Short North-west Vietnam motorbike tour to Thac Ba
By Duong Dong
In love with two wheels but not having weeks to ride along the country? Let’s enjoy our Vietnam short motorbike tours.This motorbike tour is our chance to see many beautiful mountain passes, breathtaking landscapes and friendly people. We will discover the local ethnic people’s culture by staying with them, sharing meals, and enjoying homemade rice wine.
We start our motorbike tour by leaving Hanoi on dyke roads to avoid the heavy traffic around 9.am , we ride our motorcycles west to Mai Chau, an area of beautiful landscape and home to the Thai ethnic minority. We will motorcycle on Highway 6 passing extensive farming lands comprising a sea of paddy fields split by tree-lined roads punctuated by limestone karst scenery. After a light lunch in Hoa Binh Province, we cross Thung Khe, one of the most beautiful mountain passes in North Vietnam then descent to the mountain valley settlement of Mai Chau. After dinner we join performance, where you can dance and share a range of special liquors (rice wine) with the locals. Overnight in a house-on-stilts of the Thai people.
Summary: Distance: 160 km Meals: Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Home-stay in village
Mai Chau is one of the closest places to Hanoi where you can experience a ‘real’ Montagnard village. In the morning we take a short walk around village to discover local life. Life in the countryside starts early so by sunrise there is a wealth of activity. The Thai women are masterful weavers who ensure that there is plenty of traditional-style clothing to buy in the village centre. You will see women weaving on looms under or inside their houses in the village We can buy some handmade traditional-style clothing, knife or cross-bow.
After breakfast in home-stay, we say goodbye to villagers and leave Mai Chau around 10 am. We ride from Mai Chau to the direction of Moc Chau, where we have lunch. This highland town produces some of Vietnam’s best tea and is a good place to stock up. The surrounding area is also home to several ethnic minorities, including Green H’mong, Dzao, Thai and Muong. Moc Chau boasts a pioneering dairy industry that started in the late 1970s with Australian (and, later, UN) assistance. The dairy provides Hanoi with such delectable iuxur us as fresh milk, sweetened condensed milk and little tooth-rotting bars called “Banh sua”. After lunch, we turn to the less travelled Road 43 leading to the Da River, crossing the reservoir of Da river at Van Yen ferry, then ride on a beautiful winding secondary road until Phu Yen, a small mountain town in Son La Province, where we stay in a basic guest-house.
Summary: Distance: 140 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Guest-house
DAY 3: PHU YEN MOTORCYCLE TOUR TO VU LINH VILLAGE (THAC BA LAKE, YEN BAI):
In the morning, we motorcycle across Lung Lo pass before head up on Road 32 . During the First Indochina War, the 15km-long Lung Lo Pass, used by the Vietnamese resistance force to transport weapons, goods and food during the Dien Bien Phu campaign of 1954, was heavily bombed by the French in order to sever the front lines from the rear. Lung Lo Pass, situated in the northern province of Yen Bai, was also recognised as a national heritage by the ministry. Head up to Ba Khe T-junction, we continue our motorbike tour on sealed road through renowned tea growing areas, where the hillsides are literally covered in plantations, all the way to the city of Yen Bai which sits on the Red River. From here it’s a short ride to the Thac Ba Lake, also formed by the construction of hydroelectricity dam in the 1970s. We keep riding to the Dao village of Vu Linh where we stay for the night, enjoying Dao hospitality. We will have an unforgettable dinner with the hosts, whose are really big drinkers and they party every day. The welcome is exceptional and we hope you will survive. Overnight in homestay.
Summary: Distance: 180 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,Dinner Accommodation: Home-stay
DAY 4: THAC BA MOTORCYCLE TOUR BACK HANOI:
After breakfast we motorbike southeast on Highway 2 and then branch off to the sleepy town of Phu Tho. We follow the edge of the Red River along the dyke, almost to the point where it merges with the Black River after which they flow together to Hanoi. By now we are very much in the lowlands of the delta plains and the north’s main agricultural areas. Harvest time here is a sea of activity. Crossing the Black River by bridge, we pass through Son Tay and then return to Hanoi on the highway. We should be back to Hanoi before rush-hour (4 pm) because traffic’s getting busier and busier.
Summary: Distance: 180 km Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
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Note: We provide support truck (120$ per day) for emergency and for your safe riding in Vietnam – Most of other tour operators do not offer that. Contact us if you think it’s necessary.
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* ACCOMMODATION: – We endeavour to select a combination of good quality hotels that reflect the character of the local area as well as being as centrally located as possible, all the while striving to keep the cost affordable.
– Your trip will stay in a range of hotels / guesthouses with standardized quality.
– Please be aware that some hotel rooms, especially those in major urban centres or older cities, may be smaller than what you are used to in other parts of the world. Standards and ratings may also be different to your home country.
– Rooms are en-suite and either twin- or triple-share, depending on what you have booked. If you are a solo traveller, you will always be sharing a room with someone of the same sex otherwise you can pay a supplement to possess a single room
– If you are traveling as a couple and would prefer to have a double bed, please officially request a double room with us. We never presume that two people traveling together are a couple, even if you share the same surname, unless informed otherwise.
* MEALS: – Your included meals are detailed in the ‘More Inclusions’ section of this document.
– Breakfasts are included every day in the hotel (except on the first morning). They are usually ‘continental breakfasts’, which are typical in most countries. A typical breakfast may consist of cereals with milk or yoghurt, bread, croissants, cold meats, cheese and a range of spreads, with fruit juice, tea or coffee to drink. It is rare to get a hot breakfast in Asia, though on some occasions there may be some hot food available as well. Included evening meals are in local restaurants or accommodation places, and are either two or three courses. In most cases table water is provided with the meals, and if you wish to purchase additional drinks you can do so at your own expense.
– If you have any dietary requirements we will make every effort to cater to your specific needs as long as you advise your travel agent when you book, or make note by email before you set out. But please be aware that although we will do everything in our power to arrange it, we cannot guarantee that every restaurant we use will be able to cater to all dietary needs, particularly in Asia. We also cannot cater for tastes or dislikes, as most of our included evening meals feature a set menu.
* Ten Tips to Survive Vietnam’s Traffic: + DON’T spend hours waiting to cross the street on foot: that constant tide of traffic won’t stop until late at night, so
+ DO as the Vietnamese do: take the plunge and inch slowly across. Observe the Miracle of the Red Sea, as the traffic parts like magic, flowing smoothly in front of you or behind, meeting up again on the other side.
+ DON’T make any sudden or unpredictable movements: freeze if you have to, but never lunge forward or backward towards the safety of the sidewalk. In fact, you can do just about anything, but do it with conviction!
+ DON’T forget, if you’re riding or driving, to look where you’re going – all the time: if you hit anything in front of you, then it’s your fault.
+ DO give way to any vehicle bigger and noisier than yours. Trucks and buses are particularly dangerous: often old, sometimes unsafe and usually all over the road.
+ DO watch out for unfamiliar obstacles: water buffaloes, rocks of various sizes, broken-down trucks…, people sitting in the road, missing bridges, girls in ao dai cycling five abreast, slow-moving mountains of farm produce, dog fights, impromptu football matches, piles of building materials – and almost no light on anything at night..
+ DON’T hesitate to take evasive action – even if this sometimes means leaving the tarmac or coming to a dead stop.
+ DO try to avoid getting involved in one of the all-too-frequent minor accidents that plague Vietnam’s roads (and the major ones as well, of course), but if you are unlucky,
+ DON’T lose your cool, in spite of the interference of the large and vocal crowd that may gather: try to settle things amicably and swiftly. Sometimes, paying a reasonable amount of money will save you a lot of hassle.
+ DO remember that the only rule is: you’re not allowed to bump into anybody… irrespective of what they did or should have done, or of what the road signs or traffic lights were telling them to do. Some people still seem to think that anything red means forward, comrade
* Tipping for guides & mechanic: Our crews never expect tips themselves and will not ask for any; that’s not what friends do! However, so if you are really satisfied with all of what they did for you, please don’t mind tipping them a bit with a normal norm of US$ 7 – US$ 10/person for a guide per day and US$ 3 – US$ 5/person for a mechanic per day. (just don’t forget Mum’s souvenir).
Motorbike(s) (Honda or Yamaha)
Gasoline on tour
English or French speaking guide
Mechanic (only for group from 6 passengers)
Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary (based on twin or/and triple shared)