Ride the roof of Vietnam — Nghia Lo
to Mu Cang Chai & Sapa; plus amazing Y Ty
Nghia Lo – Mu Cang Chai – Sapa – Y Ty–
ride the roof of Vietnam
At a glance
Ride the great Western Mountains, the Roof of Vietnam, along fantastic touring roads, through spectacuar mountains & rice-terreaced valleys, from Nghia Lo to Mu Cang Chai, Sapa and Y Ty in this fully guided small-group motorbike tour.
Discover the greatest mountain landscapes of Vietnam, from the broad valleys and rice fields of Nghia Lo, nestled among the hills, to the legendary rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai, some of the most beautiful in Vietnam and a mecca for photographers.
Ride on to the famous, buzzing hill town of Sapa and the gorgeous valleys, spectacular passes and fascinating ethnic minority villages that surround it.
Experience some of the best motorbike riding in Vietnam, through amazingly diverse country and roads, from the outskirts of bustling Hanoi and its heavily farmed urban fringes to remote villages on mountain back-roads.
Along the way, enjoy great Vietnamese food, and come across some of the friendliest people you will find anywhere.
Take in ancient temples, wander among cascading rice terraces, marvel at the colorful traditional costumes of the ethnic minorities still worn as part of daily life.
Visit a tea plantation, explore local markets, and be awed by the vista from the summit of Mt Fansipan, the highest peak in South East Asia.
Enjoy great (optional) trekking, off the beaten path and away from the crowds, among the mountains and valleys around Mu Cang Chai and Sapa.
Explore the remote and magical rice terrace & mountain landscapes surrounding the hamlet of Y Ty.
For more detailed information see the itinerary below.
There is travel that fits within the expected and then there are journeys that go beyond. At Other Path Travel, we specialize in small group tours that will take you to a Vietnam that most travelers never see, extraordinarily beautiful, amazingly diverse, off the beaten path.
From astounding natural beauty to scooter-packed streets in vibrant cities, we offer a range of experiences to suit your interests and travel style whether that’s exploring extraordinary scenery by private car or motorbike; cruising spectacular islands by boat From astounding natural beauty to scooter-packed streets in vibrant cities, we offer a range of experiences to suit your interests and travel style whether that’s exploring extraordinary scenery by private car or motorbike; cruising spectacular islands by boat From astounding natural beauty to scooter-packed streets in vibrant cities, we offer a range of experiences to suit your interests and travel style whether that’s exploring extraordinary scenery by private car or motorbike;
cruising spectacular islands by boat From astounding natural beauty to scooter-packed streets in vibrant cities, we offer a range of experiences to suit your interests and travel style whether that’s exploring extraordinary scenery by private car or motorbike; cruising spectacular islands by boat
- Wind through lovely Red River country past the outskirts of bustling Hanoi, occasional tea plantations, and then beautiful hills and broad rice covered valleys on the way to Nghia Lo, an unspoilt regional Black Thai town. Visit an ancient temple and explore fascinating ethnic minority markets.
- Ride fabulous off-the-beaten-path roads among the great peaks of the Roof of Vietnam, some of the best and most diverse motorbike riding in Vietnam
- Discover the legendary rice terraces of the Mu Cang Chai region, regarded as among the most beautiful in Vietnam, cascading down the mountain slopes
- Explore the vast rice-terraced valleys and towering mountains that surround the buzzing hill town of Sapa. Wander through the cafes and shops – and then escape the crowds to ride on less traveled roads or trek to remote ethnic minority villages
- Marvel at the view from the summit of Mt Fansipan, the highest mountain in South East Asia
- Experience breathtaking Y Ty, famed for its beautiful cloud-covered peaks.
What our travelers say
“Fabulous riding through amazingly diverse country from Hanoi, and then among the big mountains of the Roof of Vietnam. The mix of traveled and less-traveled roads was terrific. Loved Sapa and Fansipan, but really enjoyed our exploring away from the crowds.”
“Riding and wandering among the incredible rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai – that was an experience. The hill tribes were fantastic, with their traditional costumes and houses, and people were so friendly.”
”The ride to Y Ty, and then beyond, was fantastic – very remote, and very beautiful.”
Arrival and airport transfer
If you have requested an airport transfer, an Other Path Travel representative will meet you at Hanoi airport, and take you to your hotel in the Old Quarter or city center.
If you are spending time in Hanoi before the start of the tour, you might be interested in exploring Hanoi off the beaten path with one of our half-day Insiders’ Tours.
Afternoon before day of tour departure
In the afternoon of the day before the tour departure, we will gather at a pre-arranged time for a welcome refreshment, introductions and a pre-trip briefing where we will walk through the itinerary, discuss riding a motorbike in Vietnam and answer any questions you might have. We will also provide some panniers and talk through packing.
Hanoi & Red River Basin countryside
We wind our way through the bustle of early morning Old Quarter traffic, heading north towards the calmer streets of Tay Ho, bordering West Lake, Hanoi’s largest and arguably most beautiful lake.
Tay Ho – where many Westerners and more affluent Vietnamese live -- is a fascinating neighborhood, mixing old Vietnam and western lifestyles, traditional and modern architecture, shops, food, restaurants, bars and cultures in a blend found nowhere else in South East Asia.
Leaving Tay Ho, we continue north along the banks of the mighty Red River, the ancient birthplace of the Vietnamese people and still a major working river.
We then head west via a series of small roads through typical Hanoi countryside until we reach a beautiful group of pagodas and temples that are among the oldest Buddhist shrines in Vietnam, dating back a thousand years. We stop to explore and take in the extraordinary serenity of the temples and their interiors.
After a coffee, we head west on mostly smaller roads through more pretty countryside, still heavily farmed, rice fields and other crops, until we turn north west through suddenly hillier terrain and cross the Da River.
We leave the Red River Basin and enter the lower foothills at the southern end of the great Hoang Lien Son mountain range which leads north all the way to Vietnam’s highest peaks.
North through the mountains to Nghia Lo
We join a slightly larger road as it skirts low ranges until we reach the edges of Xuan Son National Park.
We take a detour to explore some local roads that wind through remarkable green tea plantations, some of the largest in the country. The rows of tea run in circles around dozens of conical hills – it is a strangely beautiful landscape.
We take lunch in a local café on the edge of the Park.
The road now winds into ever more mountainous country, zig-zagging along small valleys. Eventually we cross over a low pass and drop into a long valley between folded mountains that open out onto the wide, flat rice fields of the Muong Lo valley leading to Nghia Lo.
This is wonderful riding through very pretty and varied country. In the afternoon, the fields around Nghi Lo are often full of farmers, mostly ethnic Thai and Hmong, tending the rice paddies and corn fields.
Riding slowly along the side roads through the fields and hamlets with stilt houses is a great way to observe some of the culture and rhythms of daily rural life.
Nghia Lo is a bustling regional center and commercial hub set in a spectacular location surrounded by mountains. It has a population of around 30,000, and it is rapidly developing and changing, modern buildings rising next to old.
We drop our bags at our comfortable hotel and then take some time to explore the center of town, before enjoying a relaxing drink and dinner in a local restaurant.
Option to start the riding day in the Hanoi countryside, avoiding city traffic
There is an option to start the morning by traveling by private car and driver (or minibus, depending on the number in the group) to a prearranged location in the Hanoi countryside and to commence the motorbike ride from there.
This avoids riding through Hanoi city traffic, and generally makes for an easier day with fewer kilometers to ride on the bike. You can choose this optional Extra as part of the booking process. Of course, riding through Hanoi’s busy streets is an experience in itself – the choice is yours.
Accommodation: Hotel, Nghia Lo
Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Nghia Lo markets
If the trip started on a Saturday, then after breakfast we visit the excellent Muong Lo markets. Ethnic markets in Vietnam’s northern mountains are something special.
The markets are not just a place to buy and sell a bewildering array of household and farming goods, meat, fish, an amazing variety of other foods, flowers, clothing and animals. They are also a place where people can come from distant villages to socialize and catch up with people they might not otherwise see.
The Muong Lo markets were once the largest in the region, before modern transportation changed the old ways, and they are still a wonderful place to wander and see different ethnic minorities engaged in the stuff of mountain life.
The amazing road to Mu Cang Chai
Leaving Nghia Lo, we ride north and west, following one valley after another as they wind between vast green-clad mountains. The landscape here is wonderful, with the valley floors and lower slopes carpeted with rice terraces hundreds of years old and dotted with small villages and hamlets.
At the head of the enormous Lim Mong valley, we stop to admire the view, rice terraces falling away against a distant mountain backdrop.
In harvest season, the terraces are a spellbinding carpet of golden yellows and greens. In the fallow season before the new planting, the terraces are filled with water that reflect the sky like a million mirrors arranged across the valley slopes. It’s one of our favorite places and one of the best views in Vietnam.
The legendary rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai
We ride on, along roads that hug the mountain sides and follow narrow valleys before taking a smaller road into La Pan Tan valley near Mu Cang Chai. Though relatively small in scale, this valley has some of the most famous rice terraces in all of Vietnam, recognized as part of the national heritage for their beauty.
We explore the valley on bike and foot, and time permitting also visit the villages of De Xu Pinh and Che Cu Nha, which are also famous for their rice terraces. The terraced hills are particularly gorgeous in the low angled light at the end of the day.
In late September to early October, depending on the season, the ripe rice turns a golden yellow and the whole village is involved in cutting and processing the grain – it can be a fantastic time to visit.
The terraces are also beautiful from May to August, from when the H’Mong sow the new rice to when the terraces of mature rice are like green waves cascading down the hillsides.
They are equally captivating in fallow season, when the farmers plough using mostly oxen and wooden ploughs, and when the terraces are flooded in preparation for new rice, reflecting the sky in beautiful patterns.
In the late afternoon, we rejoin the main road and ride to our comfortable eco-lodge, set among the hills ands rice fields, where we enjoy a good local meal at the end of an inspiring day.
Accommodation: Eco-lodge, Mu Cang Chai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
West and north to the great peaks
Setting off after breakfast at our eco-lodge, we follow the long Mu Cang Chai valley, dropping gradually until we turn north into the main valley running just to the west of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. We ride on towards the Roof of Vietnam and Mt Fansipan, at 3,143 meters the highest peak in Indochina.
The road is good and soon we find ourselves turning east and climbing steeply up via twists and turns to O Quy Ho pass at 2035 meters where we stop to admire the fantastic view back down the valley.
Riding on, we drop from the pass into the cradle of the mountain range, surrounded by the highest peaks.
After a little while we reach Silver Waterfall - spectacular when there is good water flow - before continuing on towards Sapa, with the valley falling away below us and vast mountains rising above.
Sapa, Mt Fansipan and Sapa valley
If people want to take the (optional) cable car ride and walk to the summit of Fansipan, we detour to the cable car base.
The cable car takes you to a point a little below the summit, complete with restaurant and Buddhist temple, and the actual summit is a climb of 600 steps (or a funicular) further on. The cable car is a little controversial, with some people criticizing it as an overly-touristic intrusion that has ruined what was a challenging trek to one of Asia’s significant summits.
Whatever your feelings about the cable car, on a good day the views from the summit are stunning.
We continue on to the buzzing town of Sapa, originally established by the French as a hill town to escape the lowland heat and now a major tourist center, with hotels and stores to suit all tastes.
We stop to explore the town for a while, and indulge in some good coffee and other foodie delights, before riding on to our hotel further down the valley and away from the tourists and touts in Sapa.
We drop our bags and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring by bike and foot the fantastic scenery, trails and ethnic villages of the great Sapa valley. This is magnificent big mountain country and great riding and treking.
In the late afternoon we can return to Sapa for a well-earned drink and dinner amongst the town buzz, or we can choose to relax and enjoy a more peaceful environment at a bar and restaurant near our hotel.
Accommodation: Homestay, Sapa
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Exploring Sapa and its Valleys, Optional Trekking
After a relaxed breakfast, we spend the day discovering the Sapa region in more detail.
Options include motorcycle rides into some of the excellent and less travelled surrounding valleys, including visits to local villages and homes away from the tourist crush; taking the cable car to the summit of Mt Fansipan (if not done the day before); and exploring the busy streets, cafes and stores of Sapa town.
For a day in more remote mountain country, we can ride to the isolated hamlet of Y Ty with its famous rice terraces and swirling cloud mountains (for experienced riders only, and road conditions permitting).
There are also easy to challenging treks, off the beaten path and away from the crowds, among the terraced slopes and local villages in some of the most majestic mountain country in Vietnam.
We are free to do as much or as little as we want.
At the end of the day, we relax at our hotel, admiring the views over the valley and terraces, before dinner.
Accommodation: Homestay, Sapa
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Road to Y Ty
We ride back to the head of the Sapa valley and then head north on the road to Y Ty, a remote hamlet near the Chinese border.
Y Ty isfamous for its amazing scenery, vast rice terraces, unusual earthen houses, and views of cloud-wreathed mountains and valleys.
We cross a low pass and traverse a winding road as it drops into a wide, pretty valley, and then follow a series of valleys, gorges and fault lines as we head north and west.
The landscapes and views are majestic. In good weather, some of the highest peaks in Vietnam tower over the deepest valleys and steepest rice terraces. In cloudy weather, the mountains appear and disappear in dramatic fashion.
Beautiful rice terraces, a view into China
We pass through the small hydro town of Muong Ham and onwards into broader valleys, and then through some magnificent forest before emerging at last into the wide, almost circular amphitheater of the Y Ty rice terraces, cascading down to the border with China at the bottom of the valley.
The setting is spectacular; the rice terraces are almost glacier-like as they tumble down the slopes while impressive mountains and cliffs surround the amphitheater. Across the border, mountains stretch away to the horizon.
Clouds often swirl in the valleys and around the peaks – despite its remoteness, this is a famous place to catch dramatic cloudscapes.
We explore some of the local roads and rice terraces, before enjoying a relaxing drink and evening meal at our basic but friendly homestay.
Accommodation: Homestay, Y Ty
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Border Country, wonderful views, Red River Valley, road to Lao Cai
We spend the morning exploring more of the local roads and rice terraces around Y Ty. This is a special place, and there are many vantage points with stunning views.
We then head north east on a twisting mountain road, not far from the Chinese border. The road is unsealed and we travel slowly.
This is remote country, and feels very far from the rest of the world and its concerns. The riding and scenery are awesome.
After a while, the road descends into the great rift of the Red River valley, marking the border between Vietnam and China, and then turns south east.
We follow the river valley as it winds southwards, riding through mixed countryside and low ranges.
As we approach Lao Cai, the villages become larger and there is a quite sudden transition from remote to more populated country.
Return to Hanoi – Options
If taking the bus, we arrive in Lao Cai by middle afternoon. We leave our bikes with Other Path Travel representatives who will take care of their transport to Hanoi, while we get some snacks to eat while travelling, and then get ourselves and our panniers / luggage onto the bus.
These are modern, comfortable buses that take the freeway to Hanoi; the journey is about 4.5 – 5 hrs and we arrive late in the evening, generally around 9pm – 11pm depending on traffic etc. We will arrange transport for you and your luggage back to your hotel in Hanoi.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
If taking the overnight train, we arrive in Lao Cai in the late afternoon. We leave our bikes with Other Path Travel representatives who will take care of their transport to Hanoi, while we have an early dinner in a local restaurant before boarding a private carriage around 8pm.
The overnight train back to Hanoi is a unique glimpse into a Vietnam of older times. The cabins are reminiscent of steam train days and quite comfortable, even luxe, with wood-paneled walls, decent mattresses, reading lights, AC outlets and air-conditioning on better classes.
However, the rail tracks are old, the trains do go fairly slowly and there are stops and starts along the way – many people use ear plugs in order to have a pleasant and restful night.
With a sensible attitude to train travel in developing countries, the trip can be a great experience.
On arrival in Hanoi, typically early in the morning around 5am, we are met at the train station by our prearranged transport to drive you to your hotel.
Accommodation: Overnight train
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
If going by private car and driver, we arrive in Lao Cai around midday and catch an early lunch in a local café. We leave our bikes with Other Path Travel representatives who will take care of their transport back to Hanoi.
We get ourselves and our panniers and luggage loaded into our car(s) and set off for Hanoi via the freeway – about a 4 -5 hour journey.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Optional Excursion to Duong Lam Ancient Town
Before reaching Hanoi there is an option, time permitting, to visit Duong Lam, a UNESCO World Heritage site which has some of North Vietnam’s best-preserved old houses and temples.
Duong Lam has a history dating back more than a thousand years; two of Vietnam’s kings, Phung Hung (761-802) and Ngo Quyen (896-944) were born in Duong Lam, and are famous for leading resistance against invasion from the north.
The village has many traditional houses dating back up to 400 years, which provide a rare window into ancient Vietnamese culture and architecture, as well as some fine communal houses and older temples and pagodas. We arrive in Hanoi in early evening and transfer you to your hotel.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Debrief & Departures
Whether returning to Hanoi by bus, or overnight train, or car + driver, we will arrange with the group a convenient time to get together later in a local cafe, after breakfast in your hotel and an opportunity to repack out of the motorbike panniers, to debrief on the trip and to collect panniers and any other equipment you might have rented from us.
If you need transfers to the airport, we will arrange this for you (if you have booked your hotel and transfers through us it will already be taken care of). If the group wishes, we can separately organize an end-of-trip dinner at one of Hanoi’s best, authentic, Vietnamese restaurants – it’s a great experience, great food and packed with locals enjoying themselves. We will also happily provide advice and suggestions on any other travel you might be considering in Vietnam.
Then we bid farewell and safe travels till we see you again!
Booking in advance
We strongly recommend booking well in advance.
Accommodation choices can be limited, especially in less traveled parts of Vietnam. In more popular locations demand can be high, particularly at peak periods. If possible, we recommend booking 2 or more months in advance.
Our minimum advance period to book online for this tour is 4 weeks – shorter than that and you need to email us with a reservation request and we need to confirm availability.
Of course, we will always work with you if you have to book at short notice – just contact us.
Peak periods include: northern hemisphere summer holidays (July – August); Christmas period and southern hemisphere summer holidays (mid-December - early February); Easter; peak Ha Long Bay periods (September - November and March - May); Vietnamese domestic summer holidays (June - early September); Vietnamese lunar new year, Tet festival, usually sometime in February.
Remember, while these are the peak periods, Vietnam is busy all year round.
Minimum number of people
If you are booking as an ‘exclusive’ tour – meaning the tour will be just for your group and no others – then this tour is guaranteed to start on the scheduled date provided there are a minimum number of 2 people. For tours that are ‘not exclusive’, the minimum is 4 people.
Traveling solo? Book as ‘not exclusive’ and join with others. Or contact us -- we will always do what we can to help!
Departure day of the week
This tour has scheduled starts on Saturdays and Wednesdays.
The Saturday start gets to Nghia Lo on Saturday evening, in time to explore the excellent markets on Sunday morning.
The Wednesday start means the second night in Sapa is a Saturday, enabling us to visit the Bac Ha Sunday market on the morning of the last day of the tour, before catching the bus back to Hanoi later on Sunday afternoon.
Both markets are fabulous, full of ethnic minorities in their colorful traditional costumes and an amazing variety of things for sale.
Nghia Lo is smaller, predominantly Black Thai and less famous but also less touristed. Bac Ha is perhaps the largest ethnic market in the north west mountains, predominantly Hmong, more colorful than Nghi Lo, more famous and much more touristed.
Visiting Bac Ha involves an early start from Sapa on Sunday morning (on the bike, after breakfast, by 7:30am) in order to get to Bac Ha via slow mountain roads before 10am – to see the market while it is still busy, and also to beat the main crush of tourist buses. Visiting Bac Ha increases the overall trip riding distance by about 135km.
If a Saturday or Wednesday start doesn’t work for you, contact us and we will help work through the options.
Comfortable, clean accommodation everywhere
Accommodation is a mix of 3 - 4 star hotels and village homestays. Traveling in remote Vietnam means complete comfort is not always available, but we always choose places that are clean, friendly and of a good, comfortable standard, that we use ourselves when traveling.
Back to Hanoi
There are four options for returning to Hanoi from Lao Cai, some of which involve different accommodations for the final leg.
The default option, included in this tour, is to ride our motorbikes after lunch on the last day to Loa Cai from Sapa, and to catch the late afternoon bus back to Hanoi (and the bikes onto either the bus or train), arriving late in the evening, generally between 9pm and 11pm depending on precise schedule and traffic.
If we are visiting the Bac Ha market on a Sunday morning, then we ride back to Lao Cai from the market in time to catch the late afternoon bus.
For all the returning options: if you have booked a Hanoi hotel through Other Path Travel we will transfer you and your luggage to your hotel, and help you check in. If you have booked your own accommodation in Hanoi, we will arrange transport to your hotel.
The first alternative, selectable as an Extra at checkout, is to return to Hanoi by private driver + car, which can be scheduled to leave Lao Cai around noon and arrive in Hanoi early evening, around 5pm-6pm, in time for you to have dinner after checking in to your hotel.
For this, we ride our motorbikes down to Lao Cai from Sapa around mid-morning; the bikes are left to be put onto the train or bus back to Hanoi and we transfer to the car for the straightforward drive to Hanoi via the freeway. This is the fastest way to get back to Hanoi.
The second alternative, also selectable as an Extra at checkout, is to take the overnight Sapa – Hanoi train instead of the bus. Traveling by the overnight train, especially in the luxe wood-paneled cabins found in private carriages, is a special experience, one that evokes a former colonial Vietnam. While relatively expensive, this experience is unique in Vietnam. Many people love it as a one-off.
If you choose to return to Hanoi on the overnight train we ride our motorbikes to Lao Cai from Sapa around mid-afternoon on the last day; the bikes are put on the train; we have dinner in Lao Cai and then board the train about 8pm. We sleep in private luxe cabins as the train winds its way (a little noisily!) back to Hanoi.
We arrive in the early morning, around 5am, where transport to your hotel will be available if you need it. See the Itinerary for more details.
The third alternative, for experienced riders and selectable as an optional extension to your tour, is to ride back to Hanoi over two days, passing through lovely country and staying overnight at the half way point in a friendly homestay on the shores of the spectacular Thac Ba Lake. See the Tour Options section at the bottom of this web page.
Riding back via Thac Ba Lake adds a day to the tour and about 300km extra distance, spread over the last two days of the trip. See here for additional details and an itinerary which adds this option to the 9 day Best of Ha Giang plus Sapa base tour.
A great way to go
There is no better way to travel through Vietnam than by motorbike -- the feeling of connection to the landscapes and people is exhilarating. It's how we like to travel ourselves.
Vietnam is a motorbike rider’s paradise. The country has not yet developed to the point where cars and trucks are crowding bikes on rural and back roads: there are cars and trucks of course, but motorbikes are still dominant. On the other hand, the country has developed enough to have (mostly) reasonable sealed roads. In addition, the landscapes and people are fabulous. This all adds up to fantastic back roads riding.
This tour is aimed at people with moderate motorbike riding experience as well as more experienced riders. We modify the daily riding distances and choose roads and side excursions to suit the experience and desires of the group -- from relaxed to demanding.
There is also the possibility of riding pillion behind one of our experienced local riders -- you can select this as part of the booking process.
If you would like to discuss your riding experience and options, please contact us -- we are always keen to help!
'Slow travel' and types of motorbike
In general, we have a ‘slow travel’ philosophy and try and ensure that daily distances are not too large – we take time to enjoy what we are passing through.
Not going too fast is the secret to riding in Vietnam: there are so many fantastic side excursions and so much to experience. In any case, winding back roads make fast riding impractical a lot of the time -- in the mountains, speeds of 30 - 60 kmh are common. Of course if you want to ride harder and cover more distance, we can do that too.
We generally ride modest sized semi-automatic bikes of around 110cc-125cc, or slightly larger manual bikes of 150cc. Both are well suited to the winding roads of Vietnam.
The 110cc - 1225cc bikes are less expensive, are light and easy to manage, and handle dirt roads well. These are what the locals ride everywhere. You'll find them more approachable if you're riding what they're riding. These are the default, included in the price of the tour.
The 150cc bikes are heavier, a bit more expensive and can of course cover long distances more quickly. You can select 150cc bikes for your group as part of the booking process.
Western riders used to larger bikes often want something bigger -- and if you want to ride Vietnam's crowded highways, then a larger bike makes sense (although bikes of more than 175cc involve more stringent driving license requirements) -- but we do not recommend them for our tours.
Off road bikes are also available for those who wish to add some more challenging dirt roads to the mix – we can provide as much challenge as you can handle. However, it's not our key focus and if you want a pure off-roading experience, then you should look elsewhere. Contact us if you are interested in a larger motorbike or mixing in a bit of more serious off-road.
See here for more information on riding a motorbike in Vietnam.
Ideally, you will have a motorbike license in your own country that you can use as the basis to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) before you leave.
Vietnam does not recognize domestic motorcycle licenses by themselves as being a valid license to ride a motorbike in Vietnam, but it does recognize the combination of a domestic license and an IDP from a number of countries: see here for more important information and a link to a list of countries.
If you are from one of the countries where an IDP is not recognized (including USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Ireland, Spain), then please contact us to discuss options.
Note that the rules for what is required to ride validly in Vietnam are always changing -- we try and keep up to date, but it's always best to contact the Vietnamese embassy in your country to confirm.
Choose Your Style
This tour is aimed at both people who are interested in being active as well as those who want a more relaxing trip instead. We have designed the route and itinerary to accommodate both preferences.
For those who want to be active, we are happy to provide as much additional riding and / or trekking as you desire – and it’s great stuff: fabulous back roads and trails, amazing mountains and gorges, wonderful treks to remote ethnic minority villages, stunning rice terraces and beautiful forests.
For those more interested in a less-active trip, the core riding itinerary provides great, relaxing touring through spectacular and incredibly diverse landscapes and villages. We can adjust the itinerary for each day in accord with the interests of the group.
The tour price includes:
- Motorbike, Honda Wave or Future Neo or equivalent semi-automatic, including custom panniers, racks & bungee cords
- English speaking local guide
- Accommodation as specified in the itinerary
- Meals as specified in the itinerary, usually breakfast, lunch & dinner
- Bus from Hanoi to Ha Giang; bus from Lao Cai to Hanoi; and other transfers as specified in the itinerary (covering both persons & motorbikes as applicable)
- Permits, entrance, trekking and other fees
- Any optional extras (such as airport meet & transfer) selected as part of the booking process
The tour price does not include:
- Drinks, including beer, wine & spirits
- Travel insurance
- Motorbike clothing & protective gear - including helmet, gloves, knee & elbow protectors. We recommend bringing your own, but if this is difficult, we do have limited numbers available for rent for a modest additional cost; you can select this as an optional Extra as part of the booking process.
- Cable Car ride to the summit of Mt Fansipan from Sapa. This is too weather dependent to include by default, and is better handled on the spot.
Tour Options – Add Something Special to Your Tour
Customise Your Tour with Our Optional Activities
Take your tour further and add some extra experiences we think are not to be missed. From landscapes to people watching, trekking to markets, simply choose the option(s) that’s right for you and click ‘Reload your revised tour’ to open a new tab with an amended itinerary.
At this time we don’t have pre-prepared itineraries for every combination, so please contact us if your combination doesn’t load a new itinerary; and we will work with you directly.
Spectacular, remote Ta Xua Dinosaur Back Ridge
6 Days | 700km+ | Easy / moderate
Experience the spectacular Dinosaur Back Ridge in remote and beautiful Ta Xua Nature Reserve.
The ride there is fabulous; the trekking is relatively easy and the views are superb. The ridge forms a narrow promontory suspended above the great valley below and the mountain peaks and ridges all around.
Ta Xua is famous among ‘cloud hunters’ for swirling cloud-views, best from November to March, but its vistas on a clear day at any time of the year are legendary.
Beautiful Thac Ba lake & ancient Duong Lam village
6 Days | 900km+ | Moderate
Return to Hanoi from Sapa via beautiful Thac Ba Lake and the ancient village of Duong Lam.
This is a great off-the-beaten-path alternative to the bus or train from Lao Cai, riding our motorbikes through varied rural country.
We explore a different side of Vietnam as we journey from the northern mountains down through the historic Red River Basin.
Remote, stunning rice terraces & mountains of Y Ty
6 Days | 770km+ | Moderate
Explore the stunning rice terraces and cloud-wreathed peaks surrounding the remote hamlet of Y Ty, in the mountains north of Sapa, close to the Chinese border.
This is a magical place, far from the crowds, where you can discover a landscape barely touched by tourism.
Ride a mix of fabulous sealed and unsealed roads through stunning mountains and then along the banks of the great Red River back to Lao Cai, before traveling on to Hanoi.
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