From Hanoi to Sapa: How We Got Lost in Vietnam – Part 2

Hanoi to Sapa Vietnam - Honeymoon Backpackers

Monique and Dylan are the Honeymoon Backpackers. They got married a year ago, barefoot, on White Beach Boracay in the Philippines. Instead of going on a typical post-wedding vacation, they decided to do things differently and embarked upon an endless backpacking honeymoon. They’ve been traveling ever since. In this four part blog series Monique and Dylan attempt to get from Hanoi to Sapa in Vietnam. However, as you’ll see, things didn’t go quite according to plan…


Part 2 of 4


Day 2. Lost in Vietnam, and An Unexpected Stop Over

After getting lost in Vietnam, on our first attempt to leave Hanoi, and losing time having to backtrack for hours, we were adamant that it wasn’t going to happen again today!

We worked out the route we were going to take, had a pretty clear sense of our direction and this time our phone was fully charged! Off we went to embark upon the same long stretch of road for the 3rd time (thanks to yesterday’s mishap). Luckily, it was a beautiful drive alongside a river, with rice fields and water buffalo.


Lost in Vietnam - Hanoi to Sapa
Quick rest stop with these beautiful water buffalo!


We soon arrived at the freeway entrance to Sapa, yes! But then our hearts dropped when we saw a sign ‘NO MOTORBIKES’. Yeah, our awesome game plan had suddenly gone to shit. We now had to drive along winding, bumpy, dirt roads (at least they call them roads!). They weaved underneath and around the freeway tantalising us, we so wished we could get on it.

Our hearts sank when we finally got to the freeway and saw a sign ‘NO MOTORBIKES’Click To Tweet


Then, just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my phone battery died! Despite supposedly being on 25%… Everyone knows how precious the last 20% of battery is, and now it was gone. But never fear, we had our trusty map and they never die. According to our map, the road we were on actually didn’t exist… so it was time to wing it! We followed a sign saying ‘Lao Cai’ and stopped many times along the way asking for directions, but everyone we asked just waved us through to keep going. So we did…


Lost in Vietnam - Hanoi to Sapa
This ‘little’ stream is far deeper than it looks… We had to carry our backpacks across & the bike almost drowned.


A Trip Into The Mountains

With hind sight, we should have guessed that we might not be going in the right direction as we were riding deep into the mountains on a rocky dirt road. Especially when we had to cross a river and began driving through tiny villages. I don’t really know why we were so certain that we were heading in the right direction to Sapa, especially after our experiences of the previous day.

I guess the incredible scenery and our lust for adventure distracted us. Our bike was struggling, nightfall was approaching, and we were in the middle of freaking nowhere! We were now 22km from the town we thought we had to get to, and then our exhaust fell off attempting to get up a rocky hill!

Meeting the Locals

Day two of our motorbike trip so far was going from bad to worse. There was no ‘Xe May’ (mechanic) in this little town, just a couple of locals who had a screw driver to help temporarily fix the problem. The whole village came out out to see us. Soon enough we were surrounded by 20-30 people, who were all laughing and taking photos I might add!


The whole village came out to see us. We were surrounded by people laughing and taking photos!Click To Tweet


Now we do speak a little bit of Vietnamese, enough to get by anyway, but not enough to engage in a proper conversation. I knew that they were talking about us, I heard “khong viet” (no Vietnamese) “Sapa” & everyone laughing… It was like I was back home getting my nails done and the Asian nails ladies were all talking about me. In reality we were stuck in a village, way up in the mountains, that doesn’t even have a bloody name…


After charging my phone I soon realised why they all laughed when we had said we were heading to Sapa/Lao Cai. We were actually deep in the Hoang Lien Mountain range in Yen Bai province. We were not even close to Lao Cai province, and definitely nowhere near Sapa! At this point, I broke down, “this can not be happening, this is just not happening right now!”


At this point I broke down, “this can not be happening, this is just not happening right now!” Click To Tweet


Then, it dawned on us; where were we going to stay? Where were we going to eat? What on earth were we going to do?


Lost in Vietnam - hanoi to Sapa
At least you have a killer view when you’re lost in the Yen Bai mountain range!


Some Unexpected Hospitality

Luckily, the Vietnamese are some of the kindest people in the world. A local family invited us to stay at their house, they cooked us an incredible dinner & gave us rice wine. Throughout the evening many people stopped by to see the ‘stupid’ foreigners who had got lost and ended up in their town.


Throughout the evening many people stopped by to see the 'stupid' foreigners who had got lost and ended up in their town.Click To Tweet


We discovered that we were actually the first foreigners that pretty much everyone in the village had ever seen. We also found out that it’s kinda illegal to go to small villages like this in Vietnam without a guide and/or permission from the local government! The locals didn’t seem to mind though, everyone took photos with us, we practiced our Vietnamese and they helped us work out how to get to Sapa the next day.



We were so grateful for the hospitality we received and relieved at how the situation turned out. It really restored our faith in humanity that people can just open their hearts and their homes to complete strangers, without asking for or accepting anything in return, even though these local people had so very little.

From Hanoi to Sapa - How We Got Lost in Vietnam - By The Honeymoon Backpackers


It really restored our faith in humanity that people can just open their hearts and their homes to complete strangersClick To Tweet


We certainly never expected to end up staying in this little village, it had been an eventful day. However, unbeknown to us, things were about to get even more eventful…

Read Part Three of the Honeymoon Backpackers’ Vietnamese adventure tomorrow.


From Hanoi to Sapa - How We Got Lost in Vietnam by the Honeymoon Backpackers

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Honeymoon Backpackers
Honeymoon Backpackers Monique & Dylan, have been travelling the world for over a year! It all began in May 2016, in the Philippines, where they got married barefoot on White Beach Boracay. Instead of having one elaborate honeymoon trip, they chose to embark on an endless backpacking honeymoon! In total they've explored 17 countries together so far. Their aim is to reach all 7 continents around the world on their endless backpacking honeymoon. We think they are our most romantic Wanderlusters yet!
The Honeymoon Backpackers have been travelling ever since they got married on a beach. They just didn't want to go home. While travelling in Vietnam they set off from Hanoi to Sapa on Betty their motorbike, however, things didn't turn out how they'd expected... Read part 2 of The Honeymoon Backpacker's story now on The Wanderlust Post - @honeymoonbackpackers

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