10 Day Northwest Frontier Tour
This ten day tour takes in the highlights of the northern provinces. This is David and Ashley’s dream ride, pulling together their favourite parts of the provinces that serve up Vietnam’s most dramatic, challenging and rewarding riding.
Day 1 Hanoi to Mai Chau Ecolodge (110km, 1,300m)
We’ll bus out of town to avoid the traffic and get on the bikes on a beautiful and little used section of road that rolls along a river valley with limestone cliffs and mountains all around. Later you’ll hit the first climbing challenge of the trip which rises 600m over 10.5km at an average of 6%. Your ride leader holds the KOM on this one so if people want to have a crack at taking it it could be fun. A fantastic descent on great road will then take you to the Mai Chau Ecolodge. Here you can enjoy a drink in the pool complete with mountain views.
Day 2 Mai Chau to Bac Yen (154km, 2,200m)
Today kicks off with the climb up to Moc Chau, an area famous for tea production and dairy farming. After a huge descent of around 30km and a couple of meaty climbs taking you up to almost 1000m the day is capped with one last ascent to this back of beyond town. Our accommodation here is a communist-style government guesthouse that has all the basics and some pretty impressive mountain views thrown in. We’ll eat in a local banquet place and hopefully find some Bigken beer.
Day 3 Bac Yen to Nghia Lo (110km, 1,300m)
This ride has a dream start of a huge downhill of over 20km. The road today serves up some great surface, very little traffic and knockout views. It also features a couple of climbing challenges, with 5km at 5% for riders to get their teeth into before an amazing descent. Our home for the night is Nghia Lo, a pleasant little town with views of a mighty mountain range across the rice paddy planes that surround it. We’ll head for some honest frontier food and the awesome Bigken minikegs that seem to be all the rage here.
Day 4 Nghia Lo to Mu Cang Chai (96km 2000m)
Today’s ride features one of Vietnam’s most beautiful passes and the second big one of our tour. It’s called the Khau Pha Pass, but somebody on Strava named it ‘17km of beauty’ which is spot on. After riding over the summit you will see why this area is so popular with photographers – the rice terrace scenery is some of the most beautiful in the land. A descent brings us down to the small town of Mu Cang Chai where we’ll check into the hotel then head out for a well earned meal.
Day 5 Mu Cang Chai to Sapa (140km, 1,600m)
Leaving the Khau Pha Pass behind us, we roll out today toward Vietnam’s highest pass, the O Quy Ho. This ride is a firm favourite of ours. The relatively easy start heads deeper into the north with breathtaking views of the Hoang Lien National Park and Indochina’s highest mountain, Fansipan, to the east. Around 22km of climbing then rises from 800m to almost 2000m. After a photo and BBQ stop at the top, we’ll ride down into Sapa and then transfer to the stunning Topas Ecolodge.
Day 6 Topas Ecolodge to Ha Giang including transfer
Today those who feel like a rest day from the bike can do the whole lot in the bus. Otherwise we’ll knock off the first part of the journey in the vehicle before joining a quiet road to the capital of Vietnam’s most northern province, Ha Giang. We’ll head slightly past the town and stay in an ethnic minority village for the night.
Day 7 Ha Giang to Dong Van (144km, 3000m)
Today you will pass a sign that confirms the title of this tour: ‘Frontier Area’. It wasn’t so long ago that permits were required to visit this part of the world bordering China. The days first uphill challenge rewards riders with stunning views all the way up, while the lookout point after the summit is awe inspiring. More riding through small villages brings us to our lunch stop. We’ll take a while to let it settle, because another mammoth ascent is just around the corner. Once up on the Dong Van Rocky Plateau you’ll see a landscape unlike any other on this tour before we roll into the remote town of Dong Van for the night.
Day 8 Dong Van to Bao Lac (90km, 900m)
We’ll be praying for a clear morning because for many people the first section is the highlight of all the riding on offer not only on this tour, but in all of Vietnam. The Ma Pi Leng pass is a majestic road. A thin strip of tarmac cut into the impossibly steep mountain side, the pass forms part of the brilliantly and aptly named Duong Hanh Phuc – happiness road. After this and another climb out of remote Meo Vac we’ll enjoy a hugely fun downhill that keeps on giving. Our home for the night is a very remote town close to the Chinese border in north eastern Cao Bang province.
Day 9 Bao Lac to Ba Be (160km 1,400m)
Today we start to head back south toward one last spot of outstanding natural beauty – Ba Be Lake. However, we have one last climbing challenge to overcome on the way and another route through remote and stunning mountain landscapes. Tonight we will sleep in a traditional homestay with a friendly family on the edge of the lake and enjoy a home cooked meal and a few celebratory drinks.
Day 10 Ba Be to Hanoi – optional ride
Today most people will likely be happy with a bus transfer back to the capital, but we can throw in another 100km of relatively easy riding for those who feel like spinning their legs for the morning.
Great locations and a great team make for a great ride
As a group, we take a week every year to ride in great places Thailand, Japan and now our second ride with Velo Viet Nam in the North of Viet Nam, it takes a great team to make it a truly great riding experience which Velo Viet Nam delivered. The North of Viet Nam is a great place to ride delivering tough hills, mad descents and long sweeping undulations. We cranked out over 600kms and climbed almost 8000m in 6 wonderful days, with Sapa to Mu Cang Chai the stand out cycle. Our guides David and Dale were knowledgeable and fun to ride with and they drew the best out of each ride over many tough stages. With Nam providing motorcycle support we were never short of water, snacks, and an encouraging word. Mr Na our driver ferried us and all our kit, with a smile at the end of a long day. As an experienced bike tourist, I cannot recommend Velo Vietnam more highly for those who want a rewarding riding experience with great people.
5 of us, guided by Dave, completed an 800km cycle ride over 6 days from Lao Cai in the north of Vietnam via Sapa and back to Hanoi. There were some challenging climbs and some tremendous decents as we cycled through beautiful valleys and spectacular mountain scenery, past paddy fields and tea plantations, and meeting some wonderful Vietnamese people and enjoying their superb hospitality along the way. A fantastic experience, great memories, everything was very well organised by David and we were excellently supported by Tung and Ha, we all thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would recommend Velo-Vietnam to anyone thinking of cycling in that part of the world.
Superb Cycling Experience
Our ride was a 6 day 500 mile ride from the very North of Vietnam back to Hanoi. We cycled through some beautiful mountain scenery, there were some great climbs and awesome descents, and above all we met some wonderful Vietnamese people.
The whole trip was superbly organised by David and we were excellently supported so that we were never without anything especially the magic “Choco-Pies!”
I could not recommend Velo-Vietnam enough – thanks for the memories 🙂 Brendan
Enjoyed a truly memorable three-day
Enjoyed a truly memorable three-day training camp with Vélo Vietnam in the Central Highlands.
Amazing routes, fantastic support, beautiful views, and an unforgettable experience.
Not only do David and Ashley clearly love what they do, they also know the best places to ride and stay. We stayed in hill tribe villages, slept in wooden huts (very comfortable, actually) and rode through some of Vietnam’s beautiful landscapes.
If you are planning a cycling trip in Vietnam, look no further.
Road cycling gives us pleasure, inspiration, solace, culture, camaraderie, therapy and adventure
Boy Velo Vietnam delivers on this. 5 days in the saddle, 550km of riding with 6500m of vertical elevation gained, made up of 2 days looping out of Da Nang beach and 3 days heading west into the jungle to teh Lao border. Ashley Carruthers and David Lloyd’s organisation, hospitality, knowledge of the area and themselves and human beings are second to none. All of us on this trip would highly recommend road riding through Vietnam with velovietnam.cc, a magical experience.
Managed by proper cyclists
Our ride was managed by “proper cyclists” and featured amazing scenery, challenging topography, and logistics and support worthy of a pro team. The riding aside, the trip also exposed us to places far off the beaten track. Thanks Ashley and Dave, see you next year.
A first class experience
I just returned from a 5 day training camp organised by Velo Vietnam. Absolute first class experience. Ashley, David and team were outstanding in their planning and execution. I highly recommend them. I (and others from Hong Kong) will definitely be back. Well done to all.