Trip Description & Day-by-day Itinerary
North vietnam family vacation is arranged in the northern, north-western Vietnam where the ethnic culture is rich, the scenery, nature is wild and beautiful. Start the tour by taking the overnight train to Sapa where you will enjoy a full day hike through local hilltribe villages, terraced rice fields. The trek can be extended one more day offering you the opportunity to spend one night at local home (homestay). The multi activity tour continues with a 4-day biking through Lai Chau, Paso, Muong Lay to Dien Bien Phu. This is a mountain bike with may up and downhill rides. After visiting Dien Bien Phu, you fly back to hanoi and then travel to Halong bay where you will enjoy the overnight cruise tour with kayaking activity. Optional scuba diving, spa, cooking are also available on board junk.
Day 1: Hanoi – Lao Cai by train.
In the evening, transfer to Hanoi railways station for the night train to Laocai. Departure at 21h00 (TBA). Overnight on the train.
Day 2: Arrival in Laocai. Travel to Sapa. Trekking Sapa hilltribe villages.
Arrive in Lao Cai Railway Station at around 6h30AM. Welcome by Lotussia local guide and driver and starting going uphill to Sapa.
After breakfast in town, we start our trekking day by walking downhill through the breathtaking scenery. We will trek through rice paddy fields until we reach Ban Ho village. We will have a short visit of local houses before passing a suspension bridge. Your lunch will be provided on the spot. After lunch, we continue our walk to a Red Dao village of Nam Toong. Stop by a nice house to taste a cup of tea before heading back to Ban Ho, then uphill to Su Pan village where our vehicle is waiting for us for the journey back to Sapa. Overnight in Sapa.
Day 3: Biking Sapa – Lai Chau.
After breakfast, we leave Sapa town and travel by car uphill toward Tram Ton pass where we can take a short walk to the Silver Waterfall. Then head to Heaven Gate, where you will be amazed by breathtaking view to surrounding mountains including Fansipan, the highest peak of Indochina.
Start our ride downhill towards Binh Lu. Stop by Chu Va Black Hmong village for a short break before arriving in Binh Lu. Your lunch will be provided in a local restaurant.
After lunch, we will continue cycling uphill. This biking route part requires lots of effort. But our support car will be always there for any assistance we may need. We will arrive in Laichau around late afternoon. Overnight in Laichau.
Day 4: Biking Lai Chau – Paso.
After breakfast, we start cycling again uphill along picturesque tributary of the Nam Na River. We will cycle through many beautiful and remote villages of Thai people spreading along the way before reaching the small town of Pa So. Your lunch will be provided in a local restaurant en route.
After lunch, we will continue our ride on a flat road towards Sin Ho. The journey offers a wonderful scenery and authentic local life activities of Hmong and Dao ethnic minorities. We will arrive in Paso around late afternoon. Enjoying some fresh local beer by the hotel riverside restaurant will be a great experience! Overnight in Paso.
Day 5: Biking Paso – Muong Lay.
Today’s ride will be mostly downhill. We will have more time to enjoy beautiful scenery as well as stop by a village of Thai minority, the largest ethnic minority group in this area. Just keep following the road, which goes along the Na River until we arrive in Muonglay. We will check in a hotel and have a late lunch.
After a rest, the car will drive us to the pier where we will take a boat ride downstream in the Black River. Stop and visit a village of Thai people and hear about their daily life on the riverbank. A friendly atmosphere makes the trip more enjoyable. Overnight in Muonglay.
Day 6: Biking Muong Lay – Dien Bien Phu.
After breakfast, we will start cycling on a good road, which makes our ride very comfortable. You will have either lunch in a local restaurant or picnic lunch prepared by the hotel. After lunch, we will continue our ride which is even more enjoyable in a beautiful nature. The ride will be downhill and then flat upon your arrival in Dien Bien Phu. Mountains and huge rice fields surround the busy town. Overnight in Dienbien.
Day 7: Continue cycling Dien Bien Phu. Fly to Hanoi.
After having breakfast, we will have an interesting bicycle trip around the town to visit the most famous historical sites of Dienbien including the Dien Bien Phu Museum, Glory Statue, A1 Hill and De Cattery Tunnel. Your lunch will be provided in a local restaurant in town. In the afternoon, our car will take us to Dienbien airport for a flight to Ha Noi.
Welcome in Hanoi airport by another bus and transfer to your hotel in town. In the late afternoon, enjoy one hour Vietnamese traditional foot massage which is really enjoyable and fun after a long cycling journey. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 8: Hanoi – Halong bay. Boat cruise with kayaking tour.
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). 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. There are many beautiful places in Halong Bay which can by visited only with kayak. Watch the sun set over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner. Overnight on board junk.
Day 9: 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 early lunch on board disembark at the dock at Halong City. Transfer back to Hanoi.
Contact us for more information about this vietnam family vacation
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.