15 days 14 nights
Hanoi – Halong bay – Sapa – Bac Ha- Hoang Su Phi – Ha Giang – Ba Be
DAY 1: Arrival - Airport pick up - free day in Hanoi (D)
Your adventure begins here as you are collected from the airport and taken straight to the heart of Hanoi, the lively and eclectic Old Quarter. Here you can see Hanoian culture flowing out of the open doors and through the streets. Immerse yourself in the rhythm of bikes and people and discover the town winding streets brimming with life. If you arrive early, please feel free to stop by our office where we will be happy to greet you and provide you with some practical information. You will stay overnight in a three-star hotel.
DAY 2: Hanoi art and local life (B, L, D)
Experience the greatest artists and scholars that Vietnam has generated at two of the city's finest cultural hot spots. First up is the grand establishment of the Hanoi Museum of Fine Arts. This treasure chest of artistic expression showcases the progression of styles throughout different time periods.
Just across the way from the Museum of Fine Arts, sits the beautifully preserved Temple of Literature. Originally built in the 11th century for the great scholar Confucius, this complex consisting of beautiful Vietnamese architecture, lovingly tended gardens and intricate artwork really makes for an inspiring experience.
Your day of cultural discovery in Hanoi will be topped off with a trip to see them amusing performances at the Water Puppet Theatre. Hand carved wooden puppets are skilfully manipulated on a stage made of water and accompanied by talented musicians playing traditional music. These light-hearted performances tell the stories of myths, legends, and life in Vietnam.
DAY 3: Hanoi – Halong (B, L, D)
Today your adventure will take to the water as you head for the legendary Halong Bay. You will embark on a 4-star cruise at midday which will take you through the stunning blue waters and around the imposing karst peaks. This cruise will take you off the usual tourist route to the colourful flotilla of Vung Vieng Village. This fishing village is made up of just over 60 households, all floating at the edge of the river. The floating structures appear tiny in comparison the towering karst islands behind.
The next destination on this voyage is Ban Chan Beach, another more secluded destination. This beach boasts crystal waters and sandy beaches to rival the most popular spots. This hidden paradise remains unspoilt and preserved, nature's beauty echoing off the grey cliffs and rippling through the calm waters.
Your relaxing day will drift into a relaxing night as you spend the night on board the 4-star boat.
DAY 4: Halong – Hanoi – Lao Cai (B, L, D)
Today you will explore the Northern Bay area of Bai Tu Long, Halong Bay's equally as stunning, yet less touristic neighbour. This bay features the same crystal waters and impressive karst peaks without being overcrowded or overdeveloped. Its unspoilt beauty and laid-back ambience make this the perfect place to relax. After you will head to Thien Canh Son cave whose stalactites and stalagmites create a fascinating display throughout the cave. You will disembark at midday and travel back to Hanoi. After dinner, you will head to Hanoi train station for the night train to Lao Cai at 21:30.
DAY 5: Lao Cai - Sapa town – Ma Tra - Ta Phin village (B, L, D)
You will arrive in Lao Cai at 06:00 and travel to Sapa where you will begin your trek into the glorious rolling mountains to discover the ethnic minority villages. The trek will lead you through the sea of green mountains and iconic balconies of rice of paddies to the villages of Ma Tra and Ta Phin, home to the Dzao and H’mong ethnic minority people. Here you can enjoy panoramic views and discover the culture and traditions of the people living here.
DAY 6: Sapa – Bac Ha (B, L, D)
Continue your discovery of local culture as you mingle with the H'mong, Dzao and Tay people at their colourful and bustling markets (weekends only). Here you will be surrounded by the displays of colourful goods and you can meet the people who have lovingly crafted each piece.
You will also be able to see an H'mong King's palace which was built in 1914. This grand building displays impressive Asian/ European architecture which tells the story of its fascinating past and gives a great insight into the lives of its former owners.
DAY 7: Bac Ha - Xin Man – Hoang Su Phi (B, L, D)
From Bac Ha, you will travel across the weave between the stunning mountains to reach Xin Man. Here the landscape morphs with the seasons as the balconies of rice paddies change dramatically in colour throughout the year. You will feel the true power of nature as mountains tower all around you. You will trek along the mountain path, through remote villages, basking in the fresh mountain air to Hoang Su Phi. The rice paddies etch patterns into the dramatic hills with the sun rays dancing across their surface. You will have the chance to meet the people living in the valley and learn about their fascinating traditions and agricultural lifestyle.
DAY 8: Hoang Su Phi – Ha Giang (B, L, D)
Today, you will snake through the idyllic passes of Hoang Su Phi to a Tay ethnic village nearby Ha Giang city. Here you can see the stilt houses sat suspended above the lush green mountains, their thatched roofs perched on top. See the incredible artistry of the local Tay people who are known for their skills in weaving and knitting intricate textiles. You can see this skill in their distinctive dress, hand dyed indigo fabrics adorned with silver jewellery. You will get to experience rural life first hand as you stay overnight with locals in a stilt house.
DAY 9: Ha Giang trekking (B, L, D)
After a night sharing food, company, and entertainment with the local community you will continue your trek into the unspoilt beauty of the Ha Giang countryside. You will trek approximately 17km into the wilderness surrounded by granite and limestone mountains. You will stop along the way for a well-earned picnic, the perfect time to take some photos of the stunning panoramic views.
DAY 10: Ha Giang – Dong Van (B, L, D)
Today you will visit the unique and fascinating Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark. This incredible area consists of four districts, covering an area of over 2.346km2. This striking plateau is made up primarily of limestone and is home to the fossils of ancient animals from up to 600 million years ago. Not only is this site of historical and geological importance, but it also home to 17 ethnic minority communities.
Situated in one of the valleys of this astonishing area is the palace of the H’mong King. The site for this meticulously crafted palace was chosen by a Chinese Geomancer because of its similarity to a turtle’s shell, a symbol of long life and wealth. Here you can get a feel for what life may have been like for the rich King Vuong Chinh Duc and his son. The palace itself is surrounded by lines of ancient Sa Moc trees which appear to be stood on guard. The palace is home to 64 rooms, including an underground room for storing precious goods such as opium and weapons.
DAY 11: Dong Van – Meo Vac – Bao Lac (B, L, D)
Today you will climb to the French fortress of Pu Lo for a panoramic view of Dong Van town. The climb is well worth the effort with unrivalled views of the mountains and town below which sits in a tumbling, rocky valley. From here you will hike through the mountains Meo Vac. The route passes by Ma Pi Leng pass which winds along the edge of the mountains. You will also get to take in the Nho Que river which flows through the valley. If you reach Bao Lac with enough time to spare, you will visit a local village of Lo Lo where you can meet the local Lo Lo community. You will stop overnight in Bao Lac for a well-earned rest after your day of adventure.
DAY 12: Bao Lac – Ba Be – Na Nghe village (B, L, D)
The adventure continues with a trek route through Ba Be National Park at midday. This magnificent and diverse ecosystem is made up of forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, and caves, all waiting to be explored. Let your guide share their expert knowledge of the area and its incredible range of flora and fauna. Part of today’s journey will be by boat as you discover the stunning beauty of the area from the water. After approximately 17 km you will reach Nha Nghe Village where you can meet the ethnic communities living here and learn about the area and it’s unique culture. You will enjoy a night of hospitality in a local homestay.
DAY 13: Na Nghe village – Khau Qua village – Coc Toc village (B, L, D)
Today you will venture deep into the tropical forest as you head to H’mong village of Khau Qua where you can see meet the local H’mong community. See the children adorned in the traditional handcrafted outfits playing outside among the wild roaming animals and the adults crafting their beautiful products. After, it is onward to Coc Toc village where you can meet the local Tay community and learn about their tradition as you share the afternoon with them in their stilt house village. After trekking approximately 17 km you will take a well-earned rest in a local homestay.
DAY 14: Ba Be – Hanoi (B, L, D)
Today you will have time to explore the magnificent Ba Be lakes. If you are feeling adventurous, you can kayak around the glassy waters and discover some of the diverse species living in the lakes. You can visit An Ma temple or discover the magical Fairy Pond. Steeped in local legend, the story tells of a local hunter was bewitched by fairies in the pond. This legend, however, does not scare the local fishermen who you can see fishing by the serene waters in hope of a good catch. Another part of Ba Be that is shrouded in legend is Widow's Island. Sitting in the middle of the lake, against the striking background of the mountains, this rock does have something mystical about it. After a day of exploring the beauty of Ba Be, you will return to Hanoi where you are free to enjoy the city. You will stay overnight in your hotel.
DAY 15: Hanoi Departure
After 15 days of adventure through the awe-inspiring countryside of Vietnam, meeting the local communities and discovering the fascinating wildlife, today marks the end of your journey. We will take you to Hanoi airport for your homeward flight, happy, knowing you have had a true Vietnamese adventure.