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High to Low
Huge mountains. Gorgeous coastline.
Hanoi to Danang
11 Days, 10 Nights
An overnight bus from Hanoi will take you to Sa Pa, where you'll begin your adventure. Ride from the mountains of Sa Pa down into the Red River Delta, then back up into the hills and the Laos border, where you'll follow the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Meet and stay with people from the local hill tribes, check out remnants of the Vietnam War, then continue down onto the coast and to your destination, the beach city of Danang.
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Day 1: Ha Noi – Sa Pa
4 hours + 6 hour bus ride
Sa Pa Valley
We take a private VIP bus up to Bao Ha where we meet our bikes. Then, we take the back route up to Sa Pa to avoid the traffic and mayhem of the main road. We can stay in the valley or choose to stay in town (if we plan on going up Fansipan). This is a mellow introduction to driving in Vietnam and a good day for getting used to the bikes.
Day 2: Sa Pa – Ngoc Chien
Fansipan Mountain; Ngoc Chien Hot Springs; O Quy Ho Pass; rice terracing
We head out of Sa Pa past Silver Waterfall and down the O Quy Ho Pass. Today sees us travel on the QL32 which is one of the best roads in the North due to the beautiful rice terracing. There is some traffic but it does not distract and there are plenty of fun pit stops to be had. We turn off and head down to Ngoc Chien, the site of an old French fortress and some interesting hot springs.
Day 3: Ngoc Chien – Phu Yen
Ta Xua Mountain; Tram Tau Valley
We get back on to the QL32 and head for Phu Yen. We need to pass Phu Luong Mountain and Ta Xua Nature Reserve. We can take a very adventurous detour but this is only for expert riders. Phu Yen is a sleepy town but we stay in a great hotel in the centre where all the ‘action’ is.
Day 4: Phu Yen – Pu Luong
Mai Chau valley; Pu luong Nature Reserve; Van Yen ferry crossing
A long day today we need to head down to the Black River and then up on to the Moc Chau Plateau from where we head into the Mai Chau and then Pu Luong Valleys. We will see a wide range of geography due to the change in elevations and also several different ethnic groups will be represented. We overnight in a secluded homestay tucked half way up a hill and feast on delicious home cooked food.
Day 5: Pu Luong – Tan Ky
Ho Chi Minh Trail
This is a section of road that we just need to get our heads down as it is through some relatively flat land. We do get off the main road and use the smaller ones for interest but we need to be cautious of time as we have a long way to go. We end up in Tan Ky, which is the start on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and we can take our photo by the milestone for this.
Day 6: Tan Ky – Phong Nha
Ho Chi Minh Trail
Now, we get on to the Ho Chi Minh Trail proper and head into the hills. It is a great drive and one that passes quickly even though it is long. We are now getting into the least populated areas of Vietnam and we need to prepare accordingly. Luckily, our fuel tanks are big enough and we have spare parts.
Day 7: Phong Nha
chilling in Phong Nha; various caves, lakes and back roads
This is a day to get off the bike and have a well needed rest. It also means it is possible to take advantage of Phong Nha’s entertainment be it Hiking, Kayaking, Caving, ziplining… You cold take a trip to Dong Hoi to see the beach and sand dunes, or you may (like me) just wish to chill out by the pool.
Day 8: Phong Nha – Khe Sanh
Ho Chi Minh Trail; war remnants in Khe Sanh Combat Base
It is back on to the Ho Chi Minh Trail (west) and we head down to Khe Sanh, the site of the old military air base. We pass the base and head straight into town to look around and get to our hotel. The road is much the same as yesterday and we make sure the bikes are in tip top condition before we head out.