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Mountains and Beaches: Ha Giang to the Coast
Soaring past stunning mountains and breezing down the coastline of Vietnam, this incredible cycling adventure combines two contrasting sides of Vietnam and enables you to pedal into uncharted territory, while soaking up the beautiful sights. Packing in a fascinating history, traditional villages, beaches and fishing communities, Vietnam offers so much while the kindness and welcoming culture of locals will have you leafing through your photographs for years to come.
- Duration13 days
- Culture LevelOut There
- Skill Level3 - Intermediate
- Activity Level4 - Challenging
- Elevation4 - Challenging
- Distance363.5 miles
- Avg. Daily Distance40.4 miles
- Day 1Excitement building in Hanoi Touchdown!
You are finally in Vietnam’s hectic capital of Hanoi ahead of what will be the cycling adventure of a lifetime. To help you ease into things a airport pickup has been arranged to bring you to the hotel in the Old Quarter of the city. This wonderful area is superb for taking a wander with hawkers selling everything on the streets, while bikes jostle for space on the roads and the smell of local delicacies wafts through the air. Having explored the city and its distinct culture, meet up with the rest of the group to go over the plan for the tour and then walk to dinner for your first Vietnamese meal.
- Day 2Heading out to Ha Giang Province
Mountains always hold a strong allure for cyclists and this is where you will kick start the trip on bikes. Head out to the final frontier of northern Vietnam - Ha Giang Province which is close to the border with China. Getting there takes some time so you will drive out early in the morning and arrive slightly after midday. Immediately you will be taken aback by how remote you've gone, with Ha Giang seemingly untouched by tourism and surrounded by luscious green scenery and spectacular karst mountains. Ethnic minorities make up 90% per cent of the population here and it lends itself to a peaceful atmosphere. Upon arriving, bust out the bikes to take a warm up ride round the city before spending the afternoon relaxing and preparing for the real cycling that lies ahead.
- 12.4 miles
- Day 3Hallelujah, it’s Heaven’s Gate!
Today things begin to pick up as you crack on with a first full day of riding. Begin by following the river before tackling the first climb and subsequent descent. Following a break for lunch, face some more climbs and begin to discover how challenging the terrain and gradient of Ha Giang can be. It makes for some testing moments, but once you get into the flow it becomes easier and it’s worth it once you reach the high pass of Quan Ba.
Otherwise known as Heaven’s Gate, the pass affords the most sensational panoramic views which will leave you breathless in appreciation if the climb hasn’t already. Following this, take a descent into the community of Tam Song, a quiet village that somehow clings to the side of the beautiful limestone hills. It makes for a fantastic place to explore alongside your local and experienced guides.
- 29.2 miles
- Day 4Climbing higher and higher
It’s an early start as you prepare to climb the epic Ha Giang Plateau in the afternoon. Begin the day with a traditional breakfast and a strong coffee – it’s definitely recommended for today’s riding. Keep riding the descent you began yesterday and continue to marvel at the hill-tribe communities that light up the green scenery with bursts of color in their traditional clothing. The locals trade everything from farm animals to materials and it is wonderful to watch them go about their daily tasks.
Having completed the descent, follow the river for a little bit before you begin climbing, however this is just the warm up for what is to follow after lunch. Jumping back on the saddle you will feel the blood pumping as you begin to climb higher and higher up the mountains with the surrounding scenery seeming to get more impressive with every rotation of the pedals. At each stage you will feel like the climbing is never ending, but backed up by your fellow riders it is well worth the push as you marvel at the incredible scenes around you. Finally, having descended into Meo Vac valley you will be absolutely delighted to see that a feast and beer greets your arrival. Having scoffed those down it’s time for a well-earned night’s sleep.
- 64 miles
- Day 5Riding ever closer to the Chinese border
You may awake today with tired legs and realize that there are more climbing to be done. Fortunately, the climbs today are minor compared to yesterday and will be a walk in the park for you after your previous accomplishments. Beauty is at every turn as you push onwards with huge gorges leading you into wild lands and ever closer to the border of China. Less than 20km (12mi) is the border that has been defended and fought over on multiple occasions by the Vietnamese.
Afterwards, pedal off to the dainty Dong Van Market to soak up the sun, drink a much needed coffee and explore its charms. Dependent on time, you may squeeze in a visit to the palace of the former Hmong King before driving back to Meo Vac and resting your legs again.
- 24.9 miles
- Day 6Zooming down to lower lands in Bao Lac
Today will come as a welcome relief for both your legs and mind as you finally begin to descend. Dropping down from the beautiful mountains into lower lands, you will soon find the temperature getting warmer but the air breezing past you on the bike will keep you cool and content.
Once at the bottom, follow an undulating road and take in your new environment of sleepy villages and minor hillsides. Finish off a comfortable day of riding by breezing into the tiny town of Bao Lac in the mid-afternoon.
- 46.6 miles
- Day 7Breezing through the mountains to reach Ba Be Lake
To keep this ride both mentally and physically stimulating, you'll have a two and a half hour transfer to skip the least interesting section of the ride. You will be delighted to have done this as you land in a thicket of forests and never-ending terraced rice paddies.
Back on the bikes, ride through this stunning environment with the majority of the ride going downhill. The eventual target is a stunning lake in the mountains known as Ba Be and once you reach it you will be captivated by its beauty. A celebratory beer or drink awaits you safe in the knowledge that the hardest part of the ride is over as we now head for some beachside riding.
- 43.5 miles
- Day 8Leaving the mountains for the coast
Squeeze in a bit of time for a paddle on the peaceful fresh waters of Ba Be Lake before driving to Hanoi to board a flight to Hue. The next stage of the ride will begin in the former imperial capital of Vietnam and it promises to be as exhilarating as the mountain riding you’ve already enjoyed.
- Day 9Checking out Hue’s past
Hue is a history buff’s dream and today is an easy day for riding around the city. Located on the Perfume River, take in the big tourist sites such as the Forbidden City and Tu Duc’s tomb. Hue provides a tranquil atmosphere and is an ideal place for gliding around on bike as you check out a local monastery and the mini colosseum where the Emperor used to watch tigers and elephants battle. Enjoy a vegetarian lunch of local cuisine today before boarding a gentle boat ride back to the hotel.
- 18.6 miles
- Day 10Soaring south along the sand to Lang Co Beach
Hue, like so many other Vietnamese cities, was ravaged by the war with America and it's no surprise to find out that it's a spot where so many people fled to depart from the realities of the war. It remains an important area today with tombstones covering the peninsula in recognition of those who lost their lives trying to escape. It is a somber moment and serves as an interesting reminder of how Vietnam and its people have overcome such hardships to remain a fascinating and beautiful country to explore. This is made further evident as you continue to ride down the coast passing picturesque fishing villages and a spectacular lagoon before reaching the stunning Lang Co Beach. With majestic mountains as the backdrop you'll feel relaxed as you check into the hotel and check out the views.
- 52.8 miles
- Day 11Pretty Hoi An awaits after the pass
The lagoon near the hotel is the perfect spot to warm up your legs ahead of climbing the Hai Van Pass. You will notice while riding that the climate can shift noticeably, with the weather on the north side of the pass differing vastly from the south. Regardless of this, the cycling today is mesmerizing as you reach the top and cruise past French and US bunkers as you sweep through the coast and Danang.
Skirt past Danang and instead head for the historic town of Hoi An, where you'll stay on a nearby beach. A combination of cultures and architecture, Hoi An is a wonderful place to wander round and a real foodie’s delight with excellent cuisine on offer.
- 40.4 miles
- Day 12Moving out to mesmerizing My Son
It is the last day of riding and boy what a fantastic trip it has been! You’ve climbed numerous mountain passes, cruised down coastal roads and marveled at the beautiful vistas of Vietnam and the incredible history of this country. But there's one more special day ahead as you cycle out on a day trip to My Son, the ancient center of Cham Civilization. There lies a scattered collection of Hindu temples from a period when the Kingdom of Champa controlled much of central and south Vietnam. While many of the temples are in ruins from the bombings of previous wars, the site still carries a mythical atmosphere that makes it fascinating to visit.
To get to it you'll ride some superb back road trails which will put your weary legs and wheels to the test before returning to Hoi An and revel on this epic journey. Enjoy a final farewell dinner together before you are free to explore Hoi An’s nightlife and celebrate an impressive adventure.
- 31.1 miles
- Day 13Time to set off elsewhere
It is the end of the trip and while it is sad to be saying goodbye, you can still reminisce on what has been an amazing trip riding through the beautiful country of Vietnam. Have one last breakfast together with the group before going your separate ways. The tour provider will be happy to arrange airport transfers or should you wish to stay in Hoi An they can assist with arrangements.