High in the Northwest by Gravel Bike

vietnam bike tour 5

Overview

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.

Start

Hanoi | 17:00hrs

Finish

Hanoi

Lodging

casual

Level

moderate to challenging

Avg. dist. cycled

50km or 30mi

Suitable for

Age: 16+

Fly-In

HAN

Fly-Out

HAN

Highlights

Highlight Image

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.

Itinerary

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

Itinerary Image

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
Itinerary Image

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
Itinerary Image

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
Itinerary Image

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
Itinerary Image

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
Itinerary Image

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
Itinerary Image

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
Itinerary Image

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
Itinerary Image

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
Itinerary Image

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
Itinerary Image

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
Itinerary Image

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
Accommodation:

Ready to plan your adventure? Download a print-ready detailed itinerary.

Map

Dates and Prices

Members get an estimated 10% off on this trip.

$50/yearLearn more



Couldn't find a trip with convenient dates?

Open your date as a join-in tour or customize further as a private one.


Essential Info

Inclusions

LODGING

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.

bike

Immaculately maintained bike with helmet, suited to a terrain.

shuttle

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

meals

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

refreshments

Refreshments and mineral water while cycling.

entrance

Entrance fees to most of the monuments and temples.

E-bikes

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

Exclusions

Airport pickup and drop

We recommend to book direclty from airport or hotel.

meals

Some meals may not be included. Please check your itinerary.

Beverages

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

Bikes

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.

Bike Image

Trek Marlin 7 or similar

mountain

Included in your trip price

Bike Image

Giant Anyroad or similar

gravel

Included in your trip price

Bike Image

Giant Explore e+ or similar

ebike

Available at a surcharge

Weather

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.

Visa

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.

Reviews from our friends

End of reviews


What Sets Us Apart

itinerary icon

Thoughtfully Crafted

Each day is crafted with utmost care so that you are well-rested; get a drift of local culture and enjoy the curated routes at your own pace.

guide icon

Handpicked Hotels

True to their heritage and character, luxury and boutique hotels that reflect local ethos; providing an unforgettable experience.

bicycle icon

Top-quality Gear

With our unwavering commitment to quality, you can fully immerse in the adventure while we take care of providing top-notch bike.

like minded icon

Expert Guides

The folks who steer you towards a unique and enriching experience, and sometimes truly a life-changing adventure.


Join 5000+ Cycling Adventurers

Join our newsletter to get inspiration for your next biking adventure. Opt-out anytime.

Stay connected for the latest updates

Follow Us on Instagram

cycling adventures
cycling adventures
cycling adventures
cycling adventures
cycling adventures

Featured in

instagram iconyoutube iconlinkedin iconfacebook icon

© 2024 Art of Bicycle Trips