Northern Vietnam loop, is this doable?

Matthias87

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2015
Bikes
KTM EXC 400
Hello!

Me, my two brothers and two friends are going to Vietnam in December.
We are going to rent enduro bikes (Honda XR400) in Hanoi. Before we start the northern loop we are heading down to Phong Nha to do a 3-day cave expedition.
Will we be able to get to Phong Nha from Hanoi in one day (we start to ride around 10 in the morning)?

After that we are heading to Ninh Binh to spend a day there.

After Ninh Binh we are riding up to North-west Vietnam, to Fansipan, Vietnams highest mountain, which we will shall climb.

After Fansipan we ride to Babe National Park, but first we have two days to ride around in Northern Vietnam and just explore.
In Babe National Park we do a 2-day trek, and after that we are riding back to Hanoi.

Is all this doable? Can we ride from Hanoi to Phong Nha in one day, and from Ninh Binh to Fansipan in one day?

Also, if anyone have gps-routes which we can load into our GPS that would be awesome. We are looking for technical, scenic and exposed trails :)


Best regards,
Matthias
 

Lone Rider

Blokes Who Can
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Jan 29, 2011
Location
Chiangmai
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4 Wheels
Well, everything is possible if you really want to but I personally certainly would not want to do a close to 500 km. trip on highways (Hanoi to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park) in one day on rented bikes presumably with knobbly tires and in traffic where anything can happen. The same is true for Ninh Binh to Fansipan - about 400 km.

I would advise to take it easy and take your time and maybe put the bikes on the train on the days where you need to cover a long distance - not that the train will be faster but it might give you some rest and peace of mind in the hectic schedule you have planned.

Not sure where you are going to rent the bikes but I would recommend to rent from Flaming Travel in Hanoi as they are known to go the extra mile in case things go wrong. They can be contacted at http://www.flamingotravel.com.vn/

With regard to GPS maps, I might be able to help with Garmin compatible maps for Vietnam.
 

Matthias87

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2015
Bikes
KTM EXC 400
Thank you for the answer Lone Rider!

We will take your advise and replan this a bit.
We will take a bus (or do you recommend train or flying?) to Phong Nha.
And we will also leave from Ninh Binh to go to Hanoi on the evening so we only have to ride from Hanoi to Fansipan in one day.

Does this sound better?

Do you have gps-routes of technical exposed and scenic rides?
We are all experienced enduro riders, so we want techy exposed trails :)

Best regards
Matthias
 

The Bigfella

Senior Member
Staff member
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Aug 15, 2012
Bikes
KTM 950SER & EXC, BMW R90S & Dakar, MZ250, BSA B33, Norton 16H, Honda - 500 Fs & X, DRZs, XLs XRs CRFs CT110s etc
I bought a scooter in Vietnam in 2010 and did a bit of riding from Saigon to Nha Trang and then in the NW loop and down to Cuc Phoung National Park, back via Ninh Binh. A scooter is rather different to a 400, but IIRC my longest day was 365 km or so.

We did the train from Nha Trang to Hue (19 hours). I flew from Da Nang to Hanoi and we put the scooters on the train from Hanoi to the rail town nearest SaPa which is near Fansipan - an overnight run - best to get a fixer from your hotel to organise it. There's huge variability in the roads... great highways, narrow, lots of villages in other areas. Lots of corners.

Don't plan it too tight. There's plenty of good places to stop and smell the roses
 

firestorm996

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2014
Good advice above. The longer stints we've done around the north have been 200-250km, and that felt like we were rushing through everything too quick to enjoy it.
 

Matthias87

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2015
Bikes
KTM EXC 400
Hi guys!

Thanks for all the good advices! I will plan in two days riding from Fansipan to Babe National Park and two days from Babe to Halong Bay, so we dont have to rush that much there.
Unfourtunately we have booked most uf the stuff already, so we cant replan the cave expedition in Phong Nha or the climbing at Fansipan.

Do you guys think we will make it from Hanoi to Fansipan in one day? We can start to ride early morning.

And do you know the best way to get from Hanoi to Phong Nha in one day?

Thanks again for the answer, really appreciated!

Best regards,
Matthias
 

Matthias87

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2015
Bikes
KTM EXC 400
Have googled some more, and I think we will take the night train or night bus. I've heard bad stories about the night buses in Vietnam though, so I think it will be the train.
 

firestorm996

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2014
The night train is fine, actually quite fun. If you want to get from Hanoi to Fansipan/Sapa in one day it's your best option.
 

Matthias87

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2015
Bikes
KTM EXC 400
Ok, thanks :) We will take the night train.

I've managed to get another day for the ride to Fansipan.
I've attached a picture of how we plan to ride.
We will have two days from Hanoi to Mt Fansipan, two days from Mt Fansipan to Babe National Park, and then on day from Babe back to Hanoi. This should be good, right? :)

Did anyone have good gps-routes in these areas? As I said before we would like to ride really gnarly and exposed stuff, like in this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=14&v=I0iWw4hNjLc

1. KARTA copy.jpg
 

The Bigfella

Senior Member
Staff member
Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Bikes
KTM 950SER & EXC, BMW R90S & Dakar, MZ250, BSA B33, Norton 16H, Honda - 500 Fs & X, DRZs, XLs XRs CRFs CT110s etc
If you look closely at the speedo on that scooter, you'll see he was doing 3... 4.... and then maybe double that when you couldn't see the speedo. With all the switchbacks.... don't plan on riding far in a day.

Oh yeah.... it's probably faster on the scooter in that terrain than it is on a bigger bike. The switchbacks are JUST big enough for a scooter. You'll be having "fun" at them
 

Matthias87

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2015
Bikes
KTM EXC 400
I don't think the switchbacks should be a problem on big bikes :) We'll know when we are there :p

What do you guys say about the weather in northern Vietnam in late december? I did know that it wasn't gonna be warm, but now I've seen snow on some pictures.
Will it be really cold do ride a bike there in december? And really foggy?
 
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