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Vietnam Motorcycle Motorbike Tours – North-West Ride


This page is about a North-west ride on motorbike in Vietnam, from Hanoi.

Click here to watch a video clip that features this North-West ride on 2 wheels. In case you want to watch more videos please check our YouTube channel.

North-West In The Past

During the period of Vietnamese feudalism, the Northwest was a faraway mountainous and secret area. Stories of the people from these remote areas were more like fairy tales characterized by mystical lands populated by nomadic tribes having such a special relationship with the environment. These people were considered savages by the rest of the nation and the more developed populations in the area. These “savage”, living in a large area from the Northwest of Vietnam to Northern Laos, Southern Myanmar, Southern China and Northern Thailand depended entirely on the local wildlife for their subsistent living with little trade with groups outside the area. It was only when the French colonized Vietnam ventured into this mystical area that the inhabitant’s secrets and wild lives were revealed to the outside world for the first time.

Present North-West Ride

Currently, once you have had the opportunity to visit the Northwest, you have the opportunity to see a variety of ethnic diversification which exists nowhere else in the world. The Northwest is the home to heroic historical figures; known through historical stories honouring their triumphs in the battle against nature and its beasts from deep in the forest. The Northwest is also the home of unique ethnic mountain tribes. Motorcycling through over 1,000km and crossing 7 provinces on a Honda dirt bike, you are offered a perfect opportunity to discover the intimate culture of various minority groups, such as the Thai, Muong, Dao, Lu, Khang, H’mong and Giay etc. It is also a unique chance for you to learn about the 9 years against the French colonialists during the period between 1945 and 1954.

A few places have changed their names like Lai Chau to Muong Lay and Tam Duong to Lai Chau. This makes getting the direction more confusing and difficult, especially when you ride unguided.

Be ready to travel and discover the majestic miracles of the area on the open road and the secrets of the beloved Northwest – a land which always draws open-jaw amazement and curiosity from travellers, even from “the composer who travelled and stayed in the Northwest for over 10 years”.

Vietnam Motorcycle Motorbike Tours - North-West Ride: Northwest loop dirt bike tours. North-West Ride


Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau. ~170 km, ~4-5 hrs.

Heading out of Hanoi on road number 6 to Mai Chau, an 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 by 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. Sometimes it’s too cloudy 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 – Phu Yen. ~130 km, ~4 hrs.

After breakfast, we say farewell to our hosts and ride or trek around Mai Chau valley to have a cup of tea with our personal friends.

After lunch, we have the afternoon free to explore the dreamlike grasslands. These beautiful grasslands of Moc Chau have the best of both worlds, breathtaking 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 products from the local processing factories. Dairy produce is Moc Chau’s specialty and is exported to many other countries.

After enjoying a beautiful view, 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 hotel in Phu Yen.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, permits, and entrance fees.

Day 3: Phu Yen – Tuan Giao. ~210 km, ~6 hrs.

Today is one of the most demanding days of this North-West ride due to the long road. In addition, you likely to stop often on high mountain roads to take in the incredibly beautiful scenery.

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 travel to Tuan Giao to view the sunset.

Basic guest-house in Tuan Giao.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, permits, and entrance fees.

Vietnam Motorcycle Motorbike Tours - North-West Ride: Northwest loop, North-West Ride

Day 4: Tuan Giao – Sin Ho. ~150 km, ~5 hrs.

Today we continue venturing into northern Vietnam with the 98km remainder of the historical Highway 6. The road is rough, but the scenery is unbelievably beautiful and magnificent. In fact, you pass 7 tall passes cutting through a steep mountain. This road is along the Da River flowing around the foot of the passes. This view can’t be found anywhere in this North-West ride. 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 Muong Lay, we ride on the dirt track to Sin Ho.

A nice hotel in Sin Ho.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, permits, and entrance fees.

Day 5: Sin Ho – Lai Chau. ~110-170 km, ~4-5 hrs.

Due to the environment and a height of 1,700m, getting there is a very hard journey. Therefore, 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, 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 the richest mountain market in the northwest province is that anybody who is courageous enough to visit the area has the fortune of visiting. This does nothing to limit 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. 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 Lai Chau (former Tam Duong), a small town surrounding by brilliant tea fields and a tapestry of green mountain ranges.

Standard Hotel in Lai Chau (former Tam Duong).
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, permits, and entrance fees.

Day 6: Lai Chau (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 meet 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 7: Sapa – Muong Hum – Lao Cai, night train to Hanoi. ~100 km, ~4-6 hrs.

While Sapa is famous for the beauty of European architecture, the path to Muong Hum is absolutely different from the scenic beauty of Sapa. In general, 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 sealed in 2004 but the journey of 100 km on this road is difficult. However, it is definitely worthwhile 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. End this terrific 7 days North-west ride.

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

There are many more versions of this North-west ride on motorcycle that we can design to cater for your needs and riding experience. It can be from 4 days to 12 days with some possible extensions. Just contact us and see what we can do together.

More Motorbike Tours Of Vietnam

One day tour around Hanoi
Two days tour to Mai Chau valley
Roof roads of middle North Vietnam
North-east Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh trail/road
Great North loop of Vietnam
Customized motorbike tours

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  1. MARTIN Lisette Reply

    Chevroux le 28.07.2015

    En novembre, je viens pour la 6ème fois au Vietnam avec un ami. Notre désir et de refaire un voyage au nord.
    Nous souhaitons prendre notre temps, faire des marches, visiter des villages et admirer les rizières, faire des arrêts tranquilles, éventuellement de petits détours et dormir chez l’habitant, guesthouses.
    Il nous faudrait obligatoirement un guide qui parle français (ne parlons pas anglais) avec sa moto et moi comme passagère, et mon ami va vous louer une moto, style Enduro, pour la conduire lui-même. Il a l’expérience de la moto.
    Les dates pourraient être du lundi 9 (ou mardi 10) novembre au dimanche 15 (ou lundi 16) novembre.
    Notre désir est le suivant :
    1er jour : Hanoi – Nghia Lo
    2ème jour : Nghia Lo – Mu Cang Chai
    3ème jour : Mu Cang Chai – Than Uyen
    4ème jour : Than Uyen – Sapa
    5ème jour : Sapa country
    6ème jour : Sapa – Y Ty
    7ème jour : Y Ty – Lao Cai
    Nous repartirons depuis Lao Cai jusqu’à Ha Noi avec le train de nuit.
    Pouvez-vous me répondre si ce circuit est possible, (nous voulons prendre notre temps), ainsi que le prix tout compris, c’est –à-dire :
    2 personnes, 1 guide et 2 motos et 7 jours.
    Merci beaucoup. Meilleures amitiés de Suisse.
    Lisette Martin

    • Anh Wu Reply

      Dear Lisette Martin. Sadly we don’t communicate in French and French version of our website is a Google Translate product.

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