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Northwest Vietnam Pedal Tour: 11-Day Cycling Sapa to Hanoi

Ride across the soaring landscapes of Northern Vietnam on an unforgettable biking adventure. Pedal from Sapa to Hanoi, crossing over vibrant mountain ranges and through lush valleys. Stop to mingle with hilltribe groups and stay in remote villages far from the tourist trail.

HIGHLIGHTS

Various activities on sites

  • Cycling through the mountainous area of northern Vietnam with plenty of chance to enjoy the view.
  • Walking along the small trails to visit the local colorful villages in northern Vietnam.
  • Joining the daily activities of local people in Pu Luong and learn about their traditional way of life.

Unforgettable moments

  • Admiring the beautiful remote valley of Sapa with plenty of colorful ethnic villages
  • Admiring the view along the road from Sapa to Dien Bien via Lai Chau
  • Experiencing the life of local people in Pu Luong at the village of Buoc

Nature exploration

  • The evergreen nature of northern Vietnam in Sapa, Lai Chau, Dien Bien, and Son La
  • The nature of the countryside of Pu Luong National Park

Culture experience

  • The colorful culture of multiethnic groups of northern Vietnam
  • The peasant culture of local people in Pu Luong with peaceful feeling

Map

Detailed schedule

Day 1 - Arriving in Hanoi - Lao Cai (O/N Train)

Upon arrival in Hanoi, our local guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the hotel for check in. After dropping the bags off and freshening up, head out for a short tour of the dynamic capital. Visit places such as Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Pagoda, the famous Old Quarter, and the 11th century Temple of Literature. This evening, the guides will provide a pre-trip briefing followed by a delicious Vietnamese dinner at one of the city’s top restaurants.

Transfer to the train station for the overnight journey to Lao Cai in a comfortable, four-berth sleeping cabin.

Overnight on the train

Notes

Transfer: 45 mins

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Day 2 - Sapa - Ta Phin Village

Arrive early this morning to Lao Cai, a small town 40 kilometers from Sapa. After breakfast, begin riding with an easy descent through the villages of Matra. Cycle on to the village of Taphin, home of the Red Dao Ethnic minority, enjoy the warmth of local hospitality. Afterward transferring to Sapa, browse through the central market.

Overnight in Sapa.

Notes

Transfer: 1 hr | Cycling distance up to: 20 km Difficulty: Medium

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Day 3 - Sapa - Lai Chau

Today is a challenging ride, setting out to conquer Heaven’s Gate, the highest mountain pass in Northern Vietnam. The intense climb through stunning Hoang Lien Son National Park is rewarded with spectacular views of Indochina’s highest peak, Mt. Fansipan. After the amazing views, enjoy a great descent down a winding road to Lai Chau

After a light picnic lunch, continue pedaling through breathtaking scenery to the newly built town of Lai Chau.

Overnight in Lai Chau.

Notes

Cycling distance up to: 95 km Difficulty: Hard

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Day 4 - Lai Chau - Muong Lay

Awaken to cool morning air today, followed by an easy pedal from the sleepy town of Lai Chau. After about 10 km, the first hill of the day is met: either tackle the climb on the bicycle or hop in the van for a boost to the top, taking advantage of the long, sweeping downhill ride.

The afternoon’s ride toward Muong Lay runs over rolling terrain with magnificent views. Lai Chau and the surrounding valley will soon be flooded by the Son La Hydro Electric Project, which will make way for Vietnam’s largest reservoir.

Overnight in Muong Lay

Notes

Cycling distance up to: 105 km Difficulty: Hard

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Day 5 - Muong Lay - Dien Bien Phu

Today’s route follows the Na River through a lush, undulating landscape of ferns, bananas, and bamboo to the city of Dien Bien Phu. This historic town has an infamous history as the location of a stunning Vietnamese victory over the occupying French Forces.

Overnight in Dien Bien Phu.

Notes

Cycling distance up to: 93 km Difficulty: Hard

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Day 6 - Dien Bien Phu - Tuan Giao

After a hearty breakfast, prepare for yet another captivating adventure. Today’s ride is gentler than the past three days and undulates through quiet back roads, picturesque gorges, and ends with a gradual downhill toward the town of Tuan Giao.

Overnight in Tuan Giao.

Notes

Cycling distance up to: 81 km Difficulty: Hard

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Day 7 - Tuan Giao - Son La

Today’s fantastic ride features the most breathtaking scenery of the entire journey. Following a short warm up, there is a challenging 12 kilometer climb followed by a coasting 14 kilometer descent. Pedaling onwards, pass through Thuan Chau town, home to the White Hmong people whose customary black headdress and pink tassels are still worn today.

Overnight in Son La.

Notes

Cycling distance up to: 90 km Difficulty: Hard

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Day 8 - Son La - Moc Chau

This morning starts from the hotel by bike with a gradual uphill climb through lush, terraced rice paddies against a backdrop of jagged limestone cliffs. The ride is less hilly than yesterday’s, but no less spectacular. Stop for lunch in the town of Yen Chau before continuing on to Moc Chau, the final destination of the day. This town is situated at an elevation of 1000m and is renowned for its banh sua (milk cake) and tea products.

Overnight in Moc Chau

Notes

Transfer: 30 mins // Cycling distance up to: 121 km Difficulty: Hard

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Day 9 - Moc Chau - Buoc Village

Another spectacular day of cycling awaits, the majority of which is downhill! Enjoy an easy morning ride across a plateau of tea plantations and peach orchards. Cycle onwards along narrow, quiet back roads, moving into a region predominantly populated by Thai minority cultures. This beautiful valley, home to the village of Buoc, will be the home base for the night. Experience the traditional culture and way of life of these people with an overnight homestay. Enjoy a delicious home-cooked dinner, taste some of the country’s finest rice wine and be entertained by a local dance performance (subject to availability).

Overnight in Buoc village in Pu Luong national reserve

 

Notes

Transfer: 45 mins Cycling distance up to: 67 km Difficulty: Medium

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Day 10 - Buoc Village - Hoa Binh - Ha Noi

This final day of cycling is one of the most memorable. Start with an 800m ascent before cruising down into the town of Muong Khen. Continue to pedal to Hoa Binh City, the ending point of the cycling journey. After a local lunch, trade in the bike for a 2.5 hour drive back to Hanoi where the afternoon is at leisure, until heading to a fabulous restaurant for a farewell dinner.  

Overnight in Hanoi.

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Day 11 - Hanoi - Departure

You are free to stroll around the town for your own exploration before taking the departure flight

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