Bask in the natural beauty and adventurous landscapes of Northern Vietnam with an itinerary full of family fun, cultural interaction, rural exploration and plenty of leisure time.From Hanoi you will experience the picturesque villages and scenic mountains that typify the area, with opportunities to meet locals and partake in traditional customs at Ky Son Village and Mai Chau before concluding at the spectacular limestone scenery of Halong Bay.
Welcome to Hanoi city. Meet and greet upon arrival and enjoy a private transfer to the city to check in. Additional activities can be arranged on this day subject to your arrival time.
If time permits, we will take you around the bustling Hanoi Old Quarters, you will wander through the streets where you will discover so many different things - ranging from hectic markets, kitschy toys, tranquil backstreet pagodas and numerous street vendors to smoky meats. Overnight in Hanoi city.
- Essence d’Orient Hotel & Spa
- Essence Hotel & Spa
Start the day with a visit to Bat Trang pottery village located east of Hanoi. Famous for its blue and white pottery, much of Bat Trang’s pottery is made in moulds and handpainted in family style businesses which consume the entire village. Ride through the village by buffalo cart to a workshop where pottery can be handpainted with any design and taken home. Children love this creativity activity that includes a souvenir to be taken home at the end. (If shipped, costs are extra and can take several days.)
After lunch in Hanoi center, take a tour of the city’s Ethnology Museum (closed on Mondays). Observe Vietnam’s diverse culture through the museum’s unique presentation of articles, houses and dress used in daily life. At the back of the museum, explore houses highlighting the 54 different ethnic groups of Vietnam. Wander freely into long houses, stilt houses and traditional Vietnamese houses, amongst others, learning how different ethnic groups live. End the afternoon with a “swan” paddle boat on Truc Bach Lake which is a loved Hanoian pastime. Afterwards, taste some to Hanoi’s best ice cream – the legacy of the French in Vietnam.
This evening watch a traditional water puppet show, a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form especially designed for depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history. Marvel as the puppets are made to leap on water, light tiny fireworks and even have a swimming race. Overnight in Hanoi.
After breakfast, drive 1 hour northwest of Hanoi for a two night stay in a unique home stay reconstructed from authentic Thai Binh and Mai Chau province buildings set in the fertile Tonkinese valley next to the village of Ky Son. En route, visit the iconic Thay pagoda, and two interesting non-tourisy handicraft villages, to learn how Bhuddhist statuary and vermicelli noodles are made (optional). Upon arrival, enjoy exploring the traditional structures and bucolic land that comprise this lovely property before rolling up your sleeves in the spacious, bright kitchen for a cooking class learning from the proprietress how to make sumptuous Vietnamese food served as lunch!
After lunch, relax or take a leisurely bicycle ride or casual walk to discover the Ky Son, Tam Son and Van Minh farming communities. Stop at any home for a cup of tea. Chat with local people about their daily life and farming. Help with plowing, making rice beds, transplanting seedlings or harvesting rice, cassava, corn, or sweet potatoes depending on the harvest season. Collect tea and medicinal herbs to use back at the home stay.
Return to the home stay for happy hour trying local tisane and a traditional steam bath with the fragrant herbs gathered before dinner. Over night in Ky Son Village.
Ky Son village, Thay Pagoda
Wake up early to join in Yijinjing exercises and traditional Vietnamese worship customs honoring ancestors with morning rituals. After breakfast, drive or cycle 4 km to Duong Lam Ancient village to explore an intact traditional ancient village and have lunch in an authentic local house. After lunch, continue on to Mia Pagoda, explore small hamlets and slowly wend back to Ky Son.
In the late afternoon, enjoy free time to luxuriate in stunning natural surroundings. Relax in a garden hammock, take pictures in traditional Vietnamese garb, or fish until dinner!
*Plowing ricefields with a Water Buffalo learning an ancient tradition of working with the animal using Vietnamese commands can be arranged prior in certain seasons.*
Duong Lam Ancient village, Mia Pagoda
Vietnam’s northwest is still relatively untouched. Beautiful scenery and idyllic villages make travel through these fertile valleys and snaking mountain passes memorable. After breakfast, say goodbye to your gracious hostess and travel approximately 2 hours to the lush Mai Chau valley.
Arrive in the picturesque Mai Chau Valley surrounded by spectacular karst rock formations and rice paddies. Upon arrival, check into your hotel. Enjoy lunch, depending on the time of day. Spend the afternoon exploring the idyllic natural surroundings including the extraordinary, old Mo Luong (Soldier) cave across from the lodge, or thread your way through a maize of handicraft shops set amongst intriguing Mai Chau stilt houses in Poom Coong.
Enjoy dinner and a performance of ethnic Thai music and dance at a local home. The Thai ethnic group has inhabited this area for centuries and much of their lifestyle and traditions have remained untouched over the years. Overnight in Mai Chau.
- Mai Chau Lodge
- Sol Bungalow Mai Chau
Start this morning with a light trek through the Mai Chau Valley to interact with the local tribes people. Have lunch in the home of a Thai family to learn about their lifestyle. Choose to return to Mai Chau lodge by foot or a vehicle.
This afternoon, explore the valley floor by bicycle, kayak on a nearby peaceful lake taking in the magnificent scenery, visit a handicraft co-operative supporting local livelihoods, learn how to use a loom to make beautiful woven scarves, or try a rock climbing class.
Ethnic villages, stream kayaking
After a leisurely breakfast, depart Mai Chau for a countryside drive through Ninh Binh province where fascinating limestone karsts jut forth skywards between verdant rice paddies and lazy rivers. Stop along the way for photographs.
Visit the Buddha Sanctuary place of Bai Dinh Pagoda, the biggest one in Vietnam with 500 Arhan statues. You can see a biggest bronze Buddha statue in Vietnam with 10 meters in height, 100 tons in weight. Our guide also gives you an introduction of beliefs and religions in Vietnam. Leave for Trang An eco-tourism area. You will be amazed by neglected area while having boat trip through cave chains: Sang Cave, Toi Cave, Ba Giot Cave, Sinh Cave.
- Ninh Binh Legend Hotel
- Cuc Phuong Resort & Villa
Bai Dinh Pagoda, Trang An eco-tourism erea
Depart Ninh Binh for Halong Bay, a designated world heritage site known for its limestone rock formations, is home to about 2,000 islets and breathtaking scenery. Caves, grottoes, floating villages, emerald waters and welcoming locals make it a must see on any Vietnam itinerary.
Arrive Tuan Chau pier mid-morning to check in for your cruise. This 3D/2N voyage is exceptional as there is no dayboat needed for 2nd night guests and deep exploration in less-traveled bays is a compelling reason to take the time to “do Halong right”. Today, experience the amazing scenery of Halong Bay and southern Lan Ha Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin. Tranquility and nature abound as you quietly sail past famous spots such as Me Cung cave, Titov island, and Ho Ba Ham islet. Once anchored take a refreshing swim in emerald waters or a guided kayak tour to learn about your surrounds up close and personal. Overnight on board.
- Valentine Premium Cruise
- Dragon Legend Cruise
Cat Ba Island is famous for its national park and endangered langurs. The island is the largest in the Gulf of Tonkin and is covered by a dense rainforest home to numerous indigenous species of flora and fauna. Spend time walking or cycling exploring this natural paradise. Visit an organic farm responsible for the majority of produce onboard.
Reboard and sail to Bai Tu Long Bay, east of Halong, and the most remote area of the voyage. Geological rock formations create an impressive “other world” atmosphere. A relaxing rowboat tour through the village of Vung Vieng and into the bay’s geological park will provide enviable photo’s to be shown back home.
Bai Tu Long Bay
After disembarking, head for Hanoi or Hai Phong for an afternoon flight onwards.
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