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Northern Hold Out | 11 Days

Lung Cu Flag Tower, in Vietnam's Far North

Tour Info

This your takes you through the central North of Vietnam past some places and roads that are less visited by both local and international tourists. Then, we move on the north north, Ha Giang province, which is considered to be the most beautiful and interesting region of Vietnam for motorbike touring. We then loop back and stop off at the fabulous Ba Be Lake for a day chilling out on the lake. If you are interested in high mountains and beautiful views with a little R and R mixed in, this is the tour for you.

Highlights

Itinerary

Thac Ba Lake in the late evening

We need to get out of Hanoi and this is never fun. So, we suck it up for the first half of this day and get as much distance under our belt as we can. Then we head off onto quieter roads that take us to our lakeside resort where we can swim and then relax over a home cooked meal. 

riding through the forest to Thac Ba Ao

We head for Na Hang in preparation for our next day’s drive, however, on the way we get off the main roads and look out for any small tracks we can take. Na Hang is a small place rarely visited so you’ll be unlikely to see anyone other than the locals. Once we get to our homestay we can take a boat trip to a local waterfall if time permits. 

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

We take some cross country road today to get up to Ha Giang province.

a quick photo stop on the QL4c in Dong Van, Ha Giang

This looks like a very easy ride on paper but we take a long detour and skirt the border with China just for fun. We then get back on to Happiness road and head for Yen Minh where we stay in a small enclave of homestays very much on the backpacker route so we can tell the tales. 

Lũng Cú, Vietnam’s ‘North Pole’, a popular pilgrimage for young Vietnamese travelers

We need to retrace our last 10km today and follow the Happiness road but that isn’t a problem because it’s a fun drive. We get to stop off at a few sites if we wish as this is a very scenic area. In particular we need to visit the H’Mong King’s Palace and Xa Phin Market. If there is time when we get in to Dong Van a visit to the Don Cao Fortress for the view over the town. 

view of the road in Meo Vac, Ha Giang

This is another short stretch of road that has a lot to see and do on it so we take it slow and choose what we want to see. The scenery is beautiful but treacherous so keep your eyes wide open and watch out for the steep drops off the side of the mountain. Again, rather than stay in the main town we overnight in a small family run homestay outside of town. 

Honda XR 150 on a really muddy road in North Vietnam

We take the alternative route down to Bao Lac which takes us down into the Ma Pi Leng valley and across the river. We then follow the river to Bao Lac where we stay in the centre of town. If we are lucky there will be a lot of action in the market as a many colourfully dressed ethnic people often turn up here to buy and sell goods. We can choose between and homestay of hotel and this will depend on how much we wish for a hot shower and air con. 

beautiful 14 level pass in Xuan Truong, Cao Bang

This is a good drive on some quiet roads and we have the choice of the easy route and the difficult one. Our decision will depend partly on the weather conditions but there is a chance of taking some great roads to get to Cao Bang the back way. If not, the road over the pass is scenic enough and fun to drive. We can set up base in Cao Bang for two nights if we wish, which will give us ample time to visit ban Gioc Waterfall and the surrounding sites. Or we can make it quick and head for Ba Be the next day. 

a small road on the way to Hong An in Cao Bang

This a a stellar drive that takes us throught the Cao Bang GeoPark and over Phia Oac Mountain, which is about 1,800m so bring your woollies. It is a great winding piece of road and good fun to drive.

Ba Be Lake from the front of the boat

Today, we get to hang out on the lake. You have a choice if swimming, boating, kayaking, snoozing in a hammock. I imagine the main factor in this choice is how much sleep you got the night before. If we don’t want a rest day, then we can head for Bac Kan, which is ideally place to break up the long slog back to Hanoi the next day. 

Honda Future waiting patiently on the side of the road in Cao Bang

This is a long stretch of road that we usually divide into 3 equal parts of 80km. The first 80 is scenic back road and fun to drive. The second becomes a little more dull but is still quiet. Then, the final 80km are a slog and you need to pay attention. You are getting tired and the traffic is getting heavier. It will be great to get back to Hanoi. Our farewell dinner awaits, but don’t rush.

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 - 11 Day Northern Hold Out - Rentabike Vietnam
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