Day 1 : Hanoi – Arrival (L, D)
Upon arrival at Noi Bai Airport, our guide and driver will pick you up and transfer to hotel for check in and relax. If time permits, we will take a short afternoon tour
• Ngoc Son Temple and Hoan Kiem Lake - the Ngoc Son Temple is set on a tiny island on Hoan Kiem 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
Back to hotel. Check in and relax.
18:30 We start Hanoi street food tour. We will give you an insight into the intricacies and traditions of Vietnamese food culture including details on ingredients and historical backgrounds of popular northern dishes. We eat as we go, trying seasonal fruits and sampling a tasty French-inspired snack from a street cart.
Walking through the maze of bustling streets that make up Hanoi’s Old Quarter, we tempt our tastebuds with the famed Hanoi dishes such as Bun Cha Ta, Banh Cuon at a local eatery. Watch in awe as the skilled chefs demonstrate for you how this tasty dish is put together. Continuing into the atmospheric heart of the Old Quarter, we wander past street stalls and quiet residential lanes where you can observe local life that has changed little since Hanoi was founded over 1000 years ago.
Our next two snack stops are at outdoor barbeque stalls. We sit down with the Hanoi locals and sample various meat, vegetable and bread specialties that are flame grilled over hot coals for extra flavour. It’s then time for dessert as we venture down a small alley to join in the local tradition of feasting on fresh fruit served in a cup and smothered with crushed iced and condensed milk – this speciality is one not to be missed!
Our guide will take you to one of Hanoi’s best kept secrets, a hidden street food restaurant to taste top ten street foods in Hanoi is Banh My Hanoi, Vietnamese Rice Wine and famous Egg Coffee. This hard-to-find café is one of the few left in the narrow street inside the old quarter of Hanoi. Or, if coffee is not your style, a cold beer awaits!
Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi – Mai Chau (B, L, D)
08:00 Our guide will pick your up up from your hotel. On the morning drive to Mai Chau, we'll leave the city behind and pass through craggy, mountainous landscape. We drive up a massive pass and end in the mountainous circus of Mai Chau around noon time. Lunch will be served in a local Thai house.
In the afternoon, we’ll have a small walk around Mai Chau valley before getting a quick transfer to a small remote village of Mai Hich. Weather permits there’s a chance for a small cycling around the green village. Afterwards, we return for dinner and overnight in the stilt house with our friendly Thai hosts.
With ‘Homestay’ experience, your overnight accommodation is provided by a local family in their traditional house-on-silts. There’s no private room and you’ll sleep on the floor in a large communal area. The sleeping corner is set up with a single mattress (thin, but adequate), blankets (ditto), pillow and mosquito net. The restroom is at international standard and a few steps from the main house
Time for driving: around 3 hours
Day 3 : Mai Chau – Pu Luong (B, L, D)
We leave our hosts after breakfast and drive East for about 15 km before entering the Pu Luong nature reserve. You’ll then get down the car for 2-hours trekking on single trail through Thai villages and rice terrace, with opportunity to take a break at local houses en-route.
Meet your car again for a quick transfer to our lunch stop at a small lodge. In the afternoon, we step into the wild with an awesome hike on trails across the second half of the reserve to reach its Western edge. The hike is not too hard and lasts 3 to 4 hours. It makes it an intermediate level trek. Plan to bring along good shoes and batteries for your camera.
After a demanding afternoon, we get to the ecolodge, check-in the private bungalows and go for a refreshing swim in the cascades and natural pools that surround the lodge. Homemade dinner before a well deserved time for rest. Overnight in Pu Luong.
Time for driving: around 2 hours
Day 4: Pu Luong – Cuc Phuong National Park – Ninh Binh (B, L)
Easy morning, depending on the season and your preference, you can stay at the lodge and relax.
Then we drive to Ninh Binh. On the way we visit Cuc Phuong National park. Upon arrival, visit the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre where you can capture snapshots of some of the rarest primate species in the world. Then set off on a 7km hike on trails with narrow rocky slopes to the “Big Tree” and a 200 million year old dinosaur fossil. Continue drive to Ninh Binh. Check in hotel and relax. Ovenright in Ninh Binh.
Time for driving: around 4 hours
Day 5 : Ninh Binh – Hoa Lu – Tam Coc – Hanoi (B, L)
08:00 We start to visit the the two temples of King Dinh and King Le in the 10th century, finding out the heroic histories of this two Kings in Chinese Wars. After that, we go to Tam Coc (10 km far from Hoa Lu). King Dinh Tien Hoang chose this mountain location as the water systems fed from the mountains were perfect for both agriculture and defense. Enjoy the sight of palaces, pagodas, tombs and pavilions built by different dynasties and visit the Dinh and Le Temples, the two remaining architectures of Hoa Lu. Have lunch at local restaurant.
After lunch you will get on bamboo boat – rowed by the local people – in Hoang Long river to visit Tam Coc (three caves) on the way, you also have chance to see the paddy field if you visit Tam Coc in April or September.
Then visit Bich Dong Pagoda comprising three pagodas located at different levels on a green mountain and the setting of the French film ‘Indochina’
Back to the Harbour and drive back to Hanoi.
Day 6: Hanoi – Halong bay (B, L, D)
07:15 – 08:00 Pick up at hotel by shuttle bus of cruise company for three and a half hours road trip with short refreshment on half way to Halong Bay.
12:00 Arrive at Hon Gai Harbour, enter our waiting lounge for short break before getting on boat
12:30 Enjoy a welcome drink on board
13:00 Cruising through Bai Tu Long Bay and having lunch with Set Menu
15:00 Exploring Vung Vieng Village: Guest choose to discover the daily life of the fisher communities with bamboo boat (one hour) or kayaking around Vung Vieng area (one hour)
16:30 Swimming, Sunbathing and Relaxing at Ban Chan Beach.
17:30 Relax and enjoy the sunset cocktail while the boat is cruising to Cong Dong - Cong Do area. Docking for overnight.
19:30 Having BBQ dinner
21:00 Free evening or taking part in some activities of board games or squid fishing, karaoke (on request) Taste the variety of drink at our luxury sundeck bar (chargable) with wines, cocktails, brandy, juices...
23:00 End of program for Day One.
Notes: Itineraries may changed due to the weather condition and operation of authority management
Time for driving: around 3,5 hours
Day 7: Halong bay – Hanoi (BR)
06:30 Rise early for morning tai chi on the sundeck.
07:15 Enjoy a light breakfast while cruising to Hon Co area.
08:00 Exploring the Thien Canh Son Cave. Located at the centre of the World Heritage Area- Halong Bay, Thien Canh Son Cave treats tourists to the wild and mysterious beauty of nature
09:30 Return to the boat for check out and relaxing on sundeck or watching fruits carving demonstration
10:30 Enjoy the last of the Ha Long Bay scenery over lunch as the boat cruises back to shore
11:45 Transfer by tender to the pier, relax inside our waiting lounge and waiting for return transportation.
Drive back to Hanoi. Overnight in Hanoi.
Time for driving: around 3,5 hours
Day 8: Hanoi – Nghia Lo (B, L)
07:30 Departing Ha Noi northwest towards Nghia Lo town on 32 highway, this journey passes through stunning mountainous landscape, featuring with fertile hilly area covered with green tea plantations, the mountains get higher and higher.
Along the way you can see thick forests cover high mountains with stops at many scenic spots in Thu Cuc and Van Cha
• First stop to to visit nice Bonsai garden with huge bonsai on Phuc Tho district
• Stop to visit and tea farm and Thai village in Tan Son
• Stop to visit hilltribe village in Deo Khe (Khe Pass)
• Stop to take photo of many tea terraces in Ba Khe
• Stop at to see local farming in Muong Lo valley
Arriving in Nghia Lo, a pretty mountainous town, we spend the remaining hours of the day wandering the town including the market area, we will check in the hotel. Overnight in Nghia Lo.
Day 9 : Nghia Lo – Mu Cang Chai – Sapa (B, L)
After breakfast, we transfer from Nghia Lo to Tu Le. The road ride today takes only 2 hours so we have a lot of time exploring the area for real mountainous life of the local ethnic minority people. Fancy a four hour trekking along a trail which connect villages to villages, meeting different tribal people such as White Thai, Black Zao, Red H’mong…who seem very surprise, staring at you for the first moment and turn out very friendly and inviting you to their homes in which you will be hosted with tea or home made wine. Next to Mu Cang Chai, we enjoy another home staying in a large Thai village, which offers fantastic hours for your culture discovery. At the bottom of the valley you’ll arrive in the town of Than Uyen for lunch break.
From Than Uyen, the road follows the Hoang Lien Son mountains and winds through tea plantations and rice terraces as it hugs the Nam Ma river. This stunning valley is dotted with Tay, Dzao and H’mong hill tribe villages. Drive up the highest mountain pass in Viet Nam named Tram Ton pass at 2,047 meters, the views looks out over the main range for miles and miles, before we descend to the mountainous town of Sa Pa. Check in hotel and relax. Overnight in Sapa.
Day 10 : Sapa – Fansipan – Lao Chai – Ta Van (B, L)
After breakfast, we drive to Silver Waterfall. The Silver Waterfall is located about a half hour from Sapa town which offers stunning views over surrounding mountains and lush forests belonging to Hoang Lien National Park. You are advised to stop by a farm for a cup of tea and talk with people to understand their local life. Then we continue our drive uphill to the Heavens Gate, the highest stretch of road in Vietnam as well as the provincial border of Lao Cai and Lai Chau provinces. Enjoy fantastic view over the valley!
Optional: Then take a cable car to Fansipan mountain. Currently the highest point of Fansipan is at 3,143m high. As you know the cable car in Sapa is the world’s longest and highest cable car, running up from sleepy Sapa Town in Lao Cai Province to the peak of Fansipan Mountain, known as Indochina’s rooftop. Enjoy the view from the highest point of this incredible mountain. The lush green and subtropical vegetation makes this mountain really very beautiful. Take some pictures for unforgettable experience from the top. After taking scenery then get cable car back to Sapa. (It costs you 34 USD/ per person for the ticket)
Then we start trekking. The first part is on the road but we soon turn to the right and walk on a small path down the valley to the Muong Hoa River and from here to the Black H’mong village Lao Chai. Black H’mong is one of the biggest minority groups in the Sapa area. They are proud of their culture and keep their traditions and way of living. They have their own language and wear traditional indigio blue clothing. After this you continue to Ta Van village (1.200 m) to visit Zay people. Zay is a fairly small minority group of about 38.000 people who live mainly in the mountains in Northwest Vietnam. The development has meant that some of their old customs have been lost but many women still wear traditional shirts with a purple, blue or green color. The Zay houses are build of wood and bamboo with a clay floor. Overnight in Sapa.
Time for driving: around 2 hours
Day 11 : Sapa – Hoang Su Phi (B, L)
After the breakfast, We go to the Bac Ha market for two hours by a private car (AC). This is the largest market in the region, a place where many ethnic groups gather to buy and sell, eat and drink together. There are 10 minority groups in the Bac Ha region. You can buy homemade handicrafts and clothes.
Then you will drive to Hoang Su Phi, where you will have a chance to admire one of the greatest terraced rice fields in Vietnam. Established hundreds of years ago, Hoang Su Phi District is now home to more than 60,000 people, representing 17 ethnic minority groups. They live mainly on rice cultivation and other subsistence crops. In the rocky mountainous areas of Hoang Su Phi District in the northern border province of Ha Giang, the Dao, Hmong and Nung ethnic people cultivate paddies after rains have covered the drought affected fields in late June. You will have the rest of the day at leisure and you will have a restful overnight stay at the Pan Hou Lodge.
• Note: Bac Ha market only takes place on Sunday. This itinerary can be changed upon your departure date.
Time for driving: around 6 – 7 hours
Day 12 : Hoang Su Phi – Ha Giang (B, L)
After breakfast, you will follow trails winding through rice terraces across Nam Khoa village, a place inhabited by the Man Ta Pan ethnic group. It is the good time to admire the stunning views of the terraces and discover the daily life of the inhabitants throughout this trek and you will most notably meet Man Ta Pan and Long Tunics Dao. The trek itself was not hard but the weather condition made it tougher than normal. Therefore, you should search the weather forecast before trekking. That sunbeam created a great exposure on how green the rice fields were.
Besides, you can learn about the culture of the Red Dzao and visit tea field nearby in Phin Ho village to learn about the oldest Shan Tuyet tea trees and its importances in their culture and lives. You took a rest before heading for an adventure on the next to Nam Ai, where the Long Tunics Dao settles down. More chance to see the differences between the Red Dao and the Long Tunics Dao as well as enjoy an amazing meal with garden–produced ingredients. At Nam Ai, you will see old tea plant (more than 100 years old) with buds have white hairs, it is called Shan Tuyet tea – a famous tea in Vietnam. And enjoy fresh tea in here. Then drive to Ha Giang. Overnight in Ha Giang.
Time for driving: around 3 hours
Day 13 : Ha Giang – Dong Van (B, L, D)
Breakfast at hotel. Then we drive to Meo Vac, one the way we will visit Lung Khuy cave. One of the highlights of the trip today is a great drive to Ma Pi Leng, a breathtaking pass with great scenery from atop the pass. After visiting Meo Vac, you will head to visit Dong Van Market, known as the cradle of the Blue H'mong & Lo Lo people, who mainly live on the hill–sides and work on the rice terraces, along the beautiful plateau, covered with great rock formations. Check in and relax. Overnight in Dong Van.
Time for driving: around 4 hours
Day 14 : Dong Van – Cao Bang (B, L, D)
Today, you will spend the day on a scenic drive to Cao Bang. You will pass by and through many valleys, mountains, villages and waterfalls. The journey is an adventure in itself, and you will be rewarded with wonderful and sensational landscapes. You will arrive in Cao Bang in the late evening and stay overnight. Overnight in Cao Bang.
Time for driving: around 7 hours
Day 15: Cao Bang – Ban Gioc waterfall – Cao Bang (B, L, D)
You will depart today and go to Ban Gioc Waterfall (the most tranquil waterfall in Vietnam) via the scenic pass of Ma Phuc. Arriving in Ban Gioc beforeit becomes crowded by other tourists, you will have the best photo ops before transferring to Nguom Ngao Grotto. You will take a short trek to the grotto and then drive back to Cao Bang. The rest of the day will be free and you will again stay overnight in Cao Bang.
Day 16 : Cao Bang – Ba Be lake (B, L, D)
Today we go through Ma Phuc pass and continue to Ba Be National Park for a boat ride along the Nang River, with time to explore Ba Be Lake, the caves of Puong Grotto, the rapids ofthe Dau Dang waterfall and tiny Widow Island. You will also visit the stilt houses of the Tay community in Bo Lu Village, where you will spend the night in a homestay.
Time for driving: around 4 hours
Day 17 : Ba Be – Hanoi (B, L)
We stroll along the riverfront, visit some lovely villages and hike the upper reaches of the lake, in an area marked by massive limestone cliffs and mountains. Time for visiting Hua Ma cave, the biggest dry cave in Northeast Vietnam. Lunch in a local restaurant, it is our journey back to Hanoi. Check in on arrival and relax. Overnight in Hanoi.
Time for driving: around 5,5 hours
Day 18 : Hanoi – Departure (B)
Breakfast at hotel. Then transfer to the airport for your international flight. End of serives.