If you're flying into Hanoi today you will be met by your driver outside Gate A1 as you exit the arrivals hall. Please look for the WORLD EXPEDITIONS welcome sign. If you cannot find the sign, please call the emergency number provided. You will have time to relax at your hotel and adjust to the pace of Hanoi. The capital of Vietnam is one of Asia's most enchanting cities, full of culture, history and the engaging contradictions of a rapidly developing and deeply traditional society. In the late afternoon we will have a group meeting being held in the hotel foyer (time indicated in your final documents). You are then invited for a warm and hospitable meal with a Hanoian family. On arrival, the friendly host will give you a big welcome and introduce their household. You'll sip some tea and share insights about Vietnamese culture, customs and habits. Around the dining table the host will tell us more about Vietnamese cuisine which emphasises freshness of produce - vegetables, herbs and spices. Your meal will include authentic local dishes which are popular among the locals. Here, you can eat, chat, and learn some basic Vietnamese phrases like: xin ch o (hello), ngon (delicious), and cam on (thank you).
Overnight: Skylark Hotel - Deluxe (or similar)
Total cycling distance: no cycling today
After an early breakfast, we spend the morning enjoying a brief sightseeing tour of Hanoi's major landmarks including the gardens of the Presidential Palace within the Ho Chi Minh complex and the Temple of literature. We then have lunch at a local restaurant before heading to the bike depo where we will get equipped to start our ride. We depart directly from the depo along the dyke road of Hanoi. We head North along the Red River, quickly exit the urban jungle and the road change into a quaint rural way. The ride takes us through cultivated areas and carpenters villages. The ride is about 50km until we reach Duong Lam ancient village. From there we continue another 10km on flat road and end up with a 600-meter elevation climb to the heights of Ba Vi National Park. Check-in at a beautiful resort and spend some resting time by the swimming pool.
Overnight: Ba Vi Resort - Standard (or similar)
Total driving distance: 0km
Total cycling distance: 70km / sealed road / flat with a 10km ascent
After a greedy breakfast, we hop in the vehicle for a 20-kilometer transfer to our starting point. From here we descend down Mount Ba Vi then ride through the National Park to its most western edge where the Da River flows. Our ride today is a total of 75 kilometers, first across the National Park and then along the Da River for about 25km. There we hop on a local ferry to cross the river. Lunch will be arranged en-route at a local restaurant. After the river crossing, the following 40km takes us slowly up a scenic road in the mountains of Hoa Binh Province before the 10km descent to the huge Da Reservoir. Welcome to the wild and remote Muong ethnic lands, a natural haven providing an edge of the world atmosphere. We are welcomed in to a traditional Muong house by the host family. Enjoy a refreshing swim in the lake before sitting down for a home cooked dinner.
Overnight: Traditional Muong homestay
Total driving distance: 20km
Total cycling distance: 75km / sealed road / 25km rather flat 35km uphill 15km downhill
We bid farewell to our hosts and load our bikes on a local boat to set sail across this beautiful blue reservoir surrounded by towering jungle covered mountains. Sit back and enjoy the stunning scenery as the crossing takes around an hour. From the pier, we start with a fairly steep 4km ride uphill to exit the foothills of the reservoir and get back on the road. We continue for another 20kms along flat roads before reaching the Mai Chau mountainous region. Enter the territory of the White Thai, a large valley carpeted in rice fields, hamlets of stilted houses and surrounded by limestone mountains. We cycle to a traditional guesthouse on stilts where we break for lunch. In the afternoon, we have a 40km ride to our lodge. We continue cycling towards the Laos border before veering off to the east to enter the Pu Luong Nature Reserve. The sceneries change, the road tracks the mountainside with overviews down deep and tight valleys of terraced rice fields. The changes in elevation are insignificant for the initial 15 km before we start a 15km ascent before being rewarded with a 10km downhill. We arrive at a beautiful lodge perched on the mountainside. Enjoy a dip in the swimming pool with the most spectacular views.
Overnight: Pu Luong Retreat - stilt house
Total driving distance: 0km
Total cycling distance: 65km / sealed road / 35km rather flat 20km uphill 10km downhill
Today we complete our journey across the reserve with a 20km ride. It starts with a 10km ride downhill to Pho Doan Village and the gates of the nature reserve. From here we take a hidden route that very few know which leads us towards the historical Ho Chi Minh trail. This stretch is particularly scenic and the local people living here are renowned for being incredibly friendly. We then get the bikes in the truck and transfer to the border where our Lao team awaits. Sabaidee, welcome to Laos. Upon arrival at the Viet-Lao border, you will be greeted by your Laotian guide and driver then driven to Vieng Xai, arriving in the late afternoon.
Overnight: Naxay 2 Guesthouse (or similar)
Total driving distance: 200km
Total cycling distance: 20km / sealed road / 10km flat 10km uphill
This morning you explore the quaint morning market along the river in this mountainous town. Today's ride is much shorter to provide a rest day. We take a leisurely cycle around Vieng Xai, the Cave City which was home to the Lao People's Revolutionary Party. Visit the Information Center to learn more about the interesting historical significance of the area during the Indochina War. Continue to the Hospital Cave which, as the name suggests, was used as a hospital during the war. Inside you can see intact medicine bottles still strewn about the rubble. After the bombing raids ended a new hospital building was built in front of the cave. Now the site is a local school. In the afternoon, you continue cycling 30 km to Sam Nuea. Time permitting, we will climb up to one of the best Sam Nuea viewpoints to enjoy the sunset.
Overnight: Xayphasouk Hotel (or similar)
Total cycling distance: approx. 35 km
After breakfast we start cycling toward Muang Hiem. This region is one of the most remote and ethnically diverse areas of Laos and boasts some of the best mountainous scenery found throughout the country. En route we can make several stops to visit local villages and enjoy the expansive panoramas. We'll arrive in Muang Hiem by late afternoon.
Overnight: Souksakone Guesthouse (or similar)
Total cycling distance: 60km
The day starts with a short transfer to the highest point of today at 1200m. Enjoy the stunning vistas before winding your way down into the small town of Vieng Kham. This is truly another wonderful riding day.
Overnight: Tony Guesthouse (or similar)
Total cycling distance: approx. 60km
It just keeps getting better. This day features some of the most spectacular mountain scenery on this trip. Start the day with a challenging ascent of 800m. From the mountain's summit, it's all downhill to the incredibly scenic valley of Nong Khiaw, located on the banks of the Nam Ou. We arrive in this quaint riverside town in the afternoon. You can choose to relax the your veranda overlooking the river or explore the surrounding countryside.
Overnight: Nong Kiau Riverside Resort (or similar)
Total cycling distance: 50km
After breakfast enjoy your last day cycling to the cultural capital of Laos, Luang Prabang. En route we'll stop at Ban Nayang, a traditional weaving village to learn more about the daily lives of the local people. After lunch we transfer to the mysterious Pak Ou Cave which sits at the confluence of the Nam Ou and Mekong Rivers. The two linked caves feature thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims over the centuries. After exploring the cave, we board a traditional longboat to cruise downstream on the mighty Mekong River to Luang Prabang, arriving before sunset, where the trip concludes.
Total cycling distance: approx. 60 km