- Why SinhBalo
Cycling northwest Vietnam – Taking the long road through the northwest, traveler enter a remote land of mountains and colorful tribes people whose songs of love ring out about the din of the Saturday & Sunday market. The northwest loop is a fantastic route for cyclist. Save your 10 days for over 800 km cycling from LaoCai to Bac Ha, Sapa, Lai Chau, ThanUyen, TuanGiao, DienBienPhu, SonLa, MaiChau. This is the best mountain cycling in Vietnam so far. A shorter trip would be one week from Sapa to LaiChau, DienBienPhu then flight back to Hanoi or keep on cycling over mountain to Laos via TayTrang border crossing.
The ride towards Sapa from LaiChau meanders through grass valleys to climb alongside crescent paddies and corn fields into a ring of mountains the French once dubbed the ” Vietnam Alps”. Above all else towers Fansipan, at 3,143 meters Vietnam’s highest peak. The mountain pass 15km outside Sapa is the highest one in Vietnam ~ 2,000 meters above sea level. Are you packed up and ready to conquer this giant mt. pass with us?
1. Friday: Arrive Hanoi. Bike check. See the Old quarter.
2. Saturday: Hanoi to LaoCai. Bike to BacHa.
3. Sunday: Visit BacHa market. Bike to Sapa
4. Monday: Sapa to ThanUyen.
5. Tuesday: ThanUyen to TuanGiao.
6. Wednesday: TuanGiao to DienBien.
7. Thursday: Around DienBienPhu.
8. Friday: DienBien to ThuanChau and SonLa.
9. Saturday: SonLa to MocChau and on to MaiChau.
10. Sunday: MaiChau to Hanoi.
This is a short clip of cycling northwest Vietnam from MuongPhang to DienBien.
Day 1: Arrive Hanoi
Arrive in Hanoi. Transfer to hotel. Time relaxing for promenade around Hoan Kiem Lake and ancient, yet lively Old Quarter. Time to test your bike and short ride around Hanoi. O/N at hotel in the Old quarter Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi to LaoCai. Bike to BacHa. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Early start out of Hanoi to YenBai and on to LaoCai. Then we start biking along the Chay river to BaoNhai. Lunch break en route. Then we start a big climb up the mountain to BacHa (alt + 900m) the homeland of flower Hmong people. O/n in BacHa.
Day 3: Bac Ha Sunday Market. Bike to Sapa. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Breakfast, we spend relaxing time for promenade around BacHa sunday market. Visit the most colorful hill tribe market day. We bike to see an Old Hmong’s King house, then back in town for lunch break. In the afternoon we cycle to Sapa. It’s about 50km almost down hill from BacHa to Nam Mon and on to Coc Ly and we ride along the river until meeting the main road. Our van pick up for transfer to LaoCai. We have a quick photo stop at China from the border milestone, then we keep on to Sapa. (alt. +1,550m). If time permitting, we will hop on our bike for a 10km climb up from Taphin to Sapa. It’s a great warm up for cycling northwest Vietnam. Late afternoon, we walk around Sapa, visit to Ham Rong mountain with panorama view of Sapa town and surrounding. O/N hotel in Sapa.
Day 4: Sapa – Heaven gate – Than Uyen (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Cycling northwest Vietnam to the highest pass and best mountain view today. It takes about one hours up hill, with a stop over Silver waterfalls for relax before we conquer the highest mountain pass Oquiho. Then decending down the great panoramic view of HoangLienSon mt. range. Lunch en route. Nice villages of Hmong and Dao near BinhLu, then we keep on new road to ThanUyen. O/N in HoanQuan guesthouse.
Day 5: Than Uyen – Tuan Giao (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
In the morning, we bike outside the town to boat ferry, crossing to TaHua village, then we cycle again to MuongGion and ride to PaUon bridge. Lunch break and short transfer to summit. Then we cycle down hill to MuongThang and onto TuanGiao. Some part of the road is bad, but great view along NamMu river branches. Scenic Da river from PaUon bridge. O/N Tuan Giao guesthouse.
Challenge to ride the whole way? It’s a great day and could be the longest day of cycling northwest Vietnam. Put on your tough suit and start early in the morning. Garmin details here .
Day 6: Tuan Giao – DienBien. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
A nice ride day with stop over the white Thai village before climb up to Tang Quai pass. Road condition today is good. Cycling northwest Vietnam will bring you to the hidden valley where mountain surrounding the powerful French head quarter of DienBienPhu – a hardly beaten place of the French. O/N Muong Thanh hotel ***.
Garmin details: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/99040662
Day 7: Around DienBien (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
A relaxing day for easy touring around DienBien. We ride back to the former French battlefield : Eliane hill, DeCastries bunker, DienBien museum you will see some old US weapons, and a French army tank in the runway of DienBien airport (used to be MuongThanh airfield). O/N MuongThanh hotel***.
Day 8: DienBien – PhaDin pass – SonLa (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
After breakfast, we have van transfer one and half hour back to TuanGiao, then we mount on our bike, 6km warm up then the climb start. This is the famous PhaDin pass (Heaven and Earth pass), one of the longest pass of cycling northwest Vietnam loop, with 12 km winding up hill and 14 km down hill. Nice landscape of green rice fields and karst valley. Light traffic, wandering water buffaloes, Thai and Hmong kids. Garmin details of this day here . O/N in SonLa.
Hot bath in SonLa ? Possible to end the day at Ban Moong hotspring (5km from SonLa), warm water bathtub, have dinner at this village, then back to SonLa for the night.
Day 9: SonLa – MocChau – MaiChau (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
We have van transfer in the morning to Moc Chau plateau, then start cycling on the old route 6 to MaiChau. The road passes beneath spectacular karst cliffs with the valley floor visible far below. Lots of Black Thai villages, descending to MaiChau – our last destination of the cycling northwest Vietnam.
Garmin details. O/N homestay on stilt house of Thai people.
In the evening, we dance with the Thai people:
Day 10: MaiChau to Hanoi (Breakfast, lunch, dinner)
Waking up by the sounds of poultry underneath your stilt house. After breakfast, we start the day on a little small cycling track to BanLac village. The scenery is beautiful in every bend of the hills. We have opportunities to interact with the locals. Nice day cycling around Maichau and on to BaKhan commune. It will be around 45km rolling road along the Da reservoir. A few more clicks to lunch break in ManDuc. We have short transfer to KySon, where we start cycling again along Da river and turn on to DongBai lake. Our cycling northwest Vietnam trip end up at YenTrung commune. Our van will pick us up for going back to Hanoi on HoaLac freeway. Farewell dinner. O/N hotel in the Old quarter Hanoi.
Insurance, personal expenses.
Here is another traditional bamboo jump of Thai people in MaiChau