The North to South Vietnam 11 Days Tour offers the opportunity to visit all Vietnam essential travel destinations as you travel from the northern to the southern Vietnam. Begin the tour in Hanoi, travel through Mai Chau, Tam Coc, Lao Cai, Sapa, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh city, Mekong Delta, Can Tho, Cu Chi tunnels. Different travel activities have been added to the tour making your holidays enjoyable – mountain hiking, home-stay, sampan cruise, countryside cycle, boat junk cruises, sea kayaking, cycling, war sites. Optional travel activities such as scuba diving, cooking class, spa are also available upon request. The tour can also be extended with a beach break to the southern beach such as Mui Ne beach or Phu Quoc island beach.
Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau. Hiking Mai Chau villages.
Depart Hanoi 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. Upon arriving in Mai Chau valley, we take a short walk around Lac & Poom Coong villages to have the first sights of the White Thai community culture. In the evening, 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. Overnight at stilt-house.
Day 2: Maichau – Tam Coc, Ninh Binh.
Breakfast then we say good bye to our hosts. Depart for Ninhbinh. We will arrive at Kenh Ga around noon. Have your lunch in a local restaurant and try some specialty of the region. After lunch, the car will drive you to Kenh Ga floating village where you will take the boat trip along the beautiful river. Set on the banks of the Hoang Long River, Kenh Ga is a remarkable place, not only because it is surrounded by the same massive rocks that dominate Hoa Lu, but also because for most of the year the entire community lives on the water itself. The floating village of Kenh Ga receives relatively few visitors compared to nearby Hoa Lu and the peoples’ aquatic way of life has changed little over the centuries. Overnight at local guest-house.
Day 3: Tam Coc sampan cruise tour. Travel back to Hanoi. Overnight train to Lao Cai.
The river trip in Van Long 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. The tourists often compare the place with Guilin – China, or more closely, to the limestone islets of Halong Bay in the Tonkin Gulf for their similar geological structures and shapes. Thus Van Long is also called Halong-Bay-On-Land. We will have a 3-hour boat trip along the river before making our way back to Hanoi. After dinner, transfer to Hanoi railway station to take the night train to Laocai. Overnight on the train.
Day 4: Arrive Laocai. Travel to Sapa. Hiking Sapa villages.
You will be met up at Lao Cai railways station by another Hiking Vietnam team local guide and driver then transferred to Sapa for a short rest and breakfast. Then we will travel down hill to Ban Ho. We will trek through the scenic valley of “Ban Ho”. This is a village of Tay ethnic minority. The Tay preserve a traditional and fairly developed agriculture with cultivation of all kinds of plants including rice, maize and sweet potato as well as seasonable fruit and vegetables. Then we continue walking to Thanh Phu village where your lunch will be provided in a local house. After lunchtime, you head to Sin Chai village. This is a village of of Red Dao people. Dinner and overnight at the village.
Day 5: Continue trekking Sapa. Return Sapa town. Travel to Lao Cai. Overnight train back to Hanoi.
After breakfast, we will start our day with a long trek towards Lao Cai. The route from Sin Chai, one of the most remote area in Sapa offers beautiful scenery and landscape. The trek will take us through rice paddy fields, bamboo forest, old trees jungle. Your lunch will be provided at Nam Ket. After lunch, we will trek downhill. Upon arriving in Ta Thang village, a Tay village we will be greeted again by our driver who transfer us then to Laocai station for our journey back to Hanoi. Overnight on the train.
Day 6: Arrive Hanoi. Travel to Halong bay. Cruise tour with kayaking.
Arrive in Hanoi in the early morning, transfer to a local restaurant for early breakfast then depart to Halong. 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 around noon 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. Alternatively journey to Dau Go Cave and nearby see the famous stalagmites and stalactites of Thien Cung Cave. Take a kayaking trip to explore the Bay. Watch the sun set over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner. Overnight on board junk.
Day 7: Halong Bay – Hanoi.
Wake up to fresh coffee and a wholesome breakfast before cruising back to Halong City. En route the junk weaves through strange-shaped rock formations that invite comparisons from fighting cocks to dragons. After another wonderful fresh seafood lunch (early) on board disembark at the dock at Halong City at around 11h00am. Transfer back to Hanoi. Overnight in Ha Noi.
Day 8: Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh city. City tour.
After breakfast, transfer to Hanoi airport for the morning flight to Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon). Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh city airport, you will be met by another Hiking Vietnam team local guide and driver and transferred to your hotel in the city center. After your free lunch in town, start the tour with Ho Chi Minh City highlights including the Post Office, cathedral, Reunification palace, centre town, then continue towards Cholon, visit Thien Hau temple and Binh Tay market. Overnight in Saigon
Day 9: Travel to the Mekong Delta (Ho Chi Minh city – My Tho – Can Tho).
After breakfast, transfer (approx 2 hrs) to My Tho to avoid the teeming traffic. My Tho is the gateway to the Mekong Delta and a wonderful place to start our ride. In My Tho, unload the bikes and start to pedal on the beautiful and quiet country lanes along the Tien River to Cai Be. Along the way, pass through the heart of rural Mekong along narrow lanes, passing banana plantations, sugarcane fields and the lush rural landscape of the Delta. After Cai Be, cross on Dinh Khao ferry to Cho Lach. After the ferry, cycle for a couple of kilometres and then shuttle the rest way to Can Tho. O/N in Can Tho.
Day 10: Continue cycling. Travel back Ho Chi Minh city.
After enjoying an early morning breakfast visit the Cai Rang floating market, weave through teeming early morning market bustle along the banks of an active riverfront. Ride on a narrow paved road to Phong Dien floating market. Absorb the sights of endless cottage industries, timber merchants, coconut shredders, small docks loading/unloading rice, tiny vibrant markets. Local lunch in town. Continue by bike on the narrow lane to explore the hidden backwaters of the Mekong Delta. Return to Saigon. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh city.
Day 11: Day trip to Cu Chi tunnels.
Enjoy a scenic drive through typical southern Vietnamese countryside to Cu Chi to visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters during the long struggle for independence. Back to Saigon. Trip ends.
Hiking Vietnam specializes in tailor-making private guided trekking hiking tours in Vietnam. This North to South Vietnam 11 Days Tour 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.