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Vietnam to Laos

Itinerary

Day 1: Hanoi

redspokes Vietnam to Laos cycling tour begins in Hanoi.  On arrival you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in the old quarter. If you arrive early in the day you will have time to explore the maze of narrow cobblestone streets each named after a trade or guild. Here you will find market stall traders hard at work plying their wares and an array of restaurants and street cafes where old men sip their coffee or bia hoi (beer) and watch the world go by. The buzz of a passing motorbike is never far away and this is the tourist hub of the city. There will be a group meeting with your guide this evening at the hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel


Day 2: Hanoi to Yen Bai

After breakfast we transfer the group out of Hanoi and drive part of the way to Yen Bai. We will ride the last 32km to Yen Bai taking in our first few climbs, a gentle warm up for the days to come. We arrive into Yen Bai late this afternoon.

Cycling Distance: 32km (20 miles)
Total Climb: 514m (1,686ft) 
Total Descent: 376m (1,233ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)


 Day 3: Yen Bai to Nghia Lo

Our first full day in the saddle takes us cycling on the back roads to Nghia Lo. We'll enjoy a spectacular ride through undulating terrain of tea plantations, lush forests, rice fields and gum trees. Nghia Lo town sits on a mountain ridge overlooking the Red and Black River and is home to the Thai, Nung, H'mong, La Ha and Ma peoples.

Cycling Distance: 82km (51 miles)
Total Climb: 964m (3,162ft) 
Total Descent: 778m (2,552ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 4: Nghia Lo to Tu Le

Today we will cycle out of Nghia Lo passing large white limestone mountains as we explore the "real Vietnam". We climbing gradually over the day following rolling road with a final downhill into a beautiful valley to end the day in Tu Le.

Cycling Distance: 48km (30miles)
Total Climb: 1,042m (3,418ft) 
Total Descent: 645m (2,116ft) 
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)


Day 5: Tu Le to Than Uyen

Leaving Tu Le we begin the day cycling the famous Khau Pha Pass riding through a scenery of terraced paddies. We ride on cycling through rugged terrain with dense vegetation. During the day we will encounter the Black Hmong and mysterious White Tay people, who are famed for their folk music, poems and songs. The road winds down out of the hills and we descend into valley to end the day at Than Uyen.

Cycling Distance: 86.4km (54 miles)
Total Climb: 1,373m (4,545ft) 
Total Descent: 1,471m (4,826ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B,L,D)


Day 6: Than Uyen to Sa Pa

From Than Uyen we begin cycling with a gentle 15km ascent to ride along the Hoang Lien Son mountain range through a magnificent landscape. Then, from Binh Lu Junction there is another hard ascent of 26km as we ride to the top of the Tram Ton Pass, on our way to Sa Pa. We stop en route to visit the "silver waterfall", before descending into Sapa for the final 15km.

Cycling Distance: 95km (59 miles)
Total Climb: 2,073m (6,801ft) 
Total Descent: 1,098m (3,602ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 7: Sa Pa

A well-deserved rest day. Sa Pa is an old French hill station perched at 1,600m in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains near the Chinese border. Its position offers some of the best vantage points from which to admire the surrounding mountain peaks.

Famous for breath-taking landscapes, Sa Pa is also a place to see the great diversity of ethnic minority peoples. Go for a walk in the market where a colourful display of hill tribe people mingle wearing their intricately embroidered traditional dress. It is no wonder French colonialists saw Sa Pa as the perfect summer retreat.

Accommodation: Hotel (B)


 Day 8: Sa Pa - Lai Chau

We begin the day with a hard climb out of Sa Pa retracing our steps back out of Sapa, heading for the Tram Ton Pass (1,900m; 6,230 ft) the highest mountain pass in Vietnam. After about 12km we pass the 100m-high Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall) once more; the loop track is steep and scenic. With a few more km before we reach the peak we may glimpse Mt Fan Si Pan: (if it is not cloaked in mist and fog) this is S.E. Asia's highest peak and the last major peak in the Himalayan chain. The Tam Tron is a dividing point in NW Vietnam's climate, we leave the cold conditions in Sa Pa behind us once over the peak. After a descent of a few hundred metres over 20km we will experience warm sunnier conditions. Our second climb of the day overe 15km is gentler and then it's downhill towards Lai Chau and a smooth final 7km to end the day.

Cycling Distance: 72km (45 miles)
Total Climb: 1,207m (3,959ft) 
Total Descent: 1,835m (6,020ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 9: Lai Chau to Muong Lay

We leave Lai Chau cycling on climbing, winding road through lush green valley. For some of our route today we will be riding on rough roads, through narrow gorges as we follow the Na River to Muong Lay passing through Black Dao villages. The Dao worship spirits and ritually sacrifice pigs and chickens. Dao women's clothes are embroidered with intricate weaving, silver coloured beads and coins. It is said that the wealth of a woman can be judged by the weight of the coins she carries. We cycle across the Hang Tom suspension bridge to reach Muong Lay.

Cycling Distance: 107km (65 miles)
Total Climb: 1,002m (3,287ft) 
Total Descent: 1,748m (5,734ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 10: Muong Lay to Diên Biên Phu

Crossing again over the suspension bridge we then begin an uphill climb for 20km. Over the pass we cycle a descent of around 100m over the next 5km before we are climing again up over another peak. We have a longer downhill ride over the next 20km. And so it goes on. We are surrounded by rice fields and jungle, cycling through winding valleys on roads that snake across beautiful countryside. In 1954 the Vietnamese achieved the impossible, carrying heavy artillery into the mountains to defeat the French Garrison at Diên Biên Phu. As you cycle this route you will wonder at how this was ever achieved. The surrender at Diên Biên Phu marked the end of French influence in Indochina. It is not widely known that the US had developed a plan to aid the French by using tactical nuclear weapons at Diên Biên Phu.

Cycling Distance: 103km (65 miles)
Total Climb: 1,566m (5,541ft) 
Total Descent: 1,226m (4,547ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,)


Day 11: Diên Biên Phu - Muang Khua

Today is one of the most challenging days of the trip. Leaving Diên Biên Phu, we bid farewell to Vietnam and cross into Northeast Laos at Tay Tran. We'll have our visas checked and go through a few border fomalities. This area of Laos is the least populated part of the country. From here we travel on to Muang Khua. On the banks of the Nam Ou river and surrounded by scenic mountains Muang Khua is the largest city in Northern Laos.

Cycling Distance: 101km (63 miles)
Total Climb: 1,566m (5,866ft)
Total Descent: 1,226m (5,988ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,)


Day 12: Muang Khua to Udom Xai 

For much of today's ride on our Vietnam to Laos tour we follow a road alongside the Nam Ou River on a relatively flat route through mountain scenery and agricultural landscapes. The final 25km stretch into Udom Xai is along rolling road first climbing before we descend and climb again before a final drop into Oudom Xai. Close to the border with China, Udom Xai has a distinctly Chinese feel.

Cycling distance: 101km (50 miles)
Total climb: 1,022m
Total descent: 719m

Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 13: Udom Xai - Luang Prabang

A hard but rewarding day as we cycle deep into the rich jungle. The cycling starts with a tough climb, we then ride through rolling hills and magnificent scenery before an exhilarating 29km descent into Pak Mong. From Pak Mong we will transfer to the delightful World Heritage town of Luang Prabang. Here there are no less than 32 historic temples, ancient monasteries, the magnificent Royal Palace Museum and French colonial architecture. We stay tonight near the town’s renowned bustling night market where you can brush up on your bargaining skills.

Cycling Distance: 81km (36.28 miles)
Total Climb: 1,460m
Total Descent: 1,620m
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)



Day 14: Luang Prabang / Home

redspokes Vietnam to Laos tour ends today. This morning you will have time for some last minute shopping or sightseeing before you are transferred to the airport for an afternoon flight. 

Vietnam Cycling Holidays

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In every nook and cranny along the street, some kind of commercial enterprise was underway Rice terraces in Vietnam Man working the fields Local Kids Hanoi