DISCOVERY OF THE NORTHEAST
Means of transport:
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. You will have free time to take a rest after a long flight or head out to get a first impression of the city.
Starting the day trip with a visit to the Tran Quoc Pagoda. It was the centre of Buddhism in the imperial city of Thang Long (former name of Hanoi) during the Ly Dynasty and the Tran Dynasty (11th - 15th centuries). 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.
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.
Today you will have an early breakfast at the hotel, for we are leaving early at 8 a.m. for Ha Giang. We take the road via Tuyen Quang province. During the 8-hour-journey there are plenty of chances to see picturesque landscapes of rolling hills, tranquil villages and lush rice fields decorated with palm trees. We reach Ha Giang town in the late afternoon. Overnight at the Faithien homestay.
Today what awaits you is the magnificent mountainous scenery of the frontier area, along the drive to Quan Ba District. We make a stop at Quan Ba Heaven Gate to take photos and admire the Fairy’s Breast Mountain. Another stop at Yen Minh District for lunch. We continue the trip by visiting Lung Cam village and the traditional local house where the famous movie “Pao’s story” was filmed. Vuong Palace - house of H’Mong king is a ‘not to be missed’ site because of its typical Mong ethnic architecture with influences from China and France. Completed in 1903 with 64 rooms, the two-storey, 50-meter-long building demonstrates its owner’s wealth. We keep driving to Lung Cu flag tower with its important historical significance of marking the Northernmost point of Vietnam. After conquering the 389 stone steps and climbing 140 spiral stairs to the peak, visitors can admire the spectacular natural scenery of Dong Van Karst Plateau, terraced rice fields and ethnic villages. Looking down at the foot of Rong Mountain, you will see two lakes called Dragon’s Eyes, located symmetrically on either side of the mountain. The afternoon ends by driving back to Dong Van. Time for your own exploration of Dong Van’ Old Streets. Night in Dong Van Town.
Our recommendation: after dinner you should go to Dong Van Café on Dong Van Old Street, to sip a coffee while watching a traditional music performance.
In the morning, visit the Dong Van market (Sunday morning), the best known and most important in the region. The colourful Hmong, Dao, Tay, Lolo, Ha Nhi and even Chinese people go there. Pets, incense sticks, sugar cane, conical hats, bundles of wood, anise flowers, powdered cinnamon, cardamom ... you will find everything there. Hike in the region to discover in depth the villages of Ha Sung, Do Sung and Pai Lung populated by the Hmong ethnic group. Very wild and original landscapes. Whether in October, when the rice terraces start to turn yellow, or at the end of January, when the peach trees are in bloom, the region takes on the appearance of a Cézanne painting. End of the hike at the exit of the village of Pai Lung. Short transfer by car back to Dong Van. Night at the hotel.
Today we will leave for a 5-hour hike through the ethnic minority villages of Ma Pang, Ma Tia, Ha De, Sang Ma Sao and Ma U. The locals here live a humble and authentic life. The rewards today are beautiful panoramic views of rice terraces, landscapes, and lush green mountains. Enjoy your picnic lunch in the wild. In the afternoon, we will take a path through the corn crops that leads to the town of Dong Van. Enjoy your time freely for the rest of the day.
After breakfast, we explore the Ma Pi Leng Pass. At the altitude of 2000 meters, the Ma Pi Leng Pass clings to the side of the undulating mountains, offering an exceptional view of the valleys and mountain sides decorated with terraced hemp fields. We continue driving the zigzagging road down into Meo Vac Valley then Bao Lac town.
Once we reach Ba Be Lake, there will be time to visit the peaceful neighbouring villages of the Tay, Dzao and H’Mong ethnic groups and explore further the typical cultural features of the local people. It will be a memorable time if you join in and help our host prepare dinner of delicious local dishes. Overnight at a homestay in Pac Ngoi village.
We will spend the day hiking deep into Ba Be National Park to discover its rich flora and fauna. A traditional boat will take you to Coc Toc where we start the walk towards the villages of Khau Quan and Na Ban where the Hmong, Dao and Tay live. On the way, we will pass through diverse terrain, between forests and rice fields. The hike will end at Dau Dang waterfall. Picnic lunch outdoors or eat at a local restaurant. We take a second sampan ride to return to Pac Ngoi village. Dinner and overnight at the local homestay.
The day starts with breakfast prepared by the homestay owner. Before returning to Hanoi by van you will have a chance to explore Pac Ngoi village at your own pace. Several stops are planned along the journey to meet the local population. We stop at Thai Nguyen and visit the tea and sugar cane plantations. An opportunity to taste local fruits (bananas, pineapples, jackfruit, papayas ...) and sticky rice cooked in bamboo sold by the roadside. Arrival in Hanoi by late afternoon.
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 skilful 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.
Free time to explore Hanoi before the transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
The northeast of Vietnam with its breath-taking mountain landscapes and hill tribes in colourful costumes is the best place for a true adventurous discovery. From the spectacular Dong Van karst plateau Geopark to Ba Be Lake, it is a loop of amazing natural landscapes, typical minority culture and great colours of local life. Get off the beaten track and explore the country's hidden charms for a real-life experience with this Great North Vietnam adventure package.
• Visit the Quan Ba twin mountains
• Visit to the H'mong King's palace
• Visit Dong Van old quarter and local hill-tribe market
• Great photo opportunities on Ma Pi Leng pass, one of the four highest passes in the north of Vietnam
• Cruise on the beautiful Halong Bay - a UNESCO-listed site, aboard a comfortable junk. Go kayaking, swimming and explore the remarkable caves.
OUR SERVICES INCLUDE:
- Accommodation with breakfast on a Double/Twin Basis in Homestay/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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