Hanoi to Sapa via Dien Bien Phu

Discussion in 'Vietnam - Motorcycle Trip Report Forums' started by Conemeister, Nov 4, 2014.

  1. Conemeister

    Conemeister Ol'Timer

    This seven day ride was done in April 2013 on a YBR125 and a Minsk with a refitted 125 from the guys at Flamingo Travel Hanoi.

    Day 1. A three hour ride from Hanoi to Mai Chau for overnight stay in $20 homestay village in the rice paddies. Dinner, breakfast and comfy bedroll with a White Thai family and entertained with traditional dance and music. The view from the mountain down to the valley is totally inspiring, great sweeping roads in all locations and low in traffic, sometimes felt we were the only ones on the road.

    Day 2. Mai Chau to Son La, about 6 hours. Continue on QL6 great roads along the mountains edge in and out of valleys and along river edged roads. Stop for great meals and of course a Cafe Su Da (iced coffee). 3 star hotel with lockup garage for the night and stroll around for a great meal at $5 with beer!! Son La has the old French Prison worth the visit.

    Day 3. Son La to Dien Bien Phu, 6 hours. Continue on great roads low in traffic, only the mad bus drivers to worry about. Some great photo ops and quiet towns to stop for the obligatory iced coffee. Arrive in DBP to another glorious statue to Vietnamese strength during wartimes. Many guesthouses near the bus depot for $20 or less and a hot shower.

    Day 4. DBP to Lai Chau, 7 hours. Head out to Muong Lay on QL12. Road quality lessens here due to roadworks along the river valley. Stop at Muong Lay for lunch and check out the valley, mostly under construction for a few dams....the place is to flooded out soon for irrigation. From Muang Lay we take a shortcut to Lai Chau via Sin Ho....no one said it was under construction though, 60 kms of dirt and mud through the mountains and a wrong turn for 30 kms due to my ignorant fellow rider, made for good video though. Finally hit tar on a 3 lane freeway with absolutely no other vehicle on it to arrive at Lai Chau for the night. Hot shower tonight. Try and find another westerner here.

    Day 5. Lai Chau to Sapa, 3-4 hours. Take the QL4D across the mountain tops, beautiful snaking roads up and down valleys, amazing views, waterfalls and Vietnams highest peak, Mt. Fansipan at 3000 metres....these roads your on are at 2300 metres. Each curve and bend in the road presents you with another view of the mountain. We eventually get a glimpse of Sapa ahead and throttle up to get to the mountainside retreat. Great accommodation at $25 with views across the valley and villages to view Fansipan from another angle. Pfftt, off with the bottletop and cheers to a great ride. A 2-3 day stay here before sending the bikes back to Flamingo on the train at Lai Cao and our exit to Laos for the New Year fun.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017
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  3. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    An interesting report (better late than never) with some useful information on travel times. From the video it seems as if the weather was kind & the skies relatively clear giving you the chance for some panoramic vistas.
    Any still shots or places you'd highly recommend.
    How good is the coffee in VN!
    Cheers mate.
  4. Conemeister

    Conemeister Ol'Timer

    Thanks Rod, yes the weather that time of year is great, not hot, a little rain but nothing serious. Best places...they are all good. Mai Chau is a farming town, predominantly rice, has a great market and good to stroll around. Son La is a big town, not to many westerners. DBP could spend a few more days at, well made divided roads. Interesting place because of its history. Sitting in Muang Lay overlooking the river, great windy roads from here on as you climb into the mountains at Sin Ho. Sapa, just right, very laid back, no hustle n bustle. Screenshot2014-11-09114313_zps5e1974d7. SEAsia2013-059_zpsf1f58ec3. SEAsia2013-038_zps5e742f92. SEAsia2013-027_zps21d716ca. SEAsia2013-017_zps9bbd9510. And yep that coffee is just the best....better down south tho. Cheers
  5. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Ah the pictures take me back......
    I found the best coffee was in Buon Ma Thuot - there's a very up-market shop there selling ALL the varieties they grow & it's a very worthwhile visit. I'm sure I covered it in my report on the area.
    You had good weather - given the difficulty in getting ideal weather conditions I think all riders should have in the back of their head the idea of heading straight for Meo Vac - arguably VN's most scenic run, if not the whole of SE Asia.
    Tks for the shots.
  6. Iwantablackrz

    Iwantablackrz Ol'Timer

    Love that shot from the top of the mountain. Mai Chau I assume?

    I did a similiar trip but in the reverse order (and bigger riding days). Son La is a pretty little place. Ugh. Miss it.
  7. purcitron

    purcitron Member

    looks great.
    what the best place to see rice terraces by motorbike in northern vietnam in may please? sa pa?
  8. Conemeister

    Conemeister Ol'Timer

    Do the Northern Loop, Hanoi - Cao Bang - Ha Giang - Lao Cai - Sapa....return via Son La, Mai Chau and Hoa Binh
  9. purcitron

    purcitron Member

    how long could that take? at a leisurely pace, but without stopping for more than 1 night at a time.
  10. Conemeister

    Conemeister Ol'Timer

    Purcitron, it will take as long as you want it to. If you read below my journey via DBP took 5 days to get to Sapa. Due to speed restrictions in Vietnam (40-50k) a 200 km ride could take you 6 hours plus with stops. The train from Hanoi to Lao Cai is about 8hrs. Its really up to you how far you wish to ride in a day and still take in the scenery or what may be worth a visit along the way. Check out Flamingo Travel in Hanoi on self guided tours to get some ideas. Mr Hung is very helpful. http://flamingotravel.com.vn/

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