North to south Vietnam 17 days tour includes different outdoor activities and Vietnam cultural highlights that is highly recommended to individuals, small group tours, family holidays. Begin the tour in Hanoi, travelling to Phat Diem cathedral, Van Long, Ninh Binh, then up to Mai Chau valley where you enjoy a full day hike before returning Hanoi and taking the overnight train to Laocai. Once in Sapa, you enjoy an overnight villages trek through local H’mong and Dzao villages. The multisport tour continues with such highlights as Halong bay cruises, Hue imperial, Hoian ancient town, Mekong delta, Cu Chi tunnels and ends up with a three-day to Mui Ne, Phan Thiet beach.
Day 1: Hanoi – Phat Diem Cathedral – Van Long, Ninh Binh.
Depart for Ninh binh. Visit the Phat Diem Cathedral. Phat Diem Church is really a group of different churches made of stone and wood, and is the centre of Catholicism in Northern Vietnam. It is designed in Vietnamese style mixed harmoniously with European Catholic traditions. Then we go back to Van Long for lunch (not included in the package). In the afternoon, have a rowing boat trip around natural caves and grottoes, admire the wonderful landscape of the tourist area. Overnigt in Van Long.
Day 2: Van Long – Kenh Ga village – Mai Chau.
Transfer to Kenh Ga – “The Chicken Canal” for another motorized boat trip along the Hoang Long river to experience the real life of a Vietnamese catholic community. 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.
After the boat trip, continue our journey to Mai Chau valley where we stop for overnight. Overnight on stilt-house.
Day 3: Hiking Mai Chau valley.
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. Your picnic lunch will be provided on spot. 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. In the evening, assist to the traditional music and dance show which is performed by the Thai young girls and boys who all come from the village. Try also some rice alcohol which is made of traditional plants and local sticky rice.
Day 4: Mai Chau – Hanoi. Overnight train to Lao Cai.
After breakfast, we take our journey back to Hanoi. Arrive in Hanoi around noon. Free lunch in town. In the afternoon, enjoy a short cyclo excursion through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sales at these places. After free dinner, transfer to Hanoi Railways Station for taking overnight train to Laocai. Overnight on the train.
Day 5: Arrive Laocai. Travel to Sapa. Trekking Sapa villages.
Arrive Lao Cai approximately 5h30am. Our local team will meet the group at the station and transfer to Sapa. Breakfast will be provided at a local restaurant in Sapa before trekking uphill through mountainous area. Enjoy while walking the spectacular view over rice paddy terraces, corn fields. Your picnic lunch will be provided on the spot. After lunch, we continue our trek downhill towards Taphin village where you will meet Red Dao and Black Hmong minorities, two largest ethnic groups in Sapa area. Stop by a house to talk with local people to know a bit more about their daily life, their customs and tradition. Have dinner and
overnight in the village.
Day 6: Trekking Sapa. Travel to Lao Cai. Overnight train back to Hanoi.
After breakfast, we start our trek towards Sapa. We will pass through several minority villages; rive
paddy terraces along the way. Upon arriving in Matra village inhabited by Black Hmong people, we
will stop for our lunch. Then, we continue our walk to Sapa. Have a short rest/shower before transfer to Lao Cai station and get the night train back to Hanoi. Train???. Departure at 20:30 (TBA).
Day 7: Arrive Hanoi. Hanoi – Halong bay.
Arrive in Hanoi in the early morning, you will be met by another Lotussia Travel guide, driver then transferred 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). 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 (optional). Watch the sun set over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner. Overnight on board junk.
Day 8: Halong bay – Hanoi. Fly to Hue.
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. Disembark at the dock at Halong City at 11h00. Transfer back to Hanoi.
Free time for shopping.
In the evening, transfer to Hanoi Railways station for taking the night train to Hue. Departure at 19h00. Overnight on the train.
Day 9: Hue city tour.
Upon your arrival in Hue Railways station at around 08h00am, you will be welcome by another Lotussia Travel guide and transferred to your hotel in town for breakfast and quick shower (early check in is subject to hotel availability).
Then we will board a private boat for a cruise on the romantic Perfume River. The charming Lady Pagoda (Thien Mu Pagoda), setting in converge of rivers will be the first stop of the day. The pagoda gives you a great view on the Perfume River and the surrounding area. Then we will be picked up again by our car for a short drive to the Minh Mang tomb. In the afternoon, we will experience the Hue citadel, which is recognized as a World Heritage Site. Overnight in Hue.
Day 10: Hue – Danang – Hoian. Hoian city tour.
Depart for Lang Co, a small village of fishermen. Taking photograph from Hai Van Pass (The pass of Sea and Cloud). Arrive in Hoian around noon. Free lunch in town.
In the afternoon, start the visit of this charming small town, first commercial center in Vietnam since the 15th century, with more than 800 classified buildings such as Japanese Covered Bridge, Tan Ky Old house, Assembly Hall Chinese. Phuc Kien Pagoda, Hoian Museum and Market. Free dinner in town. Overnight in Hoian.
Day 11: Return Da Nang. Fly to Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon). Saigon city tour.
After breakfast, transfer to Danang airport for the morning flight to Saigon.
Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh city airport, you will be met by another Lotussia local guide and driver and transferred to city center. Free lunch in town.
In the afternoon, 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. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh city.
Day 12: Travel to the Mekong Delta (Saigon – My Tho – Can Tho)
Today we depart hotel at 8h00 and make our way to My Tho. On arrival we embark on a boat navigating around the intricate small canals to observe the local lifestyle close-up and catch a view dotted by many islands. The exciting excursion will lead us to the famous Unicorn Island where we stroll around an orchard, taste many seasonal fruits and enjoy wonderful traditional music. We continue to Ben Tre Province to visit some fascinating local industries. We meet up with our vehicle for three hour drive to Can Tho, the capital city of the Mekong Delta. Overnight in Can Tho.
Day 13: Can Tho – Saigon.
The impressive floating market of Rai Rang is a major part of our sightseeing tour in delta region. Upon leaving hotel we set off on a short drive and enjoy a boat trip to explore Cai Rang, whose the trading way is unique; each boat usually sells one particular item, whether it be pumpkins, pineapples, sugar canes. In order that the customer knows where to shop, they hang that item from the highest part of the boat. At the end of the river trip we drive back to Ho Chi Minh. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh city.
Day 14: Day trip to Cu Chi tunnels. Travel to Mui Ne beach, Phan Thiet.
Breakfast at hotel. Enjoy a morning drive through typical southern Vietnamese countryside to Cu Chi to visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters during the long struggle for independence. Then we will go back to Ho Chi Minh city and transfer to Phan Thiet beach (Muine). The scenic 200km drive north on Highway One passes through the bustling city of Bien Hoa before cutting through dense rubber plantations. Arrive in Phan Thiet and check into resort. Overnight in Phan Thiet.
Day 15 & 16: Phan Thiet beach resort.
Full day free at leisure to enjoy the prime beach of Phan Thiet or just relax on the hotel/resort poolside. Optional golf course or beach activities can be arranged on the spot with hotel/resort. Overnight in Phan Thiet.
Day 17: Phan Thiet – Saigon.
Free at leisure until transfer back to Saigon (Checkout time is at 12h00).
Contact us for more information about this North to south Vietnam 17 days tour
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.