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Vietnam North West Cycling


Northwest of Vietnam, an area with spectacular sceneries of mountains, valleys, villages, the friendly local ethnic... offer you much experience about daily life of ethnic minority people .


 Hanoi – Lao Cai – Sapa – Tam Duong (Phong Tho) – Pa So – Sin Ho – Lai Chau (Muong Lay) – Tuan Giao – Dien Bien Phu – Hanoi

 Itinerary in Brief

Day 1
Arrive/ meet in Hanoi, afternoon brief walking tour to explore Hanoi and evening trip briefing. Overnight on train to Lao Cai (D)

Day 2
Transfer to Sapa up the mountain side and have time to fit bikes before riding into the Sapa Valley. Overnight in Sapa (20 km cycling) (B,L,D)

Day 3
Cycle off road track to the village of Ta Phin, when the ride will be more challenging in a loop across a steep and forested hillsides and minority villages. Overnight in Sapa (30 km cycling) (B,L,D)

Day 4
Cycle shortly uphill as warm up to the Tram Ton Pass, before starting a long descent ride to Binh Lu and ride a truly off the beaten track (jeep track) mixed of hard pack gravel and clay to Tam Duong and Pa So. Overnight in Pa So (80 km cycling) (B,L,D)

Day 5
Take a brutal ride this day to Lai Chau and Sin Ho and get a reward of truly spectacular views. The ride is on the main road, uphill and tarmac downhill, mixed of gravel and hard pack clay. Overnight in Lai Chau (45 km cycling) (B,L,D)

Day 6
Take a hardest but challenging ride this day to Tuan Giao and Dien Bien Phu, on a rough tarmac terrain all the way, but you will be rewarded with the stunningly beautiful scenery and untouched remote villages. Overnight in Dien Bien Phu (90 km cycling) (B,L,D)

Day 7
Take a half morning tour exploring the historical sites of Dien Bien Phu. Late morning flight to Hanoi and transfer into town (no cycling) (B)


 Facts and Figures

Number of Days   7 Days / 6 Nights
Code Tour   CYC3
Number of Cycling Days   4 full days and 1 half day
Total Cycling Distance   265 kilometers
Road Surface   Uphill/ downhill, steep & forested hillsides, routes mixed of stone, gravel, hard pack clay and paddy fields (jeep track)
Support   Private air-conditioned vehicle for transfer. Private back up vehicle as itinerary. Luggage truck to carry bikes and baggage.
Group Size   Minimum 2 persons
Guide   Professional English speaking guide/ biking/ kayaking guide(s) who performs as cultural guide.
Accommodation   Hotels range from standard to superior classes, including simple guesthouse and local homestay (big room with partition off) in some remote areas.
Meals   B= Breakfast, L= Lunch and D= Dinner are included as the itinerary
Tour Price (per person)   Contact us to get the best deals
Bike Rental   US$20/ bike/ cycling day
Booking   Book now

Detailed  Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Hanoi - Overnight train to Lao Cai (D)
On arrival to Noi Bai airport, meet and transfer to Hotel. A brief walking tour to explore Hanoi before dinner. At dinner the guide will give a trip briefing. After dinner,  transfer to the train station along with bikes and bags for the overnight train to Lao Cai.

Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, ranks among the world's most attractive and interesting cities. It was first the capital of Vietnam in A.D. 1010, and though the nation's capital moved to Hue under the Nguyen dynasty in 1802, the city continued to flourish after the French took control in 1888. In 1954, after the French departed, Hanoi was declared Vietnam's capital once again. The remnants of over 1,000 years of history are still visible here, with that of the past few hundred years marvelously preserved.

Touring in Hanoi (if time permits)

  • Visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (no photos allowed, no shorts allowed, morning visits only).
  • Visit temple of literature
  • Shop for silks on Hang Gai Street,
  • Visit Hanoi Hilton,
  • Museum of ethnology
  • Take a cyclo tour of the old quarter.

Overnight on train.

Day 2: Supan Valley afternoon ride (20km cycling) (B,L,D)
Sapa town is set in a picturesque location, lying a mile high on the Hoang Lien Son mountain range that runs from the Chinese border in Northwest Vietnam. Nicknamed "the Tonkinese Alps" the area features vaulting rice terraces, lush vegetation and the highest peak in Vietnam, Fansipan, which towers over the village, swirled in fog from across a deep valley. The town was "discovered" by Jesuit missionaries in 1918. Attracted by the cool and temperate climate, Westerner arrivals transformed Sapa into a pleasant hill station. Along with a church, they constructed hotels, tennis courts, airport, hydro-electric station and summer villas. Most were abandoned or destroyed during the subsequent war for independence with the French, but the colonial influence remains.

Although the Sapa means, "sand village" in Chinese, Sapa is located within Vietnam and is home to a wealth of colourful, diverse hill tribes, who have steadfastly resisted integration into Vietnamese society and modern life. In fact, the hill tribes, including the Hmong, the Dao, and the Dai, comprise the majority of inhabitants in the area, outnumbering the Vietnamese who prefer the low lands. Sapa’s central market is a main gathering place for hill tribes from the surrounding villages. They congregate there not only to sell handicrafts, jewellery, orchids, mushrooms, and honey, but also to also cultivate relations with other groups, play games, and perhaps find a sweetheart. On some weekend evenings, singing courtships and marriages take place.

Our train arrives early morning. We transfer to Sapa approximately 1 hour up the mountain side. On arrival we have break fast then check into hotel. We have time to fit bikes before riding late morning into the Sapa valley. Today is a good warm up ride and makes for fantastic biking. The first 20km is pretty much all downhill! Once into the valley the route undulates on a mix of stoney and hard pack clay jeep and footpath trails. From Ban Ho the cycling is without support through ethnic minority villages. The length of time spent on the loop depends on time. Transfer or ride back (time permitting) back to Sapa. Overnight in hotel in town.

70% vehicle support by jeep

Day 3: Ta Phin Loop ride full day (30km cycling) (B, L, D)
From the hotel, cycle an exciting off road track to the village of Ta Phin. From here loop across a steep hillside and back through forested hillsides and minority villages to Sapa. The scenery contrasts to the previous days ride and the cycling is more challenging. Some sections you may be required to carry your bike across paddy fields. An alternative route may have to be tackled if the weather is bad. Support is for only 40% of the ride, though the jeep is never too far away and will rendezvous with you at several stops en route. Overnight in hotel in town.

40% support by jeep

Day 4: Sapa – Tam Duong (Phong Tho) – Pa So (80km cycling) (B,L,D)
Transfer from the hotel approx 16km uphill to Sapa’s famous silver waterfalls. Cycle a couple of KM uphill as warm up to the Tram Ton Pass, the highest road in Vietnam at 1900m. From the Pass you start a long descent of up to 20km.

On reaching the small town of Binh Lu, leave the vehicle support behind and take an off road jeep track for 30km to Tam Duong. There is one steep hill climb of approx 3km, which cruises down into a superb valley with Lu villages of Dong Pau 1 and Dong Pau 2 to explore as you ride by. The Lu women are famous for their black lacquer teeth. The track is not technical, and is a mix of hard pack gravel and clay. A jeep could support on this trail except that there is one stream crossing making it not possible at this stage. We will use a motorbike backup for this section. Enjoy hot soup and sandwiches in one of the local village houses.

3km before Tam Duong Town, at a fork in the road, turn right to the main road 4D. The building on the left is 0506 Social Department of Lai Chau. Cycle a short way up the main road before turning right again onto another jeep trail. This track is the highlight of the ride so far. It is 35km from here to Pa So and the hotel for overnight. Depending on the weather it may be possible for the jeep to follow the group otherwise there will be motorbike support. Pass though at least 5 or 6 minority villages, the largest being Nhang village. The route is undulating with some short steep sections. It is incredibly beautiful and truly off the beaten path. Overnight in the small town of Pa So in a family run hotel Lan Anh 2.

100% support by motorbike

Day 5: Pa So – Sin Ho - Lai Chau (now Muong Lay) (45km cycling) (B,L,D)
Today’s ride is brutal, a punishing all day affair that will test the toughest and kill everyone else. But the scenery is out of this world. There is a huge hill to climb so leave early to get the best of the day (but manageable gradient in granny gear). From Phong Tho cycle along the main road QL12 for 4 km heading towards Lai Chau. At Nam Pay, turn off left and cycle 43km mainly uphill to Sin Ho, one of the highest mountains in the area. Only 12km of this section is unpaved. Enjoy lunch at the summit before cruising another 38km downhill on switchbacks via Lang Mo on a mix of gravel and hard pack clay. The views are truly spectacular and there are many minority people to meet along the way. Stop for a rest in Lang Mo before the final descent to the river Nam Na. Once back on the main road there is a further 22km of pleasant tarmac downhill to enjoy before arriving at Lan Anh 1. Overnight in Lai Chau, Local lunch, Dinner in hotel.

100% support by motorbike

Day 6: Lai Chau (Muong Lay) – Tuan Giao - Dien Bien Phu (90km cycling) (B,L,D)
The quiet, remote way follows QL6 via TUAN GIAO. (WE MUST USE THIS ROUTE as the main route directly to Lai Chau is under construction.) This is a tough ride; perhaps the hardest of the trip so far and you should only attempt it if you are feeling up for a challenge! It is impossible to count the number of hill climbs and descents! The road is rough tarmac all the way and there are few (if any) flat stretches. It is however quite remote and stunningly beautiful. The children are frightened of foreigners, so care must be taken when riding by or approaching children en route. It is advisable to wear riding pants below the knees – bearing skin on this ride is definitely a cultural no no. This is possibly one of the most outstanding rides of the tour so far, but very very challenging. Hit the main road and transfer the last 72km to Dien Bien Phu. Overnight in Dien Bien Phu. Picnic lunch, dinner in hotel.

100% support

Day 7: Dien Bien Phu – Hanoi (no cycling) (B)
Dien Bien Phu is situated almost at the border with Laos on an immense gorge 20 km long and 3 km wide. It is in Dien Bien Phu where Ho Chi Minh led his People’s Liberation Army to a bloody but decisive victory over the French colonizers on May 7, 1954 that brought French colonial rule to an end.

The French, commanded by General Henri Navarre, had gone to enormous lengths to build a fortified garrison that was considered impregnable. But they underestimated the resolve and resourcefulness of the Vietnamese, who, aided by many of the hill tribes, laid siege to the town. After 54 days of constant battle, the Viet Minh burrowed and fought their way through the French lines until finally on May 7th, 1954, they were victorious. All 14,000 French troops were either killed or taken prisoner. The battle ended France’s colonial domination of Indochina and was Vietnam’s first major victory in a war for independence that was to last another 21 years.

After packing the bikes ready for the flight to Hanoi, spend the morning exploring the historical sites of Dien Bien Phu, taking in the informative museum and other relics from the French wars with Vietnam. Late morning flight to Hanoi and transfer into town.

"This itinerary may alter due to local conditions, the strength of the group and other unexpected circumstances. We will do our very best to adhere to the set itinerary, however we cannot be held responsible for any last minute changes that might occur. In all such circumstances, your biking or trekking guide will have the final say."


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