1Hanoi - Mau Son (~180 km-5 hours)
2Mau Son - Cao Bang (~200 km-7 hours)
3Cao Bang (~120 km-3 hours)
4Cao Bang (~120 km-4 hours)
5Cao Bang - Ba Be (~180 km-7 hours)
6Ba Be boating
7Ba Be – Hanoi (~240 km-8 hours)
Day 1 - Hanoi - Mau Son, ~180 km, ~5
After a hearty breakfast we saddle up and make the
break out of the city limits and the lowlands and plains of the Red River Delta. We pass through
clusters of limestone as we head out north-east before leaving the main road and
climb up to the peak of Mau Son mountain. An old French hill station, Mau Son
was ravaged during war with the Chinese and the buildings have recently been
rebuilt in traditional style. A winding road leads us to the summit and at over
1,500 metres altitude we enjoy fantastic views out over China and down towards Ha Long Bay. Overnight in Mau Son.
Day 2 - Mau Son - Cao Bang, ~200 km, ~7
hours(B, L, D)
Dropping down from the heights of Mau Son we strike
directly north, skirting the border city of Lang Son, visiting the Dong Dang
’Friendship Gate’ on the Chinese border, then we join the legendary ’Highway 4’
where the Viet Minh forces carried out numerous raids over uncountable passes
in this remote border region. We follow the border all the way to Vietnam’s
major city in the north-east: Cao Bang (literal translation: ’High Plateau’).
Overnight in Cao Bang.
Day 3 - Cao Bang, ~120 km, ~3 hours(B, L,
We explore into the magical region of the far
north-east with its impressive limestone karst scenery. We meander around and
through the countless rock monoliths all the way to the huge Ban Gioc Waterfall
which sits on the Chinese border. We can swim under the falls and picnic on
bamboo rafts. Then in the afternoon we loop back to Cao Bang past even more
spectacular karst scenery. Overnight in Cao Bang.
Day 4 - Cao Bang, ~120 km, ~4 hours(B, L,
In the morning we strike north-west to the border,
marked by a massive range of peaks, and pass over to Pac Po Cave where Ho Chi
Minh made his return to Vietnam in 1941. Then we head straight up on
challenging road, pass through deep, remote karst country and rest at a
secluded lake deep in the forest. Late afternoon ride on sealed road back to
Cao Bang and a soothing massage. Overnight in Cao Bang.
Day 5 - Cao Bang - Ba Be, ~180 km, ~7 hours
(B, L, D)
We move south-west from Cao Bang and breach several
passes on route in an area hosting huge mountain scenery. The Cao Bac Pass
offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Descending the pass
we see hillsides carpeted with apiaries, Vietnam’s most famous honey-producing
areas. In the afternoon we arrive at Ba Be Lake in the heart of a National
Park. Overnight with a family in a Tay minority stilt house on the shores of
Day 6 - Ba Be boating (B, L, D)
A day to explore at Ba Be Lake, take in some
markets, enjoy a boat cruise, go fishing, explore caves, dine with friends at
the edge of a waterfall, enjoy the hospitality of the minority peoples who
inhabit this area. We will take a boat up the seven-kilometre length of the
lake to the Dau Dang waterfalls on the Gam River and also visit the 300m Long
Phuong Cave. During the war the cave was one of the rare natural shelters for
the local population hiding from the bombing. Overnight with a family in a Tay
minority stilt house on the shores of the lake.
Day 7 - Ba Be - Hanoi, ~240 km, ~8 hours(B,
Staying off the main road for as long as possible we
head back towards the Red River Delta, passing through areas inhabited by
Hmong, Dao, Tay and Nung minority peoples. A mixture of both challenging track
and glorious sealed road all the way back to Hanoi.
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