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Ride west to historic Dien Bien Phu.
10 Days, 9 Nights
Ride west from Hanoi through Pu Luong nature reserve and mountains of Moc Chau and Son La. Visit Dien Bien Phu, the most famous battleground of the French Indochina War, before heading north to the historic hill station of Sapa, with its cool climate and stunning stepped rice fields. Taking the VIP bus back to Hanoi from Sa Pa, means you spend the maximum amount of time in the mountains.
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Day 1: Ha Noi – Pu Luong
Hoa Binh back roads; Hoa Binh Dam; Pu luong Nature Reserve
We get out of town as quickly as possible and then we take the smaller back roads and ATK roads to get to the beautiful Pu Luong valley. This is not a hard day but concentration is needed as you become acclimatised to the the bike and the traffic conditions.
Day 2: Pu Luong – Moc Chau
Moc Chau Pass; Old Highway 6; Pu Luong Valley
We have quite along way to go today but it doesn’t stop us taking the back roads out of Pu Luong and also the old French highway up to Moc Chau. It is noticeably cooler up on the Moc Chau Plateau and this is perfect for the plum, peach and strawberry crops that are grown up here. You will also see millions of bees in thousands of hives. This evening we rest in a small homestay a way out of town so as to be in the peace and quiet.
Day 3: Moc Chau – Son La
Son La back roads; Son La Prison
We choose our routes today and it all depends on how adventurous we are feeling. The easy option is to follow the main road to Son La and the more exciting one is to skirt the border with Laos and take the mountainous route ending up in Son La. The choice is yours.
Day 4: Son La – Dien Bien Phu
Dien Bien Phu back roads; military history; Pha Din Pass
Once again we have the choice of taking the low road or the high road. The main road will take us up and over the beautiful Pha Din Pass but the alternative route will take us over lesser used roads through some pretty remote country and, hopefully, to Dien Bien Phu in time for tea.
This is a day where you get to hang out and wind down after some long riding days. You can visit the battlefields, Victory Museum, Hill A1 and the Commander’s Bunker to name but a few places. There are also tanks, bombs and guns dotted about the place that make for great selfies. Don’t forget to pick up some dried buffalo, which is very much a delicacy of these parts.
Day 6: Dien Bien Phu – Sin Ho
This is a very easy run up North to the small town of Sin Ho nestled in the hills of Lai Chau. We follow the river and then head up the escarpment to the town. A nice easy day meaning a late start isn’t a big problem and we can take it easy on the road stopping at every opportunity.
Day 7: Sin Ho – Lai Chau
Sin Ho Market
Again, we do not have far to go today but no matter as we are in the heart of the hills and there is plenty to see along the road. We can take our time and stop for views and decide if we’d like to take detours on smaller roads to get to our destination.
Day 8: Lai Chau – Sa Pa
Fansipan Mountain; O Quy Ho Pass
We climb the fabulous O Quy Ho Pass today on our way to the French hill station. We get off the main road for the first part of the trip to avoid the crowds and traffic but then have to join it again as there is only one way over. We have time to stop and gaze back down the pass and hopefully get a look at Fansipan, if the weather is clear.