The North East Vietnam Tour 11 Days is a combination of a challenging trek to Bac Ha and Ha Giang remote hill tribe villages with an overland tour to the less traveled places of the northern Vietnam including Thong Nguyen, Ha Giang, Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van, Meo Vac, Bao Lac, Cao Bang. The holiday adventure begins in Hanoi with an overnight train to Lao Cai. From Lao Cai, you travel to Bac Ha and then Ha Giang province. The tour can be extended with a tour to Cao Bang, Ba Be National park or Lai Chau, Dien Bien Phu.
Day 1: Hanoi – Lao Cai.
You come to Hanoi train station and take the night train for Lao Cai. Overnight on board train.
Day 2: Lao Cai – Bac Ha.
Arrive at Lao Cai Railway station early this morning at ??? (to be confirmed). You will be greeted by The Vietnam Cycling Team local team and transferred to a local restaurant for early breakfast. After a short rest, travel to Bac Ha. If today falls into Sunday, you will have the opportunity to visit the Bac Ha market, the biggest market in the area. Every Sunday, different ethnic groups come to the market to sell their homemade products or buy something for the family. They are Hmong, Phu La, Back Dzao, Tay or Nung minorities. Some of these ethnic minorities can’t be met in any other areas. Lunch will be provided in a local restaurant in town. In the afternoon, enjoy a short easy walk to a H’mong village near Bac Ha town. Dinner and overnight in Bac Ha.
Day 3: Bac Ha – Ha Giang.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Lung Phin commune where you will begin your Ha Giang trek along a narrow trail on steep hillsides. Keep trekking until you arrive Lu Suoi Tung village where you will make a stop to have lunch (lunch can be either picnicked or prepared on the spot in a local house). After lunch, continue trekking through the forest to the top of Ta Cu Ty mountain range (hard trek) and then downhill to a Red Dzao village. Dinner and homestay in a stilt house.
Day 4: Ha Giang Trekking.
After breakfast, you will leaving the Ta Cu Ty village spending the whole morning trekking along a large path (medium trek). The trek offers great view over a Nung village. Lunch will be provided en route. After lunch, you will follow a narrow footpath trekking for about three more hours up and downhill through the thick forest (hard trek). Visit the rock-field with scripts carved by ancient peoples. Arrive the village around late afternoon. Dinner and homestay in a local house.
Day 5: Ha Giang Trekking.
Breakfast and then leaving Nam Chien Village at 08.30am. Transfer along the paved road for 14 km over the Gio mountain pass through thick rain forest to the southern side. From here, enjoy a leisure walk for 3 hours through Nam Nhung and Khau Rom village of the Tay and Zao peoples along the narrow valley of the Nam Li River. Lunch break near a suspension bridge. Cross the Nam Li River to the southern bank, trekking uphill to Quang Thuong Village and then downhill to Nam Choong Village of the Zao peoples which is beautifully set on the southern bank of Nam Li River and endowed by nature with a mineral hot spring.
Day 6: Ha Giang Trekking.
Today is probably the most interesting day of the whole trip for the superb scenery and wild nature which changes after every quarter trekking. But is also the greatest challenge so far. After enjoying easy walk the the Nam Ly Valley, the trail gets tougher uphill for over an hour to Cao Son Village of the Hmong and Zao. Then, leaving the large path for a narrow trail which winds through tea farm and later thick forest aprrox.1,5 hour. Great challenging amidst wild nature! Lunch break at the top of a mountain before getting downhill to Trung Son Village of the Nung. Afternoon trek become easier along a narrow valley for nearly 2 hour to Tan Minh village of the Red Zao, then onto the center of Ho Thau Commune. Take an easy walk in late afternoon for 20 minutes to home stay.
Day 7: Ha Giang – Thong Nguyen.
It is an easy day today. Leaving home stay after breakfast and trekking for the whole morning along a narrow but rather good trail through Ho Thau Valley passing charming villages of the Zao and Nung ethnic peoples scattering on hill sides. Long lunch break near Nam Son Bridge with swimming possibility in the clear water of the Nam Dich River. Picked up and transfer by road to Panhou ecolodge at Thong Nguyen Commune. The rest of the afternoon is set at leisure for freshen up or walking to explore the surrounding of Panhou.
Day 8: Thong Nguyen – Bac Me.
After breakfast, you continue your trip driving to the top of the mountain where you make a short stop for great view of the region. Then descend to the lowland. After about one hour drive, you will arrive Nam An, used to be a narrow and deep valley, built into a lake for water storage to run a hydraulic power plant and now has become spectacular lake with a peninsular for eco-tourist sport. Spend an hour walking around the lake visiting a local Red Zao village. Lunch will be provided in a local silt house. Continue your road trip to Ha Giang town, and then on to Bac Me. Arriving in Bac Me town around late afternoon, check into a local guesthouse for overnight.
Day 9: Bac Me – Meo Vac – Dong Van.
Check out hotel at 08.00 and depart for Meo Vac. The first portion of the road weaves its way along the the Gam river amongst high mountains and thick forests. Crossing the Gam river and following the newly built road, you will arrive Niem Son commune where we will spend almost an hour visiting the local market (if any) and a small village of the H’mong ethnic peoples. Drive uphill through the remote and deserted region to Meo Vac. Getting close to Meo Vac, there appeared some small hamlets of the H’mong built on the immense limestone hill sides. Stop for visiting one of these hamlets for the first impression of the very hard life on this mysterious limestone highland. Arriving in Meo Vac at noon, take a quick look at the market (if Sunday)and lunch break. After Lunch, visit a small village of the Lolo, an ethnic group with only about 4,700 peoples near the town before leaving Meo Vac . Then continue driving to Dong Van. Check into a local hotel for overnight.
Day 10: Dong Van – Lung Cu – Vuong Palace – Pho Bang – Yen Minh – Quan Ba.
Check out hotel at 08.00 and drive to Lung Cu. Visit a village of the H’mong ethnic and a village of the Red Lolo in Lung Cu then move on to the Vuong Family Palace once ruled over the H’mong in the region and popularly known as King of the H’mong. Then travel to Pho Bang ancient town. Walking for about an hour to explore this town which is featured with two storey wooden houses, clay walled, Yin and Yang tiled roofs and leisure atmosphere. Leaving Pho Bang, you travel downhill to Yen Minh town where your lunch will be provided in a local restaurant in town. After lunch, drive uphill of a long and high mountain pass. Take a break at the foot of the pass and visit a village of the La Chi, another small ethnic group with only over 3,000 individuals in Vietnam whose culture is really unique and strong. Arrive in Quan Ba around late afternoon. Check in hotel for freshen up and relax. Overnight in Quan Ba.
Day 11: Quan Ba – Ha Giang – Hanoi.
Breakfast and check out hotel. Driving uphill to the top of Quan Ba mountain pass, stop for admiring the great view of Quan Ba valley. Then driving few kilometers further for visiting two more hill tribe villages – one village of the H’mong with traditional living style of the highlander ethnics and the other, a village of the Kinh peoples immigrated to the region in 1980s. Driving for another hour and take a coffee stop at Ha Giang town before continue your journey back to Hanoi. Lunch will be provided in a local restaurant en route. Arrive in Hanoi in late afternoon. End trip.
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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. We would prefer spending our time on the tour arrangements to the price negotiation. Our price is fixed.
The following services are usually included in the trip price.
- Bicycle rental.
- Tour guide. The English-Speaking guide is provided by default. Other language may be available upon request (with extra charge).
- Some snacks and bottled water.
- Vehicle for transfers and support (option).
- Mechanic (option).
- Accommodation (option).
- Meals (option).
- Sightseeing entrance fees (option).
Please bear in mind Vietnam Cycling specializes in tailor-made trips, so the price vary much depending on the size of your group, date of tour as well as other details. Please see the details on our Service Proposal.
Unless required most of the following services are not included in the tour price.
- 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 currencies can be exchanged in Vietnam, but the USD is the most preferred. The exchange rate 1 USD = 23,280 VND (Dec. 2018)
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 few 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 homestay. 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 star hotels (price option).
Camping is not available on cycling tours in Vietnam unless it is required and this should be booked months in advance. Camping is only available in a limited number of places such as Cat Ba island beach, Cuc Phuong national park…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 only for big groups or when it is required (with surcharge). 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 traveling 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.
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