Active Vietnam Adventure – 13 Days
- Take a mountain biking trip to Mai Chau
- Enjoy an overnight cruise on Ha Long Bay
- Visit floating markets in the Mekong Delta
- Explore historic Hue by bike and boat
- Learn about Vietnam's war history at the Cu Chi Tunnels
|Day 1||Arrive in Hanoi||Hanoi|
|Day 2||Mountain Bike to Mai Chau||Mai Chau|
|Day 3||Off-Road Cycle to Pu Luong Nature Reserve||Ba Thuoc District|
|Day 4||Trang An Grottoes Boat Trip||Ninh Binh|
|Day 5||Bus to Ha Long Bay & Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise||Ha Long Bay|
|Day 6||Cruise Ha Long Bay & Return to Hue||Hue|
|Day 7||Imperial City Tour, Boat Trip & Rural Bike Ride||Hue|
|Day 8||Royal Tomb Visit & Coastal Drive to Hoi An||Hoi An|
|Day 9||Fishing Villages & Hoi An Tour||Hoi An|
|Day 10||Fly to Can Tho, Explore||Can Tho|
|Day 11||Floating Market, Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City & Motorbike Tour||Ho Chi Minh City|
|Day 12||Cu Chi Tunnels & Ho Chi Minh City Tour||Ho Chi Minh City|
|Day 13||Depart Ho Chi Minh City|
Day 1: Arrive in HanoiWelcome to Vietnam! A driver will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel for check-in. Settle in and then explore the frenetic capital, Hanoi. Wander tree-shaded avenues lined with a mix of temples and French colonial buildings contrasted with modern, glassy malls and office buildings. Sample street food in the 36 labyrinthine streets of the Old Quarter or take a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, where locals gather to practice Tai Chi and play checkers.
Day 2: Mountain Bike to Mai Chau
This morning your Vietnamese cycling adventure begins. Drive an hour from Hanoi to the starting point and then hop on your bike to ride along quiet countryside roads, followed by your support van. You'll stop for a local lunch halfway and then continue cycling up and down hills, taking in the rural scenery. Passing along the tranquil Hoa Binh Lakes is a highlight.
In the late afternoon, you'll descend to Mai Chau, a one-street town famed for its surrounding fields of swaying rice, bordered by hulking mountains. The villages here belong to people of Thai ancestry, who live in stilt houses and make a living from homestays and farming. You'll have dinner and stay at a guest house in the village of Pom Coong; don't forget to try some of the locally-brewed rice wine.
Day 3: Off-Road Cycle to Pu Luong Nature Reserve
Rise early to experience village life in Mai Chau and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Your driver will take you to the starting point for today's 6-mile (10 km) cycle, which follows the Ma River. As you cycle, pass children playing in the shade of their stilt houses, grazing buffaloes, and farmers in conical hats toiling in the fields. In remote villages, women weave silk brocade handicrafts on ancient looms.
This afternoon you'll tackle a more challenging 7-mile (12 km) uphill trail through Pu Luong Nature Reserve; if you need a break, you can ride in the support van instead. This area is home to Thai villages and is loved for its fertile valleys, rolling mountains, and thick jungles dotted with waterfalls. The final section takes you downhill to Don Village, where you'll meet your homestay hosts. Before dinner, stroll around the village to admire Pu Luong's magnificent rice terraces.
Day 4: Trang An Grottoes Boat Trip
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
This morning you'll head to Trang An, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in the Ninh Binh region. Take a boat trip to discover Trang An's famous limestone grottoes, passing fishermen collecting shrimp along the way. You'll spot spiritual sites like Dia Linh Mountain among the dramatic karst scenery, which has earned the region its nickname: "Ha Long Bay on Land."
After a typical Vietnamese lunch, you'll take a short transfer to Hoa Lu, one of the country's historical treasures. Hoa Lu was Vietnam's capital in the 10th and 11th centuries when it was home to royal dynasties. Tour decorative temples and ruinous palaces built in honor of former emperors and queens before returning to your hotel for a relaxed evening.
Day 5: Bus to Ha Long Bay & Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise
This morning, take a shuttle bus to the northwest coast, where the land meets the Gulf of Tonkin, to begin your overnight tour of UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay. Check into your cabin as you sail the paper-flat waters, which are scattered with over 2,000 limestone karsts steeped in Vietnamese legend. Look for striking formations like the incense-shaped Dinh Huong Islet and Kissing Rock, which appear on the 200,000 Vietnamese dong note.
A delicious seafood lunch onboard awaits, followed by plenty of time to sit on the sundeck as you sail to Bai Tu Long Bay, a lesser-visited area northeast of Ha Long. Stop at a secluded island where you can go swimming and kayaking, then explore one of the bay's eerie caves, filled with cathedral-like chambers and decorative stalagmites and stalactites. Return to the boat in time to catch the sunset from the top deck, followed by a lavish evening meal.
Day 6: Cruise Ha Long Bay & Return to Hue
Wake early for breakfast on the ship's deck, watching the sun rise over the emerald waters of Bai Tu Long Bay. You can enjoy an optional tai chi class or just soak up the views. A local will take you out on a rowing boat, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs where eagles swoop above. Afterward, a final lunch is served on board as you sail back to the harbor at Ha Long Bay.
Back on dry land, return to Hanoi by shuttle bus. A private car will be waiting to take you to the airport for the next leg of your adventure. Fly south to Vietnam's former royal capital, Hue, where you'll be transferred straight to your hotel.
Day 7: Imperial City Tour, Boat Trip & Rural Bike Ride
Spend today exploring Hue by bike and boat. Start at the moat-encircled Imperial Citadel, home to the powerful Nguyen Dynasty between 1802 and 1945. Tour the remains of this UNESCO World Heritage Site's shrines, pavilions, and palaces with an expert guide. Next, board a boat for lunch as you float along the Perfume River.
When you dock, set off on an 8-mile (14 km) guided cycling tour of Hue's rural villages. You'll stop at a folk-painting village and visit Thanh Tien, where villagers are known for producing intricate paper flowers, which you can try your hand at creating. Continue cycling through Vietnam's signature lime-green rice fields on your way back to Hue, where the evening is yours to rest or explore the city independently.
Day 8: Royal Tomb Visit & Coastal Drive to Hoi An
Start the day with a relaxing one-hour cyclo ride to Hue's bustling Dong Ba Market, where you can peruse stalls laden with fresh produce, household goods, and lanterns. Next, you'll ride out of the city to explore the architecturally-renowned tombs of Hue's former emperors, including Khai Dinh and Minh Mang. Then it's time to head four hours south along the coast to the UNESCO World Heritage City, Hoi An.
The journey is incredibly scenic and includes traveling over the impressive Hai Van Pass, known as the "Ocean Cloud Pass," for its aerial views over the coast. If there's time, you'll stop at Lang Co Beach, the Cham Museum, and Marble Mountains. In the early evening, you'll arrive in Hoi An, a peaceful port town set on the Tho Bon River, which is fringed by rice paddies and beaches lapped by the South China Sea.
Day 9: Fishing Villages & Hoi An Tour
Meet your guide this morning for a tour of Hoi An's rural outskirts. Start at the dock, where you'll get on a boat to a traditional fishing village to witness daily village life. Each day, fishermen set out on basket boats to cast nets for catching shrimp, crabs, and fish. Learn how to prepare the nets and tools before heading out on the water to try fishing for yourself.
Next, continue your basket boat ride down the river, floating past coconut-fringed banks. You'll stop for lunch at a village and then hop on a bicycle to pedal through Hoi An's famous countryside. Ride past swaying rice paddies and corn fields on your way back to Hoi An. End your day of sightseeing with a tour of Hoi An's beloved fusion architecture, which includes the ornate Japanese bridge and Chinese meeting hall, Phuc Kien.
Day 10: Fly to Can Tho, Explore
Say goodbye to Hoi An today and take a flight south to Can Tho, which lies in the fertile Mekong Delta. This region is known as Vietnam's rice bowl, full of water-logged paddies, mangroves, and sugar cane plantations. When you arrive, your driver will take you to your hotel for a rest and lunch.
This afternoon, you'll head out to explore Can Tho, which is known as the political and commercial hub of the Mekong. Wander the long waterfront with its sculpted gardens, gorge on street food, and head into nearby riverside villages. Get an early night ahead of your trip to the floating market tomorrow.
Day 11: Floating Market, Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City & Motorbike Tour
Rise early for a boat trip to Cai Rang Floating Market, one of the liveliest in the region. Make your way through the throng of tiny wooden boats piled high with flowers, coconuts, and colorful produce. Learn how to barter with barefoot traders and soak up the market mayhem. Next, explore Mekong river life with a cruise and stroll country roads to a village before heading to Ho Chi Minh City.
Start exploring Vietnam's largest city, formerly known as Saigon, with a motorbike tour this evening. Cycle through narrow, noodle-soup-scented alleyways with a Vietnamese driver. You'll stop at a pancake and seafood restaurant for dinner, followed by a coffee shop for a strong Vietnamese brew. Take in panoramic views of Bach Dang Pier and the city's twinkling lights from a secret viewpoint, then make one last stop at a rooftop bar for a cold beer.
Day 12: Cu Chi Tunnels & Ho Chi Minh City Tour
Today you'll learn about Vietnam's war history with a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, where the Viet Cong fought American soldiers in the 1960s. Located just northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, this complex of underground tunnels stretches over 155 miles (250 km) and was a bitter battleground during the war. You'll learn how the Viet Cong used these tunnels as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals, and living areas for fighters. You'll even get the chance to crawl through a section to experience the tunnels' narrow dimensions.
Return to Ho Chi Minh City this afternoon, where you'll visit the Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace, a symbol of the end of the American War when Ho Chi Minh's tanks stormed the complex in 1975. Continue with a tour of the city's French colonial landmarks, such as Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. You'll also visit Ben Thanh, one of the biggest markets in the city.
Day 13: Depart Ho Chi Minh CityAfter breakfast, spend a few hours soaking up the atmosphere in Ho Chi Minh City, perhaps shopping for souvenirs in the markets, before your flight home. Safe travels!
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