North Vietnam Travel Highlights will let you learn more about cradle of Vietnam’s culture and history in the Red River Delta. Conquer the unspoiled hidden trail through colorful ethnic minority villages in the Sapa mountains and enjoy breathtaking views of Halong Bay from a boat. Explore the rich and beautiful nature of Hoang Lien, Cuc Phuong and Cat Ba National Parks.
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi. Transfer to Moon Garden Homestay (-/-/D)
At Hanoi airport, you will be met by your guide and driver for the 70km drive to Moon Garden Homestay. The Homestay, located in Ky Son village, is an ideal destination to experience the culture and history of the Red River Delta. Arriving at the homestay you will enjoy a welcome drink and then discover Ky Son village and enjoy a traditional steam bath with fragrant lemon grass, pomelo leaves and holy basil. Later, you will have the chance to observe Buddha worship. After dinner, you can enjoy a foot bath of warm water with ginger, salt and mugwort and medicinal herbs. All this will assure you the deepest of sleeps. Overnight in Ky Son village.
Day 2: Cycling to Duong Lam. Transfer to Hanoi for Old Quarter walk and street food tour. (B/L/D)
The morning starts with Yijinjing traditional exercises. Next, you will take a bicycle ride to discover the Ky Son, Tam Son, Van Minh, and Cham farming communities, as well as Duong Lam ancient village and Mia Pagoda. You will then discover the Ngo Quyen tomb and Phung Hung temple along the paths on the way back to Moon Garden. After a cooking class and lunch, you will enjoy a fragranthand spa or a medicinal foot bath for ultimate relaxation. You then transfer to Hanoi and check in to your hotel in the downtown. In the late afternoon, together with your guide, you will take a stroll along the narrow streets inside the Old Quarter, which maintains much of the architecture of old Hanoi. Each of the streets was named after its particular trade. The Old Quarter’s inhabitants are famous for their sophistication in cuisine and there are countless street food stalls with a wide range of food here, each with its own particular style and taste. During your walk, you will explore this food along with the local markets and old houses. You will also enjoy a drink in an old style café before returning to the hotel. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 3: Insight Hanoi tour (B/L/-)
Your guide will meet you at your hotel early in the morning for an interesting city tour. You will first visit the Temple of Literature, the first University of Vietnam. From here you walk along the streets in the French Quarter with its many colonial architecture villas, to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum(*). The mausoleum is located in centre of Vietnam’s political zone, bordering the Presidential Palace. You then take a transfer by local public bus to the Museum of Ethnology. The Museum is a research centre and public museum exhibiting information on the many ethnic groups of Vietnam. You will have lunch at a nearby local restaurant, where you enjoy bia hoi (fresh beer), a specialty of Hanoi, and some delicious local foods. You will soon find out that bia hoi is the ideal lubricant for chatting with local people! After lunch, you will take a public bus together with local passengers back to the downtown of Hanoi and Hoan Kiem Lake. Here you will visit the Ngoc Son Temple before enjoying a traditional water puppet show. Overnight in Hanoi.
(*) closed on Mondays and Fridays. Closed during October and November.
Day 4: Take Limousine bus to Nam Cang. Afternoon take a jungle hike. (B/L/D)
From 6:30 – 7:00 AM, the Topas Mountain Express will pick you up at your Hanoi hotel before departing for a nearly 5 hours transfer to Thanh Phu Bridge, followed by a short transfer to Nam Cang village. Well arrived you will walk through the village, cross a private bridge and check into your private room in the comfortable Nam Cang Riverside Lodge. Your lunch is served at the lodge. In the afternoon you take a walk up to the jungle to explore the beautiful surrounding nature. You will encounter with the locals walking with their barefoot. The higher you go, the more you will be inspired by the origin of the nature. On the way back, you will visit one of the small houses of remote located Red Dao minorities, who are very poor and live just outside the forest. Now, the forest opens up to a great view into the valley, a big stream and several forests covered hilltops. Arrive back at Nam Cang village, you may want to take a swim in the river before enjoying your dinner. Overnight at Nam Cang Riverside Lodge Approx: Grade: Easy/ 2,5 – 3 hours walking.
Day 5: Hiking day to surrounding ethnic minority villages (B/L/D)
The breakfast is served on the terraces few meters from the river and it is time to yet another beautiful day. Your trek starts with an ascent to a small Blue H’mong village. The Blue H’mong mostly lives in the other side of Hoang Lien Mountain Range and only in the deepest part of Sapa Valley, they are found inhabiting in two small villages. You then take a descent to the Red Dao village of Nam Nhiu, having beautiful views of high mountains, waterfalls and deep valley. You enjoy your picnic lunch at a nice break place. In the afternoon, you will turn into a small dirt trail and soon be inspired by the marvelous view of the rice valley dotted with bamboo huts, which used by local farmers as overnight lodge in harvesting days. Passing the rice terraces and a pretty river you will walk on a quiet road for a while before arriving back at Nam Cang village. It is great time for a cold beer or just refresh in the river in front of the lodge. Overnight at Nam Cang Riverside Lodge.
Approx: Grade: Moderate/ 5-6 hours walking.
Day 6: Mountains and river crossings. Transfer to Topas Ecolodge (B/L/-)
You will start the last day of the trek by enjoying breakfast in a peaceful atmosphere. Today’s trek is no less challenging than those before it and the views are perhaps even more stunning. Crossing the river, you will follow a hilly trail through the Red Dao village of Nam Ngan to My Son village. My Son village is home to the Xa Pho minority, one of the smallest minorities in Vietnam. The Tay and Xa Pho minorities live close by, however, while the Tay is one of the most advanced minority groups, the Xa Pho people are still nomadic. Leaving My Son village you ascend to Nam Tong and enjoy the panorama of an enormous valley with rice terraces and the beautiful village of Ban Ho. The trek to Ban Ho is mostly downhill and if the weather permits, you can enjoy a swim at the nearby waterfall. Heading out of Thanh Phu you will soon see the final destination for today –Topas Ecolodge, with its private bungalows situated on a hilltop right in the middle of the valley. With tired legs you can enjoy the last transfer by car, driving 1000m uphill for a memorable night above the valley. It is now a great time for a cold drink and a swim in the beautiful outdoor infinity pool. Overnight at Topas Ecolodge.
Approx: Moderate-hard trek – 7-8 hours walking
Day 7: Relaxing on the hilltop. Take Limousine back to Hanoi. (B/-/-)
After several days trekking, we recommend spending the morning of day 7 simply relaxing on your bungalow’s balcony. Here you can drink in the views of towering mountains and picturesque valleys that were trekked in the last few days. Topas Mountain Express departs from Topas Ecolodge at 15:00 and arrives in Hanoi at 20:00. Overnight in a hotel in Hanoi.
Day 8: Transfer to Cuc Phuong National Park. Trek through the rain forest
You will commence early today by a transfer to Cuc Phuong National Park, 130km south of Hanoi. Upon arrival at the park, you will make a brief visit to the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, where rare primates of Vietnam are reared and rescued. Next, heading deeper into the park, you will begin a trek through the dense, jungle valley. During the trek you can enjoy the beauty of the forest and its wildlife on the way to the Muong village of Khanh, where a well prepared dinner, made by a local family, awaits. After dinner, friendly and hospitable villagers in traditional dress will gather in the stilt house for an unforgettable party of folksong singing, dancing and rice wine drinking. Note: You will only need to bring a small backpack today. The rest of the luggage will be stored on your bus, which will pick you up at Khanh village the next morning. Overnight in Khanh village. (B/L/D) Approx: Moderate trek – 5-6 hours walking
Day 9: Explore Ninh Binh – ‘Halong Bay on Land’ (B/L/D)
Having said goodbye to the hospitable villagers, you will head to Galaxy Grotto. This untouched limestone grotto can only be visited by a rowing sampan. After this, you will visit Hoa Lu, the capital of Vietnam in the 10th century under the Dinh and Le dynasties. You will arrive at your hotel in the mid-afternoon. At sunset, you will enjoy a relaxing sampan tour in the Van Long Wetland Natural Reserve. Van Long is one of the last strongholds of the fabled and almost extinct Delacour’s langur. The area is away from the main stream of tourists and remains serene. During the rowing boat ride, you will enjoy a unique landscape that has been dubbed Halong Bay on Land. Overnight in Ninh Binh.
Day 10: Transfer to Cat Ba Island. Trek in Cat Ba National Park to a fishing village (B/L/D)
You will rise early for a transfer to Hai Phong city to board a hydrofoil for a one hour cruise to Cat Ba Island. After a one hour transfer to Cat Ba National Park, a 3-4 hour trek heads through the rainforest to Viet Hai fishing village. The rest of the afternoon is yours for relaxing and for experiencing the daily life of the fisherman in the fishing village. Overnight in Viet Hai village.
Approx: Easy-Moderate trek – 5-6 hours walking
Day 11: Mountain top views and an overnight cruise on Halong Bay(B/L/D)
In the morning you will walk up a nearby peak to enjoy a panoramic view over the picturesque Lan Ha Bay. In the afternoon, an easy cycle ride will take you downhill to Viet Hai port, where you will board a traditional style junk and check-in to your private room. The cruise makes its way through thousands of strange shaped islets which form the seascape of Halong Bay. You will watch the sun slowly set amid the peaks while cruising to the overnight anchorage. An interesting cooking demonstration will follow on the sundeck, before you enjoy a quality dinner. In the evening squid fishing can be tried before retiring to your room. Overnight onboard.
Day 12: Explore more of Halong Bay and return to Hanoi (B/L/-)
Those who wish to may swim before breakfast, then the junk will continue weaving around the bay before you disembark at Halong wharf around noon. Here, your bus awaits for the transfer back to Hanoi to end your great journey.
Included & Excluded
Note: The price is per person and based on a group of 4 persons.
- Local English speaking guide(s)
- All indicated accommodation (Twin shared)
- All land transfer as indication
- Boat cruises in Halong Bay
- Indicated meals (B as breakfast, L as lunch, D as dinner)
- All entrance fees to indicated sites
- Indicated Homestay and permits
- Personal pocket money
- Visa to Vietnam