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This 13-day Vietnam motorbike tour known as the fullest and nicest Northern Vietnam motorcycle tour starting from Hanoi to Mai Chau, Phu Yen in Son La, Than Uyen in Lai Chau, Sapa, Bac Ha, Ha Giang, Dong Van, Meo Vac, Bao Lac, Ba Be, and Na Khan brings you a really special chance to experience the stunning beauties of Northern Vietnam with its many beautiful mountain passes, friendly people, breathtaking landscapes and not unless can-not-be-ignored destinations in Ha Giang Province.
During this tour, you will be accommodated in homestays, guesthouses, and hotels.
Motorbiking tours to local villages
Start your motorbike tour by leaving Hanoi on dyke roads to avoid the heavy traffic around 09:00, you ride your motorbikes west to Mai Chau, an area of beautiful landscape and home to the Thai ethnic minority. You will ride the motorcycle on Highway 6 passing extensive farming lands comprising a sea of paddy fields split by tree-lined roads punctuated by limestone karst scenery.
After a light lunch in Hoa Binh Province, you cross Thung Khe, one of the most beautiful mountain passes in North Vietnam then descent to the mountain valley settlement of Mai Chau. After dinner, you will join performance, where you can dance and share a range of special liquors (rice wine) with the locals. Overnight in a house-on-stilts of the Thai people.
Offroad motorcycle tours to tribal villages
Mai Chau is one of the closest places to Hanoi where you can experience a 'real' Montagnard village. In the morning, you will take a short walk around the village to discover local life. Life in the side starts early so by sunrise there is a wealth of activity.
The Thai women are masterful weavers who ensure that there is plenty of traditional-style clothing to buy in the village center. You will see women weaving on looms under or inside their houses in the village. You can buy some handmade traditional-style clothing, knife or crossbow.
After breakfast in a home-stay, you say goodbye to villagers and leave Mai Chau around 10:00. You will ride from Mai Chau to the direction of Moc Chau, where you will have lunch. This highland town produces some of Vietnam's best tea and is a good place to stock up. The surrounding area is also home to several ethnic minorities, including Green H'mong, Dzao, Thai, and Muong.
Moc Chau boasts a pioneering dairy industry that started in the late 1970s with Australian (and, later, UN) assistance. The dairy provides Hanoi with such delectable food and drinks such as fresh milk, sweetened condensed milk, and little tooth-rotting bars called “Banh sua”. After lunch, you turn to the less traveled Road 43 leading to the Da River, crossing the reservoir of Da river in a Van Yen ferry, then ride on a beautiful winding secondary road until Phu Yen where you stay in a basic guesthouse.
Offroad motorbiking tours to Hilltribe's villages
Continuing your motorbike tour on the almost empty Road 37 you enter mountains heavily populated with black Thai people, who work on large terraced rice fields. The winding road passes through many Thai villages and fields and provides a great opportunity to watch country life passing by. You continue through rolling hills before rising up to the sugar cane growing areas on the cooler Son La plateau.
Late lunch in Son La city, the capital of Son La Province, before you visit the Old French Prison & Museum. It was once the site of a French penal colony where anti-colonial revolutionaries were incarcerated. It was destroyed by the infamous “off-loading” of unused ammunition by US warplanes that were returning to their bases after bombing raids, but it has been partially restored.
Rebuilt turrets and watch towers stand guard over the remains of cells, inner walls, and a famous lone surviving peach tree. The tree, which blooms with traditional “Tet flowers”, was planted in the compound by To Hieu, a former inmate from the 1940s. To Hieu has subsequently been immortalized with various landmarks now named after him. Overnight in Son La city.
Offroad motorbike tours to tribal villages
Heading out northwest from Son La, the road crosses a series of mountain passes and areas of busy black Thai activity. Children walk to school, kids tend buffaloes, women plant rice seedlings, and men pull the buffalo. Then, you come to the beginning of the very long and steep Pha Din pass where at the top you will have vast views of the surrounding mountains, then down to the other side of the very steep sealed road. Lunch in Tuan Giao.
Turn to the almost empty winding Road 279 leading to Pa Uon bridge. The first span of the Pa Uon bridge spanning the Da River got connected on Highway 279 in Chieng On commune, Quynh Nhai district, Son La Province. The bridge invested by the ministry of transport lies within the food-avoiding highways and provincial roads project after the Son La hydroelectric power project had been deployed, contributing to forming the nearest road between Son La and Lai Chau provinces.
The construction of the bridge started on May 28, 2007. It opened to traffic on April 30 and put into use in July 2010. Continuing on the empty winding road until you get to Than Uyen town, Lai Chau Province. Overnight in Than Uyen.
Sapa motorbiking tours to villages
You ride the motorcycle straight toward the main Fansipan mountain range. There is also the option for a very challenging back route which takes you through several river crossings. The massive mountain range dominates the road until finally, you must make a splendid climb up from Binh Lu and up to the top of the highest road pass in Vietnam (Tram Ton Pass).
Crossing into Lao Cai Province at over 2,000 meters and the views look out over the main range for miles and miles before you descend to the mountainous Sa Pa valley. Sa Pa is located in Lao Cai Province, northwest Vietnam, and 350 kilometers northwest of Hanoi, close to the border with China. Sapa is famous both for its fine, rugged scenery and for its rich cultural diversity.
French used to consider Sapa as the summer capital of Northern Vietnam in the early decades of the 20th century. The naturally gifted beauty keeps attracting more and more people to spend a vacation there since then. Particularly, the place is the foremost choice for honeymoon couples! Overnight in a hotel.
Homestay tours with the Hilltribes
Depending on the group's mood, you can either take it easy in Sa Pa town, or make excursions back to the top of the highest pass in Vietnam, or down deep into the amazing Sapa valley to do home-stay in a peaceful village. All options are dominated by the crest of the enormous Fansipan mountain range that looms over 2,000 meters above you. The entire region is populated by Hmong, Giay, Tay and Red Dao people. Stay in Sapa or homestay in the village.
Offroad motorbike tours to tribal villages
Ride your motorcycle down from Sapa to Lao Cai city and then have a coffee stop on the bank of Nam Thi river, which is the Vietnam - China border. Enjoy your coffee while taking the view to China. Head to Road 70 before taking a turn to Bac Ha on Road 153. Long touted as the weekend alternative to Sapa, this small highland town doesn't have the same dramatic location of its more illustrious neighbor, but it is calmer when Saturday comes.
It fills up to a choking point on Sunday morning, when visitors flood in to meet the Flower H'mong at the morning market. Compared with Sapa, tourism is still in its infancy here and during the week the town has a deserted feel. Bac Ha is a good base to explore the surrounding highlands. Around 900-meter above sea level, it is noticeably warmer than Sapa.
One of Bac Ha's main industries is the manufacture of alcoholic home brews (rice wine, cassava wine, and corn liquor). The corn hooch produced by the Flower H'mong is so potent it can ignite! Bac Ha is the only place in Vietnam where you'll find this particular moonshine, there's an entire area devoted to it at the Sunday market. Overnight in Bac Ha.
After breakfast, you take a motor ride on the track to Xin Man and Hoang Su Phi on many small back roads with scenic mountain views. Xin Man is right on the border between Vietnam and China. It is, as of this writing, well hidden and completely surrounded by wild mountains and forests. There's a single road from Xin Man to Hoang Su Phi. Hoang Su Phi is among the most untouched area of Ha Giang Province of Vietnam.
The area was separated from the mainstream society until very recently. Passing Hoang Su Phi, you will be charmed by the pristine beauty of the wild mountains and the authentic culture of the local ethnic groups which include the Nung, the Flower H'mong, the Tay, and the Ha Nhi people. After lunch, join the main road heading up to Ha Giang city, where you stop for the night and apply for a permit.
Offroad motorbike tours to tribal villages
After getting the permit for motorbike tour in border areas at Ha Giang's immigration police, you ride on small challenging mountain roads (but incredibly beautiful) on the land of colorful mountain hill-tribes. Motorcycle up the Ma Pi Leng pass. Here is yet another amazing place, with cloudy mountain ranges and the poetic Nho Que river winding off in the distance.
It is really difficult to find the exact words to describe Ma Pi Leng pass, located between Dong Van and Meo Vac, near the northernmost tip of Vietnam, as a painting of astonishing beauty and magnificence that captures the eyes of all viewers and nature lovers. Ride on a zig-zag track until reaching Vuong Family's residence, 14 kilometers before Dong Van. Vuong Family was considered the King of the Hmong People in Dong Van, Ha Giang.
The residence was built in the scenic valley of Sa Phin with Chinese architecture. The whole house was built out of wood and rock only. The rocks for the buildings were imported from China. Vuong Family residence is a masterpiece of man work in the valley of a heavenly beauty of Sa Phin. This is a remote area and you can meet the hardworking local people here.
It is inspiring to see how they survive as they manage to live in the rocks. When you reach Dong Van town, you will have some extra time to wander the ancient streets lined with H'mong, the homes of clay bricks and tiles roofs built centuries ago.
Offroad motorbike tours to tribal villages
The road is still under construction and the tracks are what make the ride relatively long in spite of few kilometers. The landscape is among the most beautiful of Vietnam, and the slow tempo is only more appreciable. You ride the motorcycle across the wild regions of the mythical province of Ha Giang, and Meo Vac is included. It shares the border with Dong Van district of Ha Giang Province and Bao Lam district of Cao Bang Province.
Meo Vac has most of the terrain in the rock plateau of Dong Van and above 1,000 meters above sea level. Meo Vac has a harsh climate in the winter which is from November to April with dry and freezing cold weather. It is inhabited by different ethnic minorities including the H'mong, the King, Tay, Dzao. Most ethnic groups have maintained the culture untouched by the outside world.
In the afternoon, you will stop for the night at Bao Lac, the ethnic crossroad of Northeast Vietnam. Many other ethnic groups on the two sides of the border meet at the market every Sunday.
Beautiful motor riding down to Bac Kan Province. Few passes from where you can dominate the area. The road is easy but there are many blind curves before you turn to Ba Be Lake (inside Ba Be National Park). Ba Be National Park is an abundant bio reserve area containing the world’s only fresh-water karst lake and several rare species of fauna and flora.
Ba Be Lake in Vietnam, the biodiverse 10,048-hectare park, is home to 1,268 species of flora and fauna, a series of caves and a gigantic fresh water lake which was established in 1992 by the Vietnamese government to preserve forest ecosystems in the northeast. Ba Be is home to over 3,000 people from the ethnic minorities of Tay, Nung, Dao, and Mong, who live in 13 villages within the park.
The Tay people have inhabited Ba Be area for centuries and make-up 58 percent of the population within the park’s boundaries. Motorcycling into Bac Ngoi village, which is located inside Ba Be National Park. Your home-stay in Tay's family is right by the side of Ba Be Lake with a wonderful and peaceful view.
Swimming on the lake
Half-day boat riding on the lake to the other side, where you can explore Dau Dang waterfall on Nang river. As one of the 27 ASEAN heritage gardens, Ba Be has the potential to attract nature lovers with its 450-hectare natural fresh water lake, and 553 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
According to a survey from the Vietnam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources, over 11,000 years ago, an earthquake caused a collapse of the subterranean Nang river, creating a natural dam which led to the formation of Ba Be Lake. Lunch in a village near Dau Dang waterfall before going back to home-stay.
Get on your bikes and take a half-day ride on the countryside to Na Khan. This Nung's village is in the middle of nowhere. You will have last experience on the trip to share the meals and house with locals.
Easy motor ride in the morning, passing peaceful villages and rice fields before reaching very busy road in the afternoon. Traffic is getting worst and worst on Road 3, the way back to Hanoi, so you should be back before the rush hour. Finish your trip around 16:00.
This tour will start and end in Hanoi. Along the way, you will visit Mai Chau, Phu Yen, Son La, Than Uyen, Sapa, Fansipan, Bac Ha, Ha Giang, Dong Van, Bao Lac, Ba Be National Park, and Na Khan.
You will have 12 breakfasts, 13 lunches, and 12 dinners. Coffee and fruits are also provided while on tour.