Sapa (Northwest Vietnam Loop) – 1. Introduction

As Lonely Planet Vietnam puts it, “Northwest Vietnam is a land of looming mountains, a mosaic of ethnic minorities, a region of overwhelming beauty – very much a world unto itself. Hit the Road by 4WD or motorcycle for an adventure more than a holiday – an experience that will stay with you forever.”

Indeed, the far northwest ride is the classic northern Vietnam trip, passing through wildly different landscapes, ranging from Hanoi’s flat land to Sapa’s mountain roads. The ride definitely ranks as one of my most favourites. Truth to be told, I did not prepare in advance for the ride. I arrived in Hanoi after crossing the China-Vietnam border at Pingxiang, halfway through my 6-week China and Southeast Asia vacation. My footwears were a pair of sandals and a pair of flip-flops. A light jacket was all I had for the highlands. It was approaching the raining season and I did not have any proper rain gear. Not forgetting to mention, I had never rode a motorcycle in a foreign country before.

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