Embrace Vietnam’s natural beauty and rich culture from the historical capital Hanoi to the mountain Sapa, to Red River Delta and to the sea with Ha Long bay. Begin in Hanoi – a hidden historical capital; then to Sapa a charming mountain town rich with spectacular treks to unearth fascinating hill-tribe life. Then, discovery the local life of one of the biggest delta area in Vietnam in Ninh Binh. End, journey to the sea and cruise the jade green waters of Halong Bay in a traditional junk. Kayak to discover hidden lagoons, swim in the warm sea or relax on deck and soak up the views.
Soaking up the hustle and bustle of Hanoi’s Old Quarter
Enjoying the sublime natural beauty and cool climate of Sapa’s mountains and valleys
Mingling with traditionally dressed locals in a traditional ethnic minority village
Trekking through the picturesque MuongHoa Valley
Cruising on a traditional junk boat through scenic Halong Bay
Carefully selected accommodation with breakfast
- Other meals listed in the itinerary
- Expert English-speaking local guide
- Tours as mentioned and air-conditioned transfers
- Sightseeing and permit fees during guided times
- Boat cruises and rides while on tour
- Service charges and government VAT tax
ITINERARY BY DAY
Day 1: Hanoi arrival with first sight
Upon arrival, your guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.Refresh until the sunset time. We transfer to Long Bien bridge for capturing and watching the sunseton the Red river peaceful countryside and the historical and legendary Long Bien bridge.
Then your guide will take you on a culinary as well as local life adventure in the Old Quarter. Let’s stop at Bia Hoi corner to try the local brew, a draft beer that traces its roots to Eastern Europe. Do as the locals do and pull up a stool and enjoy a drink while watching the world go by. You will also have opportunity to see the busiest time of local life here. Then, walking through the maze of bustling streets that make up Hanoi’s Old Quarter, we tempt our taste buds with the famed Hanoi dish Banh Cuon at a local eatery. Watch in awe as the skilled chefs demonstrate for you how this tasty dish is put together. Continuing into the atmospheric heart of the Old Quarter, we wander past street stalls and quiet residential lanes where you can observe local life that has changed little since Hanoi was founded over 1000 years ago.
Our next two snack stops are at outdoor barbecue stalls.We sit down with the Hanoi locals and sample various meat, vegetable and bread specialties that are flame grilled over hot coals for extra flavor. It’s then time for dessert as we venture down a small alley to join in the local tradition of feasting on fresh fruit served in a cup and smothered with crushed iced and condensed milk (To Tich) – this specialty is one not to be missed!
Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi
Day 2: Hanoi highlights – night train to Lao Cai
Have your breakfast at the hotel. Then, start your journey to the highlights of Hanoi at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing structure that houses the remains of the revered former president who led Vietnam’s campaign for independent from colonial rule. Next, head onward to Quan Thanh temple and Tran Quoc pagoda – the oldest pagoda in Hanoi where are the scared places that Hanoian usually come on the first and midle day of Lunar month to pray health, peace, property,…
For lunch, sit down for a traditional Vietnamese meal with a contemporary twist at Home Restaurant, a boutique eatery within the quiet Truc Bach lake area. The yellow walls and rustic décor here hark back to Hanoi’s past life as a French colony.
After lunch, get the cyclo through the Quarter’s 36 streets named for the products historically sold here. Stop at some of the only remaining streets that continue selling the goods of their namesake, including Tin and Bamboo street. Continue by strolling your wark to Hoan Kiem lake. Get a strong Vietnamese coffee at a café overlooking the Lake – an important symbol of Vietnamese folklore. Enjoy a water puppet show for a look at traditional performance art in Vietnam.
After your dinner, being transferred to Hanoi train station for the night train to Lao Cai for Sapa
Accommodation: Overnight on train (Sharing soft 4 berth cabin)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 3: Hanoi – Sapa – trekking with ethnic girl tour guide – homestay
Upon arrival at Lao Cai train station in the early morning, our driver is waiting here to transfer you to Sapa. Having breakfast at the local restaurant and refresh. At 9:30 the trek starts in the center of Sapa. We will walk towards the new market on the edge of the town. From there we hike up the hill for some spectacular views of Sapa. We keep walking through the incredible rocky landscape surrounding Sa Seng village. Sa Seng is a small Hmong farming village located on the edge of the hill. After Sa Seng village we have lunch and a well-deserved short break. After lunch we continue our trek in the direction of Hang Da village. This part of the trek will be the most rewarding with some breathtaking views of Muong Hoa valley. On the way you can stop at one of the small roadside shops and try some sugar cane. Continue to trek downhill through the woods towards Cau La Chuoi village. Cau La Chuoi village is a small Hmong farmers community and the home of Sue’s parents, this is where you will spend the night. You can relax a bit and meet Sue’s parents before it is time to make dinner. Learn about daily village life for the Hmong while enjoying your homestay. Sue will teach you how to make spring rolls and a delicious home-cooked meal will be prepared. During dinner try drinking some rice wine with your host.
Accommodation: H’mong Homestay
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4: Sapa trekking – night train back to Hanoi
The next morning trekking starts at 8 AM. First however it is time for breakfast to give you the strength for another long day of trekking. The trek will start downhill to Muong Hoa valley and Lao Chai village. We will walk past grazing buffalos and through a beautiful small bamboo forest before reaching Lao Chai. We will then walk through the Hmong village of Lao Chai towards Ta Van where we will have a small lunch. From Ta Van the trek continues in the direction of Giang Ta Chai village. This part of the trek is a bit more difficult as we will walk through the rice paddies. Make sure you take in the spectacular views along the way. After the rice paddies we hike up the hill and through another bamboo forest. This will take us to a steep waterfall with clear mountain water. Take a moment to relax on top of the waterfall and enjoy the view. After the waterfall we will go downhill to the village of Giang Ta Chai. Giang Ta Chai is a Red Dao village. The Red Dao are easily recognizable by the red scarfs they wear on their heads. In addition Red Dao women shave off their eyebrows. Take the opportunity to immerse in the Red Dao culture and take a look at their houses, traditionally made out of bamboo and wood. In Giang Ta Chai a car will be waiting to pick you up and take you back to Lao Cai for night train back to Hanoi.
Accommodation: Overnight on train
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 5: Hanoi – Ninh Binh
Arrival in Hanoi in the early morning, transfer to the hotel for refresh and have breakfast before heading to NinhBinh.
Meet your guide and driver in the morning and depart Hanoi bound to NinhBinh Province. Known lovingly as “Halong Bay on land”, this stunning province boasts similar limestone karst topography that rises from emerald rice paddy fields and winding rivers. After a two and a half hour drive, arrive in GiaVien District and swap your car for a bicycle – embark on a short cycling journey through paddy fields en route to the nearby Van Long reserve area. Along the way, stop at nearby hamlet for an in-depth experience learning how locals here farm and tend to their rice. Follow the lead of your local host for seeding, putting down fertilizer, scooping water or harvesting, depending on the time of year.
Afterwards, cycle onward to a local family home, and get an up-close demonstration of traditional cooking using rice crackers or fried crab dishes. Then sit down with your local family hosts and enjoy these local specialties along with another Vietnamese favourite – rice wine! After lunch, challenge your hosts to a game of chess or kick back for a chat to learn about their lives here.
In the afternoon, reach Van Long wharf and set off on a short boat trip into the reservoir at Van Long Nature Reserve – the largest wetland in northern Vietnam. This is also where many of the scenes from Kong: Skull Island took place.
Float past poetic landscapes and rolling jungle hills that are perfect for photos, then transfer to the hotel/ homestay for relaxing.
Accommodation: Hotel in Ninh Binh
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 6: Ninh Binh – Ha Long
In the morning, your Halong Bay experience begins with pickup at hotel/homestay in NinhBinh for the 3.5-hour drive to Tourist Wharf, where you’ll check in at the cruise Lounge, the private waiting area to board your boat.
12:30 Get on the boat by private pier and then crew warmly welcomes you. Enjoy welcome drink following tour guide’s briefing. Check in your cabin and take a rest.
13:30 Enjoy a nice set-menu lunch while the boat goes ahead to the Bay’s center. After lunch, you are free to relax. While lights of afternoon decrease slightly, hundreds of islands with different shapes definitely amaze you. What make your trip memorable are not the sights of Halong, but the line that you go. Best time to watch unparalleled sceneries of Halong in slow motion.
15:00 Arrive at Luon cave by tender. You will discover the area’s tranquility by kayaking or sitting on rowing boat. No matter what you choose, the activity centrally offers the serenity of escape, particularly in the midafternoon.
16:00 By tender, visit Titop Island. Free choice of activities: sunbathing, swimming and especially conquering the peak of the biggest island in Halong Bay.
Recommendation: Climb up the top of the island & enjoy bird’s-eye view!
17:30 Go back the boat for relaxation at dusk. Enjoy FREE seasonal fruits on sundeck.
18.30 Join in cooking demonstration on the sundeck. Try to make it and taste how well your skill is!
19.30 A dinner that gives you an appetite will be served in romantic ambience with BBQ fresh seafood.
21:00 Free choice of evening activities (watching film, playing board, guitar and card games; going fishing squid on tender).
22:00 The first day ends with your sound sleep!
Accommodation: Overnight on cruise
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7: Bai Tu Long – Hanoi – departure
06:00 Awaken you (on desire) at dawn for morning exercise (Tai Chi Quan) on sundeck or enjoy beautiful spectacles that a blazing sunrise breaks the clouds of the island on the bay!
07:00 Have a light breakfast. Tea and coffee are complementary.
07:45 Visit Surprise cave (Sung Sot) discovered by the French in 1901 that opened for tourists since 1936, now it is a must-to-see tourist attraction for its beauty, for being the largest cave and for geology value of Halong Bay.
NOTE: Be ready with your camera, shoes & take incredible photos.
09:15 Come back to our boat for freshening up & checking out cabin. Should not seat & wait for getting off. The cruise runs on another route back to the marina that offers amazing pictures of Mother Nature showing full of typical islets.
10:30 Enjoy farewell buffet while the boat continuously cruises back!
11:30 Say “GOODBYE” to the crew who should be friends in your memory about Halong Bay! Enjoy tea at the lobby and wait for the transfer to Noi Bai airport for your departure flight.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,