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- Vietnam Tour
14 DAY NORTH WEST VIETNAM MOUNTAINS MOTORCYCLE TOUR
There are some journey’s in life that imprint memories in your mind for a lifetime and our Vietnam North Mountains tour will offer that and far more than you can imagine. This really is as good as it gets! We have perfected this tour over the last three years and made it full of excitement, adventure and so much fun you really should see for yourself!
On this incredible motorcycle tour of Vietnam’s finest area, we make our way through the mountains, staying overnight in hotels and at the odd home stay, right in the heart of the Vietnamese Hilltribe Villages. The tour is a mix of dirt roads and tarmac with some slightly more technical sections that are optional. Where pillions are accompanying us on the tour, there are options to follow the support vehicle along the main routes when we take the occasional rough beaten track.
You will be riding a Honda XR200/CRF250 or similar (CB400 option for pillions), through some of Vietnam’s most spectacular scenery, through streams, shallow rivers and along narrow tracks and trails, (all optional) even suspension bridges and sampling some of the most incredibly delicious food in Asia whilst learning much about their culture and experiencing the very humble and hospitable nature of the Vietnamese people
Northwest Vietnam is a mountainous region, sharing borders with Laos and China. This area is sometimes known as the North and Northwest. It’s one of three sub-regions of northern Vietnam (2 sub-region is the Northeast and the Red River Delta)
With rugged terrain, Northwest region has many mountains and large rivers. The Hoang Lien Son mountain range runs northwest-southeast, high as 1500 m, 180 km long, 30 km wide, with a number of peaks over 3,000 m. Two major rivers, such as the Black River and Thao River( Red River).
Northwest Vietnam is the best place to ride a motorcycle, as the scenery changes fast from one region to another and the road conditions are good.
You will experience the culture of this beautiful country first hand as the tour includes “home-stays” – this is where we get to stay in large traditional bamboo houses that accommodate large families. It is shared accommodation on these evenings, usually on the first floor accessible by a set of wooden steps. Comfy mattresses, privacy curtains and mosquito nets are provided along with clean bedding, showers and toilets.
QUICK LOOK …
Our accommodation is always of good standard. The hotels and homestays are typically clean and friendly and would have a UK equivalent of a 2 or 3* hotel. The boat trip in Halong Bay is aboard a traditional junk boat with cabins and restaurant, very clean and tidy and serve excellent food. Vietnam culture is much different to ours so some accommodation may be substandard in comparison to our UK standards, please be aware of this.
During the homestay we sample the delicious food, cooked by the owners, this usually consists of chicken and pork, rice, omelette, noodles, spring rolls and greens followed by fruit for dessert. During the evening we may be treated to some traditional dance from the local women in the village.
When in Hanoi or other larger city we are likely to eat out and other than on your rest day, your guide will take you either to a street restaurant or an indoor restaurant that serves excellent freshly cooked food and plenty of Beer and rice wine!
Each morning for breakfast we are treated to yoghurt, fruit, pancakes, eggs, bread etc. It’s all very delicious topped with a drizzle of fresh honey!
Every day we leave at around 8.30 – 9.00 and head off on the bikes once they have undergone some maintenance from our local tour guide and his assistant. The luggage is loaded onto the 4×4 and we spend the day stopping frequently to take photos, learn about the culture and told stories of the history that makes Vietnam so intriguing. You will get plenty of time off the bike, when we first arrive in Hanoi you have a free day to do as you please. Your local tour guide is on hand to advise and provide you with details on what you can do and see. We also have a day off in Sapa, in the mountains, also known as the adventure capital of Vietnam. When in Sapa, you can have your clothes laundered if you wish, grab a massage and explore the region. You can also get a pizza or burger and chips here if you begin missing the typical diet of the Brits!
At lunchtime, around 12.00 – 13.00, we stop for about an hour and indulge in some noodle soup, rice, spring rolls, meat and other fine food, all freshly prepared for us. The food is clean and freshly prepared After lunch, we head off again and may even take in some dirt tracks and narrow pathways, often crossing shallow streams and rivers or negotiating rope suspension bridges, it’s all brilliant fun.
By the end of each day, your camera memory cards will be bulging with photos captured and memories that will last forever. Bring a small camera so you can carry it in a small backpack or hydration pack, even better. A small helmet camera is also a good option
Vietnam is relatively cheap outside of the main cities, such as Hanoi. Lunch is approximately £3 – £5 each day and beer is around £1 a can. Fuel, breakfast and dinner (dinner excluded on the rest days) is included , as is airport transfers and bike hire
We have an agreement with our business partner that if you break it, you pay for it. This simply means if you dropped your bike and snapped a wing mirror you would be expected to cover the cost ($10). For any engine or tyre damage you would not be expected to pay as this is wear and tear
We insist you take out suitable medical and travel insurance, we use HolidaySafe for this
Mopeds in Vietnam outnumber cars by approximately 300/1. This is due to zero rated tax on mopeds. As such it can seem hectic at first even crossing the road. The key is not to look and just walk slowly, seriously, they will move around you!!
Moped taxis are very common in the cities and charge around $5 for 15 – 20 mins journey but be warned, it can be quite daunting weaving in and out of the traffic hanging on for dear life!
|Bike Hire Included|
|Flights Included* (Approx £550)|
|Hotel Accommodation Included|
|Home Stay Accommodation Included|
|Breakfast & Dinner Included**|
|Local Tour Guides Included|
|Support Vehicle Included ***|
|Full UK Support Included|
|Medical Insurance Included|
|Travel Insurance Included|
*International flights must be purchased separately as we are not ATOL protected. Full details will be provided 8 weeks before departure. Approximate cost of return flights from London to Ha Noi is £550. UK representative will accompany the group from UK and throughout the tour unless there is less than 10 in the group.
** Dinner in Sapa during the day off and last night in Hanoi is not included
*** Support vehicle is included when we have received 6 or more bookings, for less than 6, luggage will be carried on the bike in a dry bag. To date we have always had more than 6 riders on the tour with a support vehicle!
All images on this tour page are subject to Copyright 2017 – Chris Seagal GMT Ltd
DAY 1 - GETTING ON A PLANE
Flying to Ha Noi
We meet at the airport in London (exact location to be confirmed 8 weeks prior to departure)
Our flight is likely to be a stopover in Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur taking us into Ha Noi International Airport where we will be transferred to our hotel for the evening. The following day you will have the day free to explore Hanoi and there is lots to do! Our business partner Ngoc or his assistant, will collect us from the Hotel. The following day we are taken to the bikes (outside of the main busy city) to begin our adventure!
DAY 2 - Ha Noi
After lunch and a quick stroll around Ha Noi, we are taken to the bikes and get familiarised with your machine, which, you will be using for the duration of the tour. We are briefed about the ride and what to expect plus there is time for any questions.
DAY 3 - HANOI - MAI CHAU
After breakfast at your hotel, 8.00 AM, you will be transferred by bus to the starting point at the outskirts of Hanoi, from here you will take the bikes and start your first day ride to Mai Chau.
Leaving Hanoi and breaking out of the delta plains, we pass through endless limestone karst scenery as we travel up to the Northwestern region, the extensive farming lands comprising a sea of paddy fields split by tree-lined roads. Lunch on route, arrive in Mai Chau in late afternoon, night on a stilt house of the Thais Minority peoples, dinner with the family, traditional music performance.
DAY 4 - MAI CHAU - PHU YEN
Mai Chau – Phu Yen, 170 km, 6 hr ride.
We backtrack on the main road a few kilometers before embarking on a 50km of the forgotten trails forgotten from the French time which hike up and drop down along the side of the Black River Reservoir. The spectacular road 43 rides us to an area inhabited by Kinh and both Black and White Thai ethnicities. After a ferry crossing, we follow the banks of the reservoir by taking an easy small paved road, we approach the delta settlement of Phu Yen set in the middle of a vast valley floor of paddy fields. Overnight in Phu Yen
DAY 5 - PHU YEN - MU CANG CHAI
Phu Yen – Mu Cang Chai, 200km, 6 hr ride
We head up today into a forested and high mountain region populated by H’mong peoples, We will hike up a very high mountain pass before descending into a mountainous tea-growing region. Soon after we follow a long the valley floor covered in a sea of rice surrounded by Hmong and Thai’s villages all the way to Mu Cang Chai, lunch on route. Dinner and overnight at Home-stay.
DAY 6 - MU CANG CHAI - SAPA
Today we head straight towards the main Fansipan Mountain range. The massive mountain range dominates the road until Sapa. We will make a splendid climb up from Binh Lu to the top of the highest road pass in Vietnam (Tram Ton Pass). Crossing into Lao Cai Province at over 2000m, The view looks out over the main range for miles and miles. We arrive in Sapa at the end of the afternoon, Dinner in town, Overnight at hotel.
DAY 7 - SAPA - RELAX / SHOPPING
Today is a rest day and we leave the bikes at the hotel to wander the town, relax, experience the culture, sounds and smells of Vietnam.
Established as a hill station by the French in 1922, Sapa today is the tourism centre of the northwest.
Sapa is orientated to make the most of the spectacular views emerging on clear days; overlooking a plunging valley, with mountains towering above on all sides. Views of this epic scenery are often subdued by thick mist rolling across the peaks, but even when it’s cloudy, local hill-tribe people fill the town with colour.
If you were expecting a quaint alpine town, recalibrate your expectations. Sapa’s French colonial villas fell into disrepair during successive wars with the French, Americans and Chinese, and modern tourism development has mushroomed haphazardly. Sapa today is undergoing a construction boom and, thanks to rarely enforced building height restrictions, the skyline is continually thrusting upwards.
But you’re not here to hang out in town. This is northern Vietnam’s premier trekking base from where hikers launch themselves into a surrounding countryside of cascading rice terraces and tiny hill-tribe villages that seems a world apart. Once you’ve stepped out into the lush fields you’ll understand the Sapa area’s real charm.
DAY 8 - SAPA - HAGIANG
We start from Sapa and ride to Lao Cai town, a short stop to visit the Chinese border. Continue to Viet Quang by taking a small road going along the Chinese border, during your ride, you will have chances to visit many roadside ethnic villages and markets. Stop for lunch in Viet Quang town. Arrive in Ha Giang in the afternoon, Dinner and overnight at hotel
DAY 9 - HA GIANG - VU LINH
Ha Giang – Vu Linh 180km, 5 hr ride.
We start from Hagiang and ride to Luc Yen for lunch then take a small paved road along Thac Ba Lake to Vu Linh. The welcome is exceptional and we hope you will not be too much tired. Homestay.
DAY 10 - VU LINH - HANOI
Vu Linh – Hanoi, 170km, 5hr ride.
After breakfast we cruise southeast on Highway 2 and then branch off to the sleepy town of Xuan Duong. We follow the edge of the Red River along the dyke, almost to the point where it merges with the Black River after which they flow together to Hanoi. By now we are very much in the lowlands of the delta plains and the north’s main agricultural areas. Harvest time here is a sea of activity. Crossing the Red River by ThangLong bridge, return to Hanoi on the highway. Overnight at hotel in Hanoi.
DAY 11 - HANOI - HALONG BAY
Hanoi – Halong Bay. 165km, 3hr bus trip.
3hr bus drive to Halong bay through the lush of Red River vegetation. Arrival Halong bay pier and check-in registration, board our boat for a stunning cruise amongst towering limestone backdrop while enjoying lunch on board. The cruise will take you by exotic islets with shapes of Dog, Incense Urn, Sail, Fighting Cocks, which are naturally formed by process of erosion between the see water and limestone mountains. Overnight on boat. Weather dependent, there may be chance to canoe in Halong Bay
DAY 12 - HA LONG BAY - HANOI
Ha Long Bay – Hanoi. 3h 30 bus trip
A new day wake you up with joys and emotions in an early morning for watching sunrise on sea.
Get back to the harbor then drive strait to Hanoi for the last night of the trip.
DAY 13 - DEPART
We are taken to the Airport to catch our flights back to the UK
Slight changes may be made to the itinerary due to flight times and weather but should not in anyway detract from your overall experience. In many cases the local tour guides will include extras, such as; a visit to the Oyster Farm, Quick lesson in making Vietnamese Food, Canoeing/Kayaking in Halong Bay etc
2nd March 2019 – 15th March 2019– SOLD OUT
- 2nd – 15th November 2019 – spaces available
- 1st February – 14th February 2020
Single rider sharing a twin room: only £2299.00 per rider
Single rider with private room: £2895.00
Rider & Pillion sharing a twin or double: £3995.00 per couple
Motorcycle Hire (CRF or similar style)
All running Fuel for the bike
4×4 Support Vehicle with mechanic*
Full Breakfast each morning (buffet style usually)
All Accommodation (hotels and homestays)
Local English speaking guide
Bus journey to Ha Long Bay
Overnight Boat trip with meal around Ha Long Bay (weather pending)
Free water throughout the day riding
Local English speaking tour leader
Knowledgeable advice and history of Vietnam
Full UK Support
*Evening meals in Sapa & Hanoi (excluding first evening in Hanoi) are not included as this is free time for you to explore at your own leisure. Lunch not included. All alcoholic & soft drinks at meal times to be paid for by the customers. Tour groups less than 6 will carry own luggage in dry bag strapped to bike. More than 6 in a group a 4×4 support vehicle will be included or there is an option to hire a driver and vehicle, including fuel for $100 per day split between the group where there is less than 6 in total
WHAT IS THE SEAT HEIGHT OF THE BIKES?
The seat height varies depending on which bike you choose but on average they are 80 – 84cm. At 5’9″ tall and with a 29″ inside leg, a rider is able to sit on the bike with knees slightly bent and feet on the floor
SOME OF THE TRAILS LOOK A BIT NARROW, WILL I HAVE TO RIDE THEM?
No, the support vehicle (although a 4×4 pickup truck) can only drive along the roads suitable for it, such as compacted dirt tracks wide enough but obviously, it cannot drive up the trails. If you prefer not ride the narrower trails (or through the streams etc, perhaps because you have a pillion) you simply follow the support vehicle on the alternative route and meet up with the group on the other side. Usually the trails are only short sections throughout the tour. There are many options, so that everyone can ride within their comfort zone and are not made to do anything they are not comfortable doing
DO I NEED TO HAVE A MOTORCYCLE LICENSE? I CAN RIDE A BIKE!
You will need to have a valid motorcycle license to join the tour
DO I NEED A VISA?
No, currently ‘British Citizens’ passport holders travelling for tourism or business can enter Vietnam for up to a maximum of 15 days (inclusive of dates of entry and exit) without a visa. If you have a different type of British nationality – for example ‘British national (overseas)’ you’ll need to get a visa or an e-visa before entering Vietnam. More info here
Please see the link above for updates on visa requirements as it subject to change each year
DO I NEED VACCINATIONS?
Yes, you will need to consult your pharmacist or doctor as to what they recommend is the best course of vaccines for you. Do note; Malaria tablets can make you unwell, many customers do not take them but do use the best insect repellent available. Mosquitos and Malaria are quite rare in the north but caution is strongly advised and we do not in any way encourage clients not to take necessary precautions. Having good travel insurance is a must. We recommend Holiday Safe who will also be able to provide specific insurance cover for using a motorcycle off road
WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE?
Most of the tour dates we organise for Vietnam bring good weather as it is outside of the rainy season. The climate is usually very manageable. Typical temperatures are 22 – 30c with the odd shower. Slightly colder in the higher mountains
WHAT IS THE CURRENCY?
Currency is Vietnamese Dong but Dollars are widely accepted. Money can be changed at the airport and in Hanoi
WILL I HAVE TO EAT INSECTS?
No, not at all. In Thailand this cuisine is more common but in Vietnam the food is rather much more simpler. A typical evening meal consists of meat, such as pork, noodles, rice, spring rolls, omelette, greens and rice wine! Noodle soup is a very popular dish and is served both at breakfast time and other meal times. Breakfast served for us, however, is usually bread, eggs, honey, omelets, fruit, yoghurt etc
DO THEY EAT CATS & DOGS?
Not that we have known about! Although the Vietnamese are known for eating what we consider pets it was not something we have seen on the menu! All our hotels and Home stays have been taught to cook the western way, this means hygiene and menu selection is taken into account
WHAT BIKES DO YOU USE?
We use Honda XR200/CRF250 Dirt Bikes. There is a comfier option of a CB400/ or Kawasaki 350 for riders with pillions if you wish. Supplements may apply to bike larger than 250cc.
IS THE TOUR ON OR OFF ROAD?
Most of the surface is compacted dirt tracks, trails and shallow streams and tarmac. Even without dirt road riding experience, as long as you are an experienced and competent rider you shouldn’t have any issues. There are some shallow streams but there is always an option to take the tarmac road route with the support vehicle
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT FLIGHT TO BOOK?
We will provide all the details regarding flights 12 weeks prior to departure. The cost of the flight is approximately £500 – £700 GBP
WHAT RIDING GEAR SHOULD I BRING?
We always recommend wearing what you feel comfortable and safe in. Some wear cargo trousers and hiking boots with a jacket. Obviously a helmet and light summer gloves are a must. Personally I would recommend wearing boots that cover your ankles such as adventure boots or tough ankle boots (not steel toe capped boots). A lightweight waterproof motorcycle jacket and some motocross trousers, jeans or strong cargo trousers as a minimum. Whilst there is a minimum amount of off tarmac riding (dirt tracks) speeds in Vietnam are typically around 30 – 40 mph. We strongly recommend you bring a backpack style hydration pack with you and a helmet camera! When riding the trails the speed is kept to a minimum, it is not a race or a rally
Vietnamese authorities have agreed that, between September 2018 and 28 March 2019 , the holders of UK issued International Driver’s Permits or UK domestic driving licences will be allowed to drive cars or ride motorbikes in Vietnam. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/vietnam/safety-and-security)
After 28 March 2019, British visitors wishing to drive cars or ride motorbikes in Vietnam will need to present both their UK domestic driver’s licence and a UK issued International Driver’s Permit. Long term UK residents of Vietnam can apply for a Vietnamese driving licence. A Vietnamese driving licence can only be issued to a foreign national in possession of a Vietnamese visa valid for 3 months or more. Applications for a Vietnamese driving licence can be made at the local offices of the Department of Public Works and Transportation.
NB: All the single trails and water crossings are optional. If you prefer to follow the support vehicle and ride along the tarmac route when the rest of the group take the short trail routes, you can, ideal for riders with pillions.