Trip Description & Day-by-day Itinerary
Travelling this 9-day northern vietnam itinerary, you have the opportunity to visit the northern Vietnam’s major travel highlights including Can Cau market, Bac Ha town, Sapa, Lao Cai, Than Uyen, Than Thuoc, Lai Chau, yen Bai and Halong bay. The highlights of the multisport trip are the Can Cau Saturday market, a day walking tour in Sapa, Sapa mountain biking tour, Halong bay junk cruise, sea kayaking and a culture day tour of Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. The best time for taking this trip is the dry season starting from October until May.
Day 1: Overnight train to Laocai.
In the evening, transfer to Hanoi Railway Station for overnight train to Laocai. Train ??? at ???.
Overnight on board train.
Day 2: Arrive Lao Cai. Travel to Bac Ha. Visit Can Cau market. River boat trip on Chay river. Travel to Sapa.
Upon your arrival at Laocai Railways Station, you will be greeted by our local team and transferred to a local restaurant for breakfast.
Then start our drive to Can Cau market. The road is relatively flat from Lao Cai to Bao Nhai bridge. After crossing the bridge, we begin our journey uphill offering beautiful views over the valleys. Situated 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.
After spending the whole morning exploring the market, you will leave the market for Bac Ha town for lunch (included).
In the afternoon, we drive downhill towards Lao Cai for about half an hour. We stop on the way (before reaching Lao Cai) to take a short walk to Trung Do village inhabited by Tay people. Stop by a traditional Tay house for a cup of tea before taking a boat cruise upstream the Chay River. The scenery is very beautiful on both sides of the river. The boat trip will end at Coc Ly where your vehicle will be waiting for you for the journey to Sapa.
Overnight in Sapa.
Day 3: Trekking Sapa villages.
You first sneak through the Sapa market and leave the busy town behind. After a couple of minutes, you follow a road going downhill to Cat Cat village. You will stop by a waterfall and a hydroelectric station for a while before continuing the trek on a dirt trail through rice paddy terraces. You also will enjoy spectacular scenery while walking along a narrow river. You eventually arrive in Y Linh Ho village of Black Hmong minority, where you can take a rest while you are served lunch nearby the river.
After lunch, you head toward Muong Hoa valley. You will pass through Lao Chai village of Black Hmong minority and then Tavan village of Giay minority by following a very popular trekking route.
You will return Sapa from Tavan by car.
Overnight in Sapa.
Day 4: Biking Sapa – Than Thuoc.
Drive uphill towards Tram Ton. It’s a tough climb out of Sa Pa to Heaven’s gate, so your support vehicle will transfer you out to a starting point at the ‘Silver Waterfall’. Then it’s a 3Km climb up the highest mountain pass in Indochina where you’ll stop to marvel at the spectacular view of Hoang Lien mountains before free-wheeling down 26km to Binh Lu Junction.
Heading off the main road, its 20kms of sometimes rocky road to Than Thuoc, a charming little tea town where you’ll spend the night in a local stilt house.
Day 5: Biking Than Thuoc – Than Uyen.
After breakfast, your support vehicle will transfer you up a steep mountain pass to the starting point where you’ll glide down 20kms to Than Uyen through valleys where the old growth forest, tea plantations and verdant rice paddies surround you during your ride.
After lunch in Than Uyen, you’ll have a wonderful afternoon as you explore some single track trails to visit local minority villages, including the interesting Lu people with their distinctively black teeth.
Arrive back in Than Uyen for dinner and overnight in the local guesthouse.
Day 6: Continue cycling Than Uyen – Laocai. Overnight train back to Hanoi.
After breakfast, ride 40kms around the other side of the stunning Muong Kim valley with time for lots of stops to take pictures of the local hill tribe people and the stunning scenery there.
Arrive in Van Ban for a late lunch then hop on the minivan to drive back to Lao Cai.. Train ??? Departure at ??? (to be advised).
Overnight on board train.
Notes: Two-hour day use will be provided in a mini-standard hotel before the train trip.
Day 7: Hanoi – Halong Bay. Boat cruise with kayaking tour.
Upon your arrival at Hanoi Railways Station, you will be greeted again by our team (private car & guide) and transferred to a local restaurant for breakfast and a short rest.
At 8:00: you will be picked up by our sharing shuttle bus (no guide). Depart for Halong bay. Enjoy the journey through the scenery of rice fields, water buffalo and everyday Vietnamese village life. Arrive in Halong bay around noon and board the Bai Tho traditional sailing junk (or similar junk).
Whilst cruising the exquisite waters sample the regions fresh seafood. Round over Thien Cung cave (palace of heaven), Dau Go ( grotto of wood ), Tuan Chau island, Dog island, Dinh Huong, Ga Choi (fighting cock mountain), Turtle island. Visit Sung Sot cave and enjoy one-hour kayaking trip or have a swim at Titop beach or Soi Sim beach.
Watch the sun set over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner.
Overnight on board junk.
Day 8: Continue cruising and canoeing Halong Bay.
Breakfast on board junk.
Continue visiting, cruising, kayaking Halong bay while the boat cruise through Man’s head island, Tortoise island. Visit Luon cave by a small bamboo rowing boat.
Lunch will be provided on board.
In the afternoon, visiting Ba Ham lake, fishery village,Cua Van, swimming at Ba Trai Dao beach.
Having dinner and overnight on the junk.
Day 9: Halong Bay – Hanoi.
Breakfast on board. Then we continue our cruise while the boat is going back to shore. Arrive at Ha long wharf about 11h00 and join our vehicle again for journey back to Hanoi (sharing shuttle bus; no guide).
Need further information about this northern vietnam itinerary? Contact us now
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.