Trip Description & Day-by-day Itinerary
vietnam north west highlands is provided in the remote norh-western Vietnam. You pedal through the less traveled places in Vietnam and meet up with different ethnic groups such as the H’mong, the Red Dzao, the Giay, the Thai…The mountain biking tour takes you from Hanoi through Mai Chau, Phu Yen, Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai and ends in Sapa town, Lao Cai province. The tour can be extended with a trekking tour or a market tour in Sapa area. This cycling adventures is customized for active, adventure cyclists traveling in small group tours. The best time to do this 7-day mountain biking tour is the dry season starting in October to April.
vietnam north west highlands itinerary
Day 1: Hanoi city tour. Bike tour briefing
8:00 am you will be met up with Lotussia Travel guide at your hotel in Hanoi. Enjoy half day tour to visit some major travel highlights of Hanoi such as the Ho Chi Minh complex and the Temple of Literature, Ngoc Son temple. Walking around the Old Quarter.
In the afternoon, our guide will take you to our bike store, where you will test the bike with your selected frame size. You can also put your gear on the bike for your convenience. Enjoy some test bike ride around our bike store then travel back to your hotel.
Day 2: Hanoi – Mai Chau.
After breakfast, you will be met up with our team again and transferred to Luong Son, Hoa Binh province where you start cycling on the back road to Kim Boi direction. It s nice and peaceful countryside view.
You will get to Cun hill and the guide will pick you up at a place for lunch.
After lunch, you get transferred to Phu Cuong village for a second bike ride of the day. The afternoon ride is through the village of the Muong people in the vallage floor and along the Da river reservoir. It is back road ride with view of the village and water.
Late of the day, you arrive in the village of the Thai People, where you have dinner prepared by local Thai family and overnight on the stilt house and explore the local culture.
Cycling distance: 65km.
L: Picnic, D: in Homestay.
Day 3:Continue Biking l Mai Chau – Phu Yen
After breakfast and farewel to the host, you get transfer to the old Highway #6 to Pha Ly Pass. From there, you start cycling to Van Yen Ferry and enjoy the spectacular view of the mountainous road and Da river side.
You arrive in Phu Yen in the afternoon. Check in Hotel. Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Cycling Distance: from 70km.
Accomodation: standard hotel.
Day 4: Continue Cycling l Phu Yen – Mu Cang Chai .
After breakfast , you continue your mountain bike trip cycling from hotel to Ba Khe, and get transferred to Nghia Lo for lunch.
You will have a nice and scenic bike ride in the afternoon to Mu Cang Chai, where you will have dinner and spend the night.
Cycling distance: 80km. Lunch: picnic. Accomodation: Standard hotel.
Day 5: Continue Biking l Mu Cang Chai – Sapa .
Today ‘s cycle is moderate in the peaceful and nice road with nice and friendly countryside. You will cycle to Than Uyen where a stop will be made for you to have lunch.
After lunch, you may need a short break before you have the second bike ride in the afternoon to T junction of Road 4D to Sapa.
You will be picked up again by your support vehicle and transferred to Sapa. Check into a local hotel for overnight.
Day 6: Sapa Biking
Start the Sapa mountain bike trip from Sapa for 10 minutes road ride southwards of Sapa town let. Then turn left and follow a large dirt and rocky track 1 hour uphill to Hang Da Village of the Hmong neat the top of Den Thang Mountain. Enjoy great view of Muong Hoa Valley
and a short walk to explore this isolated village.
Continue riding for 15 minutes on high elevation of the mountain side and then the track become narrow and tough for 1 hour downhill. Some part of the trail are really tough with loosed rocks. Passing several hamlets of the Black Hmong of Hau Thao Commune with some short stops for meeting peoples. Continue to Hoa Su Pan Village, enjoy lunch break.
Ride downhill and cross the river to other bank, and then uphill to Giang Tu Chai Village of the Red Zao. Explore this village and then passing through the bamboo forest, terraced rice field to Ta Van Village of the Giay. Cycle around this large village and stop biking in mid afternoon at Ta Van Bridge. Picked up and transfer back to Sapa.
Free dinner and overnight in Sapa at hotel.
Day 7: Sapa – Hanoi.
After breakfast you farewel to Sapa and start your 10-hour road trip back to Hanoi. You have chance to enjoy the nice view of mountainous road. Lunch on the way. You get to Hanoi in the afternoon. Check into your hotel. The end of Lotussia Travel service.
Occasionally our tour itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travelers’ comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the service proposal. It’s very important that you print and review a final copy of your itinerary prior to travel. If you have any queries, please contact us.
Please note that while we operate successful cycling holidays in Vietnam throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.
Bargaining is not a strange fact in Vietnam. There are many places in Vietnam where people bargain, especially in open-air markets, street shops and rural areas. Therefore we are not good at bargaining. We don’t like this trick neither. Our time is precious and we appreciate your time as well. We would prefer spending our time on the tour arrangements to the price negotiation. Our price is fixed.
Our trip cost usually includes the following services. Please bear in mind Lotussia Travel is specialized in tailor-made trips. Trip cost vary depending on group size and other details.
- Vehicle for transfers and support
- Tour guide. The English-Speaking guide is provided by default. Other language may be available upon request (with extra charge).
- Bicycle rental
- Sightseeing entrance fees.
- Bottled water.
Unless required most of the following services are usually not included in our tour price.
- Visa (required)
- Flight/Train tickets.
- Accommodation pre/post trip.
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses
Visitors are required to have a valid visa to enter Vietnam. A one month tourist visa is usually sufficient for most visitors, though it is possible to arrange three months or six month – multiple entry visa for regular visitors.
The official national currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), but the US dollar is widely accepted in Vietnam. However, small towns and the villages the VND is preferred, ATM are available in all major cities and towns, tourist destinations, Vietcombank, Agriculture banks are the two largest networks with a limit a single withdraw limit of 2,000,000 d (95 USD). Most major currrencies can be exchanged in Vietnam, but the USD is the most preferred. The exchange rate 1 USD = 22.400 VND (Nov. 2016)
Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate. Broadly speaking, the weather in Vietnam is dictated by two seasons – the southwest monsoon from April to September and the Northeast monsoon from October to late march or early April.
Due to regional climate differences, there are no right or wrong seasons to visit Vietnam. The north Vietnam is cool, damp in winters between November and December and February with tempreture in Hanoi falling to around 15oC. The summer months from April to October are hot and dry. The best time visit Vietnam is spring (February – April) or Autunm (late September – December) when it is not so humid. The weather turns quite cold and wet in January and this continues to march. The humidity can prove oppresive from May to the early September.
Wearing a helmet is compulsory on all our biking adventures. Our tour guide often carry first aid kit while riding. Please follow your guide while biking, and much attention is required while you cross streets.
To assist you visualize how our bike trip is difficult, we have graded our Vietnam cycling tours into three categories, easy, moderate, and challenging. We group many factors into consideration into this grading, including distant covered, terrain, altitude, and vehicle support.
Involves cycling for up to two to three hours a day at easy pace and usually, less than 3 days in duration. The cycling distances is around 15 – 30 km per day. There are likely to be no steep and sustained descents as well as demand for technical riding. We will normally ride on flat roads. Suitable for bikers who enjoy occasional weekend riding on trails at home. Push bikes are sometimes used for these itineraries.
Involves biking for up to six hours a day at a steady pace and are usually between three to five days in duration. The cycling distance is about 35 – 55 km per day. Sometimes it can be long flat rides or medium ride with fews up and downhill climbs. The support vehicle will not always be available. We will need a good level of fitness. We use either mountain bikes or road bikes for these itineraries.
Involves biking in mountainous areas with big climbs for up to seven or eight hours a day and usually more than a week in duration. Cycling distance is about 60 – 80 km per day. There will be steep and sustained ascents and descents. The support vehicle will not always be available. These trips will provide a real sustained workout even for fit and experienced mountain bikers.
When cycling we mostly stay in small hotel, guesthouse or homestays. Some are more basic than others! Bear in mind that some of the places we overnight in are not on the standard tourist trail. In larger cities and towns, our hotels are generally more western style and are three or four hotels. Camping is not available on cycling tours in Vietnam unless it is required and this should be booked months in advance. Please see the details at the session “inclusions”.
Most of our tour guides speak English. Some other speak French. Few speak other language such as German, Russian, Spanish. All our guides have great knowledge of history, local culture, and religions of the area where you are cycling. Our guides have been trained in this field and is fully licensed in tour guiding.
We arrange a mechanic, with extra charge only for big groups or when it is required. When there is no mechanic, our guide will take care of problem which may occur during the bike ride.
Depending on the nature of the tour, our cycle journeys will be accompanied by an air-conditioned car/minibus cover the larger overland sections. We often use mini bus or bus for transfer and back up (guided tours).
- 1 – 4 people: we use minivan to support and carry bikes. Sometimes we use car with support truck.
- 5 – 8 people: we use one van and one truck to support
- 9 people – over: we use one bus and truck to support
We only provide bike rental and truck to support for self-guided bike tours.
Basic spares and tools kit are generally carried by our guide or mechanic or on the support vehicle, although we can not guarantee having spares for every conceivable problem.
Food and drinks
All the meals which, are mentioned in itinerary (B=Breakfast; L=Lunch; D=Dinner), are included in the tour price. Most of meals are Vietnamese local food. Vegetarians are certainly welcome and are always accommodated, please let us know of any dietary concerns at time of booking. Beverage and alcoholic drink are not included at mealtime or in restaurants.
Snacks and water
When we transfer, ride by minibus (no cycling day), our bottled waters are always available for you in the car/van. When we have cycling days, we will offer cold water (summer) plus fresh tropical fruits, soft drinks. Please find out what is included in our service proposal.
Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for travelling in Vietnam. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat is a good idea in the rainy season. During the winter months warm clothing is needed for visiting the north of Vietnam. Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting religious buildings such as pagoda, temple and shoes should be removed before entering a private home.
What you take will naturally depend upon where you are travelling and the style of journey you are undertaking, and it can often be difficult to decide what to pack. Nevertheless, the following should act as a useful checklist of essential items worth thinking about taking.
- 2 pairs of riding shorts
- 2 riding jerseys (quick-dry)
- 2 pairs of quick dry socks for cycling
- Comfortable shoes for biking and walking
- Riding gloves
- 2-3 t-shirts or casual shirts
- Trousers or jeans
- 1-2 pairs of casual socks for non-cycling activities
- 3-5 sets of underwear (quick-dry)
- Cool-weather jacket or rain jacket
- Extra layers and gloves for cooler season or climate (thin, thermal, water-wicking)
- Bathing suit
- Tooth brush and tooth paste
- Hair brush
- Hand sanitizer
- Passport, wallet and ID
- Health insurance card
- Travel insurance card
- Cash and/or credit cards
- Camera (with spare battery)
- Plastic bags (for dirty laundry, wet clothes)
- Electronic chargers (for camera, e-reader, cell phone)
- Adaptors or convertors
Tipping for good services is always appreciated. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of the tour. Hotels and station porters should also be tipped a small amount for.
Prior to our tours, we contact and work with local community leaders to make sure we are welcome and in a manner that minimizes negative social and cultural impacts. We visit local development and community projects specific to the region, encouraging customers to donate and assist such a projects in appropriate and sustainable manner.
Where make sure that where and whenever possible our tours positively benefit the local community. We stayed at locally owned accommodation and visit cottage industries for local handicraft souvenir, generating income for local business. We often employ, hire support team such as local guide, motor-taxi drivers, cook assistants on all trips to ensure that the local community benefit not only short term but with increased employment opportunities for the future.