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Biking Northwest Vietnam: 14 Days From Hanoi To Lao Cai

We visited Vietnam for the first time last month. By chance, we received an interesting offer: biking Northwest Vietnam. As new to this sport, we used to feel skeptical and worried about the possible risks. However, this wonderful journey won our hearts with the simplest things.

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Biking Northwest Vietnam

Biking Northwest Vietnam: Get Closer To Mountainous Regions

Day 1: Hanoi – Hoa Binh Cycling Tour

When the streets of Hanoi began to bustle with traffic, we followed the vehicle flow to the southwest gateway. Leaving Luong Son, we entered the undulating roads with rice fields and green sugarcane farms on both sides.

We moved along the banks of the Da River through valleys and majestic mountains. As soon as we arrived in Hoa Binh province, we visited a power company that produces 30% of the country’s total electricity.

Day 2: Hoa Binh – Thung Nai – Mai Chau Biking Route

We started the springboard towards Thung Nai. In contrast to the busy lifestyle in prosperous cities, the Muong tribe builds rustic wooden houses and live off agriculture.

The paved road brought us close to the cruise departing for Hoa Binh Hydropower Plant. We rented a boat and stopped at Rua island for lunch. We got off at Bai Sang and followed Dong Bang T-junction to Mai Chau town.

Day 3: Biking From Mai Chau To Moc Chau

Our Vietnam bike tour began again on the roads along the Da River. Contrary to yesterday, this trip faced many challenges due to rough terrain and potholes. Most notably, a short section was the supply route for troops during the famous Dien Bien Phu campaign.

After a delicious lunch, our feet worked hard to conquer the Moc Chau plateau. Not only is nature unexploited for tourism, but this land also attracts tourists with diverse ethnic minority cultures. Twenty-six tribes, mostly Thai, have nurtured the soil and built up affluent villages in Lao Cai for hundreds of years.

Day 4: Moc Chau – Yen Chau By Bike

Moc Chau is covered with morning mist at an altitude 1000m above sea level. The scenic spots peeking out behind the clouds were some of the most memorable scenes of our tour.

When the sun cleared the fog, we went to the tea farms. The locals may disappear behind the rows of green trees, but the baskets will point to their location. Conversations with the farmers distracted us from the timing, but we still had to move to Yen Chau as planned.

Day 5: Cycling From Yen Chau To Son La

Our bicycle rolled on the asphalt roads to the top of Northwest. The winding crabs required high concentration, while the foot created the strongest force on the pedal.

On the high slopes, we stopped to rest and admire the panoramic scenery of the jungle and mountains. When we dropped downhill to the villages, we encountered some of the minority. They walked to the fields in colorful clothes. Some women carried their children on their backs.

Day 6: Son La – Tuan Giao Biking Trip

Due to the upcoming challenging bicycle tour, we carefully checked the vehicle and added adequate energy. Starting from the hotel, we pedaled 7km out of the town and entered the most exciting stage.

A section extending from Son La to Tuan Giao goes through one of the longest passes – Pa Dinh. We gripped the steering wheel to control the bicycle in the right direction. The reward for our efforts was an incredible scene of soaring limestone mountains among the green valleys.

Day 7: Tuan Giao – Dien Bien Bicycle Route

After an exhausting day, we rested at the hotel until lunch. The journey to Dien Bien was significantly shorter compared to the previous stages. We moved slowly to get closer to the wild nature. 

We also bumped into a few other Vietnam cycling tours with the same route. Out of expectation, we combined into a large group and moved forward.

Day 8: Dien Bien – Muong Lay Cycling Path

Goodbye to bustling cities; we cycled to peaceful villages. The zigzag roads around the valley took us to rice fields and forests away from the town center.

The destination of our Vietnam bike trip for a cozy night was Muong Lay. However, first of all, we once again climbed up to breathe fresh air and enjoyed a 360-degree vision.

Day 9: Muong Lay – Muong Te Biking Tour

We woke up early and walked to the Black River. Its flow was quite strong and fast. After a mouthwatering breakfast, we accelerated a while, turned left into Highway 12, and continued to Provincial way 127.

Without a rigid schedule of cycling tours in Vietnam, we drove and stopped at any time. A short disruption might also come from an accidental conversation with locals or an extraordinary landscape. With an unhurried tempo, we reached Muong Te when the sun had set.

Day 10: Muong Te – Lai Chau By Bicycle

Muong Te is a poor locality that stays outside the scope of tourism exploitation. On the bright side, the sincerity and honesty of the people melted our hearts after one bustling tribe market.

After a unique cultural activity, we headed to Lai Chau. We stayed on the ground for 7km and climbed to the top of Patan for 28km. The forest seemed to last endlessly until our destination.

Day 11: Lai Chau – O Quy Ho Pass – Sapa Bike Tour

The most exciting day came when we conquered the longest O Quy Ho Lao Cai Pass in the Northwest. With a height of over 2000m, the rugged bend, and the length of 50km, it made us riders, even the experienced, raise vigilance. At the top of Tram Ton, we admired hundreds of mountains, drowning in the clouds as if we were lost in the fairy.

Leaving the picturesque terraced fields behind, we speeded up into Sapa town, which has always been a honeypot for tourists. We booked herbal treatment to ease the aches and pains and had a good sleep.

Day 12: Sapa By Bike

We roamed the undulating roads to Ban Ho, Supan, and Lao Chai village. Most of the time in these locations was spent on professional photos of innocent students and terraced fields.

After lunch, we returned to the town and had a free night. We were blessed to participate in the Love Market – a typical cultural activity for mountainous ethnic groups.

Day 13: Sapa – Ban Xeo – Lao Cai Cycling Trip

Making a full breakfast, we moved on single tracks to beautiful places such as the catholic church, flower farm, etc. Even if we did not stop at any attractions, nature bestowed perfect scenery: the majestic Fanxipang range on the left wing.

Our bicycle went back to O Quy Ho, leading to Ban Khoan. Similar to the 11th day, we struggled to win the long pass. We were awarded the wild beauty of the forests and hills dotted by ancient villages. One-third of the remaining biking trip was more comfortable when we followed the Red River to Lao Cai.

Day 14: Back To Hanoi

We loaded up the support vehicle and got on the shuttle bus to Hanoi. The long transportation in 4 hours recalled the good old days during our Vietnam cycle tours. We took a night’s rest in the capital for the morning flight. 

Before that, the tour guide suggested a cyclo trip to the Old Quarter town. Trust us; it deserves ten out of ten. And our cycling Vietnam tour came to an end.


Biking Northwest Vietnam left a deep impression on our minds. The unbiased post above partly describes the beauty of nature and several wonderful cultural experiences along the way. 

If our words succeed in stimulating your adventurous heart, try Vietnam bicycle tours as soon as possible. Believe it or not, every moment is worth your time and effort. Follow our blogs for more bicycle trips in this charming country!

Find out what riders said about MTB Vietnam on Tripadvisor!

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