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Road Cycling around Hanoi: Contrary to popular belief.

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

If you're a cyclist who's new to Hanoi or new to road cycling around the city of peace,

you must understand that contrary to popular belief,

cycling around Hanoi can be rather gratifying. The versatile topography provides us with a plethora of features including rolling hills around gorgeous lakes, fast flats, and a couple of 1000m+ HC climbs as well to mix it all up.



Early morning rollout over the Red River.


Vietnam in general, has some jaw-dropping backdrops, pristine tarmac, and infinitely winding switchbacks with grades over 20%, but we're not going to mention the Hai Van Pass, Dalat's climbs, or the serpentine spell of the roads of the Northern Frontier in this article.






Located in the red river delta, Hanoi lies between 0-10m above Mean Sea Level and features a mild, tropical climate typical of northern Vietnam with a dry season from November to April and a wet season from May to October. The months of June through August are typically the hottest and wettest. Summers are Hot and Humid and the Winters are chilly and bleak but provide for some nice all-day ride temperatures.





A map delineating most of Hanoi's most popular rides.


Hanoi’s typography is fairly simple. The city is nestled in the alluvial cone of the Red River Delta and rooted in the fertile plain. The Muscovite granite and Volcanic Redstone make up the hilly areas in the North and NorthWest and date back to the Cretaceous ages. These span from Tam Dao Range to the Southeast around Soc Son The other hills can be found in the form of soil Limestone mountain ranges of the west around Bavi and Hoa Binh.

Before the Neogene (23.03 million years ago - 2.58 million years ago) this area was a highland, but today, Hanoi’s topography is diverse for its low mountains, hills, and plains.




The most popular rides of Hanoi are headed north and northwest into Soc Son and Thai Nguyen area as well as headed west along the Red River towards Son Tay.


There are innumerable cycling clubs in Hanoi, The most notable of these open groups are T2 Cycling Open and Hanoi Cyclists. T2 Cycling Open

T2 Open is open to all cyclists as anyone can join their Facebook page

and their ride schedule is fairly simple Tuesday/Thursday: 32km Airport Run Sunday: 45km Open Race (VKL)

Although some members of the T2 club ride every day without fail, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays are when there's the most amount of action due to 100+ cyclists showing up and the most action-packed racing is guaranteed. The timings vary slightly from summer to winter months and it is best to confirm with the members on the Facebook page if you intend to join. The open races are very exhilarating, but as with any kind of racing-related activity, Everyone who participates understands the risks involved and participate of their own accord. Definitely NOT for the faint-hearted.



Tam Dao is on the horizon at dawn from Nhat Tan Bridge. 5:30am Summers / 6:00am Winters



A regular gathering of the most notable roadies of Hanoi before the T2 flag off.


Average speeds on these 30km loops can exceed 45km/hr. Take your turn in the front at your own peril. Usually safest to be in the front but the adrenaline rush is the same anywhere in the peloton.




The final bridge sprint gets intense. The T2 loop is simple, apart from the fact that it has been named after the Noi Bai Terminal 2 which the ride does not even cross, but that's great because the stretch of road is relatively unsafe after that due to airport vehicles and trucks plying all over. Begin at the first pillar with the bunch and roll over the Nhat Tan Bridge. As soon as the bridge descends, the pace is held up above 40km/hr until the first turnaround and then back to Nhat Tan with the finish line being the first pillar on the way back to Hanoi. A premium adrenaline rush is Guaranteed.


Sundays are the day for the VKL, which is usually slightly longer than the T2 loops but is even more adrenaline-packed as there is a podium ceremony afterward before the Pho refueling.



Hanoi Cyclists



Hanoi Cyclists is an open group for leisure as well as discerning cyclists alike. A Whatsapp group can be joined by requesting us at ridebikes.cc or any one of the HC members. You'll find someone of your fitness ability in this group for sure and riding with them is the surest way of finding the best post-ride coffee spots in Tay Ho.

RIDING ON THE AIRPORT ROAD

Riding on the highway without too many wavering mopeds can be very meditative.

Watch out for:

Parked cars - always maintain 1 m anticipating doors being swung open in your face.

Shrapnel - Punctures can be avoided by being mindful Debris - bricks and other things can be founds strewn all across


The actual civil rules on this are very much in the grey. However, the unwritten rules are clear.

If you're going to be cruising above 35km/hr stick to the highway and watch out for parked cars. If you're going to be cruising under 35km/hr, stick to the service lane and keep an eye out for mopeds, pedestrians, and trucks.


For 40+km rides as well as group rides, the service lane is always a good idea.


The airport road is only the exit/re-entry into Hanoi. The real fun starts when the highway ends.






Some of the most popular rides around Hanoi. All distances are calculated keeping the starting and ending to be around the northern tip of

Tay Ho.

You can contact us for .gpx files for any of these rides and we will be happy to provide them.

Soc Son Foothills

Distance: 50kms Elevation Gain: 130m

A great ride for beginner cyclists to get a feel of riding in the woods. Almost an airport out and back with a quick loop through the edges of the Soc Son forests. This ride takes you along the beautiful Lake Dong Quan.


Soc Son Golf Course Distance: 65kms Elevation Gain: 227m


The golf course ride has a little bit of everything and is one of our all-time favorites for a quick ride. The ride takes you through the rolling foothills of the Soc Son forests and around the Hanoi Golf Club and includes a long smooth straight back if done counterclockwise. Lake Dai Lai

Distance: 88kms Elevation: 320m

One of the best 3 hour rides Hanoi has to offer. With many variations of routes to be taken to and from the lake, this ride has many iterations.

The lap around the lake is a breathtaking roller coaster and is 12.8kms long, so a 88km Dai Lai loop can easily be turned into a 100km ride with 2 loops of the Lake before making your way back. Deo Nhe

Distance: 120kms Elevation: 411m

Deo Nhe is a nice countryside roll with some bits of elevation as you wind through the valleys of the Soc Son hills and paddy fields.

Red River Cruise aka Baby Dragon Ride.

Distance: 48kms Elevation: 33m

Probably the flattest ride around Hanoi. Only 33m of elevation gain. This one is a personal favorite for recovery rides as you roll along the picturesque Red River and then take the Rose Gardens back to Hanoi.



Lake Dong Mo aka Dragon Ride

Distance: 108kms Elevation: 180m

If Lake Dai Lai gets boring, Lake Dong Mo is another treat for the senses. Out by the Red River and back to Hanoi through the highway and rose gardens.


Tour of Ba Vi

Distance: 160km Elevation: 924m

A brilliant 100miler, this ride does not climb Ba Vi, but circumnavigates the mountain and gives us a glimpse of the hills lying to the west of the Da River along with some breathtaking views and glorious roads. Even though it's at sea level, climbing enthusiasts who visit or reside in Hanoi, have 3 hills to rejoice over. A 1000m climb, An 800m climb and a 250m climb within a radius of only 60kms.


BA VI (HC)



The Ba Vì mountain range is a soil-limestone mountain range, but since only 50sq km across, it's more of an isolated massif.

The Ba Vì (translated to three peaks) mountain range is called "the lord of mountains" in the Vietnamese spirit though it is not the highest mountain range in Vietnam.


Bavi across the dong Mo Lake.


The mountain range runs north-east and south-west with its peak at Vua Peak of 1,296 m and Tan Vien Peak of 1,227 m and Ngoc Hoa Peak of 1,131 m.

The climb however culminates at the car park at an altitude of 1,090m.


The climb up Ba Vi is long and arduous, but glorious throughout.

Ba Vi is a National Park and therefore has an entry fee involved. Carry some spare change as the entry fee along with a bicycle is around 70,000 VND/ 3$. Once the fee is paid, you're allowed to enter the park and you can begin climbing. The 12km climb begins at a very moderate grade and gradually climbs until it flattens out at KM 5 at the old Ba Vi resort. After which, the climb begins to get steeper until the Old French Camping grounds at about km 8. The final 4 km are the most beautiful with gorgeous sceneries and switchbacks but also boasts the steepest parts of the climb.


The climb culminates at the car park from where one can take 13,000+ steps up to the pagodas or decide to head down gravity assisted. It is very important to keep to your side of the road at all times as well as consider the oncoming traffic as a severe threat while descending Bavi.

At the western foot of the Ba Vì mountain range is the Đà river, while at the eastern edge is an artificial lake called Suoi Hai, which is gorgeous to ride around the periphery in the Dragon Ride. It also goes by the name of Dong Mo Lake as labeled on Google Maps.


An articulately penned article on BaVi, by Nick Pilgrim (currently 8th on the Strava leaderboard for the BaVi climb and Hanoi Cycling OG)

can be accessed on VELO VIETNAM.



The mountains of Hoa Binh across the Da River.


TAM DAO (HC)


The topography of the Tam Dao National Park is very complex.

The mountain ridges are deeply dissected by narrow valleys. The Tam Dao mountains extend more than 80 km long but the breadth of them is less than 20 km. Their highest peaks, Thach Ban, Thien Tri, Rung Rinh, are between 1300 - 1400 m in height but the climb segment ends at 900m although there is some tarmac that allows you to climb up to 1,002m above sea level.


The approach to the Tam Dao Climb with the tourist town nestled on the top.

Once at the top of Tam Dao, the views are quite rewarding. (BaVi can be seen in the distance in the photograph above)



The Tam Dao climb is very different from BaVi as it has been carved out with a tiny but bustling town in mind that sits atop this hill. Starting off mellow, Tam Dao gets steeper in the middle sections with max grades reaching 14%. Having more traffic than Bavi including trucks carrying supplies to the town and thousands of hotels, Tam Dao must be specifically descended very cautiously.



Giong (Cat 3)

2.42km 240m 9.9% avg

Segment: Hoc Vien Phat

Dubbed "The Best Breakfast in Town", Giong is only 30kms away and is 2.4km long. Easy right? With an average grade of 9.9% and a max grade of 18%, Giong is not just a "little" hill. The first hill in the range that extends northwest, Giong is an ideal training ground for anyone looking to get comfortable with climbing. The descent is also very treacherous with extremely tight bends and off-camber turns which can be very slippery. Some sections allow you to reach speeds over 90km/hr if you stay away from the brakes, but then again, as this is open to the public, extreme caution must be exercised at all times.


Anyone climbing Giong for the first time, is a bit taken aback by how quickly it goes from 0-14% right from the start on the "Wattage Bazooka" and then it's pretty brutal all the way up.





Together, these three hills are referred to as the "Trinity" i.e a 240km ride with 2,800m of elevation gain, if you're up for it.


The trinity.



In about 30 minutes, you're in the woods. It's only then when I feel glad to be living in Hanoi. To be able to go ride to the woods, climb a hill, screaming downhill and be back home in time for morning coffee, ready to take on the day.



Basic Riding tips: