From Hanoi to Sapa – How We Got Lost in Vietnam – Part 4

From Hanoi to Sapa - Lost in Vietnam

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 4 of 4

The Final Stretch of Freeway

There we were, riding down the freeway on Betty our motorbike. The freeway that had a great big sign saying ‘No Motorbikes’ that is. After spending three days in the deepest, most remote parts of rural Vietnam getting completely lost, we’d decided we had no option left but to chance it and get on the freeway anyway. We were officially rebels. Only, now we had a problem. There was a great big Police truck coming towards us. Eek!
Should we stop? Do we try to hide? We didn’t know what to do.
Thankfully, and rather bizarrely, the Police drove straight past. In fact, they were even smiling and waving at us! There was no drama at all. Even the toll booths waved us straight through, they didn’t even charge us for using the road. So here’s a tip, if you’re ever exploring Vietnam, keep in mind that road signs may, in fact, be optional (though we of course can not take any responsibility for your choices!)
We made another quick beer stop while we fixed a flat tyre (it seemed nothing was going to go smoothly!) and then we were, finally, on the home straight to Sapa.
Lost in rural Vietnam from Hanoi to Sapa The Honeymoon Backpackers
Views on our way to Sapa!


Betty Was Getting Tired

Next, we arrived in Lao Cai and we were faced with the steep road up into the mountains of Sapa. Our bike was struggling. It was overheating, and the sun was setting. We were given one piece of advice, never ride that road at night! I can totally understand why, it’s bloody dangerous! At one stage we almost got pushed off the road by a bus trying to overtake a truck on a blind corner.

We were given one piece of advice, never ride that road at night! Click To Tweet


Fortunately we weren’t driving on the edge of the cliff side of the road which has a sheer 100m drop to the valley below. I’m petrified of heights, so the drive to Sapa pushed me to my limits. I was no longer taking notice of the incredible rice fields and mountains, I was literally closing my eyes and screaming at Dylan to “beep the horn” around every corner. Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy this particular bit of the trip.

You can see remnants from previous land slides by the side of the road on the way to Sapa and broken railings where cars have clearly crashed and fallen off the edge! But there are also incredible waterfalls flowing beneath the road, so you’re surrounded by beauty!


You can see remnants from previous land slides by the side of the road on the way to Sapa and broken railings where cars have clearly crashed and fallen off the edge! Click To Tweet


However, our ordeal was not over yet. Whilst going up the steep ascent to Sapa our motorbike ceased up. It turned itself off and our engine was steaming. We were done for… Our phones were dead, it was getting dark, what the hell were we going to do?


Lost in rural Vietnam from Hanoi to Sapa, The Honeymoon Backpackers
Flowing waterfall en route to Sapa


Mechanics Do Not Come Cheap In Rural Vietnam…

After waiting 20 minutes or so for the engine to cool down we tried to push on. Fortunately, pretty soon, we found a mechanic. We have no idea about motorbikes! Like none at all. We did do some research and we knew how much we should expect to pay for this and that, but I guess fair prices go out of the window when you break down in a remote location…

400,000 dong later (which sounds an awful lot but to be fair is about $18 US Dollars), an oil change, new spark plug and apparently something else which we didn’t understand but just accepted needed doing, and we were back on the road to Sapa. The problem was not completely fixed, but at least we had the peace of mind that we hadn’t completely messed the bike up just 3 days into our trip.

It was pushing night fall, all we could do was hope that little Betty the Honda Wave could make it. We were stopping at any safe chance we got so we could give the engine a break. We were even tossing up whether to flag down a bus or a cab for me and the bags, whilst Dylan tried to push on to Sapa, but we thought, even if there was one going past where was it going to stop?

Thankfully, eventually we reached the outskirts of Sapa and stopped at the very first guesthouse we saw!


Finally We Made It

After running out of petrol, stumbling upon a monastery, getting lost, having tons of bike dramas, driving deep into the Hoang Lien Mountain range, having to stay at a local family’s house, visiting villages, trekking through rivers and mud pits, tons of backtracking and time wasting, realising that we could have driven the freeway all along but managing to appreciate the beautiful scenery, we had finally made it to Sapa!

We just wish that it had only taken us 7 hours, like it said on Google Maps! Ah well… it was finally time for a beer, some good food and a good nights rest. Hopefully we won’t get lost on our way back to the hotel..



Lost in rural Vietnam the Honeymoon Backpackers
After everything we went through, we FINALLY made it to Sapa!


If you enjoyed this tale by the Honeymoon Backpackers you may also like How I Climbed Mount Pulag and Came Back Down a Graduate or How We Spent 72 Hours in Hong Kong by John Harvey Perez.


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!
Read the fourth and final part of The Honeymoon Backpackers' story of how they got lost in Vietnam. You'll never believe how they finally made it to Sapa...

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