This Northwest Vietnam Itinerary 11 Days takes you to the less traveled places in the north-western Vietnam. Begin the tour in Hanoi, you travel through Mai Chau, Suoi Lon, Bac Yen, Thu Cuc, Nghi Lo, Tu Le, Mu Cang Chai, Than Uyen, Sapa, Cao Son, Lao Cai and Halong bay. You trek through local Thai, Muong, H’mong, Dzao ethnic villages, terraced paddy fields; visit the Cao Son market is open only on Wednesday morning. Spending the nights at a local home (home-stay) also offers a great experience. You enjoy the 3-day tour to Halong bay before the tour takes its ends.
Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau
Transfer to Mai Chau. Mai Chau is in a valley just over the biggest hump, about 10km from the Song Da river and only 150 metres above sea level. The village, nestled between two towering cliffs and surrounded by emerald green paddies, is an enchanting sight as you wind down the cliff side. On the way, trek some kilometers through ethnic villages (Muong and Thai). Lunch will be providd in Mai Chau. Dinner and overnight in Lac village.
Day 2: Mai Chau – Suoi Lon
After breakfast, transfer 17 kilometers then we start trekking in an area of inhabitants of ethnic minority Thai, Muong the villages of Cun Pheo and Hang Kia. On arriving at Bai Sang wharf, we will take a boat to cruise on the Black river. Arrive at Suoi Lon for overnight in Muong’ Village.
Day 3: Suoi Lon – Bac Yen – Thu Cuc
Transfer to Ta Sua plateau, you can contemplate the highland scenery of it. Visit some villages of ethnic Black H’mong and discover the daily life and custom of local inhabitants here, especially you can enjoy the local specialties: Ta Sua Tea and agriculture products then come back the mountain town for lunch. After having lunch, visit the local market, the handicraft and farming products made by many ethnics are available here. Then continue to trek over 5 Kilometers through villages of Thai and Muong village. During the trekking tour you can take a rest and enjoy the local wine made by the locals. Transfer to Thu Cuc. Overnight in Muong Village.
Day 4: Thu Cuc – Nghia Lo
Trek through Thai, Dao, Mong visit the water wheel. It is used to scoop the water for the rice fields near the streams. Continue going to Nghia Lo through the direction of Lung Lo pass. Arrive at Nghia Lo, check in hotel then take a visit the local market at the moment of decline of day.
Day 5: Nghia Lo – Tu Le
Leave Nghia Lo for the itinerary, trek and visit some villages of ethnic’s minorities along the road: black Dzao, H’mong, white Thai, etc. They are very kind, honest and plain. Arrive at Tu Le village, dinner and overnight in house on stilt of inhabitants here. You can discover the daily life activities of this village in particular and the Thai ethnic in general in Vietnam. Overnight in Thai Village.
Day 6: Tu Le – Mu Cang Chai – Than Uyen
Take leave of inhabitants of Tu Le, it takes 2 Km to village center, you can visit lots of activity on the early market day and it is typical colorful ethnics of this high mountain regions. Transfer to the the footing of Kau Pha pass for us to start trekking about 9 Km through the forest and ethnic villages. This trail runs parallel with the famous and beautiful Kau Pha pass. We finish the trail at the peak of the pass (1800m above sea level). Transfer to Mu Cang Chai for lunch. Visit the local market and go on to Than Uyen. Arrive at Than Uyen, check in local guest house.
Day 7: Than Uyen – Binh Lu – Sapa
Transfer to Sapa, on the way, we can take trek to visit lots of beautiful villages of ethnic. Especially, you can meet the most typical ethics as: Lao, Lu (Xa Pho). They wear the long traditional and colorful costumes with jeweler hand made. Moreover, you can discover the kind face in black dyed teeth of ethnics here. Arrive at Sa Pa. Check in and rest of the day at leisure or visit Sa Pa famous tourist town in Northern Vietnam . You can visit and go shopping, market for buying souvenirs such as handicraft made by ethics, ethics’ traditional costumes, etc before ending the days in North West Vietnam.
Day 8: Sapa – Cao Son – Lao Cai – Hanoi
Drive to Muong Khuong district, via tea plantation and forest of pine. You might encounter Giay tribe in their traditional dress in Ban Lau or Thanh Binh. Reaching Cao Son about 10.am, enjoy the excitement of this weekly market. The shining dress of colorful Hmong girls attracts you much as you fall down to a new world , a world of interest and fun. Having lunch in Cao Son lodge. In the afternoon, commence your walk to the most secluded yet peaceful village- Tin Thang. In this village, people still distill the wine from corn, making bacon in the most basic way and offering special corn cake to anyone who drop by their house. Transfer to Lao Cai Railways Station for overnight train back to Hanoi.
Day 9: Hanoi – Halong Bay
Upon your arrival at Hanoi Railways Station, you will be greeted by local guide and driver then transferred to a small hotel in town for breakfast and quick shower. Depart to Halong Bay. 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. 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. Take a kayaking trip to explore the Bay or enjoy a swim in the emerald waters of Halong Bay at any spot that you wish to visit. Watch the sunset over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner.
Day 10: Halong Bay Cruise, Kayaking
Breakfast on board. Then we continue kayaking zigzagging through many small islets of different shapes. We will kayak to the Black Grottoe and The lake of Three Grottoes. The journey is really wonderful and adventurous! Back to the support boat for our lunch which will be provided on board. In the afternoon, we cruise towards the Islands of Rocks and visit the Fishermen floating village. We will kayak in Ba Men temple area which is also a important highlight of our journey. Swimming at the sandy Three Peach beach if weather permits and enjoy the great view of Halong bay sunset. Dinner and Overnight on board.
Day 11: Halong Bay – Hanoi
Breakfast on board. Then we continue our cruise in Halong bay before going back to shore. Arrive at Ha long wharf about 11h00 and take our car for journey back to Hanoi. Arrive in Hanoi at around 15h00. Trip ends.
Please note this Northwest Vietnam Itinerary 11 Days is only a suggestion that can be further customized to fit your personal requirements. Contact us for more information.
Most of our trips begin from our bike shop (both private and group tours), so transportation from your hotel to our bike shop (or v.v) is not included in the quote. We can arrange the service (with extra charge), and reservation needs to be made in advance.
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.
Depending on the type of the bicycle tour as well as the proposed option, the following services may be included in the trip price.
- Tour guide. The English-speaking guide is quoted by default. Other language may be available upon request (with extra charge).
- Lunch with simple Vietnamese dishes.
- Sightseeing entrance fees.
- Some snacks and bottled water while cycling.
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 contact us for more details.
Unless required most of the following services are not included in the tour price.
- Flight/Train tickets.
- Accommodation pre/post trip.
- Vehicle for transfers and support (option).
- Bicycle rental (option).
- Mechanic (option).
- Accommodation (option).
- Meals (option).
- Travel insurance (required).
- 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 a car for passengers and a truck for transport of the bikes.
- 5 – 8 people: we use one minivan for passengers and one truck for the bikes.
- 9 – 12 people: we use one bus (coach) for passengers and one truck for the bikes.
We provide bike rental and truck for self-guided bike tours.
We sometimes use local push-bikes (single speed bicycles) where possible or when it is required. Our cars will be arranged as follows.
- 1 – 2 passengers (with a tour guide): 4 seat car * 1.
- 3 – 6 passengers (with a tour guide): 15/16 seat minivan * 1
- 7 – 12 passengers (with a tour guide): 29 seat coach * 1
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 see more details on the “Inclusions” section on our 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.
Need further information? Check our FAQ page here or contact us.