High in the Northwest by Gravel Bike

vietnam bike tour 5

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Northern Vietnam is home to mountains covered with lush tropical forests. The rolling terrain combined with gradual long climbs from low-lying riverside valleys to highlands is just perfect – a cyclist’s delight. Here you get to ride along the beautiful rivers and through spectacular karst mountain ranges and the lush valleys. This is an excellent way to experience life in the highlands of Vietnam.


Hanoi | 17:00hrs






moderate to challenging

Avg. dist. cycled

50km or 30mi

Group size

Min. 2, Max. 12






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karst mountain ranges

The mighty rivers and spectacular karst mountain ranges become the focus of the trip as we skirt the edges of the two watery snakes for a long time. Once you are done with the trip, you will miss them.


Brief Itinerary

DayPlacecasual Inns or similarMealsDistanceActivity
DAY 1HanoiSilk Path Boutique HotelD
DAY 2Overnight train from Hanoi to Lao CaiTrainB,L
DAY 3Lao Cai to Sapa Eden BoutiqueB,L,D30km / 18micycling
DAY 4 Lai Chau Muong ThanhB,L,D 70km / 42micycling
DAY 5Sin HoThanh Binh HotelB,L,D60km / 36micycling
DAY 6Muong LayLan Anh 1B,L,D60km / 36micycling
DAY 7Dien Bien PhuHim LamB,L,D100km / 60micycling
DAY 8Dien Bien PhuHim LamB,L
DAY 9Son LaHa NoiB,L80km / 50micycling
DAY 10Mai ChauMai Chau LodgeB,L,D80km / 50micycling
DAY 11Mai ChauMai Chau LodgeB,L30km / 18micycling
DAY 12HanoiB,L60km / 36micycling

Detailed Itinerary

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Day 1: Hanoi

Arrive in Hanoi and enjoy the day at leisure. Our guide meets you at your hotel at 17:00hrs for a bike fit and briefing over dinner tonight.

Meals: D
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Day 2: Overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai

Today morning, walk the busy streets of Hanoi and visit some of the cultural and historical highlights of Hanoi; Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and One Pillar Pagoda, constructed nearly a millennium ago. Also, visit the Temple of Literature, dating back close to a thousand years, is a wonderfully preserved piece of ancient Vietnamese architecture and stands to honor the scholarly achievements of the country’s academics and philosophers. Continue exploring the area around Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake, the old quarter including Ngoc Son Temple, which sits perched on a little island in the lake.

The afternoon is free for you to relax or explore the markets. We meet again in the evening and take an overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai.

Meals: B,L
Accommodation: Train
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Day 3: Lao Cai to Sapa

Meet your tour guide at Lao Cai railway station and get transferred to Sapa. This morning, take a short hike around and visit some of the ethnic villages. After lunch, we go for a short bike ride, giving a glimpse of spectacular karst scenery and what is to come in the next few days.

Sapa is a spectacular hill station and home to the region’s largest ethnic groups, H’mong and Dao people.

Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 30km / 18mi
Accommodation: Eden Boutique
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Day 4: Lai Chau

A classic ride today. Starting from your hotel at Sapa, we make a gradual climb up to Tram Ton Pass (2000m), Vietnam’s highest mountain pass on the northern side of Fansipan and 15km from Sapa. The climb is rewarded with enchanting views of terraced rice fields, tea plantations, and innumerable streams. Enjoy a sheer drop to 750m in about 25km to the Lai Chao side. We stop here for lunch at a roadside restaurant and continue cycling to Lai Chau. The scenery is spectacular throughout the day and gives an opportunity for plenty of landscape photos. The region is mainly inhabited by white Thai and White H’mong people. Lao Cai To Sapa-Lai Chau.png

Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 70km / 42mi
Accommodation: Muong Thanh
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Day 5: Sin Ho

Sin Ho is regarded as a sleeping beauty. You’ll be surprised that hardly anybody comes here and yet it boasts some of the best mountain scenery in this region. Another amazing day on a bike as we ride the old highway and reach Sin Ho. A tough day on a bike today, rewarded with amazing views all around. Lai Chau-Sin Ho.png

Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 60km / 36mi
Accommodation: Thanh Binh Hotel
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Day 6: Muong Lay

Go for a hike in a nearby area and discover the local life at close quarters. In the late morning, get ready to bike towards Muong Lay. Another good day on the bike as we make way past amazing topography to Muong Lay. Mostly a downhill ride today. Sin Ho-Muong Lay.png

Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 60km / 36mi
Accommodation: Lan Anh 1
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Day 7: Dien Bien Phu

Today is a long riding day. We cross few not-so-high passes along the way before arriving at Dien Bien Phu. The river plays a big part in today’s cycling journey as we ride largely along Nam Na river flanked by bananas and bamboo plantations, and past lush paddy fields. Moung Lay-Dien Bien Phu.png

Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 100km / 60mi
Accommodation: Him Lam
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Day 8: Dien Bien Phu

Visit some classic highlights of Dien Bien Phu such as A1 Hill and Dien Bien Phu Museum.

Meals: B,L
Accommodation: Him Lam
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Day 9: Son La

We take a good 2-2.5hrs transfer in the morning to Tuan Giao in preparation for riding towards Son La. Start the ride with a gradual climb and reach the peak (1,450m). From here it’s a sheer drop to about 600m. The last leg is undulating.

The region is dotted with fields of corn, rice, and plum trees with occasional Karst mountains and picturesque gorges. The area is mainly inhabited by White H’mong and is one of the most unvisited parts of Vietnam. Dien Bien Phu-Son la.png

Meals: B,L
Cycling Distance: 80km / 50mi
Accommodation: Ha Noi
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Day 10: Mai Chau

It’s a long day interspersed with transfers and rides. Cycle past spectacular mountain range with karst cliffs, terraced rice fields, and a typical agricultural landscape, ending at beautiful valleys of Mai Chau. The experience is truly unique as we get to experience a good change in landscape.

Mai Chau is a collection of villages and offers a true rural cycling experience. Son La-Mai Chau.png

Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 80km / 50mi
Accommodation: Mai Chau Lodge
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Day 11: Mai Chau

Today enjoy a thrilling loop around the gorgeous valley and experience Mai Chau village life at close quarters. It’s an off-beat trail and some sections are over a gravel road. We pass by many bucolic villages where children come to greet us and through tumbling steams. The region is mainly inhabited by White Thai people.

Do enjoy the evening walking around the valley and admiring simple rural life amidst spectacular scenery.

Meals: B,L
Cycling Distance: 30km / 18mi
Accommodation: Mai Chau Lodge
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Day 12: Hanoi

The initial stretch has a bit of climb and then it delves down to the foothills of mountains. The topography is adorned with timber and fern trees. After around 45km, we stop for lunch along the Da reservoir and then make a transfer to Ky Son to cycle further along rivers and lakes. The cycling is up to yen Trung and then take a shuttle transfer to Hanoi. Mai Chau-Hanoi.png

Meals: B,L
Cycling Distance: 60km / 36mi

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Dates and Prices

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Essential Info



All hotels as mentioned in the tour details or similar (subject to availability).

trip leader

Expert Trip Leader(s) who look after your every need and add meaning to your vacation.


Immaculately maintained bike with helmet, suited to a terrain.


A Van support follows the group of riders and carries all belongings.


Meals as per itinerary. Guests are given the opportunity to dine on their own so that they discover a location independently.


Refreshments and mineral water while cycling.


Entrance fees to most of the monuments and temples.


E-bikes are available (subject to availability) on this trip at a surcharge.


Airport pickup and drop

We recommend to book direclty from airport or hotel.


Beverages such as alcohol, tea, coffee, juice at a hotel or restaurant.


Gratuities for your guide team are not included in the trip price.


When you have a road and the thrill of a journey ahead of you, it’s imperative to have a good bike to enjoy it. Our fleet majorly consist of the below bikes as a part of this tour. However, sometimes due to height or availability constraints, we may provide a different but similar quality bike.

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Trek Marlin 7 or similar


Included in your trip price

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Giant Anyroad or similar


Included in your trip price

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Giant Explore e+ or similar


Available at a surcharge


The cycling season in the northwestern mountains of Vietnam runs from late August to May. December and January are cold with light showers, and travelers need to prepare accordingly.






























Residents from a number of countries have visa exemption status for tourist visits to Vietnam. For a full list of up-to-date visa-exempt countries, see the Vietnam Foreign Affairs website.

Starting August 15, 2023, the Vietnam government will start offering an e-visa valid for up to 90 days with multiple entries, replacing the current 30-day, single-entry option. Furthermore, passport holders from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom will benefit from an extended visa exemption period of 45 days, up from the current 15 days. Eligible foreign nationals will either benefit from a longer duration of stay and greater flexibility with the extended e-visa validity of up to 90 days and multiple entries, or enjoy an extended visa exemption period of 45 days.

e-Visa – You can apply for an e-visa through the government website, then, once approved, simply print it out and present it upon arrival in Vietnam. The additional benefit of the e-visa is that it's valid at land borders, not just airports. The processing time ranges from 2 to 7 working days. We recommend applying 2 weeks in advance to avoid unexpected delays. Read more about tourist e-visas for Vietnam at the Vietnam Immigration portal and apply there.

While applying online for an approval letter, please ensure that you have the following documents:

  • Passport scanned copy: A scanned copy of your passport - front (main) page. It shouldn't be a mobile photo or a photo taken from a laptop. Strictly scanned copy done through a computer scanner.
  • Passport size photo: portrait photo (4*6 size, colored photo, white background, straight looking without glasses). A photo taken from a mobile or laptop may or may not work, so I would strictly advise getting one made through a nearby photo studio (retail shop) that specializes in taking photos for visas.

Here is an excellent resource on Vietnam visas that may be worth looking at.

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