The valleys of Northwest Vietnam are home to a bewildering number of minority tribes, most of whom retain their unique tribal traditions. Named Montagnards, or mountain people, by the French, these colourful people still live as they have for centuries, forging a life high in the mountains. Easily distinguished by their colourful tribal costumes, the Hmong, Dai and Tsao are the most conspicuous of more than 100 different ethnic groups in the mountains.
Starting in Hanoi, we take the train to the scenic hill-station of Sapa and ride the amazing mountain trails around Fansipan, Indochina's highest peak, before riding over a 2 km high mountain pass, the first of many. This tour goes to a part of Vietnam where few foreigners ever venture and you’ll be amazed at the colourful clothing of the many ethnic tribes as you ride through valleys and river gorges to Dien Bien Phu.
Meet in Hanoi before we catch the Tulico Express, the overnight train to Lao Cai, to the start of our adventure.
After an early morning arrival in Lao Cai, we transfer to the hill station town of Sapa and check into our hotel. Test out the bikes with an off-road ride to Ta Phin.
The day starts from the hotel with a long uphill to Tram Ton Pass, at 1,900 m, the highest road in Vietnam. An exhilarating downhill to a valley will lead us onto an off-road trail to Lai Chau.
Another tough uphill starts the day, but the scenery is out of this world, and continues with our descent through a picturesque gorge formed by the Nam Nin River.
It is impossible to count the number of hill climbs and descents on today's ride, but the reward is being in a remote area with a chance to see many ethnic villages that very few foreigners visit.
Enjoy a morning in the history-rich Dien Bien Phu, perhaps visiting the war museum and a local market. We then head to the airport and fly back to Hanoi.