You’re most at home in the great outdoors, you’re happy to rough it for an adventure, and you’re not having fun unless there’s a bit of sweat involved. If we just described you, read on.
One of the great attractions of Vietnam is its magnificent scenery, which makes it the perfect setting for an adventure holiday. Combining hiking, cycling tours and caving adventures, this is a challenging itinerary for the ultra-active — so buckle up!
Most transfers will be by private car, with the exception of a sleeper train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, and a domestic flight from Hanoi to Dong Hoi.
This itinerary is packed full of physical activities for those who like to get the blood pumping
You’ll see a diverse array of Vietnam’s finest scenery, including rice terraced mountains, limestone karsts, and rugged coastline
You’ll get off the beaten track in destinations away from the usual tourist trail
This itinerary is easily extended to include some time on the beach, or a few days in Cambodia
Things to consider
This is a physically active trip, so you’ll need a good level of fitness - and unfortunately it’s not suitable for anyone with mobility issues
It’s a fast-paced itinerary with lots of short stays, so if you prefer a leisurely pace this might not be for you
This itinerary doesn’t cover south Vietnam, but it can easily be extended to include it
Adventure caving in Phong Nha National Park isn’t possible from September to December
You’ll need to be comfortable with camping and some fairly basic facilities!
Your adventure begins in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital of over a thousand years. Since the rest of the trip is packed with organised activities, we’ve left your time here free to spend as you choose — whether that’s exploring historic sites, checking out the museums, or simply watching the locals practise chess and t’ai chi on the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake. However you spend your day, we strongly recommend you leave the evening free to sample the street-food delights of the Old Quarter, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the locals as delicious snacks sizzle on food carts and aromatic steam billows out into the night sky.
See the locals doing their morning exercises by Hoan Kiem Lake as you head out to explore the French Quarter
Use your downtime to soak up history at Hanoi’s Temple of Literature and Ho Chi Minh’s old house
Wander the lanes and alleys of the Old Quarter, sampling some of Vietnam’s most delicious street food
Your adventure begins in earnest as you head north from the capital on the sleeper train to Lao Cai, a remote mountain town on the Chinese border. From here a two-hour drive will take you off the beaten track and into minority country, where you’ll begin your two-day trek — passing through Red Dao and Xa Pho villages, valleys dotted with bamboo huts, and rice terraces backed by jungle. Your guide will introduce you to the locals, who’ll show you how they make rice paper, silver jewellery, and intricate embroidery. You’ll spend your nights at two different rural lodges, both amid stunning mountain scenery, and have a full day free to relax and rest up for the next leg of your journey.
Hike to remote Nam Cang village for spectacular views over mountains, waterfalls and plunging valleys
Learn about Red Dao minority culture in the hills around Sapa
Hike through more dramatic scenery to My Son, home to the Xa Pho, one of the smallest minority communities in Vietnam
The finer detail
- Breakfast every day
- Six lunches: one at the Topas Riverside Lodge; one in Nam Ngan village; one picnic at Nuoc Nut Cave; one at the jungle camp; one at a restaurant in Hue; one at Lang Co Beach
- One dinner: at the jungle camp in Phong Nha National Park
- Four full-day experiences: two hiking in the Sapa region; one cycling tour of Hue; one cycling tour over the Hai Van Pass
- One half-day experience: exploring the DMZ
- Overnight adventure caving expedition in Phong Nha National Park, including caving and camping equipment
- All accommodation
- All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
- All domestic transfers and transport
Logistics and journey times
Car transfer from Hanoi airport to hotel (30 minutes)
Overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai (8 hours)
Car transfer from Lao Cai to Sapa (1.5 hours)
Car transfer from Sapa to Hanoi (6 hours)
Car transfer from city to Hanoi airport (30 minutes)
Flight from Hanoi to Dong Hoi (1.5 hours)
Car transfer from Dong Hoi to Phong Nha National Park (45 minutes)
Adventure caving – 8km trek, 4km caving, 100m swimming (optional) (2 days)
Car transfer from Phong Nha to Hue (4 hours, plus sightseeing)
Cycle from Hue to Hoi An – up to 100km (half day)
Car transfer from Hoi An to Danang airport (45 minutes)
What's not included
- International flights
- Any necessary visas
- Any lunches or dinners unless stated
- Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
- Tipping and personal expenses