Travel from the mountains of the north through the history of Vietnam down to the southern river delta on this twelve-day itinerary. You'll start off with two days of cycling through northern Vietnam's nature reserves, then cruise through the dramatic karst scenery of Ha Long Bay. Explore the historic sites and modern city life in Hue and Hoi An before making your way south down the Mekong Delta, ending your trip in the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

Highlights

  • Cycle through the Pu Luong Nature Reserve
  • Cruise across the famous Ha Long Bay
  • Tour the historic 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 Hanoi
Day 2 Mountain Cycling to Mai Chau Mai Châu, Hòa Bình
Day 3 Off-Road Cycling to Pu Luong Nature Reserve Huyện Bá Thước, tỉnh Thanh Hóa
Day 4 Trang An Grottoes Ninh Binh
Day 5 Ha Long Bay Ha Long Bay
Day 6 Ha Long Bay to Hue Hue
Day 7 Explore Hue Hue
Day 8 Royal Tombs & Transfer to Hoi An Hoi An
Day 9 Countryside Tour & Ancient Hoi An Hoi An
Day 10 Hoi An to Can Tho 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

Long Bien Bridge
Long Bien Bridge

Chao ban! Welcome to Hanoi! Catch a transfer from the airport to your lodging and take some time to settle in and explore the city.

Day 2: Mountain Cycling to Mai Chau

Mai Chau Village
Mai Chau Village

Get your adventure off to an early start with a morning drive over quiet countryside roads. At whatever point you choose, hop out of your escort van to start your mountain bike ride across the terrain.

Stop for lunch roughly halfway, then keep riding up and down the hills and along the Hoa Binh lakes, taking in the views of the peaceful landscape. Descend down to Mai Chau and arrive in the Thai village of Poom Coom, where you can enjoy dinner and spend the night.

Cycling distance: 31-50 miles (50-80 km)

Day 3: Off-Road Cycling to Pu Luong Nature Reserve

Going about their business
Going about their business

Get up early to watch village life bustling around you before breakfast, then head to the Ma riverbank to hit the road. Depending on the weather, you can take a single-track bike ride up to remote villages along the river and stop for a picnic on the way.

Get back on the trail with an uphill route through the Pu Luong nature reserve, surrounded by views of the mountains, forests, and rice paddies. Those same lush landscapes will continue alongside you as you go downhill. Coast into the Don village for the evening, where you can walk off the day with views of the best-terraced fields of Pu Luong.

Cycling distance: 25-50 miles (40-80 km)

Day 4: Trang An Grottoes

Views of Pu Luong
Views of Pu Luong

After another village morning, hop back on your bike and continue downhill past even more scenery. You'll hop off around lunchtime for a meal and transfer to the Trang An UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Take a boat ride through the meandering streams of this natural landscape, past the towering limestone peaks and through their accompanying limestone caves. After taking it all in, you'll be transferred to Ninh Binh for the night.

Cycling distance: 22-31 miles (35-50 km)

Day 5: Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay

Get on the road with a transfer to the famous waters of Ha Long Bay. You'll board your boat in time for lunch, cruising past the karst formations of Bai Tu Long bay. Stop for a swim and trip to one of the bay's caves, then relax on a secluded island beach or paddle yourself around in a kayak. Get back onboard just in time to watch the sunset from the top deck.

Day 6: Ha Long Bay to Hue

Kayaking in Ha Long Bay
Kayaking in Ha Long Bay

Set an early alarm to watch the sunrise over the bay before breakfast. Afterward, get up close with Ha Long Bay and its residents on a rowboat tour before you begin cruising back to the docks.

Once you've reached dry land again, you'll transfer to the Hanoi airport for a flight to Hue. The evening is yours to explore the city after you've settled in to your new spot.

Day 7: Explore Hue

Royal Citadel
Royal Citadel

Set out to learn about the royal kingdom that once existed in Hue with a visit to the Imperial City site, followed by a boat ride along the Perfume River to the Thien Mu Pagoda. You'll float downstream on the river through lunch onboard.

After you've disembarked, it's time to get back on the bikes. Start with a trip to the flower village of Tien Non, where you'll be surrounded by its many colors, then onto the Thanh Tien paper-flower-making village and try your hand at the craft. Continue to a village known for its traditional folk paintings before you make your way back to Hue through the peaceful countryside.

Cycling distance: 9 miles (14 km)

Day 8: Royal Tombs & Transfer to Hoi An

Cyclo in Hue
Cyclo in Hue

Take a spin through the streets of Hue on a cyclo ride to the Dong Ba market and the Royal Tombs. You've got a long day ahead, so make the most of your time by choosing either the Ming Mang or Khai Dinh tomb to visit.

Transfer to Hoi An once you've finished your tour. The roughly 4-hour drive can be broken up with as many rest stops as you have time for, including Lang Co beach, Hai Van Pass, Cham Museum, and the Marble Mountains. Spend your evening strolling down the riverside in Hoi An, a historic town known for its custom tailoring.

Day 9: Countryside Tour & Ancient Hoi An

Fishing experience
Fishing experience

Set out to sea again this morning with a boat out to a fishing village, where you can get a glimpse into the lives of the local fishermen. Watch the preparation of fishing tools and actual fishing, along with a rowing trip in a basket boat past the water coconut village.

After lunch, cycle along country roads past the fields of rice, coconut, and corn back to the main town of Hoi An. Continue on foot with a tour of the many cultural sites around Hoi An that will take you up to the evening.

Day 10: Hoi An to Can Tho

Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta

Spend the morning in Hoi An before you transfer to Da Nang airport for a flight to Can Tho on the Mekong Delta. Spend the afternoon exploring the city of Can Tho and riverside villages before you retire.

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

City hall
City hall

Take a boat trip around the Cai Rang floating markets, followed by a cruise along the Mekong and a walk along a quiet road to take in the riverside scenery and see some sights from local life.

In the afternoon, transfer to vibrant Ho Chi Minh City. You'll pick up your bikes to explore the city's streets and alleys with a local guide. Stop at pancake and seafood restaurants, coffee shops with live music, and some of the best panoramic views of Back Dang Pier and the city center. Refresh yourself at your final stop at a rooftop bar, surrounded by the city lights and a dance floor.

Day 12: Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral
Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral

Enjoy one more Vietnamese coffee before you board your flight home or head off to your next adventure.

Map

Map of Active Trip Through Vietnam - 12 Days
Map of Active Trip Through Vietnam - 12 Days
Nga
Written by Nga Le, updated Mar 18, 2019