, easy hills, huge flowing descents, and some glorious single tracks.

Key information

  • Trip type: Guided
  • Lodging: Point to point
  • Terrain: Rural trails, mountainous, exposed terrain with steep ascents/descents, and uneven trails
  • Starts in: Hanoi
  • Ends in: Hanoi
  • Difficulty level: Moderate (Cyclist needs to have a good level of fitness, terrain is mostly hilly or unpaved but they will ride on flat terrain sometime,31-45 miles per day)
  • Total Distance: 273 miles / 440 kilometers
  • Type of bike: Mountain bike
  • 20 - 40 participants

Highlights

  • 8 days of cycling
  • Tour of Hanoi City
  • One way train ticket from Hanoi to Lao Cai
  • Boat trip on Chay River, Nang River, and Ba Be Lake
  • Stunning routes from Sapa via astonishing Ha Giang to Ba Be Lake
  • Daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • 11 nights accommodation
  • Support vehicle

Skill level

  • Intermediate

Styles


8 cycling days in English
The organizer also speaks: Vietnamese
The maximum participants in the group is 40
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
08:00
Check-out Time:
17:00

During this cycling tour, you will be accommodated in hotels and homestays. In big towns, you will be accommodated in the finest three-star with central location. Please contact Active Travel Asia if you prefer higher hotel category. In remote areas, you will be accommodated in the best hotels or guest houses available.

Homestay in villages is basic in term of bedding condition and amenities. You will sleep on bed or floor with mattress, clean sheet, pillows, and mosquito nets. Toilet is usually western style. Cabin on night train from Hanoi to Lao Cai (Sapa) has four soft berth sharing cabin with air conditioning, lockable door, and comfortable beds. If you want more privacy, you can request to take charter cabin booking.

Program

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi

Arrive at Noi Bai International Airport (HAN). Meet your guide at the airport and transfer to your hotel in downtown Hanoi. The remainder of the day is free at leisure to explore Hanoi yourself. In the evening, you will have a welcome dinner at a local restaurant with Vietnamese delicacies. Overnight in Hanoi.

  • Transfer: 45 minutes.
  • Meals: Welcome dinner with Vietnamese cuisine in a local restaurant
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi

Day 2: Hanoi City Tour

After breakfast, you will begin the city tour of Hanoi. At first, you will visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the “Uncle Ho” house. After that, you will head to the unique One Stilt Pagoda, which dates from one thousand years ago. Continue to the Hanoi’s famous Temple of Literature, the first university of Vietnam founded in 1070.

The highlight of this cultural, historical site is the garden of steal where you find 82 stone steal bearing names, places of birth and achievements of men who received doctorates in each triennial examination from 1442; each steal sits on a stone tortoise. Lunch in local restaurant before heading to the Old Quarter for a relaxing cyclo tour through the ancient part of Hanoi.

After the cyclo tour, you will drive to the Museum of Ethnology, which is quite away from the central Hanoi. It features a fascinating collection of art and everyday objects gathered from Vietnam and its diverse tribal people. On this trip, you will meet some tribal groups - now it is time to learn about them.

  • Meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi

Day 3: Driving to Lao Cai and Bike to Ban Ho Village

After breakfast at your hotel, the driver will pick you up and drive to Lao Cai on the freeway. This will take about three hours on the car before you start biking on the small road to Thanh Phu Bridge and Ban Ho.

With 30 kilometers from the LC-NB high way, you will spend time biking on the most beautiful road in Vietnam. They call this road 279 because of the Vietnam and China border war. On this section of 279 roads, you will pass some small hydropower, and we have a really good view.

Come to Thanh Phu bridge, you will turn up to Ban Ho village for overnight stay. Ban Ho village is a small village of Tay people, a new in homestay service. You will have dinner and overnight in the homestay.

  • Biking distance: 40 kilometers
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Local guide: Yes
  • Accommodation: Homestay Ban Ho

Day 4; Ba Ho - Sapa

Breakfast is served in the homestay with the coffee before you start the long day on the bike up to Sapa. This day is the hardest day because you will gain 1000 meters from 500 meters over sea lever to Sapa at 1500 meters over sea level.

During this day,you will enjoy the stunning view of Muong Hoa Valley to visit Ta Van Village of Dzay people. This is one of the most beautiful valleys of the area. Pedaling on a dirt trail which sneaks through rice paddy terraces and villages, you will arrive at Lao Chai Village of Black H’mong people and stop by a local house as well as enjoy excellent views over huge rice paddy terraces and lunch on the site of the river. Then continue uphill to Sapa for overnight.

  • Biking: 30 kilometers
  • Activity: Free swimming in the river and visit villages on foot
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Local guide: Yes
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Sapa

Day 5: Sapa - Binh Lu

After breakfast, you have time to relax until 9 a.m. The support vehicle will take you and the bikes uphill to the Silver Waterfall, where you will start the wonderful day pedaling up to Heaven Gate (Tram Ton Pass), the highest stretch of road in Vietnam.

At first, you will bike hard (three kilometers climbing) over the stunning Tram Ton Pass to experience the great views of the Hoang Lien Valley before a free-wheeling 26 kilometers downhill to visit the Black Hmong village of Chu Va, where you can enjoy a swim in the river and walk around in the village and explore the local way of living before lunch.

In the afternoon, you will continue descent to Binh Lu Junction to visit the local market. From Binh Lu, you will continue cycling for one hour to a remote village inhabited by the Coin Dzao Minority. Back to Sapa in the evening and have dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight stay in Sapa.

  • Biking: 46 kilometers of which descend 20 kilometers, ascend 10 kilometers
  • Activity: Free swimming in the river and visit villages on foot
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Local guide: Yes
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Sapa

Day 6: Phong Hai - Coc Ly - Bac Ha

Early rising for breakfast and load your bikes on support vehicle for one-hour transfer to the village of Phong Hai. The ridding begins on a good hardback track along the side of a quiet road. Climbing gently then descending steeply to the small village of Coc Ly.

Take a boat trip on Chay River, a beautiful river with stunning mountain gorge. The boat trip is followed by a ride on riverbank single-track and an alpine road climb to the quiet town of Bac Ha. Picnic lunch on the way. Dinner and overnight in Bac Ha.

  • Boat trip: 1.5 hours
  • Biking: 41 kilometers of which descend 14 kilometers and ascend 15 kilometers
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Bac Ha

Day 7: Bac Ha - Lung Phin - Xin Man - Hoang Su Phi

After breakfast in the hotel, you will drive 10 kilometers west to Lung Phin where you will start climbing toward Xin Man. Today, you will bike across one of the most remote parts of northern Vietnam. At first, you will tackle a steady climb for one hour and then hitting the tarmac for a fast descent into the quiet town of Xin Man. Lunch in Xin Man before starting the afternoon ride.

The riding in the afternoon takes us down to a bridge over the upstream of Chay River and for the next 40 kilometers, you will cycle along a quiet road that gently climbs and follows the river to the town of Hoang Su Phi. You will stay overnight in the only hotel in town.

  • Transfer: 9 kilometers from Bac Ha to Lung Phin
  • Biking distance: 88 kilometers of which descend 16 kilometers and ascend 14 kilometers
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Hoang Su Phi

Day 8: Hoang Su Phi - Ha Giang

This is one of the most challenging biking days of the trip. Leaving Hoang Su Phi early morning, there are six kilometers downhill before turning off onto a remote track leading through mountains. On this part, the support vehicle will not be able to follow you and continue on the main mountain road to Viet Lam, where you will meet up later this day. However, you will still have the emergency backup for water, lunch, and first-aid, as we ride through the mountains.

The ride highlight today is a long descent punctuated with waterfall and switchbacks, which flows seamlessly into some sinuous riverside single track making for fantastic riding. Eventually, we emerge onto the rough tarmac and climb before finally dropping down again to the hot springs of Viet Lam, where you will can ease our aching muscles. Refreshed, we transfer the final 20 miles along Highway 2 to the busy district capital of Ha Giang. Dinner in local restaurant and overnight in the hotel.

  • Transfer: 45 kilometers from Viet Lam to Ha Giang
  • Biking: 58 kilometers of which descend 19 kilometers and ascend 14 kilometers
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Ha Giang

Day 9: Ha Giang - Bac Me

Today, the ride is mostly road based. At first, you will tackle 12 kilometers gentle climbs and then it is an undulating, idyllic route through friendly villages and paddy fields, surrounded by jagged limestone hills. Light lunch en route and you will reach the small town of Bac Me early afternoon. The rest of the day, you can explore this litter town and its surroundings or relax with a cold beer in local bars. Dinner and overnight in Bac Me.

  • Biking: 55 kilometers of which descend 20 kilometers and ascend 12 kilometers
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Bac Me

Day 10: Bac Me - Dau Dang - Boat trip to Ba Be National Park

Just outside Bac Me, you will cross the Gam River and leave the main road to follow a small track cross-country off-road all the way to Ba Be. The support vehicle will not be able to follow us on this route and travel along way to meet us in Ba Be National Park. Depending on the condition of the track, you will have an emergency jeep or motorbike for water, food, and first-aid. The ride involves three climbs, crossing a succession of river valleys, but is ride-able all the way.

At the village of Dan Dong, you will be transferred into traditional longboats for a relaxing 1.5 hour ride along the beautiful Nang River and cross the lake into the stunning Ba Be National Park. The park is centered on the country’s largest natural lake which is surrounded by limestone cliffs, waterfalls, caves and abundant of wildlife. We will have dinner and spend our night in a traditional house of Tay minority.

  • Boat trip: 1.5 hours
  • Biking: 82 kilometers of which descend 18 kilometers and ascend 22 kilometers
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Accommodation: Homestay in Tay minority
  • Support vehicle: Van or motorbike(s)

Day 11: Ba Be - Cho Ra - Hanoi

Today, you will have a relaxing and peaceful day. After breakfast, you will say goodbye to the hosts and take a short walk through the village. You will board a long boat for a fantastic boat trip on the stunning Ba Be Lake. After one and a half hours, the interesting boat trip reaches Cho Ra Town for lunch. Drive five hours back to Hanoi with a lunch stop on the way. Overnight in Hanoi.

  • Boat trip: 1.5 hours
  • Transfer: 190 kilometers from Cho Ra to Hanoi
  • Meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi

Day 12: Hanoi departure

  • Your guide and driver are at your disposal until your transfer to the airport for your flight home or connect to other adventures with Active Travel Asia.
  • Transfer: 45 minutes from hotel to the airport
  • Meals: Breakfast

Mountain bike

On this tour, you will use Trek Xcaliber 7 assembled in USA with 27-speed (3 levels, 9 speed each), manufactured in 2014-2015, different sizes. Biking helmets of good quality are also provided.

Your biking tour guide

The tour will be led by one of Active Travel Asia's tour guides who are experienced in guided cycling tours in Vietnam. He has been carefully selected and trained in this field and is fully licensed in tour guiding by the government. In addition, he has been trained in first-aid by SOS International and he knows how to deal with difficult situations. You will have a great time traveling with him.

The biking days

A typical biking day starts at about 8:30 a.m. after breakfast. Lunch times can vary depending on the distance. You'll aim to reach the next overnight stop by 4:30 or 5 p.m. During the biking, you will have short breaks for rest, snack and photographing. Depending on the distance and the terrain, the biking day can be part-drive part-ride or riding the whole way.

Skill level

Intermediate:

  • Can cycle for 3-4 hours
  • Average riding experience
  • Little assistance required
  • Comfortable with extreme curves and leans
  • Average experience with unsurfaced roads
  • Steep ascents and descents

Location

This cycling tour will take you through Hanoi, Ba Ho, Sapa, Bac Ha, Hoang Su Phi, Ha Giang, Bac Me, and Ba Be National Park in Vietnam

Northern Vietnam

The landscape of the north of Vietnam is characterized by jungle clad weathered karst limestone mountains. Hanoi is located on one of the few plains, it’s a sprawling city full of character, and it’s surprisingly easy to explore by bike once you bite the bullet and join the masses of scooters and bikes.

The most popular route for cyclists is to explore the highlands west and north of Hanoi along Highway 6, eventually ending in Sapa, where you can return to Hanoi by train, or turn north into China at the nearby border crossing point. In total it is about 700 kilometers, but it can easily be cut short by returning by bus or plane (there are airports near Son La and Dien Bien Phu). There is a string of towns along the route, but there are some large distances between settlements, so be prepared for some long, tough days in the saddle.

Good places to stop include the beautiful Lac village near Mai Chau and the pleasant little town of Son La. This route is physically demanding, and should only be tackled by fit and / or experienced cyclists. However, it is highly recommended it as it passes through stunning landscapes in areas rarely seen by tourists.

Food

You will be provided with 10 breakfasts, 11 lunches, and 9 dinners during this cycling tour. While in big towns, you will enjoy Vietnamese cuisine in fine restaurants. Once you travel away from the big towns, the emphasis will be on healthy and nutritious fresh local produce.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • 8 days of cycling
  • Hanoi City tour
  • Boat trip on Chay River
  • Boat trip along Nang River
  • Boat trip in Ba Be Lake
  • Private air-conditioned vehicle to transfer and carry the bikes
  • One way train ticket from Hanoi to Lao Cai (air-conditioned, soft sleeper)
  • Good quality helmets
  • High-end mountain bike rental
  • Services of professional biking English speaking guide
  • Snack and water on every biking days
  • 10 breakfasts, 11 lunches, and 9 dinners
  • Homestay permission
  • 11 nights accommodation
  • First-aid kit
  • Entrance and sightseeing fees
  • Service charges and taxes

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa process and stamp fees
  • Tips and gratitude
  • Personal expenses
  • Excluded meals (10 USD per person per meal)
  • Others not mentioned

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 25% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 45 days before arrival.
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