Over 12 days you'll travel from the mountains of northern Vietnam down to the southern Mekong Delta and enjoy outdoor adventures every step of the way. It begins with two days of cycling through nature reserves followed by a cruise along the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay. Then visit historical sites in the ancient cities of Hue and Hoi An before ending the trip on the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City and rafting down the Mekong River.


  • Cycle through the Pu Luong Nature Reserve
  • Cruise along the famous Ha Long Bay
  • Tour the historical sites in Hue and Hoi An
  • Visit the floating markets of the Mekong
  • Browse the bustle of Ho Chi Minh City

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi, Optional Activities Hanoi
Day 2 Transfer to Hoa Binh & Mountain Biking Mai Chau
Day 3 Cycle to Pu Luong Nature Reserve Ba Thuoc District
Day 4 Morning Ride, Transfer to Trang An & Boat Trip Ninh Binh
Day 5 Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise Ha Long Bay
Day 6 Morning Cruise, Transfer to Hue Hue
Day 7 Hue City Tour, Boat Trip & Country Bike Ride Hue
Day 8 Royal Tomb Visit, Transfer to Hoi An Hoi An
Day 9 Fishing Villages & Hoi An City Tour Hoi An
Day 10 Transfer to Can Tho, Optional Activities Can Tho
Day 11 Floating Market, Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City
Day 12 Depart Ho Chi Minh City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi, Optional Activities

The streets of Hanoi

Chao ban! Welcome to Vietnam! This country is as ancient as it is beautiful. According to some estimates, it was first settled as far back as 2000 BCE. Even the city of Hanoi has been a regional capital dating back to 300 BCE. Upon arrival at Hanoi's airport, a driver will transfer you to your hotel in the city, then you can experience this rich history and culture firsthand. 

To start, hit the streets of the Old Quarter (historic center) and browse the silk shops on Hang Gai Street. Tuck into some Vietnamese street food staples like pho (noodle soup), banh mi (baguette sandwich), or bun cha (grilled pork with rice noodles). Later, perhaps head to a rooftop bar in the trendy Tay Ho district for a sundowner amid great views over West Lake.

Day 2: Transfer to Hoa Binh & Mountain Biking

Cycle through the Mai Chau Valley

Get your adventure off to an early start with a morning drive west just outside of Hanoi to Hoa Binh province. Known for its verdant rice paddies, karst mountains, and rural hill-tribe villages, this corner of Vietnam feels a world away from the urban jungle of Hanoi. Once in the region, you'll leave the transport van and hop on your bike to begin the day's ride.

Cycle amid the green hills and along the glassy Hoa Binh lakes while enjoying the views of this tranquil landscape. After a stop for lunch, you'll descend down into the Mai Chau Valley and arrive in Pom Coong, a village populated by the Thai ethnic people. Here, you'll have dinner and spend the night.

Day 3: Cycle to Pu Luong Nature Reserve

Terraced rice paddies in Pu Luong

Rise early and enjoy a home-cooked breakfast followed by some time to relax and enjoy a bit of quiet village life. Then head to the banks of the Ma River and hit the road for day two of your cycling adventure. Depending on the weather, you can opt for a single-track ride along the river to remote villages, with a stop for a picnic lunch on the way.

Once you've eaten, return to the trail on an uphill route through Pu Luong Nature Reserve. Like Mai Chau, this 68-sq-mile (176-sq-km) nature reserve is famous for its forested mountains, green rice paddies, and ethnic Thai villages. Enjoy these beautiful landscapes as you continue riding downhill to the village of Don, where you'll check in to your homestay. Spend the remainder of the day enjoying the stunning views of the surrounding mountains and rice terraces.

Day 4: Morning Ride, Transfer to Trang An & Boat Trip

Travel down the waterways in Trang An

After spending part of the morning getting to know the locals, hop back on your bike and continue on a 22-31-mile (35-50 km) ride through Pu Luong. Around midday, you'll stop for lunch, then meet a driver for the approximately three-hour ride to Trang An.

This corner of paradise is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located adjacent to the famous Ninh Binh province in the Red River Delta. It's the Vietnam you see in postcards, where slow rivers meander between rice paddies flanked by soaring limestone peaks. You'll experience this majesty when you board a traditional boat for a ride down one of these waterways. Afterward, you'll transfer to Ninh Binh, where you'll overnight.

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Day 5: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise

Ha Long Bay

In the morning, leave Ninh Binh on a four-hour van ride up the coast to Ha Long Bay. Located on the Gulf of Tonkin, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is comprised of over 1,000 karst islands rising out of jade waters. Upon arrival, you'll board a cruise ship and settle into your cabin. The food on board is a real highlight, so once the ship gets underway, you'll enjoy a lunch of fresh local seafood. The boat will then cruise to adjacent Bai Tu Long Bay, where you'll stop for a swim and explore a mysterious cave. Afterward, relax at a secluded island beach or explore the bay in a kayak before returning to the ship.

Day 6: Morning Cruise, Transfer to Hue

Sunrise over Ha Long Bay

Wake up early to witness the sunrise over the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay. Breakfast will be served around 8 am, followed by a short rowboat ride with locals around the bay. Later, you can take one more swim and then return to the boat for lunch as you cruise back to the harbor. There, you'll catch a shuttle back to Hanoi.

Upon arrival in Hanoi, you'll transfer to the airport and catch a 1.5-hour flight south to Da Nang. A driver will then meet you at the airport for the two-hour drive up the coast to the ancient city of Hue, which sits on the banks of the Perfume River. After checking in to your hotel, you'll have the evening free.

Day 7: Hue City Tour, Boat Trip & Country Bike Ride

Royal Citadel
The Imperial City, in Hue

In the morning you'll head out for a full-day tour of Hue's highlights. First up is the Imperial City, easily Hue's most famous landmark. This walled citadel (now a UNESCO World Heritage) site, was constructed in 1804 and was once the center of power during the Nguyen Dynasty.

After touring the Imperial City, you'll take a boat ride down the Perfume River. Along the way, you'll stop at the 17th-century Thien Mu Pagoda. The most iconic structure here is Phuoc Duyen, a seven-tiered, octagonal tower. Then you'll continue the leisurely ride downstream and enjoy lunch on the boat.

When the ride ends, you'll hop back on a bike and cycle to Thanh Tien, the most famous craft village in Hue. Residents here began making the town's famous artificial flowers centuries ago, as they withstood the elements better than real flowers. During a visit, you can even try making your own. Afterward, continue riding to a village known for its traditional folk paintings before you make your way back to Hue along the peaceful countryside.

Day 8: Royal Tomb Visit, Transfer to Hoi An

The Tomb of Khai Dinh

After breakfast, explore the streets of Hue on a cyclo (three-wheeled bicycle taxi). The first stop on this excursion is Dong Ba Market. This famous commercial center is over 100 years old and is where locals come to buy fresh produce, consumer goods, clothing, jewelry, and more. Next, you'll stop at one of Hue's seven Royal Tombs. Options include Ming Mang, the lakeside mausoleum of a 19th-century emperor, and Khai Dinh, which was built in 1931 for the 12th emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. 

In the afternoon, leave Hue on a 2.5-hour road trip south to Hoi An, a historic city on the Thu Bon River. Its Ancient Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most well-preserved historic city centers in the country. The route to get to Hoi An follows the ocean, and you'll be able to snap photos at white-sand beaches and at the Hai Van Pass, which offers great views over the coastal mountains. Upon arrival in Hoi An, you'll check into your hotel and will have the evening free.

Day 9: Fishing Villages & Hoi An City Tour

Hoi An

In the morning, you'll meet your guide and the two of you will head outside of Hoi An for a half-day tour of the countryside. After leaving the city, you'll arrive at a fishing village and hop in a Vietnamese basket boat (called a thung chai) for a ride along the nipa palm forests of the Thu Bon River. You'll even get to try your hand at traditional net fishing. After lunch on the waterfront, hop on a bicycle and ride back to Hoi An, passing rice paddies and farms as you go. Back in town, you'll take a guided tour of the city's historic landmarks, including its temples and Japanese Covered Bridge.

Day 10: Transfer to Can Tho

Mekong Delta
Off to the Mekong Delta

Spend the morning walking Hoi An's scenic waterfront and do some last-minute souvenir shopping. Then transfer north to the airport in Da Nang, where you'll catch a 1.5-hour flight south to the riverfront city of Can Tho, located on the famous Mekong Delta. Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel and can spend the rest of the afternoon exploring on your own.

Day 11: Floating Market, Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City

Browse the Cai Rang Floating Market

Can Tho is most famous for being home to Cai Rang, the largest and most iconic floating market in Mekong Delta. Today you'll spend time browsing this mobile marketplace, but be sure to get an early start, as it's busiest before 9 am. Afterward, you'll take a relaxing cruise down the Mekong followed by a walk on a quiet road filled with lovely riverside scenery.

In the afternoon, meet your driver for the three-hour ride north to Ho Chi Minh City, the largest metropolis in Vietnam. After settling into the hotel, you can head out and explore. Consider a bike tour through the city's streets and alleys with a local guide. You can also stop at traditional pancake and seafood restaurants, pop in at a coffee shop for some live music, and head over to Back Dang Pier for the best views of the city skyline. If you like enjoy a sundowner at one of the city's fine rooftop bars.

Day 12: Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City Hall

Depending on your flight schedule, take the morning to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and one last cup of Vietnamese coffee. Then transfer to the airport in Ho Chi Minh City, where you'll catch your flight home or onward to your next adventure. Safe Travels!

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Map of Active Vietnam Adventure - 12 Days
Map of Active Vietnam Adventure - 12 Days