Northern Vietnam: bike, hike, kayak
Bursting with a variety of experiences, Northern Vietnam throws up myriad experiences; deep-rooted culture, verdant surroundings, unique food, and a slice of Vietnam like none other. Experience stretches of biking through Vietnam's spectacular karst mountain ranges and the lush valleys, hiking with enchanting views of terraced rice fields, tea plantations, and innumerable streams in and around Vietnam's most popular hill station Sapa, and kayaking in the Halong Bay! The diverse landscape apart, Vietnam’s cultural hook is also what intrigues visitors.
This is an excellent way to experience life in Northern Vietnam.
Hanoi | 13:00hrs
easy to moderate
50km or 30mi
Min. 2, Max. 14
Limestone mountainsThe mighty rivers and karst mountain ranges become the focus of the trip
|DAY 1||Hanoi||Silk Path Boutique Hotel||D|
|DAY 2||Halong City||Halong Plaza Hotel||B,L,D||50km / 30mi*||cycling|
|DAY 3||Cat Ba Island||Little Cat Ba||B,L,D||30km / 18mi||cycling|
|DAY 4||Ninh Binh||Tam Coc Rice Fields Resort||B,L,D||kayaking|
|DAY 5||Cuc Phuong National Park||Cuc Phuong Resort & Villas||B,L,D||40km / 24mi||cycling|
|DAY 6||Mai Chau||Mai Chau Valley View||B,L,D||60km / 36mi||cycling|
|DAY 7||Mai Chau||Mai Chau Valley View||B,L,D||30km / 18mi||cycling|
|DAY 8||Hanoi||Silk Path Boutique Hotel||B,L||60km / 36mi||cycling|
|DAY 9||Overnight Train From Hanoi To Lao Cai||Train||B|
|DAY 10||Sapa||Eden Boutique||B,L,D||hiking|
|DAY 11||Lai Chau||Homestay||B,L,D||hiking|
|DAY 12||Ban Ho||Homestay||B,L,D||hiking|
|DAY 13||Hanoi||Silk Path Boutique Hotel||B,L,D||hiking|
The above map gives you an excellent idea about the region on the trip. Though there may be internal flights and trains, shuttle transports and hence the cycling route may be a bit different than shown, however, it allows you to understand the overall geography of the tour.
Accommodation - Casual Inns
Small luxury and boutique hotels that are true to their heritage and character and reflect local ethos are listed here as Casual Inns. They hold within them an unassuming charm and regional character that is an extension of the destination itself. Most of them fall under the 3-star or 4-star category with a possible mix of homestays.
We have chosen them carefully so that you are well-rested; get a drift of the local character or an enthralling view from your verandah. The above brief itinerary gives you a clickable list of hotels for your perusal.
Day 1: Hanoi
Our guide meets you at your hotel at 13:00hrs for a bike fit.
Post that, walk the busy streets of Hanoi visiting some of the cultural and historical highlights of Hanoi. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda, which was constructed nearly a millennium ago, and is delicately elevated in a pond. Also visit the Temple of Literature, dating back close to a thousand years, is a wonderfully preserved piece of ancient Vietnamese architecture and stands to honor the scholarly achievements of the country’s academics and philosophers. Continue exploring the area around Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake, the old quarter including Ngoc Son Temple, which sits perched on a little island in the lake. In the evening, we convene over dinner.
Day 2: Halong City
Ride past the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta before taking a shuttle to Halong City. The river rises in Yunnan province, and flows across the Tonkin region, through Hanoi, and enters the Gulf of Tonkin. We criss-cross the rivers and ride over a multitude of bridges.
Day 3: Cat Ba Island
A quick ferry journey amidst spectacular limestone mountain scenery brings us to Cat Ba Island. After lunch, get on the bike for a loop around the island. Enjoy the stunning sunset over the limestone mountains.
Day 4: Ninh Binh
After a hearty breakfast, get on board a smaller boat and take a journey to the more remote and secluded parts of the Lan Ha Bay waters and islands. Trade your boat with a kayak and explore the lagoons, the coral reef, beaches, and limestone peaks.
Ferry back to Hai Phong and shuttle to Ninh Binh. If time permits, we may get a chance to bike for a short duration towards Ninh Binh.
Day 5: Cuc Phuong National Park
A short cycling ride along the river brings us to Trang An, known as Halong Bay on land. The landscape is largely dominated by limestone mountains, rivers, caves, and pagodas. Here we take a boat ride and get to experience the magical scenery dotted with natural and cultural wonders.
We take a break at the ancient city of Hoa Lu for a quick temple tour and then continue riding toward Cuc Phuong National Park through the stunning landscape.
Day 6: Mai Chau
In the early morning hours, visit the Cuc Phuong National Park, an important site for biodiversity in Vietnam
It’s a long day interspersed with transfers and rides. Cycle past spectacular mountain range with karst cliffs, terraced rice fields, and a typical agricultural landscape, ending at beautiful valleys of Mai Chau. The experience is truly unique as we get to experience a good change in landscape.
Mai Chau is a collection of villages and offers a true rural cycling experience.
Day 7: Mai Chau
Today enjoy a thrilling loop around the gorgeous valley and experience Mai Chau village life at close quarters. It’s an off-beat trail and some sections are over a gravel road. We pass by many bucolic villages where children come to greet us and through tumbling steams. The region is mainly inhabited by White Thai people.
Do enjoy the evening walking around the valley and admiring simple rural life amidst spectacular scenery.
Day 8: Hanoi
The initial stretch has a bit of climb and then it delves down to the foothills of mountains. The topography is adorned with timber and fern trees. After around 45km, we stop for lunch along the Da reservoir and then make a transfer to Ky Son to cycle further along rivers and lakes. The cycling is up to yen Trung and then take a shuttle transfer to Hanoi.
Day 9: Overnight Train From Hanoi To Lao Cai
Today is a rest day and you can plan your own day.
In the evening, we take an overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai.
Day 10: Sapa
Meet your tour guide at Lao Cai railway station and get transferred to Sapa. This morning, take a short hike around and visit some of the ethnic villages, and giving a glimpse of spectacular karst scenery and what is to come in the next few days.
Sapa is a spectacular hill station and home to the region’s largest ethnic groups, H’mong and Dao people.
Day 11: Lai Chau
A classic hike today of about 10km (6mi). Starting from your hotel at Sapa, we make a gradual climb up to Tram Ton Pass (2000m), Vietnam’s highest mountain pass on the northern side of Fansipan and 15km from Sapa. The hike is rewarded with enchanting views of terraced rice fields, tea plantations, and innumerable streams. The scenery is spectacular throughout the day and gives an opportunity for plenty of landscape photos. The region is mainly inhabited by white Thai and White H’mong people.
Day 12: Ban Ho
Today hike past terraced rice fields, and a typical agricultural landscape, ending at the beautiful valleys of Ban Ho village. Enjoy the pristine Lavie Stream, the Ca Nhay Waterfalls, and the tranquility of Ban Ho.
Day 13: Hanoi
Today we go for another short hike in the surroundings. The scenery is again typical of mountain villages, with stilt houses, streams, waterfalls, terraced fields, and ethnic villages. Post-lunch, we shuttle back to Hanoi.
Day 14: Hanoi
Please make arrangements as per your onward travel plans.
Dates and Prices
Our base pricing is in USD. However, we can also quote in AUD, GBP, CAD, and EUR, and you can pay in the same. Please write us.
Couldn't find a trip with convenient dates?
Open your date as a join-in tour or customize further as private one.
We offer private departures on almost all our itineraries, and for groups of four or more, they cost the same as our standard trips!
All hotels as mentioned in the tour details or similar (subject to availability).
Expert Trip Leader(s) who look after your every need and add meaning to your vacation.
Immaculately maintained bike with helmet, suited to a terrain.
A Van support that follows the group of riders and carries all belongings.
Meals as per itinerary. Guests are given the opportunity to dine on their own so that they discover a location independently.
Refreshments and mineral water while cycling.
Entrance fees to most of the monuments and temples.
When you have a road and the thrill of a journey ahead of you, it’s imperative to have a good bike to enjoy it. Our fleet majorly consists of the below bike as a part of this tour. However, sometimes due to height or availability constraints, we may provide a different but similar quality bike.
GT Avalanche Sport
Included in your trip price
Airport pickup and drop
We recommend to book direclty from airport or hotel.
Some meals may not be included. Please check your itinerary.
Beverages such as alcohol, tea, coffee, juice at a hotel or restaurant.
Reviews from our friends
Philip from AU5.0
Wonderful Two Week Experience
Wonderful two week experience of Vietnam Halong Bay and mountains. Biking 40-60km day, a couple of days hiking and a day kayaking, with plenty of time to relax and explore. Highlights include watching the sunrise from Halong Bay, hiking in Sapa valley, and cycling through Mai Chau valley. Knowledgable guides and good minibus support made the daily routing comfortable. Thank you for such a well designed, superbly led trip.
End of reviews