Tour options are designed for a wide range of people who like to be close to nature, who enjoy hiking & biking and roughing it a little and who want to experience life as locals and not as typical tourists.  If so, your dream tour has just come true!


Explore Vietnam’s flora and fauna, animal and bird world, the ethnic cultures and stunning landscapes. Accommodation in National Parks ranges from barely mid range to non-existent – most are very basic.   This is not a tour for softies so look upon it as an adventure! You’ll need suitable clothing, footwear and equipment.  Depending on your chosen itinerary and interests we will advise what to bring and provide relevant information well in advance.

Those exploring nature may range from a general interest to amateur enthusiast or even botanist. If exploring a particular class, family or even a single species we can customise the tour to accommodate your preferences. You may instead, or as well, wish to experience the diverse and distinctive cultures of ethnic minorities and soak up the scenic and tranquil beauty of Vietnam.  This 20 days tour is split into North and South with a chill-out in between to relax and recharge your batteries!   

This is a suggested itinerary only that you can do in reverse.  Tell us what you want and we’ll make the necessary modifications. There is no fee for adapting the itinerary, or any limit on changes you wish to make.  We won’t be happy until you are happy.  So Go With Happiness!!  

Day 1: Arrival at Hanoi and orientation

On arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. The rest of the day is for you to relax and unwind after your flight.  Maybe have a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake and a get a feel of this vibrant city of history and culture.  You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.

Day 2: Hanoi city tour and street food/Lao Cai

You’ll explore Vietnam’s capital city by car. Your guide will take you to the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century, and a popular attraction.  So too is Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum our next stop to see the simple stilt house where he lived and worked, his peaceful garden and the museum dedicated in his memory. 

No visit is complete with exploring the bustling Old Quarter with its mix of architectural styles from traditional ‘tube’ houses, religious buildings and French colonial houses to vernacular dwellings and modern buildings associated with a fast developing city. Experience street life and wander the back streets in and nearby the Old Quarter for a couple of hours. A street food brunch is included.  You are spoilt for choice so take your pick from traditional Hanoi Pho (beef noodle soup), Nom (green papaya salad with seasoned beef), Banh Goi (pillow-shaped rice pastry with minced pork and mushroom), Banh Cuon (hot rice paper with pork and fried onion) or Bun Cha (fresh noodle with grilled pork).  Try two or three varieties as they are snacks rather than a meal.   Return to the hotel to relax, freshen up and maybe seek out a local restaurant if still hungry until your car arrives to take you to the Hanoi train station for the overnight journey to Lao Cai. 

Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 3: Bike off the beaten path in Sapa 14km cycling

On arriving early morning in Lao Cai train station, just time for a quick drink and bite before our drive to Sapa, the start of your bike ride.  Cycling downhill towards Lao Chai village you turn onto a dirt road.  This is where your adventure begins.  You then cycle uphill to enjoy spectacular views overlooking a valley in Lao Chai before cycling to Hau Thao village, home of the Black H’Mong.  Talk to these friendly and charming villagers with their highly distinctive and colourful dress code.

You may have to get off and walk the hilly track in places but the compensation is even more stunning scenery.  Enjoy lunch in a scenic picnic spot if the weather is OK or a local house and relax and chat.  We continue to Sa Seng village to experience the daily life of villagers before cycling downhill to the main road and then slightly uphill to delightful Sapa where you spend the night. 

Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 4: Sapa/Sa Seng/Hau Thao/Sapa Hiking

The hike today begins with a 15 minute drive to the start of an hour’s hike up a trail to Sa Seng village. On arrival enjoy a great view of Ma Tra and Ta Phin villages, home to the Black H’mong. Another hour of rolling hills takes you downwards hike towards Ta Van and Hau Thao villages with panoramic views over Fansipan Mountain and plenty of photo opportunities.  You stop for a picnic lunch in the church of the Black H’mong village.

In the afternoon you continue with a two hour walk through rice paddy fields and majestic views over a valley in the Lao Chai village. When you meet the main road your vehicle will be waiting to take you to Sapa for your overnight accommodation.

Approx: Grade 2 of 5/ 30 minute driving/1 hour for lunch/ 4 hour hiking. (10 kilometres)

Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 5: Sapa/Lung Khau Nhin Market/Lao Cai/Hanoi

After breakfast your transport and guide will take you to Lung Khau Nhin Ethnic market frequented by the various ethnic minorities.  You then stop briefly at Lao Cai, an important border crossing alongside the river marking the boundary with China. After lunch you continue to Coc Ly to board a motor-boat to Bao Nhai.  En-route enjoy a hike to the Tay minority village of Trung Do to visit villagers and their stilt houses.  Expect a warm welcome and a cup of refreshing green tea.

You’ll then continue your cruise for another hour downstream on the Chay River. Disembarking at Bao Nhai Bridge your driver and vehicle will be waiting for your transfer to Lao Cai for freshen-up before boarding the overnight train back to Hanoi.

Although quite a long drive the landscape is attractive and the bustling ethnic markets are a fascinating experience. You may want to barter for a water buffalo or a sack of fertiliser as there are few souvenirs to purchase!  Unlike those in the tourist areas, markets we choose are not only for buying and selling but meeting places to chat and exchange news. The colourful costumes of ethnic groups are delightful though it is courteous to ask before taking pictures.  

Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 6: Hanoi/Mai Chau/Pu Luong (Hang village)

You arrive early morning in Hanoi train station where our guide is waiting to take you to the hotel for breakfast.  You then drive to Mai Chau, passing through mountainous landscape on the way. On arrival you’ll have lunch in a Thai ethnic minority group stilt house in Lac village. After this, wander around the houses to get an insight into daily life. The village operates as a community co-operative, set up by the people themselves. The villagers specialise in weaving brocade products and are always keen to show visitors their skills. Later, a 15km drive takes you to board a motorboat along the Ma River, pausing en-route to visit some ethnic minority villages. Back on land you’ll hike to Hang village to spend the night in a stilt house.

Mai Chau is the nearest ethnic minority community to Hanoi and a magnet for tourists.  Consequently, it’s the most commercialised community you’ll visit in the tour. However, villagers manage the site well and are an excellent example of successful community development.

You can watch a traditional folk song and dance performance by local people. The show usually lasts about an hour, performed by peasants who in the daytime work in the fields.  Although artists are all amateurs, the show is entertaining and good fun and a great opportunity to mingle with villagers and understand their traditions and customs.

Hiking distance: 10 - 15 km per day

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Pu Luong (hiking through minority villages in the Nature Reserve area)

After breakfast stroll around Hang Village, a small Thai minority community where you can visit local families in their stilt houses and drink green tea. You’ll then hike through pristine scenery to Eo Ken village, well off the beaten track, high on a mountain slope.  It’s a stiff hike but the effort is worth it. Lunch will be prepared by a local family, after which a short hike takes you to a waiting land-cruiser for a one-hour drive. You then walk downhill to Kho Muong village and spend the night with a family in a traditional stilt house complete with a natural stream for your bathroom!.

You’ll be surprised when you sample the villagers’ hospitality and their competence in preparing meals. The explanation is the Pu Luong trekking route is a good example of effective collaboration between foreign NGOs (non-governmental organisations), Flora and Fauna International (FFI - a UK-based environmental charity), local authorities and individual communities. Apart from assisting families to convert their homes to be able to host visitors, they are taught recipes, cooking techniques, and other hospitality requirements. We are very pleased to be involved with this community-based development project. 

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Pu Luong (another day of hiking)

After an early breakfast you’ll walk to a large limestone cave near the village. It’s is worth visiting but take care as the route can be hazardous in some places. To avoid accidents it’s important to wear suitable clothing and stout non-slip shoes or boots.  Follow the guide’s instructions in full. From there you’ll continue your route through the forest and villages with a picnic lunch en-route prepared by tour guide. Your dinner and overnight stay will be in another stilt house.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9: Pu Luong/Thanh Hoa/Hanoi/Ho Chi Minh City

This morning you drive through villages to visit to a local market and on the way see many local people heading in the same direction. It is an excellent opportunity to see the range of local commodities, watch the interaction between buyers and sellers and get a better insight into the culture of Pu Luong’s minority communities.

From there you’ll drive to a small town for lunch, stopping on the way to visit the remarkable water- wheels of the Muong people. After lunch we cross Ma River to visit Cam Thuy ‘Sacred Fish Stream’. Afterwards, you’ll return to Hanoi arriving in the late afternoon to take the flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

The Sacred Fish Stream is a unique and mysterious experience. Fast-flowing water gushes out of a cave at the base of a limestone precipice. Just outside the mouth of the cave, where the current is strongest, dozens of large freshwater fish with pink-tipped fins congregate and jostle to be as close to the cave entrance as possible. They remain there, occasionally breaking off to swim downstream to feed, and then return to rejoin the group. They are entirely oblivious to people – you can paddle amongst them it you wish, but beware of slippery stones and the strong current. The nearby villagers revere the fish and protect them from poachers which may account for the fish’s’ indifference to human interlopers.

Arriving at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.

Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City Cu Chi Tunnels/Orientation – Vespa Discover the Night Life

After breakfast, your guide will take you to visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels, a maze of underground passages, chambers, rooms and booby traps used by both the Vietminh and the Viet Cong to suddenly launch a lightning ambush and vanish equally rapidly.  After lunch, you return to Ho Chi Minh City and your guide will arrive to show you around the city.  Not for the squeamish, the War Remnants Museum gives a partial but riveting perspective of the ‘American War.’  You then see the Colonial influence of the French with the magnificently ornate Post office and Notre Dame Cathedral nearby.

You’ll then return your hotel for freshen up or wander around the huge Ben Thanh market.  It is one of the liveliest areas of Ho Chi Minh City, packed with every conceivable commodity.  Early evening you will be picked up for your Vespa tour. Experience Saigon nightlife the way locals do, from the back of a vintage Vespa scooter! First stop is Café zoom to "watch the world goes by" and to enjoy a cocktail and appetizer (inclusive).  You then venture to a popular local eating spot and to a Vietnamese-style coffee shop tucked away to have a taste of Vietnamese music (live) as a local. Your overnight stay will be in Ho Chi Minh City.

The tour starts with a ride to part of Chinatown and heads to District 4 through busy streets and alleys to see the night life of locals and to enjoy street sea- food and cold drinks.  You won’t find tourists here!  Leaving district 4 to district 3 the tour pass through downtown district 1 to take in the sights and to enjoy sizzling Banh Xeo pancakes, a Saigon specialty, and other southern food with the locals.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City/Phu Quoc Island

After the hustle and bustle this is definitely chill out time.  In the morning, you’ll take a morning flight depart to Phu Quoc Island. Relax the mind and muscles and enjoy the beaches in this off the beaten track paradise.

Meals: breakfast

Day 12 to Day 13: Phu Quoc free

Your time will be your own!  Perhaps swim, snorkel or scuba dive or take a fishing trip.

Meals: breakfast

Day 14: Phu Quoc/Ho Chi Minh City

You return to Ho Chi Minh City in the afternoon.  A private car will be waiting to take you to the hotel for your overnight stay.   After your half-way chill out you now resume your biking and hiking tour to experience life in the South in a famous national park and the Mekong Delta too.

Meals: breakfast

Day 15: Ho Chi Minh City/Nam Cat Tien National Park

Today, your driver will take you to Nam Cat Tien National Park.  After a brief orientation you’ll bike for about 10k via a rough path to see the Park’s abundant fauna and flora, including the “Uncle Dong Tree”. After dinner enjoy a two- hour jeep night jaunt into the forest to spot the wild life.  You’ll be equipped with a good pair of binoculars to see monkeys, deer and other small mammals.   Your overnight stay is in a guesthouse in the centre of the Park

About 150km from Ho Chi Minh City, Nam Cat Tien is one of Vietnam’s largest protected areas – a complicated network of wetlands and tropical forest nearly 74,000 hectares in two sections bisected by a river, the larger about fifty or sixty kilometres across in both directions. Its bio-diversity is considerable with over fifty endangered species listed in the ‘Red Book’ including the Javan Rhinoceros, the Siamese Crocodile and the Indochina Tiger. Of particular interest is its large bird population – well over three hundred species have been identified so far.

There are several trails through the forest. Although they avoid the deeper areas that are the habitat of the rarer species, they are well designed and offer good opportunities to see a wide range of flora and fauna. The best time to visit Nam Cat Tien National Park is the dry season from December to late May.

Meals: breakfast, dinner

Day 16: Nam Cat Tien Trekking

In the morning, a jeep will take you the 16k to see giant Ficus Trees covering over two hectares. You have time to wander round these massive trees and dripping vines and visit the rapids (water level permitting). You drive back and hike for 5k through the rainforest to Crocodile Lake.  En-route you will see typical wild fauna and row on the lake to watch the park’s feathered inhabitants.  In the evening, equipped with binoculars, witness “Night Life” on Crocodile Lake as scores of red-eye crocodiles hunt for food.  If lucky, you may see deer which often wander around the Lake for fresh grass, not always aware of the danger of lurking predators.  Your accommodation is a bungalow in the Lake which will heighten your experience of being so close to nature. 

Trekking distance: 5 kilometres

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 17: Nam Cat Tien/Ho Chi Minh City – Street food exploring

Wake up to distinctive bird sounds and the squawk of monkeys before enjoying a forest breakfast. You then say “good bye” to the Lake and hike back to the forest edge where a jeep will take you to the Park’s HQ to see how the environment, eco-system and land and marine life is managed. Later, you take a leisurely cruise down Dong Nai River on a motor boat to Ta Lai village to visit the farms and houses of S’Tieng and Chau Ma ethnic minorities.  After lunch, you return to Ho Chi Minh City, arriving late afternoon. In the evening, discover one of Ho Chi Minh City's "snail streets". Try a range of "snails" but don't worry, they're not really snails. Oc is Vietnamese shorthand for all crustaceans. Here you can sample a variety of seafood, including sea snails (eaten with a safety pin) and try mussels, scallops and tasty prawns-on-a-stick. Food ALWAYS seems to taste better on a stick!

We'll also buy snacks from wandering vendors. Depending on who walks past, the snacks could include sliced green mango, boiled quail eggs, rice crackers and cobs of corn, as well as more exotic offerings.  We'll order a seafood hotpot, which comes with vegetables, so you get a balanced meal. Like a lot of Vietnamese dishes, a hotpot is interactive food.  Help with the cooking as Vietnamese hotpot meals usually include lots of discussion about how to cook the ingredients. So feel free to act like a local and air your opinion – though be prepared to eat your words!  After that you’ll return to the hotel for your overnight stay and ready for an adventure tour tomorrow. 

Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 18: Ho Chi Minh City/Tan An/Ben Tre/Tra Vinh Biking

After escaping from Ho Chi Minh City’s urban sprawl, you’ll travel to Long An Province by support van with your professional cycling guide.  Arriving at the small delta town of Tan An, take your bicycle and start your tour on quiet back roads, heading toward My Tho. You cycle along small lanes with peaceful villages, orchards, and buffalo herds alongside. You’ll pass over narrow bridges and see the real life of rural towns. A box lunch will be served along the way. If time permits we’ll call in at the beautiful and ancient Vinh Trang Pagoda.  Our support car will then take you to Ben Tre.  You continue your bike tour along zigzagging pathways through coconut groves, past thatched houses and local schools to Tra Vinh.  Arriving late afternoon, just relax and take it easy at the hotel.  The remainder of the day is your free time.

Vinh Trang Pagoda is renowned for its architectural jumble of Chinese, Vietnamese and Angkor styles. It’s located on a 2 hectare compound with 5 buildings, 2 ornamental yards, 178 pillars and many valuable statues, especially the statues of 18 arahants (noble and worthy people) carved from wood in 1907. The pagoda will give you a deeper look at the relationship between Vietnamese art and Buddhist beliefs.

Distance: 40km

Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 19: Tra Vinh/Can Tho Biking

Your day begins cycling to visit several attractions in Tra Vinh: the Khmer Minority People’s Museum and Ong Met Pagoda, a large Khmer Pagoda with an antique structure; and Ba Om Pond with its magnificent lotus flowers. Your bike ride to Can Tho takes you past paddy fields and delightful rural scenery.  Enjoy quiet roads winding through villages and fruit gardens, with delicious aromas, and the lush verdant colours that make for a memorable biking experience.  Stop to chat to locals and enjoy the sweetness of fresh coconut or other seasonal fruits.  No matter the season there are always fresh fruits available in the Mekong Delta. You’ll pass over small bridges and take in the tranquil scenery.  Visit a vegetable farm to see, and join in if you wish, the daily work of farmers as they plant and water vegetables. Today’s distance is a bit longer.  Cycle as much or as little as you wish; our support van is always nearby when you need a break.  On arrival at Tra On you board a boat for a relaxing and scenic voyage up the Tra On River to join the Mekong.  You continue to Ninh Kieu Port at Can Tho City for transfer to your hotel for the night. 

Distance: 40km to 60km

Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 20: Can Tho/Cai Rang - Phong Dien floating market/Ho Chi Minh City App 25 km

After breakfast you board a boat and cruise to Cai Rang floating market on the Mekong River, then on to Phong Dien floating market. Both the river journey and markets provide an unvarnished look at the rural Mekong Delta lifestyle. You’ll be eye to eye with all the activity as hundreds of big and small boats exchange goods and turn the mighty Mekong into one vast floating farmers’ market.  It is an amazing sight!  If you like, join a local on a small rowboat to explore the narrow channels along the river and have a chat too.  After that, you’ll disembark at My Khanh Village to cycle around the Phong Dien area. You bike along the canal system to see the real life of local people. The paths leads over small bridges and past fruit gardens and ancient tombs shaded by the dense, green trees along the route. You’ll stop for lunch at a local house before settling in to our support van for the drive to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival, you’ll have a room to freshen up and for refreshment before going to the airport in a good time to connect with your international flight.  Your tour ends!

Distance: 20 km

Meals: breakfast, Lunch

Adventure & Activities tours;adventure travel with family;hiking tours
adventure tours europe;hanoi adventure;intrepid family tours;intrepid women's only tours;intrepid food tours;family travel groups

Adventure & Activities tours;adventure travel with family;hiking tours
adventure tours europe;hanoi adventure;intrepid family tours;intrepid women's only tours;intrepid food tours;family travel groups

Adventure & Activities tours;adventure travel with family;hiking tours
adventure tours europe;hanoi adventure;intrepid family tours;intrepid women's only tours;intrepid food tours;family travel groups

Adventure & Activities tours;adventure travel with family;hiking tours
adventure tours europe;hanoi adventure;intrepid family tours;intrepid women's only tours;intrepid food tours;family travel groups

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