Biking Hanoi to Luang Prabang – Scheduled

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WHAT TO EXPECT

Day 1

Day 1: Arrive Hanoi

Welcome to Vietnam! Our representative will meet you in Vietnam's capital of Hanoi. You have time to explore the city before we gather for dinner and a trip briefing.

Overnight stay at Church Boutique Hotel

Meals: Dinner at the local restaurant.

 

Day 2: Hanoi - Lao Cai

Today after breakfast, embark on a guided city tour of Hanoi before going to the train station to catch the overnight sleeper (King Express) to Lao Cai near Sapa. Hanoi is a unique city with tree-lined boulevards, French colonial architecture, peaceful lakes, and Oriental temples.

The Vietnamese capital has many cultural and historic sites, and we will have a half day guided sightseeing tour to some of the many highlights. We start with a visit to the nearby mausoleum complex of the historic figure and father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh (viewed from outside), and walk through the former president’s gardens, including a visit to his house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. After this, depending on time, we will visit one or two of the many pagodas found around the central Hoan Kiem Lake. We take lunch in the old quarter, after which you have the afternoon to explore this bustling area. After an early evening meal, we go to the train station to board the King Express. The train is a very civilized affair with compartments sleeping 4 and a refreshment carriage serving food and drink.

Overnight on board the train.

Meals: Breakfast at the hotel, lunch and dinner at the local restaurant

 

Day 3: Lao Cai to Sapa (Approx. 22kms ride)

On arrival in Lao Cai around 07.00 hrs, we meet our support vehicle and make the short 50-min transfer up to the former hill station of Sapa (1,450 m), where we have breakfast at our hotel. Late morning, we ride to get those legs moving. We cycle from the hotel for 4 km on a tarmac road and branch off at Lao Chai junction to cycle downhill on jeep track to a Black Hmong village. We ride 2 km of single track past rice paddies. When we reach Ta Van village, home to the Red Dzao people, we can stroll around the village and learn about their unique culture and building style before having lunch.

  We continue our cycle journey to Thanh Kim village, riding on gentle hills and a tarmac road. The village is situated in a high mountain area, and from the Thanh Kim, we have panoramic views of the Ban Ho valley. Depending on time and energy levels, we can ride back up to Sapa or transfer back

Overnight stay at Chau Long Hotel

Meals: Breakfast at the hotel, lunch and dinner at the local restaurant

 

 

Day 4: Sapa Loop (Approx. 22kms ride)

We cycle 4 km on a tarmac road, then turn left, and enjoy a 3-km off-road ride along a hillside. The undulating ride along a dirt track has a few short challenging hills but with beautiful mountain scenery. We cycle downhill to Ma Tra village, home to the Black Hmong. Here we have lunch, before we continue cycling on a rough track looping to Ta Phin village and will experience dramatic mountain scenery. We take a break in Ta Phin village, which is one of the most beautiful villages in Sapa, and our guide will take you around and introduce you to the culture and customs of the Red Dzao people. From Ta Phin, there are several alternative tracks that loop and drop down to the main Lao Chai road.

 

 Depending on weather conditions, these can be muddy and slippery but are great fun to ride. Once we get to the main road, we can transfer back to Sapa or cycle the extra 15 km. Due to the nature of the trail, the ride cannot be supported the whole way by jeep, but there will be spots along the trail where we can rendezvous with the support vehicle. Late afternoon can be spent exploring Sapa before we meet up for dinner.

Overnight stay at Chau Long Hotel

Meals: Breakfast at the hotel, lunch and dinner at the local restaurant

 

Day 5: Sapa – Tran Ton Pass – Tam Duong – Lai Chau (Approx. 73kms ride)

We ride out of Sapa and complete the 15-km road climb up to Tram Ton Pass – the highest road pass in Vietnam at 2,000 m. We then have a superb 25-km descent into a beautiful valley. The countryside is truly wonderful as we pass tea plantations, and all inhabitants are from minority tribes. The weather always seems to get clearer this side of the mountains, and if we look back, we should get views of Fansipan (3,143 m), the highest mountain in Indochina. At the small town of Tam Duong, we have lunch and then turn left off the main road to cycle 28 km on a lovely country lane through the remote villages of Ban Hon and Ban Giang. We have now left any sign of other western tourists and are in a land of rice paddies, small coffee plantations, and sharp limestone cliffs. We finish in the new city of Lai Chau.

Overnight stay at Muong Thanh Lai Chau Hotel

Meals: Breakfast at the hotel, lunch and dinner at the local restaurant

 

Day 6: Lai Chau – Muong Lay

We start the day with an easy pedal from the sleepy town of Lai Chau, but things pick up after 10 km, where there is a climb, but soon there will be a long, sweeping downhill. The first half of the road is amid mountains and rice terraces; the second one is along the Nam Na River with towering mountains on both sides of the road. The afternoon ride to Muong Lay is overall flat with a few slight dips and rises to keep things interesting, The town is at the confluence of the Nam Na River, the Nam Lay River, and the Da River.

Overnight stay at Lan Anh 1 Hotel

Meals: Breakfast at the hotel, lunch and dinner at the local restaurant

 

Day 7: Muong Lay – Dien Bien Phu (Approx. 103kms ride)

Another hilly day, but we start nice and easy following a river for 15 km before starting our first climb of the day. Over a further 19 km, we reach a pass at 860 m. At the top, we take a break at a well-located tea shop for refreshments. The average gradient of the pass is relatively easy, averaging around 6-8%. Dropping down to a plateau around 400 m, we stop regularly at some of the last hilltribe villages and have lunch in a local restaurant, where our guide can introduce you to the local customs. There is another short final climb up to a 650-m pass before we prepare a broad smile to greet the kids as we cycle through paddy fields on the final flat stretch into the historic town of Dien Bien Phu.

Overnight stay at Muong Thanh Hotel

Meals: Breakfast at the hotel, lunch and dinner at the local restaurant

 

Day 8: Dien Bien Phu Loop (Approx. 50kms ride)

We explore war history in Dien Bien Phu. Our first stops will be the excellent new war museum, which offers good insight into the climactic battle in 1954 when the Viet Minh communist revolutionary forces defeated the French Union forces in the Dien Bien Phu, leading to Vietnam gaining its independence from colonial rule. Other stops on the bikes will include de Castries’ bunker and Glory Statue before we stop for lunch. We then head out of town and cycle towards Muong Phang Commune to visit the Dien Bien Phu Campaign Headquarters. Shortly into our ride the climbing begins, which lasts for about 15 km, but there is a transfer option. Then, our route takes us among forests and a large reservoir, which provides water to two hydroelectric projects. We cycle back down to Dien Bien Phu.

The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the city at your own pace.

Overnight stay at Muong Thanh Hotel

Meals: Breakfast at the hotel and lunch at the local restaurant

 

Day 9: Dien Bien Phu – Border – Muang Khoua (Approx. 69kms ride)

We say goodbye to Vietnam and hello to Laos. We start the day with a 20-km transfer to a quiet border crossing where it takes between 1-2 hrs to complete immigration formalities. We swap crews, pick up new hire bikes, and begin the journey to the riverside town of Muang Khoua. The ride is beautiful as we descend at first on a recently built but very quiet road, cycling through remote villages mainly comprised of Red or Black Thai ethnic tribes. After lunch, there is a short climb for 10 km, before dropping down to Tat Muang Khoua (390 m) a small sleepy market town built on a steep hillside at the confluence of two rivers, offering plenty of great views.

Overnight stay at Sinaly Hotel

Meals: Breakfast at the hotel, lunch and dinner at the local restaurant

 

Day 10: Muang Khoua – Muang Ngoy

No journey through the emerald lands of Laos is complete without a traditional long boat journey. Today, we kick back and relax as we have a day off the bikes and voyage to one of Laos prettiest riverside villages, Muang Ngoy. Inaccessible by road, our 4-hour boat trip provides a unique experience to watch the daily life on the river as we greet fisherman, traders, and cheeky children along the way.

After 2.5 hours, we stop off at a local village and go for a short 2-km hike to another riverside village that is a centre for local handicrafts and excellent for souvenirs. Lunch by the water and then re-join our boats for the final cruise to Muang Ngoy. Surrounded by jungle, sheer limestone cliffs carpeted in vegetation, and looking down onto the river, this is an excellent spot to chill out. It has only recently been hooked up to electricity and some small restaurants and bars have opened, the first real coffee machine only just arrived!

On arrival, we check into a small bungalow complex where the rest of the afternoon is free to spend at your leisure. Hike to nearby ethnic Lao villages, explore caves where locals lived during the "secret war", or just relax on the river. We meet up for a riverside dinner.

Overnight stay at Rattanavongsa Guesthouse

Meals: Breakfast at the hotel, lunch and dinner at the local restaurant

 

 

 

Day 11: Muang Ngoy – Nong Kiau (Approx. 24kms ride)

After a short 15 min boat transfer to the western side of the river, we re-join our bikes and ride down to Nong Kiau, primarily on dirt tracks. This section will have no support vehicle. We cycle through some ethnic Hmong villages, giving you plenty to see along the way. This undulating route will be jeep-width initially, but narrows to single track in sections. It is not very technical, but fast flowing hard pack with some shallow stream crossings, and should be well within the capabilities of anyone on this trip. The last 6 km are on tarmac into the tourist town of Nong Kiau, where we have lunch and check into our comfortable and charming guesthouse that overlooks the Nam Ou River. Anyone who wishes to jump on the boat instead of cycling is welcome to do so, it will be bringing the luggage down anyway. In the afternoon, there is a chance to cycle to the fascinating limestone caves where villages sheltered from the US carpet bombings in the “secret war”.

Overnight stay at Nong Kiau Riverside

Meals: Breakfast at the guesthouse, lunch and dinner at the local restaurant

 

Day 12: Nong Kiau – Luang Prabang (Approx. 143kms ride)

The last long ride of the tour! Cycling a relatively quiet undulating road, we head west along the Nam Ou River, which makes for a very scenic ride. The road undulates the whole way with some short climbs that never ascend more than 50 m at a time. It makes for a fast pace, and although it is a reasonable distance, it is satisfying to cycle into the beautiful and historic town of Luang Prabang to end our epic journey.

Situated on a peninsula between the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers, Luang Prabang is well-known for its numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries. Every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms. Once we reach this historic UNESCO World Heritage Site, we head to our hotel and freshen up for our farewell dinner.

Overnight stay at Sala Prabang

Meals: Breakfast at the hotel, lunch and dinner at the local restaurant

 

Day 13: Depart Luang Prabang

The morning is at leisure to explore the historic and beautiful Luang Prabang before your onward travel.

Meals: Breakfast at the hotel

 

INCLUSIONS

  • Service of English speaking guide.

  • Cycling gears

  • jersey and support vehicle.
  • Sightseeing as mentioned in itinerary.

  • Meals (as indicated).

  • Accommodation.

  • Water bottle

  • drinks
  • refreshments and snacks.
  • Applicable entrance fee.

     

EXCLUSIONS

  • International air ticket.

  • Airport Taxes.

  • Visa charges.

  • Internal flight.

  • Transportation from airport and back.

  • Alcohol

  • tips
  • laundry
  • telephone
  • optional excursions and other items of a personal nature.
  • Any items or services not specified in the itinerary ‘HOLIDAY PRICE INCLUDES’ head.

     

General Notes

  • Advisory: Suitability: This trip is tough due to the nature of the area. It is a very mountainous region
  • and we must cross many valleys and mountains to get to Dien Bien Phu and then onwards to Luang Prabang. The tour starts with some easier rides but builds up to some tough all-day riding. This trip should only be attempted by fit and experienced cyclists.
  • Biking Conditions: The roads are a mixture of good asphalt
  • broken or potholed roads
  • and some off-road cycling tracks. While the off-road riding is not that technical
  • some experience will help. Support is always available when required.
  • Please wear comfortable clothes and shoes to enjoy the tour around.
  • It is advisable to carry US$ 20 for incidentals.
  • Rainy jacket- Rain is unlikely
  • but certainly possible.
  • Bandana or sweat band. Useful for keeping the sweat out of your eyes or to cover your mouth if there is a dusty track.
  • Things To Carry: Passport- Valid for 6 months and with spare pages and valid visas.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Cycling equipment’s and accessories.
  • Rainy jacket.
  • Miscellaneous – personal necessary items and others.
  • Good walking shoes.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Sunscreen (highest possible).
  • Headgear for sunny days.
  • Cotton clothing for summer days
  • light woolen clothes for evenings. Heavy woolens for winter.
  • Shorts for hiking and walking around town are fine. Out of respect
  • please don't wear shorts in public buildings or monasteries. Have a pair of long pants or longer skirt for these locations.
  • 2 pairs cycling shorts.
  • 2 cycling tops.
  • 2 pairs cycling socks.
  • 1 pair cycling shoes.
  • Rear panniers
  • with extra pockets.
  • Front panniers.
  • Saddle Bag.
  • Cycling Gloves.
  • Bike Buddy' bottle cage/Water bladder.
  • Knee pads and elbow pads.
  • Notes: We reserve the right to make amendments in the itinerary if required.
  • It is mandatory to provide a duly signed ‘Release of Liability and Assumption of All Risks’ and personal information forms prior to trip.
  • Any bank fees and any tour costs incurred by the company as a result of the cancellation is to be borne by the client.

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