Discover Vietnam ? Bai Tu Long to Mekong

Trip Length 10 Days
Group Size 4?14
Difficulty
Starting from
$2,699 for REI Members
$2,969 for non-members
Departures Dec 2019-Dec 2020

Go beyond the beaten path in Vietnam on a 10-day multisport adventure of jungle peaks, lantern-lit cities and emerald waters.

Vietnam captivates with its scenic beauty and welcoming people. From north to south, we hike, bike and kayak to iconic UNESCO heritage sites and other hidden gems, like Bai Tu Long Bay. We begin in Hanoi, the heart of the north, cycling the countryside and exploring Old Town on foot. Heading north of Halong Bay, we cruise Bai Tu Long Bay?s emerald waters on a traditional Vietnamese junk (boat) where we sea kayak and swim among the thousands of limestone islands that contribute to the area?s dramatic splendor.

In central Vietnam, we gear up for hiking and biking amongst the terraced lime green countryside and enjoy the sublime character of Hoi An?s old town. In the south, a nighttime street food tour takes us through the modern vibrancy of Ho Chi Minh City and by bike, we pedal the trails of the Mekong Delta. Our expert local guides immerse us into the full character of this vibrant country.

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Trip Highlights

  • Explore Hoi An's Ancient Town and SUP at sunset in lovely, lantern-lit Hoi An
  • See ruins of a lost kingdom that forged its temples with fire
  • Kayak past stone spires and swim in the emerald waters of Bai Tu Long Bay
  • Hike Son Tra ("Monkey") Mountain and cycle Hanoi?s tropical countryside
  • Eat like a local in Ho Chi Minh City on a nighttime street food tour

Activities

This trip is rated Easy Active [2]. Participants should be able to comfortably hike 4?7 miles and cycle 10?20 miles on paved, gravel and dirt roads/trails. We kayak for up to two hours on calm water using sit-on-top kayaks. Kayaking and stand-up-paddle boarding are suitable for novices. All activities are set at a relaxed pace. Participants should arrive in good physical condition and have some hiking and biking experience.

  • Cruising
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Paddle Boarding

What's Included

Double-occupancy accommodations and meals as noted in the daily itinerary; bilingual guides; 27-speed hybrid bikes and bike helmets: sit-on-top, two-person kayaks, stand-up-paddle boards and related paddling gear; entrance fees to parks and temples; optional Cu Chi Tunnel tour on Day 10, gratuities to station guides, drivers, and boat drivers; private ground transportation within Vietnam; airport transfer on Day 1 and one group airport transfer on Day 10.

Accommodations

Hotels: 8 nights; Deluxe boat: 1 night

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Tropical Countryside Cycling

Our adventure begins in beautiful Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. This afternoon we meet our guide and fellow travelers at our hotel for a ride through the quiet outskirts of Hanoi. We cycle through small villages, strawberry fields, kumquat orchards, and banana tree jungles with the dramatic Hanoi city skyline as our backdrop. Local farmers and craftsmen invite conversations about their goods and offer tastings of homegrown produce. Our ride ends at the historic cantilever Long Bien Bridge, once the longest bridge in Southeast Asia. Overnight in Hanoi. Dinner included.

Biking: 6 miles on paved roads and dirt paths

Day 2

Local Vibes & Historical Intrigue in Hanoi

The wide tree-lined boulevards beckon as we begin a day tour of this beguiling city?s most notable sights. Joining in the cultural tradition, we wake up early to join in the Vietnamese morning routine of tai chi, aerobics, and calisthenics at Hoan Kiem Lake. Limber and alert, we delve into Hanoi?s Old Quarter. Walking the maze of streets, we take in the bustle of daily life, historic architecture, and samplings of street food delicacies. Our walk takes us to the famous sights of St. Joseph?s Cathedral as well as the sobering Hoa La Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton. The remainder of the afternoon is open for continued exploration or rest back at our hotel. Overnight in Hanoi. Breakfast and lunch included.

Walking: 4?5 hours

Day 3

Explore a Hidden Paradise of Islands & Emerald Waters.

After an early breakfast, we drive to Hon Gai International Harbor where we board our private traditional junk for a 2-day boat cruise to the quieter Bai Tu Long Bay, northeast of Ha Long Bay. This area is one of Vietnam?s five UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world?s largest marine limestone karst landscape. Bai Tu Long Bay is spectacularly stunning with its deep emerald waters, pristine beaches, and impressive karst mountains. Our captain will find secluded, scenic spots among the myriad of islands for us to kayak, swim and sunbathe. As the sun sets over the bay, we enjoy a BBQ dinner on the sundeck. Afterward, relax on the deck, play board games or try your luck with night squid fishing. Overnight on a junk boat in Bai Tu Long Bay. All meals included.

Kayaking and swimming: 2 hours; Driving: 3.5 hours

Day 4

Island-Hop by Kayak & Behold a Sparkling Cave.

Watch the sun rise over Bai Tu Long Bay?s shimmering waters, then slip into our kayaks and paddle to Thien Canh Son Cave on Cong Do Island. Climbing a set of stone stairs, we discover the sparkling stalactites and unique ecosystem of Thien Canh Son Cave. Returning to our kayaks, we continue to take in the beauty of the inviting calm waters and white sand beaches hugging the shoreline before boarding our junk and making our way back to the harbor. After disembarking, we transfer to Hanoi and board a flight to Da Nang. Our hotel is located in the historic city of Hoi An, where we spend the next four nights. Dinner is on our own; take the opportunity to try cao lau or mi quang, two of the city?s famous noodle dishes. Overnight in Hoi An. Breakfast and lunch included.

Kayaking: 1?2 hours; Driving: 4 hours

Day 5

Lanterns, Temples & Sunset SUP in an Ancient Silk Route City

A historic town and UNESCO World Heritage site, Hoi An has a romantic riverside setting with the backdrop of grand architecture and lantern-lined streets. Today we navigate Old Town?s myriad of alleyways, local workshops, and cultural sights. We join in with the local shoppers preparing for their day and walk across the landmark 18th-century Japanese covered bridge, the center point of old town. Next, we?ll visit a local family who will teach us how to hand make our own lanterns. After lunch, you?ll have some free time to explore the vibrant caf�s, bars, and shops. Late afternoon we?ll meet up again and venture out on stand up paddle boards for a sunset float on the Thu Bon River. Our day concludes with dinner at one of Hoi An?s Old Town restaurants. Overnight in Hoi An. All meals included.

Walking: 3 hours; Stand Up Paddle Board: 2 hours

Day 6

Hike & Wildlife-watch on Son Tra (?Monkey?) Mountain

Ban Co Peak (2,274?) is the highest mountain on Son Tra Peninsula and our goal for the day. We don our hiking shoes and ascend the peak to take in panoramic views of Da Nang city. This area is a bird watcher?s paradise, so we keep our eyes open for blue rock thrush, green-eared barbet or racket-tailed treepie. We might be lucky to spot the elusive red-shanked douc, an Old World monkey with maroon-red "stockings" from its knees to its ankles. Our hike continues along a jungle-fringed ridgeline to Son Tra (Monkey) Mountain before descending to Bai Bac. We return to Hoi An in the afternoon, with the remainder of the day free to shop, relax, or simply wander Hoi An?s charming streets. Overnight in Hoi An. Dinner is on your own. Breakfast and lunch included.

Hiking: 5 miles, 3.5 hours; Elevation gain/loss: +500?/-1,800?; Driving: 1.5 hours

Day 7

Jungle Peaks & Tower Temple Ruins of a Lost Kingdom

My Son Sanctuary is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to fired-brick tower temples constructed over ten centuries. To reach the ruins, we start by cycling the narrow alleyways of Hoi An, then cross the Thu Bon River. Leaving the city behind, we follow rural pathways only accessible by bicycles and motorbikes. We pedal through villages, rice fields, and family farms. At the ancient complex, our guide paints a vivid picture of the spiritual and political life of the Champa Kingdome. By mid-afternoon, we transfer back to Hoi An, with the remainder of the day free to rest or explore. Your guides will provide suggestions for dinner, as well as places to try local desserts such as black sesame soup or Vietnamese donuts. Overnight in Hoi An. Breakfast and lunch included.

Cycle: 15 miles; 3 hours; Terrain: flat on a mix of paved, gravel and dirt roads and trails; Driving: 2 hours

Day 8

Stories, Icons & Nighttime Street Food Safari in Ho Chi Minh City

Our adventure continues south with a one-hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam?s largest city. This afternoon we learn more about this dynamic city on a short walking tour. We discover the city?s colonial architecture, view revered monuments, and stroll the social hub of Reunification Park and Nguyen Hue Street. Tonight?s dinner is an immersion into local life as we use scooters to access the best food spots, each with their own delectable specialty. We are each assigned a scooter driver; hopping on the back, we zoom off as a group to sample Vietnamese pancakes, barbeque, noodles, and desserts. It?s a unique perspective of the city at night. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. Breakfast and dinner included.

Walking: 2 miles; 1.5 hours

Day 9

Mekong Delta by Bike & Plate

We leave behind the buzz of Ho Chi Minh City for the tranquility of the Mekong Delta. By bike, we pedal palm-lined pathways that crisscross vast fields of rice. Along the way, we visit local artisans and weavers and sample rich chocolate from a cocoa plantation. Today?s lunch is in a village home, with fresh foods sourced from the area. We?ll return to Ho Chi Minh City by private vehicle. At our farewell dinner, we toast new friends and celebrate the conclusion of our incredible journey through Vietnam. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. All meals included.

Cycling: 15 miles, 3 hours; Terrain: flat on a mix of paved, gravel and dirt roads and trails; Driving: 2.5 hours

Day 10

Optional Cu Chi Tunnels Tour & Farewell to Vietnam

Our adventure concludes in Ho Chi Minh City with an optional tour of Cu Chi Tunnels after breakfast. You may depart any time this day, but for guests who wish to participate in the Cu Chi Tunnel Tour, schedule flights to depart after 5pm. The Cu Chi Tunnels are an immense network of tunnels (more than 150 miles) started by the Vietnamese guerrillas in the late 1940s. During the Vietnam War, the tunnels were expanded by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers. The tour takes you through an extraordinary underground labyrinth complex that includes bedrooms, meeting rooms, air-raid shelters and smokeless kitchens. A two-hour transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City returns you to our hotel. One group airport transfer is provided. Breakfast included.?

Driving: 4 hours

Gear List

This gear list has been created to help you choose the best equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff. The weather and other conditions at the time of your arrival will dictate what clothing and equipment you will be required to use each day and what (if anything) can be left behind. It may be a necessary precaution that you bring certain items on the list, even if it is uncertain whether or not they will be needed.

What to pack

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Travel documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)
  • Valid Passport and Visa

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.