Northern Vietnam Cycling Trip 7 Days is one of our challenging bike tours we arrange for experienced cyclists to explore north Vietnam’s off the beaten path places.
Night 1: Hanoi – Lao Cai – Night train.
This afternoon our biking guide will come to your hotel and take you to our garage to check the bikes, and to install your gears (if required). At about 8-9 pm you will be transferred to Hanoi train station to catch the overnight train for Lao Cai. The train leaves at about 9-10 pm. Overnight on board train.
Day 1: Lao Cai – Bac Ha.
Arrival in Lao Cai train station early this morning, at about 6.00 am, you will be welcome by our local team and transferred to a local restaurant for breakfast. After breakfast, you will be transferred to the small village of Phong Nien where you disembark the bikes and begin your adventure, riding on a good hardpack track along the side of a quiet road. Climbing gently for the first 10 kilometers, you will be able to watch the local villagers working in the fields, dressed in their flamboyant traditional costumes. You then descend steeply for another 7 kilometers to a small village and footbridge that crosses the Song Chay River. Here, you will board one of the traditional Vietnamese longboats and transfer for half an hour through a high cliffed gorge. There is the option of a short single-track section following the riverbank, before your longboat takes you across the river, to a Tay village and lunch at a traditional homestead. This village is also where your support vehicle meets up with you for the first time since the start of your biking day. The afternoon presents you with a tough alpine switchback road that climbs 1000 meters over 17 kilometers, before a final 5 kilometer descent into the highland market town of Bac Ha. Diner and overnight in Bac Ha.
Day 2: Bac Ha – Luc Yen.
If it is Saturday or Sunday morning, you should get up early to visit one of the most colorful market in the area. We descend to Lao Cai and then cycle to Luc Yen, then you follow a small track. The landscapes are very varied, always skirting the border to finish in triumph in the valley of the palm trees of Luc Yen, at the Dao and Tay. Homestay in our friendly Tay village.
Day 3: Luc Yen – Chiem Hoa.
Today we follow a small road to Chiem Hoa is a little town of Tuyen Quang Province. The first section runs along Thac Ba lake, offering beautiful view. Once in Ham Yen we cross Song Lo river, taking several climbs before we arrive in Chiem Hoa in late afternoon. Overnight at local guesthouse.
Day 4: Chiem Hoa – Ba Be National Park.
We follow a small road which goes along the Song Gam river for about 20km, then we turn right, keep cycling on small road until we make a stop for lunch. We find the main road again when we arrive in Cho Don is a small town of Bac Kan province. The national road #254 is not much busy with traffic but part of the road is under maintenance. Either we keep cycling till Pac Ngoi or get on the van for one hour transfer. Overnight at homestay.
Day 5: Ba Be National Park – Tinh Tuc – Cao Bang.
After breakfast a short transfer takes us to our start point at Ha Hieu. From here we will cycle on dirt and paved roads to Tinh Tuc where we pause for lunch. There are two hills to conquer today, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, but both are gradual with no steep gradients. We cycle until reaching near Cao Bang City then get in the van to transfer to our hotel.
Day 6: Cao Bang – Ban Gioc Waterfall.
After breakfast we start our ride from hotel. The first section if quite flat as we are leaving the city, and it becomes tough when we reach the pass. Admire stunning sightseeing, and rice paddy fields as we ride along the border belt. The final section is easier and it offers spectacular mountain views. Overnight in Ban Gioc at hotel.
Day 7: Ban Gioc Waterfall – Hanoi.
This is the last day of this Northern Vietnam Cycling Trip 7 Days. After breakfast we will visit the waterfall. Ban Gioc Waterfall is one of Vietnam’s most impressive natural sights. It boasts an impressive natural sight with multiple level and green jade water. Then enjoy a full day drive back to Hanoi.
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.
- Flight/Train tickets.
- Accommodation pre/post trip.
- Vehicle for transfers and support (option).
- Bicycle rental (option).
- Mechanic (option).
- Accommodation (option).
- Meals (option).
- Travel insurance (required).
- 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 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
- 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.