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Cycle and hike through the lush rice paddies and small villages of northern Vietnam and Laos

Personalised journeys from start to finish

Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel

Every detail taken care of

What's Included

  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Private transfers and internal flights
  • Full support from your travel concierge before, during and after your trip
  • Expertly-led tours to get the most out of the incredible outdoors
Use this itinerary to inspire your bespoke journey

At a glance

This 11-day trip is perfect for people who really like to get under the skin of where they’re travelling. It has the perfect balance of expertly led sightseeing tours and excursions that take you further off the beaten path.

Your adventure starts with a night in Hanoi, Vietnam’s bustling capital city. From here you’ll swiftly move north to the beautiful Ninh Binh Province, exploring the Van Long Nature Reserve and taking a boat through the limestone karsts and caves. You’ll then spend two nights in Mai Chau, an area known for its impossibly green rice fields. Get a glimpse into local life with a visit to a Hmong village, then explore the area by bike, weaving in and out of the fields where people work the land like they have done for centuries.

It’s then time to move on to Laos, one of South East Asia’s real gems. This is a wonderfully relaxed country with incredible natural beauty. Cruise down the Mekong river, explore temple caves, cool off in waterfalls and kayak through rapids. Luang Prabang is famous for its morning alms giving ceremony, where hundreds of monks in saffron robes process through the streets accepting alms from locals and visitors. After a magical three nights in Laos’ capital, it’s time to head into the countryside and to the Oudomxay Province.

Here you’ll meet the Hmong and Khamu people, visit local villages and explore the countryside by bike. Those who travel to Laos are always won over by its charm and it is the perfect place to finish your exciting adventure in South East Asia.

Example Trip Itinerary

Days 1-2

Hanoi

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Hanoi

Accommodation in Hanoi

tran-quoc-pagoda-hanoi
Overnight in Hanoi Overnight in Hanoi

Spend your day relaxing and exploring Hanoi. You’ll have our top recommendations for sightseeing and restaurant recommendations, so you can get the best out of this fascinating city before you move on to Ninh Binh in the morning.

Hoa Lu and Van Long Nature Reserve Hoa Lu and Van Long Nature Reserve

Hoa Lu was the the ancient capital of Vietnam and is located in the Ninh Binh Province. While the ancient citadel has largely disappeared, the temples of the Dinh and Le dynasties still stand surrounded by rice paddies. After lunch at a local restaurant in Ninh Binh, continue to the 3,500ha (13.5 sq mi) Van Long Nature Reserve, the largest wetland natural reserve in the Red River Delta. Enjoy a boat trip taking in stunning scenes of local villages dotted among the limestone karsts and caves, perhaps encountering rare langur and birds on the way.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Ninh Binh and Tam Coc

Days 2-3

Ninh Binh

Accommodation in Ninh Binh

Overnight in Ninh Binh Overnight in Ninh Binh

Placed in the North of Vietnam, Ninh Binh is an ancient royal capital and the home of the historic Tran dynasty. Undoubtedly the regions greatest allure is the small village of Tam Coc. Meaning the 'three caves', Tam Coc is often referred to as 'Halong Bay on land' for its dramatic limestone formations that rise out of rice paddies. The Ngo Dong River follows through the area and floats through three natural caves, Hang Ca, Hang Hai, and Hang Ba, which are home to stalagmites and stalagmites, wild vegetation and often, monkeys.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Mai Chau

Days 3-5

Mai Chau

Accommodation in Mai Chau

Two nights in Mai Chau Two nights in Mai Chau

Located in Hoa Binh Province, Mai Chau offers a splendid vista of mountains and valleys surrounded by lush landscape and stilt houses, inhabited mainly by the White Thai ethnic group.

Enjoy walks or bike rides to local hamlets along the valley and in the surrounding mountains, and engage in a chat with local hill tribe people to learn about their daily lives such as planting rice, herding buffalos and building traditional houses through your guide. They'll be chances to sample home cooked food, visit local markets and a primary school, or simply explore the village on foot.

Hmong hill tribe village Hmong hill tribe village

Visit the Hmong hill tribe village of Xa Linh village and set out on a walk through picturesque mountain scenery. Your guide will facilitate chats with local hill tribe people for insights into their daily lives including planting rice, herding buffalos and building traditional houses.

mai-chau-cycling
Cycle through Mai Chau Cycle through Mai Chau

Explore this beautiful landscape by bike, cycling past impossibly green rice paddies and local villages.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Hanoi airport

Flight

Flight from Hanoi to Luang Prabang

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Luang Prabang

Days 5-8

Luang Prabang

Accommodation in Luang Prabang

Three nights in Luang Prabang Three nights in Luang Prabang

A charming city, spend your time relaxing and soaking up the culture. Visit temples, trek through virgin rainforest to beautiful waterfalls and give alms to the monks. We can arrange a special and unique time in Luang Prabang.

Meander the Mekong and visit the Pak Ou caves Meander the Mekong and visit the Pak Ou caves

Cruise away from the city with a boat trip on the mighty Mekong. Meander up the river to the junction with the Nam Ou river, and the site of the Pak Ou caves. Explore these shrines carved into the cliff face before returning by road to Luang Prabang, stopping en route at local villages Ban Xanhg Hai, to try a unique rice whisky called Lao-Lao, as well as Ban Phanom, famous for its traditional hand woven textiles. Continue through typical Lao villages at Ban Xangkhong and Ban Xienglek, well known for theor hand-made Jute Sar paper.

ban-pick-noi-kayaking
Kayaking at Pick Noi Kayaking at Pick Noi

Head to Pick Noi where on arrival your guide will give you a short safety briefing and introduction to kayaking before heading off down the river. As you continue, you'll reach a small section of light but fun rapids before arriving at the tomb of the 19th-century French explorer Henri Mouhot who was the first European to discover Luang Prabang.

Early morning alms giving Early morning alms giving

Wake up before dawn to witness and participate in offering alms to hundreds of saffron-robed monks. This early morning ritual dates back generations in Laos and is an awe-inspiring sight. The monks walk through the streets of Luang Prabang accepting offerings of food from local residents and businesses. Rising early also gives the chance to wander through the fresh market on the way back to the hotel for breakfast.

Khouangsi Falls and village tour Khouangsi Falls and village tour

Drive out to the beautiful waterfalls of Tat Khouangsi. Below the 90m drop of the main cascade are a series of pools, connected by smaller falls and cascades. At low water levels, the water is an unbelievable turquoise, and swimming in the lower pools is a great way to cool off. On the walk through the forest to the falls, you will also pass the Free the Bears project – home to a group of rescued Asiatic Black (Moon) Bears and one Malayan Sun Bear. They are often searching for food hidden in their enriched environment enclosures, or simply sleeping. The route home offers the chance to stop at the villages of Ban Ou, Ban Ouay and Ban Thapene, home to some of the different Lao ethnic groups.

Luang Prabang city tour Luang Prabang city tour

Explore the UNESCO -protected city centre to appreciate its unspoiled Laotian-colonial fusion architecture, taking in notable Buddhist temples. Visit the Royal Palace Museum, Wat Xiengthong, with its traditional roofs sweeping low to the ground, the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun, Wat Sene, the city’s oldest temple, and the shrines of Wat Aham and Wat Mai.

mung-la-rice-fields
Private transfer to Muang La Private transfer to Muang La

You will leave Luang Prabang then begin your expedition, venturing into the mountainous and remote area of northern Laos. The verdant and rugged mountain scenery combined with the colourful local population makes this an unforgettable experience.

You will make a few rest stops along the way, which give the opportunity to see the ethnic minority groups of Hmong, Khmu, Akha and Taidam. The hill tribe people are unfailingly friendly, welcoming you with waving hands and smilling faces. The journey to Muang La leads you through areas with dramatic landscape. You will arrive in Muang La in the afternoon, where you will have the opportunity to visit Pra Xack Kham Temple with its sacred Buddha image. The 400-year-old legendary statue is said to have many supernatural powers, and is widely worshipped among faithful local Buddhists.

Days 8-11

Oudomxay Province

Accommodation in Oudomxay Province

Three nights in the Oudomxay Province Three nights in the Oudomxay Province

The lush, mountainous province of Oudomxay shares its northern border with China and presents a corner of South East Asia yet to be touched by mass tourism. The region is home to over 500 villages where traditional life still prevails and the tribes each have their own language and customs.

hmong-laos-rice-paddy
Khamu and Hmong village trek Khamu and Hmong village trek

You'll set off in a 4x4 and head to a small Khamu market. Continue following a picturesque route to Ban Poung Hieng, a Khamu village, then on to Ban Houai Chang which is the entry point to the national park at Phouhipi. Your route continues to other Khamu and Hmong villages which sit in the heart of the mountainous countryside of northern Laos. These isolated villages rarely see 'outsiders' and you will see people going about their daily, working in their fields. There are numerous places where you can take some amazing photographs before you reach the last Khamu-Hmong village of Ban Houa Nam Bak. This large village of around 1,600 inhabitants is close to the waterfall at Nam Pung where you can also enjoy some stunning views across the mountainous countryside. The falls are only accessible on foot and your trek of around 1.5 hours starts by crossing the fields around the village before following an uphill path to reach the waterfall. As you climb, you will see some amazing rock formations and the villagers have put a strong rope in place to help you climb to the top of one of the formations to enjoy the breathtaking view.

Cycling tour in Oudomxay Cycling tour in Oudomxay

Cycle along the banks of the River Nam Pak where many Khamu villages are found. Pass by beautiful scenery and meet working villagers, harvesting vegetables on the riverbank. Stop in one of the villages to learn about its daily life and traditional beliefs such as respect of the village elders' wisdom, the innocence of youth and the communal spirit of the village. After around eleven kilometers you will reach the village of Tad Muan, where you can learn how the traditional houses are built and the different ways the villagers hunt. You will then cycle back to the resort.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Luang Prabang

Flight

Flight from Luang Prabang to Hanoi

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11-Day Example Trip
 
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    We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.

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    From in-depth private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your journey.