15 Days Big North Motorbike Tour Introduction
This 15 Days Big North takes you from Hanoi to Northwest Vietnam, then Sapa and finally the beautiful Northeast areas. You will take in many wonderful places of Northern Vietnam like Mai Chau, Lai Chau, Sapa, Xin Man, Bac Me, Cao Bang and Ban Gioc waterfalls etc. In fact, the riding is demanding but thrilling. All in all, it’s an adventure of a lifetime!
Below is a video clip from many off-road motorcycle tours in Northern Vietnam. In case you want to watch more videos please check our YouTube channel.
Day 1: Hanoi – Hang Kia. ~200 km, ~7 h.
This is one of the demanding riding days on this 15 Days Big North loop. Ride through Hanoi to the direction of the West. We pass through Hoa Binh town, then along the Laotian border on our left and Da (Black) river on our right. Finally, we leave the river in the mountainous cirque of Mai Chau to go up until the plateau of Mai Chau.
Multiple horizons in the range of green and gray. Before the plateau, we turn right toward the border until the H’mong village of Hang Kia, which accommodates us for the night.
Day 2: Hang Kia – Son La. ~200 km, ~8 h.
On good road looking high over distant mountains, we head up into a forested region populated by H’mong people before descending into a mountainous tea-growing region. Soon after we follow a long valley floor covered in a sea of rice surrounded by Black Thai villages all the way to Son La with its bargain-filled market. Sleep in a hotel.
Day 3: Son La – Lai Chau. ~200 km, ~8 h.
There are 15 passes. In fact, they are all very nice and with stunning landscape. This portion is probably the most beautiful journey of the whole trip even the road is in poor condition. However, the riding is quite demanding. Sleep in Lan Anh Hotel.
Day 4: Lai Chau (Boating).
After breakfast, we take the boat from Lai Chau to Nam Ma village (40 km from Lai Chau ~2h) with a stopover at Pa Po waterfall (20 km from Lai Chau ~1h). Beautiful waterfall! Arrive in Nam Ma, walk to Hoi Ca village (White Thai people), and have lunch in our captain’s house. In reality, this region is totally ignored by mass tourism and the welcome is exceptional. After lunch, boating upstream back to Lai Chau in 3 hours.
Day 5: Lai Chau – Tam Duong. ~150 km, ~7 h.
The most demanding and remote section of the drive takes us upstream along the left side of a Black River tributary through forest on a bumpy dirt road past isolated pockets of Tay, Thai, H’mong and Man peoples before breaching a pass to enter the Tam Duong plain, which is covered in shark’s teeth like limestone karts. We would visit a Mang village near Sin Ho, the guide will buy some food to give to the head of the village, and he later distributes our donations to the villagers. We stay O/N at Phuong Thanh Hotel.
Day 6: Tam Duong – Sapa. ~100 km, ~5 h.
Tam Duong market in the morning. There are colourful Montagnard groups living in Tam Duong: Black H’mong and Dzao. ~10 am: beautiful ride at a slow pace on bumpy road to Sapa. We will have a big breakfast because there is nothing to eat on the way, just us with the wildness. We stay O/N in Cat Cat Hotel.
Day 7: Sapa – Bac Ha. ~120 km, ~4 h.
The ride from Sapa to Bac Ha takes ~4 hours, down from Sapa to Lao Cai (34 km) and then up to Bac Ha (70 km) with stunning landscape. Then we check in Dang Khoa Hotel and have lunch. In the afternoon, we trek to Lung Phinh village of Flower H’mong people. Stay overnight in Bac Ha.
Day 8: Bac Ha – Xin Man. ~50 km, ~3 h.
We ride on minor roads and tracks, lost in the mountain. In addition, Flower H’mong savagely imposes their bright colours in these wild vastness. In fact, this road allows us to have time to stop and admire the footpaths going through wild bushes. Then we go to the market of Can Cau located at the heart of a mountainous circus, very close to the Chinese border. This is where the ethnic groups on each side of the border meet every Saturday morning. In general, it is one moment very moving which we have no idea about time.
Day 9: Xin Man – Bac Me. ~180 km, ~6 h.
Long ride, but the easy road from Xin Man to Bao Lac.
Day 10: Bac Me – Ba Be. ~120 km, ~8 h.
Minor road, bumpy and wild will take us through the jungle. The last 50 km, you follow the river and end by a waterfall, which means that the road suddenly goes up as high as the waterfall. Then you find yourself in Mr. Pirate’s house at the top of Dau Dang waterfall. It is adventurous but very tough. We spend the night in the Forestry Guesthouse.
Day 11: Ba Be – Cao Bang. ~150 km, ~5 h.
A boat is waiting to takes us and our bikes across Ba Be lake in 3 hours.
Then a beautiful ride up to Cao Bang province. There are few passes from where you can dominate the area. The road is easy but many curves. While riding, we can stop a lot for photos. In general, with the stop for drinks and food, it should be an 8-hour journey. We stay in Cao Bang town.
Day 12: Cao Bang – Quang Hoa. ~40 km, ~1 h 30 min.
Ride in 1 hour and a half to reach the beautiful village of Quang Hoa, in the middle of a mountain cirque. This is the territory of Nung An people.
Na Tau is a completely unknown area that we propose to discover it by boat and motorbike. In addition, rivers and waterfalls everywhere are extremely beautiful and wild. It is only 15 km from Quang Hoa.
Spend the night at our friend’s house.
Day 13: Quang Hoa – Ban Gioc – Quang Hoa. ~100 km, ~3 h.
Having obtained permission from the border police, we make our way through spectacular scenery to Vietnam’s most impressive waterfalls. Weather permitting we can swim right up to where the 50 m high falls hit the river.
Day 14: Quang Hoa – Mau Son. ~180 km, ~6 h.
Ride from Quang Hoa to Lang Son. Then continue driving toward the border from Lang Son to Mau Son. Mau Son is 30 km away from Lang Son, 1.541m above sea level. In fact, it’s quite cool in the evening because this used to be a French mountain resort! Night in the guesthouse of Mau Son Resort.
Day 15: Mau Son – Hanoi. ~180 km, ~5 h.
Promenade around Mau Son in the morning. Then ride down to Lang Son to have lunch. The road is asphalted all the way and it takes 3 and half hours to drive back to Hanoi. We end our 15 Days Big North around 3pm to avoid rush hours.
More Big North Vietnam Motorcycle Tour Itineraries
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