This mystical journey across the Northern Vietnam traverses three different and diverse regions, including the stylish and gracious city of Hanoi; nestled in the stunning ‘Tonkinese Alps’ the Sapa region, famous for its fine, rugged scenery and rich cultural diversity and the unbelievable beauty of Ha Long Bay.
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Places Covered: Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay
On arrival at Noi Bai Airport, you will be received by our representative and transferred to the hotel. Once settled and refreshed in the afternoon, you will spend some time at the Hoan Kiem Lake and Hanoi's Old Quarter, before rounding your day off at the Thang Long Opera Theatre for a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show.
Overnight Stay at Hotel in Hanoi
Next morning, starts with the city tour to Ho Chi Minh Complex, which houses the mausoleum of the nation's founder, his Stilt House and the Presidential Palace. Next, you will stop-over at the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) where Vietnam's first national university, the Imperial Academy, is situated. In the afternoon, you will visit West Lake, Tran Quoc Pagoda and Quan Thanh Pagoda.
The day ends with transfer to Hanoi station for your overnight train journey to Lao Cai.
Overnight Stay on train enroute to Sapa
On reaching Lao Cai station in the morning, you will be met by our local English-speaking guide. After breakfast at a local restaurant in Lao Cai, you will travel to the highland town of Sapa. Check in or leave your luggage at the hotel * to kick off your day.
Your day's expedition starts with a visit to the minority villages wherein people of different ethnic minorities live. As you walk through these villages you will surely notice the various traditional dressing styles - indigo tunics and leggings, elaborate pleated skirts, sliver-studded jackets, etc. The first of these is Cat-Cat Village, where you can expect to gain a fresh perspective on the lives of the minorities and experience their unique lifestyle first-hand, here witness a cultural show.
After the cultural show you will follow a dirt trail snaking through the mountains, relishing the spectacular scenery. Later trek along a narrow river until you reach Y Linh Ho village, home of the Black H'mong community. This brings our day at Sapa to an end.
Overnight Stay at Hotel in Sapa
* As you arrive before the check in time, your rooms might not be ready. But this shouldn't leave you behind to unfold what's in store for you.
Create some memorable moments in the morning by capturing the charming scenery from your hotel balcony. Today you will be making your way south to the Muong Hoa valley. You will walk down to the valley, which is the largest paddy terrace in the Sapa area. Your guide will acquaint you with interesting information about rice and its cultivation.
If you visit the valley between May and October, you will be able to witness the unique local methods of planting and harvesting, which are among the most important activities in their daily life.
The walk will take you from the Lao Chai village; home of the Black H'mong community, to the Ta Van village populated by the Giay people, and will include a visit to the local Catholic Church. After lunch (not included), you will continue by car to Silver Waterfall*, offering great views of the surrounding mountains and the lush forests of the Hoang Lien National Park. Along the way your guide will illustrate about the special area of Sapa, where many trees such as plum and peach are grown. Subsequent to this you will visit Ham Rong mountain and later head back to Sapa and drive to Lao Cai station to take the overnight Express train back to Hanoi (departure at 21:00 hrs)
Overnight Stay on train enroute to Hanoi
*Silver Waterfall is best seen in the rainy season from May to November
Our local English speaking guide will receive you early in the morning. Head straight to the morning flower market bustling with activity apart from alluring colour and fragrance which is an experience in itself. Following a light breakfast, depart for Ha Long Bay, 165km northeast of Hanoi, a journey of around 3 hours. You may stop en route to admire the landscape.
Arrive at the port around 11:30 and make your way to the ship. Sail through the magical bay, where thousands of seemingly sculpted limestone islets rise from the waves like dragons' teeth. After lunch, you can either go trekking to the nearby summit to get phenomenal view of the bay, dotted with golden sails or alternatively, go swimming and exploring the nearby quiet beach, or just relax and sunbath on the sundeck. Later in the afternoon, you visit an interesting fishing village and get to interact with the locals who have been living on the bay for nearly three generations and maybe even try your hands at fishing if you are lucky you might just catch something! Back on board the ship, enjoy a lavish dinner and spend the night on the cruise in the middle of the bay.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Overnight Stay on Junk and Halong Bay
Wake up to take some Tai Chi exercise classes on the sundeck while continuing to cruise through the bay. After the breakfast buffet you will visit the limestone grotto and will disembark at Halong City around 11 a.m. From here you will be transferred back to Hanoi in your private vehicle. On arrival in Hanoi you will have the rest of the afternoon free to explore the colourful streets of the Old Quarter and admire the architecture of the city.
Overnight Stay at Hotel in Hanoi
You have leisure time until your transfer to the airport for departure.
Oozing with charm, Hanoi the capital city of Vietnam has a personality that has shaped from its rich history. Invaded by Chinese and then ruled by the French, be it its great architecture, culinary art, friendly locals and the vibrancy in the air. the city will never cease to amaze you.
Brewed in history with modernisation you will not fall short of things to do in this city. The ‘Temple of Literature’ a tribute to Confucius is a well preserved Vietnamese architecture. Just about 2 kms is the Ho Hoan Keim (Lake of the restored sword). The Ngoc Son Temple sits on an island in Hoan Kiem Lake. The ramshackle Thap Rua (Turtle Tower), on an islet near the southern end, is topped with a red star and is often used as an emblem of Hanoi. Other interesting landmarks in Hanoi are one pillar pagoda, Tran Quoc, the presidential palace, National museum of fine arts, Ho Chi Min Mausoleum etc.
Too excited to sleep, step out late night, actually early Vietnamese morning to Quang Ba flower market which buzzes at 2am. Early morning, if you take a walk in one of the many parks you will notice locals practice Tai Chi, you might fancy trying the same.
In Hanoi, you may find yourself sitting in a cafe sipping excellent coffee and nibbling a pastry in one of the many French cafes. The coffee served is world class - served strong and rich in demitasses. One of the best blends to try is smooth and chocolatey. Feeling adventurous try out the ‘caphe sua chua’ (iced coffee with yogurt)
Here’s a city you would pray to get lost in. You might just discover something new and extraordinary, not only about the city but also about yourself.
Sapa: A Hillside Wonder in Tropical Vietnam
For those who mentally pictured Vietnam as simply a country of humid tropical climes, Sapa offers an interesting counterpoint. It is located in the so-called Tonkinese Alps, or the Hoang Lien Son mountains, and is unique in many a respect, with diversity being its chief hallmark. This variation is not just in terms of the human population, which spans several minority communities like the H'mong and the Dao/Yao.
The mountains surrounding Sapa include Vietnam's highest peak, Fansipan, which is counted among the Ultra prominent peaks in the world. The frequent rainfall, especially in the summers, tends to give these mountains in Northern Vietnam a cloud-capped appearance. No wonder that they are a hotspot for trekkers from all over the world! The trekking trails usually connect one village with another; there are also trails going all the way to the summit of Fansipan.The valley also boasts of the largest paddy terrace in Northern Vietnam, and, if you arrive in the right season, you can learn a thing or two about rice cultivation and harvesting. Among other visual delights in the Sapa region is the Silver Waterfall, which drops down from a height of a hundred metres, and is truly a spectacle in the rainy season (May to November). The Hoang Lien National Park forests can be viewed from Silver Waterfall, thus making them a fantastic vantage point.
Sapa is a mere forty kilometres from Lao Cai, which is well-connected by rail with Hanoi, with the Express train making for a convenient overnight journey. Start planning your visit to this delightful spot in Northern Vietnam today!
Ha Long Bay- where dragons descend into the sea.
A very long ago when Vietnam was invaded, the Gods sent a family of dragons to defend the land. As the dragons charged towards the coast their flapping tails scraped out valleys and crevasses filling it with water and leaving the pinnacles visible. This barrier obstructed the invaders from attacking and thus protecting the mainland now known as Vietnam. The dragons then descended into the sea along the bay, now aptly known as Ha Long bay.
Located in the Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long bay includes 1600 islands and islets forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Because of their precipitous nature, most of the islands are uninhabited and relatively unaffected by human influence. It has been designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO and is truly an geographical art piece.
Here you can not only take a cruise but also explore the caves or grottoes, lakes and islands. As the saying goes ‘seeing is believing’ – it is a must visit place as no photo or picture would do justice to what your eyes can capture.