> Our motorbike trips in Vietnam > The Mountains of North Vietnam

THE MOUNTAINS OF NORTH VIETNAM

A travel in Vietnam by motorbike of 14 days and 13 nights

Description

The mountains of North Vietnam are ideal to travel in by motorbike for a 2 weeks length adventure or more. On this itinerary, the diversified landscapes and the various stops in homestays will put rhythm in the trip. This is an anthology of the most beautiful spots in North Vietnam: intimate and remote natural reserve with waterfalls and primary forests, tea plants and plum trees plateaus, stunning rice terraces, verdant valleys punctuated by ethnic villages, sharp and lunar-like mountains, wild and idyllic lake; for the vast majority of the nights, we will be warmly welcomed by local people in their traditional stilt houses.

You will have the choice between a wide variety of roads, among them trails, secondary roads, floating bridges and several peaks and winding tracks. A two weeks adventure in the north in which you won’t be able to get bored a single time!

Main strenghts

Long itinerary in the mountains with diversified landscapes: peaks, valleys, rice fields, forests, lakes…

Stopover in natural reserves: Ngoc Son Ngo Luong, Ha Giang, Ba Be

 Various nights in homestays

Meet the North Vietnam ethnic groups and discover their colorful markets

 Stopover at communities development projects

English speaking guide to translate, explain and interact with local people

Itinerary
Ha Noi – Ngoc Son Ngo Luong – Mai Chau – Phu Yen – Nghia Lo – Mu Cang Chai – Sapa – Bac Ha – Hoang Su Phi – Nam Dam– Pho Bang – Dong Van – Bao Lac – Ba Be – Ha Noi

Detailed program

Day 1 : Hanoi - Ngoc Son Ngo Luong

Hanoi-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnam-22We leave Hanoi to head south-west, to the luxuriant Ngoc Son Ngo Luong natural reserve. After 1 hour and a half of national road, we turn and reach the Kim Boi valley to enjoy bucolic landscapes and roads with less traffic.

Ngoc-Son-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnam-15Our ride lasts until we arrive at the mountain range which starts from Cuc Phuong until Pu Luong and Mai Chau. There, the road is going straight up in the mountains and will lead us to a plateau where the road become a trail. This part, sometimes more technical depending on the weather, brings us to the heart of the mountains, lands of the Muong.

Finally, we land in the height of the Mu village where a small river flows from the top of the valley, resulting in small ponds large enough to bathe in.
We keep on going down alongside the rice fields until we reach the Sat village. The frame in which is located the Muong’s house where we spend the night today is idyllic. If we have some time left before the night shows up, we will take a walk to discover the village.
Dinner with the family and night in a stilt house.

: Muong homestay / Private house / Shared room

: 140 km – 5h

: Guide and motorbikes

Day 2 : Ngoc Son Ngo Luong - Mai Chau

Breakfast on the verge of the waterfalls, where we will be able to wash before starting our ride.
It is time to get on our motorbikes to discover the surroundings and the daily activities that rhythm local people’s life in this peaceful valley. Then, we leave this idyllic frame to get to another natural reserve, Pu Luong. A bit of trail before quitting the plateau and reaching a stretch of Ho Chi Minh road; after that we take a homemade shortcut to enjoy a great path where the brave enough will be able to cross a bamboo floating bridge.

We enter the reserve and ride to the principal village and then go uphill in the valley, enjoying the amazing landscapes of rice terraces, small hamlets and primary forests. Landing to Mai Chau in the end of the day where we spend another night in a local people’s house.
Night in a Thai stilt house.

: White Thai homestay / Private house / Shared room

: 150 km – 6h

: Guide and motorbike

Day 3 : Mai Chau - Phu Yen

Mai-Chau-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnam-2We kindly thank our hosts and begin the day by the crossing of the Moc Chau plateau. The landscape is way different than the previous ones: little stone walls, small fruit trees, fields filled with big rocks which give to the plateau a moonscape aspect. Here, people grow tea plants, raise dairy cows and cultivate plum and peach trees, famous for their flowering at the end of the winter.

Phu-Yen-voyage-a-moto-en-petit-groupe-au-vietnam-38We leave the Son La road and head north, on a little and unfrequented sinuous road through the valley. The Pa Cham peak is appearing, at this moment we are going down straight to the Da River which ends up forming a lake. Way down to the jetty with an amazing sight, we now have to put our motorbikes on the ferry to cross the water. Twenty minutes later, back on our motorbikes, we are riding along a part of the lake, discovering manioc and paddy fields landscapes until we arrive at Phu Yen where we will stop.
Night at the hotel.

: Night in hotel

: 140 km – 5h

: Guide and motorbikes

Day 4 : Phu Yen - Nghia Lo

Phu-Yen-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnam-9Departure from Phu Yen’s valley with its paddy fields, we now get to the mountains where small paths will lead us to peaks, offering a panorama on wonderful cultivated valleys. 20km before the last stop of the day, if we are not late, we will leave the main road to join Suoi Giang at an altitude of 1000 meters, where mostly Nghia-Lo-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnam-17live the H’mong ethnic group.

The spot is famous for its centenary tea plants; the oldest one is supposed to be 300 years old. From this place, we will enjoy a great view on the wide Nghia Lo’s valley. Visit of the H’mong village located on the summit of the mountain.

Just before reaching Nghia Lo, we turn and get into a small hamlet; there, we settle in a Thai house.
Dinner and night in a traditional stilt house.

: Thai homestay / Private house / Shared room

: 100 km – 3h30

: Guide and motorbikes

Day 5 : Nghia Lo - Mu Cang Chai

Nghia-Lo-voyage-a-moto-en-petit-groupe-au-vietnam-36This morning, we are exploring the depths of the valley, discovering remote villages. We cross a large river thanks to a floating bridge and go through few traditional Thai villages. The houses are typical, each one next to others, forming little alleys where streams of fresh water are flowing. There, the villagers do the dishes, clean their vegetables, wash their hair, while being surrounded by ducks who get their baths.

Mu-Cang-Chai-voyage-a-moto-en-petit-groupe-au-vietnam-33We leave this heavenly place and head back to see our hosts to lunch with them. Meal ended, it is now time to go to Mu Cang Chai, few kilometers away. The path leading there is one of the most beautiful in Vietnam. The landscapes are stunning: wonderful panoramas, especially at the Khau Pha peak, rice terraces and several ethnic villages where we can stop by. This path has been listed as part of the natural national heritage.

Finally arriving to Mu Cang Chai, we will sleep a second time at a homestay, in a Thai house.
Dinner and night in a traditional stilt house.

: Night in a Thai inn  / Private room

: 90 km – 3h

: Guide and drivers

Day 6 : Mu Cang Chai - Sapa

Mu-Cang-Chai-voyage-a-moto-en-petit-groupe-au-vietnam-28Back on the motorbikes after the breakfast, today we will cross few peaks, valleys, and ride along the Hoang Lien cordillera.
First, we do a stop-over in the little town named Binh-Lu Tam Duong, surrounded by ethnic villages, down the mountains. The ethnic groups living there are numerous, among them are the Lao, Lu, H’mong Flower, H’mong Red, Dao. We might then have time to visit a Dao Black or Lu village.

Sapa-voyage-a-moto-en-petit-groupe-au-vietnam-42We are now heading to the highest peak of Vietnam, Tram Tron, near Sapa, rising at a height of 1900m. If we have enough time, we will also do a stop at the Silver Waterfall, high of more than 100m.

Landing in the end of afternoon, we settle at our hotel or homestay. Then, we have time to explore the main valley to discover the wonderful rice terraces and the ethnic villages that made Sapa famous.
Night at the hotel.

: Night in hotel

: 140 km – 4h

: Guide and motorbikes

Day 7 : Sapa - Bac Ha

Sapa-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnam-37This morning, we are heading to a valley located at the opposite of Sapa’s main valley, in the north, along the Chinese border. The road is beautiful, unfrequented, surrounded by paddy fields; it leads us to the Red Dao village of Ban Khoang, and then to Ta Giang Phin where are living the Dao and H’mong ethnic groups. We are landing on the border, and at that point, we ride next to it until arriving at Lao Cai where we will have lunch.

bac-ha-voyage-a-moto-en-petit-groupe-au-vietnam-2During the afternoon, we continue our way to Bac Ha, reaching the mountains again and then climbing at an altitude of around 1000 meters. We can ride gently or faster if we want to have time to do a little walk before the night falls. We will sleep at a Tay’s house, in the suburb of the town, enjoying a view on the fields and the mountains.

: Tay homestay / Private house / Shared room

: 140 km – 4h30

: Guide and motorbikes

Day 8 : Bac Ha - Hoang Su Phi

bac-ha-voyage-a-moto-en-petit-groupe-au-vietnam-3We leave early to join either the village of Can Cau, in the north of Bac Ha, or Sin Cheng, another one. On Wednesdays and Saturdays are held the weekly markets in these remote hamlets. If our trip does not correspond to these two days, we will find another village to visit.
In this region, the ethnic markets in the mountains are mostly attended by H’mong Flower, but also by Dao Black, Phu La, Tay, Nung and Giay who give life and color to it thanks to their colorful traditional clothes.

pan-hou-ecolodge-voyage-a-moto-vietnamPeople come here to sell and buy several commodities: silks, wooden or bamboo crafts, tobacco, living animals and many others… The market is also a social event where ethnic groups meet and drink together some ru’ou, the local made rice alcohol.
After the lunch, we head to Hoang Su Phi by crossing Xin Man. The shortcuts we take lead us to the summit of the mountains; a splendid panorama where we are able to see the Chinese-Vietnamese mountains.

We continue our journey on a sinuous road along the mountain, next to the ravine where flow the Chay River.
We settle in the Lodge where we will spend the night, located in the middle of paddy fields; we will have the rest of our day to discover the surroundings.

: Night in Pan Hou Ecolodge / Standard room

: 120 km – 4h

: Guide and motorbikes

Day 9 : Hoang Su Phi - Nam Dam

Bac-Ha-voyage-a-moto-en-petit-groupe-au-vietnamWe gently wake up in the idyllic setting of the Lodge before preparing ourselves to start our ride of the day. This morning, we join the main road and go up the Lo River to Ha Giang. The cities, the people, the traffic and the fields are becoming more numerous. It is time to stop to have lunch.

Nam-Dam-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnam-23After Ha Giang, we gain altitude and enjoy a great view on the countryside around us. We get through the “Sky’s Gate” and reach Quan Ba district, an area where the community development is growing more and more. It is indeed one of the poorest districts in Vietnam, and the organizations try to help the local people diversifying their activities by participating in tourism projects, like with the Can Ty project that we will discover the day after.
We continue until we get to the Nam Dam village where the Dao ethnic group live. We settle here for the night.
Night in a homestay.

: Dao homestay / Private house

: 150 km – 5h

: Guide and motorbikes

Day 10 : Nam Dam - Pho Bang - Dong Van

Hagiang-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnam-12 - copieWe leave the Dao village to meet the Blue H’mong of the Can Ty village, where we discover the local craft activity: the hemp weaving, done by the women. Organized into cooperatives and supported by a non-governmental association, they maintain their tradition which is tending to disappear because of the competition with the Chinese low priced production.

Hagiang-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnam-14Back on the road, we are heading to the Chinese border, to Pho Bang more exactly, where local people, mostly originated from China, live in clay houses. There, during week-ends, a market is hold.

We continue our journey with a great winding path leading us higher, on a plateau where we will discover the former palace of the H’mong King of this province.
Then, we soon arrive to Dong Van. The town has preserved a typical ambience thanks to its old market and its ancient houses in stone and tile. After having settled in our hotel, we discover the city and its market.

: Night at the hotel

: 110 km – 4h

: Guide and motorbikes

Day 11 : Dong Van - Bao Lac

At Dong Van, we will also be able to attend the market if we are there on a Sunday. We continue our ride, cross desolated and stony mountains with almost no vegetation.
From the Ma Li Peng peak, you will be able to contemplate the mountains with their sharp contours, steep slopes and stone fields. The way down is vertiginous and impressive.

Lolo-noirs-Bao-Lac-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnamWe continue our descent in the mountains, further south. The landscape and the vegetation are changing as we are getting close to Bao Lac, while remaining mountainous.
The villages are getting numerous when we reach the lands of the Tay, Nung, Dao, H’mong and Lolo.
Night at the hotel.

: Night at the hotel

: 110km – 4h

: Guide and motorbikes

Day 12 : Bao Lac - Ba Be

Ba-Be-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnam-26This morning we are heading to the Lolo village, “Coc Xa”. Little walk through it to discover the various activities of the villagers; living remotely, they conserved their whole traditions.

Ba-Be-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnam-4After lunch, we are leaving for Ba Be. It is a wonderful natural park, famous for its wide lake surrounded by karst peaks which are covered by lush vegetation. Around the lake mostly live Tay, Dao and Mong ethnic groups, who rely on fishing and rice cultivation to survive. Early in the morning, when the weather is foggy, this atypical landscape is getting mysterious and fairy.

We pass through the entrance of the park and continue until Pac Ngoi, small Tay village where we will spend the night. We settle in a homestay and take a little walk to discover the surroundings before getting dinner.
Night in stilt house.

: Tay homestay / Shared room

: 130 km – 4h30

: Guide and motorbikes

Day 13 : Ba Be

Ba-Be-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnam-16Today, we let the motorbikes have some rest and will use only our muscles instead. We reach the jetty, get onboard of a little motor boat and start our adventure through the widest lake of North Vietnam, enjoying an outstanding landscape while being surrounded by limestone cliffs and jungle.

Ba-Be-voyage-a-moto-au-vietnam-5Now, we head to the Puong cave; it crosses the mountains from both sides and is inhabited by a group of numerous bats. From there, we continue to Ban Cam, a Tay village along the Nang River.
We keep riding alongside the river until we reach a local restaurant where we will have lunch.

In the afternoon, we take a walk to the Dau Dang waterfalls before getting back on the boat. On our way back, we stop over at the small An Ma temple located on a tiny island.
After returning to Pac Ngoi, we see our Tay hosts again to spend a second evening and night at their place.
Night in stilt house.

: Tay homestay / Private house / Shared room

: Guide

Day 14 : Ba Be - Hanoi

Découverte de Ba Be à moto After our breakfast in Pac Ngoi, we tie our bags to the motorbikes for the last time. We head to the Hua Ma cave, 8km south-west from the park. The cave, 500 meters long, has wonderful and various stalactites.

Unfortunately, it is now time to go back to Hanoi. We will stop at few spots on our way “home” to enjoy landscapes, discover some tea plants which made Thai Nguyen famous, and have lunch, of course!
Arrival in Hanoi in the end of the afternoon.

: 240 km – 6h

: Guide and motorbikes

Photo gallery

CUSTOM-MADE QUOTATION FOR THIS MOTORBIKE TRIP

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