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Northwest Trail Motorbike Tour 8 Days
Posted date 21/07/2010 on 05:28:30 (Viewed 1011 time(s))

Routes: Hanoi - Mai Chau - Thung Man - Phu Yen - Tuan Giao - Sin Ho - Tam Duong - Sapa - Muong Hum - Hanoi


Duration: 08 Days


Itinerary in brief
Day 1: Hanoi - Mai Chau. 170 km, ~4-5 hrs.
Day 2: Mai Chau - Thung Man. 100 km, ~4 hrs.
Day 3: Thung Man - Phu Yen. 130 km, ~4 hrs.
Day 4: Phu Yen - Tuan Giao. 210 km, ~6 hrs.
Day 5: Tuan Giao - Sin Ho. 150 km, ~5 hrs.
Day 6. Sin Ho - Tam Duong. 110-170 km, ~4-5 hrs.
Day 7: Tam Duong - Sapa. 70 km, ~2 hrs.
Day 8: Sapa - Muong Hum - Lao Cai, night train to Hanoi. 100 km, ~4-6 hrs.

Detail Itinerary


Day 1: Hanoi - Mai Chau. 170 km, ~4-5 hrs.
Heading out of Hanoi on road number 6 to Mai Chau, and idyllic valley populated by mainly White Thai ethnic people. Visiting Mai Chau, you have a chance to enjoy folk songs and traditional colourful culture of White Thai in Mai Chau. The scenery of the arrival to Mai Chau is characterized with beautiful limestone mountains and colourful hill tribes who can be seen and visited on the way. We also have an opportunity en route to learn about the culture of the rice-cultivating inhabitants in the Red River valley and Da River down stream. After lunch, we have the whole afternoon free to climb up to the top of Thung Nhuoi pass. From the top of the pass there is a beautiful view of Mai Chau valley, often engulfed by clouds but still a sight to be enjoyed. After visiting this wonderful site, we drop down to explore more of the area of White Thai people.

In the evening, we can enjoy a local dinner and overnight in a beautiful village at the edge of a river. After dinner, you can spend the evening sitting together around a fire and join in a Thai traditional music show. In their traditional attire, typical of their culture, Thai women invite visitors to participate in the Xoe dance. To the rhythmical and ebullient music, the hosts and guests will dance for hours hand-in-hand. When they get tired, they stop for a while to drink special sticky rice liquor called "ruou can". Visitors who participate in the Xoe dance once, especially by the light of a fire at night are likely to remember it forever.

Overnight and dinner in our host family of  Thai
Lunch, dinner, permits, entrance fees, and traditional dancing show.

Day 2: Mai Chau - Thung Man. 100 km, ~4 hrs.
Today we continue venturing onto Northern Vietnam by following the old National Highway No 6 which has been neglected for 20 years. The rough narrow road, cutting through many hill-tops makes the terrain difficult to manoeuvre, so the road transport is very limited. Sometimes, if lucky you might catch sight of a horse-drawn carriage or buffalo cart but, apart from that, this road is quite deserted. Along the way, we have excellent opportunities to learn about the people of different cultures, such as the Red Dao, Dao Tien, Muong and Thai ethnic groups. The people living here are very friendly and live a simple lifestyle. Typically they live by cultivating dry rice, vegetables and fruit at high altitudes and hunting in the wild forest.

At noon we stop for lunch at the top of the pass and enjoy a beautiful view of spacious Moc Chau grassland and the Da River.

The afternoon will provide a real challenge. After heading out on New Highway 6, we make our way onto the torturous and bumpy road. However, exploring the H''mong hill tribe’s colourful customs and majestic mountainous scenery makes the hardship all worthwhile.

2 options:
- Overnight and dinner in our host family of H''mong  people or
- Standard hotel in Moc Chau.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, permits, and entrance fees.

Day 3: Thung Man - Phu Yen. 130 km, ~4 hrs.
After breakfast we say farewell to our hosts and visit thung Mai, the most timeless village of the H''mong ethnic people residing at an altitude of over 1,000 meters above sea level and in complicated topography. The H''mong people have lived here for nearly 100 years. While on the way to Ha Giang, they were forced to flee from French colonialists and settled in this remote area. To reach Thung Man, it takes about one and half hours to the top of the mountain. Upon arrival, you will see a pretty village with about 20 houses built from "stone" surrounding a small, fairy pond at the mountain top. The village seems isolated from the mainstream world. There is no motorbike or karaoke here! The owners of this mountain still retain their age-old culture and traditions. Moreover, visitors to this remote area will have opportunity to discover these people''s unique customs and simple lifestyle and even share the wisdom of the elders who enjoy the happiness of living under the same roof with 5-6 generations. You also have a chance to listen to the legends about the "toward South" process.

After lunch, we have the afternoon free to explore the dreamlike grasslands. These beautiful grasslands of Moc Chau have the best of both worlds, breath-taking scenery and some of the most favourable climate, in the Northwest mountains. Moc Chau’s flora is diverse, ranging from forests and tea plantations to fruit orchards.

We can walk to the local dairy farms and sample produce from the local processing factories. Dairy produce is Moc Chau’s specialty and is exported to many other countries.

After visiting beautiful area, we drop down to Da River and take a specialized boat along the river. Then we ride along the river to Phu Yen valley, one of the most prosperous and beautiful villages of Thai people in Northwest.

2 options:
- Overnight and dinner in our host family of Thai people or
- Standard otel in Phu Yen.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, permits, and entrance fees.

Day 4: Phu Yen - Tuan Giao. 210 km, ~6 hrs.
The journey north continues onto Son La, following the 113 Highway. Along the way, there are superb landscapes with green valley and terraced rice fields. Passing the Bac Yen Mountain top, through Chen Pass to the largest "maize" and "manioc" forest, we arrive at Son La plateau.

After lunch in Son La town, we will visit the former French Prison and provincial museum. We have more mountain passes to challenge us, such as Son La, Chieng Pac, and Pha Din. You will enjoy the beautiful landscape on your way from Son La to Lai Chau town. The afternoon will provide free time to climb over the top of the Pha Din Pass - known as the interface between Heaven and Earth. Pha Din forms a natural border between Son La and Dien Bien Phu, the site of the decisive battle in Vietnam’s struggle for independence in 1954. Then we take time to travel to Tuan Giao to view the sunset.

Standard hotel in Tuan Giao.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, permits, and entrance fees.

Day 5: Tuan Giao - Sin Ho. 150 km, ~5 hrs.
Today we continue venturing in to northern Vietnam with the 98ksm remainder of the historical Highway 6. The road is rough, but the scenery is unbelievably beautiful and magnificent with the 7 tall passes cutting though steep mountain along the Da River flowing around the foot of the passes, which can be found nowhere else in the Northwest route. Moreover, part of the pleasure of travelling by motorbike in this region is the simple joy of the friendly smiles and greetings of the local people, which make the hardship all worthwhile. Along the way, we stop to visit the Black Thai, Kho Mu, Lu, Black H''mong, Green H''mong and White H''mong, just some of the many hill tribe groups and discover their simple lifestyles and colourful cultures.

After lunch at Lai Chau, we take a boat to travel along the Nam Na River, passing the high, dangerous and sheer rocks, the pretty villages on the two sides of the river and the hillside green rice fields. The boat is not a big one, but the boatman is skilled enough to make your cruise safe and adventurous to the next destination. After that we make our way to Sin Ho.

Basic guesthouse in Sin Ho.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, permits, and entrance fees.

Day 6. Sin Ho - Tam Duong. 110-170 km, ~4-5 hrs.
Due to the environment and a height of 1,700m, getting there is very hard journey, so the people living here mostly retain their long-lasting lifestyle. The unchanged way of life from ancient days is hard to maintain in the modern world, however it should be said that there is no way for urbanization to occur in these areas. Moreover, only a handful of tourist agencies can visit this remote area. The reason Sin Ho is regarded as the richest mountain market in the northwest province, is because anybody who is courageous enough to visit the area is rewarded with the fortune of visiting. This does nothing that limits the bright motley colours of traditional clothes of various ethics such as the Green H''mong, the Black H''mong, the White H''mong, the Dzao Dau Bang, and the Lu.

Sin Ho market lasts till late in the afternoon but due to a long hard road down the mountain, we need to prepare lunch and equipment for the trip. When arriving at the foot of the mountain we will ride along Nam Na River to Pa So. After climbing Hong Thu Man pass, home of the Dzao Khau and the H''mong people, we will reach Tam Duong, a small town surrounding by brilliant tea fields and a tapestry of green mountain ranges.

Standard Hotel in Tam Duong.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, permits, and entrance fees.

Day 7: Tam Duong - Sapa. 70 km, ~2 hrs.
This morning finds us on the road for the 50km ride to the village of Lu ethnic minority whose origin comes from Lao. We’ll have a chance to see beautiful stilt houses and girls who blacken the teeth and have a seductive smile. After that we have to cross the Muong Kim River back to National Highway 4D to travel to Sapa.

We will enjoy a picnic lunch at the top of Tram Ton Pass, the most beautiful one in Sapa. In the afternoon we are free to explore Sapa, which is usually engulfed by clouds. After enjoying an Artichaux cup of tea, a special drink from Sapa, we embark on a walk to discover this charming town and get acquainted with the host people who are the soul of this area.

Sapa was founded in the early years of the last century as a hill resort for the French administration at the time. It soon became famous in Indochina for its ideal climate. Nowadays, Sapa’s breathtaking scenery is some of the best in Asia.

Standard hotel in Sapa.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, permits, and entrance fees.

Day 8: Sapa - Muong Hum - Lao Cai, night train to Hanoi. 100 km, ~4-6 hrs.
While Sapa is characterized with the beauty of European architecture, the path to Muong Hum is absolutely different from the scenic beauty of Sapa. This road passes through many neglected villages and tracks. During the rainy season, no one dares to ride the muddy and slippery road off the highway. Despite its close link to Sapa, this road receives very few visitors.

This road was newly upgraded and sealeded in 2004 but the journey of 100 kms on this road is a tad difficult. However, it is definitely worthwile as the scenery is breathtaking. Moreover, on the way back to Lao Cai, you will ride along the Red River which forms the natural border between Vietnam and China and enjoy a visit to Lao Cai, the international border town with China. Dinner in a restaurant en route to Hanoi and arrive back in Hanoi by 5.30am.

Over night in night train to transfer to Hanoi.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, permits, and entrance fees

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