Rally Indochina 2017 kicks off in Hanoi on May 7. The Rally will head deep into the northern mountains, crisscrossing the massive Hoang Lien Son mountain range in order to get to an area where Blue Dragon is fighting traffickers who target vulnerable hill tribe people. After visiting a Blue Dragon kindergarten in a remote village, we travel to Sapa to experience the region’s famous mountains and ethnic minorities.
The route has been chosen by bikers and for bikers, so the Rally is not simply about getting from A to B in the quickest time. The organisers have spent years finding the best motorcycling roads in Vietnam, with just the right mix of scenery, historic sites, highland and lowland villages, mountains and valleys.
Day 1: Sunday, May 7. Arrive Hanoi
Arrive at Hanoi airport, where you will be met for a private transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon, we hold an informal registration session followed by dinner with the other members of the group. Overnight at the Golden Lotus Luxury Hotel in Hanoi. (D)
Day 2: Monday, May 8. Hanoi to Mai Chau
After meeting some of the kids at the Blue Dragon centre over breakfast and some language tips, we travel to the Rally’s garage on the edge of Hanoi. As we leave the city behind on little-known rural laneways, we enter a sea of paddy fields split by tree-lined roads and limestone mountains. After a light lunch near Hoa Binh, we cross two mountain passes before descending to the gorgeous mountain valley settlement of Mai Chau. Overnight in the new Mai Chau Ecolodge. (B, L, D) 140km
Day 3: Tuesday, May 9. Mai Chau to Phu Yen
In the morning we leave the Mai Chau valley behind us and rise up onto the cooler Moc Chau plateau, passing forested mountains where Hmong hill tribe people grow apple and plum trees. Then we descend to the Black river reservoir, and cross it by local ferry. After winding along the edge of the lake, we find ourselves in the rice paddies of the Phu Yen valley. Overnight in Phu Yen at the Hong Long Hotel. (B, L, D) 100km
Day 4: Wednesday, May 10. Phu Yen to Mu Cang Chai
After crossing a pass that was crucial to the Vietnamese victory at Dien Bien Phu, we ride through the splendid Nghia Lo valley, surrounded on all sides by high mountains where Tay and Thai people tend their fields. We approach the foothills of the Hoang Lien Son range, where extensive tea plantations give way to a remarkable tapestry of horizontal rice terraces, worked on by friendly Hmong hill tribe people. Overnight in a homestay in the mountain settlement of Mu Cang Chai. (B, L, D) 180km
Day 5: Thursday, May 11. Mu Cang Chai to Tuan Giao
Dropping down onto the western side of the mountain range, past more remarkable rice terracing, we enter the world of Thai and Giay hill tribe peoples whose picturesque villages are dominated by the abrupt, steep sides of the mountain range. After crossing the Da River gorge, we cut through heavy karst before coming to Thuan Giao. Overnight in Thuan Giao at a simple local hotel. (B, L, D) 170km
Day 6: Friday, May 12. Tuan Giao to Sin Ho
We travel to the remote village of Co Nguu, where Blue Dragon has built a kindergarten to help prevent the trafficking of local children. After that we continue climbing towards the resettled village of Muong Lay, formerly home to a Thai kingdom, before climbing up to the spectacular Sin Ho plateau. Overnight in Sin Ho at the Thanh Binh hotel. (B, L, D) 150km
Day 7: Saturday, May 13. Sin Ho to Sapa
We skirt along close to the Chinese border on recently improved roads, which become steeper and windier as we approach the base of the Hoang Lien Son mountains. We then climb steeply up the fabulous Tram Tom pass, which is the highest in Vietnam, before descending into the famous Sapa valley. We visit the spectacular rice terracing of Sapa’s Muong Hoa valley before returning to the town for the night. Overnight at the Cat Cat View Hotel in Sapa. (B, L) 160km
Day 8: Sunday, May 14. Sapa rest day
Today is a formal rest day as there are many things to do in Sapa. You might catch a cable car to the top of Mt Fansipan, the highest in South East Asia, or visit the local hill tribe market or even take a short walk down into the spectacular Sapa valley. Overnight at the Cat Cat View Hotel in Sapa. (B, D)
Day 9: Monday, May 15. Sapa to Bac Ha
We’ll need special permission from the border patrol today to take a delightful road that skirts the border with China. Passing very remote Hmong villages right on the border, we make a great traverse before climbing to the busy market town of Bac Ha. Overnight at the Sao Mai Hotel in Bac Ha. (B, L, D) 160km
Day 10: Tuesday, May 16. Bac Ha to Lao Cai to Hanoi
Once again we will need special permission to ride a remarkable road that hugs a giant gorge right on the Chinese border. Expect amazing rice terraced mountains heavily populated by Hmong and Dao hill tribe people. Eventually we drop down to the border town of Lao Cai, where a private coach will take everyone back to Hanoi, arriving there in the early evening, and in time for our farewell dinner. Overnight at the Golden Lotus Luxury Hotel (B, L, D) 140km
Day 10: Wednesday, May 17.
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
For more details about the itinerary and the route, contact us here and we will send you the Rally Indochina information pack.