Hanoi to Luang Prabang – bike and hike

  • The mighty rivers and spectacular karst mountain ranges become the focus of the trip as we skirt the edges of the two watery snakes for a long time. Once you are done with the trip, you will miss them.
  • Hike into the clouds at this sleeping beauty in Northwest mountains. Discover some untreaded trails here.

Northern Vietnam and Laos are home to mountains covered with lush tropical forests. The rolling terrain combined with gradual long climbs from low-lying riverside valleys to highlands are just perfect – a cyclist’s delight. Here you get to ride along the beautiful rivers and through spectacular karst mountain ranges and hike the lush valleys. This is an excellent way to experience life in the highlands of Vietnam & Laos. The rivers are the lifelines here and you can soak up the beautiful vistas of this intriguing country, at a leisurely pace and meet its people too, on a hike and the slow boats.

Quick Facts

  • Duration

    14 days / 13 nights

  • Start / End

    Hanoi, Vietnam / Luang Prabang, Laos

  • Hotels

    Casual Inns

  • Riding Style

    Active Rider

Group Departures

PRIVATE TRAVEL

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GROUP TRAVEL

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ITINERARY

Brief Itinerary

* with shuttle
DayPlaceHotelDuration~ Cycling Distance
1HanoiSilk Path Boutique Hotel
1
2Hanoi-Lao CaiSapaly Overnight Train1
3SapaEden Boutique120km / 12mi
4Lai ChauMuong Thanh170km / 42mi
5 – 6Sin HoHomestay260km / 36mi
Hiking
7Muong LayLan Anh 1160km / 36mi
8Dien Bien PhuHim Lam170km / 42mi*
9Muang KhuaNew Chaleunsouk165km / 39mi*
10OudomxayLao Charming Hotel 1100km / 60mi
11Pak BengMekong Riverside Lodge180km / 48mi*
12 – 13Luang PrabangHoungVilai Hotel230km / 18mi
14Departure

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Hanoi

Arrive in Hanoi and enjoy at leisure.

Day 2: Overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai

Get ready to bike the busy streets of Hanoi visiting some of the cultural and historical highlights of Hanoi. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda, which was constructed nearly a millennium ago, and is delicately elevated in a pond. Also visit the Temple of Literature, dating back close to a thousand years, is a wonderfully preserved piece of ancient Vietnamese architecture and stands to honour the scholarly achievements of the country’s academics and philosophers. Continue exploring the area around Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake, old quarter including Ngoc Son Temple, which sits perched on a little island in the lake. In the evening, we convene over dinner.

Later take an overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai. The train journey is included in your tour price and the tickets will be emailed prior to your journey.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: Lao Cai to Sapa (1600m)

Meet your tour guide at Lao Cai railway station and get transferred to Sapa. This morning, take a short hike around and visit some of the ethnic villages. After lunch, we go for a short bike ride, giving a glimpse of spectacular karst scenery and what is to come in next few days.

Sapa is a spectacular hill station and home to region’s largest ethnic groups, H’mong and Dao people.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 30km / 18mi
Shuttle: 1.5hrs

Day 4: Lai Chau (700m)

A classic ride today. Starting from your hotel at Sapa, we make a gradual climb up to Tram Ton Pass (2000m), Vietnam’s highest mountain pass on the northern side of Fansipan and 15km from Sapa. The climb is rewarded with enchanting views of terraced rice fields, tea plantations and innumerable streams. Enjoy a sheer drop to 750m in about 25km to the Lai Chao side. We stop here for lunch at roadside restaurant and continue cycling to Lai Chau. Scenery is spectacular throughout the day and gives opportunity for plenty of landscape photos. The region is mainly inhabited by white Thai and White H’mong people.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 70km / 42mi

Day 5: Sin Ho (1600m)

Sin Ho is regarded as a sleeping beauty. You’ll be surprised that hardly anybody comes here and yet it boasts some of the best mountain scenery in this region. Another amazing day on a bike as we ride the old highway and reach Sin Ho. A tough day on a bike today, rewarded with amazing views all around.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 60km / 36mi

Day 6: Sin Ho District

Hike into the clouds at this sleeping beauty in Northwest mountains. Discover some untreaded trails here.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Muong Lay

Go for another hike in nearby area and discover the local life at close quarters. In the late morning, get ready to bike towards Muong Lay. Another good day on bike as we make way past amazing topography to Muong Lay. Mostly a downhill ride today.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 60km / 36mi

Day 8: Dien Bien Phu

Today is a long riding day. We cross few not-so-high passes along the way before arriving at Dien Bien Phu. The river plays a big part of today’s cycling journey as we ride largely along Nam Na river flanked by bananas and bamboo plantations, and past lush paddy fields.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 70km / 42mi*

Day 9: Muang Khua

We take a transfer to Tay Trang, the border town between Vietnam and Laos. You can also apply for Lao Visa here. Meet our Lao guide and continue riding to Muang Khua. This is one of the most unvisited parts of Laos and the experience is truly unique.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 65km / 39mi

Day 10: Oudomxay

To get to the Oudomxay, we ride along the Nam Pak River. Along the way, notice how the homes are made of wood and bamboo. An undulating ride dotted with forests and river streams.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 100km / 60mi*

Day 11: Pak Beng

Today it’s a long full day cycling to Pak Beng. This is one the most spectacular stretches of long mountain road. The road is dotted with small villages and this is a great way to get acquainted with local rural life. The dramatic limestone and green rolling hills formations make for great photographic opportunities. There will be plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the wonderful scenery. The journey passes through beautiful mountain ranges and H’mong hill tribe villages.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 80km / 50mi*

Day 12: Luang Prabang

We transfer to pier and board a huge traditional Mekong riverboat for the upstream cruise to Pak Beng, departure at 08.00 hrs. This portion of the Mekong is very remote, which sometimes allows glimpses of wildlife in the extensive forests. There are occasional stops at local hill tribe villages to meet people and observe life on the riverside. Lunch will be served on the boat. Enjoy the lovely scenery along both sides of the Mekong cruising to today’s destination.

Arrive at Luang Prabang and enjoy a feel of an open air museum. The evening is on your own before we meet for dinner.

We recommend to spend the evening by walking the old quarter of Luang Prabang, starting at Heuan Chan Heritage House and after to Luang Prabang’s National Museum, formerly the Royal Palace. Displayed within is a collection of personal artifacts of the former Laotian Royal Family. Visit nearby Wat Mai – the five-tiered roof epitomizes the graceful Luang Prabang architectural style. Continue walking along the Mekong River and stop at the hillside temple of Wat That Luang. Take a short walk and visit the ancient stupa called That Dam (the Black Stupa) before walking to Wat Visoun, the oldest living temple in Luang Prabang. Wat Visoun dates back to 1513 and contains a collection of antique wooden Buddha images. Continue along the Nam Khan River to Wat Xieng Thong – often considered to be Luang Prabang’s most elegant. The temple is characterized by tiered roofs sweeping low to the ground and the impressive “tree of life” mosaic. Before sunset, walk back to your hotel on the town’s main street, stopping at Wat Sop and Wat Sen along the way.

Dinner is at a Local NGO who train marginalised youth for careers in the Hospitality industry. It is also one of the most exciting menus in town, a great balance between traditional and modern flavours.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Boat: 6 hrs

Day 13: Luang Prabang

Our main destination for the day is the hidden waterfall, Kung Si. Tucked away between thick foli-age, the famous waterfall feels like a secret. The aqua marine waters are tempting, so do carry your swimwear along.

On our way to the waterfalls we make a stop at Great Project (called the Laos Buffalo Dairy), a project designed to educate the Rural communities in Animal Husbandry and basic animal health care. They rent the Cattle from the villagers to enable a secure income for the community and use the milk to create Cheese and Spectacular Ice Cream. Lunch is served Picnic style here and there is also an opportunity to get a unforgettable ‘Buffalo Selfie’.

On arrival at the falls, hike to the top before bracing Crystal clear waters. We spend until afternoon here and return to the town. Shopping for local delights can be great fun, so enjoy your shopping time for the day.

Today’s dinner is on your own. We suggest eating dinner at a street stall so you can dig into the local delicacies. street stall so you can dig into the local delicacies. Lao food can be very meat ori-ented. Chopped meat, chicken or duck are common, but there are plenty of options for vegetarians as well. Our personal recommendation is the light and tasty Tam Mak houng or papaya salad, which is made from sliced raw papaya, garlic, chilly, peanuts, sugar, fermented fish sauce and lime juice.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Distance cycled: ~ 30km / 18mi*

Day 14: Departure – Luang Prabang Airport

In the morning, we recommend to walk up to Mount Phousi for a beautiful tinge of orange in the sky and seeing the city bathe in the arm glow of the setting sun.

Please make arrangements as per your onward journey.

Meals: Breakfast

*With shuttle – short transfers

REVIEWS

from our friends

“Dao was phenomenal, the best guide I have ever had in all of my travels. He made us feel like family and taught us so much about Laos, the people, cuisine etc. It was a very special trip because of him. Driver mr dan was great too! Thank you Pankaj, we had a fantastic time and appreciate all you did to organize and make the trip special for us. Please keep us posted on any additional trips that you add! Happy new year!”

Nicole & AndrewUSA

INSPIRATION FROM THE ROAD