Dong Van Karst Plateau

Dong Van Karst Featured image

Nestled in northern Vietnam and rubbing shoulders with China, the Dong Van Karst Plateau is a UNESCO listed wonder…

The Dong Van Karst Plateau is a huge geopark covering almost 1,000 square miles. It sits 1,500m above sea level in the very north of Vietnam and is formed from limestone. It dates back 600 million years, but the roads are not quite that old!

Climbing onto the plateau from Ha Giang, the road quickly narrows to a track and a half as it cuts through otherworldly rock fields and pointy mountains that look like they have been lifted from a sci-fi film.

It’s 100 miles to the town of Dong Van, with hairpins, sweeping valleys and ascents packed in one after another. But don’t go directly to Dong Van. Instead, go via the Lung Cu flagpole – Vietnam’s John O’Groats. The single-track route hangs on to the side of the mountains as you head toward Vietnam’s most northerly point.

The best is yet to come, however. Riding from Dong Van to Cau Bang immerses you in views that will keep breaking into the flow of your ride. The ride to Meo Vec and on to Tinh Toc is one of the most stunning rides anywhere. The Ma Pi Leng and Tinh Toc passes need riding twice; in fact, the whole route does. You need at least four days on the Dong Van Karst, two for photos and two to ride it, uninterrupted.

It’s best to visit in the dry season (October to January), as this is when northern Vietnam is at its warmest and driest. Come any later than February and the warm wet summer will arrive with temperatures in the 30s and occasionally 40s, with regular torrential rain.

The route is incredibly twisty and challenging. On a decent adventure bike, you won’t see fourth gear much, if at all in 250 miles. For a remote region with extremes of weather, the roads are generally in good order, but repairs and potholes are common and can catch you out if you let your focus drop.

Want to ride this?

The Dong Van Karst is just one of the great roads you can ride with Motorrad Tours. Motorrad Tours is an independent tour operator, which specialises in taking the hassle out of the planning and logistics of riding the world’s greatest motorcycle routes, without taking away your freedom to ride and explore. You can ride the Dong Van Karst on the company’s Adventure Vietnam Tour, or on the seven-week South East Asia 360˚ Overland trip.

To find out more visit