7 Day Northwest Vietnam Mountains Motorbike Tour
This motorbike tour has us ride through 7 different provinces and has a bit of everything. There are country back roads, challenging and easy off-road tracks as well as amazing paved mountain passes. We’ll visit small minority villages as well as some larger provincial capitals. At several different points, we tour across the Hoàng Liên Sơn Mountain Range, the largest in Vietnam.
Day 1 Hanoi – Phu Yen/Bac Yen (Phu Yen 210km/ Bac Yen 240km)
We escape Hanoi and head to Hoa Binh city with Vietnam’s largest Hydropower plant and dam. Next, we head into the hills on lesser-known trails that offer both on and off-road motorbike touring nearby Xuan Son National Park.
In the afternoon we have the option of staying in Phu Yen if the day is too long – we can make up the extra 30km the next day if we choose.
Day 2 Bac Yen –Nghia Lo (50km challenging off road and 35km on paved roads)
Day two is all about off-road motorbike touring. Early on we ride up into the clouds to Dragon Back Ridge before testing our skills on 50km of off-road. The tracks are in steep mountains with spectacular views. Although only a short distance these tracks take time to ride.
In the afternoon we follow an amazing river gorge over paved/semi-paved roads.
Day 3 Nghia Lo –Mu Cang Chai – Son La (170km)
Early in the day we traverse the Khau Pha Pass one of the largest in Vietnam.
We then pass through Mu Cang Chai which rivals Sapa for its beautiful rice terraced mountains and colourful minority people.
The final leg is off-road through to Son La.
Day 4 Son La – Muong Lay (170km minimum/270km via Dien Bien)
In the morning we ride through caves that were once inhabited and used for operations during the American-Vietnam war.
Next, we can choose to ride the well-paved road to Dien Bien or take a shorter, lesser-known route.
The ride to Dien Bien takes us via the massive Pha Din Mountain pass which in itself is a 32km ride
Day 5 Muong Lay- Sin Ho- Lai Chau 180km
We ascend to Sin Ho plateau, an awesome climb to nearly as high as Sapa before descending to Lai Chau city.
We also have the option of spending the night in the small town of Sin Ho and adding the leg to Lai Chau to the day 6 itinerary.
Muong Lay to Sin Ho is 100km.
Sin Ho to Lai Chau city is 60-80km depending on route.
Day 6 Lai Chau – Sapa 70km
On day six we ascend the legendary O Quy Ho Mountain pass to an altitude of over 2000m.
Once in Sapa we can spend the rest of the day exploring Sapa, its surrounding area and waterfalls by motorbike. Alternatively we can simply relax and venture around Sapa on foot.
Day 7 Sapa – Lao Cai 70km – Lao Cai – Hanoi (various options)
We check out the local morning markets before descending to Lao Cai city next to the Chinese border. The are several routes and we can choose to either roll on down the mountain on tarmac or ride some fun off-road.
We catch a train to Hanoi that evening and arrive in the early morning of day 8.
*This motorbike tour can be easily shortened by a day if you wish to skip the night in Sapa and ride straight through to Lao Cai.
We can also ride back to Hanoi on Day 7; bear in mind its roughly 320km and a long day’s ride though. Another option is to put our bikes on a train and catch a bus back to Hanoi on Day 7 to arrive that evening.