This is Big North In 14 Days – a minimum 2-week (14 days) motorbike tour. In fact, you cover Northern Vietnam in a big loop, starting from the Northwest end, extending to Ha Giang and include Ba Be lake before you ride back to Hanoi.
Below is a video clip that has many portions of this trip. In case you want to watch more videos please check our YouTube channel.
Day 1: Hanoi – Hang Kia (Moc Chau). ~200 km, ~7 h.
Ride 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. We leave the river in the mountainous cirque of Mai Chau to go up until the plateau of Mai Chau.
Multiple horizons in 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.
The other option is to ride on to Moc Chau and sleep in a hotel.
Day 2: Hang Kia – Son La. ~180 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 total. This day, you ride on a very nice road and stunning landscape. In fact, today is probably one of the most beautiful journeys of the whole trip. This is still true even the road is in poor condition. Sleep in Lan Anh Hotel.
Day 4: Lai Chau – Tam Duong. ~150 km, ~7 h.
Today you have the most demanding and remote section of the ride. The ride takes us upstream along the side of a Black River tributary through the 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 karsts.
We propose to visit a village of Mang people 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 5: 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. Then ~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 View Hotel.
Day 6: 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 7: 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 8: Xin Man – Ha Giang. ~140 km, ~6 h.
Quiet road with the joys of riding through picturesque landscape along the Lo river. Superb. It used to be necessary for us to be able to obtain a permit from the authorities of Ha Giang. However, now it is easy to get at the hotel we stay. In other words, this allows is more time for riding. The following stages cross the mountainous territories of the frontier ethnic groups. In addition, it is necessary to show the white leg to penetrate there.
Day 9: Ha Giang – Bao Lac. ~140 km, ~7 h.
The road is still intersected with sections of track what makes the stage relatively long in spite of the little of kilometres. However, the landscape is among the most beautiful of Vietnam, and the slow tempo is only more appreciable.
We cross the wild regions of the mythical province of Ha Giang. Stop for the night with Guesthouse de Bao Lac, ethnic crossroads of most significant. Many other ethnic groups on the two sides of the border meet at the market every Sunday.
Day 10: Bao Lac – Quang Hoa. ~150 km, ~5 h.
Still a superb stage, we dominate the area, of collars and collars. A very great diversity of landscapes, which makes it possible to forget the tiredness of this long crossing.
Lodging in our host house, accommodated in a family of the Nung An people. In reality, our hostess is a true cordon-bleu cook.
Day 11: Quang Hoa. ~100 km, ~3 h (or ~30 km, ~1 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.
Na Tau is a completely unknown area that we propose to discover it by raft and motorbike. Rivers and waterfalls everywhere are extremely beautiful and wild. In addition, it is only 15 km from Quang Hoa.
Day 12: Quang Hoa – Ba Be. ~170 km, ~8 h.
Beautiful ride from Cao Bang province to Ba Be. Few passes from where you can dominate the area. The road is easy but there are many blind curves. While riding, we can stop a lot for photos. In fact, with stops for drinks and food, it should be an 8-hour journey. We spend the night in the house.
Day 13: Ba Be. Boating.
Easy boating on the lake and river. Then go to market (if it is the day you arrive). Stop at a waterfall, beautiful swim etc. Ong pirate, the chief of Dau Dang waterfall where we enjoy dinner. Down the waterfall, we could visit the village and a small school (only a few pupils during the summer). We propose to stay in the stilt house of forest guards.
Day 14: Ba Be – Hanoi. ~240 km, ~8 h.
Quite a long ride but easy (early departure is better) from Ba Be to Hanoi 240 km. However, the last part from Thai Nguyen back to Hanoi is on one of the busiest highways in Vietnam. Despite the busy motorbike traffic, you should be good after 13 days in North Vietnam.
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