The ultimate trip of contrasts. Experience the majestic mountains of Ha Giang and then the picturesque central coast of Vietnam. This trip runs Hanoi to Hoi An.
The mountains of the far north are a unique landscape in Vietnam and until relatively recently were only partially under centralised control. In line with this, tourists were restricted from this area. Even today its relative isolation means that it is a rarity to see any other travallers.
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.
To balance out the experience, we have combined this challenging, highly rewarding mountain ride with a section of our popular coastal cycling route that ties the former Imperial Capital of Hue to the ancient port town of Hoi An. And what better place to finish than next to a world heritage listed town and a lovely beach.
The riding is some of the most amazing in South East 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 a ride to remember and if the memory of burning leg muscles aren't enough to remember it by, then your amazing photographs certainly will be.
13 days duration
585 km distance
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
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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.
The accommodation in the mountains is far from luxurious, but you can always expect a clean room with a private bathroom, and we make some small, Grasshopper adjustments to help you get a good night sleep. In Hanoi and in the coastal locations, we stay in lovely, 4 star hotels with character, charm and mostly with pools. In the case of one property, it is a little aged, but a fantastic place to stay.
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.
Take It Home
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 10
This tour is guaranteed for a minimum of just 2 travellers. And we limit the group size to only 10 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 Mountains & Beaches: Ha Giang to the Coast
Arrival Day in Hanoi
Our first hotel is located on the edge of Hanoi's Old Quarter. An
airport pickup will be provided for convenience. Once you have settled
in, a wander around the immediate area will give you a great feel for
this vibrant city with its distinct culture. We meet at 5pm for a
briefing and then walk to dinner, a meal that will be a highlight in
Transfer to Ha Giang, Explore by Bike
It is a long drive to get to Ha Giang Province as never was a remote and untouched area easy to reach. We'll leave early morning and stop along the way at a couple of points of interest, arriving just after midday. It's then 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 a full day yesterday, we will glide into the third day of our adventure. After taking our time at breakfast, we set out on our first proper ride. We initially follow the river along an undulating landscape and after the first short climb and descent, we reach a village for lunch. We push on into the second climb and 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 today is called Heaven’s Gate. We have a short descent into Tam Son, a tiny community clinging to the side of the hill. A short exploratory ride or walk is a great way to see out the day. The village is surrounded by limestone hills and traditional style houses.
Cycle to Meo Vac
A 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 hill-tribe 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, Transfer back to Meo Vac
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, but 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 climb, pronouncing your climbing achievements. 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 Meo Vac.
Cycle to Bao Lac
It's reward time. After all those days of climbing today comes the inevitability of physics as we descend for a continual 30km on 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 these will be nothing more than a blip. We roll into the small town of Bao Lac in the mid afternoon.
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 today. Our destination is Ba Be, a stunning lake in the mountains where we can enjoy a celebratory beer or juice in the knowledge that the challenging part of the ride is done. Meals: BL
Transfer to Hanoi, Fly to Hue
In the morning there’s time for quick paddle on the lake. We leave mid-morning for the drive back to the airport in Hanoi where we board our flight to Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Meals: BLD
Hue Day Ride
We explore Hue by bike and aside from the most well-known sites of the Forbidden City and Tu Duc's Tomb, we will take in some lesser known ones, such as the mini colosseum where the Emperor would have tigers and elephants do battle for entertainment. We also visit a local monastery for a great vegetarian lunch before taking a boat back to the hotel.
Cycle to Lang Co
We ride south along a sandy peninsula. This area was the exit point for many of those who left during and after the US-Vietnam war. Today much of the area is covered in tombstones as it is not only an important place for the families of those who died trying to flee, but it is also considered a suitable burial spot in the principles of the Vietnamese equivalent of feng shui. We ride two short passes today, but are mostly on flat coastal road with hardly any traffic at all. We pass a number of small fishing villages and a large lagoon before arriving at our breathtaking and peaceful destination of Lang Co Beach where we stay on the beach with a huge mountain range in the background.
Cycle to Hoi An
This morning after a warm-up around the lagoon, we climb Hai Van Pass. This is the coastal tip of the Bac Ma Range which has a dividing effect on the climate of the area. The weather on the north of the pass can be very different to that on the south. As we pass the top we see French and US bunkers and some stunning views out over the coast and into Danang, Vietnam's third largest city. After descending and passing the outskirts of Danang, we make our approach to Hoi An where we stay on the beach, not far from the ancient town.
Day Ride to My Son
The Kingdom of Champa, an originally Hindu one, before a mass conversion to Islam in the 15th Century, controlled much of the land in what is now central and south Vietnam. The only remnants of this kingdom today are a small number of scattered and partly intact clay towers. The most famous of these is My Son which is to where we ride today. We take some brilliant back trails through lovely farmland to reach the site, and after some time to explore, we return to Hoi An to celebrate the conclusion of our ride with yet another great dinner. Meals: BLD
Conclusion of Tour in Hoi An
There are no activities planned today, so you can leave anytime that you wish. Should you wish to stay on in Hoi An, we can arrange bookings at the tour hotel. Meals: B
What's the Riding Like?
Very hilly terrain
10 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. The absence of a rest day, due to there not really being a suitable location for one, makes this ride just that bit more challenging, with only one day off the bikes between days 2 and 12. Having said this, the pattern of the ride has been set so that after a challenging, long ride, we balance it out a little with a shorter, easier ride.
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.
Create Your Own Date
Don't see the date for this tour to suite your schedule? No problem - create your own date. Chose the dates that you would like to travel and as long as you are happy to open the tour to other people joining 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 3 months in the future. This just gives us time to promote the trip and find other people to join you.
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 do our best to get a group for the dates you choose but we cannot guarantee standard pricing until we achieve a minimum of 2 people.
3. This offer is subject to availability. In peak season we may not have the capability to add tour dates to our already busy schedule.
What our guests tell us...
Just a selection of reviews from some of our Pioneering Tours.
Thang (our guide) and his team were top class: professional, organised, helpful, passionate, knowledgable, and made everything run like clockwork. It is impossible to put into words just how outstanding this tour is. We experienced authentic Vietnam...
Every day was a new adventure! The riding was challenging but very fun, especially downhill! I had an amazing trip surrounded by amazing people! Any problem we faced got worked out. Even though some things
didn't go as planned, it all went pretty smooth.
Excellent adventure with very high standards of hotels, food, crew, company and knowledge of two thousand years of history.
What a fantastic experience! I understand this trip is relatively new but was executed flawlessly by Thang, a professional guide who is able to connect on a personal level. The route was well thought out and ordered, the regions were diverse and special places to visit, and I have pretty much only good things to say about the trip at the end of it. Highly recommended.
This was an outstanding trip. Thang was a great guide, the bike and equipment were first rate, and the experience was excellent in every way.
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