The 8-day multisport tour is for individuals, small groups who like adventure in North Vietnam. It includes such highlights as: trekking Sapa hilltribe villages; biking through emerald-green rice paddies and past ancient, mountaintop pagodas in Ninh Binh; kayaking on the beauty of the Halong Bay…
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival.
Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam’s bustling colonial capital. Your driver and guide will meet you outside the baggage claim of Noi Bai Airport and take you to your hotel in the city center. In the afternoon, enjoy an orientation walk, visiting some of Hanoi’s main attractions: the Opera House, Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple. Rest of the day, you are free at leisure.
Day 2: Hanoi City – Night train to Laocai.
Today you have a full day to explore Vietnam’s charming capital. With its wide tree-lined boulevards, French colonial architecture, peaceful lakes and ancient oriental pagodas, Hanoi is an eclectic mix that offers something for everyone. Your city tour will take you to Hanoi’s key sites: the Ho Chi Minh Complex (Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and stilt house), the nearby One Pillar Pagoda; the Presidential Palace; the Temple of Literature; the Quan Thanh Temple, the sedate Tran Quoc Pagoda & West Lake; and one of the city’s museums (a choice between the History Museum and the Ethnology Museum). Enjoy a traditional Water Puppet Performance – a unique Vietnamese Art form hailing from Southeast Asia’s wet-rice culture. In the evening, savor a welcome dinner of authentic Vietnamese food at one of Hanoi’s finest restaurants – before heading to the train station to catch your night train to Laocai.
Day 3: Laocai – Sapa.
The train arrives at the Laocai railway station in the early morning. Your guide and driver will meet you there and take you on the 40km drive to Sapa, Northwest Vietnam’s premier travel destination, named “Tonkinese Alps” by the French.
Enjoy breakfast in the town while breathing clean mountain air. At 10:00 A.M, leave the hotel and start trekking. Walk through the local market then follow a road going downhill to Cat Cat Village. The Black Hmong’s village is famous for its brocade weaving craft as well as its gold and silver jewelry making. The walk to Cat Cat Village and its nearby hills provide an opportunity to see farms and techniques used by the people in the area. Short stop at a waterfall and a hydroelectric station. Afterward, trek up back to the town and spend rest of the day at leisure.
Day 4: Sapa Trekking – Overnight in Topas Ecolodge.
After breakfast, drive south towards Muong Hoa Valley, and then descend by foot through the largest terraced rice paddy area in the Sapa region. The walk takes you through the village of Lao Chai, home to the Black Hmong minority, then onto the Ta Van village, inhabited by the Zay minority. Experience a great opportunity to observe the daily life and traditional hospitality of these local people before continuing on to the remote Topas Ecolodge in Su Pan. This unique, eco-friendly lodge is situated atop two cone formed hills, set deep in the spectacular Sapa valley of northern Vietnam.
Day 5: Sapa – Laocai.
Set by foot to the Lech Village. After a short walk on the main road you will descend towards the Thanh Kim River, stop en route to capture the most beautiful scene of the valley. Cross the river, you will head up to the village where you spend your time to experience the daily life of the local people and then follow the main road to return to the Ecolodge for lunch and check-out. Head back to Sapa for some free time and finally descend to Laocai and enjoy dinner at one of the local restaurants before boarding your overnight train for the return trip to Hanoi.
Day 6: Hanoi – Ninh Binh.
Arrive in Hanoi in the early morning then drive to Ninh Binh. Hoa Lu, situated 100 km south of Hanoi, was the capital city of Vietnam under the Dinh Dynasty between 968 and 1009 AD. Some of the sanctuaries and tombs have survived the years and can still be seen today. Start cycling on countryside roads onto Hoa Lu and the ancient 10th century citadel. Apart from the historical interest, the area is also one of astounding natural beauty with limestone peaks whose splendor is often said to surpass that of Halong Bay. Continue your ride through the limestone peaks to Tam Coc, passing rice paddies and rural villages. In Tam Coc lunch is served at a local restaurant with a view over the boat pier. The tour includes being rowed along the Ngo Dong River, which makes for a truly unforgettable experience, passing between towering limestone peaks. You conclude an excursion day with a visit to Bich Dong Pagoda.
Day 7: Ninh Binh – Halong Bay – Overnight on cruise.
After breakfast at hotel, your driver will take you on a 4-hour drive passing the countryside of the Red River Delta to Halong Bay. Spend 24 hours on a traditional Junk Cruise in the amazing bay: a natural wonderland composed of jutting limestone islands and sparkling turquoise waters. Arrive at the dock around noon and board your junk. Savor a gourmet lunch of fresh seafood onboard as you sail out into the mystical bay. In the afternoon, cruise around some of Halong’s many islands, including Dinh Huong and Ga Choi. Along the way visit one of the bay’s 3 largest caves (Thien Cung, Dau Go or Sung Sot) and kayak along the hidden parts of the bay. Go swimming (weather permitting), snap photos or just relax as the sun starts to set on the Tonkin Gulf. Pass the night on your junk, lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of calm waters.
Day 8: Halong – Hanoi – Departure.
Awake early and participate in Tai Chi on the top deck or simply relax and enjoy the sunrise over the bay’s towering islands. Enjoy a morning cup of coffee or tea, before setting out to explore nearby islands by rowboat. Return to the junk for breakfast then take advantage of the sundeck and admire the amazing rock formations of Bai Tu Long Bay as you navigate back to Halong City. Have brunch on board the boat before returning to Halong pier. Your driver will meet you at the dock and take you to Noi Bai Airport of Hanoi to catch your departure flight home.