HANOI - LAOCAI - SAPA - BACHA - LAOCAI - HANOI - HA LONG - HANOI - NINH BINH - HANOI
9 DAYS | 8 NIGHTS
From the mountain to the sea, discover Vietnam’s colorful ethnic tribes hidden amidst the magnificent valley, picturesque mountains, and rice terraces of the north in Sapa and explore the unique Bac Ha Market, cruise around the limestone peaks of picturesque Ha Long Bay and boat ride through the stunning limestone peaks and the lush paddy fields in Tam Coc.
Welcome to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city, renowned as the ‘Paris of the East’; and one of Asia’s most fascinating cities. The city that celebrated 1.000 years in 2010 has countless fascinating cultural and historic sites with tree-lined boulevards, French Indochinese architecture and tranquil lakes of this unique city. Upon arrival at Noi Bai airport, you will be welcomed by your guide and transferred to Hanoi city. Note: if the international flight arrival time in early afternoon the schedule of this day will be added some major sights. This evening transfer to Hanoi Train Station for the overnight train to Lao Cai, the gateway to Sapa.
Overnight on the train.
Arrive Lao Cai in the early morning and transfer along terraced hillsides to Sapa Town, the charming mountain town, surrounded by picturesque mountains, rice terraces, and home to some of Vietnam's most colorful ethnic minority groups. On the way enjoy panoramic views of mountains and valleys in the region. After breakfast, take a morning walking tour of Sapa with a first visit to the busy market where Red Dao, Black H’Mong, Tay and other ethnic minority people converge from the surrounding countryside to sell their silverware and handicrafts, and to buy provisions before taking a light trek along a narrow trail through beautiful gardens to Cat Cat Village, the home of H'mong ethnic, where you have a chance to visit and meet with local one to share cultural experiences with them to understand more on the daily life of these tribes as well as their culture and traditions and see the hydroelectric power station was built by the French, a picnic lunch will be served en-route. Rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure.
Overnight in Sapa.
You are free at leisure in the morning. Leave Sapa after lunch, we drive to Bac Ha, located 110km from Sapa town and over 2 hours by car, the capital of the region of the Flower Hmong and famous colorful markets. On arrival in Bac Ha, we check in hotel and take a little time to stretch your legs with a short walk to Ban Pho Village of Flower Hmong and Tay minority for a look at village life.
Overnight in Bac Ha
After breakfast, we drive to visit a local market (Ban Cam on Tuesday/ Cao Son on Wednesday/ Lung Khau Nhin on Thursday / Can Cau on Saturday/ Bac Ha on Sunday. Note: The market visit may be on your arrival day depending on the market day). Here you’ll explore one of the famous colorful markets, where thousands of locals including mostly Flower Hmong however Phu La, Black Dao, Tay to Nung gathered, the women dressed in their very intricate handmade costumes and the place offers a variety of local products, which could not be found in others areas such as an interesting animal market where pot-bellied pigs, cows and buffalos can be seen. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, we continue to visit the H'mong King's house (King Hoang A Tuong), built by the French colonists and the Chinese between 1914 and 1921. Then we have a short walk to a hill-tribe village. Here you’ll have the opportunity to visit some local homes to understand more on the daily life of these tribes as well as their culture and traditions.
We drive back to Lao Cai in the late afternoon then get the night train to Hanoi.
Overnight on train
An early arrival in Hanoi we then proceed to the famous Quang Ba Flower Market where you will witness one of the most frantic and colorful markets in the world and take some great photos Afterwards we take a stroll to Truc Bach Lake where you will witness locals doing their morning Tai Chi and other exercises as the sun comes up followed by breakfast in a local restaurant before heading to the stunningly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay. Arrive at your jetty in Ha Long City towards noon then board your traditional wooden junk boat, a lunch will be served while cruising towards the bay and pass by the emerald waters soaking up the panoramic vista of the thousand or so karst limestone islands that stud the bay.
In the afternoon, enjoy some visits and/or activities (depending on each boat’s itinerary) or just spend some time relaxing on board. Towards the end of the day the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations. Dinner is served on board.
Overnight on Ha Long Bay
Enjoy the sunrise over the Bay and explore the Surprise Cave (Sung Sot). Your breakfast is served (brunch on some boats) while the vessels cruises slowly through the magnificent rock formations and back towards port. Disembark and transfer to Hanoi, the rest of the day is at leisure.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Leave the city behind with a short drive through rural northern Vietnam to Hoa Lu, Vietnam's first capital. Visit the temples dedicated to Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang of the Dinh Dynasty (968-80) and Emperor Le Dai Hanh of the Le Dynasty (980-1009). Then proceed to Tam Coc for lunch before boarding a private sampan ride through the rice paddies and enormous limestone karsts to reach the sacred Tam Coc Caves, the enormous limestone karsts jutting out from the green rice fields, which is why this area is often referred to as “Ha Long on the land”. End your visit with a climb up to the Bich Dong Pagoda on nearby Ngu Nhac Mountain dating to 1428, comprising three structures: Ha, Trung, and Thuong Pagodas, in ascending order for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Return by sampan to Tam Coc town before returning to Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi
This morning will start with a first stop at the Temple of Literature, built in the 11th century as Vietnam’s first university before we proceed to the One Pillar pagoda, built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong who ruled from 1028 to 1054, as one of Vietnam's two most iconic temples. Then, we continue to visit the Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, the rest place of the greatest hero of Vietnam – Uncle Ho, the one was admired by millions of people in Vietnam and other countries in the world, and the former presidents house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. His former home illustrates the modesty of this Vietnamese revolutionary. (View from outside; closed Mon and Fri and from Oct-Nov).
In the afternoon, visit the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, contains more than 10,000 objects, 15,000 black and white photos, hundreds of video tapes and cassettes which depict all aspects of life, activities, customs, and habits of the 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam. Then heading to the bustling Old Quarter for a walking tour, the quarter consists mainly of 36 Old Streets divided and named according to their craft guides in the past, and remain most of that working system until now, it’s the great place to take some great photos, explore thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers, learn about its rich cultural, artistic, culinary history and shopping. We end the day be enjoying a famous Water Puppet Show, the art form which originated in Vietnam at least 1,000 years ago, the content of show related to daily life of Vietnamese farmers (cultivating, tending buffalo, catching fishes…), communal entertainment (swimming contest, dragon dancing…), or historical legends, and the must-see in Hanoi
Note: an alternative to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, visit the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum (closed Monday) where displays women’s role in Vietnamese society and culture, the memories of the wartime contribution by individual heroic women that are most poignant. It’s also showcase a stunning collection of propaganda posters, as well as costumes, tribal basket-ware and fabric motifs from Vietnam’s ethnic minority groups.
Overnight in Hanoi.
After breakfast, you will be free at leisure until time to transfer to airport for your onward flight. End of the Highlights of North Vietnam.
Tours and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles.
Hanoi – Lao Cai - Hanoi round trip night train ticket.
Accommodation based on twin/double sharing room with daily breakfast.
Meals as mentioned in the itinerary.
English speaking guide throughout the itinerary.
All entrance fees, boat trip as indicated in itinerary.
2 bottle mineral water per day per person.
We saw, learned, heard, tasted a lot and really got to know these 2 countries better. Thanks a lot for organizing our tour.
My husband and I are now home and we'd like to thank you for an extraordinary trip in Vietnam and Cambodia. Thu, you did a terrific job in planning it and all details were perfect and everything happened like clockwork. We loved...
We just got back. I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it was. We loved every place we stayed. You're a gem. As to the countries themselves: I was totally thrilled, fascinated, absorbed. Hope to do another trip to the...
Loraine F. Gardner
I wanted to specifically tell you how wonderful my tour guide Tien from Hue was. We were lucky enough to have him for Hue, Danang and Hoi An. He was sweet, caring, knowledgeable, dedicated and passionate about his country. I felt...
Dr. Halli Zung