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4.6
| 18 reviews

Kayak and Hike the Caves, Jungle and Coast of Vietnam

Paddle and hike Vietnam's natural wonders from cave to coast, navigating lush jungles, subterranean worlds and sub-tropical bays

Duration

9 nights

Annual Leave

6 days off work

Group Size

Up to 10 people

Season

Dec-Sep

Location

Vietnam

Meeting Point

Hanoi Airport

Comfort Accommodation

Hotel · Wild camping · Train Carriage · Boat · Lodge

Customer Reviews

(18)

4.6

Difficulty

Moderate

From

From

Kayak and SUP in Lan Ha Bay, a jaw-dropping geographical phenomenon 500 million years in the making

Hike the otherworldly jungle of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and camp by the turquoise waters of Ma Da Lake

Delve into the enormous Elephant Cave and the ancient Tra Ang Cave, hiking along watercourses and swimming into the enigmatic caverns

Sleep aboard an elegant sailboat, drift off to jungle sounds in an eco-lodge and snooze in boutique hotels

Day 1

Welcome to Hanoi

Hanoi Skyline

Get your first glimpse of Vietnam's vibrant capital as your host collects you at the airport and whisks you off to your hotel, in a pleasant neighbourhood near Truc Bach Lake. Buzzing with activity, Hanoi is a city of countless scooters, traditional shops, and faded colonial architecture. Depending on when you arrive, you can head out to sample some of the legendary street food, or hit the famous 'beer corner' in the Old Quarter.

Day 2

Hanoi to Vinh

Hoan Kiem Lake

Hiking

3hrs · 4km · 100m up · 100m down

Driving

6hrs · 296km

Hang out with the locals this morning. After awakening the taste buds - perhaps sampling some pho noodles and egg coffee - circumnavigate Hoan Kiem Lake and raise the serotonin levels with laughing yoga by the King Le Thai To monument gardens. Head out of Hanoi for a road trip south to the historic city of Vinh. Hike Quyet Mountain (home to the ancient capital of Phuong Hoang Trung Do under the Quang Trung Emperor), explore the temple architecture and check out the views over the River Lam.

Day 3

Kayak to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Kayaking

2hrs · 3-4km

Driving

4hrs · 207km

The road trip continues as you leave the cities behind and head into the verdant countryside. Stop for a dip in the sea at the secluded Ky Xuan Beach before continuing onwards to the Chay Lap region. Here, you'll jump in a kayak and hit the scenic Son River. Paddle towards the captivating mountains of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, passing Me and Chay villages and drifting by striking rock formations. There will be opportunities to get out of the kayaks and explore the surrounding farmland along the way.

Day 4

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and the Ma Da Valley

Hiking

4hrs · 9km · 175m up · 200m down

Hike through the lush jungle into the heart of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park to the spectacular Elephant Cave. At 60m high and 300m deep, you'll delve into its depths to discover the unique rock formations of this ancient cave. Head back into the light and hike through the jungle, across rivers, and down through the Ma Da Valley to the blue waters of Ma Da Lake. Cool off with refreshing a dip, kick back with a barbecue dinner, then bed down in your tent pitched on the sandy bank.

Day 5

Exploring the Ma Da Caves

Hiking

3hrs · 8km · 15m up · 5m down

Swimming

1hr · 600m

Awaken to the exotic sounds of the jungle. After a tropical breakfast, hit the verdant, foliage-lined trail. Hike through watercourses until you reach a large bend in the river, which signals a scramble up limestone rocks to the enigmatic Tra Ang Cave. Take the plunge and swim along the dark cave’s 600m length, or explore the area on foot. Relax in the remote wilderness with a spot of lunch, then hike the Tra Ang River Trail back to civilisation. Dry off, tuck into dinner and relax at the hotel.

Day 6

Cycling Riverside Roads

Cycling

3hrs · 25km · 150m up · 240m down

Head out on two wheels, cycling through the picturesque Vietnamese countryside. Ride through sleepy villages, visit Khoung Ha Market and pedal along peaceful riverside roads, soaking up the rural vibes. After your ride, head to Dong Hoi Railway Station to board the overnight train back to Hanoi. Munch on local fare in the dining carriage, or sit back and enjoy the scenery whizzing by your window, before you bed down, lulled by the gentle sway of the carriage.

Day 7

Lan Ha Bay

Kayaking Lan Ha Bay

Kayaking

1.5hrs · 3km

After a brief stop in Hanoi to freshen up and have breakfast, the adventure continues - you'll head east out of the city towards Lan Ha Bay and the Cat Ba Archipelago. At Tuan Chau, get your sea legs aboard an incredible boutique sailing boat, tonight's floating base from which you will explore. Kayak through this majestic landscape, discovering hidden beaches and marvelling at towering karst islands, before returning to the boat and kicking back on deck.

Day 8

Kayak, SUP and Hike Cat Ba Island

SUP Lan Ha Bay

Kayaking

1.5hrs · 3-4km

Stand Up Paddleboarding

3hrs · 5-6kms

Hiking

3hrs · 10km · 165m up · 165m down

Rise early for a day packed with adventure. Beginning in the kayak, you'll paddle amongst the shadows of towering karst formations, silhouetted by rich shafts of sunlight. Transferring to a stand-up paddle board, you'll go on a self-propelled paddle around the bay. Later, you'll sail to the pier where an electric car will take you to Viet Hai Village on Cat Ba Island. Refuel on a selection of delicious local dishes before lacing up your boots and hiking through the jungled, UNESCO-listed Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve to the magnificent viewpoint of Viet Ha. Come evening, take it easy after a full day with a barbecue at the ecolodge.

Day 9

Cat Ba Island to Hanoi

Cat Ba Island

Hiking

3hrs · 10km · 250m up · 250m down

Set in a lush landscape, your ecolodge has nature on its doorstep - strike out on a hike through pine forest and tropical flora, discovering the island's diverse ecosystems. Head to Trung Tran cave, an extensive system of 150 caves of varying sizes and unique formations. Leaving the coast behind, you'll head back to the buzz of Hanoi for the evening.

Day 10

Hanoi

Hanoi night roundabout

After breakfast, say final goodbyes to your team, and you'll be returned to the airport in time for your flight home.

Included

Guides

Local, English-speaking tour leader plus specialist caving guides

Accommodation

Boutique hotel and ecolodge stays mixed with unforgettable nights in sailing boats, jungle tents and sleeper trains

Meals

All breakfasts, 7 lunches, 8 dinners

Transfers

Airport transfers and everything in between

Equipment

All equipment for kayaking, Ma Da Valley caves and camping, SUPing and cycling

Porterage

During your Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park cave adventure, there will be a team of porters to carry the camping gear and prepare meals.

Permits

All permits, tickets and entry fees are included

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

Visas where required

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 3

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Wild camping · Twin tent

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 6

Train Carriage · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Boat · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Lodge · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 9

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 10

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Meal 1

Vietnamese breakfasts consist of a variety of bò kho soups, bún bò huế and phở noodles and some local sweet desserts, as well as bánh mì, the quintessential Vietnamese breakfast sandwich. Alongside this traditional fare, there will also be omelettes, bread, butter and cheese available, served with tea, coffee and fruit juice. For lunch and dinner, fill up on a mix of spring and gỏi cuốn rolls, bun cha noodles, bánh cuốn pancakes, and hủ tiếu soups with seasonal sautéed vegetables all served with rice.

Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Hanoi

Your nights in Hanoi will be spent at the 4-star Le Jardin Hotel Haute Couture. Elegantly combining Vietnamese charm with modern touches, it's located in the Ba Dinh District. Close to the Old Quarter and Truc Bach Lake, the city's most important cultural and historical monuments are within easy reach. You’ll stay in a twin share room with an en-suite bathroom.

Rooftop outdoor pool
Vinh

Your first night out of the capital is spent in Vinh, located in a historically strategic location in Nghệ An province. You'll be staying in the 4-star Toan Thang Stone Hotel in a deluxe twin room with en-suite bathroom. Found in the heart of the city, it has great views.

Double room
Chay Lap

In rural Chay Lap, you'll be staying at the Phong Nha Lake House. This 3-star eco-resort is set beside a picturesque lake, and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park park is just a stone's throw away. An an ideal place to ease into the countryside and prepare for your cave adventure, you'll be staying in deluxe twin share rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Ma Da Lake Camping

A highlight of this trip is your wild camping experience in the spectacular Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The tents will be pitched on the banks of the tranquil, turquoise Ma Da Lake. Tents will be two-person sharing with roll mats, air mattresses and sleeping bags provided. There will be an environmentally friendly composting toilet provided at the campsite.

Sleeper Train
Overnight Train

No trip to Vietnam is complete without a journey aboard a sleeper train! You'll be travelling overnight from Dong Hoi to Hanoi in a standard four person shared berth. Relax or explore - there is a dining carriage if you wish to eat on the move.

Deck at dusk
Lan Ha Bay

In Lan Ha Bay, you'll stay aboard a stunning boutique sailing boat, truly a sleep to remember. As well as sumptuous decor and top-notch service, the boat also offers some of the best views nature can muster. You'll stay in a deluxe twin room with an en-suite bathroom.

Cat Ba Eco-lodge
Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba Ecolodge is the ideal place to appreciate peace and tranquillity. Nestled amongst the lush natural beauty atop a hill in Xuan Dam village, it's one of the most secluded places to stay on Cat Ba Island. You'll stay in twin share rooms with en-suite bathrooms, either in the main lodge or within the grounds, which have panoramic mountain views or spectacular jungle views.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

Please note, for the nights on the overnight train and the boutique sail boat, it is not possible to have a private room.

When camping, it is possible to request and book a tent on a single basis at no extra cost, depending on availability at the time of booking.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi

Any time on Day 1

Ends

Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi

Any time on Day 10

Transfers

Your host's local driver will meet you on arrival at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and transfer you to your hotel (located near the Old Quarter and French Quarter). On Day 10, your host's local driver will transfer you back to the airport in time for your onward flight.

Airport transfers are included in the main price if you arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 10. For those arriving early or wanting to stay on longer, extra nights at the hotel and airport transfers can be arranged with your host at an additional cost. Please see Optional Extras for more information.

Travel options

There are direct international flights to Hanoi from London, as well as indirect international flights from the UK and various major hubs in Europe which transit via Frankfurt, Doha, Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok or Saigon.

From the US, there are indirect flights from various major hubs which transit via Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo, Narita, Doha, Istanbul or Dubai, dependent on whether you fly west or east.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • Bicycle and cycle helmet
  • Kayaks, paddles and life jackets
  • Inflatable SUP, paddle, leash & life jacket

Ma Da Valley caves and lake:

  • Camping gear including tent, insulation sheet, sleeping bag and air mattresses
  • Cave and swim safety gear: caving helmet, caving headlight and bouyancy aid
  • First aid kit and medical rescue equipment

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack (20-30 litres)
  • Waterproof liner for kitbag/rucksack, or drybags

CLOTHES

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Breathable wicking layers
  • Thin fleece jacket or similar
  • Buff or neck scarf
  • Shawl/sarong (to cover shoulders and knees during temple visits)
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts (quick drying)
  • Long sleeved trek shirt (quick drying)
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Hiking socks (long)
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Hiking boots (worn-in)
  • Beach/river shoes for river crossings
  • Sandals

SLEEPING

  • Cotton or silk sleeping bag liner
  • Travel pillow or pillowcase

OTHER

  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellent
  • Suncream (reef friendly)
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry paper out to dispose of)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x1 litre
  • Water purification tablets
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Pre trip accommodation in Hanoi (Single/Twin/Double)

Payable Before Departure

Pre trip accommodation in Hanoi (Single/Twin/Double)

Per Night

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room & Tent Upgrade

Per Person

Private airport transfers - each way (up to 2 people)

Payable Before Departure

Private airport transfers - each way (up to 2 people)

Prudence K.(April 2024)
Vietnam Trip

This is a great trip, and made so much better by our amazing guide,Tri Nguyen. He went out of his way to inject fun and humour. A great leader. Highlights: camping in the jungle; beautiful and the food...just fabulous / swimming in the caves / the train / the stop on the highway to meet artists with disabilities.

Blair L.(April 2024)
Great Adventure

Great Adventure. Loved the itinerary, but not the amount of time spent in a van- I guess that was necessary, but especially at the beginning, it seemed as if the trip didn't really start for 2 days. Great Guide- very attentive and helpful throughout!

Gemma B.(April 2024)
A great way to see rural Vietnam

Positives: If you have limited time available in Vietnam this is a great way to make the most of your time and see as much of the natural landscape as possible! There are a lot of great activities included, and plenty of variety... You certainly won't be bored! Trekking and wild camping in the jungle was the highlight of the trip for me, it was exceptional.

Negatives: The hikes on Cat Ba were crowded with tourists, so this part of the trip didn't feel very adventurous. Be prepared for a very packed itinerary, scheduled mealtimes, not much opportunity to explore at leisure.

Michaela K.(April 2024)

Fantastic Trip!

Sam S.(April 2024)
Increadible Adventure

A truely increadible experience. Had such a fantastic time meeting new people and doing new activities. Tri our guide was so helpful, friendly and positive! Exactly what you need on a trip like this. Really great adventure to test yourself in a variety of different ways. Exploring the jungle was truelly out of this world and swimming in the caves was something that I have never experienced before. Loved the kayaking and the river cruise exceeded expectations.

Aurelie L.(March 2024)
Epic adventure

I highly recommend this adventure in North and Central Vietnam, which I found was very well organised, fun, and thoroughly enjoyable!

Our guide Tri made sure everyone felt safe and catered for, managed all the logistics of the trip in the smallest details, and brought the best of local knowledge in daily experiences (culture, history, food) - which was greatly appreciated by everyone.

This is a full-on trip - lots of traveling using a variety of transport modes to reach remote places, multiple activities that require some fitness and a sense of adventure, and a good dose of camaraderie!

Robert N.(March 2024)
Brilliant trip

I wanted to write a longer more detailed review as I have found these helpful in the past for myself but for anyone just skim reading these the short answer is, this is a well organised, very fun trip led by a very knowledgeable tour guide who works hard to ensure you enjoy yourself and are safe in doing so and for that reason I have rated it 5 stars.

For the longer version, I wanted to relay some of my experiences as advice for anyone who is getting ready to join this trip. Our tour consisted of a group of 6 of mixed age, mainly 30s and 40s. We got on well and enjoyed each others’ company, having some very good laughs along the way (karaoke springs to mind!). We were led by Tri who works for MBA locally. Tri is mid 30s, clearly very experienced and technically proficient at all of the activities that you partake. He is also genuinely a very nice man, strikes the perfect balance between being part of the group but also professionally in the background so that the group dynamic can build. His English is excellent and he has obviously perfected the minor details of running a tour such as this over 15 years of running similar for various competitor organisations - he is pretty well known by other guides that you inevitably bump into at various travel hotspots and they all speak of him highly also. Small details like taking care of all of the tips for local guides, dinners and logistics such as having transport awaiting you as you arrive from long hikes or off of ferries are appreciated as you essentially don’t have to think for 10 days.. you just follow Tri around! Tri really made the trip for our group and enabled us to just enjoy the time without any worry.

Vietnam itself is a really wonderful country. The people are invariably extremely poor but are almost always smiling and very happy. Tri taught us a few phrases in Vietnamese on the first day and they seem delighted when you make the attempt, particularly when we used Oh Choi Oi! which essentially translates as ‘Oh My God’ and was exclaimed regularly particularly when crossing roads or watching Mopeds try to cut up our van! Scenery is beautiful and the accommodation is all of a high standard. There are two nights where you are ‘roughing it’ being the jungle camp and the overnight train but even there you don’t suffer many privations and both exceeded my admittedly low expectations for comfort and ease.

In terms of technical ability, I think the description of intermediate is correct. The trip consists of a mixed bag of adventure activities but really none are longer than about 3 hours and distances are not a challenge. Humidity and terrain are the only real test (hiking up fairly steep but low altitude mountains for example) but as long as you are generally fit and bring the right gear you won’t have any issues. There are regular breaks and long van rides so plenty of rest. The pace of the trip can feel relentless at times with early starts and a full schedule but that is part of the fun of it, and I found a lot of enjoyment in that. This is not a beach holiday!

The kit list suggestion is pretty accurate. Clearly this has been written to catch all weather conditions so there were some items I needed less such as a fleece (as it was 25 - 30 degrees for the entire trip!!) but the weather is tropical so think hot and sticky, with high potential for regular rain fall. If I was to pack again, I would probably have taken more ‘technical tops’ I.e. sweat proof quick drying wicking layers as you essentially live in these for the entire trip and perhaps would suggest some liquid soap for clothing as it seems pretty normal here to pack light and wash in the sink on the go. You can bring a suitcase rather than a backpack if that’s easier for you but remember you have to carry it in and out of hotels, onto the train etc.

There are not many requirements to spend money whilst you are on the trip as it is mostly inclusive. There are a few meals not included per the trip description and you have to pay for your own drinks. Clearly it’s tough to set a figure for this as everyone has different spending habits but I would say generally as a group we spent on average around £200 per person which included snacks, alcohol, coffees, and the stated meals not included as well as the tip to our guide at the end. The cost of living is low and so you can pick most items up cheaply - can of beer = £1, coffee = £1, light lunch = £2.50-£4. The only time prices rise is when you stay on the boat as you are a captive market in a touristy area so they have European prices. You can use credit card in the cities and some of the larger businesses but mostly cash is king. If you are getting money out in country, you can use several ATMs in Hanoi but remember to take your card from the machine immediately as it releases it or the machine will eat your card!

In most cases, when we had to purchase our own meal, we were so full up from all of the food provided throughout the rest of the week that we just wanted a small snack. The included food is always tasty and comes in large quantities! Tri will order a set menu for the group at each meal so again, no thinking required! Our group had some dietary requirements and food preferences, which Tri quickly ascertained and sorted out at each location.

There are a couple of areas that I think are worth mentioning to anyone booking to manage expectations. The first is that there is a lot of travelling on this trip, which means quite a few hours in cars, trains and ferries. It is all clearly stipulated in the itinerary so it won’t be a surprise but I know there a few early reviews on this site mentioning it. Ultimately, Vietnam is a big country and if you want to enjoy all of the activities then you have to travel. It might seem a lot but really, it’s all part of the adventure where you get to see the culture as you stop for comfort breaks along the way - just bring a book or some headphones or get to know your fellow travellers and it passes quickly. Invariably the stated drive time is conservative and will also include the stop times so a 6 hour drive is really about 4.5hrs in the van with an hour for lunch and a couple of toilet breaks.

The second is that the trip is full on - you never spend two consecutive nights in the same place. This means you are packing, unpacking and repacking your bags every day. There are also a couple of occasions where your main bag is sent on to a later point in the journey and you have to live out of daypack for the evening - this is simply for practical considerations (you can’t walk through a jungle and river with a suitcase) but it requires some organisation and thought. There were a couple of instances where we all were getting confused about instructions of what to pack and when but this is simply because there is so much to do, there can be up to 3 activities in a single day with different requirements. You just have to learn to use the limited downtime effectively to get organised for the next day and also go with the flow - if you end up in the same pair of socks / top two days in a row then who cares? You are in the jungle and it’s all going to get wet again anyway!

All in all a very well organised and fun adventure. A chance to meet some like minded people, experience a culture wildly different to Europe and complete some activities that you never thought you’d have the opportunity to do (swimming 150 metres into a bat cave with a head torch and floating out without it!). Enjoy!!

Emma C.(March 2024)
Brilliant adventure!

I loved this trip. Our guide Tri was amazing, I don’t believe the trip would have been the same without him. The food he organised was incredible. I felt safe from beginning to end and met some wonderful people. Would highly recommend this trip.

Janka H.(February 2024)
Awesome guide! Lots of driving

I have some mixed feelings about this tour

The positive was definitely our guide Tri! He was helpful and kind! He demonstrated a real love for Vietnam and Vietnamese culture. He definitely made the trip amazing. He was always very happy and eager to help us and to explain things. Without Tri the trip would have been very different, and I thank him from the bottom of my heart. I think he is one of the best tour guides I have ever had the chance to vacation with.

Now for the not so positive. For a tour advertising "active adventures" it was definitely lacking in activity. We had three full days of activity and about three half days. The rest were travel days. I would have expected a lot more activities. My first big disappointment was getting to Vinh and realizing the "light trek" was 2.5 km. The next day we drove four hours and only had a 6 km kayak. This to me is not the hall mark of an active adventure.

The other issue is that the amount of driving was not advertised properly.

  • pick up day -The second day is 6 hours of driving, w 2.5km "hike", -3rd day is 4 hours driving, 6 km kayak
  • fourth to fifth day caving (very cool, no driving), -sixth day only 30km of very flat biking and free time in afternoon (some kayaking possible) -seventh day 4 hours driving, no activity as on sail boat
  • Seventh day no driving, kayak, sup and hike (our most active day w 1 hour kayak, 2 hours SUP and 2 hour hike) -Eighth day 3 hour hike and 4 hours driving.
  • Nineth day is leaving, No activity.

So do this trip if you want ease of transfer between Hanoi and the central caves and cat bai island. Otherwise consider organizing the two different activities yourself (jungle boss caving expedition and cat bai island). This will give you more flexibility.

Owain(November 2023)

What an amazing trip highly recommended, well organised, this trip exceeded all my expectations down to the accommodation the food the activities the people also are host Linh very welcoming enthusiastic and very patient also his knowledge of his country and stories are impressive and amusing

Beverley(October 2023)

Trip was an adventure but feel certain aspects could be better.

Helen(May 2023)

This adventure was simply amazing. As a fifty something year old vegan, on my first adventure trip, I needn't have worried about anything pre departure!

The trip guides, Tri and Vera were outstanding. They looked after every aspect, logistics, the local guides, meals, hotels, tips, they kept us informed of everything that was going to happen and their knowledge and English was excellent. The other group members were such great companions, really lovely people.

The range of activities was fantastic, the hiking, cycling, kayaking, paddleboarding and the highlight - having 2 amazing days in the jungle. The jungle guide was knowledgeable, fun and really looked after our safety. The porters who carried everything into and out of the jungle - thank you!

All the accommodation was fabulous and I loved the variation, all hotels were excellent, camping in the jungle, the overnight sleeper train, the boutique sailing boat, Eco Lodge, it was great to have such a wide variety.

The food was outstanding, every meal was delicious and as a vegan, there was alot of variety. Many thanks to Tri and Vera for overseeing mealtimes and the excellent choice of restaurants.

Finally, Vietnam, is such a beautiful country, the Vietnamese people are kind, patient and friendly. If you are looking for an amazing adventure in a beautiful country with wonderful people, this is the trip for you!

Rachael(May 2023)

If you're thinking of booking this trip, do it RIGHT NOW. Such a great experience of northern Vietnam with local guides. It will challenge your fitness levels with the variety of activities included, but you'll be so well fed and the passion that the tour leads have is contagious (shout out to Tri and Vera)! I've done several tours before and I've never felt so safe and cared for.

A real highlight is the hiking in the national park, everything is carried by the amazing porters and taken care of so you can really enjoy the stunning scenery. The caves are absolutely stunning; an experience I'll never forget.

Deirdre(April 2023)

What an incredible trip! Honestly this is the best holiday I've ever been on, both due to Vietnam being an amazing place with incredible nature, access to truly adventurous travel, fantasticly flavorful food, and above all else the incredible people. The highlight of this trip was meeting so many amazing people and sharing experiences with a number of locals as we travelled through the country. Special mention to Tri and Vera, our guides, who were always there to ensure we were safe, well fed, and they really catered for our every need. The activities on the trip were very cool - I didn't expect how rugged the activities would be - the kind of thing you just would never get in Europe where everything is much more travelled and established. The guides at every point we're incredibly skilled and filled me with confidence that no matter how afraid of an activity I was, I felt so safe I was able to do everything. Highlight of this trip was the jungle overnight trek - everything from the activities to the food to the people we met there was once in a lifetime experience. Honestly I think words can't describe this trip - it's the kind of thing you have to try to really understand - so would highly recommend booking the trip!

Richard(March 2023)

Absolutely fantastic trip and very varied. Extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides who go out of their way to make your trip fun. If you are looking for a varied, fun adventure where everything is planned out for you with jam packed activities then this is the one for you. We made some great friends along the way and had some really funny experiences and laughs.

Liiv(March 2023)

This was the best thing I’ve ever done. An adventure from day one. It was superbly organised and having never done a trip like this before this was a concern for me. Tung was an excellent leader and organised everything flawlessly, and he was very proud of his country which was evident. The trip is non stop, the caving and jungle camping was excellent. After that you thought nothing could compare but everything continued to exceed my expectations. The cycling was spectacular. The boat was a real highlight too as the weather was glorious and beautiful to sail amongst the karsts. I met friends for life and I’m so grateful to have shared my experience with them. Truly an amazing experience.

Lisa(March 2023)

The trip was great. Amazingly well organised and the tour leader Tung was outstanding. Unflappable, kind, organised and helpful. The accommodation was generally good and we went to some interesting local food venues. The highlights of the trip for us was the 2 day jungle trek with caving as well as the bicycling. Also, the kayaking and SUPing amongst the karsts was magical and so incredibly well organised. Everyone in the group was lovely and great fun to be with.

Agatha(February 2023)

Despite being a first departure, the trip organization was flawless, without a question the most organized MBA trip I have been so far. The group leader, Tri, was amazing and made sure everything went as planned. The range of activities is great and made it possible to experience different scenarios in Vietnam. The first 2 days have a lot of driving (I suggested them to change this bit of the itinerary) but after that everything is just amazing. The food is really outstanding and deserves to be mentioned as in most MBA trips that I've been to, the food was never a highlight (always good quality though). Another thing worth mentioning is that absolutely everything is included (apart from alcohol and one lunch), even the tips for the local suppliers - not having to worry about having cash/small bills to tip everyday was definitely a plus.

We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 508kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity, ensuring the protection of the reserve and its wildlife.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

A reasonable level of general fitness is required. You'll be undertaking a variety of outdoor activities across the itinerary, of between 1.5 and 5 hours in duration, using different muscle groups. The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park cave hikes and overnight camping will be one of the highlights of the trip and two of the most active days. There will be two full days of hiking down the jungle valley to the caves and back up the next day, with time to rest and take in the experience. There will be rivers to cross, so be prepared for wet feet. The Tra Ang cave swim is optional: the total distance to swim is 600m (300m into the cave and 300m back out) whilst wearing a buoyancy aid and caving helmet with a light, in addition to your swimwear.

Sure can! Over 70% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips for the local guide are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. We suggest the below as a guideline per person, per day:

$5 USD / 115,000 VND

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Tap water in Vietnam is not safe to drink; clean drinking water will be provided. Please pack your own reusable bottle, it will be well used. Whilst on the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park cave hike there may be the opportunity to refill your water bottle using streams, and we advise packing water purification tablets for this purpose.

Water bottles with inbuilt filters are becoming increasingly popular for travellers to use in countries without clean tap water. Please see our guide for advice on the best water filters for adventurers if you wish to bring your own filtration bottle on this trip.

Northern Vietnam is known for its subtropical, humid summers - this means that although it is hot, there is the chance of short, heavy showers, due to the rainy season occurring between May and September. The winter months are cooler in the north with occasional light showers, the driest months being December and January. The weather in Vietnam is pleasant at any time of the year, but due to the location, seasons and geography of the country it’s unlikely there would be perfect weather throughout the entirety of a trip.

The trip is scheduled to depart in the winter, spring and summer months between December and early September. The following is a guide to approximate temperatures to expect on your trip:

In winter, the temperatures range between 12°C / 54°F and 23°C / 73°F in the daytime and down to around 10°C / 50°F at night.

In spring, the temperatures are generally in the region of 23°C / 73°F in the daytime and down to around 15°C / 59°F at night.

In summer, temperatures can reach up to 40°C / 104°F in the daytime and down to around 25°C / 77°F at night.

A great time to visit northern Vietnam is between August and early September with pleasant temperatures between 20°C / 68°F and 25°C / 77°F.

Your baggage can be securely stored at the Phong Nha Lake House Eco Resort whilst you are camping in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, and the Anatole Hotel in Hanoi before you head to Lan Ha bay. If you wish to store excess luggage in Hanoi at the start of the trip, please submit a request to your host prior to travel.

We recommend checking out the country-specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

No. You'll need to have a larger bag suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you, and then a small daysack to carry personal items during each day.

The evening of the overnight train journey prior to departure, you will carry your luggage and daysack on the ten minute walk from the bus stop to the train station in Dong Hoi. On arrival into Hanoi, you will carry your luggage on the fifteen minute walk from the train station platform to the bus park.

The kayaks across the itinerary will be single or double kayaks, either sit-on-top or touring kayaks. Sit-on-top kayaks are very stable and easy to paddle for everyone, including new paddlers through to experienced paddlers. Sit-on-top kayaks can be used on the sea, estuaries, rivers, lakes and canals. Touring kayaks are designed to be stable on the water, comfortable to sit in, easy to get into and cater for all paddling abilities from a complete novice to an experienced paddler.

The SUPs will be inflatable, the brand of board will be either Touring or Alround.

The kayaks are of a standard size, 3.5m in length and 65cm wide approx. Single kayaks can take a maximum load up to 120kg and double kayaks up to 150kg.

The SUPs will be inflatable, 11'6" - 12'6" long, 32" wide and 6" thick. The recommended payloads are: 95kg / max. payload: 143kg, the paddle will be the standard type (aluminium + plastic).

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last-minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're always in good company on one of our adventures.

Our trips are typically made up of a mixture of solo travellers and small groups of 2 or 3 friends, with most in their 30s-50s.

Our sociable adventures are solo-friendly by design and naturally attract outdoorsy people with a shared mindset; a love for adventure, a desire to push themselves and meet awesome, like-minded people along the way.

It’s this camaraderie that has so often turned a great adventure into a life-changing one.

Don't just take our word for it:

  • 95% of people rate the group dynamics on our trips 5/5
  • 90% of people recommend joining a trip to make new friends
  • 75% of people have met people on our trips that they would now consider friends

See here for more info about the Much Better Adventures tribe.

Interested in a more exclusive experience? Opt for a 'Private Group' through the dates and prices tab to book this adventure for just you and your chosen companions.

Our team of Adventure Hunters create exclusive adventures with highly vetted, specialist hosts. We only work with independent, local in-destination experts who know the very best places to explore and how to stay safe. See here for more info about the local teams we partner with.

TRIP DEPARTURE DATES

April 2024

Saturday • 27th April 2024

to Monday • 6th May 2024
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Saturday • 8th June 2024

to Monday • 17th June 2024
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Saturday • 3rd August 2024

to Monday • 12th August 2024
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Saturday • 7th September 2024

to Monday • 16th September 2024
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Saturday • 30th November 2024

to Monday • 9th December 2024
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Saturday • 28th December 2024

to Monday • 6th January 2025
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Saturday • 11th January 2025

to Monday • 20th January 2025
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Saturday • 15th February 2025

to Monday • 24th February 2025
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