Day 01 : Hanoi - Arrival
We are met and transferred to hotel. Ha Noi, Vietnam's capital, is a stylish and gracious city that retains an unique old world charm and some Asia ‘s most striking colonial architecture. The many lakes and parks make for relaxing atmosphere. If time permits we embark on a cyclo for a short excursion through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sale at these places. O/N in Ha Noi.
Day 02 : Hanoi City tour (B,L)
Today we enjoy a full day city tour starting with the Ho Chi Minh Complex, containing the mausoleum of the nation’s founder Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace and the Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts. This complex also comprises the One Pillar Pagoda, whose origins date back to the foundation of city. We follow this with a trip to the Temple of Literature well known as Vietnam’s first university and the History Museum, which displays an excellent collection of artifacts illustrating the Vietnamese history. Our next stop is the impressive Ethnologic Museum, dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 hill tribe groups, some of which we will see on our forthcoming days. We also visit the peaceful lake of Hoan Kiem with its sacred temple and the vibrant Dong Xuan Market before attending a performance of Hanoi's famous water puppets. O/N in Hanoi.
Day 03 : Hanoi - Son La (B,L,D)
The journey northwards begins as we depart Hanoi and pass through the undulating terrains of tea plantations and the many timeless villages linked to the road which is the main artery of trade between the northwestern region and the capital city. This is our first glimpse of rural Vietnam and sets the tone for the days ahead. Depending on road and traffic conditions our drive will deliver us in Son La by mid or late afternoon. After checking into hotel we take a walk around this mountain town. There is a little traffic on roads and many Black Thai in traditional costume scurry in all directions. O/N in Son La.
Day 04 : Son La - Dien Bien (B,L,D)
The provincial museum and the nearby old prison are some of this hill town's major sights. We have a chance to visit these before we leave for our next destination. The winding roads cross over the Pha Din Pass before reaching Dien Bien Phu, the site of the decisive battle in Vietnam’s struggle for independence in 1954. After checking into our central located hotel we enjoy a walk around to see this fast growing town. Our main stop is Dien Bien Phu’s Museum which details the event in place. We also pay a visit to the old battle field where the lush vegetation grows behind many war relics including old French tanks and artillery pieces. O/N in Dien Bien Phu .
Day 05 : Dien Bien - Tam Duong (B,L,D)
Heading out of the town, we spend a full day travelling into Vietnam’s most mountainous region. The roads are difficult at times, but the spectacular landscape with a mixture of terraced fields and hill villages makes the hardship all worthwhile. On the way, we have some opportunities to encounter the Red Hmong, Kho Mu, Mang, Dao people who still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. We arrive in Tam Duong by late afternoon and have time strolling around to catch our first glimpse; a small town surrounded by breathtaking mountains and tea plantations. O/N in Tam Duong.
Day 06 : Tam Duong - Sapa (B,L)
The scenery of the north is unequalled although the conditions are very simple. After breakfast we set off on a half day drive following the mountain roads to Sa Pa, our final destination. At an elevation of 1,500 meters, Sapa was founded in the early years of the last century as a hill resort for French administrators when the heat on the plain became unbearable. We arrive in Sapa by mid afternoon and can soak up the fresh climate as much as we want by spending our time wandering this famous hill town. The ethnic people are frequently seen on the main street of Sapa and small vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicraft. O/N in Sa Pa.
Day 07 : Sapa Explore (B,L)
The range of Fansipan boasts Vietnam’s highest mountain and lends an alpine feel to the area surrounding this hill station. Today we have enough time to visit the bustling Sa Pa Market where the Red Dao, Black Hmong, Tay and Xa Pho ethnic minorities converge from the nearby mountainsides and valleys to trade their goods and buy provisions. We then get well off the beaten track as we embark on a walk to explore this beautiful mountain region. Along the way we traverse several rustic villages and see many mountaineers doing their daily works such as logging, herding buffalo and tilling the field. The blend of verdant mountain backdrop and colourful population makes for an unimaginable view. O/N in Sa Pa.
Day 08 : Sapa - Muong Khuong - Bac Ha (B,L)
After breakfast we continue venturing into northern Vietnam, travelling through the Chinese border town of Lao Cai to the colourful Sunday Market at Muong Khuong. This market also attracts a wide variety of ethnic minority groups including the Variegated Hmong, Dao, Phu La, La Chi, Tay who still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. The experience of this congregation is unique. Upon leaving Muong Khuong, we drive to Bac Ha. As option , we can embark a walk this afternoon, visiting the Hmong King’s former residence and Ban Pho where the villagers make the potent local maize wine . O/N in Bac Ha.
Day 09 : Bac Ha - Hanoi (B,L)
The return journey begins as we depart Bac Ha Town and pass through the verdant and rugged mountain scenery to Hanoi. These back roads are a great way to explore the real Vietnam. We see very few other travellers, mostly rural dwellers who are just as interested in finding out about our lives as we are of theirs. The drive is very long , but we can make many stops along the way to stretch our legs and take some wonderful photographs. O/N in Ha Noi.
Day 10 : Hanoi - Halong (B,L,D)
9:00′: Pick up at your hotel in Ha Noi by shuttle bus (on request). After that we leave Hanoi for a 2.5 hour to reach Halong Bayhour to reach Halong Bay.
12:00′ – 12:30′: At Tuan Chau International Marina, a tender boat will take you to our Halong Phoenix Cruiser. A refreshing welcome drink is served and you can check into your cabin.
13:00′: When you are putting all of your stuffs into your cabin, our boat starts gliding out to the centre of the World Heritage Site. Your lunch, at the boat’s restaurant, is would be served with fresh local seafood, but vegetable menu is always available at your request. From the marina area, our cruiser passes by Dog Head and Swan Islands, Ba Hang Floating villages (with floating houses), Incense Burner then Thumb Islands before reaching to Luon cave area for kayaking.
14:30′ – 15:00′: We have time to gear up for one hour kayaking around Luon cave area .Our guide will show you some basic safety guidelines and techniques to paddle before helping you to sit on our brand new sit-on-top kayaks. After that our boat will help you visit the Titop Island one hour for swimming, sun-bathing or getting a panoramic view on island peak.
17:00′: As the sun sets over the bay, we head back to our cruise and relax. Coffee, tea and fruits will be available on the sundeck or you can order your favorite drink while our boat cruises to the night’s anchorage area.
19:00′: Dinner will be served with local seafood. After dinner you may choose to enjoy drinks from the bar or top deck or experience squid fishing before retiring.
Day 11 : Halong - Hanoi (B,L)
07:00′ – 07:45′: Enjoy the morning view of the beautiful landscape with a cup of coffee or tea. Have breakfast in the fresh air.
08:00′ – 09:00′: You will visit the impressive Cave of Halong Bay – Surprising Cave (Sửng Sốt) with your tour guide, a truly awesome and amazing cave to experience.
10:00′: Check out of your cabin and settle your bill as our boat begins cruising back to the harbor. Experience more views of Halong Bay such as Fighting Cocks Island (Symbol of Halong Bay), Incense Burner and Stone Dogs Islands.
10:20′: A cooking demonstration onboard shows you how to make authentic Vietnamese Spring rolls. You will learn about the recipes and techniques that create this popular dish of Vietnamese people.
10:45′: Lunch is served on board during cruising towards the harbor.
11:20′: Depart the Halong Phoenix Cruiser and travel by tender boat back to Tuan Chau International Marina where you then board the bus for your return journey to Hanoi. Arrive at your hotel around 15.30. Free time
Day 12 : Hanoi Departure (B,)
There is a free time for you to relax or further explore Ha Noi. The trip ends after your transfer to Noi Bai Airport for departure.