The Cycling North East Vietnam Tour starts from Hanoi, taking you through the northern loop, Ba Be national park, Bao Lac, Meo Vac, Dong Van, Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Ha Giang. There are about 50 – 100 km to ride per day, mostly on paved road, with many up/downhill rides. The bike ride is challenging, thus appropriate for experienced cyclists. You enjoy not only the mountain bike ride, but also other travel highlights of the far north including the Ba Ba lakes, the Meo Vac Sunday market, the Dong Van geo park, the former H’mong King palace, the own town in Dong Van, Pho Bang…
DAY 1: HANOI -> BA BE NATIONAL PARK
8.00 AM: you will be picked up at your hotel in Hanoi and transferred to Thai Nguyen. The morning drive takes about four hours, with a stop/visit the ethnology museum in Thai Nguyen, before you make another stop and have lunch in a local restaurant in Thai Nguyen. After lunch, continue your road trip until you arrive in Bac Kan, and then Phu Thong where you disembark your bikes and start your adventure. You cycle for about 50km on paved roads, with little up/downhill ride to Ba Be National Park. Arrival in the park around late afternoon, you check into a local house of the Tay in Pac Ngoi village. Dinner and overnight at local home.
DAY 2: BA BE NATIONAL PARK -> BAO LAM
After breakfast, we will enjoy a short bike ride from the homestay to the boat pier where we take a local motor boat for the morning cruise to explore Ba Be Lakes, the largest natural lake in mountainous region of Vietnam. The Ba Be lakes are surrounded by walled-up limestone mountain covered by thick rain forest. While cruising on the Ba Be lakes, we make some stops to visit Puong Cave, Dau Dang Waterfall before making a cut through Na Hang Reservation to Da Vi junction. Leave the boat and take another bike ride to a local restaurant for our lunch. In the afternoon, continue the adventure pedaling for about 50 km, mostly uphill to Bao Lam. This portion of the road sneaks on the high mountain side offering marvelous scenery of the river, stream and valleys below. Enjoy some stops along the way to visit tribal villages of the Tay and Dzao along the way. Arrival in Bao Lam around mid/late afternoon, check in hotel for overnight.
DAY 3: BAO LAM -> MEO VAC
Breakfast at hotel. Your adventure continues with a bike ride from your hotel. The whole morning is spent on riding one the national road 34A, on old tarmac which runs in parallel with Gam River eastwards for 51km via old Bac Me and Bao Lam town let. Stop en route for visiting some hilltribe villages such as the one of the Nung people. This portion of the road is fairly good just with some low mountain passing over. Turn left at Ly Bon, cross the Gam River by newly built bridge to the northern bank and then having picnic lunch break. The afternoon bike ride is challenging as you pedal uphill towards Meo Vac town. The road winds its way on steep mountain sides for 55km, You may cycle as far as you can and then supporting vehicle will transfer the last portion of the road to Meo Vac. Arriving in Meo Vac at about 16.30. Check in hotel and stay free for the rest of the day. Dinner in town. Overnight in Meo Vac at hotel.
DAY 4: MEO VAC -> DONG VAN
After breakfast, you spend the morning visiting the Meo Vac market, is open only on Sunday morning. The cow market in Meo Vac district, which convenes every Sunday, showcases the unique cultural identity of the Mong, Dao and Lo lo ethnic groups. The market convenes from dawn every Sunday and the clanging of cowbells can be heard from afar. Trading often takes place quickly and smoothly. Lunch is provided in a local restaurant in town. In the afternoon, challenging up steep mountain pass of Ma Pi Leng 28km to Dong Van. The portion of the ride offers the most spectacular mountain scenery of Vietnam. Arrival in Dong Van, check in hotel for overnight.
DAY 5: DONG VAN -> YEN MINH
Breakfast at hotel. Departure at 8.30. You follow the road 4C. Stop in Xa Phin valley. There you visit the former Palace of the H’mong King who ruled over the H’mong community and control opium trading until 1945. Continue biking along the same road for about 21km to Sung La valley and then up steep mountain to Pho Bang ancient town. Some other stops may be made en route for break/visit hilltribe villages such as the Sung Muoi, a village of the H’mong. Lunch is provided in a local restaurant in Pho Bang. In ther afternoon, continue cycling downhill from Pho Bang to Yen Minh via Pho Cao Mountain pass. This portion of the bike ride offers stunning scenery of yen Minh valley. Arrival in Yen Minh town around mid afternoon, check in hotel.
DAY 6: YEN MINH -> HA GIANG
After breakfast, you check out hotel and get ready for a challenging day. We shall conquer two high mountain pass are the Yen Minh and Quan Ba. You start the day activities biking 2 km on flat road from hotel and then challenging 19km uphill to the top of Yen Minh pass. The road is steep with many sharp bends but offers great view of marvelous valley below. Enjoy a tea beak at the top before cycling downhill 18km to Can Ty commune and then cycle through the valley along the Nho Que River for 6km. Take another break for recharging energy before biking uphill 13km to Quan Ba. Stop en route for visiting Nam Dam village, a village of the Dzao before having lunch. In the afternoon, there is the Quan Ba Pass to conquer. You ride the 8km uphill to the Haven Gate at the top. Then biking downhill for 20km to the bottom of the valley. Picked up in mid afternoon and brought to Ha Giang. Dinner in town. Overnight in Ha Giang at hotel.
DAY 7: HA GIANG -> HANOI
Breakfast at hotel. Then travel back to Hanoi. The drive takes about 6 – 8 hours.
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.
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 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 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 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
- 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.
Need further information? Check our FAQ page here or contact us.