Ta Xua Nature Reserve is a natural boundary between Yen Bai and Son La provinces. It is known for being ‘Cloud Paradise’ and the ultimate route for cloud hunting. Ta Xua is a less-traveled area by foreigners (but a core feature of both our 9 day Cloud Hunter and 7 day Dinosaur Loop motorcycle tours), making it an ideal motorbike getaway.
Plenty of Vietnamese people live and work there and the area has been visited by many young Vietnamese looking to get out of the city. Luckily, many foreigners are only just discovering this hidden gem. Pictures of the beautiful valleys and winding roads have made their way onto the threads of dozens of travel pages and social media hashtags. And why not? It is an exceptionally stunning area in Vietnam with tracks that suit both the beginner rider and the more advanced. Not to mention, the thrill of driving along the ‘Dinosaur’s Spine’ is something that won’t be forgotten.
There are two routes to Ta Xua Nature Reserve. There is a quick route and a long route. If you have more time and the itch to explore the roads, you can read our Ta Xua Route blog for the 6-day itinerary. If you are eager to get straight to the mountain, read below.
Ta Xua is a special experience for those who take a motorbike out to the area. While you could rent a car or even hop onto a few local buses, we’ll only be exploring the chance to motorbike Ta Xua in this guide. In Ta Xua, there are many roads that are not suitable for cars or buses and would require some pretty exhausting trekking without a motorbike. There are few motorbike destinations in Vietnam that match the hills, valleys and, of course, the Dinosaur’s Spine of Ta Xua. So, we absolutely recommend renting a motorbike for your trip.
For this journey, it’s best to take a semi-automatic or manual bike for a few reasons – These bikes allow more power on the open roads and control over the engine when making your way on winding, hilly roads. Plus they’re economical and save fuel.
It’s about 200km from Hanoi to reach Ta Xua if you take the direct route, which is roughly 6 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 day, but it isn’t very enjoyable and can be a hefty task for less experienced riders. Therefore, we offer you an out-and-back route that takes 3 days.
Day 1: Hanoi to Phu Yen (160km, 5hrs)
This is a very long day’s riding, so it’s best to leave early. You can then avoid the morning rush hour traffic getting out of Hanoi and have a better chance of arriving in Phu Yen or even Ta Xua before nightfall.
Most of this route is main road and it becomes quieter and more scenic as you get further out of Hanoi. However, this still isn’t the most enjoyable day of the motorbike Ta Xua route. You have to keep going to get to the good stuff!
– Ta Xua Hills, Ta Xua Nature Reserve
– Phu Hoa Hotel, Phu Yen
– Hoang Gia Hotel
– Hong Long Hotel
Day 2: Phu Yen to Ta Xua (45km, 2hrs)
This is a short and easy ride, but the road has some traffic and can be a little windy. If you managed to get to Ta Xua on Day 1, you’ll have more time to explore the nature reserve. All the best spots are easy to find on a motorbike.
If you did not make it on day 1, then just be sure to start early and complete the motorbike Ta Xua route before the afternoon. It is really important not to drive these roads at night if you are not familiar with them.
Day 3: Phu Yen - Hanoi (160km, 5hrs)
You did it! Back to the grind. This route will be the same as coming from Hanoi. Because you’ve given yourself less time to rest between journeys, be sure to leave early and take it easy. We can’t stress this enough.
You should aim to get back to Hanoi from your motorbike Ta Xua tour by sundown. Coming into Hanoi feeling tired and catching rush hour traffic all while the sun is setting is a recipe for disaster… Trust us.
RentABike is happy to let you have the bikes the evening before you depart for your motorbike Ta Xua tour so that you can get out before 7am without worrying about contracts, deposits or payment.
Things to Do
On this route there is little time for stopping at sights or taking photos. However, having breakfast on the first day around the Son Tay Citadel is a good way to fit in a historic spot.
Many of our riders like to stay in the Phu Hoa Hotel in Phu Yen, or Ta Xua Hills, closer to the ridge. Both of these are safe and clean places to stay and the staff are friendly and helpful.
Once you’ve reached the Dinosaur Spine ridge of the motorbike Ta Xua trail, you’ll likely have time to explore the area. Check out To Ong Waterfall (Thac To Ong), which is the most impressive of the waterfalls. Others to see are Phun Suong Waterfall (Thac Phun Suong) and Hang Bla waterfall (Thac Hang Bla).
However, the RentABike staff all agree what you’re really here for are the Nature Reserve trails. You’ll find roads and pathways in all directions with gorgeous views overlooking Ta Xua.
Note: Be careful when stopping for photos at locations close to the road. You need to watch out for cars and best to find hidden places that fall deep into the margin to not affect traffic.
There are a few things to consider prior to renting a bike for your trip to Ta Xua. Rent a bike 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 Ta Xua 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, but you have driven before, Rent A Bike can help you master the skills required.
Having two people on a bike means twice the weight and the luggage, so taking a small semi-automatic, such as the Honda Cub will be uncomfortable for a long ride. And then, even the Honda Wave will struggle under the load. We recommend the Honda Future 125 – A strong bike that can handle two people and still climb the mountainous terrain surrounding Ta Xua. However, your best bet is to take a manual bike, which has far more power while also offering a more comfortable seat.
ROAD VS. DIRT
If you’re planning to drive mostly on the well-looked-after roads with the occasional dirt road track on your Ta Xua motorbike tour, then you should be fine with a road bike like the Master or FTR. You are likely to see Honda Winners and even Harleys up by the “Dinosaur spine”. 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. You will find that your back and other places won’t get as sore as on smaller bikes.