Cycling Through Northern Vietnam to Laos Tour
Cycling Through Northern Vietnam to Laos Tour This is an adventurous, moving on tour through the mountainous north-west provinces of Vietnam and Laos. Luggage transfer and vehicle support will be provided. The tour is suitable for fit, experienced cycling enthusiasts. Vietnam’s far North West is undoubtedly the best place to cycle in the country as the roads see virtually no tourists and avoid Vietnam’s notorious highways. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that travel restrictions were lifted. Starting in Hanoi, we;ll pass through stunning landscapes, amazing karst rock formations, stilted houses with thatched roofs, mountains nestled between limestone outcrops and the highest concentration of hill-tribe people in the country. We’ll cross into a remote area of Laos via the newly opened border crossing at Tay Trang.
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Tough
Group Size Small Group
Cycling Through Northern Vietnam to Laos Tour 19Days
Itinerary: Hanoi – Sapa – Tam Duong – Lai Chau – Dien Bien Phu – Muang Khua – Odomxai – Pak Mong – Luang Prabang – Kiu Kacham – Kasi – Vang Vieng – Thalat – Vientiane
Highlight: This is an adventurous, moving on tour through the mountainous north-west provinces of Vietnam and Laos. Luggage transfer and vehicle support will be provided. The tour is suitable for fit, experienced cycling enthusiasts. Vietnam’s far North West is undoubtedly the best place to cycle in the country as the roads see virtually no tourists and avoid Vietnam’s notorious highways. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that travel restrictions were lifted. Starting in Hanoi, we;ll pass through stunning landscapes, amazing karst rock formations, stilted houses with thatched roofs, mountains nestled between limestone outcrops and the highest concentration of hill-tribe people in the country. We’ll cross into a remote area of Laos via the newly opened border crossing at Tay Trang. From the small market town of Muang Khua, we’ll take a slow boat down the beautiful Nam Ou river before cycling on to World Heritage Luang Prabang, with its beautiful temples and colourful night market. Our route south to Vientiane, the sleepy capital of Laos, is on virtually traffic-free roads. Great cycling and some of the friendliest people in Asia. The opening in 2007 of the Tay Trang border crossing between Vietnam and Laos has made this exciting tour possible. This is an adventurous, moving on tour through the mountainous North West provinces. Vietnam’s far North West is undoubtedly the best place to cycle in the country as the roads see virtually no tourists and avoid Vietnam’s notorious highways. Stunning landscape, amazing karst rock formations, stilted houses with thatched roofs, mountains nestled between limestone outcrops and the highest concentration of hill-tribe people in Asia. We enter Northern Laos at Tay Trang. The trip includes a spectacular journey by boat down the Nam Ou River, a day off the bikes in World Heritage town, Luang Prabang with its beautiful temples and colourful night market, and time to explore vibrant Hanoi and Vientiane.
Hanoi – Arrival
Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport our guide who will accompany you to your hotel will welcome you, Vietnam’s capital, is a stylish and gracious city that retains an unique old world charm and some Asia’s most striking colonial architecture. The many lakes and parks make for relaxing atmosphere. If time permits we embark on a cyclo for a short excursion through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sale at these places. O/N in Ha Noi.
Hanoi Leisure (B)
A day to explore Vietnam’s beautiful and tranquil capital, Hanoi.
Overnight Train to Lai Cai
We catch the overnight train for Lau Cai. Despite what you might imagine, It’s actually plenty comfortable. You can buy snacks, get things to drink, etc etc. There are 4 berths to a cabin. It is a LOT better than a long plane ride in the economy section.
Day 4 and 5
Sapa Cycling Sapa-35K
We’ll disembark from the train very early in the morning and either bike or transfer to Sapa. It’s not all that far but it is virtually ALL up hill.Sapa is the hilltribe capital of North Vietnam. There are a variety of minority people in this area and they all come to Sapa to the market.
CyclingSapa to Tam Duong (New Lai Chau)
We climb up to Tram Ton Pass at 2,000 meters and then we have a huge 30k descent. We end the day in Lai Chau (formerly Tom Duong). On the way, you will pass plenty of minority, hill tribe villages. You will also pass Mt Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam (3100 meters). The French referred to these mountains as the “Tonkinese Alps”.
Cycling Tam Duong (New Lai Chau) to Old Lai Chau
We have a couple pretty big climbs and then follow the picturesque Nam Na river into Muang Say (aka “Old Lai Chau”). We stay at the hip Lan Anh Resort where there no doubt will be an active badminton game in the evening.
Cycling Lai Chau to Dien Bien Phu
In 1954, the French Garrison at Dien Bien Phu was pinned down when the Vietnamese were able to do something thought impossible….carry heavy artillery into the mountains. When you ride in this area you will wonder yourself how they ever did it. The siege at Dien Bien Phu ended in a French surrender and marked the end of French Indochina. Little known is the fact that the US had developed a plan to aid the French by using tactical nuclear weapons at Dien Bien Phu.
Cycling Dien Bien Phu to Muang Khua, Laos
We depart Dien Bien and cross into Northeast Laos at Tay Tran. This is the least populated section of Laos. We continue on to Muang Khua on the banks of the Nam Ou river
Cycling Muang Khua to Odomxai
This is a scenic lightly traveled road to bustling Odomxai. Odomxai seems to be undergoing a rennaisance. Lots of construction and activity in the town these days. They have an airport here also (with less than daily service). We stay at the nicest place in town.
Cycling Odomxai to Pak Mong
A tough climbing day at the start and then rolling hills with magnificent scenery before a 29 k Descent to Pak Mong.
CyclingPak Mong to Luang Prabang
On to the historic and enchanting city of Luang Prabang. We follow the banks of the Mekong before entering the city proper. It’s also possible, with advance planning, to bike the 20k in the opposite direction to Nong Khiaw and then take a boat down the Nam Ou River. This will take you right by the Pak Ou caves at the confluence of the Nam Ou and Mekong Rivers.
Rest day in Luang Prabang
Today is a rest day in Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang is encircled by mountains and situated on the banks of the Mekong where it meets the Nam Khan river. There is a lot to see in this World Heritage Town: Temples, Monastaries, the Royal Palace and French Colonial Architecture as well as the beautiful falls outside of town. It’s worthwhile to get up and observe the monks collecting alms at 6 am.
Cycling Luang Prabang to Kiu Kacham
This section has some of the most spectacular limestone, karst mountains in all of Southeast Asia. We ovenight in Kiu Kacham. It is long and challanging ride between Luang Prabang and Kasi. Kiu Kacham is the half way point and a good place to break up the ride. Kiu Kucham is at a high elevation and on a clear day the ride here is spectacular. There will be big bucket of VERY hot water for your shower at the our friendly guesthouse.
Cycling Kiu Kacham to Kasi
We have a big 38 km descent passing dramatic views of craggy limestone mountains. The scent of jasmine and lotus blossom drifts through the clear air from the rich jungle flora. We end our day coming off the mountains at Kasi.
Cycling Kasi to Vang Vieng
60 km of gentle rolling hills to Vang Vieng. Vang Vieng is situated on a bend of the Nam Song River and at sunset it is beautiful. Lots of action in Vang Vieng. It’s a cross roads for travelers and, unlike some other villages, you will run into some here. All the travelers means that there are lots of restaurants and comfortable guesthouses. Check out the market here. It’s very much worth seeing. We have the option of jumping off the bikes and kayaking the last 8k.
CyclingVang Vieng to Thalat
After a relatively gentle 24 km we reach the fishing village of Tha Heua where you can see all manner of salted fish being sold by the road. We end the day in Thalat which is known for the exotic fare in it’s local market. We are not far from Na Nam where we usually eat dinner in the floating restaurant.
Cycling Thalat to Vientiane
Our last day of cycling starts with last two short but hard climbs, before the road levels out for the 95 km all the way to Vientiane. Here the land is agricultural passing paddy fields and more intensely farmed areas. As we near the Lao capital of Vientiane the roads, which till now have been relatively traffic free throughout our trip, start to become busier. We stay at the Inter Hotel on the banks of the Mekong.
Rest day in Vientiane
We spend a final day exploring Vientiane, the Capital of Laos. Visit That Luang, or the old Burmese Stupa or get up at sunrise to exercise with the locals or do some final shopping in the huge market. It’s a great place to chill and recover
When cycling we stay in friendly hotel, guesthouse or homestays. Some are more basic than others! Bear in mind that some of the places we overnight in are not on the standard tourist trail.In larger cities and towns, our hotels are generally more western style and are three or four hotels or resort. Please do not expect the same standard as you would your home.
Homestay in the villages is simple interm of bedding condition and ementies. We will sleep on beds or floor with mattress, clean sheet, pillow and mosquito nets. Toilet is usually western style.
Suitable Bicycle. MTB, Touring Bike, Cyclocross/Gravel bike.
At JET we hold firmly to the opinion that using your own bike, the bike on which you feel at home and comfortable is the finest way to enjoy a cycling adventure.
Most kinds of bicycle, except light-weight racing bikes are suitable for this tour: touring bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids or cyclocross bikes are all fine. Road conditions vary from asphalt to gravel and some hard packed dirt tracks. Tyre’s from 35mm in width upwards will be fine but we recommend 40mm on 700c and 2” on 26” wheels as a minimum.
South East Asia is generally a warm place so the ability to carry one or two water bottles is essential (either on your bike or in a backpack). Our back-up vehicle carries water and tools although for those competent with tools bringing your own pump, puncture kit, and multi took is recommended as it would speed up repairs and minor adjustments. If bringing your own bike please bring along a few spare spokes that fit your wheels (please note that different wheels have different size spokes). If your bike has disk brakes or hub gears please bring any components that you feel may be necessary. We carry some spares for our hire bikes but we cannot guarantee that we will have any tubes other than 26” car type valves. Tyres and tubes other than 26” can be difficult to come by in many parts of the world so please make sure you have spares. If in doubt please ask at your local bike shop. A means of carrying your camera, sunblock etc is also useful – either an on-bike bag, handlebar or saddlebag for example, or a lightweight day-pack.
Recommendation: Although our hire bikes come equipped with a saddle if you have a saddle you use and are happy with it is strongly recommended that you use it on tour. If you use SPD type shoes please bring your own matching pedals. We are happy to fit these for you. You may also like to bring bar ends if you use them at home.
ESSENTIAL! Please be sure that your bicycle is in perfect condition before you leave home. Again, if in doubt please consult your local bike shop.
If you wish to hire a bicycle for the duration of your holiday with us we can arrange for the hire of good quality cycles from our in-country agent. Typically these bikes are mountain bikes, often Trek 4 series or similar. Please request a hire bike at the time of booking, fields to do so are on the booking form. Payment for hire bikes can be made with the balance of the tour payment or in cash on arrival.
Rental Bicycle Recommendation. Although our hire bikes come equipped with a saddle if you have a saddle you use and are happy with it is strongly recommended that you use it on tour. If you use SPD type shoes please bring your own matching pedals. We are happy to fit these for you. You may also like to bring bar ends if you use them at home.
Special offers :
– Mineral water drinking.
– Seasonal fruits.
– Fresh tissue and some fruits while touring !
What to bring :
Sun Block , Wide brim hat, Camera + Film, Comfortable shoes, Rain Gear , Warm clothes in winter, Original Passport, Small backpack , Shoes and shorts for cycling ,Sunglasses , Gloves , Professional Pedal ,Insect repellent ,Wide brim hat ,Bike water bottle (if you don’t want to use ours bottle)
Minor program changes are sometime necessary, depending on road conditions and weather.
This itinerary allows for 19 days on the cycling section. You will be able to decide for yourself at any time during each of these days how far you want to cycle. Average daily cycling distances are approximately 40 -100 km. These distances may vary according to weather, road conditions and group fitness and preferences. This is a sightseeing cycle tour, not a marathon or time trial.