This page provides details about Northwest Vietnam in 5 days. Despite the short duration and long riding hours, it’s still a fantastic trip. However, we recommend this to the more experienced riders only.
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 weekend markets.
Places you see include Mai Chau, Son La, Muong Lay, Lai Chau and Sapa. There are home stays in Mai Chau and Sapa. 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.
Due to the short duration of this Northwest Vietnam in 5 days, we need to take the train back from Sapa to Hanoi.
Below is a video clip that has some portions of this trip. 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 6 days. Before starting to ride out of Hanoi, we will have a short briefing to explain about rules and safety.
Once out of the Red River Delta, which brims with traditional farming activity, we pass through limestone monoliths and into foothills populated by Muong people. We head straight at the main range before breaching a high and beautiful forested pass, which descends into the hidden valley of Mai Chau where we spend the night with friends in a traditional Thai stilt house in Pom Coong village.
Day 2: Mai Chau – Son La. ~200 km, ~8h.
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 – Muong Lay. ~200 km, ~8h.
There are 15 passes. Therefore, this portion has very nice roads and stunning landscape. It’s probably the most beautiful journey of the whole trip even the road is in poor condition due to the recent construction of Lai Chau hydroelectric plant. The provincial city was moved to Tam Duong and Tam Duong was renamed, Lai Chau. Lai Chau was named Muong Lay, its former name. In many old maps, the names are quite confusing!
Sleep in Lan Anh Hotel.
Day 4: Muong Lay – Lai Chau. ~150 km, ~7h.
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 karst. While riding, we would visit some villages off the main roads and meet colorful hill tribe people.
Day 5: Lai Chau – Sapa – Lao Cai – Hanoi. ~150 km, ~4 h.
Tam Duong market in the morning. There are colourful Montagnard groups living in Tam Duong: Black H’mong and Dzao. ~10 am: beautiful drive at a slow pace on bumpy road to Sapa.
After having lunch in Sapa, then ride down to Lao Cai for the train at around 8 pm.
Early in the morning, you arrive in Hanoi 6am next day. Then pick up the bikes and ride back to our office, it’s only 1.5km away. End this thrilling Northwest Vietnam in 5 days.
More Northwest Vietnam Motorbike Tour Itineraries
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