The schedule of our road-trip throughout provinces of Vietnam, with a 110cc bike/scooter ridden by young and wild hearts.
The first leg of this Vietnam road-trip, we spend 18 days in the Northern Part – the most amazing landscapes featured by the diversity in culture of Vietnamese ethnic minorities.
DAY 1: HANOI – HANG KIA PA CO (HOA BINH) – 160km
Hang Kia is a small village in Mai Chau, Hoa Binh Province, a habitat of H’Mong people. Here you can experience their daily living, customs and taste the most delicious grilled chicken/pork served with sticky rice. You can also try the corn spirits which can warm you right up then enjoy the performance by some neighbors, reappearing their traditional games in Spring Festival.
Suggested homestay: Y Múa Homestay Hang Kia
DAY 2: HANG KIA – MOC CHAU – 52km
Moc Chau, famous for its cool weather, different flower seasons and the green tea valley. The best time to visit Moc Chau: in Feb and Mar for white plum blossom and in November for the mustard flower season.
DAY 3: MOC CHAU – SON LA – 234km
Just a stop at Son La City but you can also visit the Son La Prison, a political prison during the French domination in 1940s. Son La is also known as the capital of Thai People.
DAY 4: SON LA – DIEN BIEN – 155km
From Son La, cross the Pha Din Pass to reach the historical site – Dien Bien Phu City. Beside the historical attractions, Dien Bien is also well-known for its Ban flower festival in Spring and the trek to A Pa Chai – the most west point of Vietnam, at the border with Laos. If you have time, the A Pa Chai Trek is highly recommend.
DAY 5: DIEN BIEN – MUONG PHANG – DIEN BIEN
There is some historical attractions that one should visit in Dien Bien Phu City: De Castries Command Bunker; the D1 Hill with the monument to victory and a view over the city. It is a good point for sunset.
You can go about 20km outside Dien Bien Phu City to Muong Phang, the headquater of Vietnam side in Dien Bien Phu Battle in 1954. Muong Phang today is such a peaceful countryside: green rice field and small villages with Thai People’s house on stilts.
In Dien Bien, I recommend a restaurant called Dân Tộc Quán. They serve the best local food I’ve tried and I bet you all like it.
DAY 6: DIEN BIEN – SIN HO (LAI CHAU) – 200km
Depart for Sin Ho, a small ville up the mountain with legendary sea of cloud at dawn or the marvellous sunset. Spend a Saturday night in Sin Ho then attend the authentic weekend local market (chợ phiên) on Sunday, it often opens in early morning and lasts until 9a.m – a must in Sin Ho.
For the one who want a photo of sea of cloud at sunrise, you need to get up at 4.am and ride back to the top of the pass for the shoot.
DAY 7: SIN HO – LAI CHAU – SAPA – 125km
Head to Sapa, the most famous tourist attraction in the Western North of Vietnam. On the way, you must stop at the top of O Quy Ho Pass for a brilliant view to Fanxipan area. At the temperature of around 15C, a cup of warm tea and a grilled egg or sweet potato will do the best match. Or you can have some beer with dried beef/buffalo meat.
DAY 8: SAPA
In recent years, Sapa center is such a big construction site with many hotels and resorts being built. It will cause some inconvenience and disappointed to the tourist and traveller to Sapa. Instead, you can spend your time in Sapa with some options:
- Base in the city center then do a trek to the surrounding villages and areas: Cat Cat Village for a half day; Muong Hoa Valley Trek for 1 day
- Ta Van Lao Chai Trek for 2 days 1 nite. You will see further about the daily life of H’mong people or other resident of this area and the hearsay original beauty of Sapa.
- Wanderring in Sapa market; take a train up the mountain (Muong Hoa Train from Sapa Station) then get in a cable car to reach the Mt. Fanxipan (3143m).
At night in Sapa center, you should try the street barbecue then H’mong Sister Bar/Pub is the best “somewhere for a drink” with classic rock or rock’n’roll.
DAY 9: SAPA – MU CANG CHAI – 159km
Mu Cang Chai has the most beautiful rice terrace in Vietnam and there is a paragliding festival held at Khau Pha Pass in Sept every year. The scenery on the way from Sapa to Mu Cang Chai is stunning too.
DAY 10: MU CANG CHAI – YEN BAI – 150km
In our trip, we came to Yen Bai City to meet a long-time-no-see classmate residing here. In stead, you can look up the road to Hoang Su Phi (Ha Giang) then to Quan Ba (Ha Giang).
DAY 11: YEN BAI – TUYEN QUANG – 160km
Move to Tuyen Quang for the most interesting Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam. There is a street parade every night in a week prior to Mid-Autumn, with plenty of garish lanterns exhibited on the body of small trucks.
DAY 12: TUYEN QUANG – QUAN BA (HA GIANG) – 155km
Reach Quan Ba Heaven Gate and stop for a coffee. Move to Nam Dam Village and spend a night there. This is the residence of Dao Ao Dai Ethnic Minority, with some homestays providing basic B&B services and a warmly accomodated family feelings.
Recommend: Homestay Ly Quoc Chanh – Phone number: 0373.985.323
DAY 13: QUAN BA – DONG VAN (HA GIANG) – 90km
Here you are on the most challenging mountain road in Vietnam passing “Dốc Thẩm Mã” – with continuous up and up harpin turns. There are some kids playing around at the top of that pass, they are there to sell some wild flower but do not beg you for buying it, so never mind if you don’t want. You can talk to them and ask them for some pic. They are always pleasant.
DAY 14: DONG VAN – MEO VAC (HA GIANG) – 55km
In Dong Van, it depends on your luck whether you are here at the weekend for another local market (chợ phiên) on Sunday. The weekend market in Dong Van is much more crowded and varied in goods sold. Remember to save your breakfast for something that may come to you at the market.
Ride to Lung Cu Flag tower – the most north point of Vietnam for a check-in. Back to Dong Van then follow the “Road of Happiness” to Meo Vac.
The highlight of the “Road of Happiness” is Ma Pi Leng Pass – the final one of 4 highest and most amazing passes in the North of Vietnam. Here it is, with a panorama view over mountain range and the jade green Nho Que River below.
Sometimes there is a SUP or Kayaking tour on Nho Que River and if you have time, its worth for a try.
DAY 15: MEO VAC – CAO BANG CITY – 200km
The road from Meo Vac to Cao Bang (National Road 34) through Ma Phuc Pass is not very easy with numerous pothole. Some parts are under construction. It will take a whole day to reach Cao Bang City.
DAY 16: CAO BAC – BAN GIOC WATERFALLS – 180km
Move to Ban Gioc, the largest and most beautiful waterfall of Vietnam, marks the border of Vietnam and China. After visiting Ban Gioc, if you still have time, visit the nearby Nguom Ngao Cave then find a homestay of Tay Ethnic People to stay.
DAY 17: BAN GIOC WATERFALLS – LANG SON – 220km
Come back to Cao Bang City then head to Lang Son, visit the Huu Nghi Border Gate, one of the main and important connection of international trading between Vietnam and China.
DAY 18: LANG SON – HANOI – 140km
For some personal reasons, we need to come back Hanoi before the expected date. It only takes 3 hours riding from Lang Son to Hanoi via the highway.
The itinerary is advised:
DAY 18: LANG SON – BINH LIEU (QUANG NINH)
DAY 19: BINH LIEU – HA LONG – CAT BA ISLAND – 100km & boat
From Binh Lieu, ride to Tuan Chau, Ha Long and go on a ferry to Cat Ba Island.
Tuan Chau – Cat Ba Ferry Schedule:
From 01/10 until 15/04
|SCHEDULE||TUẦN CHÂU – CÁT BÀ||CÁT BÀ – TUẦN CHÂU|
From 16/04 until 30/09
|SCHEDULE||TUẦN CHÂU – CÁT BÀ||CÁT BÀ – TUẦN CHÂU|
DAY 20: CAT BA – LAN HA BAY
From Cat Ba, get on a cruise to visit Lan Ha Bay. I preferred Lan Ha Bay than Ha Long Bay. It has not been exploited much.
DAY 21: CAT BA ISLAND – HANOI – 150km
Back to Hanoi, finish the first leg of the trip.
To be continue…
Any concern about the itinerary or in case you need some advice for your Vietnam Trip, feel free to contact me!
Have a nice trip!