It's a tough ride but spectacular throughout, taking in plantations, rice paddies, valleys and villages and, of course, the sublime mountains
Throughout the tour, you'll meet the friendly hill people, dressed in distinct colorful and traditional clothing specific to their tribe
Enjoy the group camaraderie and the expertise of your guide as you journey together on this adventurous and epic tour

Mountain Biking Vietnam's Northwest Mountains (10 Days)

Duration
10 days
Site savings
$60
From
$1,935 USD

Calling all adventurous mountain bike lovers! This is a tour created with you in mind. A tough yet fulfilling expedition through glorious mountainous terrain, riding through the Northwest from Hanoi up to Tam Duong and then hugging the border of Laos for a section before heading inland back down to Hanoi. You'll be traversing through a lesser-visited part of the country and benefitting from the local guide's knowledge and skills in getting to know this wonderful land from the ground up, mingling with the varied hill-tribes and inhabitants that populate this special part of Vietnam.

  • Category
    Mountain Biking
  • Type
    Fully Guided
  • Duration
    10 days
  • Culture Level
    Adventurous
  • Skill Level
    3 - Intermediate
  • Activity Level
    4 - Challenging
  • Elevation
    4 - Challenging
  • Terrain
    Mountainous
  • Distance
    316.9 miles
  • Avg. Daily Distance
    45.4 miles
operated by
SpiceRoads Cycling
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Quick Stats

  • Duration
    10 days
  • Main Destination
    Northern Vietnam
  • Distance
    316.9 miles
  • Avg. Daily Distance
    45.4 miles
  • Elevation
    4 - Challenging
  • Terrain
    Mountainous

Route Map (click to view larger image)

Itinerary Details

  1. Day 1Hanoi to Lao Cai

    You will meet the group in Hanoi, having a bit of a chance to explore Vietnam's capital before you catch the Tulico Express, the overnight train up north, to the start of your adventure. Bikes and luggage can be dropped off at the tour operator's local office, so you can visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, go to the Temple of Literature, or have a relaxing massage to help recover from jet lag. You will then meet up in the early evening for dinner and transfer to the train station, along with bikes and bags, for the 260 km (161.5 mi) overnight train journey to Lao Cai. The train is a very civilized affair with compartments sleeping four and a carriage where you can buy food and refreshments.

    • Overnight train to Lao Cai
    • Dinner
  2. Day 2Lao Cai to Sapa

    You will cycle 4 km (2.4 mi) on a tarmac road, then turn left and enjoy a 3 km (1.8 mi) off-road ride along a hillside. This undulating ride along a dirt track has a few short challenging hills but with beautiful mountain scenery. You will cycle downhill to Ma Tra Village, home to the Black Hmong. Here you can have lunch before continuing cycling on a rough track looping to Ta Phin and some dramatic mountain scenery. You will take a break in Ta Phin, one of the most beautiful villages in Sapa, and your guide will take you around and introduce you to the culture and customs of the Red Dzao people. From Ta Phin, there are several alternative tracks that loop and drop down to the main Lao Chai road. Depending on weather conditions, these can be muddy and slippery but are great fun to ride. Once you get to the main road, you can transfer back to Sapa, or you can cycle the extra 15 km (9.3 mi), if you wish. Due to the nature of the trail, the ride cannot be supported the whole way by jeep, but there will be spots along the trail where you can rendezvous with the support vehicle. Late afternoon can be spent exploring Sapa before meeting up with the group for dinner.

    • 13.7 miles
    • Chau Long Hotel
    • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks
  3. Day 3Sapa to Tran Ton Pass to Tam Duong to Lai Chau

    Today you will ride out of Sapa and complete the 15 km (9.3 mi) road climb up to Tram Ton Pass – the highest road pass in Vietnam at 2,000 m (6,561 ft). You will then have a superb 25 km (15.5 mi) descent into a beautiful valley. The countryside is truly wonderful as you pass tea plantations, and all the inhabitants are from minority tribes. The weather always seems to get clearer this side of the mountains, and if you look back, you should get views of Fansipan (3,143 m/10,311 ft), the highest mountain in Indochina. At the small town of Tam Duong, you will have lunch and then turn left off the main road to cycle 28 km (17.3 mi) on a lovely country lane through the remote villages of Ban Hon and Ban Giang. You have now left any sign of other western tourists and are in a land of rice paddies, small coffee plantations, and sharp limestone cliffs. You will finish in the new city of Lai Chau.

    • 45.4 miles
    • Muong Thanh Lai Chau Hotel
    • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks
  4. Day 4Lai Chau to Muong Lay

    You will start the day with an easy pedal from the sleepy town of Lai Chau, but things pick up after 10 km (6.2 mi), where there is a climb that soon turns into a long, sweeping downhill. The first half of the road is amid mountains and rice terraces; the second is along the Nam Na River, with towering mountains on both sides of the road. The afternoon ride toward Muong Lay is mainly flat with a few slight dips and rises to keep things interesting. The town is at the confluence of the Nam Na River, the Nam Lay River, and the Da River.

    • 66.5 miles
    • Lan Anh 1 Hotel
    • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks
  5. Day 5Muong Lay to Dien Bien Phu

    Another hilly day, but you will start nice and easy by following a river for 15 km (9.3 mi), before starting your first climb of the day of over 19 km (11.8 mi) when you reach a pass at 860 m (2,821 ft). At the top, you'll take a break at a well-located tea shop for refreshments. The average gradient of the pass is relatively easy, averaging around 6-8%. Dropping down to a plateau around 400 m (1,312 ft), you will stop regularly at some of the last hill tribe villages and have lunch in a local restaurant, where your guide can introduce you to the local customs. There is another short final climb up to a 650 m (2,132 ft) pass before you prepare a broad smile to greet the kids as you cycle through paddy fields on the final flat stretch into the historic town of Dien Bien Phu.

    • 64 miles
    • Muong Thanh Hotel
    • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks
  6. Day 6Dien Bien Phu Rest Day

    After all those hills, your legs deserve a rest and what better place to do it than in the history-rich city of Dien Bien Phu. You will visit the war museum which has interesting displays about the climactic battle of the First Indochina War between French Union forces and Vietnamese Viet Minh communist revolutionary forces. From March until May 1954, the Viet Minh pounded the French positions, killing up to 3,000 men, though it's estimated that the Viet Minh lost more than twice that number. The massive French defeat effectively ended the war. There’s also a local market to explore. Dinner is on your own tonight.

    • Muong Thanh Hotel
    • Breakfast and Lunch
  7. Day 7Dien Bien Phu to Son La

    You will have an early start to transfer approximately 2.5 hours to Tuan Giao to avoid the dust from road construction. In Tuan Giao, you will get back on the bikes and soon start climbing. The climb over Pha Din Pass, a famous Indochina War site, won’t soon be forgotten, as it’s an unrelenting 10-18% grade for 14 km (8.6 mi). The switchbacks lead up a very fertile valley, lined with terraced rice paddies on the pretty ride. The traditional dress of the locals varies from village to village depending on their tribe. After lunch at a local restaurant, the road rolls gently downhill with one last 5 km (3.1 mi) climb at the end of the day into Son La.

    • 52.2 miles
    • Hanoi Hotel
    • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks
  8. Day 8Son La to Mai Chau

    You will start the day with a transfer to avoid the main highway, but you’ll still get the distance in as today’s ride totals 96 km (59.6 mi)! You will ride on a looping country road that passes through a patchwork quilt of corn, sugar cane, and barley fields. You will ride 51 km (31.7 mi) before breaking for lunch at a restaurant in Kim Chung town. You will then transfer for two hours to avoid a rough and steep section. Then it’s time to get back on the bikes and enjoy the last 45 km (27.9 mi), which are down, down, and down – except for a few small climbs – to Mai Chau Valley where your wonderful lodge for the evening awaits you.

    • 59.7 miles
    • Mai Chau Valley View
    • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks
  9. Day 9Mai Chau to Hanoi

    After breakfast, and perhaps a quick walk up to a temple, you will pick up your bike and cycle 25 km (15.5 mi) on single track through the valley. The trail takes you to ethnic villages, over wooden bridges and through rice paddies. You will finish riding at Cun Pheo and transfer to Lac village for lunch. You will then board a private boat for a three-hour cruise on the Da River, the largest reservoir in Northern Vietnam, and head to Hoa Binh. Relax, take in the country life as it passes by, and luxuriate in the cool breeze as you cruise. At Hoa Binh, you will hop on a bus and transfer two hours to Hanoi, arriving late in the afternoon. You will regroup later in the evening for a farewell dinner.

    • 15.5 miles
    • Church Boutique Hang Gai
    • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks
  10. Day 10Hanoi

    The trip ends in Hanoi, where you might want to take the morning to pick up your bike and enjoy a cycle ride around the Old Quarter. Hotel checkout is at noon.

    • Breakfast