The Far North is off the beaten track and the Northwest is the roof of Vietnam where the Hoang Lien Mountains (Tonkinese Alps) soar to over 3,000m. Here some of Vietnam’s most spectacular scenery can be found. On several days we venture away from the tourist meccas, cycling through traditional villages and staying in small towns with modest lodgings.
Much of the area is sparsely populated and the mountains are still home to many ethnic minorities. The women wear brightly coloured skirts, tops and hats, with each ethnic group favouring its own colour variation and design. One of the highlights of the tour is the Bac Ha weekly market where villagers from miles around to buy and sell everything from crafts to horses. There is an overnight at Sapa, a onetime French hill station; from here we take an overnight train back to Hanoi.
Day 1: HANOI.
Explore the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake before we meet to fit you to your bikes and test the bikes prior to a welcome dinner.
Day 2: MAI CHAU.
Start biking on quiet roads to the hidden valley of Mai Chau, where Thai people live in houses on stilts with palm leaf roofs. We end the day with a glorious descent to our beautiful lodge.
Day 3: SON LA.
A day of spectacular scenery – we ride through the forest then along a long valley floor filled with rice paddies and dotted with Black Thai villages.
Day 4 + 5: DIEN BIEN PHU.
The scenery is breathtaking, as we cross a high mountain pass and visit the colourful local markets. The city is the site of the comprehensive defeat of the French in 1954. We visit the war museum and the French commander’s bunker. We may arrange an optional day ride to the Laos border, or you can simply relax by the pool or explore this historically important town.
Day 6: MUONG LAY/ SIN HO.
we follow the winding roads that snake through the steep terrain, affording stunning panoramas, on our challenging cycle ride.
Day 7: LAI CHAU.
Cycle through more superb mountainous countryside observing the different minority villages at close quarters. You will encounter very little motor traffic today.
Day 8 + 9: SAPA.
Much of the attraction of Sapa is the H’mong and Dzao people who sell their crafts at the markets. On your rest day you can hike a short distance to a local village.
Day 10 + 11: BAC HA.
Enjoy a fabulous 1,000m descent to the Chinese border. On Sundays there is a fascinating market in Bac Ha attended by all the tribes: Tay, Nung, Dao, Flower H’mong, Giay and PhuLa.
Day 12: OVERNIGHT TRAIN TO HANOI.
We take a short hike and board a long boat for a relaxing trip down the Song Chay (Blue River) before returning to Lai Cao (cycling up to 50kms). Time for a shower and dinner before boarding the overnight sleeper train to Hanoi.
Your tour finishes with a transfer to the airport.
12 nights accommodation
12 breakfasts, 10 lunches & 10 dinners
Full minibus support
Experienced guide/ cycle mechanic
Pedaltours souvenir cycle jersey