Trip Description & Day-by-day Itinerary
11 days in Vietnam north to south package offers the opportunity to visit all Vietnam essential travel destinations as you travel from the northern to the southern Vietnam. Begin the tour in Hanoi, travel through Mai Chau, Tam Coc, Lao Cai, Sapa, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh city, Mekong Delta, Can Tho, Cu Chi tunnels. Different travel activities have been added to the tour making your holidays enjoyable – mountain hiking, homestay, sampan cruise, countryside cycle, boat junk cruises, sea kayaking, cycling, war sites. Optional travel activities such as scuba diving, cooking class, spa are also available upon request. The tour can also be extended with a beach break to the southern beach such as Mui Ne beach or Phu Quoc island beach.
Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau. Hiking Mai Chau villages.
Depart Hanoi for Hoa Binh province and up then to Mai Chau valley. This scenic drive takes around four hours. Along the way we pass fields of tapioca and sugar cane as well as rice paddies. Upon arriving in Mai Chau valley, we take a short walk around Lac & Poom Coong villages to have the first sights of the White Thai community culture.
In the evening, assist to the traditional music and dance show which is performed by The Thai young girls and boys. They all come from this village. Try also some rice alcohol made of traditional plants and local sticky rice. Overnight at stilt-house.
Day 2: Maichau – Tam Coc, Ninh Binh.
Breakfast then we say good bye to the warm-hearted Thai people. Depart for Ninhbinh. We will arrive at Kenh Ga around noon. Have your lunch in a local restaurant and try some specialty of the region. After lunch, the car will drive you to Kenh Ga floating village where you will take the boat trip along the beautiful river. Set on the banks of the Hoang Long River, Kenh Ga is a remarkable place, not only because it is surrounded by the same massive rocks that dominate Hoa Lu, but also because for most of the year the entire community lives on the water itself. The floating village of Kenh Ga receives relatively few visitors compared to nearby Hoa Lu and the peoples’ aquatic way of life has changed little over the centuries. Overnight at local guest-house.
Day 3: Tam Coc sampan cruise tour. Travel back to Hanoi. Overnight train to Lao Cai.
The river trip in Van Long is wonderful for photo hunters, especially when local people come to harvest the water rice planted along the river, or when they transplant some seedling for the next crops. The tourists often compare the place with Guilin – China, or more closely, to the limestone islets of Halong Bay in the Tonkin Gulf for their similar geological structures and shapes. Thus Van Long is also called Halong-Bay-On-Land. We will have a 3-hour boat trip along the river before making our way back to Hanoi. After dinner, transfer to Hanoi railway station to take the night train to Laocai. Overnight on the train.
Day 4: Arrive Laocai. Travel to Sapa. Hiking Sapa villages.
You will be met up at Lao Cai railways station by another Lotussia Travel local guide and driver then transferred to Sapa for a short rest and breakfast. Then we will travel down hill to Ban Ho. We will trek through the scenic valley of “Ban Ho”. This is a village of Tay ethnic minority. The Tay preserve a traditional and fairly developed agriculture with cultivation of all kinds of plants including rice, maize and sweet potato as well as seasonable fruit and vegetables. Then we continue walking to Thanh Phu village where your lunch will be provided in a local house. After lunchtime, you head to Sin Chai village. This is a village of of Red Dao people. Dinner and overnight at the village.
Day 5: Continue trekking Sapa. Return Sapa town. Travel to Lao Cai. Overnight train back to Hanoi.
After breakfast, we will start our day with a long trek towards Lao Cai. The route from Sin Chai, one of the most remote area in Sapa offers beautiful scenery and landscape. The trek will take us through rice paddy fields, bamboo forest, old trees jungle. Your lunch will be provided at Nam Ket. After lunch, we will trek downhill. Upon arriving in Ta Thang village, a Tay village we will be greeted again by our driver who transfer us then to Laocai station for our journey back to Hanoi. Overnight on the train.
Day 6: Arrive Hanoi. Travel to Halong bay. Cruise tour with kayaking.
Arrive in Hanoi in the early morning, transfer to a local restaurant for early breakfast then depart to Halong. Enjoy the journey through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta and the scenery of rice fields, water buffalo and everyday Vietnamese village life. Arrive in Halong around noon and board the Bai Tho traditional sailing junk (or similar). Whilst cruising the exquisite waters sample the regions fresh seafood. Visit the recently discovered Surprise Grotto with its great views, and on the next island see the yawning mouth of Bo Nau Cave. Alternatively journey to Dau Go Cave and nearby see the famous stalagmites and stalactites of Thien Cung Cave. Take a kayaking trip to explore the Bay. Watch the sun set over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner. Overnight on board junk.
Day 7: Halong Bay – Hanoi.
Wake up to fresh coffee and a wholesome breakfast before cruising back to Halong City. En route the junk weaves through strange-shaped rock formations that invite comparisons from fighting cocks to dragons. After another wonderful fresh seafood lunch (early) on board disembark at the dock at Halong City at around 11h00am. Transfer back to Hanoi. Overnight in Ha Noi.
Day 8: Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh city. City tour.
After breakfast, transfer to Hanoi airport for the morning flight to Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon). Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh city airport, you will be met by another Lotussia Travel local guide and driver and transferred to your hotel in the city center. After your free lunch in town, start the tour with Ho Chi Minh City highlights including the Post Office, cathedral, Reunification palace, centre town, then continue towards Cholon, visit Thien Hau temple and Binh Tay market. Overnight in Saigon
Day 9: Travel to the Mekong Delta. Biking on flat roads (Ho Chi Minh city – My Tho – Can Tho).
After breakfast, transfer (approx 2 hrs) to My Tho to avoid the teeming traffic. My Tho is the gateway to the Mekong Delta and a wonderful place to start our ride. In My Tho, unload the bikes and start to pedal on the beautiful and quiet country lanes along the Tien River to Cai Be. Along the way, pass through the heart of rural Mekong along narrow lanes, passing banana plantations, sugarcane fields and the lush rural landscape of the Delta. After Cai Be, cross on Dinh Khao ferry to Cho Lach. After the ferry, cycle for a couple of kilometres and then shuttle the rest way to Can Tho. O/N in Can Tho.
Day 10: Continue cycling. Travel back Ho Chi Minh city.
After enjoying an early morning breakfast visit the Cai Rang floating market, weave through teeming early morning market bustle along the banks of an active riverfront. Ride on a narrow paved road to Phong Dien floating market. Absorb the sights of endless cottage industries, timber merchants, coconut shredders, small docks loading/unloading rice, tiny vibrant markets. Local lunch in town. Continue by bike on the narrow lane to explore the hidden backwaters of the Mekong Delta. Return to Saigon. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh city.
Day 11: Day trip to Cu Chi tunnels.
Enjoy a scenic drive through typical southern Vietnamese countryside to Cu Chi to visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters during the long struggle for independence. Back to Saigon. Trip ends.
Contact us for more information about this 11 days in Vietnam north package
Occasionally our tour itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travelers’ comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the service proposal. It’s very important that you print and review a final copy of your itinerary prior to travel. If you have any queries, please contact us.
Please note that while we operate successful cycling holidays in Vietnam throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.
Bargaining is not a strange fact in Vietnam. There are many places in Vietnam where people bargain, especially in open-air markets, street shops and rural areas. Therefore we are not good at bargaining. We don’t like this trick neither. Our time is precious and we appreciate your time as well. We would prefer spending our time on the tour arrangements to the price negotiation. Our price is fixed.
Our trip cost usually includes the following services. Please bear in mind Lotussia Travel is specialized in tailor-made trips. Trip cost vary depending on group size and other details.
- Vehicle for transfers and support
- Tour guide. The English-Speaking guide is provided by default. Other language may be available upon request (with extra charge).
- Bicycle rental
- Sightseeing entrance fees.
- Bottled water.
Unless required most of the following services are usually not included in our tour price.
- Visa (required)
- Flight/Train tickets.
- Accommodation pre/post trip.
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses
Visitors are required to have a valid visa to enter Vietnam. A one month tourist visa is usually sufficient for most visitors, though it is possible to arrange three months or six month – multiple entry visa for regular visitors.
The official national currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), but the US dollar is widely accepted in Vietnam. However, small towns and the villages the VND is preferred, ATM are available in all major cities and towns, tourist destinations, Vietcombank, Agriculture banks are the two largest networks with a limit a single withdraw limit of 2,000,000 d (95 USD). Most major currrencies can be exchanged in Vietnam, but the USD is the most preferred. The exchange rate 1 USD = 22.400 VND (Nov. 2016)
Vietnam has a tropical monsoon climate. Broadly speaking, the weather in Vietnam is dictated by two seasons – the southwest monsoon from April to September and the Northeast monsoon from October to late march or early April.
Due to regional climate differences, there are no right or wrong seasons to visit Vietnam. The north Vietnam is cool, damp in winters between November and December and February with tempreture in Hanoi falling to around 15oC. The summer months from April to October are hot and dry. The best time visit Vietnam is spring (February – April) or Autunm (late September – December) when it is not so humid. The weather turns quite cold and wet in January and this continues to march. The humidity can prove oppresive from May to the early September.
Wearing a helmet is compulsory on all our biking adventures. Our tour guide often carry first aid kit while riding. Please follow your guide while biking, and much attention is required while you cross streets.
To assist you visualize how our bike trip is difficult, we have graded our Vietnam cycling tours into three categories, easy, moderate, and challenging. We group many factors into consideration into this grading, including distant covered, terrain, altitude, and vehicle support.
Involves cycling for up to two to three hours a day at easy pace and usually, less than 3 days in duration. The cycling distances is around 15 – 30 km per day. There are likely to be no steep and sustained descents as well as demand for technical riding. We will normally ride on flat roads. Suitable for bikers who enjoy occasional weekend riding on trails at home. Push bikes are sometimes used for these itineraries.
Involves biking for up to six hours a day at a steady pace and are usually between three to five days in duration. The cycling distance is about 35 – 55 km per day. Sometimes it can be long flat rides or medium ride with fews up and downhill climbs. The support vehicle will not always be available. We will need a good level of fitness. We use either mountain bikes or road bikes for these itineraries.
Involves biking in mountainous areas with big climbs for up to seven or eight hours a day and usually more than a week in duration. Cycling distance is about 60 – 80 km per day. There will be steep and sustained ascents and descents. The support vehicle will not always be available. These trips will provide a real sustained workout even for fit and experienced mountain bikers.
When cycling we mostly stay in small hotel, guesthouse or homestays. Some are more basic than others! Bear in mind that some of the places we overnight in are not on the standard tourist trail. In larger cities and towns, our hotels are generally more western style and are three or four hotels. Camping is not available on cycling tours in Vietnam unless it is required and this should be booked months in advance. Please see the details at the session “inclusions”.
Most of our tour guides speak English. Some other speak French. Few speak other language such as German, Russian, Spanish. All our guides have great knowledge of history, local culture, and religions of the area where you are cycling. Our guides have been trained in this field and is fully licensed in tour guiding.
We arrange a mechanic, with extra charge only for big groups or when it is required. When there is no mechanic, our guide will take care of problem which may occur during the bike ride.
Depending on the nature of the tour, our cycle journeys will be accompanied by an air-conditioned car/minibus cover the larger overland sections. We often use mini bus or bus for transfer and back up (guided tours).
- 1 – 4 people: we use minivan to support and carry bikes. Sometimes we use car with support truck.
- 5 – 8 people: we use one van and one truck to support
- 9 people – over: we use one bus and truck to support
We only provide bike rental and truck to support for self-guided bike tours.
Basic spares and tools kit are generally carried by our guide or mechanic or on the support vehicle, although we can not guarantee having spares for every conceivable problem.
Food and drinks
All the meals which, are mentioned in itinerary (B=Breakfast; L=Lunch; D=Dinner), are included in the tour price. Most of meals are Vietnamese local food. Vegetarians are certainly welcome and are always accommodated, please let us know of any dietary concerns at time of booking. Beverage and alcoholic drink are not included at mealtime or in restaurants.
Snacks and water
When we transfer, ride by minibus (no cycling day), our bottled waters are always available for you in the car/van. When we have cycling days, we will offer cold water (summer) plus fresh tropical fruits, soft drinks. Please find out what is included in our service proposal.
Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for travelling in Vietnam. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat is a good idea in the rainy season. During the winter months warm clothing is needed for visiting the north of Vietnam. Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting religious buildings such as pagoda, temple and shoes should be removed before entering a private home.
What you take will naturally depend upon where you are travelling and the style of journey you are undertaking, and it can often be difficult to decide what to pack. Nevertheless, the following should act as a useful checklist of essential items worth thinking about taking.
- 2 pairs of riding shorts
- 2 riding jerseys (quick-dry)
- 2 pairs of quick dry socks for cycling
- Comfortable shoes for biking and walking
- Riding gloves
- 2-3 t-shirts or casual shirts
- Trousers or jeans
- 1-2 pairs of casual socks for non-cycling activities
- 3-5 sets of underwear (quick-dry)
- Cool-weather jacket or rain jacket
- Extra layers and gloves for cooler season or climate (thin, thermal, water-wicking)
- Bathing suit
- Tooth brush and tooth paste
- Hair brush
- Hand sanitizer
- Passport, wallet and ID
- Health insurance card
- Travel insurance card
- Cash and/or credit cards
- Camera (with spare battery)
- Plastic bags (for dirty laundry, wet clothes)
- Electronic chargers (for camera, e-reader, cell phone)
- Adaptors or convertors
Tipping for good services is always appreciated. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of the tour. Hotels and station porters should also be tipped a small amount for.
Prior to our tours, we contact and work with local community leaders to make sure we are welcome and in a manner that minimizes negative social and cultural impacts. We visit local development and community projects specific to the region, encouraging customers to donate and assist such a projects in appropriate and sustainable manner.
Where make sure that where and whenever possible our tours positively benefit the local community. We stayed at locally owned accommodation and visit cottage industries for local handicraft souvenir, generating income for local business. We often employ, hire support team such as local guide, motor-taxi drivers, cook assistants on all trips to ensure that the local community benefit not only short term but with increased employment opportunities for the future.