8 days / 7 nights
Ha Long, Ha Noi, Ninh Binh
Discover the myth behind the regions of Red River Delta. Hanoi and its captivating mix in between an ancient city and a modern metropolis with more than 1000 years of history, influenced by Chinese and French trends; Halong Bay and its stunning natural scenery, cataloged by the UNESCO as one of the Natural Wonders on Earth; Ninh Binh and its magical parades, such as Trang An or Hoa Lu, the first capital of Vietnam; and Mai Chau, a remote enclave where you will enjoy the traditional minority ethnic lifestyle. Enjoy the north of Vietnam and its fascinating variety in this 8-days tour!
Day 1: Hanoi to Halong, Vietnam (L)
CHÀO MU’NG! Welcome to Vietnam and Hanoi! You are met on arrival at the Hanoi airport, and driven to the Gulf of Tonkin and Halong Bay, a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stop for lunch en route, arriving at your hotel in late afternoon.
Day 2: Halong Bay (BL)
Halong Bay is a 1500 km2 area of picturesque islands shrouded in mist, floating villages and pearl fisheries. Today, enjoy a relaxing full day private boat excursion aboard a traditional Chinese-style wooden junk: cruise on the emerald waters between dolomite islets and some of the 3,000 craggy limestone cliffs dotted with breathtaking caves and grottos. Sail by rock formations with such names as Stone Dog and Incense Burner (Dinh Huong), and stop to explore the Thien Cung or Sungsot Cave to view the beauty of the surreal and subterranean world of stalagmites and stalactites. Anchor at Titop Beach to relax in the sun or enjoy a swim. A wonderful seafood lunch is included during your cruise of this mystical bay.
Day 3: Halong to Ninh Binh (BL)
This morning, transfer to Ninh Binh. En route stop in Thai Binh, a unique and wealthy region with a beautiful artistic tradition. This region is home of the cheo songs (opera) and water puppetry. Arrive at Ninh Binh, set deep in the heart of the Red River Delta where vast rice paddies and lotus flower lakes are surrounded by towering limestone mountains and pristine evergreen forests. The area is rich in history as well. Upon arrival, visit Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam. Explore the relics and remains of temples dedicated to King Dinh and King Le, the two 10th century heroes who built this citadel city.
Day 4: Ninh Binh to Mai Chau (BL)
This morning take a boat ride to explore the quiet floating fishing village of Kenh Ga. Glide along the river and visit the communities that live on the water. Next, drive along the villages from Ninh Binh to Mai Chau via Cuc Phuong National Park. In the way you will visit a village of the Muong ethnic minority, as well as local farms en route. Arrive in Mai Chau in the afternoon, with time to relax or explore on your own.
Day 5: Mai Chau (BL)
Today enjoy a full day touring the Mai Chau region. Take an easy trek or a leisurely bike ride through the small villages. Visit the White Thai minority village of Poom Cong to see daily activities of the Thai ethnic minority. Learn about their culture, history, folklore, traditional dances, songs and beautiful embroidery art. Visit their traditional homes built on stilts, with palm-leaf roofs and bamboo floors. The windows are large and colorfully decorated, and each house has a pond to breed their own fish.
Day 6: Mai Chau to Hanoi (BL)
This morning leave the green covered mountains and head north, way to Hanoi. After a stop for lunch en route, you arrive in Hanoi hotel early this afternoon. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to explore the capital, a diverse and vibrant metropolis full of energy and activity.
Day 7: Hanoi full day sightseeing (BL)
Blending the modern with the mystery and charm of past centuries, Hanoi offers an air of elegance and harmony with nature. This morning’s sightseeing begins with a visit to the Van Mieu or Temple of Literature. The temple dates back to 1070, and is dedicated to the cult of Confucius. Note the peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways; this is one of the best examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Next, continue to the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex, containing a museum and Ho Chi Minh’s final resting place. See the Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House, the simple two-room dwelling where he lived from 1958 until his final days in 1969. Nearby, sitting in a lotus pond, you will find the One Pillar Pagoda, or Chua Mot Cot. Made out of a single large tree trunk, it was originally constructed in 1040, and then rebuilt after destroyed by the French in 1954. Drive to West Lake in the center of the city, to see the beautiful 6th century Tran Quoc Temple. At midday, take a break for a light and local lunch featuring “Pho” (noodle soup) – a savory Hanoi specialty. In the afternoon, we pay a somber visit to the infamous Hoa Lo prison, built by the French colonists, to host Vietnamese political prisoners. During the Vietnam War, it was used by the North Vietnamese government, and dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton” by American prisoners. Today, the only part of the prison still exists as a history museum. Next, enjoy a walking tour through Hanoi’s Old Quarter – the oldest continuously developed area of Vietnam, highlighting more than 1000 years of history. Explore the network of narrow alleyways known as ‘The 36 Streets.” This is a wonderful place to watch the local life and purchase items from fabrics to crafts, to exotic medicines. Each street was named to reflect the specialized trade of the merchants, such as silk traders, jewelry, etc. Take a break at a local coffee shop to experience the popular Hanoi pastime of sipping coffee and watching life in the neighborhood. Your tour ends with a visit to the charming Buddhist Ngoc Son Temple, or Temple of the Jade Mountain. Walk across the painted red wood bridge to explore this center of peace and harmony. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 8: Depart Hanoi (B)
Your tour ends today with your transfer to the Hanoi airport for your departing flight.
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