8 days in north Vietnam package takes you to the off-the-beaten path destinations in the north-western Vietnam including Dien Bien Phu, Lai Chau, Tam Duong. You will enjoy trekking in Tam Duong, Phong Tho, Lai Chau province and in Sapa as well. You also have the opportunity to visit either Tam Duong market or Bac Ha market which are open only on Sunday morning. The weekly highland market is not only the place where people come to buy or to sell something. But this is also the place where lots of ethnic groups come to exchange their home-made crafts, to socialize, to make friends…The tour is concluded with an extension overnight cruise to Halong bay where you can either do some other adventures or just stay free at leisure on board junk.
Day 1: Fly from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu. Travel to Lai Chau
8h00: A Lotussia Travel guide & driver will meet you at your hotel in Dien Bien Phu and drive then to Lai Chau. Stop en route to visit local hill tribe villages or taking beautiful photographs. Arrival in Laichau town around noon. After lunch (at your own account), start a soft trek to a local village around Lai Chau. Free dinner and overnight in Laichau.
Day 2: Lai Chau – Tam Duong.
The picturesque road from Lai Chau to Tam Duong goes along the Chinese Border and the Nam Na River. We visit some Black Thai villages, which are famous by their on-stilts wooden houses. During the way we cross a footbridge leading us to Kh’Mu Village, an important hill-tribe similar to the Laos people in terms of language and traditions. Before arrival in Tam Duong, a stop at Man Tien Village is scheduled. We spend the night in a guest-house in Tam Duong.
Day 3: Tam Duong trekking.
Tam Duong is a frontier town situated in a beautiful valley between limestone rocks. This place is the home of many hill tribes such as the H’Mong, Man Tien, Lu and Cu Chu people. Authentic in lifestyle and colorful in costumes, most of the tribes were emigrated from South China during the 17th – 18th century. A full day of trekking through their villages, hidden behind mountains and hills, enables us to learn how self-sufficient life is. A picnic is prepared for lunch. We will continue our trip with visiting a home-run tea factory as the area is famous for its tea plantation. Also this night is spent in the Tam Duong guest-house.
Day 4: Tam Duong – Sapa.
This morning we are going to visit the Tam Duong Ethnic Market, an ideal place to meet local people. Ethnic groups from every part of the region come here to exchange their agricultural and handicraft products. After this interesting experience of interacting with the local people, we make a promenade to Pa Pe, a village of the Lu minority. The people here are famous because of their black teeth. When girls have the age of 10 they have to chew a certain type of plant (growing in the woods) which causes black moisture upon the teeth. Having black teeth is considered as a symbol of beauty in this tribe. After this amazing visit we continue our way to Sapa. Stop at Tram Ton Pass -the highest pass in Vietnam, 1900m, view the heaven gate and large valley and nice Silver Waterfall. We come higher and higher in altitude as we reach Sapa where we spend the night in a hotel.
Day 5: Trekking Sapa.
Sapa is not only an ideal place for retreat with its moderate climate, it is also a place of cultural value and breathtaking mountainous scenery. The town of Sapa is inhabited by colorful hill tribes, which are based on the foot of Fan Xi Pan Mount and other surrounding valleys. Here we spend our whole day trekking around the river of Sapa Valley, crossing suspension bridges and witnessing green rice terraces. During our trek we will again be exposed to local life and the daily activities. We trek through bamboo forest, see three different ethnic minorities until we stop at a nice waterfall in Giang Ta Chai Village of the Red-Dzao to spend the night in the house of a local family.
Day 6: Sapa – Bac Ha – Lao Cai – Hanoi.
Have breakfast and then drive to Bac Ha. During this ride we pass the Chinese border (Lao Cai) where you can get a glimpse of the Chinese town of Hekou, and visit a nice temple there, located just at the other side of the Red River. Bac Ha is situated in the highlands and is mostly populated by the beautifully dressed Flower H’mong minority (famous for its multi-ethnic market). The environment is paved with plum trees. Visit the Sunday market and have lunch in town (at your own account). After lunch, transfer to Coc Ly to take a boat trip on Chay River. After the boat trip, our car and guide drive you back to Laocai station where you will catch the night train to Hanoi. Overnight on train.
Day 7: Hanoi – Ha Long bay. Boat cruise with canoeing tour.
Heading out of town we make our way towards Halong Bay, truly one of Vietnam’s most scenic impressive sights. On arrival in Halong we embark on a boat for an exploration of the legendary Halong Bay. Along the trip we learn some kayak orientation and instruction in paddling technique. We begin our first kayaking experience to discover the limestone karst formations which are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves, and visit one of the many hidden grottoes beneath towering cliffs. At the end of afternoon we return to our escorted boat for relaxation and dinner. The night paddle is available for kayaking fervor. O/N on board
Day 8: Ha Long Bay – Hanoi.
The views of sailing junks navigating past over 3,000 limestone islands and outcrops jutting out of the clear and emerald water of the bay are nothing short of spectacular. After breakfast on board we continue cruising and make stop for second paddle. We circumnavigate the island, observing some secluded lagoons and enjoying last swimming opportunity. In late morning we regroup at our escorted boat for two hour cruise to Halong Pier. Have a delicious lunch on board before disembarking and return to Hanoi. Upon arrival in Hanoi, transfer to your hotel in town. End of our services.
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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 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 temperature 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 Autumn (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 oppressive 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 on the quote.
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.