Day 1 – Hanoi - Lao Cai (D)
We meet in Hanoi, having a bit of a chance to explore Vietnam's capital before we catch the Tulico Express, the overnight train up north and the start of our adventure. Bikes and luggage can be dropped off at our local office so you can head off and visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature or have a relaxing massage to help recover from jet lag. We will all meet up in early evening for dinner and then transfer to the train station along with bikes and bags for the 260km-long overnight train journey to Lao Cai. The train is a very civilized affair with compartments sleeping four and a carriage where you can buy food and refreshments. Overnight on train to Lao Cai.
Day 2 – Lao Cai-Sapa (BLD) 25kms
Our train arrives early morning in Lao Cai, a border town with China’s Yunnan province. We transfer to the hill station town of Sapa, at an altitude of 1,600m. It will takes us approximately 1 hour to drive up the mountain side and on arrival we have breakfast then check into our hotel. We’ll have time to fit bikes before taking in the fresh air and spectacular views on our late morning ride on an off-road track to the village of Ta Phin. Our bike ride will takes us along the trails used by the locals to get to market and through the hills which have been terraced for wet rice agriculture. On some sections you may be required to carry your bike across paddy fields. Support is for only 40% of the ride, though the jeep will never be too far away and will rendezvous with us at several stops en route. At this altitude the weather can vary, so keep in mind that an alternative route may have to be tackled if the weather is bad. Overnight at the Chau Long New Wing Hotel.
Day 3 – Sapa – Tam Duong (BLD) 85kms
This morning we have a long ride ahead of us and our day will start from the hotel with an approximately 16 km uphill to the Tram Ton Pass, at 1,900 m the highest road in Vietnam, so eating a hearty breakfast is recommended. For those not quite up for a challenge so early in the morning a lift to the top can be arranged. The views are stunning from the top of the pass into the next valley we’ll be riding through. You can track where we’ll be heading by following the road snaking its way 20 km downhill. Time to double check brakes before we let loose on the descent through some tea plantations scattered amidst some truly outstanding countryside. We stop at Binh Lu to regroup before taking an off-road trail to Tam Duong. This lovely undulating 35 km ride passes through farmland and villages valley inhabited with Lu people. This section is supported by a motorcycle and we’ll stop off for a picnic lunch en route. After a fantastic day of varied riding we’ll cap it off with a dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at the Lan Anh 2 Hotel.
Day 4 – Tam Duong – Lai Chau (BLD) 110kms
Today’s ride is tough and challenging, but the reward is scenery that is out of this world. The first half of this ride is mainly uphill, with 12 km off-road, to one of the highest mountains in the area. We have lunch at the summit, bring a jacket as it can be chilly at the higher altitude, before the exhilarating descent to the Nam Na river. The undulating road takes us through a picturesque gorge with the river coursing along on our right. The views on this ride are quite spectacular and it is a great chance to stop at the many minority villages on the way. The final part of the ride is a pleasant downhill ride to Lai Chau and our overnight stop. There will be bus support on this entire route or those who find the day a bit too challenging. Overnight at the Lan Anh 1 Hotel.
Day 5 – Lai Chau – Din Bien Phu (BLD) 100kms
Today we follow a quiet, remote way, but it is another tough ride, as it is impossible to count the number of hill climbs and descents! The road is rough all the way and there are few (if any) flat stretches. It is, however, a stunningly beautiful route. The children are frightened of foreigners, so care must be taken when riding by or approaching children en route. It is advisable to wear discreet riding shorts as we’ll be passing through many ethnic tribal villages. When we reach Tuan Giao we’ll transfer about 2 hours to Dien Bien Phu. Overnight at the Him Lam Hotel.
Day 6 – Dien Bien Phu- Hanoi (B)
After an early breakfast we take in a tour of historic Dien Bien Phu, Starting at the well-maintained and interesting museum we visit the cemetery and the French war bunkers and battle sites. We then head to the airport to catch the lunchtime flight back to Hanoi