||Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
On arrival in Saigon, you are welcomed by your English speaking guide then transferred to your hotel. Rest of the day is free at leisure. Overnight in Saigon.
Day 2: Saigon City - Cu Chi Tunnels - Cai Be (25km) (B,L,D)
After breakfast transfer 30km out of Saigon to avoid the teeming traffic. Cycle backroads to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Lunch at the tunnels next to the Saigon River. Continue cycling a great tarmac road to Trang Bang, from there cut across country by bike or bus towards Ha Nghia and Duc Hoa. Drive the last busy section to Cai Be. Overnight in a wonderful family run Mekong homestay. Mosquito nets and all bedding provided.
Day 3: Cai Be - Tra Vinh (47km) (B,L,D)
Cycle along narrow country lanes and easy dirt tracks and trails. There is chance for exciting riding through tiny villages on gravel and clay tracks. This is biking at its most glorious-through tiny orchards, witness colourful life along the riverside, pedal past picturesque delta homes, pause to chat with welcoming villagers, clack across innumerable wooden bridges. Cross a narrow canal on a local sampan, before finishing at the main ferry for a refreshing boat trip across the expansive Co Chien River. Ride a final few km to Mo Cay and on to the very pretty Khmer town of Tra Vinh. Overnight in Tra Vinh in simple homestay.
Day 4: Tra Vinh - Cau Ke - Can Tho (80km) (B,L,D)
A special ride today as much of the area is populated by Khmer people. The regional architecture is interesting and there are many Khmer temples to stop and admire en route. Cycle as much or as little as is preferred; the road is peaceful, narrow and very pretty all the way to Can Tho. En route, visit a local Buddhist Temple School and learn about the life of the students. Arrive finally at Can Tho, the Mekong’s largest town located at the confluence of the Can Tho and Hau Giang rivers. (Optional 30km off-road section weather permitting). Overnight in Can Tho in simple homestay.
Day 5: Can Tho Biking and exploration (30km or more if requested) (B,L,D)
After enjoying an early morning breakfast 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. Visit a snake farm and orchard . Continue by bike on the narrow lane to explore the hidden backwaters of the delta. Overnight in Can Tho.
Day 6: Can Tho - Vinh Long- Ho Chi Minh City (B,L,D)
Morning visit to the famous Cai Rang Floating market. Checkout of the hotel and return to Ho Chi Minh City via a boat trip from Vinh Long cruising through some of the Mekong’s most stunning scenery. Visit rice paper making industries and other cottage industries en route. Transfer from Cai Be back to Ho Chi Minh City. Overnight in hotel in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 7: Saigon - Hanoi (B,L,D)
After breakfast, transfer to Tan Son Nhat airport for 2 hours flight to Hanoi. Transfer 30km from the airport to the heart of the capital. Settle down to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Old Quarter by Cyclo. It is a great way to get a sense of the city. Located on an area of 100 ha, the Old Quarter is home to more than 1,000 traditional houses. It dates from 1010, when King Ly Thai To moved his capital from Hoa Lu in northern Ninh Binh Province to Hanoi. The Old Quarter became the metropolis’ trading centre, with its 36 streets named after the specific merchants’ crafts and trade. Depending on time, visit Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum before transferring to a local Vietnamese restaurant for trip briefing and dinner. In the early evening, transfer to the railway station for the overnight train to Sapa. Overnight in soft sleeper.
Day 8: Sapa - Ban Ho - Sin Chai (B,L,D)
Arrive in Lao Cai early morning and meet with your trekking guide and support vehicle. From here, drive up into the Hoang Lien Son mountains. After breakfast at local restaurant, start trekking. The day commences with a jeep ride to the trekking route. The trek starts by walking through the scenic “Ban Ho” valley. Here you will have the opportunity to visit and explore the wooden houses, which traditionally belong to the Tay ethnic minority. You will then continue to walk to Thanh Phu village where you stop for lunch in a local house. After lunchtime, you head to Sin Chai village of Red Dao minority where the night will be spent in bamboo huts. You will be charmed by the wonderful hospitality of the Red Dao.
Day 9: Sin Chai - Nam Nhiu - Nam Thanh - Thanh Phu (B,L,D)
Today’s trek takes you through several villages where you will be able to meet Tay, Hmong and Xa Pho ethnic minorities. You will have time to photograph the beautiful rice paddy terraces and the surrounding mountain. On the way you will visit a local school. Your lunch will be prepared and served in a local house. In the afternoon, you head back to Thanh Phu village of Tay minority. Here you will spend the night. You can take a walk to explore local daily life while your dinner will be served with Vietnamese dishes.
Day 10: Thanh Phu - My Son - Nam Toong - Sapa (B,L,D)
On the last day of the trek you will cross several suspension bridges and trek through lush rice paddy fields and stunning scenery. You have a unique opportunity to meet Xa Pho minority in My Son village, one of the smallest group ethnic living in Northern Viet Nam. They always maintain their unique costume and nomadic life. You trek uphill to Nam Toong village of Red Dao minority, where you have lunch in a local school. In the afternoon, your trek will be firstly downhill to Ban Ho village where you will have time for a swim in the river. You will then climb toward Su Pan. The car will meet you there and return you to Topas Ecolodge. Dinner and overnight in Topas Ecolodge.
Day 11: In Sapa (B,D)
After breakfast, you will have free time to walk to some of the local villages before lunch at the Eco Lodge. After lunch, transfer to Sapa and have some free time before transferring down to Lao Cai and your train back to Hanoi. Dinner at local restaurant. Overnight on train.
Day 12: Hanoi - Halong (B,L,D)
The train arrives in Hanoi in the early morning. Transfer to your breakfast stop and then onwards to Halong City, 160km to the east of Hanoi. Halong Bay is a natural wonder of the world and one of Vietnam’s five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: over 3,000 jagged limestone islands emerge from the emerald green waters. While some islands are no more than large rocks others are much more substantial and contain huge cathedral-like caves of stalactites and stalagmites. Most of the islands are clothed in thick green vegetation and ring with the sound of bird song in the early morning. Secluded sandy coves are everywhere and in the summer months the warm waters of the bay are ideal for swimming. Arrive at the port around 12 p.m. and board your junk, which is one of the more traditional varieties. Enjoy a fresh seafood lunch on board while the captain heads out for the horizon. There will be time to enjoy kayaking in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight on junk.
Day 13: Halong Bay kayaking (B,L,D)
After breakfast, transfer to a taxi boat for whole day cruise and kayak. Following the boat to cruise to Man’s Head Island and Tortoise Island. Paddling to explore Luon Cave ( Tunnel cave), a beautiful crater like lagoon encircled by towering cliff which is only accessed via half submerged 30m tunnel cave. Paddle to visit Cua Van fishing village. Enjoy scrumptious lunch then cruise to unusual Ba Ham Lake, another crater like lagoon in two sections. The afternoon will be spent at Three Peach Beach, a stunning swimming spot. In the afternoon, return to the junk, where you will stay overnight. Dinner and overnight on board the boat. (Optional night paddle).
Day 14: Halong Bay - Hanoi (B,L,D)
After breakfast, continue kayaking to explore the wonders of Halong bay. Paddle to Duck Islet and Ba Hang area. Cruise back to Halong city passing Bai Tho Mountain and Chopstick Islet. Arrive Halong around 12 p.m, enjoy lunch in a good local restaurant by the ocean before transfering back to Hanoi. Along the return journey, stop to visit the famous But Thap Pagoda with sophisticated architecture. The principal attraction of the pagoda however lies inside. The statue to the Avalokitesvara or Goddess of Mercy has no fewer than 11 faces, 994 arms and 994 eyes - each eye resting on the palm of a hand.
Day 15: Hanoi Departure (B)
At leisure until departure for onward international flights.
info provided by EXO Travel.
(B) means BREAKFAST INCLUDED
(B,L) BREAKFAST AND LUNCH INCLUDED
(B,L,D) BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER INCLUDED