Welcome to redspokes Adventure Tours Ltd. Cycling with Altitude!

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Vietnam N.E

Itinerary


Day 1: Hanoi

Vietnam's beautiful and tranquil capital lies at the heart of the northern Red River Delta. It is a city of lakes and leafy boulevards that still retains an air of French colonial elegance. The fine coffee and perfect baguettes have led some to call Hanoi the 'Paris of the East' but the city's roots go all the way back to 1010 AD. On arrival in Hanoi, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in the old quarter. This afternoon you have time to look around the city and explore more of Hanoi's old quarter. This ancient part of Vietnam's capital city is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets each named after a trade or guild. Nowadays it is lined with tempting restaurants, guest houses, shops and cafés but the past never seems far away. This is a charming place to either unwind or visit some of the many attractions, the most popular being the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. 

Accommodation: Hotel 


Day 2: Hanoi -  Lao Cai

We will check our bikes this morning before a vehicle transfer to Lao Cai, the border city to China. This is the principal town in Lao Cai Province in North Eastern Vietnam, bordering Yunnan province, China. The border was closed from 1979 -1993 following war with China and the town mainly consists of modern architecture constructed since then. The town is now a popular destination for those journeying between Hanoi or Sa Pa and Kunming in China, and a key trading post. 

Accommodation: Hotel (B, L, D)


Day 3 : Lao Cai - Bac Ha

Our cycling begins with 45km on gently inclining sealed road towards an uphill route over the mountain pass to Bac Ha. As we cycle up to the pass the final 15km are a tough 800m climb on unsealed road as the terrain becomes more challenging. Our efforts are rewarded with panoramic views of surrounding mountains. Bac Ha is famous for the delicious plums that grow in forests on the hillsides.

Cycling Distance: 62km (38 miles)
Total Climb: 1,115m (3,658ft)
Total Descent: 202m (663ft)
Accommodation: Guest House (B, L, D)


Day 4: Bac Ha - Xin Man - Hoang Su Phi

We're back on the bikes today cycling to Xin Man. Our route takes us into some of the remotest areas of Northeast Vietnam. The ride begins with a 10km climb of around 400m on newly sealed road before we turn off onto unsealed rough track for the next 15km heading into rural tribal areas. Then it's a massive descent of 1000m to Xin Man. Located right on the Vietnamese/Chinese border Xin Man is hidden away in a landscape of wild mountain and forest and inhabited by 15 ethnic groups including the Nung, the Flower H'mong, the Tay, La Chi, Kinh, Hoa. After lunch we cross over the river Cahy for 40km of cycling along quiet road; there is a gentle incline as we approach Hoang Su Phi. We encounter some rough sections of road along the way but are rewarded with beautiful views of the river.

Cycling Distance: 78km (48 miles)
Total Climb: 1,509m (4,951ft)
Total Descent: 1943m (6,375ft)
Accommodation Hotel: (B, L, D)


Day 5: Hoang Su Phi - 'Heaven Gate' pass to Tan Quang and along the Lo River to Ha Giang

Hoang Su Phi is one of the most untouched regions of Vietnam and communities have lived in total isolation from mainstream society until very recently. At an average elevation of 800 m above sea level with high mountains, deep valleys, streams and forestland, it is an area of outstanding natural beauty and unspoiled traditional life. Today we undertake the challenge of cycling over the 'Heaven Gate 2' mountain pass +895m, en route to Tan Quang. The pass offers stunning views beneath a wide open sky.

You really will feel on top of the world. This afternoon we make our descent cycling past villages, rice and maize terraces cultivated by the Red Dao and Tay tribes. The aromatic scents of cardamom and star anise fill the air as we pass along our route to Tan Quang nestled down in the valley. For the final stretch of this long day's cycling we take it easy with a leisurely cycle of 46km along the Lo river bank through unspoiled countryside to Ha Giang the sleepy capital of Ha Giang Province and approx 215 miles (350 km) Northwest of Hanoi. This is the old Silk Road.

Cycling Distance: 105km (65miles)
Total Climb: 1,074m (3,523ft)
Total Descent: 1,440m (4,724ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B, L, D)

Hoang Su Phi to Tam Quang (59.69km)

Tam Quang to Ha Giang (44.93km)
Afternoon


Day 6: Rest Day Ha Giang

Ha Giang is situated on the banks of the Lo River just below its confluence with the Mien River and in between the Mo Neo and Cam Mountains. Tay, Nung, Red Dao and White Hmong people all inhabit this region We have a day off the bikes today to relax after our exertions yesterday. The town has an ancient culture dating back to the Bronze Age and the tradition, still alive today in the local tribal communities of making bronze drums, dates back to this era. Ha Giang saw a number of minority uprisings against the French during colonial times. More recently it was badly damaged during war with the Chinese in 1979 and there are many new buildings.

Ha Giang is a market centre; much of the tea grown in NE Vietnam is produced in the surrounding area and sold in the town. As well as green, yellow, black and scented varieties the speciality tea is Shan Tuyet. As our route continues to the border areas we will need to arrange our tourist permits here.

Accommodation: Hotel (B)


Day 7: Ha Giang to Quan Ba

Setting off this morning we head out of town cycling for the first 25km on relatively flat road through the landscape of terraced rice paddy fields. Passing through minority villages we cycle the next 25km up winding roads into the vast limestone mountain range with its perpendicular walls of rock, climbing 800m towards the mountain road pass 'Heaven gate'. As we pass through mountain villages sometimes covered by cloud, we will receive a friendly greeting from the local communities. From the pass we can look down at amazing views, including the famous vista of the Tam Son valley with the 'Twin Hills and can spy Quan Ba town, our destination, in its beautiful location. It's mainly downhill for the last 15km into Quan Ba.

Cycling Distance: 50km (31 miles)
Total Climb: 1,107m (3,632ft)
Total Descent: 349m (1,145ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B, L, D)


Day 8: Cycle Quan Ba to Yen Minh

We will want to take our time today as our beautiful surroundings offer numerous photo opportunities and the rocky limestone and karst terrain is as diverse as it is beautiful. We cycle uphill for the first few km before a descent of around 10km and then relatively flat terrain for the next 10km. It's a challenging up and down terrain to an altitude of 1.025m before we make a final descent for the last 15km into Yenh Minh. We will have the chance to see the traditional homes of the local hill tribes. The communities in this area are Chinese.

Cycling Distance: 53km (33 miles)
Total Climb: 6,65m (2,182ft)
Total Descent: 1,131m (3,711ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B, L, D)


Day 9: Yen Minh Climb over the Rocky Plateau to Dong Van, and Meo Vac.

Today we cycle on semi-surfaced quiet roads as we undertake a challenging uphill ride out of dense cedar forest onto the rocky Dong Van plateau. A registered UNESCO Global Geopark, 80% of the terrain is covered by rock and it is said to contain fossils from 400-600million years ago. Nestled in a valley in the heart of the Rock Plateau, is the isolated town of Dong Van, very close to the Chinese border and surrounded by mountain forest and multi-coloured orchids. Meaning 'sharing culture' Dong Van is occupied by Chinese Hoa, and H'mong, Tay and Kinh People. The houses are built in Chinese style.

As we cycle on the modest road from Dong Van to Meo Vac alongside a vast gorge, the views are spectacular. This is a winding and undulating road with the sight of the Nho Que River below. From the Ma Phi Leng Pass we look down from an altitude of around 1500m into the valley. We stay tonight in the small town of Meo Vac. Most of the tribes living here have preserved their way of life from outside influence as travelling to Meo Vac was almost impossible until the recent construction of new roads.

Cycling Distance: 70km (43 miles)
Total Climb: 2,256m (7,401ft)
Total Descent: 1,605m (5,266ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B, L, D)


Day 10: Meo Vac to Bao Lac

There is a market daily in the town centre of Meo Vac used mainly by the White Hmong, Tay and Lo Lo hill tribes. Women dressed in their brightly coloured traditional clothing walk into the town carrying their bamboo woven baskets laden with corn and vegetables. Today we follow a remote mountain road to Bao Lac. After a 5km uphill cycle we make a 20km descent the follow a fairly flat road for the next 10km. The surrounding landscape with predominantly limestone formations is a surreal vista of peaks, troughs, towers and caves. The crops and dwellings seem to perch precariously on the hillsides. There's a relatively gentle uphill climb of 250m before we descend for the final 30km along flat terrain. We will pass people from the local minority communities along the way dressed in their vibrant tribal costumes. We stay tonight in Bao Lac.

Cycling Distance: 74km (46 miles)
Total Climb: 1,004m (3,293ft)
Total Descent: 1,770m (5,807ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B, L, D)


Day 11: Bao Lac to Nguyen Binh

Even in this isolated mountain town there is a busy morning market. We set off for a full day of cycling along challenging terrain but the road is quiet and well surfaced. We cycle through a pretty valley to the tin-mining town Tinh Tuc, heading on to Nguyen Binh. We continue along challenging terrain, but the unparalleled beauty of our surroundings more than compensates for the challenges of the cycling.

Cycling Distance: 88km (55 miles)
Total Climb: 1,845m (6,053ft)
Total Descent: 1,571m (5,154ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B, L, D)


Bao Lac to Tinh Tuc (72.54km)

Tinh Tuc to Nguyen Binh (15.46km)


Day 12: Nguyen Binh to Hanoi

This morning we pack up our bikes and have a transfer back to Hanoi. We can relax this afternoon and enjoy the bustle and lively pace of Hanoi after our journey through the remote mountains.

Accommodation: Hotel (B)


Day 13: Hanoi to Ha Long Bay

We transfer this morning to beautiful Ha Long Bay. This spectacular UNESCO World Heritage site is the world's largest marine limestone 'karst' landscape. Travelling on a wooden junk, modelled on traditional Vietnamese court sailing boats, we will see some of the Heritage areas and quieter grottos and caves.

You can swim, fish and take a walk up hill for an unforgettable view over the bay. You will also have the opportunity to travel into some sea level caves in a small sampon. All meals will be provided on board (mainly seafood based).

Accommodation on the junk is twin, ensuite. (B,L,D)


Day 14: Ha Long Bay to Hanoi

This morning we will cruise Ha Long Bay, and enjoy a late brunch. The boat trip finishes around midday and you will be transferred back to Hanoi to arrive late afternoon.

Accommodation: Hotel (B,L)


Day 15: depart Hanoi

We will arrange a transfer to the Hanoi International Airport for your flight home.

(B)

Vietnam Cycling Holidays

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