On arriving at Noi Bai Airport, you will be picked up and transferred to the hotel in the city centre. Hotel check-in is available at 2 pm. Freetime to discover the old quarter.
Starting the day trip with a visit to the Tran Quoc Pagoda. We will then visit the Temple of Literature, constructed in 1070 to worship Confucius, which also served as the first Royal National University in Vietnam. There are 82 stone steles, carried by tortoises, engraved with names, birthdates, and birthplaces of honoured doctorates from 1442 to 1779. Local people believed that touching the head of these tortoises would bring luck. The green and neatly maintained gardens and lotus ponds make this place a peaceful hideaway from the city’s hustle and heat.
Our afternoon exploration begins with the Museum of Ethnology (closed on Mondays, the alternative on this day being the History Museum). The museum offers a wide range of informative and well-documented displays of the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, including colourful hill tribe costumes. The outdoor display is an impressive collection of traditional houses of various minorities from the north to the central Highlands.
Drive back to the Old Quarter for a 1.5-hour walking tour, specially designed for a deeper insight into Hanoian daily life. We will also visit the Ngọc Son temple (Temple of the Jade Mountain) which sits on a green islet in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake, connected to the lakeside by a graceful scarlet bridge named The Huc (meaning the early sunlight welcoming place). The temple is dedicated to Tran Hung Dao - the General who defeated the Mongols in the 13th century and Van Xuong De Quan - the patron of literature and examinations. Ngoc Son temple and Hoan Kiem Lake are frequently visited by tourists and locals. Overnight at the hotel.
Early breakfast and we leave Hanoi for Halong Bay. On the way we pass through countryside indicative of the Red River Delta, with endless rice fields and winding rivers. Arriving at Halong tourist harbour around noon, you will board an elegant wooden junk. A delicious lunch is served on board while the boat gently navigates through countless islands and limestone structures arising from the turquoise water. In the evening, a fresh seafood dinner prepared by a skillful chef awaits you. Enjoy a peaceful night on board in the middle of the quiet sea.
Please note that the itinerary is subject to change according to the cruise and weather conditions.
Nothing can be compared to waking up to a serene morning surrounded by karsts. You can have an early morning dip and then breakfast on board. We will continue to sail through the bay during the morning to explore hidden areas. The junk will always stay close serving as a backup vessel for those who need it. Around midday we will return to the main harbour & drive back to Hanoi train station. Overnight on the train.
We arrive in Lao Cai by train around 6 a.m. We will take a 30km drive on a mountainous road to get to Sapa, discovered by the French during colonial period as a fascinating holiday destination.
The day is dedicated to a beautiful hike through the amazing scenery of Sa Pa valley. On the way descending, your eyes will be fed with the view of rice terraces hidden behind morning fog, a truly awe-inspiring sight.
Following a small track and crossing the Muong Hoa River to Lao Chai Village of Black Hmong people, we will pass by well-tended paddy fields. We continue walking through the beautiful terraces to reach Ta Van Giay village, trekking along the river until there is a small suspension bridge. Here you can discover a captivating rock carving collection of unknown origin. The rock surfaces are engraved with different patterns including images of people, stilt houses, flowers, and undecipherable letter-like symbols. We stop to have lunch in a local home in the village. In the afternoon we continued hiking through a bamboo forest to Giang Ta Chai - the village of Red Dao ethnic. After taking a rest next to a waterfall to refresh, we start climbing uphill to the main road where the car is waiting to take you back to Sapa for overnight.
Today we depart for Muong Lay via the Tram Ton pass (2047m) which offers a superb view of the Hoang Lien national park and the summit of Fansipan, the highest point of Indochina, measuring 3143m. On the other side of the pass, there is a trail which will guide you to the land of the Thai people. Stop en route to wander the plantations of tea and rice and discover more about the daily life of the local population. Overnight at the hotel in Muong Lay.
Departure towards Dien Bien Phu on a road hidden under the tropical forests. Discovery of the local life of the red Hmong in the village of Sa Long then of the Khmu in Muong Cha.
In the early afternoon, discover the historic sites at Dien Bien Phu. Your guide will tell you the stories of the Indochina War, including the famous 56-day battle between the French and the Viet Minh. Visit of the hill Eliane 2, of the CP OGNW (Command Post of the Operational Group North - West) and of the war museum of Dien Bien Phu. Overnight at the hotel.
A short transfer by car will take you to Muong Phang village, the Viet Minh’s Campaign Headquarter during the days of battle in Dien Bien Phu. In the afternoon, we will drive to the Tây Trang border post, recently opened to foreign tourists between Laos and Vietnam. Our local Laotian guide and driver will be waiting to welcome you on the other side of the border. On the way to Muang Khua, you will stop by local villages. In Muang Khua, the dominant population is Vietnamese, making it an important trade centre. Your evening is free, and you will stay overnight at Muang Khua.
Board canoes of about ten meters, equipped with a powerful engine which allows them to traverse rapids, both up and downstream. The winding boat ride is full of potential pitfalls: rocks on the surface of the water, tree trunks and rapids. The boatmen show remarkable mastery, giving you the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful ride. We stop to visit fishing villages: Sop Chem and Hatsa. Arrival at Muang Ngoi in the afternoon. Check in at the hotel. Take some free time to explore the village.
In the morning, take the boats downstream for a few minutes. Near the village of Sopkhan, we hike among limestone mountains until we reach a H'mong village. After lunch break, we continue hiking to discover a Khmu ethnic village. Cross the Nam Ou River and return to Muang Ngoi.
After breakfast, we continue the boat trip to Nong Khiew, a village on the Nam Ou riverbanks, then drive to Luang Prabang. Several stops are planned along the way to explore villages. We continue driving until arrival at the Pak Ou Caves, located along the Mekong River.
Pak Ou sanctuary consists of two large caves in the limestone cliff overlooking the Mekong river. The caves are crammed with a myriad of Buddha images ranging from a few centimetres to two meters in height. We will visit Ban Xang Hai, a village famous for its tradition of distilling Laotian rice whisky, known as Lao-lao. Arrival in Luang Prabang and overnight at the hotel.
Today is dedicated to the most important sites in Luang Prabang. We venture into Wat Visoun, the oldest temple in Luang Prabang founded in 1512. The temple has a nice selection of centuries-old Buddha statues in bronze and many religious objects. Then we continue on to Wat Aham, a temple from the early 19th century. Two guardians, laid at the foot of the staircase, represent two characters from the Ramayana (Hanuman, the monkey god and the ferocious Yaksa). Our next destination is Wat Xiengthong, the most important temple in the city built between 1559 and 1560. It is one of the most important monasteries and remains an important relic to the spirit of religion, royalty, and traditional art. In the afternoon, we climb up the 328 steps of Mount Phousi leading to the sacred hilltop. This shady Mount dominates the sky of Luang Prabang and offers a splendid panorama of the surrounding villages and the Mekong River. As the day ends, you will no doubt enjoy wandering through the night market, where you can find a beautiful collection of textiles handcrafted by local tribes. Overnight at the hotel.
In the morning, a short drive along the Mekong will take you south to Kuang Si Waterfalls located in a protected national park. These famous low waterfalls offer a spectacular and beautiful sight in their green setting. You will have enough time on site to relax and take a dip in the cool water, before returning to Luang Prabang by late morning. Freetime & night at the hotel.
Free time to discover Luang Prabang then transfer to the airport for your departure flight. End of our services.
On this tour you will be able to discover Vietnam's incredible diversity. You will walk through the ancient city of Hanoi, enjoy a boat cruise on the picturesque Halong bay, experience a homestay with the Hmong people of Sapa, and visit the old French battlefield in Dien Bien Phu. To discover the enchanting land of Laos, you will cross over from Vietnam via the newly opened border gate of Tay Trang, head to the rugged mountain town of Muang Khua, and then down to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang. This great crossing offers multiple meetings with populations guided by ancestral traditions.
• Extraordinary karst formations of Halong Bay
• Breath-taking terraced rice fields of Sapa
• Historical sites in Dien Bien Phu
• Local life of the Mekong basin
• Long tail boat trip along the Mekong River
• Sacred temples in Laos
OUR SERVICES INCLUDE:
- Accommodation with breakfast on a Double/Twin Basis in Hotels listed or similar
- 2 days/1 night cruise in Halong Bay
- All entrance fees and sightseeing as mentioned in the program
- Experienced English speaking tour guides except on free days (for other language guides supplements will be applied)
- Meals as mentioned in the program (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
- Transportation in private air-conditioned vehicles with driver
- Bottled water during the tour day
OUR SERVICES DO NOT INCLUDE:
- Rates and Hotels are subject to availability
- Domestic & International flights when not mentioned
- Drinks and meals other than those mentioned
- Gratuities to guides, drivers, boat crews, wait staff... We recommend you allow USD$3-6 per day, per traveller. Tipping your guide is an entirely personal gesture.
- Personal expenses of any nature like, laundry, telephone calls, shopping, incidentals at hotels etc.
- Visa Stamping Fee for Vietnam
- Travel Insurance
- Peak season or Public holiday surcharges if any
- Other services not mentioned in the itinerary
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