Off the beaten track in North Vietnam 9 days 8 nights

The 9-day adventure allows you to discover all the main destinations in the North of Vietnam. The trip starts with a visit Mai Chau, a mountain area of outstanding natural beauty followed by excellent trekking in Sapa, home to a great diversity of ethnic minority people. You will then reach Ba Be area, nicknamed the 'Ha Long Bay of the mountains' followed by the real Ha Long Bay, one of new 7 wonders of the world. This amazing trip designed for independent travellers who love nature and are interested in the cultural diversity of Vietnam.

Tour code: GPT05E
Departure date: Everyday
Destination: Mai Chau, Sapa, Ba Be Lake, Ha Long Bay, Northern, Vietnam.
Duration:  9 days
Booking: Minimum 2 people
Price USD: $639 per person

Day 1: Ha Noi – Mai Chau (L, D)
Your tour guide and driver will collect you from the hotel and transfer to Mai Chau, a journey with spectacular views around every bend. Upon arrival in Mai Chau Village, you can take a short walk to meet some of the ethnic Thai community. You will have lunch in a local home.
In the afternoon, you take a bicycle ride to the surrounding the villages where you will be able to see farmers working in fields. In the evening, you will enjoy a traditional dinner and traditional Thai performance after which you will spend the night in a resort.

Day 2: Mai Chau – Ha Noi – Night train to Sapa (B, L)
Dawn is one of the most beautiful times of day in Mai Chau, as the sun creeps over the valley and the local people get ready for the day ahead. For the early risers, taking part in the morning routine or taking a stroll around the village is a great way to experience the local culture. You can then enjoy breakfast with the local families before setting off to visit a nearby cave. The 1000 step cave is aptly named for its position high up overlooking the valley. After conquering the towering staircase, you will be rewarded with an enchanting cave and breathtaking views of the valley below. You will also have the chance to visit a local market before being driven back to Hanoi. You are free to leave your luggage safely in our office while you look around Hanoi and find some tasty dinner. Our English speaking assistant will meet you and take you to Hanoi Train Station where you will board the 21:55 sleeper train to Lao Cai.

Day 3: Sapa – Y Linh Ho – Lao Chai (B, L, D)
The sleeper train will arrive in Lao Cai at around 06:00 where your guide will pick you up and take you to Sapa. You will stop in a hotel in Sapa for a spot of breakfast before beginning the trekking at around 10:00. The first stretch of the trek is along the road but soon veers off onto a small path which descends into a valley. At the bottom, you will find the Muong Hoa River which you will follow to the Black H'Mong village of Lao Chai. The Black H’mong are one of the biggest minority groups in the Sapa area with a rich and well-preserved culture.  After this, you will continue your hike to Ta Van village to visit a Zay community. The Zays are a fairly small minority group who live mainly in the mountains in Northwest Vietnam. You will be able to experience life in a tradition Zay house, made of wood with a clay floor, as you have dinner and spend the night in with a local family in Ta Van.

Day 4: Ta Van – Giang Ta Chai – Sapa – Train to Ha Noi (B, L, D)
After breakfast, you will trek to Giang Ta Chai to visit the Red Dao community. The traditional outfits of the Red Dao are striking with colourfully embroidered clothes decorated with coins. They also wear a bright red scarf wrapped high around their heads and some choose to shave their eyebrows because of a local legend You will also visit a beautiful waterfall near to the village.
After, you will drive back to Lao Cai City where you can have a shower and relax before embarking on the night train back to Hanoi.

Day 5: Ha Noi – Ba Be Lake (B, L, D)
You will arrive back in Hanoi at around 06:00 where you will be taken to your hotel.You will be collected from your hotel in Hanoi at 07:30 to begin the journey north towards Ba Be National Park. You will stop for lunch on the way in a village before continuing the journey through the mountains and tea plantations to Ba Be National Park. This amazing area features a vast green lake in the middle of a rich, green forest surrounded by karst peaks. You will then travel to the Tay village of Coc Toc, with its beautiful stilt houses and friendly population of Tay people, who make their living by fishing and farming. You will stay in the homestay of a local family where you can enjoy their wonderful hospitality and have some time in the evening to explore the beautiful surroundings. You will have the option to walk or borrow a bicycle or kayak to explore the area.

Day 6: Ba Be Lake – Ha Noi (B, L)
After breakfast, you can enjoy a walk around the lake shore taking in the view of the sun rising over the mountains and lakes. You will also climb up to a vantage point to appreciate the view from above. You will then continue your adventure to Hua Ma Cave, one of the most untravelled caves not only in the north but in the whole of Vietnam, left undisturbed for years because of local legend. You will stop to visit Silk Waterfall, a great place to take a refreshing dip in the cool waters.
You will stop along the way for lunch at a local restaurant. You will arrive back in Hanoi in the late in the afternoon where you will be ped off at your hotel.

Day 7: Ha Noi – Ha Long Bay (B, L, D)
Departing from your Hanoi hotel, leave behind the city for the astonishingly beautiful Halong Bay. Upon arrival, you will embark on a boat trip and enjoy a real Vietnamese lunch. You will sail past the main sights of Ha Long Bay, and in the afternoon set anchor to explore Sung Sot (Surprising) Cave. There will also be time to kayak, swim or relax on deck whilst watching the sunset. You can enjoy a splendid dinner followed by drinks, karaoke or fishing, whichever you prefer.

Day 8: Ha Long Bay – Lan Ha Bay – Monkey Island (B, L, D)
If you are an early riser, you can enjoy the sunrise over Ha Long Bay. You will then travel by boat to Gia Luan harbour on Cat Ba Island where you will drive through Cat Ba National Park enjoying the tropical flowers and trees along the way. From Ben Beo Harbour, you will go by boat through Lan Ha Bay visiting Cai Beo floating Village, one of the oldest in Vietnam. You will check-in to Monkey Island Resort and enjoy lunch in the beach restaurant. In the afternoon you are free to kayak, play football or volleyball or enjoy the entertainment area. There is a lovely walk up the mountain where you will have a panoramic view of Monkey Island and Lan Ha Bay. You may even see monkeys playing on the beach. You will stay overnight in your bungalow.

Day 9: Ha Long Bay – Ha Noi (B, L)
Beach exercise or swimming are a great (but not compulsory) way to start the morning on Monkey Island. After breakfast, you will check out and transfer by boat to Cat Ba Town. A bus will take you to Gia Luan Pier where you will embark on a boat back, this time taking a different route to Ha Long Bay giving you another chance to enjoy the amazing islets and dramatic scenery. Once you disembark you will drive back to Hanoi where your tour will end.

Please note that the hotels mentioned in this list are for reference only. Depending on availability and your preference, they can be changed. If we are unable to book any hotel, it will be replaced by another hotel at least of equivalent standard and value.

Destination Accommodation Star Night
Mai Chau Nature Place Resort 1
Sapa Homestay Lao Chai
Sapa Sapa Hotel 1
Ba Be Lake
Mr Linh's Homestay 2
Ha Long Bay
Monkey cruise
Monkey Island
Monkey Island Resort

Services included
•    English speaking tour guides as mentioned
•    Land transfer by air-con vehicles
•    Accommodation as mentioned
•    All meals as mentioned
•    Boat trip and Cruise as stated
•    All admission fees and permission.
•    Support 24/24h
•    No extra charge after confirmation.    

Services not included
•    All airfare (international and domestic) and airport tax
•    Early check-in, late check-out surcharge
•    Personal expenses (phone call, laundry, tipping etc.)
•    Any services not mentioned in the program.
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