Day 1: Hanoi (D)
The group will be arriving throughout the day. Our hotel is set just a short distance from the vibrant old quarter in Hanoi, so a good starting point to stretch the flight weary legs. In the evening we will meet up for a group briefing on the adventure ahead and our first meal together.
Day 2: Hanoi 25km (BL)
After a morning walk to see the buzz of activity taking place around the city, we drive to the far side of the Red River to take a ride through the countryside. We ride along the dykes that partly formed the defence strategy of Hanoi, but also protects from flooding. Most of the families in this area have lived in the same houses for generations. We enjoy a tradional lunch and then drive back to the city where we spend one more night.
Day 3: Mai Chau 40km (BL)
This morning we make an early start by car and head into the hills west of Hanoi. We pass through Hoa Binh and onto Mai Chau. Mai Chau is set in a picturesque valley with towering hills around it. Here, only 145meters above sea level live the ethnic tribe of the White Tai. We take an afternoon ride of the valley and will see rice cultivation in action as well as hand made bricks being fired in cottage kilns and farmers hard at work tending to their crops and livestock. We finish the ride at the Mai Chau Lodge where we enjoy a comfortable bed to prepare us for the challenging ride tomorrow.
Day 4: Moc Chau 95km (BLD)
We start out on the bike today and start to climb our way out of the valley. We are on a well made road today and we pass through some industrious small towns as we enter the more remote regions of the north-west. We have a couple of nice descents as we near our destination for the afternoon, Moc Chau, a small town of little repute and a perfect place to enjoy some local interaction and real Vietnamese food.
Day 5: Sam Neua, Laos 70km (BLD)
After a hearty local breakfast we hit the road in the direction of Laos. We arrive at the border in the late morning and after clearing immigration we meet our Lao support crew who will have a picnic lunch waiting for us. In the afternoon, we push on for a few more hours before boarding our comfortable support vehicle and driving into the next town, Sam Neua. Lao is a small country with small towns and a small population. The persistent din of Vietnam will have faded by now and you will be left with only the roosters to wake you the next morning.
Day 6: Vieng Thong – Vieng Xai Caves (BLD)
Today we drive to the Vieng Xai Caves. These huge caves were home to around twenty thousand Pathet Lao communist fighters during the secret war of Laos. This war, termed secret because the US was not supposed to be engaged in combat in neutral Laos, was all part of the larger geo-political events and changes of the sixties and seventies. While the communist forces were being bombarded from the air by the CIA funded Hmong Army, they used these caves as a refuge, complete with hospital, school and underground villages. In the afternoon, we will drive onto our next stop Vieng Thong.
Day 7: Nong Khiaw 90km (BLD)
Today, after a short drive, we have a challenging ride ahead of us as we ascend and descend numerous times. The scenery of limestone karst mountains and forests, punctuated by small rivers and villages will be the reward for meeting this challenge. We arrive into the lovely Nong Khiaw in the late afternoon and can relax in a riverside guesthouse with a stunning view and a cool drink.
Day 8: Nong Khiaw Rest day or trek Muang Ngoai
Today is a day off the bikes. For those who would like to relax with a book by the river, the day is yours to do so. If you crave more action, then you can board a boat and travel up-stream to Muang Ngoi, a small village accessible only by river. Here you can trek into the forest and pass through some of the most remote villages you can imagine. Mentioned by many as the highlight of their travels in Northern Laos, this is an activity that comes highly recommended.
Day 9: Luang Prabang – Kayaking the Nam Ou (BLD)
After so much exercise for the legs, today our upper bodies see some action, although, fairly gentle action. We kayak down along the Nam Ou River with it’s densely forested banks. Along the way children playing in the water will be surprised to see you and will yell out a warm Lao welcome. The river has some small rapids but anyone with basic skills in this area will be able to participate. We will come ashore late morning and find our lunch prepared before driving into Luang Prabang, world Heritage listed city, set on the banks of the Mekong River. This marks the end of our adventure. We will have a meal to celebrate the achievement of the ride.
Day 10 Finish (B)
The tour concludes today. If you haven’t had enough cycling, then join our Lao Lao tour and pedal your way to the Lao capital, Vientiane.