Vietnam 12 Day Tour Northwest Vietnam Halong Bay begins in Hanoi, the capital city, and explore buildings and shaded boulevards that echo its French colonial past. Visit scenic Halong Bay, a World Heritage Site, and spend the night on a traditional junk boat. Travel south to the historic cities of Hue and Hoi An to see their charming old towns, pagodas and merchant homes as well as colorful market stalls brimming with local specialties. Ho Chi Minh City is the last stop. Take a full day tour of the main sights and visit the Mekong Delta with beautiful riverside landscapes before traveling home.
Map of Vietnam 12 day tour
Vietnam 12 day tour itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Hanoi.
Upon your arrival at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you will be greeted by our guide, driver and escorted to your hotel in town. Check-in hotel and stay free at leisure. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi – Lao Cai.
Breakfast at hotel. Then we will have a half day tour of Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. Hanoi is a unique city with tree-lined boulevards, French colonial architecture, peaceful lakes and oriental temples. The city tour includes such sights as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature – The first National University of Vietnam. In the afternoon, continue to visit the Ethnology museum where you can find the biggest object collection of 54 Vietnamese ethnic groups. In the evening, attend to the water puppet show, one of famous Vietnamese traditional art. In the evening, transfer to Hanoi Railways Station for the night train to Laocai. Overnight train.
Day 3: Lao Cai – Sapa.
Upon your arrival at Lao Cai Railway Station, you will be met up by our local guide, driver then transferred uphill to Sapa. Breakfast will be provided in a local restaurant in town. Then we will travel downhill to Mong Sen village where we start walking a dirt trail through rice fields and villages. Enjoy spectacular view along the way. Your picnic lunch will be provided on spot. After lunch, we continue our trek downhill towards Taphin village inhabited by ed Dao and Black Hmong minorities. These are two largest ethnic groups living in Sapa area. Stop by some house to meet local people and talk with them to understand their culture, customs and traditions. Late afternoon, we will trek back to to main road to get on our vehicle for the journey back to Sapa. Overnight in Sapa.
Day 4: Sapa – Lai Chau.
You first travel by car uphill toward Tram Ton. On the way, you can take a short walk to Silver Waterfall and then head to Heaven Gate, where you will be amazed by breathtaking view to mountain surrounding including Mt. Fansipan, the highest peak of Indochina. Your ride will be mostly downhill toward Binh Lu. You will stop by Chu Va village of Black Hmong for a break before you arrive in Binh Lu. Here you will have lunch in a local restaurant. After lunch, you start to cycle mostly uphill for the rest of today, which requires incredible effort. You will be able to stop by a village You will then probably need the help of the supply car to go up another high pass, before enjoying the easy ride downhill all the way to Tam Duong, where you stay overnight in a hotel.
Day 5: Lai Chau – Pa So.
You will start out from Tam Duong by cycling uphill along picturesque tributary of the Na River. You will see some places of gold exploration along the river. You also pass by many villages of Thai minority spreading along the way before reaching to Pa So. You stop for lunch in a local restaurant. You will then continue the ride on a flat road toward Sino – Vietnamese border. You will enjoy a beautiful ride along river. You head back to Paso later to spend the night in a hotel, which locates by the river. You will be able to enjoy a cold beer on the balcony with beautiful river view.
Day 6: Pa So – Muong Lay.
Today’s ride will be mostly downhill. You will have time to enjoy beautiful scenery as well as stop by a village of Thai minority, the largest group ethnic in this area. You still follow the road, which goes along the Na River until you arrive in Lai Chau in the early afternoon. You check in a hotel and have a late lunch. After having a rest, you will be transferred to the river, where you take a boat ride downstream in the Black River. You can make a stop to visit a village of Thai minority and hear about their daily life on the riverbank. A friendly atmosphere makes your trip more enjoyable. The boat takes you further downstream. You will be transferred back to the hotel in the late afternoon.
Day 7: Muong Lay – Dien Bien Phu.
Today will be a longest ride. You will start out on a good road, which makes your ride very comfortable. You arrive in Muong Lay by noon. Here you will be able to take a walk around a local market. You will have either lunch in a local restaurant or picnic lunch prepared by the hotel. After lunch, you head toward Dien Bien Phu. You will continue on the good road and the ride is even more enjoyable in a beautiful nature. The ride will be downhill and then flat upon your arrival in Dien Bien Phu. Mountains and huge rice fields surround the busy town. Here you spend the night in a hotel. You will be able to take a walk to a nearby market to spread your legs.
Day 8: Dien Bien Phu – Hanoi.
After having breakfast, you will have an interesting bicycle trip around the town to visit famous historical sites such as Dien Bien Phu Museum, Glory Statue, A1 Hill and De Cattery Tunnel. You will be back to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, you will be transferred to the airport for a flight to Ha Noi. Upon your arrival at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you will be greeted by another guide, driver and escorted to your hotel in town. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 9: Hanoi – 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 (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. 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.
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. Arrive at Ha long wharf about 11h00 and take our car for our journey back to Hanoi. Arrive in Hanoi at around 15h00. Rest of time will be free at leisure or personal discovery. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 12: Departure.
Breakfast at hotel. Free time till transfer to the airport for your onward flight back home. Vietnam 12 Day Tour Northwest Vietnam Halong Bay is completed.
Vietnam Cycling is a Hanoi bike tour operator housing an experienced team of biking guide, bike mechanic, driver, cycling tour consultant and bicycle specialists. We can create a unique, custom-designed independent itinerary that is fully adapted to your needs, whether you are traveling solo, with family and friends, or as a group.
The itinerary above is only a sample that can be re-designed to better fit your needs and/or budget. Please click here to let us know what you are interested in adding or excluding to customize a selected itinerary or to design a completely new program just for you.
Most of our trips begin from our bike garage (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.
- English-speaking local guide. Other language may be available for private bike tours (with extra charge).
- Lunch with simple Vietnamese dishes.
- Sightseeing entrance fees.
- Some snacks and bottled water provided while cycling.
Please bear in mind Vietnam Cycling specializes in tailor-made trips, so the price varies 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.
- Bicycle rental (option).
- Bike mechanic (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 VND (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. Please visit local bank’s website for updated information.
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 bike mechanic only for large 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 – 2 travelers: we use minivan to support and carry bikes. Sometimes we use a car for passengers and a truck for transport of the bikes.
- 3 – 6 people: we use one minivan for passengers and one truck for the bikes.
- 7 – 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. In this case, our cars will be arranged as follows.
- 1 – 2 passengers (with a tour guide): 4 seat car.
- 3 – 6 passengers (with a tour guide): 15/16 seat minivan.
- 7 – 12 passengers (with a tour guide): 29 seat coach/bus.
Basic spares and tools kit are generally carried by our guide or bike 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 drinks 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 are also available in the car/van. Please take a look at the “Inclusions” section on our our service proposal to see whether the service is included in the price. Please note drinks are not included at mealtime or in restaurant.
Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for traveling 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.
We recommend about 7-10 USD/traveler/day for the tour guide, about 3-5 USD/traveler/day for the driver (or the mechanic). Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality, the length and the difficulty of your trip.
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.