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Along the Border | 10 Days

the smaller section of Ban Gioc Waterfall

Tour Info

The main aim of this tour is to skirt along Vietnam’s northern border with China and to visit the mountainous karst region. Along the way, you will see a large number of different ethnic tribal people at markets and also going about their daily life. You will venture high into the mountains where it can be quite cold and even snow. All in all, this is a great tour for anyone seeking to visit the less visited places in northern Vietnam.

Highlights

Itinerary

a couple of local women playing in the water at Thac Khe Kem

This is a long first day and we need to make an early start to miss the traffic in Hanoi and to get some distance behind us so we can relax in the letter part of the day and enjoy the scenery. We start off with a pretty bland trip just getting out of Hanoi and up to Thai Nguyen. However, from there on we start to head to the hills and the roads become quieter and the views more scenic. That Khe is not much to write home about but it will give you a feel for life in the countryside in Vietnam.

the road ahead through the limestone karst of Cao Bang province

A much easier, shorter day today so we can get up late and also stop a lot on the way for photos and pit stops. We can also try to take some of the smaller detours and explore the countryside a little. We have time to get lost 🙂 Quang Uyen is a tiny lineated town but we stay in a cosy homestay a little way outside. We can choose to visit the Ban Gioc falls today if we have time. 

water cascading over the secondary falls of Ban Gioc

If we haven’t visited the falls we might do that today or choose to head up to Uncle Ho’s Cave / Pac Bo for sightseeing before heading to the provincial capital Cao Bang where we can stay in a guesthouse and visit the night market. 

Ba Be Lake: water level view

We take the fantastic stretch of road through the Cao Bang GeoPark and over Phia Oac mountain. It is around 1800m elevation here so it can be very nippy in winter. It is up and over and then down to the Ba Be National park where we can boat over to our homestay. This is a popular tourist spot so we will likely meet a lot of local tourists. 

view of the road in Meo Vac, Ha Giang

We have a choice of routes today and a lot depends on how everyone is feeling after a fun evening in Ba Be. This can be part tarmac, part dirt of purely tarmac and it is best to decide on the morning of the day. Whatever route is taken we are now in the hills for real and we get to climb some beautiful mountains on some fun road on the way up to Meo Vac and the famous Ma Pi Leng pass and Happiness Road. 

a woman cutting cassava for pig feed in Meo Vac, Ha Giang

This is a very short ride and it gives us time to look at all of the sites in the area there are a few caves and views to see and we can choose to head up to Lung Phin Flag Post the northernmost point of Vietnam. We stay in Dong Van which is a booming tourist town now.

riding through the mountains near Dong Van, North Vietnam on the QL4c road

This is a huge drive, which could be easily broken up with a stop in Ha Giang. This means adding an extra day or removing a stop such as Ba Be or Si Ma Cai. Either way, we come down off the Dong Van GeoKarst Plateau on the Happiness Road and then over to the UNESCO world heritage site of Hoang Su Phi, which is well known for its exquisite rice terracing. We stay in a small homestay resort high up in the hills with great views of this terracing. 

a road winding its way down to the valley in Ha Giang

As with large parts of this tour we skirt the border with China on our way over to Xin Man. We need to go around, or over if we wish, Kiou Leou Ti mountain at 2,300m before we follow the river valley. This area is extremely beautiful so prepare for amazing views.  

a sharp bend in the road in Lung, Tam Ha Giang

Again, we skirt the border with China taking the very long route to get to Bac Ha, which is a popular market town. The views are great on this loop and the traffic is minimal. If we are lucky we will be here on market day in Coc Ly or Bac Ha and have a chance to see the locals in action.

a waterfall in Lao Cai Province

This is a very easy run back into the insanity of everyday Vietnamese life for the low landers. We head down from the hills and take the old road along the river and the train tracks up to Lao Cai where we drop off our bikes and meet our VIP bus. Then, it is straight back to Hanoi so that we can wash up a get ready for our farewell meal.

Motorcycles

Inclusions

The cost of motorcycle rental for the duration of your tour is included. Each rider on your tour can choose any of our three bikes:

  • Honda CRF 250
  • Honda XR 150
  • Honda Future 125

 

See above section for images and specifications.

Your motorcycle is 3rd party insured. This is a legal requirement here in Vietnam, and protects you in the event that you injure another road user.

Additionally, we are responsible in the event your motorcycle breaks down or suffers a mechanical failure. However, if you damage your motorcycle by crashing it or through general misuse, you will be responsible for repair costs.

Naturally, you are also responsible for your own travel and medical insurance.

All the fuel you need for the duration of the trip is provided.

Your breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided and will be a mixture of European and Vietnamese food. Soft drinks and water are also provided and guides keep them stocked up at all times.

  • Breakfast will be in your homestay or hotel and will generally be a mix of fried eggs and bread, noodles, pancakes and sticky rice, accompanied by fruit and coffee. 
  • Lunch will be in roadside restaurants (small eateries offering clean and delicious local food), or we’ll stop for picnics (sandwiches with cold cuts and cheese) when appropriate.
  • Dinner will be in your hotel or homestay and will usually be a family cooked meal with a range of meat and vegetable dishes with some local specialties (all of which will be washed down with local fire water if requested!)

 

Vegetarian and vegan options may be limited in the countryside, but we always do our best to cater to our riders’ dietary requirements.

Beer in the evening is not included, but it’s cheap and in plentiful supply.

You will have one Western tour leader who will also act as translator, mechanic and route master. Larger groups will also be accompanied by an English speaking Vietnamese mechanic.

Your guide and support staff are all trained in first aid, and will be carrying first aid equipment.

We will arrange your visa invitation letter free of charge.

(Please note, though, that you will need to collect this take this to immigration yourself and pay a stamping fee of about $25 to receive your visa.)

We take it on ourselves to offer a covid guarantee. We offer a full refund/rescheduling of your tour should you be unable to fly due to having covid. All we ask is that you provide us with photo copies of a failed covid test taken less than 3 days prior to your flight departure date.

For every rider and pillion on the tour we donate 10 usd per day to our favourite charity: Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation. You can read more about the great work they do and why we’ve supported them for for so long here.

At the beginning and end of your tour, we’ll be happy to arrange transportation to and from the airport for you!

Extras

You are able to hire a support vehicle that will allow follow your group you to stow extra luggage that you do not want to carry on the bike, this is especially useful if you plan to take a pillion.

We will also have an extra pair of hands to help with the tour and back up in case of sickness / break down. we often put a spare bike on this vehicle. the charge fo rthis is 150$ per day, fuel included.

As stated above, accommodation is provided on a twin sharing basis. If you wish to have a single room we can arrange this at a small extra cost.

You can purchase this to exempt you from liability for any damage caused by accidents caused by you or a third party vehicle. we will cover the cost of repairs to your vehicle but not the third party. This is only 20usd per day per bike extra.

Vietnam Motorcycle Tour Map - 10 Day Along the Border - Rentabike Vietnam
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