Vietnam is a country of breath-taking natural beauty. As well as improving your fitness, this adventure will give you a wonderful insight into the best images and ideas about local life from the city to remote rural areas. It is a fascinating travel experience that will take you around North Vietnam: from Hanoi to Halong in the east to Mai Chau in the west. A cruise around the intriguing islands in Halong Bay will be one of the highlights. On your travels around Vietnam see the farmers working in fields and locals in their daily activities herding buffalo and cultivating the land; children gather in small groups and will wave their hands with a smile when seeing you. Here you will feel a closeness with the natural surroundings and get plenty of opportunities to become acquainted with the local culture. Enjoy the new and different images of landscape, rainforest, and streams that cross over the path.
Activities during your Vietnam Adventure will include paragliding, trekking, cycling, cruising, kayaking, and rock climbing. Most of the cycling is suitable for occasional cyclists with some experience of road use or easy trails. On the days when it is most likely to be needed, a support vehicle will be provided. Lovers of biking and trekking will find this country a paradise.
HIGHLIGHTS of YOUR VIETNAM ADVENTURE
Luxury boat cruise across Halong Bay to discover the magnificent beauty of this “descending-dragon” bay, created by thousands odd-shaped limestone rocks and karst grottoes.
Cruise by World Natural Heritage sites including Fighting Cock islet, Incense Urn islet, Finger island, Toad islet, Dragon, Horse Neck, Buffalo Head islet and many other strange shape islands. The islands are uninhabited by humans but home to sea eagles who swoop down to catch fish from Halong bay which they carry up in their beaks to feed their young.
Hanoi Old quarter: the old quarter is a mixture of beautiful ancient temples, labyrinthine streets and crumbling pagodas which jostle alongside stalls where hawkers prepare steaming bowls of food in alleyways.
Mai Chau, the gateway to the spectacular mountainous area of Northern Vietnam. Mai Chau and surrounding beautiful ethnic villages including Na Thia, Pom Coong, Lac and Chieng Chau villages; and Kho Muong, a peaceful village of Thai hill tribal people. The essential character of the locals is warm and easy-going. The country-side is enchanting, nestled between towering cliffs and surrounded by emerald green paddies.
Enjoy Vietnamese cooking, made with fresh and locally grown produce!
Visit the two remaining sanctuaries of the ancient citadel (Temple Of Dinh Tien Hoang and Temple Of Le Dai Hanh who reigned in Vietnam during 10th century). There is a mountain peak nearby for the people who love to conquer heights and enjoy the panorama view of the landscape.
Accommodation will be in hotels (plus one guest house) and on a cruise ship. All the hotels used on the trip are boutique style or best local. The hotels are four or five star as indicated below.
Hanoi – Hotel de l’Opera (5* standard) : This is a boutique hotel located in the heart of the Old Quarter, just a few steps to Hoan Kiem Lake and the Opera House as well as the busiest shopping centre.
Tu Le – Pho Nui Guest House: This a local guest house and the best available.
Mai Chau – Mai Chau EcoLodge (4* standard): This a boutique eco lodge decorated with many ethnic patterns. It is located on a hillside overlooking fields and about ten minutes’ walk along a village trail to the neighbouring village. It has a large outdoor swimming pool.
NinhBinh – Emeralda Resort (5* standard): In this boutique resort we use villas designed with traditional Vietnamese elements in architecture and furnishings. Located in a calm area, close to nature, near the foot of the mountains and in a nature reserve. Its neighbours are the house of the local people. The resort has both outdoor and indoor swimming pool and a mini golf course.
Cat Ba Island – Sunrise Resort (4* standard): A beach front resort nestles on the foot of the mountain. With limited number of rooms comparing to other 4* hotels in the area, it won’t be too crowded for our guests. This resort is the best choice for accommodation in the island.
Halong Bay – Paradise Luxury Cruise (5* standard): although in Halong there is no standard for cruises as there is for hotels but Paradise Luxury Cruise is considered a 5* services.
–Accommodation as listed above, Twin-share
–English speaking guides in each part of itinerary
–Meals as mentioned in the programme (not including drink)
–Land transfer by private air-condition vehicle & truck or minibus on some days as indicated
–Mineral water (1 litre per person per day) & wet wipes everyday
–Snack during cycling times
–Bicycle used as per programme (good bikes, including water jug, standby inner tube, helmet, back-up bicycles )
–Boat trip in Halong bay
–Admission fee to the indicated sites.
–Excursion as per program
–Visa approval letter & Visa stamp fee upon arrival to Vietnam
–International flight from/to Vietnam and airport tax
–Domestic airfare & airport tax
–Early check-in/late checkout surcharge
–Other meals not mentioned
–Drinks and other personal expenses (laundry, phone calls etc.)
–Any other services not mentioned in the programme
–Tips for tour guides and drivers …
Day 1: Hanoi
Total distance of fairly easy cycling: 20 km. Road surfaces: Backroads & Asphalt city road – Support truck: Not needed.
Welcome to Vietnam!
The tour guide will welcome you at Noi Bai airport; it takes 35 minutes driving to the centre of Hanoi. We get an overall view of the capital by a private electric car around Hanoi Old quarter. In 2 hours, you are driven around 28 old streets in the area with stops to visit Dong Xuan market, the oldest market of Hanoi; Bach Ma temple worshipping a former guardian of the city; Old House 87 Ma May street; Kim Ngan communal house of “Silver” village; Hang Gai “Silk” street, King Ly Thai To statue. After that we stop to visit Ngoc Son temple and walk around Hoan Kiem lake. Transfer to hotel for check in. Welcome lunch will be served at a local restaurant.
Afternoon, we warm-up for our biking tour by cycling around the West Lake, the largest lake of Hanoi. West Lake is also a religious area of the city with dozens of pagodas, temples and old villages. The first stop is Tran Quoc pagoda, the oldest pagoda of North Vietnam founded 1,400 years ago during Kind Ly Nam De empire. Continue riding to West Lake Palace “PhuTay Ho” worshipping Mother of Goddess, 1 of 4 most legendary characters of Vietnam. Also cycling to Lotus Pond, lotus is the national flower to take photos during sunset (best time from July to October). End the round 18km and cycling back to your hotel. After a short rest, transfer to Sen Tay Ho for buffet dinner. Overnight in Hanoi.
Please note: the hotel’s check-in time is around 14.00pm. Depending on your arrival time, the programme can be adjusted accordingly.
Day 2: Hanoi – Yen Bai – Tu Le/ Mu Cang Chai – Paragliding
Activity: Soaring across the Vietnam Horizon
We leave the hotel very early morning today (at around 5:00am) to depart for Mu Cang Chai (300km) thru National way 32 with a prepared breakfast box. We are crossing some of mountain passes of the Northwest provinces in which Khau Pha Pass is the most challenging but also spectacular one. Here is also the home of most colourful-dressed montagnards, who still maintain lots of their long-term culture and traditions.
Don’t miss stopping to enjoy the misty pinewoods, graceful terraced paddy fields and get lovely pictures of landscape and charming mountainsides.
This afternoon is your time for Paragliding over the Mu Cang Chai terrace field area. Mu Cang Chai is widely known as the land of magnificent paddy terrace fields over the hills and the valleys. One of the best months for seeing this is April when the fields are like hundreds of crystal mirrors in the full-of-water season preparing for the rice planting season.
You will have lunch and dinner at the restaurants with local food and stay overnight at the best hostel in Mu Cang Chai Town.
Please note: in case the wind condition is not good enough for Paragliding on this particular afternoon, we will it move to the morning of the next day.
Day 3: Tu Le – Moc Chau – Mai Chau
Activity: Light walking
Enjoy your breakfast in the fresh air of this pristine land and you will have some time walking around the town to see the real life of the local people. Continue your journey back to Mai Chau Valley through Moc Chau located hundreds of immense farms of dairy cows and where the best tea of Vietnam is produced. Surrounding Moc Chau is the habitation of various tribes including the H’mong, Thai, Muong and Dzao. We reach Mai Chau afternoon. Check into hotel Mai Chau Lodge and relax swimming pool. Dinner at the local restaurant. After that enjoy a Thai traditional dance show performed by the local people living nearby with local rice wine “Ruou Can” a kind of traditional wine of the people who live in the mountain area of Vietnam. Overnight in Mai Chau.
Day 4: Mai Chau
Total distance of cycling: 20 – 30 km- Road surfaces: Asphalt valley road – Support truck: Yes
If you wish to witness the sun rising from the mountain range and how the local people start their day then get up early. After breakfast, we start our biking trip to explore the beautiful ethnic villages of Mai Chau including Na Thia, Pom Coong, Lac and Chieng Chau. Once cycling from village to village on the tranquil road you will see the farmers working in fields, locals weaving while children gather in small groups and wave their hands with a smile when seeing you. Here you will feel a closeness with the natural surroundings and get opportunities to become acquainted with the local culture. Return Mai Chau Ecolodge to relax and prepare yourself for the next day.
Day 5: Mai Chau – Pu Luong Nature Reserve – Ninh Binh (40km)
Total distance of cycling: 40km. Road surfaces: Dirty, hilly, rocky, asphalt back roads. Support truck: Yes
After breakfast, take a short ride along Ma River before we go off the main road and start cycling by mountain tracks, enjoying new and different images of landscape, rainforest, and streams that cross over the path. After 20km cycling, we will reach Kho Muong, a peaceful village of Thai hill tribal people. Enjoy a picnic lunch en route at a local house. If time available, we can join the ordinary life of locals in their farming works, cultivation or herding buffalo before driving to Ninh Binh latter afternoon. Upon arrival, check in Emeralda Resort. Dinner at the resort organic restaurant. Overnight at in Ninh Binh.
Day 6: Van Long – Tam Coc – Hoa Lu – Hanoi
Total distance of cycling: 25 – 30km. Road surfaces: Asphalt, Rural paths and river dyke road. Support truck: Yes
After breakfast at hotel, we start our journey with 21 km biking to Hoa Lu, once the Capital of many dynasties. The off-road route is very typical for rural villages in North Vietnam with lush rice fields, tranquil bamboo trees, communal houses, children jumping into the river, and buffalo swimming. Upon arrival, we visit the two remaining sanctuaries of the ancient citadel (Temple Of Dinh Tien Hoang and Temple Of Le Dai Hanh who had reign in Vietnam during 10th century). There is a mountain peak nearby for people who love to conquer height and enjoy the panoramic view. After a short rest with snacks and fruits we keep pedaling to Tam Coc along the picturesque road passing through villages, lush rice fields and rocky outcrops. We have lunch at a local restaurant before taking 2 hours of boat trip rowed by the locals through long karst grottoes in Tam Coc, while we just enjoy the scenery and relax! Half way through the boat trip, we can stop and take a short walk to Thai Vi temple, dedicated to Tran Dynasty. We disembark from the boat late afternoon and drive back to Hanoi for dinner and overnight.
Day 7:Hanoi – Halong – Overnight on the Cruise
Activities: Cruising, Swimming and Kayaking
From Hanoi, we head East for more than 3 hours to Halong Bay, the pride of the Gulf of Tonkin, a Natural World Heritage as designated by UNESCO in 1994 and 2006. The road will pass by the Red River delta with green paddyfields and rural villages, where hard-work farmers are busy with their farming jobs, ploughing buffaloes or planting seedlings. Upon arrival in Halong, we’ll take a luxury boat to cruise the Bay and discover the magnificent beauty of this “Descending-dragon” bay, created by thousands odd-shaped limestone rocks and karst grottoes. After a lunch of fresh seafood on board, we can visit the Surprising Grotto, stop for swimming or kayaking, passing floating villages and approach islets to enjoy their beauty in close distance. Back to the boat for dinner late afternoon. Evening attend activities on the boat or relax at your own leisure. Overnight on the boat.
Please note: the program will be adjusted according to the cruise will take.
Day 8: Halong – Kayaking – Cat Ba
Activities: Cruising, Swimming and Kayaking
The Vietnamese call the “East Sea” by a point-oriented name “Eastern Sea”, so you may guess how miraculous it is seeing the sunrise over the islets of the Bay. Early morning we have optional Tai Chi Exercise on the sundeck before breakfast. Our boat will continue to cruise in marvelous areas, where almost each islet has its own name, adopting its shape or reminiscent like Sail Island, Fisherman’s Head Rock, Butterfly Rock or Turtle Islet, etc. After breakfast, check out of the big boat and the transferring boat will take you to Lan Ha Bay where we will enjoy swimming and kayaking for the rest of the day. Enjoy your lunch on the day cruise. Later afternoon, we cruise to Beo Pier where the bus will transfer to you the beach front resort for overnight.
Day 9: Cat Ba Island, Full Day Rock Climbing And Trekking
Activities: Rock Climbing (4 hours) and Trekking (3 hours through the jungle)
Come have an adventure with us in the beautiful Butterfly Valley! The day begins with a twenty-minute ride along the coastline of Cat Ba Island into the lush green hills of secluded Lien Minh Village. Soon you’ll find yourself in the breathtaking Butterfly Valley. From here a local villager will guide you on a trek through the jungles and mountains of this remote section of Cat Ba National Park.
After your trek you return to a local bee farmer’s home where you will eat a delicious home-cooked Vietnamese spread, made with fresh and locally grown produce! Under a hand-made bamboo homestead, enjoy your authentic Cat Ba meal and feel free to interact with the genuinely friendly local villagers of Lien Minh.
Once you’ve re-energised, take a short walk to the climbing area, across the valley pasture. Your qualified climbing guides will fit you with UIAA certified climbing gear and take you up a variety of routes on the sheer cliffs. Your guides will set up secure top-rope systems so you may ascend the rock safely and without worry. Climb as high as you feel comfortable and don’t forget to take a look around once you reached your top. There’s no feeling quite as rewarding as viewing the stunning valley from the height of the climbs. It’s a unique, active, and authentic experience you will never forget. Transfer back to Cat Ba Town. Dinner and overnight.
Day 10: Cat Ba – Halong – Hanoi
Today will be a leisure day before your departure. You will have leisure time this morning until check out and driving to Gia Luan Pier where you will embark on the boat back to Tuan Chau Pier. Enjoy lunch with fresh seafood while the boat passing many beautiful spots of the World Natural Heritage including Fighting Cock islet, Incense Urn islet, Finger island, Toad islet, dog islet, Dragon, Horse Neck, Buffalo Head islet and many other strange shape islands. Check out the boat and drive back to Hanoi. The farewell dinner will be arranged at Sen Ly Thai To Restaurant. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 11: Hanoi – Free at leisure – Departure
It is your own time today. Finally, you are free for relax and shop in the Old Quarter until transfer to the Noi Bai International Airport for the departure flight.
Please note: Hotel Check-out time is around 12.00pm.
Maps & Area
Map View for Hanoi, Vietnam
Vietnam is a beautiful country in South-East Asia which offers a wide range of different experiences to those who visit. This tour takes place in Northern Vietnam where the most magnificent views can be seen. Vietnamese culture is heavily influenced by Southern China due to its history as a state of China, as well as neighbouring Hindu states. Confucianism (a secular philosophy which believes that humans can improve through personal endeavour, and in the importance of the family) forms the basis of Vietnamese society. Buddhism is the largest single religion.
There is a great abundance of fresh vegetables, herbs, fish and sea food. This is accompanied by rice, rice spaghetti, steamed rolls made of rice flour or pancakes. There is also lasting impact from the French colonial days with baguette and coffee still being extremely popular.
The country straddles four different climate zones from 9degrees to 23 degrees of latitude. The climate in the North has four seasons: spring in March and April is very pleasant; summers are hot and wet although the mountains give some shelter; the winter can be chilly.
Fitness Adventure Travel combines successful fitness with exotic, intriguing destinations. Whether you request a specifically tailored itinerary, or choose one of our set departures, you can look forward to a completely exhilarating and bespoke experience.