Day 1: Hanoi - Arrival (D)
We are met and transferred to hotel. Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, is a stylish and gracious city that retains an unique old world charm and some Asia ‘s most striking colonial architecture. The many lakes and parks make for relaxing atmosphere. If time permits we embark on a cyclo for a short excursion through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sale at these places.
Overnight in Hanoi
Day 2: Hanoi city tour (B, L)
You are met at 08:30 am in the hotel lobby. There is a morning and afternoon schedule, as well as an organised lunch.
• Ho Chi Minh Complex including the Mausoleum, his former stilt-house residence, the Presidential Palace and the Ho Chi Minh Museum
• The Temple of Literature - Vietnam’s first university dating back to 1070
• A local Vietnamese lunch
• Museum of Ethnology, widely acknowledged as the best in the country, containing an extensive display of life-size structures dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority peoples
• Ngoc Son Temple and Hoan Kiem Lake - the Ngoc Son Temple is set on a tiny island on HoanKiem Lake, its history dating back to the 13th century
• A one-hour cyclo tour through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter - a must for any visitor to Hanoi!
• A traditional performance of the famous Vietnamese water puppets
You will finish city tour round 17:00 pm. Come back hotel. Overnight in Hanoi.
Please note: the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed all day on Monday and Fridays, as well as from 1st October to 30th November (approx.) for annual conservation.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 3: Hanoi - Son La (B, L, D)
The journey northwards begins as we depart Hanoi and pass through the undulating terrains of tea plantations and the many timeless villages linked to the road which is the main artery of trade between the northwestern region and the capital city. This is our first glimpse of rural Vietnam and sets the tone for the days ahead. Depending on road and traffic conditions our drive will deliver us in Son La by mid or late afternoon. After checking into hotel we take a walk around this mountain town. There is a little traffic on roads and many Black Thai in traditional costume scurry in all directions.
Overnight in Son La.
Day 4: Son La - Dien Bien Phu (B, L, D)
The provincial museum and the nearby old prison are some of this hill town's major sights. We have a chance to visit these before we leave for our next destination. The winding roads cross over the Pha Din Pass before reaching Dien Bien Phu, the site of the decisive battle in Vietnam’s struggle for independence in 1954. After checking into our central located hotel we enjoy a walk around to see this fast growing town. Our main stop is Dien Bien Phu’s Museum which details the event in place. We also pay a visit to the old battle field where the lush vegetation grows behind many war relics including old French tanks and artillery pieces.
Overnight in Dien Bien Phu .
Day 5: Dien Bien Phu - Tam Duong (B, L, D)
Heading out of the town, we spend a full day travelling into Vietnam’s most mountainous region. The roads are difficult at times, but the spectacular landscape with a mixture of terraced fields and hill villages makes the hardship all worthwhile. On the way, we have some opportunities to encounter the Red Hmong, Kho Mu, Mang, Dao people who still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. We arrive in Tam Duong by late afternoon and have time strolling around to catch our first glimpse; a small town surrounded by breathtaking mountains and tea plantations.
Overnight in Tam Duong.
Day 6: Tam Duong - Sapa (B, L)
The scenery of the north is unequalled although the conditions are very simple. After breakfast we set off on a half day drive following the mountain roads to Sapa, our final destination. At an elevation of 1,500 meters, Sapa was founded in the early years of the last century as a hill resort for French administrators when the heat on the plain became unbearable. We arrive in Sapa by mid afternoon and can soak up the fresh climate as much as we want by spending our time wandering this famous hill town. The ethnic people are frequently seen on the main street of Sapa and small vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicraft.
Overnight in Sapa.
Day 7: Sapa Explore (B, L, D)
The range of Phan Si Pan boasts Vietnam’s highest mountain and lends an alpine feel to the area surrounding this hill station. Today we have enough time to visit the bustling Sapa Market where the Red Dao, Black Hmong, Tay and Xa Pho ethnic minorities converge from the nearby mountainsides and valleys to trade their goods and buy provisions. We then get well off the beaten track as we embark on a walk to explore this beautiful mountain region. Along the way we traverse several rustic villages and see many mountaineers doing their daily works such as logging, herding buffalo and tilling the field. The blend of verdant mountain backdrop and colourful population makes for an unimaginable view.
Overnight in Sapa.
Day 8: Sapa - Muong Khuong - Bac Ha (B, L)
After breakfast we continue venturing into northern Vietnam, travelling through the Chinese border town of Lao Cai to the colourful Sunday Market at Muong Khuong. This market also attracts a wide variety of ethnic minority groups including the Variegated Hmong, Dao, Phu La, La Chi, Tay who still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. The experience of this congregation is unique. Upon leaving Muong Khuong, we drive to Bac Ha. As option , we can embark a walk this afternoon, visiting the Hmong King’s former residence and Ban Pho where the villagers make the potent local maize wine .
Overnight in Bac Ha.
Day 9: Bac Ha - Hanoi (B, L)
The return journey begins as we depart Bac Ha Town and pass through the verdant and rugged mountain scenery to Hanoi. These back roads are a great way to explore the real Vietnam. We see very few other travellers, mostly rural dwellers who are just as interested in finding out about our lives as we are of theirs. The drive is very long , but we can make many stops along the way to stretch our legs and take some wonderful photographs.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 10: Hanoi - Halong bay (B, L, D)
07:30 - 07:45 Pick up from your hotel in Hanoi. Drive to Halong Bay. Enjoy the peaceful scenery as we travel through the countryside, farmlands and Red River delta.
10:30 Stopover on the way for short break
12:30 Arrive at Hon Gai wharf - Meet the captain, crews and join us for a welcome drink, cruise briefing, safety instructions and check-in cabins.
13:00 Lunch with fresh seafood is served while cruising towards Vong Vieng floating village, passing through extraordinary shaped-islands.
15:30 Drop anchor at Vong Vieng: visit local houses, fish farm, schools and have a chat with the friendly fish men. (You also swim here if you like) The other option is to travel by kayak (passenger row kayaks for themselves). The kayaking option is $10.00 per person unless pre-booked.
17:00 Back on board, enjoy the sunset and continue cruising to Luom Bo for anchoring.
19:00 Dinner is served.
21:00 Enjoy the comfort in your cabin or night fishing…
Overnight on junk.
Day 11: Halong bay - Hanoi (B, L)
06:30 Enjoy the bay’s morning landscape with a cup of tea or coffee.
07:30 Lightly breakfast is served.
08:30 Explore the mystery of Sung Sot cave, one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay.
09:30 Back on board, continue cruising, enjoy the stunning views of the Bay and relax.
10:30 Lunch is served on board while cruising back through Halong Bay to the pier.
12:00 Arrive Hon Gai wharf. Farewell.
12:30 Return from Halong to Hanoi.
14:30 Stop-over in Dong Trieu town to visit a ceramics workshop.
16:30 Arrive in Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 12: Hanoi Departure (B)
There is a free time for you to relax or further explore Hanoi or transfer to Noi Bai airport for flight back home.
End of services. Our staff will give you the warmest goodbye and hope to see you again.