Sapa-Sin Ho Scenic Motorbike Loop

Last updated December 2017 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

INTRODUCTION | GUIDE | MAP | RELATED POSTS

Sapa and Sin Ho are two towns high up on the slopes of the Hoàng Liên Sơn Mountain Range, known in French colonial times as the Tonkinese Alps. Sapa is a famous mountain retreat, enormously popular with Vietnamese and foreign tourists. Sin Ho, on the other hand, is hardly ever visited by travellers. These two highland towns are connected by lofty mountain passes, affording spectacular views over a landscape on a scale not found anywhere else in Vietnam. Rent a motorbike from Sapa and spend a couple of days on the Sapa-Sin Ho Scenic Loop; you’ll be rewarded with some of the grandest alpine scenery in Southeast Asia.

Scenery on the road to Sin HoMajestic: the Sapa-Sin Ho Loop takes you through some of the grandest landscape in Southeast Asia

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GUIDE: SAPA-SIN HO SCENIC LOOP


ROAD TRIP DETAILS:

  • Total Distance: 320km
  • Duration: 2-4 days
  • Route: a round-trip between Sapa & Sin Ho on mountain passes [MAP]
  • Road Conditions: good mountain highways & back-roads, some rough patches
  • Scenery: the Tonkinese Alps: valleys, mountains & rivers on the roof of Indochina

ROAD TRIP CONTENTS:

  • SECTION 1: Sapa to Lai Chau (via road QL4D): 70km
  • SECTION 2: Lai Chau to Sin Ho (via Phong Tho): 115km
  • SECTION 3: Sin Ho to Sapa (via road 4D cũ): 135km

ABOUT THIS ROUTE:

I’ve written this guide in 3 sections, going anti-clockwise on the loop, but you can drive it in either direction. The total distance is 320km, but I’ve also included an optional side loop which would add another 80km to the total distance. Note that each section doesn’t necessarily correspond to one day on the road. You could ride the entire loop in 2 days. However, the roads are steep and windy so progress is slower than in the lowlands, and the scenery is superb so you’ll want to stop regularly to admire the views. 3-4 days is perfect. Weather and time of year are important considerations on this loop. Landslides are a common occurrence after wet weather and can block roads for hours or even days. Unfortunately, weather is very hard to predict in this area and conditions can change very suddenly all year round. The good news is that most of the roads on this loop are now either in excellent condition or in the process of being upgraded. April-May and September-October are the best months to go: the weather is warm(-er) and the terraced rice fields are a good colour. Below is my full guide to the Sapa-Sin Ho Loop, including a description of the route, suggestions of places to stay, eat and see, and my annotated map.

The road to Sin Ho, Lai Chau, northern VietnamThreading through the mountains between Sapa & Sin Ho in Vietnam’s stunning northwest region


ROUTE MAP:

Sapa-Sin Ho Scenic Loop | 320km


View in a LARGER MAP

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SECTION 1:

Route: Sapa to Lai Chau (via road QL4D) | Distance: 70km [MAP]

Head west on Road QL4D from the mist-shrouded town of Sapa. The first few kilometres getting out of Sapa can be pretty grim these days, because of potholed, mud-streaked, traffic-clogged, and construction-choked roads. Eventually, however, the road clears and passes a couple of pretty waterfalls (Silver Falls [Thác Bạc] & Love Falls [Thác Tình Yêu]) before reaching the top of the Tram Ton Pass (also known as O Quy Ho or Heaven’s Gate), Vietnam’s highest mountain road at 1,900m (6,230ft). You’ll know when you get here because, if the weather is clear, you’ll see the pass snaking around the mountains below you. Even in misty conditions you’ll know you’ve arrived because it’s significantly warmer on the pass than in Sapa: the pass is both a climatic divide and a provincial one, marking the border of Lao Cai and Lai Chau provinces. There are a few makeshift, rickety-looking viewing platforms by the roadside offering stupendous vistas.

Tram Ton, Vietnam's highest passThe spectacular Tram Ton Pass is the highest road in Vietnam: it’s a wonderful ride

The impressive, crenelated ridge to the south is Mount Fansipan, Indochina’s highest peak at 3,143m (10,312ft). Its looming presence bears down on the pass, casting a cold shadow over the road. Deep down in the valley indigo rivers forge paths over large boulders. Fansipan is so big that it dominates the scenery all the way to Lai Chau.

The Tram Ton Pass winds down through more pristine alpine scenery and past the Dong Tien Son caves to Tam Duong town. It’s not much of a town – although its new multi-lane high-street would suggest otherwise – but if you need a rest there are a couple of good accommodation options and food stalls along the main road. Putaleng Hotel has excellent rooms for about $20, or cheaper digs can be found at Tan Sinh Guest House. Continue northwest on Road QL4D for 40km to Lai Chau (perhaps detouring to take a quick look at the impressive Tac Tinh Falls, just behind Tam Duong town). If you’re visiting during September or October look out for some absurdly pretty valleys of terraced rice fields about 10km before descending into Lai Chau. This is the kind of scenery that brochures promise Sapa will offer, but in reality you have to travel a little further afield to find sights like this….


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Terraced rice fields near Lai ChauScenes like this await you on the road to Lai Chau if you visit in late summer to early autumn

Lai Chau city is a brand new concrete creation in a remote valley surrounded by pyramidal peaks. It consists largely of grandiose government buildings, wide empty boulevards and depressingly vacant public spaces. On a wet, cold day Lai Chau is a painfully soulless place to be, but on a bright day it can be quite appealing. The scale of infrastructure and architecture are not in proportion to the population or significance of the city, but over the last couple of years local life has started to inject some character to this somber provincial capital. Thus, Lai Chau makes a convenient overnight stop. There are decent-value guest houses (‘nhà nghỉ‘ in Vietnamese) and hotels on the main road (30 Tháng 4 Street). Try Binh Long Hotel (2 Tháng 8 Street | tel: 0213 2488 488) or Hà Nhi Hotel (30 Tháng 4 Street | tel: 0213 6250 999) for cheap, clean rooms. Or you could ‘splash out’ ($30) on the Muong Thanh Lai Chau Hotel, which has balconies with views over the town and tea plantations as well as a (often dirty) pool. The area around the lake has some good bánh xèo (Vietnamese savoury pancakes) and ốc (snails and shells) joints in the late afternoon/evening. Or meat lovers should try the roast suckling pig (lợn quay) at Quán 25 (62, 30 Tháng 4 Street). For good coffee head to Gateway Cafe (305 Tran Hung Dao Street).

Lai Chau City, northern VietnamLai Chau is a fairly soulless town, especially in bad weather, but it’ll do for a night

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SECTION 2:

Route: Lai Chau to Sin Ho (via Phong Tho) | Distance: 115km [MAP]

From Lai Chau continue northwest on Road QL4D toward the town of Phong Tho. This section of road is in very good condition and passes over high mountains before dropping down into a valley. Eight kilometres before reaching Phong Tho, there’s a turning due north for Muong So. This is the beginning of an optional and scenic side loop. The total distance of this detour is around 70-80km. The scenery is very mountainous, heavily farmed with terraces of rice and corn, and dotted with minority hamlets. There are a couple of local guest houses in Muong So, including the clean, simple and friendly Gia Bao (0976 677 999). Alternatively, continue on QL4D to Phong Tho, where there are more hotels and plenty of local rice eateries. By far the most atmospheric of the places to stay in Phong Tho is the Lan Anh Hotel (0989 673 888), a timber, tile and concrete structure built around a verdant courtyard. After Phong Tho the road turns back on itself, becoming QL12 and heading southwest along the Nam Na River valley. The road is in good condition, and it’s a quiet, easy stretch of riding through a pleasant valley all the way to the Nam Cay/Chan Nua junction.

Road QL12 from Phong Tho, Lai Chau Province, VietnamRoad QL12 from Phong Tho is a pleasant, riverside ride on a good, quiet highway

Nam Cay/Chan Nua is less of a town and more of a country junction. There’s a guest house (nhà nghỉ) here called Hưng Tâm (Tel: 0948 943 643) if you feel like staying the night, and some local food is also available. At the junction turn left (due east) on Road TL128 for the impossibly scenic and steep ride to Sin Ho. In good weather this route is exceptional. Cutting a path in the mountainside, the single-lane road zig-zags up for 40km to the isolated mountaintop town of Sin Ho. The views over ridges, farmland, ethnic minority villages and clear rivers are superb. Every time I ride up here I have a grin on my face the whole way, constantly stopping and gazing in disbelief at the landscape. The road conditions are pretty good for most of the climb, but landslides are a regular occurrence, so expect some extended patches of earth, mud and potholes. If it’s been raining a lot, it may become quite slippery.

wonderful scenery around sin hoJaw-dropping: the scenery on the road to Sin Ho is simply staggering

Just when you think it can’t possibly get any better, the road snakes through a series of switchbacks until it bears northwards, thus opening up astonishing views down to the Nam Na river valley and far beyond to the distant mountain ranges straddling the border with China. It’s a breathtaking ride.

Big landscape, road to Sin HoTiny hamlets cling to mountainsides outside Sin Ho, blue ridges disappearing into the distance

Like Sapa, Sin Ho is often engulfed in mist and drizzling rain. The town is a bit scruffy and feels very remote. But, as with every town and city in Vietnam, upgrades to public spaces are beginning to make Sin Ho feel more welcoming with each year. Built on a small plateau, at an altitude of over 1,000m (3,300ft), Sin Ho is very cool, especially in the evenings. Ringed by limestone pinnacles and surrounded by minority villages scattered over the mountainside, this town has huge tourist potential, but as yet very few travellers make the trip.

Showers pass across Sin Ho plateauSin Ho is subject to very changeable weather, making the landscape mysterious and brooding

Try to time your visit to catch the Sunday market. Busiest between 8am-11am, Sin Ho market receives hundreds of minority women dressed in their various colourful clothing. They make the journey by foot (sometimes starting before dawn) in order to buy (not sell) supplies for the week ahead. Unlike Sapa market and the horrendously touristy Bac Ha Market, where minority people are more likely to be seen selling to foreign and Vietnamese tourists, Sin Ho market is the real deal. This means there’s no hassling to buy trinkets and garments: most of what’s for sale is fresh meat, vegetables, fruit and practical equipment for use in the villages. Sin Ho market is noticeably calm and unhurried compared to other, more famous, minority markets in the region.

Ethnic minority girl, Sin Ho Market, northern VietnamA girl from one of Vietnam’s many ethnic minorities shops at Sin Ho’s Sunday market

Sin Ho has a smattering of local cơm phở (rice and noodles) joints, particularly around the main square, and there’s a new bakery opened, called Thanh Nam. The town has an increasing number of budget places to stay, mostly in the form of nhà nghỉ (guest houses). However, by far my favourite place to stay is the Phuc Tho Hotel (0213 3870 186). Just a 30 second walk from the market, this is a relatively large hotel run by a sweet older couple. Rooms have balconies looking over town and the main square. Rooms are basic but clean, including hot water showers: 200,000-600,000vnđ for 2-6 people sharing. If, for some reason, you don’t like the Phuc Tho Hotel, there are several other decent accommodation options, including the Hong Hoa Guest House (o1687 271 123) and the Thai Binh Hotel (02313 870 366). But perhaps the most interesting (and certainly the cheapest) option is Ba Sanh Homestay (01649 434 628). On the southern edge of town, Ba Sanh offers dirt-cheap digs (a couple of dollars) sleeping in a communal room, but the real attraction is the Dao minority-style hot herbal baths. Costing just a few dollars (for staying or outside guests) these medicinal baths might be just what you need after a long, wet, cold day riding the mountain passes.

Unusually sunny, Sin HoTown in the clouds: Sin Ho sits on a plateau surrounded by high peaks

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SECTION 3:

Route: Sin Ho to Sapa (via road 4D cũ) | Distance: 135km [MAP]

The 60km descent on Road TL128 from Sin Ho back down to Lai Chau is just as beautiful as the ride up. As the road emerges from the mist, which on most days engulfs the town of Sin Ho, a vast landscape opens up beneath you: endless mountains stretching into the distance and craterous valleys dotted with stilt-home villages clustered around clear streams. However, there are some short but treacherous sections for the first 10km out of Sin Ho, where maintenance work is ongoing and landslides cause the surface to be muddy and slick. Take your time and take care on this section, especially in wet or damp conditions.

About a third of the way down to Lai Chau, there’s a junction with a turn off to the right (due south) to Nam Tam. Although this looks like an appealing road to take, I was told that road conditions were bad. (If you want to go to Nam Tam, approach from the north via Lai Chau instead, as this road is good and scenic.). As road DT128 drops further, through very dense jungle, with the city of Lai Chau visible in the valley, take a short break from riding in order to visit the caves of Pu Sam Cap.

Descent, Sin Ho to Lai ChauMore wonderful and expansive views on the pass down from Sin Ho to Lai Chau

Back in Lai Chau take the alternative route (road 4D cũ) to Tam Duong. To get there turn right (due southeast) at the Ha Nhi Hotel on Dang Van Ngu Street. This is a pretty, quiet route through limestone karsts and extensive tea plantations. It’s almost exactly the same length as taking the main road (QL4D). From Tam Duong, rejoin QL4D and retrace your route back to Sapa via the Tram Ton Pass.

Road 4D cũ, Lai Chau to Tam Duong, VietnamRoad 4D cũ (the alternative route from Lai Chau to Tam Duong) is a lush, quiet route through farmland

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173 Responses to Sapa-Sin Ho Scenic Motorbike Loop

  1. […] our bags it just wasn’t really an option. However I managed to find a 2-3 day loop on this website (check it out if you’re planning on riding Vietnam). Holy, the ride was INSANE. I could not […]

  2. Math says:

    I did the loop last weekend, was my first time in Vietnam (from Montreal). I followed mostly your guide and it was an insane trip! I rent a Sufat 100 in Sapa because I didn’t wanted an automatic bike. Was hard to find a manual bike in Sapa but it was worth, even if I had some issues with the bike. It didn’t had good weather, last part from Sin Ho to Sapa was all in the fog, sometimes I couldn’t see farther than 20 m in front of me but it was still a lot of fun ! The roads were mostly in good conditions. They are currently working on a big part of the road from Sin Ho to Sapa, probably that next summer there will be more concrete part in this section.

    If you want to take a look at what is waiting you, I made a video of my experience in Vietnam, first part is one day in Hanoi and the second one is the scenic loop of Sapa – Lai Chau – Sin Ho.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIal_voyvCs

    Thanks for posting this trip with that much informations, it was really easy to follow and such a great time ! I would recommend this trip to anyone who likes landscapes, motorbike and curves on a motorbike haha !

    I would maybe not recommend this trip to someone who has never ride a motorbike before. Sometimes, the cars are taking both sides of the roads in curves and you need good reflex to avoid them.

  3. Matt wileman says:

    I did this route back in July and hands down this was the most epic thing I did in 4 months of travelling, topping climbing mount Rinjani and mount Fuji.

    I have made a youtube video of it here: https://youtu.be/ie5WeI-DKLM
    along with a Sapa homestay:

    I couldnt get over the fact that there is a different, utterly incredible view around every corner.
    Ended up spending too much time taking way too many videos and photos on my phone.
    It really does feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. The locals wave and the children run out of shyness purely because you are white.
    From the top of the mountain it is possible to see China and Laos with the sun setting over Laos at sunset.
    We came down from the mountian, when it was dark, not knowing where to stay (nothing on maps.me) and having gone anticlockwise around the route. But we turned left when we met the main road and stayed in Trạm Y tế xã Chăn Nưa in a homestay where all the locals who had never left their village turned up and played pool with us. Only they were abit too keen to offer out ‘Happy Water’.
    I recommend going further down the road QL12 to the Ban Cheng Nuoi lake after staying the night in the place above before carrying on the anticlockwise loop.
    We did this route in 1.5 days, it was a push but goes to prove the route is easily do-able in 2 days.

    Thanks so much for recommending this route Tom.

    Would it be possible to add a link of my youtube video to your page?
    https://youtu.be/ie5WeI-DKLM

    • Hi Matt,

      Great to hear that you had such a good time on the loop. The video looks good.

      Yes, it’s a wonderful part of Vietnam – so isolated, alpine and majestic, and still not so many travellers go there.

      Just talking about it makes me want to go back there right now.

      Tom

      • Joe Berresford says:

        Hiya Tom.

        Me and my Girlfriend are planning on doing this route next weekend. It sounds amazing. Can you suggest a couple of waterfalls on the way that are worth a visit? We plan on taking our time so a swim here and there would be brilliant.

        Thanks for taking the time to share the loop.

        Thanks
        Joe

        • Hi Joe,

          There are lots of waterfalls and rivers along the way that are good to look at and for a quick swim. But, apart from Thác Bạc (Silver Waterfall) not far out of Sapa, I don’t know the local names. But that doesn’t matter because you’ll see they from the road (most of them are right by the road).

          I hope you have good weather. If there are any road updates, please let me know.

          Thanks,

          Tom

          • Joe Berresford says:

            Cool, Thanks!

            We plan to set of on the bike tour Around 1pm as we are finishing a trek in the morning. Will that leave us enough time to complete the first part of the journey before dark? Also What’s the best way to navigate, is there a good gps App I can use incase I get lost?

            Thanks again

            Joe

            • Hi Joe,

              You can use Google Maps on your phone with 3G. Or maps.me is good too.

              Yes, you could ride from Sapa to Lai Chau (Section 1) before dark – it probably gets dark around 6pm, so that gives you 5 hours, and the distance is only 75km. However, it’s a very beautiful and very winding road so it may take longer than you’d expect: partly because you will be stopping to look at the views, and partly because all the hairpin bends make riding slow. You’ll probably only average around 30km an hour on this trip. Also, if it’s been raining a lot recently there may be landslides blocking the road, but there’s nothing you can do about that.

              I hope it goes well for you.

              Tom

  4. LJ says:

    Can this be done with an automatic?

  5. Chris says:

    Sinho to Lai Chau had a 10km stretch of gravel road today just near Lai Chau. Definitely passable but worrisome for my tires.

    Funny, I never saw turn off to Phong Tho, was expecting a t junction but never saw one.

    Sorry wrote better post earlier by Wi-Fi timed out…

  6. Chris says:

    By the way, if anyone is considering continuing south on 6 after Sin Ho, allow 3.5 hours from Muong Lay to Tuan Giao. It is a windy road, but pleasant.

  7. Chris says:

    I rode 128 from Chan Nua to Sin Ho today and the road was fine. Had some areas of holes and missing asphalt you had to slow down for but no long stretches of damage.

  8. Chris says:

    I’m sorry if I missed it, but do you have a recommended guest house in Sapa?

    I’m in Tuan Giao right now at a hidden boutique hotel named Hong Ky Hotel. It is directly across from the Honda shop, down an alley. 300000. There is a small impromptu street market a minute away. Very interesting scene.

    Heading up to Sinho tomorrow which just happens to be Sunday so that worked out well.

    • Hi Chris,

      There are so many hotels and guesthouses in Sapa that I haven’t listed a particular one. Just make sure you get a room with a mountain view – in my opinion that is what Sapa is all about, because the town itself is a bit of a tourist trap these days 🙁

      Tom

  9. Mattia says:

    Hello,
    We are a couple thinking of going to Sapa the next few days and after reading your blog we would like to do this loop in 2 or 3 days. Any suggestions where we can rent a motorbike without a vietnamese driving license?
    Any others advices on where to stay overnight or anything you have in mind?
    Thanks a lot for your help,
    Have a good day,
    Deborah

    • Hi Deborah,

      You should be able to rent motorbikes without a license pretty much anywhere in Sapa – ask at your guesthouse or hotel for a start.

      Personally, I like to stay away from Sapa’s centre, which is around the main square, because it is very touristy these days and overcharging is common. But, accommodation in Sapa is all about the views over the mountains – so wherever you stay just make sure you ask for a good mountain view 🙂

      I list some accommodation options for the route in my guide on this page. Also, please read the comments on this page, because many readers have written with important updates on this route.

      I hope you enjoy the ride,

      Tom

  10. Antek M. says:

    I’ll be actually doing it from the other direction :). I’ll check this 128, especially that it seems like the more scenic one

  11. Antek M. says:

    Hi Tom, which section would you recommend if I can do it only one-way (coming from Mu Cang Chai side, so I can’t complete the whole loop)?

    • Hi Antek,

      First of all, make sure to read the most recent comments above, because people have given important updates about road conditions.

      It sounds like, in the current conditions, it would be best to take QL4D to Lai Chau and then ride up to Sin Ho on TL128.

      Please let me know how you find road conditions on this route – it will be a great help to other readers.

      Thanks,

      Tom

      • Antek M. says:

        Ok, finished few days ago.
        Conditions are ok, after Sin Ho there’s some kilometers of a new road (brilliant ride), later unfortunately you hit the construction works and you need to ride around 10 km on gravel (nothing really scary, just need to go slower). Last 10 km to Lai Chau are mostly ok again.

        Road up from the junction to Sin Ho is in good condition, just occasionally bit bumpy (as you can expect from such mountainous road)

        But in general the whole ride is so nice that it would be worth to do even if the road was in much worse shape

        I must add also that the last part (Lai Chau to Sapa) is also terrific and if someone doesn’t have time for the whole trip it’s worth to do at least this part (especially this part from Sapa to the junction with QL32 – amazing ride)

        • Hi Antek,

          Great. That’s good news. Thanks for the important update on road conditions on this loop. It’s good to know that it’s in decent condition and still a beautiful ride.

          Tom

  12. Janis says:

    Trip is over 🙂

    How it went?
    After long rain decided to go as soon as it stopped and… Didn’t see a thing in mountains after leaving Sa Pa, thick mist, fog was everywhere, so I hoped that on my way back it will be clear 🙂 as soon as I was down the hills, bright sun appeared and all long way till junction to road 128 it was perfect sun, easy ride, excellent road condition (I don’t count small bumps 20 m long). I stayed at mentioned hostel and next morning I just had some 30 smth km ahead of me. So first day, some 6 hours on a road and 170 km behind me, eaaaaasy ride, fun and I was pretty slow, smiling all way. Second day. Woke up, rain again. It stopped and I went to Sin Ho. Perfect sun, excellent road, fantastic views, easy ride. Just chilled, played soccer with locals, eat some cheap and good Pho, delicious Banh my.
    Third day. Woke up. Rained again… Of course. Stopped, went back. It was pure sun for 10 minutes and again thick fog 🙂 couldn’t see my wheel haha. After some 30km when all amazing views were behind me I guess, sun appeared 🙂 but I don’t mind, cuz road was PERFECT, fun, easy, fast! There was some 10 km without tarmac but road was smooth, still work going on, but it’s completely ideal for riding. And yes, I was rewarded on my way back from Lai Chau til Sa Pa, perfect sun and fast easy ride.

    Conclusion. Do it! Tom, it was amazing ride, thank you! roads are good quality, don’t take detour. You can do it also if u want in two days! Thanks again

    By the way, I went from Saigon to Hanoi coastline and now flying back to Saigon again. Want to rent a bike and do some tour to Dalat side 🙂 if there is some suggestion, let me know! Again, have a fun trips and rides everyone!

    • Hi Janis,

      Glad you had such a good road trip. Shame about the rain (again) but you did get to see some of that epic landscape in the sun after all 🙂

      Many thanks for the road updates – so good to know that the route is in good shape now.

      I can’t wait to get back up there I ride it again myself.

      Take a look at my Dalat Archive here and my southern routes here.

      Tom

  13. Emily says:

    Best wrong turn I made was into the town of Muong So! There’s a fabulous guesthouse just past the bridge over the river, with basic as well as fancier rooms, 150,000 or 300,000 dong. The town has a lot of charm unlike most of the spots on 4D, a cute suspension bridge upriver, and also a lively local market in the daytime. It’s not far out of the way either, just 3km up Rte 100, toward the right, where 4D splits toward Phong Tho. Not much English spoken, but very welcoming.

  14. Emily says:

    Currently closing out Day 2 of the loop…. Wow! Fantastic thus far! On account of rain, couldn’t get an early start to the market. But that’s totally fine because I got to encounter all the market traffic on the road up to Sin Ho. Did the loop out of Phong Tho clockwise because I instinctively just followed the road sign to Sin Ho going south on Rte 12. Expected much worse conditions because of the constant rain, but nothing too bad considering this is a rural mountain road. Small mudslides, a few boulders, potholes, gravelly stretches, but still pleasantly rideable. Yes, go slow and watch the road, but not treacherous, in my opinion.
    When the rental agency in Sapa heard my plans, they refused to rent me an automatic and I’m so glad for that. Semi-auto Honda Wave is a better choice and your wrists will thank you for avoiding those pesky hand brakes, although I have to guesstimate petrol usage on account of broken gauges. Something to check before you rent.
    Would’ve liked to find out what this “light show” in Sin Ho is about? Couple of people mentioned it (lacking English for further detsils) and I think maybe it is conjunction with a festival up there April 27 – May 4.
    Don’t be an amateur like me… Bring sunscreen. It was warm and sunny (and high altitude) and I got fried.

    • Hi Emily,

      Sounds great so far! Shame about the rain still 🙁 Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever been to that area and NOT had rain at least some of the time!

      Thanks for your updates about road conditions – sounds like it’s still good for riding.

      I’ve never heard of the ‘light show’ but it sounds interesting.

      Tom

  15. Michael Lapin says:

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for all the great info. Would you recommend a route from Pu Long > Sin Ho?

    Many thanks again,

    Mike

  16. Janis says:

    Hey, Tom, everyone 🙂

    Just sitting in Hostel, reading all the comments and I think tomorrow I’ll start my ride. Little bit concerned about road quality, but who cares, right, it will be awesome anyways!! Hope to find nice motorbike, Honda Wave I think will be fine? I rode it from Saigon to Hanoi and had just small issues during the road. I don’t have long pants and rain coat, I hope I’ll not freeze to death. Have thin sweater though 🙂 good luck for me, 🙂

    • Hi Janis,

      I hope you enjoy the ride and that the weather stays nice for you! Please do let me know how the road conditions are when you return – it would be a great help to me and my readers.

      Thanks,

      Tom

      • Janis says:

        Hey,

        It’s been 12 hours just pure rain!!! I guess today I’m not going, still heavy rain outside. How do you think, if it will stop today, will I be able to go tomorrow morning other way? Want to make to sin ho Sunday market? Thanks 🙂

  17. Max says:

    It’s the 26th and we’re in Sin Ho, having started the route backwards. I’d like to report that the condition of the road from Lai Chau to Sin Ho is in good shape. Yes, there is still construction. The last 8 or so kilometers towards Lai Chau are gravelly and there’s active work being done. Ride slow. However, it is not nearly as treacherous as the northern half of Ta Xua (a 30km, six hour ride through hell). My friend’s ’98 100cc Honda Win did fine. Don’t bother with the back road, the main road is beautiful and rideable.
    I am looking forward to the Sunday market tomorrow.
    Thanks Tom for the great guides.

    • Hi Max,

      Thanks for the update on road conditions – it’s good to hear that the road up to Sin Ho from Lai Chau is (slowly) getting better.

      Thanks for the information about Ta Xua – sounds like a long, arduous ride!

      Tom

  18. Kurt says:

    Hey. Im on the Loop right now staying in Lai Châu right now. See what happens the rest of the Loop.
    One question. Is there a possibility to get some gasoline up in the Hills? I only got a Wave with max 3 Liters in the Tank and I’m not sure if this last for the whole trip back to Sapa.

    By now it’s a awfull trip even without any vietnamesian words in my mind.

    • Hi Kurt,

      Yes, there are gas stations in Sin Ho – you can get from Lai Chau to Sin Ho with a tank of 3 litres of gas comfortably.

      Read the most the comment above by Robert on March 20 – he gives updated details of road conditions from Lai Chau to Sin Ho.

      Why is it an awful trip?

      Tom

  19. Robert says:

    Hey Tom, thanks for all the guides. I’m nearly at the end of my trip and followed your south to north route, just skipping a bit of the north east part because the riding combined with the Vietnamees beds are taking a toll on my back.
    Drove the sin ho- Lai Chau route a week back. Leaving the Sin Ho district the road gets horrendous, it’s all being resurfaced or is in desperate need of it. I ended up driving kilometres over rocks that are meant for the foundation. It goes on and of for a 20km stretch. I didn’t have your detour at hand and think the road was still in excellent condition when I past the turn.
    In Lai Chau I stopt at the Yamaha garage where they repaired 7 punctures on the the rear tyre and 5 on the front (some where there for longer I assume).
    So anyone doing the loop is better off taking the detour.

    • Hi Robert,

      Thanks for this useful update. It’s a shame it’s taking so long for this road to be resurfaced – I wish they would finish it so everyone can enjoy this scenic stretch of road.

      Wow, 12 punctures – that must be a record!

      Great to hear that you’ve ridden south to north and enjoyed it.

      Tom

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