cycling hanoi to luang prabang (22)
cycling hanoi to luang prabang (21)

Hanoi to Luang Prabang Bicycle Tour 13 days

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Hanoi to Luang Prabang Bicycle Tour 13 days This classic ‘out there’ cycling adventure takes us through Indochina’s most spectacular mountain scenery. Starting in Hanoi we take the overnight sleeper train to Sapa, a former colonial hill station close to the Chinese border. We spend a couple of days cycling around its beautiful valleys before we set off on a long traverse of some pretty wild country, that will eventually take us into Laos. Beyond the Tram Ton Pass (2000m), the highest road pass in Vietnam, we cross into a land known to the local Hmong people as ‘beyond the clouds’, with our route snaking its way between lofty passes and steeply terraced river valleys. Staying in a succession of traditional towns we’ll discover the ‘Montagnards’, the amazingly colourful minority tribes that continue to make their living amongst these high valleys and villages. We end our Vietnam journey at the remote and historical town of Dien Bien Phu.

  • Reviews 0 Reviews
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  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Mountain Cycling, Multi-Country Cycling
  • Activity Level Tough
    6/8
  • Group Size Medium Group
    16
All about the Hanoi to Luang Prabang Bicycle Tour 13 days.

Hanoi to Luang Prabang Bicycle Tour 13 days

Routes: Ha Noi – Sa Pa – Dien Bien Phu – Luongprabang( Lao) 13day/12night ( Mixed off and Tarmac road, Trails, Single Track)

  • Explore the beautiful valleys surrounding Sapa
  • Daily encounters with a colourful mix of hill tribe people
  • The remote Tay Trang border crossing from Vietnam to Laos
  • The best backroads biking holiday in SE Asia

This classic ‘out there’ cycling adventure takes us through Indochina’s most spectacular mountain scenery, close to Vietnam’s border with China. Starting in Hanoi we take the overnight sleeper train to Sapa, a former colonial hill station close to the Chinese border. We spend a couple of days cycling around its beautiful valleys before we set off on a long traverse of some pretty wild country, that will eventually take us into Laos. Beyond the Tram Ton Pass (2000m), the highest road pass in Vietnam, we cross into a land known to the local Hmong people as ‘beyond the clouds’, with our route snaking its way between lofty passes and steeply terraced river valleys. Staying in a succession of traditional towns we’ll discover the ‘Montagnards’, the amazingly colourful minority tribes that continue to make their living amongst these high valleys and villages. We end our Vietnam journey at the remote and historical town of Dien Bien Phu. Crossing into the mountainous northern part of Laos, we will find ourselves in a country only recently emerging from its turbulent past, where it will feel as if we are riding back in time. Unused to meeting foreign tourists, the Laotians retain a rare and innocent charm. Here we mix our biking with a traditional longboat journey down the Ou River. Our adventure ends in Luang Prabang.

ADVENTURE CYCLING. Riding on a combination of quiet roads for every day, jeep tracks and village trails through a remote and rarely-visited mountainous region, this is a classic IET point-to-point journey. It is also a long and challenging trip that will suit fit and experienced riders. Starting out with a couple of easier rides, we get the legs going with some very achievable undulating rides around Sapa. With average daily ascents of 600 metres and descents of 800 metres this gets us in good shape for our route over the Tram Ton Pass with 1188 metres of ascent and 1725 metres of descent. Having built up to some challenging 100 kilometre days, our most challenging day of climbing is our ride into Muong Lay as we ascend and descend 2090 metres. With a combined total of 8500 metres of ascent and 10250 metres of descent is perfectly achievable in the time we have allowed. Support is provided for the vast majority of the trip by a combination of jeep, minibus and boat according to the condition of the road. BIKE HIRE AVAILABLE LOCALLY.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
* English Speaking tour leader (other languages upon requests)
* All accommodations base on twin-share at hotel, guesthouse and Home stay.etc…
* Meals detailed in the itinerary (B = Breakfast , L = Lunches ,D = Dinners)
* A/C transfers and transportation.
* Sightseeing excursions as outlined in itinerary
* Train Ticket from Hanoi to Lao Cai
* Pump, bike tools, spares tubes.
* Spare bike
* Mineral water drinking.
* Seasonal fruits.
* Snacks
Whats not included in this tour.Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
* International airfares
* Travel insurance and bike helmet (compulsory)
* Items of a personal nature
* Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks
* Mineral water beyond that supplied
* Single Supplement
* Optional excursions
* Additional transport required due to any emergency situation
* Personal expenses such as telephone and laundry bills
* Mountain bicycle (Bike Hire )
* Visa fees
* Departure taxes
* Tipping for guiding
  1. Day 1 Meet at the group hotel in Hanoi. Dinner and overnight at the group hotel

    Meet at the group hotel in Hanoi in the early evening. Airport transfers are not provided and we recommend that you use an official taxi from Hanoi Airport – for details see Holiday Information and the section on Joining Arrangements & Transfers. JET Land Only package services begin with dinner at the hotel, during which the local guide will brief the group about the week ahead

    • ACCOMMODATION Hotel
    • MEALS (D)
  2. Day 2 Guided city tour of Hanoi, including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Sleeper train to Lao Cai.

    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 take in some of the many highlights. Departing after breakfast, we will 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 also walk through the former president’s gardens including a visit to his house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. His former home illustrates the modesty of this Vietnamese revolutionary. After this depending on time we will visit one or two of the many pagodas that that are found around the central Hoan Kiem Lake. We will take lunch in the old quarter after which you will have the afternoon to explore this bustling area of narrow streets and alleys, home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. After an early evening meal we will go to the train station to catch the overnight sleeper (the King  Express) to Lao Cai, near Sapa. The train is a very civilized affair with compartments sleeping 4 and a refreshment carriage serving food and drink.

    – ACCOMMODATION Sleeper Train

    • MEALS ( B,L,D)
  3. Day 3 Transfer to hill station of Sapa. Afternoon of rural riding and tribal encounters.

    On arrival in Lao Cai around 0700 hrs, we meet our support vehicle and make the short 50 min transfer up to the former hill station of Sapa (1450 m) where we will have breakfast at our hotel. Depending on availability we will check into our rooms or use a day room to shower and change and will then either assemble our own bikes or are introduced to our hire bikes. Late morning we will set out on a 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 and cycle downhill on jeep track to a Black Hmong village. We will ride 2 km of single track past rice paddies. When we reach Ta Van village, which is home to the Red Dzao people, we’ll go for a stroll around the village and learn about their unique culture and building style and then have lunch. We continue our cycle journey to Thanh Kim village riding on terrain of gentle hills and on a tarmac road. The village is situated in a high mountain area and from the Thanh Kim village we will 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 at a hotel in Sapa.

    – ACCOMMODATION Hotel

    • ASCENT 850m
    • DISTANCE 45km
    • GPS DATA View now
    • MEALS( B,L,D)
    • DESCENT 850m
    • TIME4 – 5 hrs cycling
  4. Day 4 Cycle the dirt tracks and challenging hills of the Sapa Village Loop.

    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, which is home to the Black Hmong. Here we’ll 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 usually transfer back to Sapa to wash the bikes, but you can cycle the extra 15 km if you wish. 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 have a meal in one of the towns many restaurants.

     -ACCOMMODATION Hotel

    • ASCENT 300m
    • DISTANCE 20kmGPS
    • DATA View now
    • MEALS( B,L,D)
    • DESCENT 700m
    • TIME 2 hrs cycling
  5. Day 5 Road climb over the Tram Ton Pass (2000m). Superb 25km descent to La Chai.

    Today we ride out of Sapa and complete the relatively easy 15 km road climb up to Tram Ton pass, the highest road pass in Vietnam at 2000 metres. 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 (3143m) the highest mountain in Indo China. At the small town of Tam Duong we will 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 Lai Chau a new modern open plan administrative capital.

     – ACCOMMODATION Hotel

    • ASCENT 12000
    • DISTANCE 75km
    • GPS DATA View now
    • MEALS ( B,L,D)
    • DESCENT 1700m
    • TIME5 – 6 hrs cycling
  6. Day 6 A day of hilly riding through market towns to the riverside village of 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, followed by a long sweeping downhill. The first half of today’s route is amongst mountains and rice terraces, whilst the second part is alongside the Nam Na River, with towering mountains on both sides of the road. The afternoon ride toward Muong Lay is overall flat with a few slight dips and rises to keep things interesting. This pleasant town is at the triple confluence of the Nam Na River, the Nam Lay River and the Da River.

    ACCOMMODATION Hotel

    • ASCENT 1150m
    • DISTANCE 105km
    • GPS DATA View now
    • MEALS  (B,L,D)
    • DESCENT 1850m
    • TIME6 – 7 hrs cycling
  7. Day 7 Another superb day of backroads cycling to the historic town of Dien Bien Phu.

    After a hearty breakfast we first follow the river for 15 km, an area which has suffered from severe flooding over the years, before starting our first climb of the day over a further 19 kms we reach a pass at 860 m which has an excellent tea shop for refreshments. The average gradient of the pass is relatively easy averaging around 6 -8%. Dropping down to a plateau around 400 metres we will stop regularly at some of the last hill tribe 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 paddie fields on the final flat stretch into the historic town of Dien Bien Phu.

    – ACCOMMODATION Hotel

    • ASCENT1600mDISTANCE100km
    • GPS DATA View now
    • MEALS (B,L,D)
    • DESCENT 1500m
    • TIME6 – 7 hrs cycling
  8. Day 8 Cycle the historic war memorial sites of Dien Bien Phu. Afternoon free for further exploration.

    Today we’ll explore war history of Dien Bien Phu. Our first stops will be the excellent new war museum which gives a really good insight on the climactic battle in 1954 when the Viet Minh communist revolutionary forces defeated the French Union forces in the Dien Bien Phu which led 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 visit the site of the Dien Bien Phu Campaign Headquarters. Shortly into our ride the climbing begins, which lasts for about 15 kms, but this section can be transferred. Thereafter our route takes us amidst forests and a large reservoir which provides water to two hydroelectric projects. We cycle back down to Dien Bien Phu where you arefree for the evening to discover local dishes.

    • ACCOMMODATION Hotel
    • MEALS ( B,L)
  9. Day 9 Cross te border into Laos. Cycle through tribal villages to the sleepy village of Muang Khoua.

    Today we say goodbye to Vietnam and hello to Laos. We start the day with a 20 km transfer to the quiet border crossing (1130m) where it takes between 1-2 hrs to complete immigration formalities. We’ll 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 kms before dropping down to Tat Muang Khoua (390m) a small sleepy market town built on a steep hillside at the confluence of two rivers, offering plenty of great viewpoints

    • ACCOMMODATION Hotel
    • ASCENT 950m
    • DISTANCE 70km
    • GPS DATA View now
    • MEALS (B,L,D)
    • DESCENT 1700m
    • TIME4 – 5 hrs cycling
  10. Day 10 A day to lean back and relax. Long boat journey down the Nam Ou River to Muang Ngoi.

    No journey through the emerald lands of Laos is complete without experiencing 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 hrs we will stop off at one of the local villages and go for a short 2km hike to another riverside village that is a centre for local handicrafts and excellent for souvenirs. Lunch on the beach and then rejoin our boats for the final hour to Muang Ngoy. Surrounded by jungle, sheer limestone cliffs carpeted in vegetation and looking down onto the river this is the number one chill out spot in Laos. It has only recently got electricity and a number of small restaurants and bars have opened, the first real coffee machine only arrived this year! On arrival we check into a small bungalow complex where the rest of the afternoon free to spend at your leisure. You are free to hike to the nearby ethnic Lao villages and there are also caves where locals lived during the “secret war” to explore. We meet up for a riverside dinner.

    – ACCOMMODATION Bungalow

       MEALS (B,L,D)

  11. Day 11 Cycle fast flowing dirt trails through remote Lao action countryside to Nong Kiau.

    After a short 15 min boat transfer to the western side of the river we will rejoin our bikes and ride down to Nong Kiau primarily on dirt tracks . This section will have no support vehicle. We’ll cycle through some ethnic Hamong 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 really technical but fast flowing hard pack with the some shallow stream crossings and should be well with the capabilities of anyone on this trip. The last 6 kms are on tarmac into the tourist town of Nong Kiau where we will have lunch and check into our comfortable and charming guesthouse that overlooks the Ou River. Anyone who wishes to jump on the boat instead of cycling is welcome to do so, it will bring the luggage down anyway. In the afternoon there is a chance to cycle to the fascinating limestone caves were the villages sheltered from the carpet bombings of the USA in the “secret war”.

    • ACCOMMODATION Guesthouse
    • ASCENT 400m
    • DISTANCE25km
    • GPS DATA View now
    • MEALS (BLD)
    • DESCENT 400m
    • TIME2 – 3 hrs cycling
  12. Day 12 Ride a long and challenging route to the historic UNESCO city of Luang Prabang.

    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 a number of short climbs that never climb more than 50 metres 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 River, LP 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 town we head to our central hotel and then freshen up for our farewell dinner.

    • ACCOMMODATION Hotel
    • ASCENT 900m
    • DISTANCE 145km
    • GPS DATA View now
    • MEALS (BLD)
    • DESCENT 900m
    • TIME5 – 6 hrs cycling
  13. Day 13 Depart from Luang Prabang.

    We are Land Only package services end with breakfast at the hotel. You can arrange your transfer to Luang Prabang Airport with the assistance of the hotel reception desk.

    • ACCOMMODATIONHotel
    • MEALS (B)
Our Accommodations

Our Accommodations:

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.

Our Homestays:

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.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance.
Our Accommodations

Our Homestays

Bicycle Advice

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.

Rental Bicycles

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.

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