The 13 Day Vietnam North to South Itinerary is specially customized by Hiking Vietnam team for family holidays touring since the trip includes different activities that are both fine for parents and children – visit highland market, mountain hike, homestay at local home, boat cruise, sea kayaking, countryside cycling and beach resort. The multisport trip takes you to Vietnam top travel destinations including Hanoi, Mai Chau, Tam Coc, Lao Cai, Sapa, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon), Mui ne beach, Phan Thiet. Optional outdoor activities are also available upon request such as scuba diving, snorkeling, rock climbing, mountain biking and more.
Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau.
Depart for Hoa Binh province and up then to Mai Chau valley. This scenic drive takes around four hours. Along the way we pass fields of tapioca and sugar cane as well as rice paddies. Arrive in Mai Chau around late afternoon. Check into a local stilt house for dinner & overnight. After dinner, assist to the traditional music and dance show which is performed by The Thai young girls and boys. They all come from this village. Try also some rice alcohol made of traditional plants and local sticky rice.
Day 2: Hiking Mai Chau. Travel to Tam Coc, Ninh Binh province.
Leave the village for a half day walking around. We will pass many different Thai hamlets, through rice fields, hill sides…We will stop by some local houses to talk with local people to understand their customs and culture. Lunch will be provided in a local stilt house. After lunch enjoy a four hour drive to Tam Coc, also called “Ha Long Bay on land”, or the “Vietnam’s second nicest grotto” (to Huong Tich) for its poetic and inspirational natural scenery. Arrive in Tam Coc around late afternoon. Check-in hotel. Overnight in Tam Coc.
Day 3: Tam Coc sampan cruise and countryside cycling tour. Travel back to Hanoi .
After breakfast, we will take a two hour boat trip around natural caves and grottoes, admire the wonderful landscape of the tourist area. The trip in Tam Coc is wonderful for photo hunters, especially when local people come to harvest the water rice planted along the river, or when they transplant some seedling for the next crops. Cycle along the village roads with beautiful sightseeing and friendly local people. Arriving in Hoa Lu, we will visit Hoa Lu – The Ancient Capital and the remaining two temples of Dinh King & Le King. Lunch in a local restaurant then travel back to Hanoi. In the evening, attend to the water puppet show, one of famous Vietnamese traditional art. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 4: Hanoi city tour. Overnight train to Lao Cai.
Free morning at leisure. In the afternoon, we will continue visiting the Ethnology museum where you can find the biggest object collection of 54 Vietnamese ethnic groups. Enjoy a short cyclo excursion through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sales at these places. In the evening, transfer to Hanoi Railways Station for overnight train to Laocai. Overnight on board train.
Day 5: Arrive Lao Cai. Visit a highland market. Travel to Sapa.
Arrive Laocai Railway Station early this morning. You will be greeted by Hiking Vietnam team local team and transferred to a local restaurant in town for breakfast. Travel to Muong Khuong district enjoying beautiful scenery along the road. Upon arriving in Muong Khuong, we will take another road which goes up in mountains. Pine trees forests and villages surround the tinny market. Flower Hmong, Tu Di, Tay and Giay ethnic minorities come to buy and sell local products such as food and material for agriculture and fabric. After exploring the market, we will have a short walk to a Black Dao village. Then head back to Muong Khuong where your lunch will be provided in a local restaurant. After lunch, travel to Sapa where you will spend the night.
Day 6: Trekking Sapa villages.
You first sneak through the market and leave the busy town behind. After a couple of minutes, you will follow a road going downhill to Cat Cat village. You will stop by a waterfall and a hydroelectric station for a while before you trek on a dirt trail through rice paddy terraces. You will also enjoy spectacular scenery while walking along a narrow river. You eventually arrive in Y Linh Ho village of Black Hmong minority, where you can take a rest while you are served lunch nearby the river. After lunch, you head Muong Hoa valley. You will pass through Lao Chai village of Black Hmong minority and then Tavan village of Giay minority by following a very popular trekking route. You will spend the night in local house of Giay minority. You will be able to take a walk to enjoy the valley view as well as swim in the river nearby.
Day 7: Continue trekking. Travel to Lao Cai. Overnight train back to Hanoi.
After breakfast, depart for Giang Ta Chai village of Red Dao minority. You will trek through bamboo forest, which belongs to Hoang Lien National Park. On the way you will pass by a waterfall where you will have time to take a rest and enjoy the surroundings. You will find a nice place to have lunch. After lunch, you continue trekking towards Su Pan, a small village located by the road where your vehicle will waiting for the drive back to Sapa. Day use will be provided in a mini/standard hotel for quick shower before the overnight train back to Hanoi. Overnight on board train.
Day 8: Arrive Hanoi. Travel to Halong bay. Boat cruise. Kayaking or Scuba diving.
Arrive in Hanoi early this morning, welcome by our team again and transfer to a local restaurant for early breakfast. At 8:30: Depart for 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 junk) for the Halong bay overnight cruise tour. 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 or take a kayaking trip on the emerald waters of Halong bay. Watch the sun set over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner. Overnight on board junk.
Day 9: Halong bay – Hanoi. Fly to Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon).
Breakfast on board. Then we continue our cruise while the boat is going back to shore. Arrive at Ha long wharf about 11h00 and join our vehicle again for journey back to Hanoi. Upon your arrival in Hanoi, transfer directly to Noibai airport for a two-hour flight to Ho Chi Minh city. Welcome at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh city by Hiking Vietnam team local team and then escorted to your hotel in town. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh city.
Day 10: Saigon city tour. Travel to Mui Ne, Phan Thiet.
Enjoy a half day city tour tour with Ho Chi Minh City major highlights such as the Post Office, cathedral, Reunification palace, centre town, then continue towards Cholon, visit Thien Hau temple and Binh Tay market. In the afternoon, transfer to Mui Ne, Phan Thiet (without guide). The scenic 200km drive north on Highway One passes through the bustling city of Bien Hoa before cutting through dense rubber plantations. Arrive in Muine and check into resort. Overnight in Muine.
Day 11 & 12: Phan Thiet beach resort.
Full day free at leisure to enjoy the prime beach of Muine or just relax on the hotel/resort poolside (no guide; no car). Optional golf course or beach activities can be arranged on the spot with hotel/resort. Please check with your hotel/resort staff for more information. Overnight in Muine.
Day 13: Travel back to Ho Chi Minh city.
Free at leisure until transfer back to Ho Chi Minh (without guide). Trip ends.
Hiking Vietnam specializes in tailor-making private guided trekking hiking tours in Vietnam. This 13 Day Vietnam North to South Itinerary is only a sample itinerary that can be further customized to better fit your personal requirements. Just follow this trip or contact us for designing your own itinerary.
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 a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact us. We are here to help you!
Please note that while we operate successful trips 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.
Our trekking tours can be classified into three levels
There are about 8 – 10K to walk on flat roads. No previous experience is necessary. Anyone in good health and fit enough to perform an occasional hike can take an easy level trek. Vietnam easy walks are provided in Hanoi, Bac Giang, Mai Chau, Ngoc Son Ngo Luong…
There are about 10 – 15K to hike on flat and hilly roads. At this point too, no special background is required. Hikers accustomed to trekking in hilly areas of Mai Chau, Pu Luong or Lai Chau, Yen Bai successfully accomplish our treks “moderate”, provided they are in good health and to have a correct fit. These treks are moderate or easy hikes with an average duration or shorter but more difficult steps.
There are about 16 – 23K to trek on uphill/downhill dirty, rocky trails. Physical fitness is very important for these treks and you may have to lead you home before the trek. Most treks in this level are comparable with long rides in the Fansipan mountain or the the mountainous region of Ha Giang, Cao Bang, sometimes higher altitudes. The climate and isolation can also participate in difficulty. Prior trek experience is preferable but not vital if you have confidence in your fitness.
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.
- Car transfers
- Local tour guide. The English-Speaking guide is provided by default. Other language may be available upon request (with extra charge).
- Local porter(s)
- 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
Our tour guides speak English or French. They hold a university degree in tourism and national license as a guide. If you wish to send a tour leader along with any group, he or she can fully rely on the knowledge and experience of our local guides.
Remote treks are always accompanied by a local representative to deal with permits and authorities and manage the porter team. They speak the local dialects, know the cultural traditions and give tips on suggested behavior in fragile ecological areas and tribal communities. For some itineraries, the role of tour leader and representative is combined.
When to hike
The north Vietnam experiences two distinct seasons; winter and summer. Winter is cool, dry and lasts from November to April. Temperatures range between 15 to 25°C during the day and 0 to 10°C during the night. With little rain, the winter season offers the most pleasant weather conditions for trekking in Vietnam. Read more about Vietnam weather.
During all trekking tours we may use local porters to carry your luggage as well as our trekking equipment, where required. To generate local income we employ local villagers for this task. Participants will have their own porter, carrying trekking equipment and luggage to a maximum of 15 kg per client. Travelers only have to carry their day packs. Read more how to pack
Depending on the nature of the tour, journeys will be accompanied by an air-conditioned car/minibus cover the larger overland sections.
Campsites and lodges are not common in Vietnam, instead we make use of homestays; staying the night in tribal villages along the way. Facilities are clean, but very basic. Travelers share a bamboo-slat floor, separated by curtains. Animals usually sleep under the house and restrooms and showers are often absent. Water sources are available outside. Mattresses, blankets and mosquito nets are taken care of.
Over the years Lotussia Travel has established a number of projects to upgrade home stay accommodation into a bit more comfort. Basic facilities aside, spending the night in a tribal village and enjoying a meal with the locals brings travellers unforgettable cross-cultural experiences. In the past 15 years of organizing trekking by this way, we never received a complaint.
During all treks meals will be arranged on the spot, in local restaurants and at home in local villages along the way. The meals are prepared by our cooks, the local guide or by the local host. Our cooks are well trained to prepare and serve food hygienically and they cook a variety of local delicacies. Sometimes this may include the slaughter of a chicken, duck or pig. We sometimes have the chance to bring western food, and snacks from Hanoi for breakfast and picnics along the way, and coffee and tea are available in abundance. Our cooks make a special effort to provide as much variety as possible. The porters give necessary assistance on the spot.
There are many shops and villages that have bottled water for sale. On remote trekking tours, we buy a sufficient supply of water for the next couple of days. We recommend bringing some water purifying tablets.
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, communal house 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.
- 1 medium-sized backpack.
- Comfortable walking shoes with good grip
- 1 long (easy to dry) pants and 1 long sleeved shirt to wear during the trek (easy to dry).
- 1 pair of flip flop (sandals).
- 1 pair of shorts and T-shirt to wear at camp site (2 if you do 4-day trek).
- 1 medium-sized towel.
- 1 medium-sized dry bag.
- Hiking poles/walking sticks
We strongly believe that Responsible Tourism can support to local communities: proving incomes,positive cultural exchanges and an incentive to protect natural environment. We recognize that there is always space for improvement. We continually strive to narrow the gap between principle and practice.
We have been turning environmentally responsible tourism into practices to minimize tourist impact upon the local habitat. From biodegradable soaps to re – usable water containers, we provide clients with the best information and mean to help them identify and implement effective ways to positive protect local nature and communities. It is a vital criteria that can be passed on and abided by all, long after the trip ended.
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.