Has anyone ridden a motorbike from Hanoi to Mai Chau before? How long did it take and how was the road? My partner and I have a honda scooter thing and are familiar with riding in Hanoi and surrounds. We are thinking of taking a weekend trip but I don't want to spend most of the weekend riding on a scary highway.
Thanks for your advice.
Do It Do It Do It!
I wont lie to you the first 20kms getting out of hanoi is pretty bad, the rest of the trip is beautiful open roads in some really scenic countryside. especially when you get up past hoa binh into the mountains. its really a nice trip.
will take you 3-4 hours depending how fast you ride, my advice is to just take your time and enjoy the scenery.
What Danny said. The first 20kms out (and the last 20kms coming back in, most fatiguingly) is like riding in Hanoi with extra stupidity and a host of new things to dodge.
After that. Quite nice. The countryside of Vietnam is quite beautiful.
Me and a few Vietnamese mates went all the way to Moc Chau a few weeks ago, by way of Mai Chau. That was 200km each way. We left too late in the day both times (not recommended) and had to slow down for the last part of the trip both coming and going. We took about 5 1/2 hours to get to Moc Chau. Mai Chau, was probably within 3 hours.
I don't know that I would go on a scooter thing. Small wheels don't like BIG POTHOLES. Also there can be some steep hills that I was happy to have gears to deal with. That said, it's perfectly doable.
Just a few questions following on the OP.
Has anyone done the Tay Bac by jeep?
If you've ventured past Mai Chau then on to Son La, Dien Bien Phu and back home to Ha Noi, are the roads better in fall or spring?
Is one season better for motorbike vs. jeep?
I've been meaning to do the Tay Bac for a very long time. I hear so much about caution on the roads during the rainy season but I also hear it's not a big deal.
I welcome any helpful input on when and how to travel.
About Mai Chau:
Actually, the distance of the crowded traffic and bad road you need to get through is 30kms until you pass somewhere called Xuan Mai (not 20kms as mentioned above).
After that the road's better, there're scenic countryside as mentioned.
When you reach Hoa Binh, should take a little time to get to the dam and take some photos.
I would take you 4 hours if you wanted to enjoy the scene and take photos.
Scooters will be able to make it to Mai Chau without any difficulties. But it would be more comfortable with a Minsk, an enduro or a naked bike or just small bikes like Dreams, Wave etc.
About Tay Bac.
The roads are nearly the same in fall and spring.
But the scene are more beautiful in spring.
Especially after Lunar Tet, about end of Feb, start of March. There's a beautiful kind of flower only bloom in that time.
Moreover, I suggest you come back on another road pass Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Yen Bai to make it a cyclic route.
And motorbike would make it to further places that jeep wouldn't and most of them are very scenic.
Thinking of doing this then looping up to Vu Linh before coming back to Hanoi.
I have a 110cc new Dream which runs perfectly and got my wife and I up to Ba Vi. I reckon it would manage this trip but would just be a tad uncomfortable... is it worth splashing out and renting something with more power?
What are the roads like around April there?
If you are two westerners on a 110cc it might be a bit challenging on the steep parts. To Mai Chau there is a steep section, I guess totally it is 5-7 km but about 1 km is really steep. That part you might need to do in 1st gear, or with one of you walking. But the rest isnt that steep, challenging...
I went there with a car that has a 1.3L engine. On that steep part I couldn't go faster than 30-40 km/h with pedal completely pressed.