Logo Motortrails.com motorcycling

Northern Vietnam Highlights

Day 1 - Home Country - Departure
For those who did not buy this tour as a package tour including the flight ticket, this day does not apply. 

Day 2 -  Arrival Hanoi
You arrive at Hanoi airport either in the morning or in the afternoon, depending on the airline. It’s a half-hour drive to the hotel in the center of the old town. Depending on your time schedule and jet lag, you can explore Hanoi. During the colonial era, Hanoi was the capital of French Indochina. The French history is still plainly visible, for example, in the wide boulevards and the old villas. You can stroll around the old quarter, meandering through its small streets and busy shops, or visit museums and pagodas. In the evening, you can enjoy delicious Vietnamese cuisine at the welcome dinner.

Day 3 - Hanoi - Nghia Lo
We ride out of the bustling capital to the north. The first part is still busy with traffic, mostly trucks. Once on the narrow roads along the Red River, however, it is quiet and there is much to see. Nghia Lo is a nice little town where you will encounter Dao and Hmong people. We will spend the night here. In addition to the charming restaurant at our hotel, there are also many other small restaurants and snack bars in the center where you can eat.

Day 4 - Nghia Lo – Sa Pa
We ride further north. The landscape is very beautiful here. On both sides of the roads, there are green rice terraces built against the mountainsides. We ride through the mountains here, crossing over a few high passes. There are more Dao people in this area. We stop for lunch in the town of Than Uyen, after which it is another 60 km ride to Sa Pa. This is the highest pass of this trip. The views en route to the famous Sa Pa Pass are fantastic and the road has recently improved. Sa Pa is the most touristy place we visit on this trip. However, since we avoid visiting during the weekend market we do not encounter too many tourists. Sa Pa is situated at an altitude of 1500 meters; during the French colonization, it developed as a summer retreat to escape the oppressive heat in the lower parts of the country.

Day 5 - Sa Pa - Bac Ha
First, we will head to Lao Cai to take a look at the Chinese border. The Red River separates the two countries here and a railway bridge connects them again. Across the river, one can see the tall buildings of the relatively-speaking much richer China. We follow the highway for only a few kilometers before joining a small country road that slaloms eastwards along the Chinese border. Our journey is with hilly curves, rice terraces, and river views.  We will end in Bac Ha, a typical Northern Vietnamese village located in a valley with vibrant people.

Day 6 - Bac Ha - Ha Giang
Just north of Bac Ha we turn right onto a dirt road. Tourists never use this route nor is the road suitable for big traffic. The rocky highland between the two places creates a very special landscape. We ride through a spectacular region studded with jagged rocks. The small Hmong villages along the way do not see many passersby. After a beautiful descent, we arrived in Xin Man and stop there for lunch. Just outside of Xin Man we cross the bridge and turn right. We follow the river to the village of Huang Su Phi. There are many Nung people here. Furthermore, there are many Nung villages en route. After a coffee break follow one of the most beautiful rice terrace regions of Vietnam. With each bend, there is yet another view of the beautiful green terraces. For the last section today, we follow the highway to the provincial capital of Ha Giang. One needs to watch out a bit in the busy traffic. We stay the night here in a resort on the river, just outside the center.

Day 7 - Ha Giang - Meo Vac
We leave not too early for our ride through an exceptionally beautiful and unique karst mountain region. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, ‘Kart Plateau Geopark’ locally known as ‘Dong Van - Meo Vac', after the two largest villages.  Immediately after Ha Giang, the road narrows and we climb over a beautiful ridge. We take our time to experience and absorb the breathtaking landscape and the hardworking hill tribes that are able to grow maize in apparently impossible places. There are still real communist strongholds found in the remote areas of the province. Meo Vac is such a stronghold. All the stone buildings in the city are government buildings decorated with red banners. In order to reach Meo Vac, we first need to cross a few high passes. This is one of the most beautiful tours of the trip! Again, here we are not far off from the Chinese border. We stay overnight in a reasonably basic hotel.

Day 8 - Meo Vac - Ba Be
We rise early today in preparation for a long adventurous day. In the morning, we ride from Meo Vac to Bao Lac. This is a wonderful peaceful route through a rolling landscape covered with rice terraces. After lunch, we ride along narrow inland roads to Ba Be Lake which is located in the eponymous National Park. This lake is the largest in the country. It is about seven kilometers long and one kilometer wide. The lake area is surrounded by unusual jagged karst.  Within the park boundaries there are also a number of villages with ethnic minorities, such as the Tay, Red Dao and Witte Hmong.

Day 9 - Ba Be - Hanoi
This is a long day’s ride back to the capital. In the morning the roads are quiet, but after Than Nguyen it gets busier. It is the last stage of the trip but perhaps the most special one. For many participants, riding into the city in the massive traffic is a fantastic end to the trip.

Day 10 - Hanoi - departure
If you have not booked the extension for Ha Long Bay, then you will leave early in the morning to go to Hanoi airport for the flight back home. Depending on the airline, you will arrive at Schiphol either on the same day or the next morning.


Day 11 - Hanoi - Halong Bay
You are collected from your hotel in the morning and taken by minibus to Halong Bay. This drive lasts about four hours. The pointy peaked mountains in Halong Bay make it very special and it is wonderful to sail across it on a boat. We arrive in Halong Bay around noon. You go onboard a traditional boat here, shared with other (international) visitors. We sail into the bay and spend the night on the boat in a beautiful location. If people are interested, we will make a stop at different caves.

Day 12 - Halong Bay - Hanoi
You come back ashore in the late morning and get back into the minibus. You will arrive Hanoi in the afternoon. Depending on your flight, you depart for the airport either this evening or in the morning.

Day 13 - Hanoi - departure
We leave by bus to go to the airport today.

  • Video

Receive our Newsletter