This page provides details about Northwest Vietnam in 10 days. In fact, this tour is a full loop to the rocky faraway region of Vietnam. The more you ride, the more you see.
Northwest Vietnam used to be a far and difficult part of Vietnam. In the past, it’s more famous with the war against the French Army in Dien Bien Phu. However, it now turns into a major tourist attraction that grabs attention from old to young people. Some travel there to see the former battlefield of Dien Bien Phu while more people choose to ride on a motorcycle tour to take in the breathtaking views and conquer the high mountain passes. More roads are being built, but there are still many areas that can only be accessible by motorbikes. You start from Hanoi, head up the mountains on the historical Highway 6 and snake up and down the zig zag mountain roads, meet colorful hill tribe groups and visit their week-end markets.
Places you see include Mai Chau, Phu Yen, Moc Chau, Son La, Tuan Giao, Muong Lay, Sapa, Bac Ha, Luc Yen and Vu Linh. There are home stays in Mai Chau, Sapa, Bac Ha, Luc Yen and Vu Linh. In addition, there are hotels that offer better facilities. A mix of home stays and hotel is great and you will have many good things to tell your friend after this ride.
Below is a video clip that has some portions of this Northwest Vietnam in 10 days. In case you want to watch more videos please check our YouTube channel.
Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau. ~200 km, ~6h.
Today is the first day of this Northwest Vietnam in 10 days. Before starting to ride out of Hanoi, we will have a short briefing to explain about rules and safety.
Leaving Hanoi on dike roads to avoid the heavy traffic and breaking out of the delta plains. You pass through endless limestone karst scenery as you ride south through “Perfume Pagoda” country and extensive farming lands comprising a sea of paddy fields split by tree-lined roads. Striking northwest and over two passes, finally dropping down to the mountain valley settlement of Mai Chau. Here we stay overnight with friends of the White Thai minority in a traditional stilt house.
In the evening, after feasting, we can enjoy a cultural show of Thai dancing and a range of special local liquors. Overnight in Mai Chau.
Day 2: Mai Chau – Phu Yen. ~140 km, ~5 hours
We ride from Mai Chau to the direction of Moc Chau and then turn to the less travelled Road 43 leading to the Da River. After crossing the reservoir of Da river at Van Yen ferry, we ride on a beautiful winding secondary road until Phu Yen where we stay in a guest-house.
Day 3: Phu Yen – Son La, ~160 km, ~6 hours
Continuing on the almost empty Road 37 we enter mountains heavily populated with Black Thai people, who work on large terraced rice fields. While riding, the winding road passes through many Thai villages and fields and provides a great opportunity to watch country life passing by.
After lunch, we continue through rolling hills before rising up to the sugar cane growing areas on the cooler Son La plateau.
Overnight in Son La.
Day 4: Son La – Tuan Giao, ~140 km, ~5 hours
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 we come to the beginning of the very long and steep Pha Din pass where at the top we have vast views of the surrounding mountains, then down the other side on the very steep sealed road.
Overnight in Tuan Giao.
Day 5: Tuan Giao – Sin Ho, ~180 km, ~6 hours
Heading out northwest from Tuan Giao the road passes isolated communities of Hmong and Thai people, whose small villages settle on the banks of dark green rivers and on the steep slopes of the mountains. After lunch by a forest stream, the road begins to climb up the high Sa Tong pass. At the top for sunset before dropping sharply into the deep Lai Chau valley.
Muong Lay town was sunk in early 2010 and therefore our new place for overnighting is Sin Ho, a small remote town.
Day 6: Sin Ho – Sapa, ~120 km, ~4 hours
We head straight toward the main Fansipan Mountain range. There is also the option for a very challenging back route which takes us through several river crossings. The massive mountain range dominates the road until finally we must make a splendid climb up from Binh Lu and then up to the top of the highest road pass in Vietnam (Tram Ton Pass). Crossing into Lao Cai Province at over 2,000m the views looks out over the main range for miles and miles, before we descend to the mountainous Sa Pa valley.
Overnight in Sapa.
Day 7: Sapa, trek or relax
Depending on the group’s mood, we 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. All options are dominated by the crest of the enormous Fansipan mountain range that looms over 2,000 metres above us. In general, the entire region is populated by Hmong, Giay, Tay, and Dao people. Stay in Sapa.
Day 8: Sapa – Luc Yen, ~180 km, ~6 hours
Ride down from Sapa and then through palm forest all the way to Luc Yen and stay in a Dao family who live in the Tay territory. It’s a great home stay, very typical of Vietnam hill tribes. In addition, the hosts are very welcoming.
Day 9: Luc Yen – Vu Linh, ~80 km, ~3 hours
Explore the Luc Yen area and visit our friends’ families before riding to our Dao friends’ village of Vu Linh. In fact, the hosts are “drinkers of Vietnam” and they like to party. The welcome is exceptional and we hope you will not be too much tired.
Day 10: Vu Linh – Hanoi, ~180 km
After breakfast, we cruise southeast on Highway 2 and then branch off to the sleepy town of Phu Tho. We follow the edge of the Red River along the dike, almost to the point where it merges with the Black River after which they flow together to Hanoi. By now we are very much in the lowlands of the delta plains and the North’s main agricultural areas. Harvest time here is a sea of activity. Crossing the Black River by a bridge, we pass through Son Tay and then return to Hanoi on the highway.
All in all, it’s a very nice road but busy for the last part. End this Northwest Vietnam in 10 days before 4pm to avoid rush hours.
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