8 days North Vietnam - Highlights in the hills and Halong Bay

Hanoi | 8 days | from $ 1288,-
The region South of Hanoi is often overlooked, but is beautiful. Endless ricefields with a mountainous background, 'Halong Bay on Land', an area with karst mountains and then cruising in a quiet part of Halong Bay. 
  • Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi
  • Day 2: Insight Hanoi tour
  • Day 3: Transfer to Mai Chau
  • Day 4: Explore Mai Chau in depth
  • Day 5: Travel from Mai Chau Valley to Ninh Binh
  • Day 6: Ninh Binh - Ha Long Bay
  • Day 7: Ha Long Bay - Hanoi
  • Day 8: Hanoi departure

Price (2 people)
$ 1468,- p.p.
Price (3-5 people)
$ 1288,- p.p.
Mon-Tue-Thu-Sat from Hanoi
  • private tour with local English speaking guide in A/C vehicles
  • airport transfer without guide
  • hotels and meals as mentioned
  • 1 night on board Red Dragon or Price cruise (shared boat)
  • all entrance fees, boat fees and/pr cyclo fees
  • tours as mentioned
International airfare to/from Vietnam (quoted separately)
Domestic airfare(quoted separately)
Optional tours
Beauty and spa services on Halong Bay cruise
Surcharges for Lunar New Year (TET) holiday
Personal travel insurance
Personal expenditure, such as drinks, souvenirs, laundry, camera fees, communications, postage, gratuities etc.
Meals and services other than mentioned in the programme
Drinks with meals
Compulsory gala dinners during festive seasons and peak season surcharges which will be advised at the time of booking

Price valid until 31.10.2020
Extra surcharges might be applicable on National Holidays

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi

Upon arrival at Noi Bai International airport you will have a transfer to your hotel in downtown of Hanoi (no guide).
The rest of day is free at your leisure.
Accommodation: Hanoi La Siesta Hotel (Deluxe room)
Meals: no

Day 2: Insight Hanoi tour

Hanoi, 08:00 hours: Immerse yourself in Hanoi's fascinating history and culture as you visit and learn about its most famous historical sites.
This morning begins a private tour of the fascinating city of Hanoi. Your guide will bring you unique insights as well as a local perspective, as you take in the main sights and also some lesser-known spots. Start your tour with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Continue on to explore Ho Chi Minh's former residence. His stilt house reflects the modest way in which he lived. Next up, is the One-Pillar Pagoda a Buddhist temple of historical and cultural significance. You then visit the picturesque Temple of Literature. The Temple was built in 1070 and is known as the first university of Vietnam. It remains close to the heart of intellectuals and the public as a site of great learning and knowledge.

Note: Alternative for the tour on Mondays and during the mausoleum maintenance
See Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum from the outside and then walk to visit Quan Thanh Temple. You pass by the offices of the highest state institutions such as the National Assembly Hall, Presidential Palace, Government Office and Party Central Committee, whose architecture bears the influence of the French colonial time, the Soviet era and modern-day western styles. Continue to visit the Temple of Literature, known as the first university of Vietnam and built more than 1,000 years ago, and Hoa Lo Prison Museum or Vietnam National Museum of History (except on the first Monday of the month).

After lunch, you will enjoy unique museum experiences at one of the most visited museums in the city:
Fine Arts Museum
Vietnam National Museum of History
War Museum
Museum of Ethnology
Hoa Lo Prison Museum
The tour then continues with a leisurely “cyclo tour” in the old quarter where you will visit the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake and iconic Ngoc Son Temple.
Accommodation: Hanoi La Siesta Hotel (Deluxe room)
Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 3: Transfer to Mai Chau

08:00 hours: Pick up at your hotel in Hanoi and drive to the provincial capital of Hoa Binh and further to Mai Chau (approx. 4 hours, 200 km). Mai Chau is home to different ethnic minority groups such as the White Thai, H'mong, Zao, Muong, Tay, Hoa and Viet. The Mai Chau hill tribes are warm and welcoming, and famous for their handicrafts - in particular for their skills in embroidering clothes.
Lunch is taken at a local restaurant. In the afternoon take a bicycle tour on the trails in the idyllic Mai Chau Valley. Pass by stilt house villages, lush paddy fields and water buffalos.
Take the opportunity to visit a nearby village to see a music and dance performance of the Thai people and the local handicrafts in the evening (Your own account).
Accommodation: Mai Chau Ecolodge (Superior room)
Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 4: Explore Mai Chau in depth

Breakfast at hotel. A 40 minute drive brings you from the valley up to Cang Village. This village is located higher up in the mountainous area around Mai Chau. Your trekking leads through the unique green landscape until you reach Sa Linh Village after around 2 hours. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the way, followed by hot tea/coffee in the house of a H’mong family. Continue your trekking for another 2 hours to Pa Co Village. Return transfer to Mai Chau.
Remark: Guests can request a shorter hike in the valley around Xam Khoe village.
Accommodation: Mai Chau Ecolodge (Superior room)
Meals: breakfast, picnic lunch and dinner

Day 5: Travel from Mai Chau Valley to Ninh Binh

Mai Chau – Ninh Binh. Have early breakfast, then check out and drive to Ninh Binh, home to the first feudal dynasties in Vietnam and the land, often dubbed as the “Dry Halong Bay”.

Option 1:
Arrive in Ninh Binh, you will first visit Hoa Lu, the site of the former capital of the Vietnamese state, post Chinese rule in the first millennium. Visit Dinh and Le dynasty temples and then drive to visit Tam Coc  “Ha Long Bay on Land” - the same limestone formations as in Ha Long Bay but seen from a winding stream through paddy fields instead of the sea. Enjoy spectacular scenery during the boat trip to Tam Coc grottoes, then transfer to visit Bich Dong Pagoda.

Option 2:
Explore Van Long Wetlands a nature lover’s haven, by bicycle and boat. Discover why this nature reserve is known as ‘Dry Halong Bay’.  Experience the natural beauty of 'Dry Halong Bay' on this cycling tour. You start at the stilt house and cycle through local hamlets. This introduces you to rural life here.  You will also visit temples, pagodas, communal houses and markets in the course of approximately 7km cycling. Upon arrival at Cau Vang hamlet (Golden Bridge) learn about traditional farming practices and join the local farmers in their daily work routines. This might include tending to rice fields, transplanting young rice, catching crabs or fishing (approximately 1 hour). At noon, visit a local family, and try your hand at preparing your lunch. The chef of the Van Long stilt house will guide you and offer you tips and tricks. In the afternoon, continue biking to Van Long wetland and biological reserve to take a 2-hour leisurely sampan ride. Drift with nature as you explore the calm waters and take in the spectacular karst landscape. In the late afternoon, head back to the Van Long pier for the return transfer to Hanoi.

Estimated driving time/distance: About 4 hours from Mai Chau to Ninh Binh;140 km
Accommodation: Emeralda (Superior room)
Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Ninh Binh - Ha Long Bay

Breakfast at hotel, check out and transfer to Ha Long through the heart of the Red River Delta Provinces. Upon arrival, embark on an overnight cruise and set sail on a cruise through the limestone cliffs and emerald waters of Ha Long Bay, taking in the spectacular scenery of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Lunch is served as you cruise by impressive rock formations with unusual names and shapes.
In the afternoon you will start to discover Ha Long Bay, listed as a World Heritage of outstanding natural beauty, known in Vietnamese as “Dragon descending to the sea“. Depending on each cruise’s itinerary of the day, you may visit a beautiful cave, have some swimming.When the sun sets, your boat will drop anchor for the night. You may attend a cooking demonstration before having dinner.
After dinner, you may choose to enjoy fresh air on the sundeck or playing board games or retiring to your cabin for a comfortable night in the bay.

Notes: your tour guide will not accompany you on-board.
Accommodation: on-board the overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay
Meals: breakfast, luch, dinner

Day 7: Ha Long Bay - Hanoi

Early riser may join a Tai Chi session on the sundeck (depending on each cruise’s programme) and enjoy watching the sunrise in the Bay. Afterward your boat will weave its way back to the pier.
Pick up at Tuan Chau pier and transfer back to Hanoi.
Accommodation: La Siesta Classic hotel (Deluxe room)
Meals: breakfast on-board

Day 8: Hanoi departure

Transfer to the airport for your departure (no guide). 
Meals: breakfast

Hanoi: La Siesta Classic Hotel (Deluxe room)
Mai Chau: Mai Chau Ecolodge (Superior room)
Ninh Binh: Emeralda Resort (Superior room)
Halong Bay: Red Dragon cruise (Deluxe cabin)

note: Hotels offered depending on availability. If not available we will do our best to find a hotel in a similar category. Costs may be slightly different.