Day 1: Hanoi - Mai Chau (30km cycling) (B, L, D, G). After breakfast, you’ll be driven through mountainous landscape to Mai Chau, where you’ll ‘check in’ to a stilt house in Pom Coong village, the home of a Thai ethnic minority group. In the afternoon, you’ll pick up your bike for a ride following a mountain stream along a single-track trail to the Thai village of Buoc, nestled in a deep valley surrounded by rocky limestone outcrops.
This bike ride is approx 30km in length, and involves short sections of single-track motorbike/cycle trails. The trail is fun, crossing rice paddy fields and passing through villages untouched by tourism. The beginning of the route will be challenging as it’s quite a climb for the first few kilometres, but easy enough to walk with a bike if you need a break. The remainder of the journey will be mostly downhill or flat. You’ll cycle across a rickety suspension bridge, stop to visit a small kindergarten, passing through villages and countryside. During your ride you’ll never be more than a couple of hundred metres from the motorbike support so you’ll always be within easy reach of assistance. You’ll spend the night in a local Thai minority village.
Day 2: Mai Chau - Pu Luong Nature Reserve (40km cycling) (B, L, D, G). After breakfast, you’ll continue your ride along the valley through country lanes and riding alongside the Ma River until arrive Co Luong. From there, you’ll hop on a boat travelling downstream, until you encounter the gateway of Pu Luong Nature reserve. The views along the river are lovely and you will be able to stop en-route to visit local villages on the riverbank, if you wish.
After the one hour recuperating boat ride, you’ll continue with your bike to ride into the Nature Reserve along vehicle tracks and single-track trails. There are two stream crossings to negotiate, and hidden villages to contour around. 8km into the reserve, we will stop for lunch at Hang Village.
Afterwards, you’ll cycle on the main jeep trail (a mix of hard packed gravel and clay) to Kho Muong village, nestled at the base of limestone hills. There are some steepish climbs and although the terrain is more remote, one is never far from a villager tending fields or walking back from early morning market. Upon arrival at the village, you’ll settle into a local stilt-house where you’ll stay overnight. You’ll spend the night in a Thai house (ecotourism home stay). The house is on stilts, with bedding and mosquito nets provided. You will sleep dormitory style, as is the tradition in these villages. Facilities include 2 western style toilets and a simple shower. Your diner will be cooked by your hosts and our cook, in a small kitchen attached to the main sleeping area.
Day 3: Pu Luong Nature Reserve - Cuc Phuong National Park (20km cycling) (B, L, D, G). Today there are two options for riding available. Cycle a challenging but glorious downhill single-track trail to the Nature Reserve’s only market. This ride is 12km in length, with some technical sections – a 3km steep downhill, some short sharp ascents and stream crossings) Alternatively, take the jeep trail to visit the market (Market day is Thursday and Sunday only). You’ll be able to stop at a local café for noodle soup, before riding to the end of the reserve at La Han Ferry. You’ll continue by crossing the Ma River over the newly built bridge, and cycle to the small town of Canh Nang for lunch. In the afternoon, you’ll be driven to Cuc Phuong National Park where you’ll visit the Primate Rescue Centre. Your overnight stay will be in a guesthouse in the Park.
The Endangered Primate Rescue Centre is a temporary home for many gibbons and langurs, injured or orphaned by poachers. Among them are two of the rarest species in the world, Delacourt’s Langur, confined to two or three spots in north Vietnam, and the elegant Cat Ba Golden Langur, now reduced to a colony of around 50 individuals in Cat Ba Island National Park. Strenuous efforts are being made to conserve both species. When those in the rescue centre have regained their strength, a carefully managed release programme will restore them to the wild.
Day 4: Cuc Phuong National Park - Tam Coc (40km cycling) (B, L, D, G). In the morning, you’ll drive to the starting point of today’s 7 km hike through subtropical forest, rich in flora and fauna with thousand-year-old trees and dripping vines. On the return drive to headquarters, you’ll visit a cave where prehistoric graves and relics have been found. Your lunch will be at the Park’s canteen. In the afternoon, you’ll ride the quiet roads through the Dong Giao Farm, arriving at Tam Coc in the late afternoon, where you will have the rest of the day free to relax or wander around the village. You’ll spend the night in a mini-hotel in Tam Coc.
Day 5: Tam Coc - Ninh Binh - Ha Noi (12km cycling) (B, L, G). In the morning, you’ll visit Tam Coc (“three caves”), a peaceful valley among limestone ‘karst’ hills. And be rowed along a gentle river between paddy fields and through the caves. On the way back, you’ll disembark for a pleasant stroll of about 2km through the rural scenery to Thai Vi temple. After lunch, you’ll cycle along the single lane road passing villages towards Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam. On arrival, you’ll visit two temples, one dedicated to Emperor Dinh and the other in memory of Emperor Le, followed by a brief visit to the remains of the old Palace. From there, you’ll be driven in your support vehicle to Hanoi.
- Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin room.
- Pick-ups and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicle as specified in the itinerary above
- Travel in an appropriate private air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced safe driver (On the whole trip you will have a supply car, which can give you a lift whenever you feel tired).
- The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary. Your biking trip will be escorted by a well-trained biking guide. (please note: guides will be on hand from pick-up until guests’ return to their hotel or reaching their destination). Free days or part days will not include the services of a guide unless requested and included in the final itinerary.
- Train tickets: Hanoi - Lao Cai (good local standard, soft four-berth cabin with air-conditioner Fanxipan Express/Tulico Carriage).
- One way flight tickets: Dien Bien Phu – Hanoi, including airport taxes.
- Where necessary, entry fees for all visits as mentioned in the programme.
- Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) in the best local restaurants and picnics where - No suitable restaurant is available.
- Good quality mountain bikes for all biking days in the programme.
- Drinking water and local fruit for all biking days in the programme.
- VAT and other taxes.
Please Note: Pick-ups will be by a guide and driver or, where a guide is not necessary, a driver only. All unaccompanied drivers will be briefed in advance, and will carry a mobile phone to ensure smooth transfer arrangements.
Prices vary depending on level of accommodation, group size and dates of travel. Contact us to customize a vacation itinerary and price to meet your needs and budget.
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