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. Free time to discover the Old Quarter on your own.
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.
Leaving Hanoi at 8.30 am, we follow road No. 32 along the Red River to Yen Bai Province. The scenery on the way is simply fascinating with orchards of bananas, papayas, and rice fields. Farmers’ stalls are set up all along the road to sell seasonal products to passengers. We will stop for lunch in Thu Cuc, a well-known area for tea culture. You will meet Mr. Tung’s family to discover several varieties of tea grown in Vietnam. You will have a chance to pick and dry young tea leaves on your own.
In the afternoon we reach the Muong Lo Valley - the town of Nghia Lo, the second largest rice field in Northwest Vietnam. This place is the homeland of the Thai ethnic people who came here around 700 years ago bringing their traditional wooden houses and rice growing culture. Take a short walk around the village to discover Thai culture and their daily life. Overnight at a homestay in Chao Ha village.
Today we depart from Nghia Lo to Mu Cang Chai, the road meanders through Hoang Lien Son Mountain range, one of the grandest in Vietnam. We will stop at Tu Le for an easy hike through rice terraces to reach villages of the Thai and H’Mong people, who still wear traditional clothing. Tu Le is a small tribal town enclosed by scenic landscape and full of warm-hearted people living in small wooden houses nestled among the foothills. We then leave Tu Le and continue to drive across Khau Pha Pass (1550m above sea level) to reach La Pan Tan. Predominant in the entire region of La Pan Tan for hundreds of years, the H’Mong are loyal to their customs and culture. They grow maize and other vegetables in plots of land embedded between rocks, and of course rice on terraced fields. Despite the invasion of modern life, they still keenly preserve their traditional clothing and language. A new path will take you to the village centre where you can discover H’Mong culture, meet and talk with villagers, and the unmissable opportunity to capture stunning landscape pictures. Overnight at a homestay in Mu Cang Chai town.
We leave Mu Cang Chai in the morning for the mountainous drive to Sapa. After two hours on the road, we begin to ascend to Tram Ton Pass. With an elevation of 2047 meters above sea level, it’s recognized as the highest pass in Vietnam. Stopping at the peak is a must, to take photos of the magical valley from afar and enjoy the fresh air. From here you can also see Fansipan Mountain, known as “the Roof of Indochina”, with its peak, draped in cloud, at 3143m.
In the afternoon, we descend into the Muong Hoa Valley passing Y Linh Ho and Lao Chai villages inhabited by the Black H’Mong, and Ta Van village, home to the Day ethnic people. On the way your eyes will be well rewarded with marvellous views of the terraced rice fields curving around the hillside, meandering rivers and streams sparkling in the sun. We will spend the night at a homestay in Ta Van village.
Transfer to Bac Ha for the biggest local ethnic market of the region. Taking place every Sunday, Bac Ha Market is where tribal people from surrounding villages flock to exchange their goods. Most still use horses to carry their loads, which means they have to depart early to get to the market in time. If you visit Bac Ha on a spring weekend, you will meet locals in their most beautiful and colourful costumes heading to the market, as it’s the best time of the year for youngsters seeking a partner to marry. Despite the low temperatures, spring is a joyful time because it’s the season of courting, dating and weddings. Nature also contributes to the atmosphere with vibrant red and white flowers blooming everywhere. It all makes for a wholly unique setting. In the afternoon, we will drive back to Hanoi. Night 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 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 stay close at all times serving as a backup vessel for those who need it. Around midday we will return to the main harbour & drive back to the airport in Hanoi to catch the flight to Da Nang City. Pick up and transfer by car to Hoi An. Night at the hotel.
Follow a local guide for this experience which starts with a leisurely biking trip along the country roads. Observe traditional Vietnamese rural life as the local people work in the paddy fields. Farmers and water buffalo working the fields have become a symbol of Vietnamese countryside life. This is sure to provide you with a rich array of picture opportunities to share with family and friends. Along the way, watch out for buffalos ploughing rice fields while ducks swim across the top. You will have a chance to hop off your bicycle to visit vivid green paddy fields and a beautiful organic vegetable village. Join a farmer to tend to the vegetables and hoe the soil. As you meander through the countryside you will experience the friendliness of the local people greeting you along the way.
Later, board the boat for a river cruise to meet and engage with local fishermen. Enjoy a hands-on experience of traditional fishing net. You will also take a paddleboat trip in a unique Vietnamese bamboo basket boat down the waterways of a coconut palm paradise before returning to Hoi An.
Afternoon, you will be taken on a half-day walking tour of Hoi An ancient town. In this UNESCO-recognised world heritage site you will visit Chua Ong Pagoda (dedicated to “Quan Thanh De Quan” - an ancient Chinese general), Chinese assembly halls, the 200-year-old Tan Ky house (with Japanese and Chinese influenced architecture), and the Japanese Covered Bridge (built by the Japanese then living in Hoi An to connect their quarter to that of the Chinese). Overnight at the hotel.
Free time to free time to discover Hoi An or enjoy the beaches 5 km from the city. In the afternoon, take the car (without guide) to Da Nang airport to catch the flight to Ho Chi Minh City. You will be picked up and transferred to the hotel in the City Centre.
This morning we leave the hotel at 8 am and drive to Ben Tre Province in the Mekong Delta. Upon arrival at Hung Vuong Pier (90km from HCM City), we get on a boat and cruise along the Ben Tre River. The boat stops at an artisanal brick factory for you to explore its imposing ovens. A sweet break is planned at a coconut candies workshop where you will watch how coconut flesh is used and processed. A short tuk-tuk bike ride on the winding small road of the countryside will take you deeper into the village and we will stop at a family braiding mats. The local restaurant prepares typical dishes of the Mekong delta for your lunch. Following, we board on a rowing boat to join the maze of canals and return to the landing stage. Stop at Mr. Sau Khanh's house, a very hospitable villager to see his antique collection. He will happily show you the special technique of climbing coconut palms. Overnight in the homestay.
Start the morning with breakfast prepared by the family, then traverse a branch of the Mekong by sampan. Later, you will journey by bike through the local countryside to see first-hand, daily life on the Mekong Delta. The winding path meanders between charming traditional houses. Back on board the sampan, several stops are made along a canal for a chance to see coconuts being worked. You will disembark near the town of Cho Thom, say goodbye to your crew and travel by road back to Ho Chi Minh City. In the afternoon, you will visit the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, constructed between 1877 and 1880 by the French. Only a few steps from the Cathedral is the General Post Office. People come here not for sending postcards or letters, but mostly to admire its interior with the arched roof and curved windows, reminiscent of early European railway stations. The city tour then continues along Dong Khoi Street heading to see the Opera House and the Peoples’ Committee building, built in 1897 by French architect Ferret Eugene. The 800 seat Opera House served as the home of the Lower House Assembly of South Vietnam after 1956.
Night at the hotel.
Free time to discover Ho Chi Minh City then transfer to the airport for your departure flight. En of our services.
A journey of discovery in picturesque mountain scenery. Exploring ancient pagodas and staying in authentic stilt houses allows you to better understand local traditions. The journey of discovery from North to South includes Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta (Ben Tre, Can Tho), Hoi An ancient town, peaceful Hue, Hanoi (Vietnam's capital), misty Sapa with its ethnic villages and cruising on the UNESCO Heritage Site-Halong Bay...
• Visit Hanoi - Vietnam’s charming former colonial city, Hue - former imperial capital, Hoi An - sleepy riverside town, Ho Chi Minh city - modern metropolis, Can Tho – the heart of the Mekong delta.
• Hike through rice fields in the hill tribe areas of Sapa, Mu Cang Chai and Tu Le
• Sail through hundreds of limestone islets emerging from the emerald waters of Halong Bay. Enjoy activities such as: stopping by a fishing village on a bamboo boat, visiting caves, kayaking, swimming…
• Experience countryside life in the Mekong Delta.
OUR SERVICES INCLUDE:
- Accommodation with breakfast on a Double/Twin Basis in Hotels listed or similar
- 2 day/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
- Boat trips in the Mekong Delta as mentioned in the program
- Domestic flights Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh City in economy class
- 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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