Ba Vi National Park is around 55km to the West of Hanoi. It is easy to get to and makes a good day trip or an overnight trip. It isn’t really a stop over on route to anywhere as it is so close to Hanoi and quick to get to. There are a wide range of things to do, sights to see and places to stay. You can walk to Thuong Temple, visit the French Ruins or the old Church and stay in a resort or small guesthouse.
Your choice of route will depend on where you are leaving Hanoi, what time you are leaving and how much traffic you are willing to deal with. It is probably a good idea to make a loop and choose one way out and another back.
Full Route Map
Route 1 - Highway QL32
This is the shortest and usually the fastest route, however, it can be the busiest and most stressful. The Ql32 is the main road to the Northwest of Vietnam and there is a lot of traffic heading that way. A good choice is to leave either before or after the general rush hour to avoid some of the traffic. That is before 7am or after 9am. Considering Ba Vi is only a short drive away, leaving after 9am is not a big problem. You will easily make it there for lunch. There are two ways to get onto the Ql32.
The easiest is to take the Dyke Road up to Nhat Tan Bridge and then to Thang Long bridge and further. Once you get to Thuong Cat area, there are a few left turns that will get you out on to the Ql32. Any of these turns will do as they are pretty much the same. You will then be in Phung and you can carry on along the Ql32 from there. This section of road is still busy and not very interesting. Once you get to Son Tay bus station you can turn left and head for Son Tay town. The DT87A will take you straight to the park gate.
Back Road Route
The other way to get on the Ql32 is a little more direct from Cau Giay area. From here you will be on the QL32 and you simply drive directly to Phung. From there you simply follow the route above. This route has more traffic because it comes from the centre of Hanoi and is more unpleasant to drive.
Route 2 - Highway CT08
This is my preferred route in many ways because once you are out of town, you leave traffic behind quite quickly. However, you often do have to get across town to get to the start of the CT08.
You start this route on Nguyen Chi Thanh St, which is a busy dual carriageway. It is not much fun to drive on but it gets you out of town quite quickly. This then turns into Dai Lo Thang Long (CT08). Be careful here as this is a highway and motorbikes are not allowed on it. I have marked on the map, the place that you need to turn off this road and take the smaller side road, which is supposed to be one way. Be careful.
This will take you all the way to Hoa Lac, which is about 25km further on and past Chua Thay. This might be a good place to stop if you are planning an overnight stay in Ba Vi as you will have plenty of time. At Hoa Lac you can get back on to the CT08 to take the bridge over the QL21 / HCM Highway. Do this to avoid having to deal with the spaghetti junction at Hoa Lac. The road starts to get quieter and quieter as you get further along and towards Son Tay. This road, the DT187, takes you to the junction of the QL32 and it is then only a left turn and about 3km to get to the park. You will need to look out for the turning off the QL32 as it is not so well signposted.
In a Nutshell
As always, getting out of Hanoi is a pain but it isn’t long before you are on some quite relaxed roads with some interesting scenery. If you choose to take the quieter routes you will be a little slower but it will be much more relaxed. So long as you leave early enough, you can do this and have plenty of time in Ba Vi. There is a tonne of stuff to see and do there so it really is worth the trip.
Make a loop of it and consider making it an overnight / weekend trip.