Cycle Northern Vietnam
8 days with Intrepid Travel Rating:
Day 1 Hanoi
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure officially begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm tonight. You can arrive at any time during the day, as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
If you are bringing your own bicycle with you on the trip, you need to assemble it to check for any damage in transit before the welcome meeting.
If you have arranged for the hire of a bicycle, your leader will assist you in preparing the bike before your first cycling activity.
If you arrive with some time to spare then work your legs with a walk around Hanoi’s charming shaded boulevards and a squat on a short street-corner stools for a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) in the Old Quarter.
Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We are happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception or your travel agent in advance.
Riding distance: none
Day 2 Hanoi
This morning you’ll get the chance to explore the Vietnamese capital by bike on a guided ride through the city (approx. 22kms).
Hanoi is made for exploration by bike, so this is the perfect place to get to grips with Vietnamese street life and traffic. You’ll ride through parks, around lakes, and down tree-lined boulevards and visit iconic sights such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex, which includes the Buddhist temple One Pillar Pagoda and the former residence of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh.
There’s also time to explore the vibrant Old Quarter, an architectural museum where blocks of ochre buildings give off the air of a 1930s provincial French town. In these ancient ’36 Streets’ discover an amazing selection of shops that sell everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, jewellery, beautifully embroidered tablecloths, wood carvings and lacquerware - it's a bargain hunter's paradise.
You’ll have some free time this afternoon. Perhaps take a walk around the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, with the reflection of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface, or maybe dive into culture at the Vietnam Fine Art Museum or The Vietnamese Women’s Museum. Top off the day with a steaming bowl of fresh Pho from a hole-the-wall eatery – the street food in Hanoi is not to be missed!
Riding distance: approx. 22kms/14 miles, mostly flat with approx. 40m/130ft of elevation gain, well paved roads
Day 3 Mai Chau
Saddle up this morning as your cycling adventure kicks into first gear. Leave Hanoi behind and travel by bus to Hoa Binh (approx. 2 hrs). When you arrive you’ll jump on your bike and cycle 40 kms to Cao Phong, through small ethnic Thai villages, enjoying the tranquility of the paddy fields and interacting with the local people. Limestone peaks climb in the background and banks of green line the road, and you’ll take regular stops to admire the view across the lush valleys. After arriving you’ll take a short 30-minute bus ride for the next section, stopping for lunch at Man Duc.
After you fuel up, the bus will take you to the Da River Reservoir. Stretch your legs again cycling along the Da River, passing spectacular karst cliffs, through paddy fields, and admiring the lush panorama of the Mai Chau valley on the way (approx. 20 kms).
The peaceful town of Mai Chau is situated in a stunningly beautiful valley surrounded by verdant green mountains and is famed for its breathtaking scenery and friendly hilltribe peoples. Tonight you’ll enjoy local hospitality in a simple stilt-house homestay in the village of Poom Coong. Your amicable hosts will cook up a fabulous meal, and there may even be a chance to sample some of the local rice wine produced in the region.
Ride 1 - approx. 38kms/24 miles, uphill with approx. 330m/1080ft of elevation gain.
Ride 2 - approx. 19kms/12 miles, mostly downhill with approx. 80m/260ft of elevation gain
Day 4 Pu Luong National Park
This morning you farewell your homestay hosts and cycle from Mai Chau to Mai Hai, and then on to Pu Luong National Park (approx 46kms). You’ll ride through more paddy fields and test you riding skills (or suspension) with the shallow potholes that can be found on the road. Pass pineapple farms and farmers riding atop their load drawn by lumbering water buffalo. Ride through small towns and wave to friendly locals on your way through picture-perfect Vietnam – lush green fields, towering limestone mountains, tranquil waterways and charming historic sites. This is a wonderful chance to see everyday rural life in action as well as take in the beautiful countryside.
Riding distance: approx. 46 kms/29 miles, flat for the first 20kms/12 miles then a gradual climb for 17kms/10 miles, with approx. 540m/1770ft of elevation gain
Day 5 Cuc Phuong National Park
Today - over 3 rides - you’ll cycle from Pu Luong to Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam’s first and largest national park, opened by Ho Chi Minh himself, one of the most important conservation sites in the country, and home to a diverse range of flora and fauna.
Today’s riding is beautiful as you cycle through some of Vietnam’s most spectacular views, riding in between limestone karst peaks thrusting out of serene rice paddies. Cycle approx. 20kms then board the support vehicle to miss the busiest of the traffic before it's back on the bikes for another 28km leg to a well-earned lunch. From there we reboard the support vehicle and cruise all the way to our destination - although if you are keen (or just need some extra miles in your legs) you have the option of riding the last 12kms to our accommodation.) Todays riding is undulating but definitely worth the effort.
Ride 1 - approx. 21kms/13 miles, downhill for 10kms, then mostly, approx. 70m/230ft of elevation gain.
Ride 2 - approx. 28kms/17 miles, flat, approx. 10m/30ft of elevation gain.
Ride 3 (Optional ride) - approx. 12kms/7 miles, mostly flat, approx. 20m/70ft of elevation gain.
Day 6 Cat Ba Island/Halong Bay
Enjoy one final early morning ride through the beautiful green scenery of the Ninh Binh Province, riding (approx. 30kms) through the verdant rice field paddy scenery and along the banks of the duck-filled Hoang Long river to the opulent Bai Ding Buddhist Temple.
Here we bid farewell to our cycling support team and transfer by minivan then ferry (approx. 4hrs) to Cat Ba Island, and on to Lan Ha Bay, part of the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay. This is one of Vietnam’s most beautiful places, a secluded bay of emerald waters dotted with sandstone islands and caves. As well as being part of Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay has the additional attraction of numerous white-sand beaches. where you'll stay the night in a secluded property right on the water's edge. If you are feeling energetic and would like to explore there is a walking trail for a short walk around the island – it’s worth it for the view alone! Dinner is included tonight.
Riding distance: approx. 28kms/17 miles, downhill for 5kms then flat with approx. 50m/160ft of elevation gain.
Day 7 Hanoi
Grab a kayak and drift by towering limestone islands dotted with green foliage, paddling away from other tourists across the turquoise water and through the caves of Lan Ha Bays. Following the kayaking board the boat and cruise the Bay before we head back to Hanoi (approx. 5 hours travel time), arriving in the early evening.
Perhaps head down to the markets for some last-minute souvenir shopping or pay a visit to one of the city's many fascinating museums, such as the Fine Art Museum, Women's Museum or Museum of Ethnology. Toast the end of this active adventure with an optional farewell group dinner.
Riding distance: none
Day 8 Hanoi
Your Cycle Vietnam adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you are sticking around then there are plenty of things to see and do in and around Hanoi.
Riding distance: none
All This Included
More than 30 million Vietnamese can't be wrong - handle-bar height gives you the best view of Vietnam! Our one week cycling tour through the north of this beautiful country provides opportunities to meet the locals and experience their culture in a way that wouldn't otherwise be possible. So come with us and get active as we cycle from Hanoi to Halong Bay, down country lanes and through spectacular mountain scenery. And, of course, all the exercise gives you the perfect excuse to indulge in delicious Vietnamese cuisine.
Hotel (3 nights)
Homestay (2 nights)
Resort (2 nights)
Terms and Conditions
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.