Be immersed in the rich cultural heritage and history of Vietnam as you explore Hanoi, Hué, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City by foot and bike. Plus, enjoy two breathtaking days aboard a traditional boat in Ha Long Bay where the more adventurous can go kayaking.

Starting at: $4,395 Register Interest
 Bicycling in Southeast Asia  Kayaking in Ha Long Bay  The breathtaking Ha Long Bay  Pagoda on Hanoi's West Lake  Gate at the Imperial City, Hue  The Hai Van Pass near Da Nang  The Perfume River near Hue  The village of Hoi An, a World Heritage site  The Japanese Bridge in Hoi An  My Son Sanctuary, near Hoi An  Skyline of Ho Chi Minh City at dusk

Vietnam Cycling Adventure

11 days from $4,395

Be immersed in the rich cultural heritage and history of Vietnam as you explore Hanoi, Hué, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City by foot and bike. Plus, enjoy two breathtaking days aboard a traditional boat in Ha Long Bay where the more adventurous can go kayaking.

Overview

Activity Level 4:  Active 


Expectations: This trip is part of the Smithsonian Active Journeys collection. These trips feature a daily schedule of physical activities—such as walking, hiking, kayaking, rafting, or bicycling—in addition to activities designed to offer cultural or historical context. Each trip entails a different level of physical expectations. As some trips are more difficult than others, please review the following activity level description—and feel free to contact an Active Journeys Specialist to discuss the trip at more length—to ensure this Active Journey is right for you.

For this trip, there are two days with cycling excursions covering 25 miles (from three to five hours), and one day of cycling 9 to 10 miles (three hours). Bicycle excursions use hybrid bikes and terrain includes city roads and dirt paths, sometimes in traffic. Previous experience is recommended. Walks and hikes range from 2 to 3 miles at a leisurely pace, covering varied terrain that ranges from city streets to well-established trails. Shorter options may be available. Optional kayaking on Ha Long Bay is also offered. Routes and mileage will depend on weather, currents, and the interests of the group, lasting approximately 1 to 2 hours in protected waters.

Each day features a cultural site or activity associated with the walk, such as a historic site or temple visit, culinary highlight, meeting with local artisans or a local expert. Support vehicles are provided while cycling but are limited while hiking. Most days offer longer and shorter options based upon the group’s fitness and interests. It is often feasible to skip a day’s activities and relax at the hotel if desired. During vehicle transfers, transport is by 15-passenger van. Accommodations feature city hotels, comfortable lodges, and a traditional-style junk on Ha Long Bay. Our junk offers comfortable accommodation in cabins with en-suite bathrooms, hairdryers, and air conditioning. Junk staff offer professional and friendly service, serving both Vietnamese and Western cuisine in their dining room. 

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, expect a vigorous pace, are comfortable participating in up to five hours of physical activity per day, and enjoy a physical challenge.

Itinerary

Day 1 – Depart the U.S.

Day 2 — Arrive in Hanoi, Vietnam

Upon arrival in Hanoi, a Smithsonian Journeys representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.

Take some time to explore the local shops and cafes on your own. Later this evening, meet your guides and fellow travelers for an orientation and welcome dinner. (D)

Day 3 – Hanoi

Meet your guide after breakfast this morning and transfer by van to Bac Bien Village in Hanoi's beautiful countryside. Your cycling guide will be waiting to fit you to your bike and provide an overview of today’s ride.

Begin by cycling quiet village paths down to the border of the Red River where a local boat will ferry you across. Continue your cycling journey through small Vietnamese village streets, and stop to visit a local home. Your host will welcome you with a cup of tea and share stories of his past, his family, and his home. Then, continue your ride past rice paddies and lush countryside. Today’s ride ends at Co Loa VillageTake a well-deserved break before visiting the village’s temples and an exhibition about the history of Co Loa, an ancient capital of Vietnam. 

This afternoon, visit the Women's Museum. Introduced in 1995, this remarkable museum contains a collection of over 28,000 objects, photos, costumes, books, and letters highlighting the history of women in Vietnam. It not only presents different female costumes and traditions of various ethnic groups but also pays tribute to the courage and great sacrifice of women during the wars.

Finish the day by returning to Hanoi where you will walk the streets of the Old Quarter and the surroundings of Sword Lake. 9-10 miles cycling, flat and partially paved roads, 3 hours. (B,L,D)

Day 4 – Hanoi to Ha Long Bay

Today is a travel day as you depart Hanoi for spectacular Ha Long Bay. Embark on a cruise through the world-famous bay, one of the most beautiful landscapes in Vietnam and a World Heritage site. Legend has it that dragons scattered gems across the water to form the bay’s islets. As the sun sets, cruise past giant rock islets covered in luxuriant vegetation overlooking the water. Ha Long Bay includes some 1,900 islands and islets of rocky peaks, often uninhabited and unvisited.

Enjoy lunch and dinner on board featuring freshly caught seafood. This evening, you will have the chance to enjoy a night fishing session on the boat. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Ha Long Bay

Wake up early this morning to enjoy the aquamarine water of the bay at its best. After breakfast, transfer to the day boat with the cruise staff and continue to cruise quietly through the spectacular limestone formations of Ha Long Bay. For those who wish, hop into comfortable, stable kayaks for an even closer view of hidden bays and inlets.

There is plenty of time to enjoy spectacular and unique islands and relax on the beach. In the middle of the afternoon, cruise back to the mother boat for dinner and overnight. Optional kayaking 1-2 hours. (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Ha Long Bay / Hue

Today leave Ha Long’s shores for stately Hue. Choose to wake up early to enjoy the sunrise over the bay or enjoy the luxury of sleeping in. Disembark mid-morning for the drive back to Hanoi, stopping along the way at Yen Duc Village, a typical village of the Red River Delta that retains its authentic lifestyle. Take in a water puppet show presented by village artists and stay for lunch.

Your coach continues to Noi Bai Airport for a brief flight to Hue— another World Heritage site. Check into your hotel and take time to relax and freshen up before dinner tonight. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Hue

Meet your guide in the hotel lobby this morning for a briefing before you embark on a fantastic day of cycle touring. Begin by riding to the impressive Imperial Citadel, the seat of the former capital of Vietnam in the 1800s. Following a walking tour of the Citadel, pedal on towards Phu Mong, a Mandarin village boasting beautiful, ancient architecture.

Next, follow cool, shady paths to an ancient garden house where you will be welcomed by a local family and share a cup of green tea and fresh fruit from the garden. The route then takes you to the towering Thien Mu pagoda, where you will stop for a visit.

Cross the river by local ferry, then  continue cycling through the lovely scenery of rice fields, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens towards Thuy Bieu Village. Here, stop for lunch and a break. In the afternoon, get back on your bike and pedal to the tomb of Tu Duc, the longest-reigning monarch of the Nguyen dynasty. After a quick visit, make a final push to a nearby lagoon to tour a fishing village, see the fish farm, and enjoy a stunning sunset at a local restaurant as your well-earned reward.

After your grand journey, return by coach to your hotel. 25 miles cycling, 5 hours on paved and dirt roads. (B,L)

Day 8 — Hue / Hoi An

Today, travel from Hue to Hoi An, located farther south on the central coast. After breakfast, enjoy a drive along the scenic Hai Van Pass, offering some of the most beautiful panoramas in Vietnam. Stop en-route to visit the Cham Museum in Danang, home to the largest collection of sculptures and relics from the Cham (or Khmer) civilization.

Upon arrival in Hoi An, check in to your hotel before embarking on a walking tour of the hidden lanes of the old town. Cars and motorbikes are forbidden, so you are free to walk peacefully among Chinese temples, traditional houses, a Japanese bridge, and the bustling daily life of the locals. With an impressive legacy and over 800 historical monuments, Hoi An is rightfully listed as a World Heritage site.

Round out your day with a cup of coffee or tea at Reaching Out, a special teashop where all the wait staff is deaf. Reaching Out provides training and opportunity for the local deaf community, and their shop is a peaceful haven where you can savor your cup. (B,L,D)

Day 9 – Hoi An / Ho Chi Minh City

For your final day of cycling, enjoy a truly memorable ride as you pedal westward toward the foothills of the mountain spine of Indochina to My Son. Dating back to the 4th century, My Son was the holiest site of the Champa kingdom. Today, 25 of the original 68 Hindu temples, most dedicated to the god Shiva, still stand. These impressive towers are built of a combination of perfectly fitted, mortarless, fired brick and elaborately carved sandstone bas-relief panels.

After touring the temples, return to Hoi An by private coach. Enjoy a late lunch at the hotel restaurant and some free time to explore.

Early this evening, board your flight from Danang Airport to Ho Chih Minh City and check into your hotel. Dinner is on your own tonight. 25 miles cycling, flat and partially paved roads, 3-4 hours. (B,L)

Day 10 – Ho Chi Minh City

Today, take a walking tour of vibrant Ho Chi Minh City, including Notre Dame Cathedral, the 19th-century post office, the opera house, and town hall.

Enjoy some free time this afternoon before gathering again this evening for a festive farewell dinner. 2-3 hours walking. (B,L,D)

Day 11 – Departure

Transfer to the airport this morning for your homeward bound flights. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)