One of the things that make motorbiking in Vietnam so worth trying is the scenic roads throughout the country. Just like the legendary Route 66 in America, Vietnam also has its symbolic roads with stories which are remembered in history, culture and arts. Some roads are famous about how hard they were to make; some roads are attached with danger or the war history. But above all, when you ride on these roads, you will see a beautiful and peaceful Vietnam.
Road of Happiness, Ha Giang
The story of the Happiness Road in Ha Giang (or Highway 4C) – the last frontier of north Vietnam – was rather a heroic story to tell. The road connects Ha Giang City to 4 highland districts – Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van, Meo Vac; ends at the junction to Cao Bang province.
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The first attempt to open a road that runs through Ha Giang city to Meo Vac district in order to make transportation easier started back to year 1959. Before that time, Ha Giang didn’t really have a major road, H’mong people had to travel on horse backs and their journeys lasted months due to the harsh terrain of rock plateau. The road was only put to use in 1965 which means 6 years to make a road of 200 kilometers. The Highway 4C is not only the road of happiness but also the road of youth. Many young people at that time volunteered to work in this very dangerous job. Hardest part had to be Ma Pi Leng pass which is only 20km long yet took 2 years to finish. Seventeen bravest road workers had to hang their bodies on a 1600m cliff to make the road by their hands and mines only. At that time, ten coffins were prepared and two were used.
Hanoi – Nghia Lo – Mu Cang Chai
If you want to see the most beautiful terraced rice fields in Vietnam, no where is better than Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai. Each year, between September and November, Mu Cang Chai welcomes countless travelers from all over the world come to admire the greatness of an agricultural beauty.
From Nghia Lo, Yen Bai there is a 100km-mountain-road through Tu Le town where glutinous sticky rice is a must-try specialty and Khau Pha pass which is of one the four great passes of north Vietnam. The whole way is simply beautiful and romantic. The place to take the best photos of the terraces must be La Pan Tan Commune.
By motorbike, the road you should take is national highway 32 all the way to Mu Cang Chai Commune. There are two passes that are Khe Pass and Khau Pha pass and you should watch out on the latter because it’s obviously more dangerous and has thicker traffic in peak season. In general, the road quality is good.
O Quy Ho Pass
O Quy Ho Pass is the longest pass in Vietnam, spreading about 50km on 4D national highway from Lao Cai to Lai Chau. Its name “O Quy Ho” is from the sound of a specific bird. The pass is known for its dangers as much as its majestic beauties. The pass’s peak is on an altitude of 2000m and called “Heaven Gate”, located just few kilometers away from Tram Ton – Love Fall. One magnificent thing about this pass is the weather. In summer, when you ride motorbike through the pass the weather will change slowly from cool and cloudy in Lao Cai to sunny, dry and quite hot in Lai Chau. Along the road, you will see many wild flowers, small waterfall streaming down from the mountains and panoramic views of nature. The sunset on O Quy Ho is also one of the most beautiful moments in the north; however it’s dangerous if you are still on the pass when sun goes down.