Cycle the Hilltribes of Vietnam

14 days
Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Activity Rating - Challenging
Trip code: 
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Group size:
Min age:

Cycle the remote mountains of Vietnam 

The remote mountains of northeast Vietnam encapsulate every element of a superb bike ride; challenging climbs and fantastic descents are rewarded with breathtaking views and an extremely warm welcome from the hospitable locals. We start our journey passing through verdant rice paddies and lake-flanked national parks before pedalling through the spectacular karst limestone scenery of Ha Giang. A recent addition to the UNESCO list, this mountainous province is recognised for its high peaks and deep canyons which make for an entirely unique landscape.

This area is also one of the last few places where traditional hill tribe life reigns strong; nearly 90% of the population are ethnic minorities, traditional subsistence farming is the mainstay of most and the colourful attire of many of the inhabitants signals the cultural diversity of the area. This insight into remote Vietnam is for many the absolute highlight but time spent in fascinating Hanoi and a cruise around the islands of Halong Bay is definitely the perfect reward after 10 days of challenging cycling.  


  • Quiet roads with little traffic in remote North-east Vietnam
  • Cycle through the UNESCO site of Ha Giang 
  • See and learn about many traditional hill tribes
  • Exhilarating descents and tough challenging climbs
  • Cruise among the limestone formations of Halong Bay

Key information

  • 10 nights hotels, 1 night boat and 2 nights homestay
  • 10 days cycling (including 1 half day ride) with full vehicle support
  • 80% tarmac, 20% dirt roads
  • Some very long ascents and descents
  • Group normally 5 to 12, plus local leader
  • Countries visited: Vietnam

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 11 lunches, 3 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request - hotel nights only)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Days of Cycling

Moderate: 13-16 km/8-10 miles an hour


80% tarmac, 20% dirt tracks

Day by day breakdown
Day 2 50.0km/31.0miles
Day 3 78.0km/48.0miles
Day 4 50.0km/31.0miles
Day 5 70.0km/43.0miles
Day 6 80.0km/49.0miles
Day 7 80.0km/49.0miles
Day 8 50.0km/31.0miles
Day 9 60.0km/37.0miles
Day 10 75.0km/47.0miles
Day 11 50.0km/31.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Start Hanoi

    Begin your adventure in Hanoi, a city where an unstoppable energy thrives alongside traditional Vietnamese culture and a colonial charm permeates the broad tree-lined boulevards, most noticeably from the faded French architecture. The leader will of course be on hand to point the group in all the right directions, so whether you’re buying baguettes and inexpensive coffee from the grand doorways of a past era, drifting alongside Hoan Kiem Lake or roaming the animated streets, Hanoi offers a delicious first taste of Vietnamese culture. Even crossing one of many manic roads serves as a memorable experience! In the evening, we offer a welcome briefing and an optional group dinner at a local restaurant.

    Lenid Hotel or similar

  • Day 2

    Hanoi; warm up ride around West Lake on outskirts of the city

    We’ll transfer a very short distance to the outskirts of Hanoi and get set up on our bikes before heading out on our warm-up ride of Tay Ho/West Lake. Now very much the most fashionable of addresses in Hanoi, our ride provides a glimpse into modern and traditional Vietnamese life as fishermen patiently wait for a catch and luxury rooftop restaurants compete for space. There are numerous temples scattered around the shore and you’re likely to pass couples in swan boats, wedding parties in full swing and many coffee shops serving world-renowned Vietnamese coffee – certainly good for sweeping away any jetlagged cobwebs!

    Lenid Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 3

    Transfer to Ba Hang; cycle through tea plantations to Thai Nguyen

    Today begins with a 1 hour transfer into the countryside to avoid the Hanoi traffic. We start cycling in Ba Hang and are soon in the countryside passing through quiet roads flanked by rice fields. We pause for lunch at Nui Coc Lake; containing 89 islands mostly inhabited by flocks of storks or mountain goats. The lake is also famous for a local legend involving star-crossed lovers that makes it a popular place for Hanoi day-trippers keen to escape the city. We continue our day passing through Thai Nguyen tea plantations, famed for green tea production since the appearance of French scientists in 1882 and finally end in the town of Thai Nguyen, a small bustling town. Our hotel is centrally located and we will have dinner tonight at a restaurant nearby with the opportunity to try a local hotpot. 

    Kim Thai hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Ride through rice paddies and karst cliffs; boat into Ba Be National Park; overnight homestay

    We take a brief 10 minute transfer out of the town this morning and start our cycle through quiet country roads passing by small agricultural holdings; expect to share the road with the odd motorbike transporting cattle, furniture and often a whole family. 

    Today is mostly undulating and after 40kms we have two one hour bus transfers, separated by our lunch spot. Expect two very steep climbs this afternoon; 4kms and then another 2kms. The last 20kms is on a more even road that takes us into the dense rainforest of Ba Be National Park. The plunging valleys of the park are speckled with waterfalls and caves and we cycle directly to the riverside homestay where we will receive a warm welcome. There are three generations living and working here and they are keen for you to experience the peace and serenity of their home. 

    Elevation gain: 600m

    Basic homestay 

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Undulating day; Tinh Tuc for lunch; end Bao Lac

    We cycle directly from the homestay this morning. Leaving the lake we immediately climb uphill on an unsurfaced track to reach the road again. We leave Ba Be N.P and cycle through many small village holdings for approx. 45km. We jump on the bus for a couple of hours (50km) pausing for lunch at Tinh Tuc village, if we’re lucky seeking out some delicious sticky rice in banana leaves to power us through the afternoon’s riding. Back on our bikes we cycle the remaining 30km to our hotel in Bao Lac on the edge of the Nho Que River. The Black Lolo ethnic group are the main group residing here recognisable by their heavily adorned black clothing and died black teeth. Optional group dinner will be at a local restaurant where we will hopefully try the delicious fried lotus root with pork. 

    Elevation gain: 1600m

    Thuy Duong 2 Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Cycle next to the turquoise Gam River; pass through traditional Hmong villages; Ma Pi Leng Pass; end at Dong Van

    The first 20km are undulating until we reach the deep turquoise Gam River where locals cruise slowly along on bamboo rafts. We continue to climb and pass three new dams signalling the region's use of hydropower – it now generates more than a third of the country’s electricity. We pass through many Hmong villages where households harvest plants used in traditional Chinese medicine. Today is a tough day’s riding; near the end of the day we work our way up an 18km climb but have the roads almost entirely to ourselves and views of the valley serve as a good distraction before taking the Ma Pi Leng Pass where every hairpin bend presents a new photo opportunity and the view from ‘Heaven’s Gate’ at the top is truly breathtaking. This high mountain pass was originally carved into the mountain edge by daring locals hanging off the cliffs to create a trade route between villages. Perfect for cycling we can admire the deep canyons with rivers winding through the valleys.

    Elevation gain: 1800m

    Lam Tung Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    Ride into UNESCO site of Ha Giang Geo Park; transfer to overnight homestay

    Today we start from the hotel and ride along the magnificent Ha Giang Geo Park for 25km of cycling above the clouds amongst the towering limestone cliffs. We will stop at Vuong House, home to the much revered 19th century Hmong king. There’s enough time to visit the house which has photos of him with his family, before we continue our ride. 

    Another 20km descent takes us to the town of Yen Minh, where we will have lunch at a local restaurant before short transfer by bus for 15km to a hill top before launching our bikes again to cycle to the Nam Dam village where will we stay in a homestay overnight at Dzao village. We will visit the house of Mrs Mai en-route to learn about the huge role she has had in working with victims of human trafficking, an issue that pervades many of the poorer provinces in Vietnam. We’ll have a chance to visit her textile workshop that supports many women in the area during our visit also.

    Elevation gain: 1500m

    Basic homestay

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Morning village trek; cycle amongst the thousands of limestone pinnacles and the famous 'twin hills' to Ha Giang town

    We start this morning with a short trek through the village of Nam Dam to Chuc Son for a home breakfast. From here we will unload our bikes  and cycle our way up into the mountains again and will arrive at the wide tree-lined boulevards of Ha Giang town in time for a well-earned dinner in the provincial capital. 

    Elevation gain: 1000m

    Truong Xuan Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 9

    Challenging ascent followed by exhilarating 20km descent past huge rice terraces to Hoang Su Phi

    We jump on the bus for a short transfer to start the day (1 hour) before starting a challenging ascent through forest-flanked roads. The first 10kms are very steep but then the climb for the next 20kms is a little easier going. Our reward from the top is views of the multitude of tiers of rice paddies. Said to be the most spectacular in all of Vietnam, these magnificent layers of terraces stretch as far as the eye can see and are classified as a National Heritage by the Vietnamese Government. The main ethnic groups here are the Tay, Nung, Hmong and Dao, most of who work these steep rice terraces, some which sit above the clouds clinging to the edge of the mountains. A 20km descent takes us to our hotel door in Houng Su Phi town. 

    Elevation gain: 1500m

    Basic Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 10

    Rolling hills through dense pine forests to Bac Ha, famous for traditional steam baths

    Today sees us leaving the national park as we have a 30km undulating start to the day. We’ll pass through dense pine forest with the smell of these trees staying with us all morning. There are many small road side waterfalls which make for a refreshing face wash for those in need. Today’s climb of 19kms is one of the toughest of the trip as we continue on a road carved through the mountains. The first 10kms is the most challenging as it is both steep and on a poorly surfaced road. Be prepared for potholes and loose gravel. The next 9kms is not quite as steep. As this section of the road is under constant repair, depending on the previous weather and the work being done there may be the need to jump on the bus for a small section – the leader will make this call on the day dependent on the timing and the conditions. We end today on a fantastic descent into Bac Ha town.

    Elevation gain: 2000m

    Sao Mai Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 11

    Easy morning ride; transfer to Hanoi

    Departing Bac Ha town is a largely downhill affair as we leave the hills and mountains behind and head into the lower lands for a leisurely cruise to the main highway. Our bus will be waiting for us for the transfer (4-5 hours approximately) back to Hanoi and we’ll stop for lunch at a local restaurant on the way. Once back in Hanoi we’ll have a celebratory group meal and for those keen we’ll pay a visit to the Mojito Lounge to sample the famous Pho and fish sauce cocktail. 

    Elevation gain: 300m

    Lenid Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 12

    Drive to Halong Bay; board boat and cruise among spectacular limestone formations

    Today is a well-deserved full day of relaxation. We’ll board the bus to Halong Bay (4 hours) and board our private traditional junk boat upon arrival. Halong Bay is one of the most stunningly beautiful sights in South East Asia with around 3000 limestone peaks rising directly from the clear emerald sea. We cruise amongst this amazing karst scenery and enjoy a seafood lunch on board.

    Overnight on boat

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    Return to Hanoi; free time to explore the Old Quarter

    We continue to cruise around Halong Bay this morning before returning to port. We then drive back to Hanoi and there will be time to explore the Old Quarter of the city for those keen. This charming city contains many beautiful old buildings and is a shoppers' delight. The centre of Hanoi has a faded charm with broad tree-lined avenues dating from the French period as well as some attractive lakes and pagodas. In the evening there is the option to enjoy a performance of Hanoi's famous water puppets.

    Lenid Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    End Hanoi

    For land only clients, the tour ends this morning in Hanoi after breakfast.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info



**UPDATE 11.03.2020** The below visa advice is not valid at the current moment in time. If you are booked to travel to Vietnam within the next month, Exodus will contact you with further information when it becomes available.

A visa is no longer needed for British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes) for a period of up to 15 days, and on the basis of meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. The visa exemption period will end on 30 June 2021. All other nationalities require a visa to enter Vietnam and this must be obtained prior to departure.

For further information please check the FCDO site and check under Vietnam / 'Entry Requirements'. If you have any questions about whether you need a visa for your trip please contact the Customer Operations department.



There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Diphtheria. The risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 11 lunches and 3 dinners are included.

Vietnam is blessed with numerous varieties of culinary offerings and consequently maintains its reputation as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world that still packs a punch with delicious fresh and fiery flavours. Vietnamese food relies on fresh fish, vegetables, rice and a whole myriad of verdant herbs and spices; lemongrass, ginger, basil and lime all play an important role in the cuisine. The Chinese and French influence is felt throughout the country where you are just as likely to be offered a Banh Mi (stuffed baguette) as you are a hot steaming bowl of Pho (noodle soup). Each dish is prepared with the Asian principle of Wu Xing in mind (the five elements) meaning that the perfect combination of spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet is the ultimate aim. Be sure to also seek out the national beverages; Vietnamese coffee is served iced and sweet with condensed milk, a real sugar and caffeine hit, and beer hoi (local beer, brewed daily) is served on most street corners in the North out of large plastic jugs that are perfect for sharing.

Food is cheap in Vietnam and you can generally avoid the spicier food if you wish. As this trip is remote you will struggle to find Western food in most locations (although Hanoi will fulfil all of these urges with every type of cuisine on offer). Most breakfasts will be traditional Vietnamese; on occasion this might mean warm rice pancakes cooked with fresh herbs or a noodle soup. There will also be a basic hotel buffet of baguettes, eggs and some cold meats available in some locations. Lunch will either be a picnic lunch that the team expertly prepare on the day or a stop in a local restaurant to sample some of the regional dishes.

Vegetarians can be catered for but the choices will be limited, especially when out of Hanoi in the hills. Please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in SE Asia the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets, e.g. gluten-free or dairy-free, is minimal or non-existent and we strongly recommend you bring these specialised dietary items from home. You may find it beneficial to bring some 'cycling snacks' with you from home if you have high energy bars or gels that you like to use during a ride. 

For those who wish to contribute, a snacking kitty is arranged  – fresh exotic fruit, nuts, savoury and sweet biscuits and local snacks are all provided from the snacking kitty along with drinks. 


Ha Giang’s weather is typical for the Northern highland area of Vietnam, which is a tropical monsoon climate, but somewhat temperate climate due to higher altitude. The weather here is mild all year round with the year average temperature at approx. 22 degrees. Temperatures will drop in the evening and can be as low as 10 degrees when in the mountains. The hottest months of Ha Giang are June and July, while coldest months are from November to February. March/April/May and September/October (Spring and Autumn) have been chosen to operate this trip so that we avoid the wettest and hottest months of June/July and August. Due to the altitude there is often a little drizzle and mist in the mornings but this often clears to present blue skies and clear riding.

Please be aware that the boat trip on Halong Bay can be subject to short notice change if certain adverse weather conditions develop during your trip. These could occur all year round, but especially in monsoon season (from October to April). Boat trips on Halong Bay are governed by the local authorities who are authorised to make such appropriate safety decisions. If your Halong Bay trip is affected by adverse weather, this could either result in a reduced excursion on Halong Bay for your group, or less likely, the need to re-arrange the itinerary if it is not possible at all to go out on Halong Bay. Whilst this is not a frequent occurrence, our local team and leaders are well equipped to handle such situations and have long offered appropriate options to groups in the instances where this may occur.

Is this trip for you?

This trip is rated Activity Level 5- Challenging and classified Road.

10 days cycling (including 1 half day) average 80km/day (49 miles), 100% vehicle support.

Terrain and Route:

The majority of road surfaces will be decent tarmac (approx. 80%). The remaining 20% will be on road but some sections are likely to be potholed and uneven/broken tarmac. This will at times make the cycling a little harder going but there is plenty of time each day to take it at your own pace. As the area is mountainous, you should be prepared for some very long climbs in particular on day 6, 7, 9 and 10, but these are very much rewarded with long descents. There is very little traffic on the roads here and mostly you will just have to contend with the odd motorbike passing you. The exception to this is on day 8 when you will be cycling on a road that heavy goods vehicles do use as it is the main road into Ha Giang. However, this is only on a short section of the trip and the leader will make sure the group cycle together. In addition, the vehicle support will closely follow the group.  Overall these peaceful roads are certainly a highlight of the trip and makes passing through remote villages even more special as you are very much an unexpected sight!

There are some transfers included which are detailed in the itinerary days. These are mostly short and are unavoidable due to the lack of accommodation options available in this remote region. We have tried to keep these to an absolute minimum and there are a few days with no transfers at all. 

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Hotels, Guesthouses, Homestays and Boat

Our nights in Hanoi are spent in a comfortable hotel.

We stay in homestays while in Ba Be National Park and in Nam Dam village which are basic but the rooms are clean and comfortable, with friendly staff. There are no en suite rooms here with 2 or 3 bathrooms available for the group. 

The guesthouses/ hotels used for the remote sections of the trip are basic but are the best available in the area. Tourism is very new to the area so please bear this in mind. The hot water supply may be sporadic at some properties and Wi-Fi not always available. 

In Halong Bay on the boat we stay in en-suite twin cabins (with bedding) but some may prefer to sleep on deck under the stars. 

Single rooms are available for a supplement for hotel/guesthouse nights only, not at the homestays in Ba Be or in Nam Dam village or overnight on the boat in Halong Bay. Please advise the sales team at the time of booking if you would like to request a single supplement. 

Call for general departures:
074 340 4587
Call for private group trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed March 2020


    This is my first Exodus Trip and 4th international cycling tour. This was one fantastic trip. Our Tour Leader, Long, was an absolute joy. The cycling is hard. I did have to sag a couple times, there was a 5 mi stretch that never got less than 13% (and got as staggeringly high as 26%!) and it was hot. But my god was it stunning - the vistas were absolutely incredible. The accommodations were good (with the exception of one which I believe has since been removed.) Having the extra night staying on a boat in Ha Long Bay was phenomenal as well. Really, if you like a challenging cycling trip, do this - don't wait.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Strangely seeing an old woman on a bicycle carrying a HUGE (5x or more her own body volume) load of who knows what up a mountain road - she smiled at us.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Long is a great guy! I believe he is the owner of the local company that Exodus books this tour for. He is unerringly positive, engaging and funny. He clearly also looks for staff that are similar. We got to learn that undulating hills means largely uphill :)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do be sure that you're ready for this level trip - I thought I was and for the most part was, but some climbs were daunting - but I wouldn't take them off the route if I could.
  • Reviewed November 2019

    Wow. Loved every second.

    I'm recently back from the November trip. This was my third Exodus holiday. The other two were great, but this one took it to another level. Literally. Those climbs ..... Our tour leader, Loc, was brilliant. This was the best, and hardest, cycling I've ever done. I'm still proud that I managed every section without swapping the bike for the bus. Apparently, our group was the first for this trip where everyone cycled every section. We lucked out on the weather, and most road sections had been repaired (compared to the trip notes warning us otherwise), but I'm still proud of myself!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being able to cycle up such long climbs, motivated both by Loc (leader) and the rest of the group. The views were rewarding. I like to think all the motorcycle tourists who passed us were jealous. They certainly should be.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Amazing. Seriously. For a youngish guy, he took control and co-ordinated us perfectly. Everything went to plan. One of our group thought cycling and taking photos at the same time was a fun way to break a collarbone, and the way Loc handled it was very comforting to witness. In fact, that comment goes back to the Exodus team in the UK too - they seemed to genuinely care.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The rest of our group seem to cycle up mountains for fun. Not me. I found it hard going, but managed it all. Do try and get in some hill climbs before you go. I did, and I tracked the gradient % so I knew roughly how hard each day would be based on the (very accurate) trip notes. Also, I was the only one not in proper cycling gear. My arse suffered because of it. Bring one or all of ... padded cycling shorts, gel seat cover, your own saddle. I did none of those which at least motivated me to stand on the pedals occasionally!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus, and the support team, planned this ride well. Not every hotel was spotless, but it was good to know that Exodus had scouted out the towns and picked the best hotel available. Bring plastic/washable sandals or flipflops (I have plastic Birkenstocks which I highly recommend) for the communal bathrooms in the homestays, and in case you end up wandering around Hanoi in the rain. I'm not sure what's going to happen with the Ha Long Bay part of this tour (or the HCMC to Hanoi one) as they seem to be simultaneously banning over-night stays on the boats (for pollution reasons) and turning Ha Long into some kind of awful theme park concept. If that happens, I doubt it'll be worth the 8 hour return bus trip.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Bridget Slater

    Hill tribes of Vietnam

    Excellent trip well off the beaten track. Our leader, Loc, was exceptional

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The beautiful climbs, challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Views to die for

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Forst rate. Thoughtful, organised, committed - couldn't fault him

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get fit
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Christopher Hogge

    A glorious adventure.

    A truly fantastic two week adventure, that saw us vist some jaw dropping scenery, eat some delicious food and cycle up some seriously big hills.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It’s only been a week since the trip ended and it would be hard to pick only one inspirational moment. The people of Vietnam that we encountered had an incredible approach to life.... the landscape of the North East is stunning.,,, some of the cycling in hard ... very hard.., Ma Pi Leng pass will not be forgotten in a hurry .... or the ride into Meo Vac or Bac Ha.... Surviving Hanoi traffic was another great cycling acheivment.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Long Le was without doubt the greatest cycling tour leader I have ridden with. Exceptional on every count. 10/10

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A good quality, lightweight rain jacket.... handy for the chillier mornings and moments of rain/ mist. Bike lights..,, mist and low cloud are more common than you’d imagine. Wi-fi was available everywhere except on boat trip. Bring enough jerseys etc.... drying of kit after ride can be a problem because of humidity.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would highly recommend this trip.... cycling can be tough..., 10.% ascents very very common. Wonderful food..,.wonderful people.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Pauline Cornthwaite

    The Hilltribes of Vietnam

    For my husband and I this was our first venture into SE Asia. The appeal was to be among the first group to cycle this tour at a Catagory 5 'challenging' level. We are active retirees and enjoy the unobtrusive nature of cycling as a means to learn about new places. We chose to fly to Vietnam three days earlier to recover from jet lag and get a flavour of this country. There was immediate impact on reaching Hanoi. The sheer numbers of people travelling on thousands of scooters intermingled with regular road traffic in a cacophony of noise. I had read that there were no road rules and that certainly seems true, however in three weeks I only witnessed two toppling bicycles possibly due to their heavy loads. We moved to the tour hotel after three days and met our group leader Long Le, his trainee Lok and 9 other riders. Next day we were supplied with our hybrid bikes and adjusted them to fit before an easy cycle around Lake Hoi Tay. The following day we left Hanoi and headed to the mountains. For the next 10 consecutive days we cycled, moving on each night in a variety of accommodation described as 'basic' hotels with one home stay (my favourite) which was owned by an ex serviceman of the Vietcong. This lovely gentleman was kind enough to tell us a little about the second Indochina war and his role in it. He gave us an unique audible window into the past from his experiences. He told us that very many men and women never returned home, his parents didn't expected to see him again and there was no way to keep in touch. He didn't return to the farm for 10 years. I was humbled and in awe of him. In all the places we stayed we always had hot water, showers and clean beds. The meals, eaten locally, were often variations on the same and some were better than others, but these were non tourist areas and we ate what was available. Wherever we went, people particularly children, not used to seeing groups of cyclists or visitors at all, would call out cheering us and waving. In the north, close to the border with China, we were woken up at 6 am to loud propaganda broadcasts, then another loudspeaker playing pop music (we guessed to drown out the propaganda)! Cycling away to peaceful countryside from towns was always welcome. The rice paddy fields and tea plantations are picturesque with workers, often carrying babies on their backs and always waving saying 'Hello.' The cycling became progressively harder with gradients in excess of 10% for 18 and 19 km and roads often broken, leaving large rubble to cycle over. Some of these rides were absolutely brutal and fellow cyclists, having done Tour de France routes told us these were much harder! This was cause for debate at the end to determine whether to upgrade the 'Challenge' level to 6 in future. On the upside views, when not misty, were spectacular and descents very welcome. My only disappointments were in an absence of any wildlife and our group leader told me that everything gets eaten in Vietnam. One unfortunate Weasle was skinned and cooked when we stopped for snacks on a ride through remote Hoang Su Phi. Wild birds are very few but when seen are stunning with delightful songs. Unfortunately most are heard from cages. Litter too is everywhere unfortunately. On the overnight stay in Hanoi however, there are small boats out collecting floating litter with nets.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Vietnamese people were welcoming, happy and friendly. They display a calm tolerance to the noise and business of city life and are openly affectionate and caring with their children. Whole families seem to share in the care of youngsters, who are delightful, as they go about everyday trade on the streets. A visit to a women's refuge for victims of trafficking. Mrs Mai showed us her textile workshop and demonstrated tools and equipment used for printing art work. Her shop gave us a variety of beautiful items to purchase. Trio get Xuan resort. Holiday cabins lakeside. Exhilarating views after torturous climbs. Halong Bay.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Long Le was excellent as group leader with superb linguistic skills. He was informative, decisive and humerous. Looking after us collectively and individually he was most attentive. Always keen to make us as comfortable and well fed, ready and willing to answer any questions. His authority with the staff accompanying us, with restaurant/cafe staff and hoteliers was sound, smoothing the way for us wherever we went.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Best not to be squeamish on this tour. Meat products form a large part of the Viet diet and places where animals are killed aren't sound proof. Personally, I tend to visit new countries without preconceptions and just absorb it as it comes. I'm very glad I went there, I keep a journal which helps me enjoy the experience more. Photos serve as memories to paint in watercolour when home. The cycling was the hardest I've ever done but now home, I find the Warwickshire hills much easier! That's got to be worth it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I enjoyed the whole experience as I like to learn the truth as seen and experienced. I've already booked our next excursion with Exodus.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros  Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros  Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros  Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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