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 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 colors 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.

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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 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 colors 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. Travelers 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 three 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 ten to 120 kinds of herbs, which are refreshing to the body, smoothing on the skin, and is 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 homestay together with family.

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

  • Distance: 9.8 km hiking/ 5 hours
  • 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 make 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 they are working hard on the field for 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: 11.6 km hiking/ 4.5 – 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, where 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: HILL-TRIBE MARKET

Depending on the day, we will visit a local market. The market offers a variety of local products, which can not be found in others areas such as pot-bellied pigs, cows, and buffalos.

We’ll continue with a short walk to a hill-tribe village. Here you’ll have the opportunity to visit some local homes to understand more on the daily life of these tribes as well as their culture and traditions

We’ll 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: HANOI

After your breakfast, we’ll enjoy a 2 hours 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 the 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 when 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. Arrive in Mai Chau late in the afternoon.

  • Overnight: Mai Chau

 

DAY EIGHT: MAI CHAU

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)
  • Overnight: Buoc village

 

DAY NINE: BUOC VILLAGE TREK

Early wake-up to enjoy 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 here and enjoy the local dishes.

  • Distance: 12km (approx)
  • 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 Centre, 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)
  • 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 Cycle 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: NAM DINH

After a brief tour, we’ll continue heading south into the heart of the Delta passing through many traditional villages, rice fields, pagoda, and temples.

We’ll enjoy lunch in a local restaurant and continue cycling to the town of Thai Binh to visit one of the most revered temples in the Red River Delta. From here, we ’ll transfer to Nam Dinh. Nam Dinh is not only the place where Christianity first arrived in Vietnam but is also one of the provinces with the most beautiful churches in the country. The complex of the Catholic churches and the Gothic architecture is a unique feature of this land.

In the late afternoon, we’ll cycle along Giao Thuy village possibly seeing Phu Nhai basilica, one of the oldest parish of the Catholic Churches in Vietnam. Phu Nhai basilica was built five times, the first time in the eighteenth century, and most recently in 1933. The current church is 80m long, 27m wide, and 30m high.

In the evening we’ll enjoy dinner at the homestay, a truly typical Vietnamese house in the Northern.

  • Distance: up to 30 km
  • Overnight: Giao Thuy

 

DAY THIRTEEN: CRUISING HA LONG BAY

Depart from Nam Dinh this morning for a 3-hour drive to Hai Phong city. From here, we board on a cruise for an exclusive journey to Ba Trai Dao beach area of Lan Ha Bay- a separate part of Halong Bay. This is a quiet tourist paradise in Vietnam. The region is known for its pristine beaches and spectacular beauty, having about 400 fascinating islands. Unlike the main, Ha Long Bay, the islands of Lan Ha Bay are forested, and most are small in stature.

 

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 canoes to explore the bay in the area near Sang Toi cave. We bid farewell at Dinh Vu port, as this is the end of the journey. We meet our driver again for a 2.5-hour transfer back to Hanoi. Those who have extended their stay here will have a taxi ordered the rest of the group will transfer to the airport for their onward flight.

 

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