Conquer Vietnam's breathtaking northern region
A challenging, yet highly rewarding, compact expedition by bike into the remote lands of Ha Giang. Here the geography, people and food provide a unique learning experience.
This bike tour runs from Hanoi and returns.
This tour is well-suited to using our optional Pedal-assist E-bikes, perfect for cyclists looking for a boost up the hills or more casual riders. Find out more in the 'Trip Features' section below.
The hilltribes of Northern Vietnam have become so iconic that you may feel already somewhat familiar with them. However, the truth is that those tribes, who still live in their traditional ways, exist only in the most remote areas of Southeast Asia. Ha Giang Province, open only relatively recently to travellers, is surely one of the best places left to witness the culture of these people- and on two wheels, even better!
This unspoilt, sparsely populated region is home to a staggering variety of hilltribes, many of whom don't even communicate in the national language and who live by their traditional, subsistence farming ways.
Not to mention the cycling is some of the most amazing in Southeast Asia. Every day offers a different terrain, gradient, vista and climate as we climb and descend the various altitudes of the Ha Giang Plateau. This is an unforgettable ride and if the memory of your burning leg muscles isn't enough to remember it by, then your amazing photographs certainly will be.
This is an ‘On Request’ tour - We understand active travellers value flexibility and we do our best to accommodate every request. Simply propose your travel dates, bring one or more companions and you will receive our standard price - no private tour markups.
More details below the itinerary.
7 days duration
350 km distance
E-Bikes option: $330
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
What makes Grasshopper so special?
Find out how your next ride goes the extra mile.
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To help you enjoy the more challenging terrain of Northern Vietnam we use GIANT 'Anyroad' bicycles on this tour. These are more suited than our regular touring bikes for tackling some of the climbs we will encounter on the journey. As with all our bikes they are well maintained but also feature a lighter overall weight, a taller headtube and increased toptube stand-over distance for confident handling, wide range of gears and are suited to varied riding surfaces.
Simple to use and a pleasure to ride the Trek Conduit+ pedal-assist bike expands touring possibilities for all riders, and anything that enables people to explore more of the world by bike is a great thing in our books! Find out more about our E-Bikes here.
Always striving to deliver a premium tour experience Grasshopper Adventures are the first (and currently only) to offer pedal-assist e-bikes as a tour option in Southeast Asia. An upgrade can be purchased for this trip, availability is limited and on a first-in basis. After making your online booking our support team will follow-up requesting your bicycle preference (E-bike or regular).
The accommodation in the mountains is far from luxurious, but you can always expect a clean room with a private bathroom. We make some small, Grasshopper adjustments to help you get a good night sleep.
An experienced English speaking, local leader will host you on this trip who is well spoken, very well informed, and charming. Our leaders are often cited as being the main highlight of the tour. We use local leaders who have a passion for their country and are always well informed on topics ranging from history, politics, cuisine and importantly local customs and cultures. Our leaders will take pride in introducing you to every aspect of their country and will help you to connect with the villagers you meet along the way.
For groups of 5+ people a bike mechanic will join the group. Whilst not a master of linguistics, our technical team always make an effort to form a bond with the group and provide not just mechanical support, but additional encouragement to those who may find themselves at the back of the group. Our drivers support the group by ensuring that the freshest fruit and tastiest snacks are picked up along the way.
An air conditioned backup support vehicle is always available in case you want a break from riding, and to carry your luggage.
A cuisine that has evolved with the culture and landscape of Vietnam provides for an astounding level of variety. Having said this, the Ha Giang area is remote and is reliant on subsistence farming, so while the food is guaranteed to be tasty and nutritious, there may not be a huge amount of variety in the hills. Included meals are listed in the day by day itinerary, and drinking water is always included with meals. Any soft or alcoholic drinks are not included and will be at your own expense.
Energy bars and local snacks are provided to keep your energy levels up for the riding, and clean water and electrolyte drinks are always available to keep you well hydrated.
A beautiful souvenir Grasshopper cycling jersey is yours to wear and take home. We also provide a Grasshopper drink bottle as an extra memento.
2 to 14
This tour is guaranteed for a minimum of just 2 travellers. And we limit the group size to only 14 travellers so that you get all the attention you want in an intimate group.
There is no surcharge for single travellers - we will match you with another same sex single traveller. If you want a single room there is a an optional upgrade that you can book.
This tour is 100% operated by Grasshopper Adventures. The guides are our full time employees, the hotels booked by our local office staff, and the bikes are part of our fleet of over 300 bikes. We are not outsourcing any element of this tour so you can be assured of 100% Grasshopper quality.
for Hilltribes of Ha Giang Plateau
Transfer to Ha Giang & Explore by Bike
It is a long drive to get to Ha Giang Province, as remote and untouched areas are never easy to reach! We'll leave early in the morning and stop along the way at a couple of points of interest, before arriving just after midday. Then it’s time to try out the bikes and take a warm-up ride of this sleepy provincial capital. The late afternoon is best spent in our simple but adequate resort, on the banks of the main river.
Cycle to Tam Son
After the first full day, we'll glide into the second day of our adventure. Let’s take our time over a good breakfast, then set out on the first ride. Our route initially follows the river along an undulating landscape and after the first short climb, and descent, we reach a village for lunch.
We'll push on after lunch and pedal into our second climb. Here is where we discover what the gradient of Ha Giang province is like. For the most part, it's a continual but predictable ascent where you will be at ease once you find a rhythm. The high pass for today is called Heaven’s Gate, and from there we have a short descent into Tam Son: a tiny community clinging to the side of the hill.
An exploratory afternoon touring a local cave is a great way to round out the day. The village itself is picturesquely surrounded by limestone hills and traditional style houses.
Challenging Cycle to Meo Vac
Our long day starts early. After a steaming bowl of noodles, an egg baguette, and a strong coffee, we finish the descent that we started the day before. Halfway down, we detour onto a minor road that takes us right down to the bottom of the valley. Here we ride through tiny hilltribe communities and eventually reach a bustling village market where a dazzling array of bright costume-clad villagers are trading everything from piglets to bamboo shoots and forest fodder.
After following a river for a short while, we see the ruins of a defensive wall of speculative age, and then we start to climb. A gradient similar to the day before is a welcome warm-up before the main climb to come after lunch. As we enter the Ha Giang Plateau, scenery that was already impressive is now nothing short of mind-blowing. At each stage, you find yourself wondering how you could continue to climb when you've climbed so far, but it goes on and on with an amazing variety of scenery. When you finally descend into Meo Vac, a beer and a feast will be a welcome sight, and the news that you have just managed the epic Ha Giang Plateau climb, is enough to ensure a good night's sleep.
Cycle to Dong Van and Hmong Palace
The news that you will continue climbing this morning may come as punishment to tired legs, but the reality is that you are about to ride one of the most scenic 10km of northern Vietnam. As you leave town, you descend slightly. Heading into the next climb you are delivered an optical encouragement, as the valley floor down to your right drops at almost the same level as you progress, pronouncing your climbing achievements. Be proud of yourself!
The huge gorges leading away from you at this point lead straight into the wild frontier land and Yunnan Province of China. You are less than 20km from a border that has been fiercely defended on various occasions by the Vietnamese, and where its porous nature makes all manner of trade possible.
After some time to soak up the sun with a coffee on the edge of the charming Dong Van Market, we may take a ride to the site of the palace of the former Hmong King. From here we take a drive back to Dong Van, a stroll around the old town and a great dinner awaits.
Downhill Ride to Bao Lac
After a decent morning climb back to Meo Vac, it's reward time. After all those days of climbing today comes the inevitability of physics as we descend for a continual 30km on a well-made road. The climate will noticeably change as we cycle, to the point where you'll be shedding layers as soon as we reach the bottom. From here we have a lovely ride of ups and downs through sleepy villages in a very different lowland setting to what we've seen on the plateau. There are still some steep little hills, but after the last few days this cycling will be nothing for your impressive leg muscles. We will then transfer the last bit into the small town of Bao Lac.
Cycle to Ba Be Lake
Today we start with a transfer of approximately 2.5 hours, bypassing the least interesting section. Our destination is an area of forests and terraced rice paddies. The scenery on today’s ride is beautiful and the route is mainly downhill. Our destination is Ba Be, a stunning lake in the mountains where we can enjoy a celebratory beer or juice with the knowledge that the challenging part of the ride is done.
Transfer to Hanoi, Tour Concludes
In the morning there’s time for a quick paddle on the lake. We leave mid-morning for the drive back to Hanoi, arriving around mid-afternoon. We will be happy to return you to your hotel or to the airport as you desire.
Create Your Own Date
On-Request scheduling is subject to the availability of guides and tour resources on the dates that you would like to travel and as long as two or more people are travelling we will charge the standard tour price - no markups!
1. You must have booked and paid your deposit for travel dates that are at least 48+hrs in the future. This just gives us time to organise all travel arrangements.
2. Create Your Own Date for this tour applies for bookings of two or more people only. If you are a solo traveller we can accommodate you for a surcharge. Please enquire for a quote.
3. All trips are subject to availability. In peak season we may not have the capability to add tour dates to our already busy schedule.
What's the Riding Like?
Very hilly terrain
6 days riding
Most of the surfaces on this ride are paved. At times the pavement is not in good condition, with potholes and sections of gravel, but for the most part, it is quite a comfortable, smooth surface. The ride is rated as 'Challenging' because of the long and numerous climbs. You will enjoy this tour greatly if you enjoy riding in the mountains.
Being 1650km from north to south Vietnam's seasons vary across the country, making it a year round destination. This also means that you will probably encounter some rain if you are travelling extensively, regardless of your month of travel.
Northern Vietnam (Hanoi & Ha Giang) is cold in the winter months (Nov-Mar), and can be damp and misty, although there are also beautifully sunny days at this time of year.
The central region (Hoi An, Hue & Nha Trang) is wettest from September to December with occasional typhoons, which can occasionally disrupt travel.
The south experiences the regular Southeast Asian monsoon between June and October, with dry sunny weather from November to April. December and January are the coolest months with temperatures rising during April and May leading to the onset of the rains.
What our guests tell us...
Don't take our word for it, listen to what guests say about our tours!
We all had the most wonderful experience with Grasshopper, far far exceeding our expectations … Having lived in Asia for a while and having done a lot of tours, Bao was by far the best guide we have ever had.
We loved seeing authentic Vietnam and being off the beaten path. Over seven days, we saw only a handful of other tourists. We really felt connected to the true essence of the country and the people.
Video testimony from other tours...
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