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Along the Border
Karst mountainscapes of Vietnam's far north.
10 Days, 9 Nights
Follow Vietnam’s northern border with China, riding some of the country's most impressive roads across vast karst limestone mountainscapes. Along the way, you'll visit a many ethnic markets, staying with locals and getting a feel for how the people of this remote region live. Along The Border is a great choice of motorcycle tour for those looking to get as far from the tourist trail as possible.
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Day 1: Ha Noi – That Khe
Secret Cave; Thai Nguyen
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.
Day 2: That Khe – Quang Uyen
karst scenery; Quang Uyen back roads
Day 3: Quang Uyen – Cao Bang
Ban Gioc Waterfall; Ma Phuc Pass; Tiger Cave
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.
Day 4: Cao Bang – Ba Be
karst scenery; Phia Oac National Park; Pung Cave
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.
Day 5: Ba Be – Meo Vac
Ha Giang; Meo Vac back roads
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.
Day 6: Meo Vac – Dong Van
Dong Van back roads; Ma Pi Leng Gorge
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.
Day 7: Dong Van – Hoang Su Phi
Dong Van back roads; rice terracing; UNESCO World Heritage Site
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.
Day 8: Hoang Su Phu – Xin Man
Chay River Gorge
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.