Most tours exploring Northern Vietnam stay in the north-west part like Dien Bien Phu (famous for its battleground where the French finally “lost” Indochina), Sapa, (a charming mountain town) and Nghia Lo (famous for its rice terraces).
We decided to do something different and to ride roads less travelled. Our adventure in Vietnam started on the way to the market town of Bac Ha. Trusting Google Maps we “ended up” on a buffalo track across the mountains. A stretch of 40 km took us four hours to cover. Hence we learned it the hard way to better stay on roads which are marked on the physical maps…..
From Bac Ha, our adventure continued over the mountains along the border with China. Covering endless hill tribe villages, spectacular scenery and plenty of corners and twists. The ride to Ha Giang took a full day.
The next day, a scenic highlight of our journey was ahead of us. The road “snaking” over mountains and through villages and valleys. The scenery is truly not to describe. It feels like you want to stop every second km to take a photo. Especially the last stretch to Meo Vac was outstanding.
From Meo Vac, we continued on more curvy mountain roads to the Ba Be Lake. Another full day of riding and full of impressions and enjoyments. At the lake, we loaded the motorcycles on a boat and explored the lake for a couple of hours.
Compared to the rides we normally do in South East Asia, Northeast Vietnam is very different. The landscape is more dramatic, the area is less developed and the roads are less travelled. Hence not too many tourists make it to this part. The riding is technically more demanding, the accommodation is more basic and so is the food. All in all, this makes the experience rewarding, a journey of a lifetime.