Revel in Vietnam’s raw beauty as you ride the backstreets from south to north.
In the north, you will find the traditional city of Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. Spend time exploring the city on your bike and you will find authentic Vietnamese urban culture and iconic architecture. Wander the winding streets of the French Quarter, shop the markets, and take in a festival and you will truly feel a world away. From Hanoi many tour operators take cyclists on short 5-7 day, and longer 10-14 day tours of the northern regions and the Tonkinese Alps, a true cyclist’s dream. The karst topography leaves endless rice paddy filled valleys to explore, and soaring peaks like Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest peak at 3,143 meters (10,310 ft). The Ba Be National Park and beautiful city of Sa Pa are a must see for anyone cycling through Vietnam. An 800-km (497 mi) trip through Lao Cai to Bac Ha, Sa Pa, Lai Chau, Than Uyen, Tuan Giao, Dien Bien Phu, Son La, and Mai Chau is said to be the best cycling route in all of Vietnam, but realistically any trip through Ha Giang province is worth it.
Sa Pa has always been a frontier trading center for the local tribes, but recently it has become the centre of tourism and trekking for the north. The relationship between the locals and the landscape takes center stage as you cycle through gorgeous fields and climb mountain peaks on trails used for thousands of years.
Despite its growing tourist appeal, Northern Vietnam is still somewhat uncharted. The infrastructure is poor and you will want to work with a good tour operator to ensure things go as smooth as possible. With that being said, the rewards found in cycling through the northern provinces of Vietnam far outweigh the costs. Weather in northern Vietnam can change rapidly as you ascend and descend in and out of higher altitudes, so you’ll want to bring a raincoat. No matter which way you meander through the ‘Vietnamese Alps’ be prepared for a moderate to difficult ride. The best time to be in Northern Vietnam is September through May.