Book a tour: 10+ Northern Vietnam Motorbike Routes

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Northern Vietnam has some of the best motorcycle riding in the world, according to many motorcyclists who have a passion for a motorbike tour in Vietnam. The north of Vietnam has the most spectacular scenery: the mountains are taller, and the passes are higher than everywhere else in the country.
We regularly receive emails from seasoned motorcycle riders who tell me that the north of Vietnam, with the potential exception of northern India such as motorcycle tour in Laos, is the best riding they've ever done. We've compiled a collection of 9 Great Northern Vietnam Motorbike Routes Routes from all of my northern motorcycle guides on this page. You should be able to design your own 'Northen Vietnam motorbike routes' by connecting these nine guidelines and following them from east to west across the northern part of the country. Read on!

Scenic ride in Ha Giang

Nine Great Northern Vietnam Motorbike Routes

In this section, we will provide you with a list of detailed “motorcycle tour Vietnam to Laos info”. 

The Limestone Circuit

Limestone peaks, beautiful valleys, terraced rice fields, and minority villages make up the scenery.

This guide is divided into five pieces that follow the loop anticlockwise (although you can ride it in either direction). The Limestone Loop is a figure of eight that runs from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, passing through Mai Chau, Pu Luong, the 'Lao Loop,' and the Ho Chi Minh Road.

Thanh Hoa Province, located southwest of Hanoi, has beautiful landscape and excellent riding highways.

Wonderful view from Ma Pi Leng pass down to Nho Que river

Spend 6-8 days riding the Limestone Loop to get the most out of it, while three days would do for those with less time. Apart from the Laos Loop, there are gas stations at fairly regular intervals. 

The main route and side routes have some difficult road conditions, which I have noted on my map as best I can. Spring (Feb, March, April, May) and early autumn are usually the greatest seasons (September, October, November). Remember that the winter months (December-February) can be bitterly cold and foggy.

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Route Of Harvest

Rice terraces, verdant valleys, rivers, mountains, and minority communities make up the scenery and landscape.

The terraced rice fields of Mu Cang Chai, a rural region in northern Vietnam's Yen Bai Province,  put on a show of stunning harvest colors each year between September and October. Hundreds of terraced rice paddies, cut into the slopes of steep valleys, are lit up by the autumn sun in the fresh, dew-drenched daybreak. Ripe rice has a brilliant gold-green and toast-brown hue. The 'Theatre of Rice,' as we like to call it. Despite its popularity among domestic travelers and Asian visitors, Mu Cang Chai is not mentioned in many popular English-language guidebooks. 

A picturesque motorbike ride or drive along Highway QL32 between the little towns of Tu Le and Mu Cang Chai, across the steep Khau Pha Pass, is an excellent way to enjoy the show.' This is what we call the 'Harvest Route,' a 50-kilometer stretch of picture-perfect scenery that, in the right weather, will quickly fill your camera's memory card.

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Organic Mu Cang Chai rice field for safety food of our world. Natural way farming of rice field in organic rice field

Loop Extremely Northwest

The scenery and terrain include remote frontiers, mountains, rivers, rice terraces, and minority communities.

As a result, local authorities and law enforcement may restrict your movement. They had improved the roads, which now passed through the mountains, going further and deeper into the highlands of the northwest. This path can also be made into loops. They lead through a precarious road between Lao Cai and Dien Bien Phu, and also pass through mountain peaks some of which are as high as 1,000 feet. You know a geological collision that created the Himalayas, whose southeastern end is marked by these peaks.

The road from Lao Cai to Dien Bien Phu has a length of 800-900 km if you choose the main route. There are other routes that you can choose such as going directly through QL12 and QL4D, or going around between QL6 to Sin Ho. It will take from 2 to 7 days for whichever route you choose, of course depending on the external conditions.

The roads here are in good condition, though quite far, and there are still towns and villages with accommodation. However, if there is heavy rain, there is a high chance that a landslide will occur and you will not be able to cross this route for hours or worse, days.

If you come across here, you need to have the patience and flexibility to deal with the worst cases. Riding through it takes a lot of time, because if the landslide doesn't stop you, the local government will, because the government is always concerned about the border areas. But don't worry too much because most of the time they are very polite.

Sin Ho Loop

The official distance is 320 kilometers. However, there is an extra side loop that adds another 80 kilometers to the total trip. 

Each portion does not have to correlate to a single day on the road. The loop might be completed in two days. As the roads are steep and winding, progress is slower than in the lowlands, and the scenery is spectacular. You'll want to take frequent breaks to take in the sights. Three to four days is ideal. 

Landslides are prevalent after heavy rains and can close highways for hours or even days. Unfortunately, weather in this location is difficult to anticipate, and conditions can vary rapidly at any time of year. The good news is that the majority of the roads on this circle have been rebuilt or are in the process of being upgraded. 

Below is my comprehensive guide to the Sapa-Sin Ho Loop, which includes a route description, recommendations for where to stay, eat, and visit, as well as an annotated map.

Scenic route from Lai Chau to Sapa, incredible ride on O Qui Ho mountain pass!

Y Ty Loop

The Sapa-Y Ty motorbike loop can be accomplished in one day for skilled cyclists (and with an early start). Two days, on the other hand, is far more pleasant and allows you to stay at one of the many homestays along the road. 

Although this route may be ridden in either direction, We recommend beginning from Sapa and riding clockwise around the loop. The Sapa-Y Ty Loop can be completed in two ways. 

Either as a literal 'loop' (see blue line on map), returning through Lao Cai on-road QL4D, or as a 'P'-shaped loop, returning by road DT158 from Bn Vc to Bn Xèo (see red line on map) and then retracing your outward path back to Sapa on the road DT155 and QL4D. Regardless of which option you choose, the overall distance is 195 kilometers.

Beautiful sea of clouds and mountains in the first spring of the year in Y Ty, Lao Cai, Vietnam

Border and Back-roads Loop 

Mountains, gorges, borderlands, terraced rice fields, and minority communities make up the scenery and landscape.

We've sketched three routes between Sapa and Ha Giang on the map below. The Border Route (355 kilometers) follows the remote Chinese border; the Alternative Route ( 480 kilometers) takes a scenic detour before rejoining the Border Route; and the Direct Route (235 kilometers) stays mostly on main roads, missing out on much of the remote and spectacular scenery on the other two routes. 

We've also included numerous side routes, but if you have the time and preferably a competent off-road motorcycle, there are many more gorgeous back-roads to explore. 

This guide is divided into four sections that ride from Sapa to Ha Giang along the Border Route. Each portion does not have to correlate to a single day on the road. Depending on weather and road conditions, we'd recommend spending 2-5 days on this tour. 

Any of the three routes highlighted on our map can be ridden in either direction, or a loop can be created by going out on one and returning on the other. 

If at all possible, plan your motorcycle trip to coincide with a weekend, as all of the villages along this road feature vibrant markets that attract ethnic minorities from all over the region. Spring and fall have the nicest weather, with the latter coinciding with the rice harvest's vibrant colors. My favorite month is September.

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Sky road riding in Ha Giang

Extreme North Loop

There are thousands of options, all of which lead through breathtaking terrain with views like this.

This motorcycle guide is divided into four sections. However, we've added a few side trips as well as alternate routes. 

You can choose to continue southeast, start from Meo Vac then head to Bao Lac, bypassing the circle. The main route is 350 kilometers long in total. Though the ride can be completed in two days, the breathtaking scenery warrants two to five days. 

Foreign visitors still need a permit to access this area, according to the law. Though it is now merely a formality, visitors can purchase the permit for $20 once they get to their lodging. 

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Bamboo rafting in Khau Vai, Ha Giang

High Roads Routes

Three other routes between Ba Be Lake, Cao Bang, and Ha Giang are shown on the map below. The Border Route is distant and less used, while Ba Be Route is a mix of infrequently national highways and traveled roads. 

Most of the time, the weather here is pleasant, but there is a lot of rain from June to August, while the weather can be quite cold from December to February. 

From Ha Giang to Cao Bang, three gorgeous (but unpredictable) paths cross the mountains.

Mountain pass in Cao Bang, Vietnam. Mẻ Pia pass in Cao Bang, Vietnam.Landscape of area Trung Khanh, Cao Bang, Vietnam

Northeast Loops

Five motorcycle loops in the northeastern provinces of Cao Bang, Lang Son, and Bac Kan are plotted, discussed, and illustrated in this blog. All five routes are depicted in various colors on the main map. Each of the five routes, however, includes its own map with considerably additional information, such as road conditions, motels, visit, eat, and drink. 

Whatever of these five routes can be used and stitched together in any way you like to make longer or shorter loops. 

We'd recommend spending at least a few days riding the northeast loops because they are all quite picturesque and enjoyable to bike. From March to October, the weather is at its best; from November to February, it might get frigid. 

There is an abundance of lodging in the major northeastern cities, as well as some decent homestay places sprinkled around the region (see each separate route map for specific suggestions). Vietnam Motorcycle Tours has a shop in Cao Bang where you may rent a bike

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In this article, we've produced a list of 9 Northern Vietnam Motorbike Routes from all of our northern motorbike guides. By connecting these nine criteria and following them from east to west or west to east across the country, you should be able to create your own 'Great North Route.' Hit us up at:

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