Hidden Charm Vietnam Guided Cycling Tour

Saturday 5th October – Thursday 17th October 2024


Adventurous Hanoi-based guided cycling tour

From Hanoi to Cat Ba Island and return, our expert guide leads you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Vietnam, ensuring that you have a safe and unforgettable journey. Included in this 13-day tour are ten days of guided conventional bicycle or power-assisted e-bike riding plus cultural events, a cruise and kayaking adventure on Halong Bay, and time to explore local communities and sights at your own pace. Come and discover the hidden charms of North Vietnam with The Platypus Foundation and Asian Lotus Travel.


Options starting at USD$1,514 per person for a conventional off-road bicycle and USD$1,630 per person for an e-bike plus AUD$500 tax deductible donation to support the work of the Platypus Foundation. (See detailed costing below.)

Key information


  • Hotel and homestay accommodation for the duration of the guided tour – see itinerary for details.
  • Breakfast (B), Lunch (L) and Dinner (D) – see itinerary for details.
  • 1 professional English-speaking cycling guide, with medical kit, throughout the tour.
  • 1 mechanic to escort the group on cycling days. (This could be the driver.)
  • Conventional off-road bike or power-assisted e-bike: Giant Explore, Giant ATX-E or similar – see below for details of our e-bikes.
  • All transfers and transportation in air-conditioned vehicles
  • Transportation on cycling days: group of 6 – 7 pax: 1 x 16 seat minivan to carry participants and 1 luggage truck to carry bikes; group of 9 – 18 participants: 1 x 29 seat bus to carry participants and 1 luggage truck to carry bikes. Participants can ride in the support vehicle if need a rest from cycling.
  • Snacks & fruits on cycling days.
  • Mineral water on vehicle on days with transfer and sightseeing only.
  • All entrance fees as mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Boat trip in Trang An or Tam Coc.
  • Fees for sightseeing cruises and kayaking.

Not included

  • Your international and/or domestic air tickets
  • Airport taxi in and out of Vietnam (if any)
  • Your excess luggage charge (if any)
  • Your Vietnam visa (if any)
  • Peak season third-party surcharges (e.g. New Year, Vietnamese Lunar New Year, Christmas and other public holidays) No surcharges are anticipated.
  • Your personal travel insurance. All participants are required to arrange their own insurance. We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance from home. Polices should cover any and all potential risks involved in your holiday.
  • Tips / gratuities. We suggest USD$9 – 11 per day per person to our support team (bus and truck driver, mechanic and tour guide)
  • Your cycling gear. Bike helmets and shoes (not cleats) are compulsory – Asian Lotus Travel can provide a secondhand bike helmet upon request.  Please contact Cuong (aka Koony) at Asian Lotus Travel (cuongdm@asianlotustravel.com) if you need to check the available sizes. We also recommend you bring your own bike gloves, water bottle and, if required, seat cover
  • Items of a personal nature such as telephone, laundry bills, shopping, etc.
  • Beverages, including alcoholic drinks, and other meals not indicated in the detailed itinerary.
  • Optional excursions.
  • Any additional expenses caused by reasons beyond our control such as natural calamities (typhoon, floods); flight/train/boat delays, rescheduling or cancellations; traffic jams, vehicle breakdown; accidents; medical evacuations; riots; strikes; etc.

Skill level

  • Suitable for intermediate and advanced level riders.

Detailed costing

Costs are quoted on a cash payment basis and are exclusive of any government and / or third-party taxes and service charges. If payment is made by credit card, traveller’s check or bank transfer, additional charges will apply.

Tour cost per rider

Tour cost per rider 6 – 7 participants 8 – 9 participants 10 – 12 participants 13 – 18 participants Single accommodation surcharge Charitable donation*
Cost / Person Conventional 18 or 24-speed bicycle USD$1,428 USD$1,348 USD$1,248 USD$1,157 USD$481 USD$330
Cost ( USD) / Power Assisted bike USD$1,543 USD$1,463 USD$1,363 USD$1,272 USD$481 USD$330

* At the time of publication (2 February 2024) USD$330 was equivalent to AUD$500.

Brief itinerary

Date Day Itinerary Meals Overnight
Saturday, October 5, 2024 1 Ha Noi arrival. D Hotel
Sunday, October 6, 2024 2 Hanoi city tour B,L,D Hotel
Monday, October 7, 2024 3 Hanoi – Dong Quang Brigde – Xuân Son Park B,LD Homestay
Tuesday, October 8, 2024 4 Xuan Son – Suoi Chieu – Ban Mai Hotspring B,L,D Bungalow
Wednesday, October 9, 2024 5 Ban Mai Hot spring – Vân Hồ B,L,D Van Ho ecolodge
Thursday, October 10, 2024 6 Van Ho – Pu Luong – Hieu village and waterfall. B,L.D Bungalow
Friday, October 11, 2024 7 Pu Luong – Van Long Nature reserve – Ninh Bình B,L,D Bungalow
Saturday, October 12, 2024 8 Van Long –  Trang An – Hoa Lu – Tam Coc B,L,D Bungalow
Sunday, October 13, 2024 9 Tam Coc – Giao Thuy. B,LD, Eco home / hotel
Monday, October 14, 2024 10 Giao Thuy  – Cat Ba island. B,L,D Hotel ThanhCong
Tuesday, October 15, 2024 11 Cat Ba island visit the bay. B,L,D Hotel ThanhCong
Wednesday, October 16, 2024 12 Cat Ba island – Hanoi. B.L,D Hotel
Thursday, October 17, 2024 13 Hanoi and trip extension or departure. B


Subject to availability, the tour will check-in to the following facilities. In the event that a facility is not available, a replacement of equivalent quality will be found.

Place Accommodation Links (where available)
Hanoi Sunline Deluxe Room http://www.sunlinehotel.vn
Xuan Son Park homestay https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100054725141741
Suoi Chieu Lake Ban Mai retreat http://www.banmairetreat.com
Van Hồ The Nordic Village http://www.thenordicvillage.com
Pu Luong Pu Luong Natura or similar https://www.naturabungalow.com
Ninh Binh Ninh Binh Family homestay / or similar https://ninh-binh-family-homestay-organic-restaurant.business.site
Giao Thuy Eco Host https://www.facebook.com/ecohosthaihau/
Cat Ba island Hotel https://thanhcongcatba.com/


Further information

If you would like to join our Vietnam Tours mailing list or have any questions, please contact Jon Stubbs (Platypus Charity Secretary) @ jon.stubbs1892@gmail.com

Hidden Charm Vietnam Cycling Tour

Detailed Itinerary

Saturday 5th October 2024 – Day 1 – Hanoi Arrival – Meals – D – Accommodation: Hotel

International participants fly into Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport. Asian Lotus Travel (ALT) will greet you in the Arrival Hall and take you to your hotel in Hanoi.
In the afternoon, all participants must attend a group briefing in the hotel lobby followed by a late afternoon walking tour and dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant. The location will be advised separately.

Sunday 6th October 2024 – Day 2 – Hanoi City Tour – Meals B, L, D – Accommodation: Hotel

Get an overview of Hanoi’s culture, history, and everyday life on this full-day tour.

After breakfast, your ALT guide will show you the highlights of the city including the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex (dress code required), the Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo prison, the Old Citadel and other important landmarks. You will also enjoy a traditional Vietnamese lunch before returning to our hotel.

In the afternoon we will walk to the Thang Long Water Puppet theatre in the centre of Hanoi, near Hoan Kiem Lake, to enjoy a traditional water puppet show.

 Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences. At its heart is the chaotic Old Quarter, where the narrow streets are roughly arranged by trade. There are many little temples, including Bach Ma, honoring a legendary horse, plus Đồng Xuân Market, selling household goods and street food.

Water puppetry is a Vietnamese tradition that dates back as far as the 11th century when it originated in the villages of the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. It is often performed on festivals and happy days. Water puppetry is considered a unique intangible cultural feature of the Vietnamese nation. Puppetry is available in many countries around the world, but water puppetry is only performed in Vietnam.

Monday 7th October 2024 – Day 3 – HANOI – ĐÁ CHÔNG – ĐỒNG QUANG Bridge – LONG COC Tea Plantation – XUAN SON National Park. – Cycling distance: 40 – 50 klms; total tour distance 135 klms – Meals B, L, D – Accommodation: Homestay

We quickly leave behind the busy life of Hanoi and drive in our tour vehicle to Da Chong where we will start cycling and cross the Black River, one of the most beautiful and famous rivers in Vietnam. Our ride will take you to the Long Coc tea plantation, one of the most beautiful green tea hills in Vietnam and visit a stunning waterfall on the way to Xuân Sơn National Park. Along the way we will stop for lunch at one of the village wayside kitchens. Lunch typically involves large woks of rice or noodles with seasonal produce. It’s very communal and lots of fun.

During the afternoon we continue riding through Xuân Sơn National Park before checking in to our Homestay followed either by a rest or walk to a stream where we can take a swim before dinner. After dinner at our Homestay, we’ll have chance to enjoy the performances by the local Muong and Dzao ethnic people. It’s a good chance to understand more about the local culture.

Xuan Son National Park, located in the Tan Son district of Phu Tho province, has a forest ecosystem on limestone mountains, a typical ecosystem of the North of Vietnam with tropical and subtropical forests. There are many rare and precious species of flora and fauna typical for the Northern mountainous region of great value to scientific research, conservation of genetic resources and environmental education. Xuan Son National Park is also considered a “green lung” which has a great effect in climate regulation, carbon absorption and emissions regulation. This is also a place to protect the head-water of the Bua river, which provides water for production and daily life of people living around the area.

Tuesday 8th October 2024 – Day 4 – XUAN SON National Park – SUOI CHIEU Lake – BAN MAI Hot Springs. Cycling distance: 40 – 50 klms; total tour distance 50 klms – Meals B, L, D – Accommodation: Bungalow

Breakfast is at 7:00am followed by check-out at 8:00am.

Our cycling tour continues along the back roads of Xuân Sơn National Park. We enjoy some stops and lunch on the way, then continue the ride to Ban Mai Hot Springs Retreat where we check in and relax by the lake followed by dinner.

Suoi Chieu Lake, with a capacity of is a 4 million cubic metres from the Chieu and Lat streams, is an irrigation project covering more than 50 hectares. As one of the large artificial lakes, Suoi Chieu is like a charming painting on the land of Phu Hoa, becoming an ideal destination for tourists who love wild and rustic scenery. The lake surface is clear, rippled, and on both sides are villages surrounded by lush forests.

Wednesday 9th October 2024 – Day 5 – BAN MAI Hot Springs – VAN HO. Cycling distance 50 – 60 klms; total tour distance 120 klms – Meals B, L, D – Accommodation: Van Ho Ecolodge

Breakfast is at 7:00am followed by check-out at 8:00am.

We farewell the Ban Mai Hot Springs retreat and cycle to the main road heading for the Black River reservoir and a beautiful ferry cruise across the water. Reaching the shore, we are transferred to Moc Chau town where we start cycling again throuh verdant tea plantations before check-in at Va Ho Ecolodge.

Hoa Binh Reservoir, or Hoa Binh hydroelectricity reservoir, is a dry season water storage facility used to supply Hoa Binh hydropower plant. It is the largest artificial reservoir in Vietnam, located on the Da River, with a length of 230 km from Hoa Binh to Son La. The main dam of the lake is located in Hoa Binh city, Hoa Binh province. The volume of the lake is about 9.45 billion cubic metres. The lake has a total of 12 bottom discharge outlets. If all 12 bottom discharge gates are ever opened together, the entire city of Hoa Binh and downstream areas will have to be relocated.

Thursday 10th October 2024 – Day 6 – VÂN HỒ – MAI CHAU – PU LUONG. Cycling distance 40 – 50km; total tour distance 100 km – Meals B, L, D – Accommodation: Bungalow

Breakfast is at 7:00am followed by check-out at 8:00am.

Leaving Van Hồ at 9:30am we cycle to Ta De Village taking the scenic back road through the village and Plum Garden of the H’Mong people. Following a simple, picnic lunch, we continue our ride to Mai Chau where we will have the chance to meet the local people and learn more about their life as well as enjoying tranquil and beautiful sightseeing enroute.

In the afternoon, we can take a bus trip to Pù Luông Nature Reserve located along two parallel mountain ridges that run from north-west to south-east and divided by a central valley. Pù Luông is endowed with great biodiversity. At the end of the day,we check-in at the exceptional Natura Pu Luong (bungalow). Relaxing by the pool, there’s time to enjoy the view of the rice paddy before dinner.

Moc Chau – Vân Hồ is a large plateau with a temperate monsoon climate. Famous tourist attractions include Bat Cave, the Moc Chau pine forest, Thai Hung waterfall and indispensable tea hills and grasslands in Moc Chau town. The district’s Moc Chau National Tourism Management Board is implementing and completing eco-tourism areas in Moc Chau town and Moc Chau Farm town. Currently, there are a number of areas that have been deployed: Dai Yem waterfall, Bat Cave, ecological lake and pine forest in Ang and Dong Sang villages.


Friday 11th October 2024 – Day 7 – PU LUONG – VAN LONG / BAI DINH (Ninh Binh). Cycling distance 50 – 60km; total tour distance 120 km – Meals B, L, D – Accommodation: Bungalow

Breakfast is at 7:00am followed by check-out at 8:00am.

Leaving Pu Luong at 9:30am, we cycle along Ho Chi Minh road to Ninh Binh Province and enjoy the countryside and friendly people along the way to Cuc Phuong National Park. With lunch on the way, we can either cycle straight to Van Long Nature reserve, where we will spend the night, or the Bai Dinh area.

Cycling details: Our ride length can be customised and the support vehicle can be used at any time by tired riders. Duration 3 – 4 hours.

Van Long (meaning Dragons flying in clouds) at about 3,000 hectares is the largest wetland nature reserve in the Northern Delta and is listed in the RAMSAR list of wetlands of international importance. Located on the northernmost tip of the Pu Luong-Cuc Phuong limestone mountain range, Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve is one of the few intact lowland inland wetlands remaining in the Red River Delta. The Site is centred on a block of limestone karst outcrops that rise abruptly from the flat coastal plain of northern Vietnam. The freshwater lake, marshes and swamps that surround the karst, together with subterranean hydrological systems, form a wetland complex that is very rare in the Indochinese Peninsula. The limestone hills are famous for providing habitat for the critically endangered Delacour’s langur (Trachypithecus delacouri), one of the world’s 25 most endangered primates. The Site is home to more than half of the global population and is the only place where the species can be observed in the wild. The Site is also an important refuge and breeding ground for a number of aquatic species, and a staging site for waterbirds. It provides important ecosystem services for the surrounding communities, including its aquatic and agricultural resources, its water regulation and its scenic beauty for recreation and ecotourism.

Saturday 12th October 2024 – Day 8 – VAN LONG – TRANG AN caves – TAM COC ( Ninh Binh). Cycling distance approx 40 – 50 klms; total tour distance 120 km – Meals B, L, D – Accommodation: Bungalow

Breakfast is at 7:00am followed by check-out at 8:00am.
Leaving Van Long at 10:00am, we start our ride to Trang An along back roads and take the opportunity to greet locals along the way. We stop for lunch in a local restaurant and then continue to Trang An boat pier for a sampan excursion to explore the system of limestone caves and hidden lagoons. After the boat rowing, we will have a nice ride to Tam Coc before heading to our Hotel bungalow. Relax and enjoy the nature around.

Cycling details: Our ride length can be customised and the support vehicle can be used at any time by tired riders. Duration 3 – 4 hours.

The Trang An Landscape Complex is situated near the southern margin of the Red River Delta. It is a spectacular landscape of limestone karst peaks permeated with valleys, many of them partly submerged and surrounded by steep, almost vertical cliffs. Exploration of caves at different altitudes has revealed archaeological traces of human activity over a continuous period of more than 30,000 years. They illustrate the occupation of these mountains by seasonal hunter-gatherers and how they adapted to major climatic and environmental changes, especially the repeated inundation of the landscape by the sea after the last ice age. The story of human occupation continues through the Neolithic and Bronze Ages to the historical era. Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Viet Nam, was strategically established here in the 10th and 11th centuries AD. The property also contains temples, pagodas, paddy-fields and small villages. Trang An has been classified as a particularly important national monument by the Vietnamese government and was recognized by UNESCO in 2014 as a world heritage site.

Sunday 13th October 2024 – Day 9 – NINH BINH – GIAO THUY. Cycling distance 50 klms. Meals B, L, D – Accommodation: Eco Host Homestay

After breakfast in our Bungalow Hotel, we say farewell to Ninh Binh and head towards the sea. Along the way there are spectacular views of Red River delta countryside life. It is an easy ride on flat village roads made all the more pleasurable by the welcome of the friendly local people.

Upon arrival, check-in an Eco Host homestay and explore.
Ecohost, also known as ecotourism, specializes in quality experience tourism activities in Vietnamese villages. In this tour, we would like to introduce you to an experience in the countryside of the Red River Delta of Vietnam through traditional houses, daily life of local people. You can also visit traditional craft villages while staying in this countryside.

Monday 14th October 2024 – Day 10 – GIAO THUY – CAT BA. Cycling distance – short. Meals B, L, D – Accommodation: Thanh Cong Hotel

After breakfast, we have a short ride in Giao Thuy to explore the culture, handicraft production and countryside before returning to the Eco Host Homestay for a shower. Here we will say farewell to the bikes, van and mechanic, then catch a bus to Hai Phong and the ferry to Cat Ba Island. It is then a short transfer to Cat Ba town. After our hotel check-in, enjoy a rest or feel free to explore the beach and enjoy the sunset.

Tuesday 15th October 2024 – Day 11 – CAT BA Island. Meals B, L, D – Accommodation: Thanh Cong Hotel

Today we will enjoy a private cruise followed by kayaking. Our crew will take us to beautiful spots for kayaking to explore the caves, marvel at the white sand beaches and swim in the crystal-clear waters of the bay.
In the afternoon, we head back to the Thanh Cong Hotel for the second night stay and enjoy the beer o’clock and sunset followed by a buffet dinner.

Nature has endowed Cat Ba with unique and beautiful wild landscapes. The air is fresh and cool with majestic natural scenery: limestone mountains interspersed with mysterious caves such as Thien Long, Hoa Cuong, Trung Trang and Quan Y. The Cat Ba archipelago, covering 7,000 hectares and comprising more than 400 large and small islands, has hundreds of beaches with fine sand and clear blue, peaceful water including Cat Co, Cat Tien, Tung Thu, Van Boi, Cat Dua, Cat Vang, and beautiful bays such as Lan Ha, Ben Beo, Cat Ba, Tung Thu. he attractive point of Lan Ha Bay is a quiet, wild beauty, unlike anywhere else, and perfect as a destination for those who want to find a new space to relax.

Wednesday 16th October 2024 – Day 12 – CAT BA Islad – HANOI. Meals B, L, D – Accommodation: Thanh Cong Hotel

After breakfast, enjoy a leisurely morning exploring. Thanh Cong Hotel check-out is at noon followed by our transfer to the farry back to Hai Phone and the journey to Hanoi. Late in the afternoon, we will check-in to our hotel in Hanoi followed by our farewell dinner.

Thursday 17th October 2024 – Day 13 – Hanoi and trip extension or departure. Meals B

If you wish to see more of Vietnam, Asian Lotus Tours can advise on suitable extensions. We will also help those who are travelling home.

Note: This itinerary is subject to change in accordance with any change in government and community regulations and circumstances beyond our control such as natural calamities (typhoon, floods); flight/train/boat delays, rescheduling or cancellations; traffic jams, vehicle breakdown; accidents; medical evacuations; riots; strikes; etc. The ride can be customised in length, as the support vehicle can be used at any time by tired riders.