Hanoi to Sapa Motorbike Tour
Take a 1, 2 or even 4-day Sapa motorbike tour from Hanoi – one of Vietnam’s most stunning provinces. Here you’ll find some of the best trekking and biking this country has to offer.
Want a longer route to Sapa?
On your journey, you’ll find breathtaking views, inspiring terrain
and fascinating cultures.
While part of Hanoi’s appeal is its bustling streets and crowded alleyways, sometimes a break from this chaotic city is much needed. In contrast to the persistent motorbike beeps and often heavily polluted air, taking a Sapa motorbike tour offers mountainous terrains, vibrant landscapes, and a chance to mingle with a number of Vietnam’s ethnic minority groups.
Located in the North of Vietnam, Sapa is a welcome retreat from the chaos of a major city, but when to visit is important to keep in mind. In the summer months, hordes of visitors make their way to this desirable destination, but if you don’t mind tourists (lots and lots of them), you’ll find a break from the heat and plenty of great scenery. In the peak summer months, June through September, the province undergoes its rainy season, so you may prefer to visit sometime between March and May when it’s warm and dry. However, the winter months have their charm. From September through mid-December, travelers can cozy up next to a log fire with a cup of hot wine, though the mist can be intense at times and intercept the views.
For a biker, Sapa is an ideal destination year-round, but the destination is just part of it – It’s the Sapa motorbike tour from Hanoi that’s really worthwhile. At RentABike, we recommend traveling to Sapa by motorbike as a unique opportunity to experience rural Vietnam. You’ll quickly go from slightly less impressive rice plains to witnessing the majestic heights of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, including Mount Fansipan. Each part of the journey gets better than the last, leaving you on a high by the time you’ve reached Sapa.
How to Get There
There are a few options for getting to Sapa. Of course, we recommend a self-guided Sapa motorbike tour from Hanoi on your way up. However, when returning to Hanoi, we suggest taking the train that departs from Lao Cai. It’s easy to load up your motorbike for the journey home. Ultimately, though, it’s up to the traveler to decide. Here’s what you can do:
You can take a tourist bus organized by a tour operator or your hotel/hostel straight from the old quarter. These buses are also easy to book online, for example, Sapa Express. If you’re on a tight budget, you can get to the My Dinh bus station and take a local bus, which will be a bit more of a hassle (and a lot less comfortable) but slightly cheaper.
There is no direct train to Sapa from Hanoi. Instead, every train will drop you in Lao Cai, a town just outside of Sapa, and you will be expected to take a bus to Sapa town. Several trains leave Hanoi railway station northbound from Tran Quy Cap Street each evening and it’s easy to buy tickets online, at the station or from a ticket office in town. Again, we recommend taking the train for your return journey from Lao Cai to Hanoi.
It’s possible to put your bike on the train each way if you want a motorbike in Sapa without making the drive up. To do this in Hanoi, you will need to arrive earlier in the afternoon to the train station on Tran Quy Cap Street and leave your bike with the staff. They will then empty it of petrol and load it onto the train. When departing Lao Cai, it’s a similar procedure: Make your way to the goods loading area and pay for your bike to be put on the train.
Hiring a car to take you from Hanoi to Sapa is pretty painless in terms of journey and hassle, though it is the most expensive option.
Your final and best option! We hands-down recommend taking a bike to complete the famous Sapa motorbike tour from Hanoi. There are plenty of routes you can take and we’ve laid out a number of them here [CLICK TO SEE ROUTE MAP]. For this journey, it’s best to take
It’s about 350km from Hanoi to reach Sapa if you take the direct route (About 9 hours). However, part of the fun of motorbiking is taking your time and exploring routes less traveled. It is possible to do the route in 1
Things to Do
There are countless treks and bike rides to take around Sapa that will take you to breathtaking waterfalls and through vibrant ethnic minority villages. We couldn’t list them all if we tried, but here are some resources to plan your trip:
- Mount Fansipan: The tallest peak in the Indochina region. (You can also take the cable car to the top, but if you have time to complete the 2-4 day trek, we highly recommend it!)
- Muong Hoa Mountain & Valley
- Ham Rong Mountain
- Love Waterfall
Keep in mind, you can complete a lot of the treks through Sapa on your own, but if you’re short for time, consider hiring a local guide. Guides are easy to find once you arrive in the town.
If you’re tired out from all of the trekking and tramping, be sure to visit a few of Sapa’s markets. These spots are filled with elaborate, colorful umbrellas, scarves and clothing. You’ll also find some delicious local food. Click here to learn more.
Bike Rental Considerations
There are a few things to consider prior to renting a bike for your trip to Sapa. Rentabike helps all of our customers choose the safest and most ideal motorbike for their travels.
Being a solo rider will allow you complete freedom when choosing what motorbike to take on your Sapa motorbike tour. Of course, you’ll be limited by your experience, but we recommend taking a semi-automatic or manual. If you’re new to either of these, RentABike offers free lessons for our renters.
Having two people on a bike means twice the weight and the luggage, so taking a small semi-automatic may be uncomfortable for a long ride. We recommend the Honda Future 125 – A strong bike that can handle multiple riders and climb the mountainous terrain surrounding Sapa. However, your best bet is to take a manual bike, which has far more power while also offering a more comfortable seat for your pillion.
ROAD VS. DIRT
If you’re planning to drive primarily on the well-looked-after roads with the occasional dirt road track on your Sapa motorbike tour, then you should be fine with a road bike like the Master or FTR. However, if you’re planning to go off the beaten track a bit, you’ll be facing plenty of bumps and muddy patches. The XR150 is a sturdy dirt bike that can handle (for the most part) all of the thick, sludgy mud Vietnam throws at you.
Sapa Motorbike Tour Itinerary
Interested in a longer Sapa motorbike tour? Click the button below to get RentABike’s ebook on Hanoi to Sapa in 4 days.
1 DAY UP TO SAPA
Get ready for a long day ahead of you. Leave Hanoi early so that traffic isn’t too bad (around 7:30 am should be fine). Aim to have an early lunch in Yen Bai, which is about halfway, and then continue driving at lunchtime (around 12:00 or 1:00 pm). At this time, most Vietnamese motorists are eating, sleeping or relaxing, so the roads won’t be as congested.
Stop in Lao Cai to relax for a bit with a coffee or Redbull (or 3) before taking the road up to Sapa town. You’ll probably be tired by the time you reach Lao Cai and the final road of the journey is hectic, windy and traveled by many tourists.
Alternatively, you can turn off the AH14 and go through either Bao Ha or Pho Lu to take some quieter, more scenic roads. These will take you to the lower Sapa valley and allow you to miss out on the mayhem. However, this route takes a bit more time to complete and is a must if you have 2 days to spend motorbiking.
2 DAYS UP TO SAPA
There’s not much of a difference here other than breaking up the itinerary above. Many people choose to spend the night at Thac Ba Lake. This will add some distance to your journey but allows you to get much-needed rest and good food rather than completing the trip in one go. Moreover, you’ll get to experience the countryside and the locals living out in rural Vietnam. If this is your plan, it’s worth taking the lake road to link up with the AH14 after Luc Yen.
As we said above, we recommend taking the train when returning from Sapa. It’s easy to load your motorbike onto the train at Lao Cai. For all the details on planning your return trip by train, you can click here.
There are many motorbike rental companies in Sapa to choose from. However, these firms tend to cater to the tourist industry and have more of a short-term outlook on motorbike rentals, especially when it comes to customer service and maintenance. Not only are our bikes better maintained, but we also give better support if you need help route planning or require mechanical and even medical assistance when on the road. RentABike is honest, transparent and reliable, and our dozens of 5-star reviews are proof of this. We offer our customers freedom from fear no matter how far they’re traveling.
If you have any problems with your motorbike while traveling, you should call us directly so that we can advise you on the best course of action. We cannot stress enough: We are not interested in blaming you or overcharging; We are interested in keeping you safe and getting the motorbike fixed with minimal fuss. Don’t try to deal with things on your own – It’s our job to help you and make things easier for everyone!
Our priorities are your safety and comfort, repairing the bike and, only once that is dealt with, figuring out the responsibility and cost. We at RentABike can’t stress enough that we are not aiming to profit off of your misfortune.
SAFETY AND COMFORT
This is our priority. We always check to make sure you are ok and, if not, we give advice on where to get the assistance you need. This could be medicine, transport to a hospital or immediate assistance from a bystander.
REPAIRING THE BIKE
When a repair needs to be carried out, we prefer to use a Honda HEAD dealer, but often this is not feasible when traveling to more rural areas. Instead, we talk over the phone to the nearest mechanic or bystander who can get you to a mechanic. We then come to an agreement on the cost with the mechanic.
If you attempt to repair the bike on your own without informing us, you may get overcharged or the wrong parts may be put on the bike, which will incur additional charges for you. Therefore, we ask that you always call us so that everyone is on the same page. This is also critical for us to ensure the bike has been properly fixed and is safe for the next rider.
When you are on the road, you may need to pay for any repairs that are carried out as we cannot be there to cover costs. However, when you have returned from your trip we can assess who is truly responsible for the cost. We cover all mechanical failures and expect you to cover misuse and accidental or third party damage. If the issue lies with us, then we guarantee a refund of the amount you paid, so long as we have been consulted before the work was done, when we return your deposit.