Hilltribes of the North

a 13 day mountain bike tour in Vietnam


 
Join us on our mountain biking trek through the unknown northern reaches of Vietnam. This off the beaten track tour discovers the may ethnic tribes that live in this border region with China, plus explores the unique landscapes of several national park. Check out colorful local markets where everyone is dressed in their traditional outfits, catch glimpses of the rare proboscis monkeys and other rare wildlife. Its a tour you won't find with other tour companies.
 
local market in Hanoi
DAY

1/2
Arrive Hanoi, explore the city, Ngoc Son Pagoda, Hoan Kiem Lake, night train to Lao Cai.
Your guide team will meet at Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport, but other then orientation and dinner the day is to your leisure. You will have the chance to stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake and visit the Ngoc Son Pagoda or one of the many coffee shops in the area. If coffee isn’t your thing, stop at one of the "bia hoi’s" located at most corners in the old quarter. In the evening we head out to a very unique restaurant – Highway 4 - serving traditional and eclectic Vietnamese food.
CMeals: D

If you're feeling energetic, you can take part in early morning exercises around Hoan Kiem Lake. Otherwise, we will take you on a morning city tour to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum. Hotel check out is at noon and we will have lunch at a local pho (chicken or beef soup) and noodle restaurant. You have the afternoon to discover some more of Hanoi and we meet in the early evening for dinner and transfer to the railway station for an overnight train to Lao Cai. Overnight on Sapaly Express Train.
Meals: B L D
ethnic minority ladies carrying wood to the village
DAY

03
Bike through ethnic minority villages, tea plantations, orange groves and Pu Luong Nature Reserve.
Our train arrives in Lao Cai in the early morning. Bikes and baggage will be loaded up while we have breakfast and then we will drive 77km south to Yen Bai. By leaving the well trodden paths of Lao Cai we will take you well off the beaten path with less tourists and more local culture! With our local expert biking guide and our jeep support team, you can explore any dirt road that peaks your curiosity and discover minority villages and the lowland countryside all the way to Tuyen Quang. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for tea plantations and orange groves. Part of the riding will involve a short boat trip across the Thac Ba Reservoir in Pu Luong Nature Reserve. We spend the night at hotel in Tuyen Quang.
Cycling: 43 mi / 70 km, Terrain: small hills, Meals: B L D
Francois Langurs
DAY

04
Cycle back roads to Ba Be National Park, watch for rare Francois' Langurs, bed down in the park.
There is a full day of back road cycling ahead of us while we cycle towards Ba Be National Park. (Due to the distance covered today, some sections will be by jeep). Ba Be was established as a National Park in 1992 and is the leading conservation site in the country. It contains the largest natural freshwater lake in Vietnam and is home to the François langur. Surrounding this dense tropical paradise are karst limestone mountains – it is truly a magnificent place. We bed down tonight at a guesthouse inside the park.
Cycling: 62 mi / 100 km, Terrain: moderate hills, Meals: B L D
hilltribe ladies in public market
DAY

05
Ferry across Ba Be Lake, remote cycling to Bae Me, follow Nang River through unspoiled countryside.
Your day begins with an idyllic boat trip on the charming Ba Be Lake. When we get back onto the bikes, we'll venture on a fantastic and challenging full day ride to Bac Me. Most sections are unsupported (jeep will have to meet the group at Bac Me), but not to worry your bike guides will be along for the riding. The road is a mixture of dirt and tarmac. As we ride alongside the Nang River into higher ground, the scenery changes and becomes wild and unspoiled. A stop for lunch in a local shop will give us more energy for the afternoon journey. We conclude our day at the rustic town of Bac Me.
Cycling: 43 mi / 70 km, Terrain: moderate to large hills, Meals: B L D
Du Gia nature reserve
DAY

06
Cycle Du Gia nature reserve looking for Tonkin Snub Nose Monkeys, bike to hilltribe market in Yenh Bin.
Heading west, we ride about 25km on good paved roads, then we’ll take a dirt trail that traverses through the Du Gia nature reserve - home to the endangered Tonkin Snub Nosed Monkey. There are no tourist facilities here due to its sensitive environmental status. As we bike the next 60-100km, we may encounter very poor road conditions. If the jeep cannot follow we will use motorbike support as emergency backup. Yen Minh has a bustling Sunday market where ethnic minority groups such as the Giay, Pu peo, Co Lao, Lo Lo, Red Dao, White Hmong and Tay people gather to buy and sell their wares.
Cycling: 56 mi / 90 km, Terrain: hilly, Meals: B L D
rural vietnamese mountains along bike tour route
DAY

07
Bike through cedar forests and rugged moonscapes, encounter ethnic tribal groups going about daily lives.
Along these northern semi-paved roads, we will encounter little traffic. This is a good thing for we are headed into some of the most spectacular scenery that Vietnam has to offer. Dense cedar forests give way to rugged moonscapes. Often there are minority children walking along the roads – making for some memorable photo ops. Between Dong Van and Meo Vac is the highlight of the ride: the Ma Phi Leng Pass. Elevated at 1500m with the Nho Que River meandering far below, this sublime pass will take your breath away. In Meo Vac a small market is held everyday in the town square and is frequented mainly by the white Hmong, Tay and Lo Lo people. It’s a quaint town and a perfect place to reflect upon our magnificent ride.
Cycling: 40 mi / 65 km, Terrain: mountainous, Meals: B L D
water buffalo
DAY

8/9
Two days of cycling through stunning landscapes and off road routes.
From Meo Vac we head south towards Chin Pin. As road conditions are generally very poor, we will loop back towards Yen Minh then continue on to Quan Ba. Be prepared for another stunning ride – but it is a challenging one! The group may have to transfer if time runs out. Overnight in Quan Ba.
Cycling: 50 mi / 80 km, Terrain: mountainous, Meals: B L D

There are good roads to travel upon as we head through the Quan Ba pass to Ha Giang (45km). After an early lunch/late breakfast we’ll journey to a small junction that will lead the group east, back into the mountains on a spectacular off-road loop. Overnight in the Panhou Ecolodge.
Cycling: 37 mi / 60 km, Terrain: mountainous, Meals: B L D
rural rice farmer at work
DAY

10
Descend out of the mountains to market town of Bac Quang.
As we travel out of the mountains, we’ll arrive in Bac Quang - a sizable market town located 60km south of Ha Giang. At this junction to the western roads heading to Bao Yen in Lao Cai Province we’ll stop to rest and relax. Overnight Bac Quang. (42 mi / 67 km)
Cycling: 42 mi / 67 km, Terrain: moderate hills, Meals: B L D
luxury accommodations on sapaly Train
DAY

11
Finale along a new road through a previously impassible region, overnight train to Hanoi.
A final ride through the valley upon a previously impassable road leads us out to the Chay River in Pho Rang. There is a little more riding to be done, but otherwise we will transfer by bus the last 60 – 80km to Lao Cai. From here the group will take the overnight train back to Hanoi.
Cycling: 43 mi / 70 km, Terrain: flat & small hills, Meals: B L D
hanoi's red bridge
DAY

12/13
A free day in Hanoi, before our farewell dinner. Depart from Vietnam on day 13.
Arrive in Hanoi in early morning, transfer to hotel for early check in and breakfast. The remainder of the day is free for you to relax or explore. In the evening, we regroup and go out together for our farewell dinner at one of Hanoi’s top restaurants.
Meals: B D

The morning is free until time for your flights. Your guide team will bid you a fond farewell.
Meals: B
13 days (10 days cycling)
Inn to Inn
Level: C

Regional inns and resorts
2 and 3 star    See some of our hotels

Tour meets and ends in Hanoi, Vietnam (HAN)
Small paved & dirt, light traffic, hilly & mountainous terrain

Total: 422 mi / 680 km
Daily Avg: 47 mi / 76 km


Scheduled Departures:
Tour Cost: $3295
Deposit: $400

Private Trips:
6 or more people: $3450
2 to 5 people: $3850
1 person: $4750

Extras:
Single Supplement: $650
Bike Rental: free of charge
(All costs per person in US $. Seasonal supplements may apply on private trips.)

Comfortable Boutique Accommodation

Church Boutique Hotel
A boutique hotel in the historic Presbytery House dating from late 1890s.

Sapaly Express Train
Delightful resort with incredible views overlooking the vast plains.

Ecolodge Panhou Village
A newly opened boutique hotel in remote Ha Giang Province.

Many of our smaller guesthouses and city hotels do no have websites. We have listed those properties which do above. These are our first choice, but may not be available for all dates. When alternates are used, they will be of the same quality and style.

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1
May 2017
13 May 2017
$ 3295
$ 650
$ 400
 
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23
Oct 2017
4 Nov 2017
$ 3295
$ 650
$ 400
 
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30
Apr 2018
12 May 2018
$ 3295
$ 650
$ 400
 
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22
Oct 2018
3 Nov 2018
$ 3295
$ 650
$ 400
 
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