Take in the most impressive destinations just north of Hanoi. Ride through the forests of Xuan Son national park, past the lakes of Thac Ba and Ba Be, then on to Ban Gioc, Vietnam's best waterfall that sits right on the Chinese border. You also get to enjoy two rest days, so you'll have plenty of time to go boating, caving and exploring around both Ba Be and Ban Gioc.
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Day 1: Ha Noi – Xuan Son
swimming hole; Xuan Son National Park
We take the easy route along the Red River to get out of Hanoi and then Past Ba Vi Mountain on the QL32. This gets us out of town with minimal fuss and onto relatively quiet roads. We take the smaller back roads to get into the park, which is a quiet haven shielded from the surrounding mayhem of modern Vietnam. Our homestay is the best of the bunch but the area can get noisy with local tourist. If there is time we can visit the local cave and swim hole for a refreshing dip.
Day 2: Xuan Son – Thac Ba
historical French battle site; Thac Ba Lake
Even though we take the quieter roads up to Thac Ba it isn’t until the last part of the journey that we experience peaceful riding. Once at the lake it is quiet and relaxed and we can hang out in the homestay or go for a swim or boat on the lake.
Day 3: Thac Ba – Ba Be
Ba Be Lake; Tat Ma Cave and Waterfall; Thac Ba back roads
Today, we can wind our way through the smaller roads and hopefully get off track on some small dirt tracks. We can get to see some of the people that live far off the main roads and experience their way of life a little.
Day 4: Ba Be Lake
various caves, lakes and back roads
This is a day to hang out at the lake and you can choose from swimming, kayaking taking a boat trip, exploring by bike or sleeping off any hangover. This is a time to relax after a few days hard riding and in preparation for the route ahead.
Day 5: Ba Be – Ban Gioc
knife making village; Ma Phuc Pass; Phia Oac mountain road; Phia Oac National Park
This is a great day as we pass Phia Oac National Park, which is one of the few places in Vietnam to experience snowfall, on the Cao Bang GeoPark. If there is time we can pass by Tin Tuc Mine by taking some smaller roads. We climb over the mountain and then head down to Cao Bang city, where we can choose to set up our HQ or on to visit Ban Gioc Falls.
Day 6: Ban Gioc Waterfall
Ban Gioc Waterfall; various caves, lakes and back roads
Another rest day here because there is so much to see and do. We can choose from visiting the Ban Gioc Falls, sneaking a foot or two into China past the border posts, viewing Pac Bo or Nguom Ngao Cave, climbing up to Truc Lam Pagoda or trekking with a local guide.
Day 7: Ban Gioc – That Khe
That Khe back roads
It is now time to start the trip back to Hanoi and we take some alternative routes to get us off the main road and down to That Khe. All the way we pass through the spectacular limestone karst scenery and past small hamlets of ethnic villagers.
Day 8: That Khe – Bac Son
Bac Son Valley; secret munitions cave
We have plenty of time and not too far to go on this day so we can take a few detours depending on news from the locals. There are plenty of small tracks through this area that we can take that make this day a fun adventure.
Day 9: Bac Son – Hanoi
quieter back roads heading south
This is the final push back to Hanoi. The first half of the ride is spent in the hills but then we hit the Red River Delta and we are forced to take the main roads for speed. The best is behind us now and we need to focus on a safe return and look forward to our farewell dinner in the evening.