Remote Vietnam and Laos by Bike

Day 1 Meet in Hanoi

We meet in Vietnam's capital of Hanoi. You have time to explore the city on your own before we gather for dinner and a trip briefing.

Church Boutique Hotel Hang Gai

Day 2 Hanoi - Tam Coc

A day exploring the countryside and local artisans. We have a short transfer out of the city to avoid traffic and start with a lovely ride on a dyke along the Red River, a perfect quiet place to get used to cycling in Vietnam. Our first stop will be Bat Trang, known for its handmade ceramics. The pottery is quite varied and interesting. We then cycle south into the heart of the delta, passing through many traditional villages and rice fields. We have a two-hour transfer to lunch in Tam Coc. In the afternoon, it's back on the bikes to ride a bit off road amongst karst cliffs to a small pier. We board a boat for a leisurely cruise on the Ngo Dong River and float through three natural caves, the largest of which is 125 m long. Sit back, relax, and see rural Vietnam from a different perspective, taking in the dramatic limestone karsts jutting out from the green rice fields. We disembark and cycle back through the karst cliffs to visit Thai Vi Temple, one of the oldest temples in Vietnam, built in the 13th century.

Tam Coc Rice Fields Resort
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 58km

Day 3 Tam Coc - Cuc Phuong

We start cycling from our hotel in Tam Coc for a flat ride to the town of Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of the Dinh and Ly dynasties. The route is stunning as you pass green rice fields amongst karst mountains. After a stop to visit Dinh Le Temple, built in the shape of a Chinese character in the 17th century, we continue pedalling along the Hoang Long River through some impressive landscape. The first 35 km are flat and then we'll have some small climbs up to the park, but they are all short. Upon arrival at Cuc Phuong, Vietnam's largest national park, we visit the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, where a wide variety of native monkeys and gibbons, including critically endangered langurs, were saved from wildlife smugglers and are being rehabilitated to return to the wild. After the visit, we continue cycling to the centre of the park and have the option to transfer or cycle the 20 km back to our overnight accommodation in the park.

Cuc Phuong Guest House
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 77km

Day 4 Cuc Phuong National Park - Mai Chau

After breakfast, we take a short transfer to Lanh An, where we start our cycling on a small tarmac road with dramatic mountain scenery and along the Buoi River. We cycle past local villages of Muong people and their fields of rice, corn, cassava, and sugarcane. After a lunch of Pho at a local restaurant, we have a short transfer uphill to start our afternoon ride with a descent to Mai Chau, as there is no better way to enter this paddy-filled valley than by bicycle. We arrive with plenty of time to enjoy a dip in the pool or the sunset view from your balcony at our luxurious lodge.

Mai Chau Eco Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 62km

Day 5 Mai Chau - Quan Son

After breakfast, take a guided stroll around Mai Chau Valley, where we can admire the superb panorama of Mai Chau surrounded by a green valley and stilt houses. Be sure to bring your camera! Back at the hotel, we check out, hop on the bikes, and cycle from Mai Chau to deep inside Pu Luong National Reserve. After 20 km of flat terrain, be ready to start pushing the pedals as we conquer the biggest hill of the day with a 550-m climb over 17 km. But the effort is well worth it for the exhilarating downhill cruise to Dong Tam. We have a picnic lunch en route at a stilt house of ethnic Thai people. Once we reach Dong Tam, we load up the bikes to avoid construction and transfer 35 km to our hotel in Quan Son.

Mien Tay Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 75km

Day 6 Quan Son- Na Meo Border - Vieng Xai

This morning, we transfer 53 km to the border, where we'll be met by our Laos guides. We acquaint ourselves with our new bikes and start our ride to Vieng Xay. Our ride will be along streams and through karst landscapes interspersed with rice paddies. Our destination today is historic Vieng Xai, once the war-time headquarters of Laos’ communists, famous for its remarkable landscape of karst limestones honeycombed with caves that were used as shelter during the relentless bombing raids. Along the way, we’ll see a number of historic caves, including the Lao-Cuban Hospital Cave.

Naxai Guesthouse 2
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 58km

Day 7 Vieng Xai - Xam Neua

After breakfast, we head to the Vieng Xai Caves Visitor Centre to get our bearings and get ready to go on the audio tour. The Vieng Xai Caves are an extensive network of caves in limestone mountains. Four hundred and eighty of these caves were used by the Communist Party army to shelter from American air raids during the Second Indochina War, also known as the Vietnam War. We use our bikes to get from cave to cave and walk through the caves listing to the commentary and audio effects. After lunch, we get back on the saddle and cycle to Xam Neua, Houaphanh’s provincial capital, through a number of traditional ethnic villages.

Xayphasouk Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 30km

Day 8 Transfer to Bankhoua & Nam Nern Night Safari

We have a rest and go on a different type of adventure, a safari within the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area. The area is known for its forest, high level of biodiversity, and endangered species, including tiger, gaur, Sambar deer, and white-cheeked gibbon. We transfer from Xam Neua to the starting point of this adventure in Ban Sonkhoua. Along the way, we stop to see the 100-m long cascade over rock slabs of Saleuy Waterfall. When dusk comes, we head out for wildlife-spotlighting down the Nam Nern River on long-tail boats that drift downriver for the best chances of spotting wild animals. We overnight at simple but well-appointed bamboo huts with the sounds of the jungle surrounding us.

Nam Nern Eco Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9 Ban Sonkhoua - Meuang Kham

After breakfast, boats will float us back to Ban Sonkhoua, where we get on our bikes to start riding again. Today is all about magnificent downhills! Our first spectacular descent will bring us to lunch on the Nam Nern riverbank in Ban Sop Lao. After lunch, we transfer to Ban Souanmon, from which we’ll cycle through the mountains towards our second outstanding descent onto the Xieng Khouang Plateau. The day ends at Ban Xang Hot Springs, where we’ll be staying the night in a community lodge.

Ban Xang
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 63km

Day 10 Meuang Kham - Phonsavanh

After a hot spring bath and breakfast, we start our traverse of the plateau, which is home to the mysterious Plain of Jars, a World Heritage site. We ride through numerous villages and have an overall gradual climb for the first part of the day as we end up at 1100 m from our start point of 500 m. Once we are up on the plateau, the landscape changes to grassy plains. This area was one of the most heavily bombed in Laos and evidence of unexploded ordinances (UXO) are everywhere. Resourceful locals use bomb casings and other remnants, putting them to use as fences, tools, vegetable planters, decorations, and barbecues.

Vansana Plain of Jars Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 69km

Day 11 Plain of Jars

We cycle to visit the mysterious prehistoric Plain of Jars and learn the many theories of their existence. We start with a visit to Site 1, where there are also many visible bomb craters, and continue to Site 2, where the jars are set up on a hillside. We have lunch at Site 2 and then you have the option of cycling the 20 km back to town or taking the bus. You have the afternoon free to visit the MAG Office-UXO Visitor Information Centre to watch their movie for a fascinating insight into the legacy of the Second Indochina War, aka the Vietnam War. There are numerous restaurants in town, and you can choose which you prefer as dinner is on your own tonight.

Vansana Plain of Jars Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch
Ride 50km

Day 12 Phonsavanh - Phou Khoun

We head east to Phou Khoun with the first 50 km to Nongtang, a large natural lake surrounded by high limestone cliffs, a relatively flat ride compared to our previous hills. Stop for a photo of the lake, and then it's a quick 27 km, as the last 14 km are all downhill, on to our lunch spot on the Nam Chat River. We transfer the final 60 km uphill to Phou Khoun. We arrive in time for you to enjoy the sunset and stunning view from your guesthouse.

Sala Phou Khoun
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 77km

Day 13 Phou Khoun - Luang Prabang

We have an overall descent to Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the banks of the Mekong River. For those that want to cycle more, they can leave early from guesthouse and be picked up 32 km along the route. We then all transfer up 20 km to our starting point. From here, we have a glorious 18-km descent to Ban Khoua Nam Ming. Here we have lunch and prepare for a 14-km post-lunch ascent. We have one more swooping downhill before we are down on the rolling flats. We ride into charming Luang Prabang and to our riverside guesthouse. We head out to the temple-filled town to have our last dinner together.

Sala Prabang
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 112km

Day 14 Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Loop

The final day of the tour consists of a bike ride to Pak Ou for a visit to the striking limestone Tham Ting and Tham Teung Caves, set in a cliff at the confluence of the Ou and Mekong rivers. The caves are packed with thousands of Buddha images. On the cycle there, we stop at Ban Xang Hai, where you get to watch Lao rice wine production and do some sampling too! After lunch at Ban Pak Ou, we’ll be returning to Luang Prabang by boat. We return to the hotel around 3 pm, so you can freshen up before your onward journey.

Breakfast, Lunch
Ride 30km