The 9-day northern Vietnam travel itinerary, tailor-made small groups, family travel, holidays with kids and active adventure travelers seeking an active holidays to Vietnam. The tour includes such activities as mountain biking, jungle trekking, boat, junk cruising, sea kayaking, rock climbing. You will travel through both remote hill tribe villages in the less traveled places and popular tourist destinations in northern Vietnam – Bac Ha, Sapa, Hanoi, Halong bay, Cat Ba island. You also have the opportunity to visit a highland market and to spend a night at local home on the hike (homestay)…
Day 1: Hanoi – Lao Cai by train.
Transfer to Hanoi Railways Station for overnight train to Laocai. Train??? Departure at 20:30 (TBA).
Overnight on board/train.
Day 2: Arrive Laocai. River boat trip on Chay river. Biking to Bac Ha.
Arrive Lao Cai early in the morning. You will be greeted by our local team & transferred to a local restaurant in town for early breakfast.
Travel by car or cycle from Lao Cai town to Coc Ly. The ride is relatively flat from Lao Cai. It will take you through rural area. The road is rougher for the last 16 km. Upon arrval in Coc Ly, take a boat cruise downstream Chay River. Along the ride, you can enjoy magnificent sight of the beautiful caves and life on the riverbank. Lunch will be provided in a Tay village.
After lunch, you first cycle on the dirt trail through the village and cross a narrow stream. Your ride will be then on a good road, which goes uphill towards Bac Ha town.
Diner in a local restaurant & overnight in Bac Ha.
Day 3: Visit Bac Ha Sunday market. Biking to Sapa.
After breakfast, take a short walk to visit the old castle of the former H’Mong King. From there you can have a view over the town. You will then visit this huge market with its colorful array of ethnic minority people such as Flower Hmong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay, Nung who gather to buy and sell. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, your lunch will be served in a local restaurant. After lunch you will be able to take a nice ride around nearby beautiful Ban Pho village of Flower Hmong and Nung minorities. After visit Ban Pho village your start heading back towards Lao Cai by cycle (or by car). The ride will be mostly downhill and flat through rural area, which is home to Phu La, Nung and Tay minorities. Before you arrive in Lao Cai, you will be able to stop by china – Vietnamese border, where the Red River flows into Viet Nam territory. Then travel uphill to Sapa.
Free dinner & overnight in Sapa.
Day 4: Trekking Sapa villages (Tavan, Seomity villages).
After breakfast, travel by car toward Muong Hoa valley. Your trek will begin from Tavan village of Giay minority. The first day trek will be mostly uphill. Whenever you stop for a rest, you will be able to enjoy valley view. Before noon, you stop again at a nice spot for lunch.
The Sapa village trek will be softer in the afternoon. But the scenery becomes even more beautiful. You pass by Seomity village of Black Hmong minority before you arrive in a campsite, which locates nearby a river outside the village. While porters put up tents and cook dinner, you can take a walk to stretch the legs.
Day 5: Continue trekking Sapa (Seomity, Den Thang, Ta Trung Ho villages).
The trek today takes you through beautiful rice paddies and over old suspension bridges. You will trek on small trail sneaking through rainforest. You arrive in Den Thang village of Black Hmong by noon. Here you stop for lunch either nearby a river or in a local school according to the weather.
After lunch, the trek wills becomes tough on tinny footpath going up and down, which requires some concentration. You will reach to Ta Trung Ho village of Red Dao minority where you spend the night in local house. Both the valley and the village have just received foreign visitors. The night will be even more interesting when you are in the wonderful hospitable atmosphere of the Red Dao.
Day 6: Continue trekking. Return Sapa town. Travel to Lao Cai. Overnight train back to Hanoi.
You are now at the fringe of the rain forest by the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina with its 3143 m, is located in this mountain range. You will start the trek today by ascending to Nam Toong village of Red Dao minority. Here your lunch will be prepared in a local school.
In the afternoon, before descending to Ban Ho, you can make a stop by a waterfall to refresh. On the last hours you can enjoy the valley one final time whilst trekking up to Su Pan, where your car takes you on the journey back to Sapa.
After a short rest in a local guesthouse/hotel (for shower), transfer to Lao Cai Railways station for the night train back to Hanoi.
Day 7: Arrive Hanoi. Travel to Halong bay. Halong bay boat cruise with sea kayaking tour.
Arrive in Hanoi early this morning, you will be greeted by Lotussia Travel guide, driver and transferred to a local restaurant in town for early breakfast.
Then enjoy one-hour massage in one of finest spa salon in Hanoi – A full body massage both invigorating and relaxing. This massage helps to reduce tension, soothe sore muscles and increase circulation.
Travel to Halong bay, enjoying 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 a wooden sailing junk (Bai Tho, Hai Au or similar). 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 two-hour kayak paddling. Watch the sun set over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner.
Overnight on board junk.
Day 8: Halong bay scuba diving. Travel to Catba island.
Breakfast on board. At 9h00, will will be picked up at the boat/junk by our Diving Team and transferred by another wooden boat to the first divesite – Chim Island. Enjoy 01 dive before having lunch on board.
In the afternoon, we will move to another divesite – Me Cung Island. There we will enjoy one more hour diving before being dropped off in a simple eco-resort for overnight.
Dinner and overnight by the beach.
Day 9: Rock Climbing Cat Ba national park. Speed boat to Hai Phong. Travel back to Hanoi.
Climbing in Cat Ba Island is one of the most personally rewarding and exhilarating activities. Meet up with our team and transfer to the small farming village of Lien Minh. Our expert will give Basic instruction and introduction to Rock Climbing. Then start your adventure experience in Butterfly Valley for about three hours before enjoying lunch on a bee farm with fresh local foods. Return to Cat Ba Town and take speed boat to Haiphong. Join our vehicle again and drive back to Hanoi.
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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.