Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi. Transfer to Moon Garden Homestay.
Day 2: Cycling to Duong Lam. Transfer Hanoi. Cyclo tour.
Day 3: Insight Hanoi tour. Train to Sapa.
Day 4: Arrive Lao Cai. Trek to remote village of Red Dao minority.
Day 5: Trekking through villages and valleys to Nam Cang Riverside House.
Day 6: Mountains and rivers crossing. Transfer to Topas Ecolodge.
Day 7: Relaxing on hilltop. Take night train back to Hanoi.
Day 8: Transfer to Cuc Phuong National Park. Trek through the rain forest.
Day 9: Explore Ninh Binh – “Halong Bay on Land”.
Day 10: Transfer to Cat Ba Island. Trek in Cat Ba National Park to fishing village.
Day 11: Mountain top view and onboard the overnight cruises in Halong Bay.
Day 12: Explore more of Halong Bay and back to Hanoi. End trip.
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi. Transfer to Moon Garden Homestay
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. (-/-/D)
Day 2: Cycling to Duong Lam. Transfer to Hanoi. Cyclo tour
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, you will enjoy a short tour by cyclo around the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Established in the 11th century, the Old Quarter has 36 streets named after the commodity produced and sold on each, such as sugar, bamboo, leather and silver streets. Times have changed, but some streets still specialize in the goods the street is named after. Overnight in Hanoi. (B/L/-)
Day 3: Insight Hanoi tour. Train to Sapa
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.
In the evening, you will transfer to Hanoi station for the night train to Lao Cai, a city bordering China. Overnight onboard the train. (B/L/-)
(*) closed on Mondays and Fridays. Closed during October and November.
Day 4: Arrive in Lao Cai. Trek to a remote village of the Red Dao minority
You will arrive in Lao Cai Station early in the morning, where your guide and porter await. After breakfast in a local restaurant, you leave Lao Cai for a drive to Ta Thang, inhabited by the Tay minority. Your trek will begin here. It is mostly uphill and you will have an opportunity to enjoy one of the most beautiful views in the area, with broad green valleys and a winding river.
After lunch in Nam Ket you will continue your trek toward the Red Dao village of Sin Chai. You are now in a fabulous mountain area and one of the most remote parts of Sapa. The Red Dao minority is the major group here. You will arrive at Sin Chai village late in the afternoon, where you will stay the night in a homestay and enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the Red Dao. Overnight in Sin Chai village. (B/L/D)
Approx: Moderate-hard trek – 7 hours
Note: A maximum of 12kg luggage/personwill be stored in the water-proof bags and carried by the porters for three days. You will only need to bring a small backpack for drinking water and a camera during the day. The rest of your luggage will be transferred to Topas Ecolodge.
Day 5: Trekking through villages and valleys to Nam Cang Riverside House
You will wake up to the sounds of nature and say goodbye to the friendly villagers before commencing the trek along the bottom of the valley to Thanh Phu village. On the way, you will enjoy stunning views of endless rice terraces. Thanh Phu is inhabited by the Tay minority who live, as they have for many years, in traditional stilt houses. From the village, the trail heads uphill to the Red Dao village of Nam Nhiu with breathtaking views of mountains, rivers and waterfalls. You will arrive in the Nam Nhiu village just before noon and during term time you will have the chance to visit a small school.
The trek in the afternoon is a little more challenging, with more ascending to Nam Than village, the only village in Sapa inhabited by the Blue H’mong minority people. In the late afternoon, you will eventually arrive at the Red Dao village of Nam Cang where you can relax at the Nam Cang Riverside House before enjoying a well-prepared dinner. You will stay overnight in your own private cabin. Overnight in Nam Cang village. (B/L/D)
Approx: Moderate trek – 6-7 hours walking
Day 6: Mountains and river crossings. Transfer to Topas Ecolodge
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. Overnight at Topas Ecolodge. (B/L/-)
Approx: Moderate-hard trek – 7-8 hours walking
Day 7: Relaxing on the hilltop. Take the night train back to Hanoi
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.
In the afternoon you will take a one hour drive to Sapa town, where you will once again encounter the Tay, Black H’mong, Red Dao and Giay minorities who gather to socialize and trade in the town. It is pleasant to walk around the town, exploring why it was once chosen as a hill station by the French. At 17:00, you will be driven to Lao Cai railway station for the night train back to Hanoi. Overnight onboard the train. (B/-/-)
Day 8: Transfer to Cuc Phuong National Park. Trek through the rain forest
After an early arrival at Hanoi station you will transfer to Cuc Phuong National Park, 130km south, with a break on the way for breakfast. 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’
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. (B/L/D)
Day 10: Transfer to Cat Ba Island. Trek in Cat Ba National Park to a fishing village
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. (B/L/D)
Approx: Easy-Moderate trek – 5-6 hours walking
Day 11: Mountain top views and an overnight cruise on Halong Bay
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. (B/L/D)
Day 12: Explore more of Halong Bay and return to Hanoi
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. (B/L/-)
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
Train tickets Hanoi – Lao Cai – Hanoi (soft sleeper in 4-berth cabins with AC)
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