Vietnam is filled with a rare beauty from the food stalls, the dazzling skyscrapers to peaceful lakes or its crowded markets and its old pagodas. However, the essence of Vietnam does not wrap properly there. You need to include yourself in high-altitude trek up with pocketful of clouds beneath your feet and blending trigger in flamboyant ethnic market to get the thorough grasp of Vietnam’s beauty. Look further in our itineraries to peel off an inscrutable Vietnam with us!
Duration: 12 days
THEMES: Authentic trip
You are welcome by our guide and car driver at the Noi Bai Airport and transferred to the hotel. The check-in hour is from 2pm. You can either visit the city or simply enjoy a rest after a long flight after that.
Hanoi is a fascinating city that has the vibrant nightlife along with restaurants and sidewalk cafes, the smiles of residents and street vendors in Hanoi. Also, there are many startling attractions that represent the cultural wealth of this city.
Overnight at the hotel in Hanoi.
The breakfast is served at the hotel before we depart at 8:00 am to explore charming Hanoi, including the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh and its simple stilt house (not available on Monday and Friday), Presidential Palace and the One Pillar Pagoda. After that, the tour heads you to the West Lake and Tran Quoc Pagoda, the ethnological museum and literary temple – the first university in Vietnam. After lunch, we will pay a visit Hoa Lo Prison, which was known by American airmen as “Hanoi Hilton”. It would be a bizarre yet locally authentic experience in a rickshaw in the Old Quarter for shopping and see water puppet show at the Water Puppet Theater. After that, we transfer to the train station for the night train to Lao Cai. Depending on the weather, visit the Ngoc Ha flower village, where a rusty US B-52, shot down during the Christmas bombing of 1968 (1972) and surrounded by a small pond and a crowded market.
Transfer to Hanoi Railway Station for the night train to Lao Cai.
Overnight in a compartment for 4 people on the train.
The anticipated time we arrive at Lao Cai is 5.30am. Our car drivers and tour guides will pick you up at the train station and drop you by a local restaurant to have breakfast. Then we head to Sapa (50 minutes) and wander around the foggy nippy city and the indigenous market. Then we start the adventurous trek to Lao Chai and Ta Van (vehicles are available for those who would love not to walk, though). For the first 5.5 miles we climb into the evergreen valley with rice paddies at the foot of Fansipan Mountain with breathtaking scenery. Take a walk through remote villages, rice fields and the H’Mong village, including thatched-roof houses to observe the daily life of the H’Mong minority with dark blue coat signature. We continue the journey to the village of Ta Van – one of the few Vietnamese villages of Giay inhabitants and the surrounding area.
Dinner and overnight stay in a stilt house with host family in Ta Van.
Trekking: 16km (average)
After having warming breakfast with the host family, we will take a dazzling hike to Ta Van village of Giay minority. The local residents live near rivers and streams because they earn mainly from fishing for the living. We then trek through a bamboo forest to the impressive village of Giang Ta Chai, then to the village of Su Pan, where you take a short break and have picnic lunch.
Enjoy a walk (about 6 km) to the village Ban Ho, where you spend a night in a stilt house with host family. This is a special building on stilts overlooking the rice terraces. Dinner and overnight with host family in Ban Ho.
Trekking: 17km (average)
We will have breakfast with the host family before take a fascinating walk about 3km to Nam Toong Village of Red Yao. Follow a path in the middle of the huge rice terraces to admire the spectacular views of Hoang Lien National Park on the way to the village of My Son. Here you can meet the inhabitants of Xa Pho, one of the smallest minorities in Sapa.
Overnight in a stilt house in the village of Thanh Phu of Tay minority.
Trekking: 16km (average)
Breakfast will be served at the host family in Thanh Phu. We will take a different route to Ho Village. It will be an enchanting opportunity to dive in a river, providing that the weather is nice. Then we drive from Ban Ho to Sapa before taking a short break to relax before transfer to the train station for the night train to Hanoi.
Overnight in the sleeper compartment for 4 people on the train.
Trekking: 6km (average)
The journey turns back to Hanoi in the early morning. You will be picked up by our tour guide and driver and have breakfast at a local restaurant. Then we will drive to Ninh Binh (2.5-hour drive) which has widely known for several wonderful sights.
There are three choices for you:
Option 1: Cruise to Tam Coc, 8 km south of Ninh Binh
You will take a rowing boat to Tam Coc. The boat trip will take about 2 hours and you will visit three caves in a water landscape. Some scenes from the movie “Indochine” with Catherine Deneuve were filmed there. The rowing boat leads you to a cave and the others on the Ngo Dong River.
Option 2: Cruise to Van Long Nature Reserve, 14 km north of Ninh Binh
arriving at Van Long. Then take a rowing boat to the biological reserve Van Long, an exceptional natural landscape. Enjoy the tranquil landscapes surrounding beautiful limestone cliffs and contemplate several kinds of birds and even Delacour black langur (in the Red List of Endangered Species of the World) if you are lucky!
You also have an opportunity to visit the Bich Dong Pagoda on the hill. Lunch at a local restaurant in Van Long.
Transfer: 3.5 hours
Option 3: Cruise to Trang An, New Ecotourism Area
From Trang An Pier, take a rowing boat to discover this place, widely known as “dry Halong Bay”. You are driven through a variety of caves with bizarre names such as Toi (dark), Sang (Hell), Seo, Nau Ruou (alcohol production), Ba Giot (three caves) etc. Trang An has about 48 caves that have been discovered so far were. Mountain and river create a harmonious and intact landscape. The boat trip takes almost 3 hours. Lunch in a local restaurant.
Then take a bike ride to visit the Bich Dong Pagoda on the hill. Finally, visit the Temple of the Dinh Kings in Hoa Lu – the ancient capital of Vietnam in the eleventh century. Transfer to the hotel.
Overnight at the hotel in Ninh Binh.
Transfer: 3 hours
After having breakfast at the hotel, we depart at 07.30am from your hotel to Ha Long (4-hour drive). On the way to Ha Long City, savor the beautiful landscapes with green rice fields, water fills and the daily life of the Vietnamese. Arrival at the harbor Hon Gai around noon. Small break and taking pictures.
12.30: Get on the DRAGON PEARL Junk. Check-in, enjoy welcome drink and cruise instruction.
13.30: Enjoy seafood lunch on board and the fantastic beauty of the islands and islets as the boat moves towards Bai Tu Long Bay.
15.00: Discover Cong Do region.
15.40: Discover the pristine Thien Canh Son Grotto.
16.45: Cruise to Hon Co Island, where you can relax, swim or kayak on the white sandy beach.
18.00: Back to the boat Dragon Pearl. Relax in luxury cabin and enjoy sunset.
19.00: dinner on board. Then you can fish squid or relax on the sun loungers on the terrace.
Overnight onboard the Dragon Pearl or similar junk.
Transfer: 4 hours
07.30: Relish the wonderful scenery of the bay with a cup of tea or coffee. Enjoy your breakfast outdoors.
08.30: Visit the Vung Vieng fishing village with a rustic rowboat, meet the locals and visit the floating school and fish farm.
09.30: Intermission for swimming in the middle of the bay.
10.30: Unpack your suitcase and check-out.
10.45: À la carte lunch is served while the boat goes to the port.
11.45: Disembarkation. Transfer to the hotel in Hanoi. Arrival in Hanoi at 4.30pm.
Overnight at hotel in Hanoi.
Breakfast in the hotel. Free time to shop before transfer to the airport for the flight to another destination.