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17 days in Vietnam north to south itinerary

17 days in Vietnam package offers the opportunity to visit some of Vietnam most popular travel destinations such as Hanoi, Mai Chau, Kenh Ga village, Tam Coc, Lao Cai, Can Cau market, Bac Ha market, Sapa, Halong bay, Hue, Da Nang, Hoian, Cu Chi tunnels, Ho Chi Minh city and the Mekong Delta. Begin the tour in Hanoi, continue with the north-western mountainous area, then the central cost and finally the southern Vietnam. You will experience different travel activities such as trekking, cycling, sea kayaking, cooking, sightseeing culture, history discovery and more.

Trip Description & Day-by-day Itinerary

17 days in Vietnam package offers the opportunity to visit some of Vietnam most popular travel destinations such as Hanoi, Mai Chau, Kenh Ga village, Tam Coc, Lao Cai, Can Cau market, Bac Ha market, Sapa, Halong bay, Hue, Da Nang, Hoian, Cu Chi tunnels, Ho Chi Minh city and the Mekong Delta. Begin the tour in Hanoi, continue with the north-western mountainous area, then the central cost and finally the southern Vietnam. You will experience different travel activities such as trekking, cycling, sea kayaking, cooking, sightseeing culture, history discovery and more. The itinerary is recommended for individuals, small group size, family holidays.

Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau. Hiking Mai Chau valley.

Depart Hanoi for Hoa Binh province and the town of Mai Chau. This scenic drive takes around three hours. Along the way we pass fields of tapioca and sugar cane as well as rice paddies. Arrive in Mai Chau village, we take a short walk around Lac & Poom Coong village 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. Try also some rice alcohol made of traditional plants and local sticky rice.

Overnight on a stilt house.

Day 2: Hiking Mai Chau villages.

Breakfast at the Thai stilt house then we leave the village for a full day hiking around. We will pass many different Thai hamlets, through rice fields, hill sides…Stop sometimes to visit local houses and talk with local people. And one of the highlight on this walk is to experience the everyday life and culture white Thai people and stay in their traditional house on stilts as honoured guests.

Day 3: Mai Chau – Kenh Ga floating village – Tam Coc.

Breakfast then we say good bye to the warm-hearted Thai people. Depart for Ninhbinh. We will arrive at Kenh Ga around noon.

Have lunch in a local restaurant and try some specialty of the region. After lunch, the car will drive you to Kenh Ga floating village. 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.

Then take to boat trip to the floating village. Here there are many people live on their boats. They formed a community with their particular ways of life and culture. Have some stop on the way to visit local people and talk with them.

Overnight at local guest-house.

Day 4: Tam Coc sampan cruise tour. Travel back to Hanoi. Overnight train to Lao Cai.

The river trip in Tam coc 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 Tam Coc is also called Halong-Bay-On-Land.

We move on to Tam Coc for a 3-hour boat trip along the Boi river. Along the way we will visit caves and ancient temples. After lunch we can make a visit Bich Dong Pagodas before making our way back to Hanoi.

After dinner (at your own account), transfer to Hanoi railway station to take the night train to Laocai. Overnight on the train.

Day 5: Lao Cai – Can Cau market – Bac Ha town.

The train arrive Laocai station early morning. You will be meet by another Lotussia local guide and driver. After having breakfast in town, start the ride up to Can Cau market. The ride is relatively flat from Lao Cai to Bao Nhai, where you will be taken through rural area. Situated in the mountains in border area, 20 km from Bac Ha, Can Cau is a small, but very colorful market. Opening only on Saturdays, it always delivers a very photogenic display of Flower Hmong, Black Zao, Phu La ethnic costumes. Chinese people also come for trading. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, you will leave the market for Bac Ha town for lunch.

In the afternoon, you will take a walk to Ban Pho village of Nung and Flower Hmong, which locate in a small valley. The villagers grow vegetables and fruit trees. One of the most famous fruit of the area is plum. You will be able to visit a local house, where you might have chance to taste a cup of corn wine, another famous product of the village. You will go back to hotel late in the afternoon.

Overnight in Bac Ha.

Day 6: Visit Bac Ha Sunday market. Travel to Sapa.

After having a morning coffee, you take a short walk to visit the old castle of the former Hmong King. From there you can have a view over the town. You will then visit the huge market of Bac Ha with its colorful array of ethnic minority people such as Flower Hmong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay, Nung who gather to buy and sell. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, your lunch will be served in a local restaurant.

After lunch, you drive downhill for about half an hour. You will then start a short walk to Trung Do village, which belongs to the Tay minority. Here you can stop by a traditional Tay house for a cup of tea before you get on a boat. You will have a cruise upstream the Chay River to experience the picturesque scenes and the magnificent sight of a beautiful cave. The boat ride ends at Coc Ly Market, where you get on the car for the journey to Sapa.

Overnight in Sapa.

Day 7: Hiking Sapa villages.

The day commences with a jeep ride to the trekking route. The trek starts by walking through the incredibly scenic “Ban Ho” valley. Here you will have the opportunity to visit and explore the wooden houses, which traditionally belong to the Tay ethnic minority. You will then continue to walk to Thanh Phu village where you stop for lunch in a local house.

After lunchtime, you head to Sin Chai village of Red Dao minority where the night will be spent in bamboo huts. The wonderful hospitable atmosphere of the Red Dao will attract you.

Overnight in Sapa.

Day 8: Continue trekking Sapa (Sin Chai village – Nam Nhiu village – Nam Than village – Thanh Phu village).

Today’s Sapa trek takes you through several villages where you will be able to meet Tay, Hmong and Xa Pho ethnic minorities. You will have time to photograph the beautiful rice paddy terraces and the surrounding mountain. On the way you will visit a local school. Your lunch will be prepared and served in a local house.

In the afternoon, you head back to Thanh Phu village of Tay minority. Here you will spend the night. You can take a walk to explore local daily life while your dinner will be served with Vietnamese dishes.

Day 9: Continue trekking. Return Sapa town. Travel to Lao Cai. Overnight train back to Hanoi.

On the last day of the trek you will cross several suspension bridges and trek through lush rice paddy fields and stunning scenery. You have a unique opportunity to meet Xa Pho minority in My Son village, one of the smallest group ethnic living in Northern Viet Nam. They always maintain their unique costume and nomadic life. You trek uphill to Nam Toong village of Red Dao minority, where you have lunch in a local school.

In the afternoon, your trek will be firstly downhill to Ban Ho village where you will have time for a swim in the river. You will then climb toward Su Pan. The car will meet you there and take you then to Laocai railways station for the night train back to hanoi.

Overnight on the train.

Day 10: Hanoi – Halong bay.

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 and board the Bai Tho traditional sailing junk (or similar junk) for the overnight Halong bay cruise. 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. Enjoy a swim in the emerald waters of Halong Bay at any spot that you wish to visit or 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 11: 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. Transfer back to Hanoi airport for a domestic flight to Ho Chi Minh city. Meet up by another Lotussia guide and driver at Ho chi Minh airport and you will be transferred to your hotel in the city center.

Day 12: Fly to Hue. Hue city tour.

Breakfast at hotel then transfer to Noibai airport for your flight to Hue. Flight number???. Dpt. At ?h. HAN-HUI.

You will be greeted at Hue airport by another Lotussia guide and driver and transfered to the hotel downtown.

Starting visiting Hue by taking the boat trip on Perfume River to visit Thien Mu Pagoda considered as Royal Pagoda of the Nguyen Dynasty and Imperial Citadel.

In the afternoon, visit Mausoleums of Tu Duc or the one of Khai Dinh King. Visit a typical garden-house in Hue (Hue has another name as “city of garden”). Overnight at hotel.

Day 13: Hue – Danang – Hoian.

Breakfast at hotel. Depart for Lang Co, a small village of fishermen. Taking photograph from Hai Van Pass (The pass of Sea and Cloud). Visit Cham Museum in Danang. Free lunch en route.

You will arrive in Hoian in the afternoon. Free dinner and overnight in Hoian.

Day 14: Hoian city tour.

Start the visit of this charming small town, first commercial center in Vietnam since the 15th century, with more than 800 classified buildings : Japanese Covered Bridge, Tan Ky Old house, Assembly Hall Chinese. Phuc Kien Pagoda, Hoian Museum and Market. After lunch, continue the visit. In the evening, walk on the river Thu Bon in sunset. Free diner in town. Overnight at hotel.

Day 15: Travel back to Danang. Fly to Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon).

After breakfast, transfer to Danang airport for the morning flight to Saigon. Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh city airport, you will be meet by another Lotussia local guide and driver and transferred to city center.

Start the tour with Ho Chi Minh City highlights including the Post Office, cathedral, Reunification palace, centre town, then continuation towards Cholon, visit Thien Hau temple, Binh Tay market. Free lunch in town.

Overnight at hotel.

Day 16: Ho Chi Minh city – Tay Ninh & Cuchi Tunnels – Ho Chi Minh city.

Breakfast at hotel. Enjoy a morning drive through typical southern Vietnamese countryside to Tay Ninh Province in the west of Vietnam. At Tay Ninh visit the incredible Cao Dai Great Temple, with architecture that could have come straight from a Walt Disney fantasy and where all the major faiths of the world blend together in a unique religious cocktail. After lunch in a local restaurant visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters during the long struggle for independence. Overnight in Saigon

Day 17: A day trip to the Mekong Delta

Breakfast at hotel. Leave Ho Chi Minh City for Vinh Long. On arrival at Cai Be, board a boat to explore the floating market, typical of the Mekong Delta. Continue by boat to Binh Hoa Phuoc Island to visit orchards of tropical fruits. After lunch continue by boat to Vinh Long Town for transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Contact us for more information about this 17 days in Vietnam package

Itinerary

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.

Price

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.

Inclusions

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
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Snacks
  • Sightseeing entrance fees.
  • Bottled water.

Exclusions

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
  • Tips
  • Personal expenses

Visa

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.

Money

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)

Weather

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.

Safety

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.

Difficulty levels

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.

Easy

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.

Moderate

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.

Challenging

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.

Accommodation

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”.

Tour Guide

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.

Mechanic

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.

Vehicle

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.

Bikes repairs

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.

Packing

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.

Clothing

  • 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
  • Sandals

Toiletries

  • Tooth brush and tooth paste
  • Razor
  • Hair brush
  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Hand sanitizer

Miscellaneous

  • 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

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.

Community

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.

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