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Great Loop | 12 Days

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

Tour Info

This is a massive tour for those who want to see it all. As the name suggests we take a huge loop over the north of Vietnam from East to West. We ride along the China border and through some of the most picturesque locations taking in the daily lives of the ethnic highlanders. We cover over 1,500km on tarmac, dirt, and single track and each day presents its own challenges. A lot of distance is covered each day so only those who are comfortable in the saddle need apply. We can also extend this further if we wish to visit the war sites of Dien Bien Phu.

Highlights

Itinerary

this little cave is tucked away just a little south of Ha Giang

We obviously need to get out of town today and we do that with minimal hassle but with some traffic. We get off the main highway as quickly as possible and then head for That Khe on the smaller back roads. Along the way, we will pass through small valleys, custard apple groves, and tiny hamlets. There is not much going on in That Khe but that is the charm of the countryside. 

a small hydro power dam on near the ql4c in Ha Giang

Today, we head into Cao Bang Province and take a visit to the Ban Gioc Waterfall before heading back down to our homestay which is tucked away from the madding crowd. Another peaceful night here means we are rested and ready for the next day. 

John Nadalin at Ban Gioc Waterfall

We pass through the provincial capital of Cao Bang and head up to the Chinese border to visit Uncle Ho’s Cave (Pac Bo). It is a great drive on small country roads and we stay in a small homestay hear the cave ready to take the tricky road the next day. 

the 14 level road in Xuan Truong, Cao Bang

We take the cross country route rather than backtrack on roads already travelled and head for Bao Lac. We get great views of China over the border and ride on some very remote roads. We can stop in Bao Lac, Bao Lam, Meo Vac or Dong Van depending on how we do for time. At each of these locations, we have homestays ready to greet us with hot food and warm beds. 

the mountains outside Dong Van

We can make the choice to take the inner or outer roads today knowing that there will be more traffic on the outer loop. There are a lot of places to stop and hang out so we need to choose carefully as it may not look far but riding in the mountains takes a little more time. Once in Ha Giang we can rest up at a homestay a little way outside of town, which is more peaceful. 

XR on a ledge in Ha Giang

Today is not a difficult day and it is one of the most scenic. We enter the UNESCO world heritage site of Hoang Su Phi, which is known for its beautiful rice terracing, and can stop to take photos as we ascend the hills. We stay at a hilltop bungalow resort, which looks down on the beautiful valley. It is worth getting up early the next day to witness the sunrise. 

cool windy road between Ha Giang and Dong Van

This is a good long drive that takes us around the Kiou Leou Ti mountain and along the river valley bordering China to Bac Ha and then Sa Pa. There is a lot of good scenery and a few local markets on the route so we will definitely see some interesting things. 

the cable car leading to the top of Fansipan Mountain

After a couple of hard days, it is good to have a rest so we take the opportunity to do so in Sa Pa. We can choose to stay in the main town which is useful if we plan to ascend Fansipan or to head down the valley to stay with the villagers. Either way, we will get some good western food and see some interesting sights. 

terraced rice paddies in Mu Cang Chai

We loop around Fansipan and down the O Quy Ho Pass, which drops down some 17km. We get stunning views of Fansipan and the valley ahead and the road is relatively peaceful and easy to drive. After Than Uyen, we turn into the Mu Cang Chai Valley which has beautiful rice terracing and lots of fun places to stop and hang out. 

sunset over the rice fields in Mu Cang Chai

We need to loop around Ta Xua Nature Reserve today as we can’t go over this mountain and we do that via Nghia Lo. The road is good, as it was yesterday and we can make good time, but we have a long way to go. We will still pass through a whole host of small villages and see lots of ethnic people on the road. However, things will start to get a little busier from now on.  

friendly and helpful local kid in Moc Chau near the Van Yen ferry

We head down to the Black River and take a ferry to get across before climbing up to the Moc Chau Plateau. We can take a stretch of the old Highway 4, built by the French to get to Dien Bien Phu before heading past Mai Chau and down into the Pu Luong Nature Reserve. Once we are off the main highway and into the reserve it is plain sailing and we stay in a secluded bungalow away from the hubbub. 

parked up looking out over Go Lao Waterfall

This is a journey of two halves. The first is quiet and scenic and we can amble along and really enjoy the ride. The second is busier as we are coming back into Hanoi and need to pay more attention. We can easily make it back to our hotel in time to wash up and be 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 - 12 Day Great Loop - Rentabike Vietnam
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