Day 1: Hanoi arrival. Introduction cyclo tour and folklore performance.
Day 2: Hanoi art tour.
Day 3: Hanoi traditional villages and But Thap pagoda. Train to Lao Cai.
Day 4: Amazing Muong Hoa valley trek and culture of Black H’mong minority.
Day 5: Easy mountain bike ride to Red Dao minority village.
Day 6: Colorful minority market. Train back to Hanoi.
Day 7: Halong Bay cruise.
Day 8: Cruise in Halong Bay. Flight home.
Upon arrival at Noi Bai International airport you will be taken to your hotel in downtown Hanoi.
Late in the afternoon you will take a cyclo tour around the Old Quarter. 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 or silver. The trip will end with a water puppet show or a catru performance, both art forms unique to this area. (-/-/-)
Overnight in Hanoi.
Mrs. Nga and Mr. Trung come from an artistic family. They are Vietnamese art collectors who have long run their own gallery in Hanoi. With more than 20 years of experience, they have a passion for introducing Vietnamese artists to visitors. They will start the tour at a small café, where you can have an open discussion about art in Hanoi and Vietnam more widely. You will then visit the Hanoi Fine Art Museum and later visit a studio where you will witness a local artist at work, or maybe try to create a painting of your own. Your lunch (not included),may be enjoyed at a restaurant popular with Hanoi artists.
In the afternoon you be driven out to Thanh Chuong Palace. Thanh Chuong is a famous painter who has devoted his life to creating a collection of ancient Vietnamese houses and other forms of art, making it “one of the most important cultural destinations of ancient Hanoi,” according to The New York Times. (B/-/-)
Overnight in Hanoi
Your private tour guide will meet you at your hotel. You will then drive to Dong Ho village, famous for its traditional paintings, where you can spend time in an artist’s house to learn about the creative process. The next stop is But Thap pagoda, one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam and Vietnam’s first Buddhist center. This pagoda is also famed for its traditional art of wood carving and sculpture, especially the statue of Buddha with a thousand hands and a thousand eyes. The statue of Tay Thien Dong Do Vietnam is a highlight.
You will enjoy your lunch at a local house where three generations of a family will be happy to share information about their way of life.
In the afternoon you will visit Bat Trang village, 15km east of Hanoi. This village is famous for making fine ceramics. On arrival, you will be able to stroll in the small alleys of this old village to watch local people producing their fine products and visit some of the houses used as workshops and showrooms.
You then have a transfer back to Hanoi to visit the Ethnology Museum, which represents all 54 ethnic groups of Vietnam. Some of the minorities will be your hosts in the coming days.
In the evening, you will be transferred to Hanoi station for your night train departing at 21:10 to Lao Cai. (B/L/-)
Overnight on the train
You will be picked up at Lao Cai train station and transferred to Sapa for breakfast and a visit to the local market. After this comes a full day walk to Y Linh Ho and Lao Chai village, each inhabited by the Black H’mong minority and set in the beautiful Muong Hoa valley. Shortly after leaving Sapa town behind, you are in a tranquil landscape of rice terraces and the enormous Hoang Lien Mountain range. At Y Linh Ho village, you will be warmly welcomed by the family of Sung A Chao. Inside their local traditional house, you will be charmed by the culture of the Black H’mong through interesting stories told by the hospitable hosts. The Black H’mong people are very good at making agricultural tools, wooden furniture, musical instruments and jewelry. They are also famous for their hemp production and indigo dying.
After lunch at Mr. Chao’s house, you continue to walk along the Muong Hoa River to Lao Chai village, where you will be transferred to the unique mountain resort of Topas Ecolodge.
You will then enjoy a special set-dinner served on top of the hill before having a wonderful quiet night in your bungalow. (B/L/-)
Approx: Easy + trek/ 5 hours walking / Half an hour driving
Overnight at Topas Ecolodge
After breakfast you will saddle up for a relaxing ride to the quiet Red Dao village of Lech. The Red Dao women wear some of the most colorful and diverse costumes of all Vietnam’s ethnic groups. At the village you will visit the village school (during term time) and also meet lots of smiling villagers who still live the same way their ancestors did for hundreds of years. At a local house of one of the village leaders, you will learn about their herbal baths, local medicine and their skilled embroidery techniques. Having said goodbye to the friendly villagers, you will cycle back to the Ecolodge. The afternoon can be spent at your leisure. (B/-/-)
Overnight at Topas Ecolodge
After an early breakfast you will visit one of the local markets. The market location varies according to the day of the week; there’s the market of Coc Ly (or Ban Cam on Tuesdays), Lung Khau Nhin (on Thursdays), Can Cau (Saturdays) or Bac Ha (or Muong Khuong or Muong Hum on Sundays). Each is located in the surrounding mountainous area, 70 – 90 km from Lao Cai. All markets are colorful as the various nearby ethnic groups gather not only to trade in local products, but also to meet friends and family.
In the afternoon you will take a walk to visit another minority village in the area, before ending the tour at a hotel in Lao Cai. You will check-in to refresh and restbefore taking the train from Lao Cai station to Hanoi. (B/L/-)
Overnight on board the train
You will arrive early at Hanoi station and head to Hoan Kiem Lake where, in the early morning fresh air, hundreds of Hanoians practice Tai Chi by the water right in the heart of the city. You will then visit the Ngoc Son temple before enjoying breakfast.
Upon arrival at the wharf just before noon, you will get on board for your overnight cruise. Drinks and a fresh seafood lunch will welcome you aboard. Enjoy lunch as the traditional junk boat cruises into the unique seascape of Halong Bay, a UNESCO natural heritage site. The cruising route is customized to offer you the best that Halong Bay has to offer. You can relax on the deck, have a swim in the emerald water and visit a cave. After a seafood dinner, you can enjoy your own private and well equipped cabin.
You may like to rise early to practice Tai Chi on the deck at sunrise. The boat continues its cruise between thousands of beautiful limestone islets. Your breakfast and lunch will be served onboard before disembarking.
From here you have a transfer to Hanoi airport to take your onwardflight. (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)
All indicated meals (B as breakfast, L as lunch, D as dinner)
All entrance fees to indicated sites
Personal pocket money
Visa to Vietnam