vietnam northwest cycling tours is arranged in the north western Vietnam taking to such places as Lao Cai, Sapa, Lai Chau, Muong Lay, Phong Tho, Binh Lu, Tam Duong, Tuan Giao, Son La, Moc Mai, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh province. Begin the tour with a car transfer out of Hanoi to Mai Chau where you start cycling on paved roads towards Son La. You mostly cycle on paved roads with many up and downhill ride.
The 6 Days Vietnam Northwest Cycling Tour is arranged in the north western Vietnam taking to such places as Lao Cai, Sapa, Lai Chau, Muong Lay, Phong Tho, Binh Lu, Tam Duong, Tuan Giao, Son La, Moc Mai, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh province. Begin the tour with a car transfer out of Hanoi to Mai Chau where you start cycling on paved roads towards Son La. You mostly cycle on paved roads with many up and downhill ride. Sometimes you get off the main, paved roads taking small, single dirt track biking trails leading to remote hill tribe villages. Taking this 7-day mountain biking tour, you enjoy the beautiful scenery, the wild nature of the less traveled north western Vietnam. You meet up with lots of ethnic groups during your bicycle tours including the Tay, the Dzao , the Xa Pho, the H’mong…The tour is provided with experience English-speaking tour guide, support vehicle and good mountain bikes, trek bikes.
Day 1: Hanoi – Son La.
8:00: You will be met up with Vietnam Cycling team and transferred to Son La. The drive will take you through different minority villages as we climb onto a higher plateau. We pass through coffee and tea plantations before arriving Son La in the late afternoon. Son La was once the site of a French penal colony where radicals and revolutionaries were incarcerated during French rule. The prison was destroyed by American war planes during the Vietnam War (or as the Vietnamese sensibly call it the American war) except for a lone peach tree planted by an inmate in the 1940s. Since then the prison has partially rebuilt and a museum opened. Check in hotel for overnight.
Day 2: Son La – Tuan Giao.
The bicycle tour begins with a 5km riding up to the beautiful surrounding countryside. We bike through a patchwork of rice fields and plum orchards. The scenery makes up for the hard work as the rolling land erupts into stunning karst rock outcrops bristling with trees. The land is home to the Black Thai. The women can be glimpsed working the fields in brightly colored dresses and hats, the children riding water buffalo and the men speeding along on noisy motor cycles. We finish the day with a thrilling 11km decent before we reach the town of Tuan Giao.
Day 3: Tuan Giao – Lai Chau.
Once out of Tuan Giao the road deteriorates as we take a spectacular back road to Lai Chau. We cycle past rice fields and bananas plantations as we pass through small minority villages of Red Hmong and Kho Mu. There are two hard climbs today the first starts after 50km with a 5km ascent but the second, and most challenging comes at the end of this stunning day, with an 8km strength-sapping climb. All this hard work is easily forgotten as we finish the day with a stunning descend of 18km on a winding road into this lush valley of Lai Chau.
Day 4: Lai Chau – Tam Duong.
After we leave Lai Chau we cross the Hang Tom suspension bridge and follow the Na River passing through spectacular gorges and Black Dao villages. The Dao worship spirits and ritually sacrifice pigs and chickens. The women clothes are covered with intricate weaving and silver colored beads and coins. It is said the wealth a women can be judged by the weight of the coins she carries. We finish this long day with a 15km ascent followed by a gentle 10km ride down to Tam Duong.
Day 5: Tam Duong – Sapa.
Today we cycle up to the Tram Ton Pass (1,900m; 6,230 ft) the highest mountain pass in Vietnam, on our way to Sa Pa. We start with a relatively easy 7km ride before we hit the first of two major climbs. A 8km tough ride sets us up for the 26km monster climb later in the day. As we start the second climb we slowly start to witness the beauty of Mt. Fan Si Pan, South East Asia’s highest peak. Often hidden with a veil of moving mist and fog, we will hopefully get a glimpse of its lofty peaks. Sa Pa is an old French hill station perched in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains near the Chinese border. Its position gives it some of the best vantage points to savour the surrounding mountain peaks.
Day 6: Sapa – Lao Cai – Hanoi.
Enjoy a half day walking to visit hill tribe villages before you take the night train trip to travel back to Hanoi. You will commence your short journey by driving south toward Muong Hoa valley. You will then start your walk by descending into the valley, which is the largest rice paddy terraced among Sapa area. The guide can provide you interesting information about rice. If you visit the valley sometime in between May and October, you will be able to observe and experience how the local do planting and harvesting, one of the most important activities in the daily life. The walk takes you from Lao Chai village of Black Hmong minority to Ta Van village of Giay minority including a visit to the local Catholic Church. After visiting Ta Van the car will return you to Sapa. Have quick shower in a mini/standard hotel before taking the overnight train to Hanoi. Overnight on the train.
Most of our trips begin from our bike shop (both private and group tours), so transportation from your hotel to our bike shop (or v.v) is not included in the quote. We can arrange the service (with extra charge), and reservation needs to be made in advance.
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. We would prefer spending our time on the tour arrangements to the price negotiation. Our price is fixed.
Depending on the type of the bicycle tour as well as the proposed option, the following services may be included in the trip price.
Tour guide. The English-speaking guide is quoted by default. Other language may be available upon request (with extra charge).
Lunch with simple Vietnamese dishes.
Sightseeing entrance fees.
Some snacks and bottled water while cycling.
Please bear in mind Vietnam Cycling specializes in tailor-made trips, so the price vary much depending on the size of your group, date of tour as well as other details. Please contact us for more details.
Unless required most of the following services are not included in the tour price.
Accommodation pre/post trip.
Vehicle for transfers and support (option).
Bicycle rental (option).
Travel insurance (required).
Visitors are required to have a valid visa to 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 currencies can be exchanged in Vietnam, but the USD is the most preferred. The exchange rate 1 USD = 23,280 VND (Dec. 2018)
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 temperature 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 Autumn (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 oppressive 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 few 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 homestay. 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 star hotels (price option).
Camping is not available on cycling tours in Vietnam unless it is required and this should be booked months in advance. Camping is only available in a limited number of places such as Cat Ba island beach, Cuc Phuong national park…Please see the details on the quote.
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 only for big groups or when it is required (with surcharge). 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 a car for passengers and a truck for transport of the bikes.
5 – 8 people: we use one minivan for passengers and one truck for the bikes.
9 – 12 people: we use one bus (coach) for passengers and one truck for the bikes.
We provide bike rental and truck for self-guided bike tours.
We sometimes use local push-bikes (single speed bicycles) where possible or when it is required. Our cars will be arranged as follows.
1 – 2 passengers (with a tour guide): 4 seat car * 1.
3 – 6 passengers (with a tour guide): 15/16 seat minivan * 1
7 – 12 passengers (with a tour guide): 29 seat coach * 1
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 see more details on the “Inclusions” section on our 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 traveling 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
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)
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.