Mountain Biking North Vietnam will take you to the less travelled places of Ha Giang and Lao Cai provinces. The cycling trip begins with a overnight train trip from Hanoi to Lao Cai where you start your adventure holiday with a visit to the Bac Ha market, is open on Sunday morning only. You cycle up and downhill, using single tracks and dirt roads biking trails to enjoy the wild beauty of nature and to experience the rich ethnic culture. Taking this cycling adventure tour, you have the opportunity to cycle through the remotest hilltribe villages including Ta Cu Ty village, Nam Dan village, Khau Rom village, Nam Choong village, Ho Thau village, Nam Son village, Nam Khoa village. Most of the nights are spent at local home (homestay) offering the real life experience. This mountain bike tour is customized for active, intrepid, adventure cyclist travelling in small group tours. The tour is provided with experienced English-speaking biking tour guide, private vehicle for transfers and support, homestay, food, trek bikes and cycling gears.
DAY 1: HANOI -> LAO CAI
20:00: You will be met up with Vietnam Cycling team at your hotel in Hanoi and transferred to Hanoi railway station for night train up to Lao Cai. Overnight on the train.
DAY 2: LAO CAI -> BAC HA
Arrive Laocai early this morning. You will be greeted by Vietnam Cycling team and transferred to a local restaurant for breakfast. 8:00: We will leave Lao Cai for a road transfer to the Bac Ha Sunday market. The Bac Ha market on Sunday takes place right in this charming town. Enjoy about 2 hours joining the local ethnic peoples such as H’mong, Zao, Tay, Phu La…experiencing the festive atmosphere and lively activities as well as understanding of the regional spiritual life. Check in hotel and have lunch. In the afternoon, warming up for aprox 2 hours by cycling 12 km up and downhill around the Ban Pho Valley. Overnight in Bac Ha.
DAY 3: CYCLING AROUND BAC HA
The trail today runs mostly through populated valleys which featured of terraced rice paddies and cornfields on steep hills sides as well as chances to meet local tribal peoples such as Flower H’mong, Zao and Tay. After breakfast, we start biking from hotel following the motor way for about 3 km to the center of Lau Thi Ngai Commune. We will cross the stream by suspension bridge and then enjoy an easy ride on a single dirt track along a stunning valley for 4 km before challenging 5 km up steep hill trail to Lung Phin village. We will visit this village and follow the motor way again for 2,5 km and then to another single dirt track, passing through several small hamlets of the H’mong peoples to Can Cau market place. We will arrive at Can Cau at about 4.00 pm. Stop biking and then transfer by road for 45 minutes to Ta Cu Ty. Check into a local house for dinner and overnight.
DAY 4: BAC HA -> NAM DAN VILLAGE
After breakfast, we will cycle along a single track which form a half circle around the Ta Cu Ty mountain range and is a combination of short lose rocky part and dirt trails with some stream crosses. We will bike through several villages and hamlets of the Nung, H’mong and Zao ethnic peoples. Lunch break at Dan Khao, a newly settled-down village. After lunch, we continue cycling along the same track for 9 km on high elevation of Ta Cu Ty range to home stay at Nam Chien Village where a short stop will be made for us to visit the interesting rock fields with messages of the ancient peoples carved on many big rocks at Nam Dan Village. Arrival at home stay at about 3.00 pm. Dinner and overnight in the village.
DAY 5: NAM DAN -> NAM TRONG VILLAGE
After breakfast, we leave home stay in Nam Chien at about 08.30 am. We continue our bicycle tour following the good motor way. We bike through thick rain forest from home-stay over the Gio Pass to the southern side of the. We then turn left to a single dirt track and cycle mostly downhill through tea farms, terraced rice paddies, bamboo forest, passing some isolated hamlets of the Zao and H’mong ethnic of Nam Nhung and Khau Rom Villages. We continue our bike through a suspension bridge and cross the Nam Ly River to the sounthern bank. We take the single dirt track and bike uphill through Phieng Lang and Quang Thuong Villages of the Red Zao and then to Nam Choong Village. Arrive at the Nam Choong local tourist site near the hot mineral spring at about 5.00 pm. Dinner and overnight in the village.
DAY 6: NAM TRONG -> HO XAN VILLAGE
We begin the day by biking along a narrow single track from Nam Choong to the center of Quang Nguyen Commune. We then follow a single dirt track biking gradually uphill along the Nam Ly River and through the Trung Son Village. Challenging down and up very steep trail to cross the upstream of Nam Ly River to the other bank. Bikes may have to be carried for about 30 m. We then follow a larger single track and bike uphill to Chien Thang Village and then cycle gradually downhill to the center of Ho Thau Commune. Bicycle trip will be uphill for 4 km to Ho Xan Village of the Red Zao and Nung ethnic. We arrive to homestay at Ho Xan Village at about 4.30 pm. Dinner and overnight in the village.
DAY 7: HO XAN -> THONG NGUYEN
Cycle along a single dirt track almost downhill for 12 km from Ho Xan Village Via Sin Chai Village to Nam Son Bridge. Take a short rest by the river. Then we cycle the large road up steep hill to the Nam Khoa Heaven Gate. This part offers stunning scenery of thick rain forest with narrow terraced rice paddies on steep hill sides. Lunch will be provided en route. We bike downhill along another large single dirt track to the Junction of the Nam Khoa River. Scenery features with small villages of the Zao and the Nung surrounded by tea farms, plantation and terraced rice paddies stretching along 2 sides of the valley. We turn left and then follow a very narrow single dirt track winding its way up and down on steep hills sides to Thong Nguyen Commune. Follow the narrow motor way to the Panhou eco lodge where we will spend the night.
DAY 8: THONG NGUYEN -> HANOI
Breakfast and check out the Panhou at 08.00. Enjoy a full day drive to Hanoi. Lunch will be provided in a local restaurant along the way. Arrive in Ha Noi at about 06.00 pm. End of tour.
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 too. We would prefer spending our time on the tour arrangements to the price negotiation. Our price is fixed.
The following services are usually included in the trip price.
- Bicycle rental.
- Tour guide. The English-Speaking guide is provided by default. Other language may be available upon request (with extra charge).
- Some snacks and bottled water.
- Vehicle for transfers and support (option).
- Mechanic (option).
- Accommodation (option).
- Meals (option).
- Sightseeing entrance fees (option).
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 see the details on our Service Proposal.
Unless required most of the following services are not included in the tour price.
- Flight/Train tickets.
- Accommodation pre/post trip.
- Travel insurance.
- Personal expenses.
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 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 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 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.