Xin chao. Welcome to Vietnam! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you’re going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. 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. The meeting is generally followed by an optional group meal out at one of Hanoi’s fantastic eating spots. If you have time before the meeting, head out and discover Hanoi. It’s a good idea to take a hotel business card so you can find your way back.
Hiking in Sapa
After breakfast climb board a private bus to Sapa, a town in the Hoàng Liên Son Mountains of northwest Vietnam. This journey will take approximately 5 hours. From the Sapa market, venture out on a short trek (approximately 2.5 hours) through the surrounding valleys to visit a village called Cat Cat. This is home to the H’mong people, who emigrated from China 300 years ago. In the evening, settle into your hotel in Sapa for the night.
Hiking in Lao Chai
Savour the dramatic landscapes and panoramic views of rural Vietnam on a trek from Lao Chai to Ta Van. You’ll pass by terraced farms ripe with corn and rice, over bubbling brooks and through bucolic villages. Stop for a picnic lunch before heading on to our home stay with a local family in the evening. The total trek today is around 10 kilometres (6.2 miles).
Hiking in Su Pan
This morning trek to Su Pan before taking some time to rest your feet on a bus ride back to Sapa. In the afternoon the group returns to Hanoi (approximately 5 hours). Maybe get a bird’s eye view of the city from a rooftop bar and unwind with an iced coffee.
Cycling in Hanoi
Vietnam’s capital is best explored on foot, which is why the group will head out on a city walking tour. See the final resting place of Vietnam’s revered revolutionary at Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Museum before stopping by the Temple of Literature. Although the shrine was originally built in the 11th century, and is therefore considered to be the city’s oldest temple, the current structure and shrine to Confucius actually dates from the 18th century. In the afternoon, have a practice on your bike with a warm up cycling trip around Hanoi’s West Lake.
Cycling in Mai Chau
Leave behind the Hanoi hustle first by vehicle, then jump on your bike and and journey to the clean air of the Mai Chau valley (approximately 60km / 37mi). There are great photo opportunities along the way – stop at a vantage point to take in the view of Mai Chau, home to a variety of minority groups with their own unique culture and languages. Along the way, there’s also the opportunity to help local farmers plant rice seeds into the fields. Arrive in Mai Chau and head to the village of Pom Coong, where your local guide will introduce you to your hosts for lunch, and provide information on the region’s people, their lifestyles, customs and culture. Lunch is a traditional affair with examples of local cuisine on offer. This is a great opportunity to experience the local area, chat with your hosts, and gain a real insight into life in this fascinating and picturesque region. After lunch, take some time to relax before saddling up for a cycle trip to nearby villages. Back at the homestay, relax with a cold drink while watching the sun set over the peaceful mountains. Alternatively, for the food lovers, why not help your host cook dinner!
Cycling in Ninh Binh
After breakfast set out again on your bike on a cycle from Mai Chau to Ninh Binh, a region well known for its green valleys, karst mountains and conservation areas. Today’s ride will cover approximately 70 kilometres in total.
Cat Ba Island
Catch a bus this morning from Ninh Binh to Hai Phong then jump on a ferry to Cat Ba Island, which sits at the southeastern edge of Halong Bay. Lan Ha Bay, where Cat Ba can be found, is a part of Halong Bay with the additional attraction of numerous white-sand beaches. The total travelling time today is approximately five hours. Check in to your hotel in town then enjoy a free afternoon taking it easy. Hit the beach, jump in the sea, check out Cat Ba town or go walking around the island before a grabbing a sunset drink.
Kayaking around Cat Ba Island
Explore the waters and limestone karsts of Lan Ha Bay on a full-day boat trip. Get up close and personal kayaking beside the tree-clad outcrops, with lunch onboard also included. Halong Bay’s World Heritage designation was extended to the Cat Ba Archipelago thanks to its similar aesthetic value, and the scenes of turquoise water and junk boats are quintessential Vietnam. No-one will judge you for taking a selfie here. Spend a second night on Cat Ba, with the evening free to visit the local restaurants and bars.
Say goodbye to Cat Ba Island and head back to Hanoi (approximately five hours). Arrive in the late afternoon, and perhaps head down to the markets for some last-minute souvenir shopping or to pay a visit to one of the city’s many museums. Both the Fine Art Museum and Museum of Ethnology are great choices. In the evening, why not organise an farewell dinner with your group and toast the end of this active adventure.
Your active adventure comes to an end today and there are no activities planned, but there’s plenty to see if you’d like to continue exploring Hanoi or further afield, including an Urban Adventure discovering Hanoi’s street food by night.