Lao Cai To Sapa

Discussion in 'Vietnam - General Discussion Forum' started by Jewels, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. I am going to Sapa in Nov and would like to know if it is better to rent a bike in Lao Cai and ride to Sapa or rent a bike in Sapa. I only have 5 days so time is a consideration in that I would like to either have someone pick up the bike in Sapa or take it back on the train. This is my first trip riding in Vietnam so I would like info on how safe the roads are and if there are shady practices that I need to watch out for.
  2. Never looked in to renting in Lao Cai..

    We rented in Hanoi and took the night train arriving early in the morning.
    You could do the same.. But don't take the highway back.. Find a more creative way..

    Our ride over 5 days I think it was.
    Vietnam - The remote North East China frontier

    You will have a great time.. but it will be getting wet now.

  3. I should add.. The night train in Vietnam is much better..
    Nicer, cleaner... Than the train in Thailand.

    Only thing is the toilets get disgusting as the trip goes on.
    So go early or hold on once you wake up.

  4. Thanks Brian - so I don't have to be on hyper-alter for being scammed except for maybe paying a few extra dongs for beer. The rental places I have been talking with have bikes that are only a few years old so I am not worried about them breaking down. It seems the major worry are big trucks taking up the road when going around the corners. Essentially, I should take corners very slow and stay to the side of the road? I read so many blogs of people's amazing adventures that I am really ready to make this a regular experience so I want to make sure I take all the precautions and know all the safety tips.
  5. We hired from Flamingo.. Also a supporter of GTR.
    Any breakdowns or other issues.. They give you a number to call and will help you out.

    The train is fun.. Avoid the highway.
    5 days you can see a lot.. As per our report.. Link in first reply.
    Along with safety tips .. taking corners carefully.. food etc..

    You will love it.. When are you going?

  6. I am going the second week in Nov - still can't decide if I should start in Sapa since 5 days doesn't seem long enough to do everything.
  7. Each to their own. We avoided Sapa as didn't want the touristy thing on our first trip.
    Though will go and take a look the next time and probably down to Dien Bien Phu.
  8. Yes I have heard its very touristy but thought it would be a good base to learn from - start with a day trip and then if we feel good can go out from there.
  9. You will be fine. Not sure about the Lao cai company. But if you book through flamingo. Bikes are put on train. Tickets booked.. All easy.

    They can help you plan a route with suggested accommodation..

    Just go for it.. Have fun
  10. #10 Conemeister, Jul 27, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2016
    I have done this run several years back. I hired my Minsk 125 from Flamingo in Hanoi. The ride took six days leaving Hanoi for Mai Chau for Homestay at a White Thai village. Day 2 was on to Son La...(you can turn off for Sapa from here). Day 3 to DBP for overnight. Day 4 Lai Chau via Sin Ho. Day 5 across the gate past Fansipan and onto Sapa. Rode bikes to Lao Cai to meet with Flamingo agent at train station, where bikes were cleaned, drained of fuel and sent back to Hanoi for $20 each. Bike rent in Hanoi was $22 for my bike. We then got mini bus back to Sapa. Left next day for Laos border crossing at DBP. The roads are all in great condition though Sin Ho was being built at the time (2013). Hung at Flamingo had the bikes well prepped and gave us hotel and guesthouse info for each town. There are always concerns on trust, but just go with your gut, most Viet are good people.....learn some of the language to be polite, you get treated different if they think you understand them.
    See my report here....Hanoi to Sapa via Dien Bien Phu
    Chuc May Mon....good luck.
    Enjoy the view down to Mai Chau
  11. Thanks - if all goes well I will be back in spring to do Cao Bang, Lang Son and Bac Kan.
    Will look into Flamingo - seems they are very popular here.
  12. Good info and beautiful pics - thanks for posting
  13. As an update we talked to Flamingo Travel - they said the terrain is very challenging and not suitable for riders without a lot of experience- me. However, my brother and his friend are planning on using them and spending more time riding to Sin Ho and other villages.
    Thanks again for posting
  14. Jewel, I'm gunna have to say that may be true, that may be rubbish. It depends on your riding experience and road surfaces you intend to travel. The entire journey on my trail was all on tar....95% good road. Apart from the leg between Muong Lay and Sin Ho, which by now should be completed. As October to late November is wet season, any off-road travel is definitely for the experienced.
    Most bikes for hire are 100-125cc and road speed limitations keep you at 50kph (unless you push it) plus the roads being 80% curves and bends will give you a relatively safe ride.....perhaps you should get a little riding practice in before your trip if you are keen to ride but just a little concerned. Outside of the big cities the roads are low in traffic. Vietnamese drive on the right side (like America) however sometimes they like to drive all over the be alert all the time.
    Also in answer to your original it is your first ride....hiring a bike in Lao Cai to ride to Sapa could be pretty hairy time for you as the road up the mountain is very windy and has many crazy mini-bus drivers who are always on the wrong side of the road.
    Hope you do the journey but do it wisely and take your time.
    Hotel Tip.....look for places to stay near the central market....easy to get around on foot.
    good luck
  15. I won't know until I get there if my ability is good enough but I am happy to take it slow (day trips from Sapa) since I want to spend many years riding in Vietnam. I live in HK so its easy for me to get their but I don't have a bike so I don't ride frequently. Knowing that the road from Lao Cai to Sapa will be filled with crazy bus drivers is good info - one more thing to watch out for.
    Thanks again for the insights!
  16. Jewels,

    I've been following this post with interest. Having read your comments: "I read so many blogs of people's amazing adventures that I am really ready to make this a regular experience" I felt it was time to throw in my 2 bobs worth. I like those driven by a spirit of adventure!

    Firstly you are getting the right advice in advance - many of those contributing to this post are proven riders with proven track records. It's wise to be extremely cautious on the roads in VN as you would know from many reports appearing on this web-site. That said, there is no-one better to be guiding you once you are there than Hung, there are no better prepared bikes than you can rent at Flamingo & most of all the back-up & support from Hung is unbeatable (you seem concerned at what may happen & from experience I can tell you this is one country where it is best to be fully prepared, one country where it pays to have pre-arranged local 'help'. So don't dick around, just go with the best & know you've got all possible outcomes covered!)

    The area you are planning to ride in is amongst the best in the world for both scenery & for adventure - I cant wait to read your trip report - so just keep doing your research, whilst in Vietnam ALWAYS have a local 'agent' working with you (Hung is unquestionably the best) & get out there & go for it.

    Safe trip, I've no doubt it will blow your mind away!
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Thanks Rod for chiming in - yes I feel I have a much clearer idea as to what to expect on the mountain roads. Hung was also clear to me that their concern is safety first which gives myself and my brother more confidence in renting from Flamingo. He and his friend will do the longer rides since they both have over 20 years of experience. Will post an update after our trip.

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