What we need you to do
- Fill out your Guest Questionnaire
- Make sure you have the necessary visas
- Spend a little time warming up for the tour
GuidesAll of your crew on the Hilltribes of the North are from Vietnam. Pedalers believes strongly that local guides can provide much more insight into a country's culture, daily life, cuisine and history, then any imported guide, no matter how well they have been trained.
You will be getting a pre-tour email regarding your guide team prior to departure. In addition to basic info, such as their name, it will also have phone contacts should you need to reach them while in transit or if you can't seem to connect in the airport. You can also relay messages via our main office if you get delayed enroute.
TippingWhile tipping is not mandatory, it is always a nice way to say thanks for a job well done and greatly appreciated by your crew. While Pedalers pays our guides well above local standards, it is still low compared to what workers get in your home country (and low compared to what you may spend for souvenirs and post ride beers).
We would like to offer the following suggested amounts for your crew members, of course subject to how well or how far above the call of duty they went. Tipping in local currency is suggested and amounts listed are per guest per staff.
Bike Guides: $65 - $85
Support Drivers: $30 - $45
ItineraryDownload Itinerary PDF
Meeting Point & TimeYour guides will meet you and your fellow guests upon your arrival at the Hanoi International Airport.
Please note that this will be the only pick up point(s), if you arrive earlier and are staying at a different hotel or location, you will need to make your way to the meeting point.
Flight RequirementsThe Hilltribes of the North tour uses Hanoi Airport as its gateway.
You need to plan your flights to arrive before the time listed below and to depart afterwards. The arrival time is earlier than the meeting time to provide the time necessary to clear formalities and claim your baggage. Please note that we can not accommodate flight times outside what is listed, as it would adversely effect all guests on your tour.
Arrive: Hanoi Airport (HAN) before 5 pm on Day 1
Depart: Hanoi Airport (HAN) after 10 am on Day 13
Visa and Passport needsPassports are required for all guests joining the Hilltribes of the North. Your passport should have at least 6 months validity left on the date your trip starts. Most airlines will not let you board without, so don't show up hoping to talk your way onboard, get your passport renewed well in advance.
Visas are required for Vietnam for citizens of the USA, Canada, UK, EU, Australia and New Zealand. Citizens of other countries should check with the nearest Vietnam Embassy or Consulate.
Guests are responsible for obtaining a passport and the necessary visas or other travel documents necessary for your trip (including any transit points enroute to or from the tour). No refunds will be issued if you are prohibited from traveling due to your failure to obtain the necessary documents, nor will Pedalers be responsible for any additional costs should you have to change your routing during the tour due to your failure to obtain the necessary documents.
Vaccinations & Health needsVietnam is a tropical environment and a number of insect borne diseases are present. While using bug repellent will keep most at bay, it is always best to discuss medications and preventative courses with your family physician or public health travel specialist.
Currency, Exchange & ATMsVietnam uses the Dong as their currency. The approximate value is 23,000 Dong to 1 US Dollar. Paper money comes in 10000, 20000, 50000, 100000, 200000 and 500000 Dong notes, coins come in 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 Dong denominations.
Exchange windows can be found throughout the bigger tourist towns along our routes. And most banks in the countryside can also exchange foreign currency.
When bringing cash, be sure it is the newest version of your home currency and in good shape (no torn or worn out bills). Asian banks are quite finicky about exchanging worn money due to counterfeiting.
ATMs are available throughout the country, even in smaller cities. Most take a wide range of cards, Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, Plus.
A few things to keep in mind though:
- Local ATM providers may charge a fee per use AND your bank back home may also charge a fee for using the ATM.
- If you have multiple accounts tied to a single debit card, international ATMs will usually default to your current or checking account.
Cell Phones & InternetCellular phone service in is based on the global GSM frequencies (900 / 1800 mHz). Local prepaid SIM cards are fairly easily obtained, should you desire a local number for more economical calling. Travelers coming from the USA & Canada, need to check if their phone accommodates "international" frequencies, as North American systems use the 800 / 1900 mHz bands. 3G cellular data service is available.
Many of our hotels provide wifi access to the internet. This service is free at some stops and at extra cost at others. While decent speeds will be available in the bigger cities, in the countryside it will be much slower. We suggest that you not plan on any video streaming or other such hi-speed oriented downloads.
PowerVietnam has 220V 50Hz power. The outlets are set up to use both the flat bladed plugs common in North American and the round pin plugs common in Europe.
Most modern electronics now accommodate voltage ranges from 110V to 220V, so a power converter usually is not necessary if your camera, phone, tablet or laptop have been built within the last 5 to 10 years.
Local Customs & EtiquetteVietnam's culture is quite different than western cultures and your guides will spend time the first evening during orientation going over the biggest do's and don'ts.
One aspect that guests should be aware of in advance when selecting what you will bring to wear, Vietnamese are quite modest with their dress, even to the point of wearing t-shirts and shorts to swim not bathing suits. While you will occasionally see an uncaring tourist wearing the following, we suggest not bringing these: skimpy bathing attire (speedos, thongs, string bikinis, etc) and see through blouses for women.
WeatherVietnam sits just north of the Equator and enjoys warm weather year round. In the southern half, the tropical climate is broken into two seasons - dry season and rainy season. The north on the other hand, being sub tropical, enjoys four season, including even a chance of snow at higher altitudes (but not on this route).
Both the south and the north follow similar rainy and dry seasons (similar to their SE Asian neighbors. October through April is the drier time of year, with May until September being the rainy season or "green season" as the tourism offices like to tout it.
Tourist Offices & Embassiescoming soon
Church Boutique Hotel
No.95, Hang Gai Street
Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi City
+84 439 382 233
Chapa Express Train
NGAN NGA HOTEL
117 Ngoc Uyen, Bac Ha
+84 203 880 286
Huang Su Phi
Panhou Ecolodge Village
Pan Hou Village
+84 966 615 050
Quan Bạ, Quan Bạ District
+84 94 346 84 88
Auberge de Meo Vac
Mèo Vạc, Mèo Vạc District
+84 219 3871 686
Ba Be Lakeside Bungalow
Coc Toc Village Nam Mau Commune
+84 91 226 75 59
Muong Thanh Grand Hotel
No. 207, Binh Thuan road, group 32, Tan Quang ward, Tuyen Quange
+84 2073 816 688
The hotels listed here are our first choice properties, but may not be available for all departures. If a substitution is necessary it will be of similar quality.
Using Our BikePlease note that Pedalers does not provide helmets or waterbottles. Due to the warmer & humid climates in which our tours travel, we don't feel that loaner helmets can be adequately cleaned between uses, so we request you bring your own from home. If you don't have a helmet, they can be easily purchased at most of our touring gateways.
We suggest bringing one large waterbottle to use. Our support vehicles carry plenty of water to refill during the day.
If you ride regularly at home and use clip in pedals or have a favorite comfortable saddle, feel free to bring those with you and our guides will be happy to swap them out for you.
To help our guides have the correct size bikes available, we will need an accurate measurement of your height and inseam. Height should measured while barefooted. Your inseam should also be measured in bare feet and please note that the inseam value listed on your pants is not accurate for sizing a bike, follow the directions below.
Stand with your back against a wall, your bare feet 6 inches (15 cm) apart on a hard floor, looking straight ahead. Place a book between your legs with one edge against the wall, and pull it up firmly into your crotch, simulating the pressure of your saddle while riding. Have a friend measure from the top edge of the book to the floor. Repeat two or three times, for consistency, and average the results to get your inseam length.
Bringing Your Personal Bike for the TourIf your bicycle hasn't had its annual overhaul, now is the time to do it !!
We expect that your bike will be in suitable shape for this tour when you arrive, as we strike out on tour the morning after you arrive and don't have time to overhaul your bike for you. Take your bike into your favorite shop and ask them to do a complete overhaul, so you can enjoy your tour with us.
Some items that they should be doing during the overhaul:
- Check, clean & repack all bearings
- Check tires, replace if dry-rotted or bare treaded
- Check, adjust or replace all brake and shift cables
- Check, clean & oil chain
- Check, clean & adjust brakes
- Check all nuts and bolts holding accessories
While our guide teams try to have a wide variety of spares, such as cables, inner tubes, etc, it is always advisable to bring at least two or three spare inner tubes that fit you bike with you to the tour.
To prepare your bike for the flight, first shift your front and rear derailleurs to their inner most position (smallest gear in front, largest cog in back). This brings the derailleurs inside the protection of the frame.
Next loosen both your stem and handlebars, so that you can turn them to the right and then rotate the handlebars down, so that they end up curling inside your frame. Then retighten the bolts. This will protect your brake levers during shipping. Finally, loosen and remove your pedals. We suggest putting them in a plastic bag and packing them in your luggage.
In this form your bike will fit inside the boxes provided by the airlines or will fly as is (our guides send their bikes without boxes this way quite often). If your airline does not provide boxes and will not accept the bike unboxed (check when your book your tickets), then ask your local bike shop for a box (as big of one as they have). Disassemble the bike as little as possible, hopefully you can get away with only removing the front wheel and seat/seatpost. If you have to remove the wheel(s) take out the quick release skewers, as they will get bent otherwise. Be sure to put any small parts in a plastic bag and attach it to the bike frame.
Clothing & Equipment
- Cycling Shorts
- Jerseys / T-shirts
- Cycling Gloves
- Cycling Shoes
- Rain Jacket
After Riding Clothes(casual wear)
- Pants / Shorts / Skirts
- Comfortable Shoes
- Lightweight Pile Jacket or Sweater
- Parka or Pile Jacket
- Ski hat or cap
- Waterbottle (large for bike)
- Camera & spare batteries
- Memory Cards
- Favorite Energy Snack
- Notepad or journal
- Mosquito Repellent
- Scarf or Bandanna
- Medications and Hygiene needs
- Swiss Army Knife
- Travel Clock
- Guide books and/or Language guides
- Duffel or softside suitcase
- Fanny Pack or Day Pack
- Passport wallet