Wonders of Northern Vietnam

About the Experience

Your trip to Vietnam is an immersion in wonder. You revel in the wonderful food – the noodles, the spice. You stroll the grounds of an austere Hanoi monastery, where you enjoy a private chat with a monk. You stretch your limbs to the sun doing Tai Chi with a true master. At the Vietnam Women’s Museum, you are humbled by the fascinating history and culture of these fierce females.

As you sail northeast of Halong Bay, amongst the conical karst hills of the pristine Tu long Bay, you feel like you are floating into a fantasy world of enchanting emerald islands.

You will hike through the breathtaking trails of Sapa. The misty morning rises up around you, as you stand in the belly of the lush valley. The verdant hills rise around you on all sides, too, and it’s like being nestled in a bowl of the deepest green.

Before you, the Red Dao people tend to their fields, the bright colours rising out of the fog. They carry cassavas and sweet potatoes. Bushels of corn. You move with them throughout their day, taking in the small wonders and enormous beauty of this little corner of the globe.

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Wonders of Northern Vietnam

About the Experience

Your trip to Vietnam is an immersion in wonder. You revel in the wonderful food – the noodles, the spice. You stroll the grounds of an austere Hanoi monastery, where you enjoy a private chat with a monk. You stretch your limbs to the sun doing Tai Chi with a true master. At the Vietnam Women’s Museum, you are humbled by the fascinating history and culture of these fierce females.

As you sail northeast of Halong Bay, amongst the conical karst hills of the pristine Tu long Bay, you feel like you are floating into a fantasy world of enchanting emerald islands.

You will hike through the breathtaking trails of Sapa. The misty morning rises up around you, as you stand in the belly of the lush valley. The verdant hills rise around you on all sides, too, and it’s like being nestled in a bowl of the deepest green.

Before you, the Red Dao people tend to their fields, the bright colours rising out of the fog. They carry cassavas and sweet potatoes. Bushels of corn. You move with them throughout their day, taking in the small wonders and enormous beauty of this little corner of the globe.

DAY ONE: HANOI ARRIVAL

Upon your arrival in Hanoi, you and your fellow wild women will be picked up and transferred to the hotel to be greeted by your tour leader for a trip orientation.

Satisfy your travel day appetite with dinner at Cau Go, a restaurant serving contemporary Vietnamese cuisine with the finest view.

  • Overnight: Hanoi

 

DAY TWO: MONASTERY TO MUSEUM

Early morning, you will follow a Tai Chi course lead by a master. Then, you transfer to Truc Lam Sung Phuc Zen Monastery where you will visit the main hall, and have a private talk with a monk. Travellers are free to pose questions about Buddhism, meditation, daily life, and human relationships. You’ll have a chance to learn how to meditate in the right sitting position and about the right way to breathe, as well as Zen principles. Enjoy some free time to walk around and discover the Monastery. Then, share a vegetarian meal with monks and nuns.

Spend the afternoon at Vietnam’s Women Museum to discover the fascinating history of Vietnamese women and their association with feminism, traditional costumes and cultural traits expressed through elegant handicrafts. Embrace the opportunity to browse around the museum and grasp a deeper insight into the extensive history of Vietnamese women.

Then, we’ll visit Tran Quoc Pagoda which is regarded as the most ancient Pagoda in the city. This Buddhist center possesses spectacularly striking architectural features whilst resting in the peaceful ambiance of West Lake. Enjoy a local Vietnamese coffee or the refreshing taste of a coconut drink while observing local fishermen in a picturesque scene at sunset on the lake.

In the Evening, we’ll have dinner at a local restaurant serving “Cha Ca”, a Hanoi specialty of grilled fish with dill then transfer to Hanoi railways station for your overnight to Sapa.

  • Overnight: Train (soft sleeper berth on sharing cabin, 2 berths per cabin)

 

DAY THREE: TA PHIN VILLAGE

You commence from Lao Cai by a drive downhill to Mong Sen, where you start trekking uphill on a dirt trail through a mountainous area. En route, you will have many opportunities to enjoy the spectacular view over rice paddy terraces and corn fields. You will take a stop for lunch at a nice spot. After lunch, there will be a short transfer to Trung Chai village where we’ll start our afternoon hike. The slightly uphill track will lead you through the beautiful landscape looking over the valleys. After about five hours of hiking, you will arrive in Ta Phin village, inhabited by Red Dao and Black H’mong ethnic. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed into a Red Dao homestay family. The Red Dao women are famous for their beautiful embroidery costume and culture of shaving hair after marriage.  

Ta Phin village is also famous for the Red Dao herbal bath. The traditional herbal remedies for bathing can include between 10 to 120 kinds of herbs, which are refreshing to the body, smoothing on the skin, and said to cure some diseases. After our trek, feel free to relax or explore the village while the family is preparing dinner. Your meal will be served at a homestay together with a family.

Following dinner is an embroidery class, where you’ll have the chance to learn from the Red Dao women.

  • Distance: 9.8 km hiking/ 5 hours
  • (Hiking times can vary depending on the group and the weather)
  • Overnight: Homestay

 

DAY FOUR: H’MONG VILLAGE

Once you have finished breakfast, you will trek towards Sapa. You will pass through several minority villages along the way. The walk through rice paddy terraces is beautifully surrounded by mountain landscapes with a magnificent view of the rice valley.

You will pass through some of the villages of the Black H’mong. For hundreds of years in Northern Vietnam, the H’mong group has grown and woven hemp for their national costume. After harvesting rice from the terraces, the H’mong traditionally spend most of their time marking garments. We will partake in an interactive experience to see how the process is done – from the raw product to making the thread, spinning to making cloth on the loom, dying with fresh leaves from the indigo plant, and then finally the embroidery. The motifs used represent different aspects of the community, from family life to rice and spiritual symbols.

We’ll then stop by the Ma Tra village of Black H’mong, where your lunch will be served on the top of a hill. We’ll encounter local people along the way, and you might see them working hard on the field or plowing the rice paddy or harvesting the rice.  After lunch, we’ll take a walk under the shadow of pine trees of Suoi Ho area as well as a short walk from the town of Sapa.

  • Distance: 6-7 km/approx. 3-5 hours
  • Overnight: Sapa

 

DAY FIVE: BLACK H’MONG VILLAGES

Today begins with a hike in Sa Seng village. We’ll continue ascending uphill on a small rocky trail, which brings you closer to nature with lush green bamboo forest and bushes.

Your lunch will be prepared at a nice spot on the top, looking down to another large beautiful view of Muong Hoa valley. The afternoon hike will be more of a descend downhill passing a small hamlet of H’mong ethnic in Hau Thao village. You can take some great photos of the mountain looking toward Fansipan Mt – The highest mountain in Vietnam. You will have the chance to visit a local house and learn more about The H’mong ethnic culture and their lifestyle.

We’ll end our day with an easy walk in between the village and rice terraces. A car will pick us up at the main road for transfer back.

  • Distance: 12.8 km hiking/ 5 hours
  • Overnight: Sapa

 

DAY SIX: FREE TO EXPLORE

Today is free at your leisure to explore your surroundings. 

We’ll then transfer 5 hours by private car from Sapa to Hanoi. You will arrive in Hanoi in late evening around 9.00PM.

  • Overnight: Hanoi

 

DAY SEVEN: MAI CHAU

After breakfast, we’ll enjoy a 2-hour drive from Hanoi to Uncle Ty’s farm stay – a rural lodge developed by a local family with the support of a non-profit social enterprise. This enterprise provides microcredit to women living below the poverty line in developing countries. This unique model harnesses the power of responsible tourism and microfinance to alleviate poverty.

The homestay is a cozy traditional house-on-stilts where there is a restaurant on the ground level located in the center of the tranquil village. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by a warm host family at their traditional stilt house with refreshing green tea. We’ll then enjoy an authentic Vietnamese lunch while watching goats and buffaloes running by on their way to the grass field.

After lunch, we’ll take part in a mini-workshop of weaving shrimp catcher from bamboo bands. With the instruction from our skillful fisherman, we’ll be hands on to make a bamboo shrimp catching basket to bring home as souvenirs for your friends and family!

In the afternoon, a group of local women will showcase their beautiful dances and music where you will be invited to join the traditional bamboo dance. Later, we will either take a walk around the village where you can visit the local broom cooperatives and other animal farms of pigs, chicken, ducks, goats, and bee; or join our fishermen in their afternoon fishing with nets or earthworms and bamboo rods. We’ll arrive in Mai Chau late in the afternoon.

  • Overnight: Mai Chau

 

DAY EIGHT: BUOC VILLAGE

This morning we wake to the sound of this beautiful valley. Enjoy your breakfast overlooking the rice paddy fields before heading out to walk around the charming Thai minority villages. Observe a day in the life of local farmers with their daily activities, working in wet-rice fields and tending their livestock in the peaceful countryside.

We’ll take a short transfer of 25 minutes to Nhot village and then begin trekking uphill 300m to the villages of Na Mo and Na Meo, home to white Thai minority people. Descend again into a beautiful valley and hike through Ban Te village. Lunch will be here at Te village. After a rest and relax, we’ll continue hiking on narrow trails alongside a river and across rice terraces, bamboo gardens and crossing a rickety suspension bridge.

  • Distance: 16km (approx 8-10 hrs)
  • Overnight: Buoc village

 

DAY NINE: KHANH VILLAGE

Early wake-up to enjoy the peaceful life of a rural village with the rooster’s songs, fresh air & nice view of surrounding mountains.

After breakfast, we bid farewell to the host and head out of Buoc village to start our hiking day with stunning landscape waiting ahead. Through Buoc village to Mai Hich, you will have a chance to trek along the beautiful stream running through the forest. A picnic lunch will be here at Mai Hich. After a rest and relax, we’ll transfer to Khanh village. On the way, you may have a chance to see the bamboo chopstick village in Co Luong.

We’ll arrive at Khanh village of the Muong ethnic minority people where you will spend the overnight here. This will be an unforgettable experience as you explore the lifestyles of local people and enjoy the local dishes.

  • Distance: 12km (approx: 6-7 hours)
  • Overnight: Khanh Village

 

DAY TEN: CUC PHUONG NATIONAL PARK

After breakfast, we’ll start hiking along the jungle trail and then gradually climb uphill to enter the dense jungle of Cuc Phuong National Park. During the trek, you will see many different types of plants and trees and take on a lot of ascents and descents.

We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch under the shade of giant trees. You’ll reach Bong at the center of the park in the mid-afternoon where your vehicle will pick you up and transfer to the National Parks headquarter.

We’ll explore the Visitor Cee, Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, Turtle Conservation Centre, and Carnivore & Pangolin Education Centre to learn about the animal conservation efforts of the National Park.

  • Distance: 16km (approx 8-10 hours)
  • Overnight: National Park’s Guesthouse

 

DAY ELEVEN: BIKING NINH BINH

After breakfast, we’ll drive to Ninh Binh to have a full day to explore Ninh Binh by bike. We’ll start cycling along Van Long Nature Reserve through the countryside and villages.  Next is Hoa Lu, which was the capital under the Dinh and Early Le dynasties in Vietnam in the 10th and 11th century. Its palaces, pagodas, tombs, and pavilions, built by different dynasties, still carry the features of an ancient imperial capital.

We’ll board a sampan for an extended journey along the winding river lined with the trees and limestone mountains of  Trang An. You will stop by several small, historic temples which are the pride of the area’s inhabitants. The lush forests, clear river water, fresh air, magical caves and dramatic mountains will charm you from first glance.

  • Distance: 20-30 km  (approx)
  • Overnight: Ninh Binh

 

DAY TWELVE: NINH BINH

We’ll begin the day with an 8:30 AM departure for a day of cycling to the countryside. Once out of town, the route runs along numerous rivers fingering out towards the coast. We’ll pass a number of very rural communities during this picturesque cycle towards the sea. You will have a chance to interact with local women working on the field, and if you wish, participate in their works (subject to availability). 

After a local lunch, we’ll loop back to Ninh Binh with a stop at Phat Diem Church. Take note of the passing scenery, changing from the flat plains of the delta to the limestone mountains of Tam Coc (nicknamed the “Halong Bay on Land.”).

  • Distance: Approx. 20-30km
  • Overnight: Ninh Binh 

 

Note: Oxfam has a project in Nam Dinh. It’s a partnership for equitable resilience to the impacts of climate change of the Coastal communities in the delta and the central region of Vietnam. The “PRC project” sets up and tests microfinance models in coastal areas. This supports improved climate resilience in poor coastal communities around biosphere reserves and marine protected areas in Vietnam.

 

DAY THIRTEEN: CRUISING HA LONG BAY

Depart from Nam Dinh this morning for a 3-hour drive to Ha Long city. From here, we board a private junk ( a type of boat) to cruise to Bai Tu Long-Ha Long Bay. Along the way, you can admire the beautiful karst formations, explore the well-hidden Thien Canh Son cave and relax on a white sandy beach or swim or kayak at Hon Co Island.

Enjoy a delicious dinner prepared for you on board the Dragon Pearl Junk.

 

DAY FOURTEEN: JOURNEY’S END

We rise early to witness the bay at its very best whilst enjoying an invigorating Tai Chi session on the sundeck; after which we serve light breakfast.

After breakfast, we’ll continue our journey and head out in a rustic rowboat to explore the Visit Vung Vieng fishing village. We bid farewell at the port, and depending on the time we may visit yen Duc and witness a water puppet show performed by local artists.

We meet our driver again for a 2.5-hour transfer back to Hanoi. For those who have who extended their stay here, we will have a taxi ordered and paid on their own, the rest of the group will transfer to the airport at 3 pm (subject to traffic) for their onward flight.

 

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