Discover a different side of a much-loved country on this activity-focused trip through the northern half of Vietnam. Encompassing cycling excursions, guided walking tours, kayaking expeditions and two nights of boating on Halong Bay, this trip is bound to get the blood pumping and the family bonding. Starting in Hanoi, uncover Vietnam's landmark attractions on a city cycling tour, and sit down to lunch at an initiative geared towards helping street children. Savour the picturesque countryside of rural Vietnam during a two-day ride from Luong Song to stunning Ninh Binh, cruise the waters of Halong Bay by junk boat and kayak, and explore charming Hoi An and its surrounds by bike and foot. This is an adventure for families who like spending their down time getting up and at it.
* Experience the tranquil beauty of rural Vietnam while cycling hrough the lush rice paddies and limestone karsts of Ninh Binh
* Exploring Halong Bay by kayak allows you to access places the junk boats can't. Paddle through grottoes, land on secluded islands and inspect stalactites up close
* Eat for a good cause at Hanoi's KOTO restaurant, an initiative that trains street kids for careers in hospitality
* Be romanced by the well-preserved architecture, welcoming atmosphere and superb eateries of Hoi An
➕ Day 1 Hanoi
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1. If you arrive early, why not get your first taste of Vietnam exploring the lovely, laidback capital. You can stroll the tree-lined boulevards to get a sense of the old days, wander the Old Quarter to uncover ancient temples and a rich, religious culture or head to the Temple of Literature, an oasis of calm right at the heart of Hanoi.
➕ Day 2 Hanoi
This morning you'll get the chance to explore the Vietnamese capital in more depth. Full of parks, lakes and tree-lined boulevards, the city is known for its laidback atmosphere. . Jump on our bus and visit the Ho Chi Minh Complex, which includes Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, Stilt House and Museum, the Buddhist temple One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature. We'll join our friends at KOTO for lunch. KOTO stands for 'Know One, Teach One'. An organisation supported by The Intrepid Foundation, it trains street kids for careers in the hospitality industry. After lunch we swap 4 wheels for 2 and head out on a cycling tour around the West Lake. Riding distance: Approx 25kms We highly recommend you bring your bike helmet from home. If that is not possible we do have helmets available. The bikes we use throughout this trip are 2016 TREK 4300 or 4700 models.
➕ Day 3 Mai Chau
After another hearty breakfast it's on to our private bus for the journey to Luong Son (a drive of approximately 1.5 hours). Luong Son, a region in the country's northwest, is the starting point for our cycling adventure through Vietnam's famously picturesque countryside. Today's ride to Mai Chau is mostly along paved roads. After Hanoi's hustle and bustle, this area's fresh country air and relative lack of traffic are a delight. Mai Chau is home to a variety of minority groups with their own unique culture and languages. We have a support bus that travels with the group during the entire cycling route for those who don't wish to ride the entire way. Don't forget to pack plenty of water and snacks for along the way. Riding distance: Approx 60kms At the homestay you'll sleep on mattresses in a communal room. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Shared toilet and bathroom facilities are basic.
➕ Day 4 Ninh Binh
Today is dedicated to exploring the villages and scenic countryside of provincial Vietnam. The journey from Mai Chau to Ninh Binh is fairly easy and leisurely-paced. You'll have plenty of opportunities to hop off your bike and take some photos of the surrounding valleys, sugarcane farms and rice paddies that compose the landscape. Final stop for the day is the small town of Ninh Binh. The Ninh Binh province is famed for its spectacular limestone karst scenery, lush rice paddies and gently flowing waterways. Riding distance: Approx 60kms
➕ Day 5 Halong Bay
Having seen a bit of Northern Vietnam by bike, it's now time to see it by sea. Back on board our private bus, enjoy some easier travel on the drive to Halong Bay ' home for the next two nights. Factoring in some stop-offs along the way, the journey will take approximately 4 hours. A natural harbour of more than 2,000 limestone islands rising from the emerald waters of Bac Bo Gulf, Halong Bay is one of Vietnam's most scenic regions. Countless beaches, caves and grottoes exist in its area of 1,500 sq km, creating an environment perfectly suited for exploring by kayak. Over the next couple of days there'll be opportunities to swim in the South China Sea and check out its caves of stalactites and stalagmites. Today, however, you'll set out on a kayak expedition. Your trip leader will take you through a safety demonstration, then lead you out onto the open waters. Tonight you'll be dining and sleeping on board a traditional Vietnamese junk boat. Our vessel has twin-share cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities, plus a cosy bar and dining area.
➕ Day 6 Halong Bay
Today head out for a full day's exploration of Halong Bay by kayak. All food for the day is included and the pace is set according to the ability of the group. After yesterday's warmup session, and in such an exquisite setting, today's exploration is sure to be fantastic fun.
➕ Day 7 Hoi An
Returning to land we head straight to the Hanoi Airport to catch a flight down to Hoi An (flight time 1.5hours), a delightful old city with a great atmosphere. This will be our base for the next two days, from which we explore both the town and its surrounds by foot and bike. Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An is beautifully preserved. Known as Faifo to early Western traders, it was one of South-East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of Hoi An look as they did more than a century ago and it retains the feel of centuries past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it. We arrive into Hoi An in the early evening.
➕ Day 8 Hoi An
Spend a day becoming acquainted with Hoi An, beginning with a guided orientation walk led by your leader. (approximately 2hours) Following lunch, it's back on two wheels for a wider exploration of the town and its surrounds. One of the routes we often take a ride past rice paddies and shrimp ponds to Cua Dai beach. The ride takes 2.5hours including stops. Hoi An is one of the best places in Vietnam to shop for souvenirs, especially if you're looking for clothing, paintings or ceramics. For those interested in getting some clothes tailored, this is definitely the place to snare a bargain. Hoi An's streets are lined with small tailor studios and the speed with which they can whip up garments is remarkable. On the last night of your tour, why not wander down to the riverside and enjoy a final feast with the group? Riding distance: Approx 20kms
➕ Day 9 Hoi An
Your trip ends today after breakfast. Either take a transfer to Danang airport for your onward flight or stick around a while longer getting to know this charming city.