Northern Vietnam Heritage
Catch an in-depth glimpse of the history, traditions, and culture of northern Vietnam on this 6-day relaxed exploration of historic Hanoi, scenic Ninh Binh, and remote Bai Tu Long Bay. From slurping noodles at a street eatery and investigating ruins of ancient citadels to basking in the impressive natural beauty of bays, lagoons, and rice fields, this taste of Vietnam will have you coming back for more.
- Sampling famous street food dishes on busy Hanoi streets
- Sailing on an overnight cruise through the remote Bai Tu Long Bay
- Cycling in Van Long Nature Reserve
- Exploring ancient citadels in Hanoi and Ninh Binh
- Floating down the quiet rivers of Ninh Binh in a sampan rowed by foot
This Tour is Perfect for
- First- or second-time visitors to Vietnam
- Seeing the best and most quintessential landscapes of the country
- Leisure travel in a relaxed style
- Hitting major northern Vietnam highlights in an authentic and original way
- Families with children of all ages
Topas Travel creates tailor-made tours for our guests according to their specific requests. This itinerary has been designed to show you just one of many options
Day 1: Hanoi arrival
Day 2: Hanoi
Day 3: Hanoi – Ninh Binh
Day 4: Ninh Binh – Bai Tu Long Bay
Day 4: Bai Tu Long Bay
Day 5: Bai Tu Long Bay – Hon Gai Pier – Hanoi departure
Xin Chao and welcome to Vietnam! Upon arrival to Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport, a Topas representative will welcome you to the land of the ascending dragon before heading straight to your hotel in the heart of the city. The day is at leisure to discover Hanoi on your own, wandering the crooked alleys of the iconic Old Quarter and the promenade around Hoan Kiem Lake.
Included meals: N/A
Transfer distance and activities: 45’ drive
Experience the morning like a true Hanoian at Hang Be Market, one of the Old Quarter’s liveliest “wet” markets. Wet means fresh, so expect picture-perfect mountains of vegetables, a rainbow of exotic, tropical fruits, and fish that couldn’t be fresher (because it’s still alive and kicking). Then, head into an alley and pull up a tiny plastic stool for a breakfast bowl of bun ca and ca cuon (a noodle dish served with fried fish, plenty of vegetables, and usually a broth).
Once you’ve had enough to eat, head to the Citadel, a true testament of Vietnam’s strength, resilience, and beauty. Marvel at the ancient architecture while strolling past leafy gardens and learning about the Citadel’s central position of power, of which it maintains even to this day. Then, head over to the superb Vietnamese Women’s Museum, an essential stop on any visit to Hanoi. Explore the heroines of Vietnamese society, especially in regards to ethnic minorities, war, and modern exhibitions before heading back to the Old Quarter for a tasty lunch on one of the most famous food streets in Southeast Asia.
Finally, spend the afternoon at a local café soaking up the atmosphere of a favorite Vietnamese hobby, drinking coffee with friends. Surrounded by businessmen and giggling teenagers, take your pick of local drinks, although we suggest trying the quintessential Hanoi specialty, egg coffee, a decadent drink brewed with Robusta beans and whisked together with chocolate powder and egg whites.
Included meals: Breakfast and Lunch
Distance and activities: 4km street walk
After breakfast, leave behind the chaos of Hanoi on a 2-hour drive to Ninh Binh in the surrounding countryside. Ninh Binh remains one of Vietnam’s most captivating locations, combining stunning natural splendor with an engrossing history that spans a millennium.
Investigate the remains of Hoa Lu, the capital of Vietnam under both the Dinh and Le dynasties and established a thousand years ago. The sights and smells still evoke the atmosphere of a lost kingdom with stunning temples, pagodas, and elaborate tombs. You’ll also uncover evidence of ancient palaces and royal pavilions that reference an ancient era, surrounded by towering karst mountains and vivid jungle. Grab a bicycle and peddle through the Van Long Nature Reserve and adjacent countryside, passing small villages and bright green rice paddies along the way until pausing for lunch.
Then, swap your bicycle for a boat and hop into a small sampan to discover what Ninh Binh is known for–its incredibly scenic boat rides. Keep your head low as your driver steers and rows the boat with her feet through cave passages that lead hidden temples and pagodas inaccessible by road in the lush jungle.
Included meals: Breakfast and Lunch
Distance and activities: 2.5h drive – 1.5h boating – 10km cycling
Have a leisurely breakfast this morning before leaving Ninh Binh on a 2-hour drive through the Red River Delta to Hon Gai Pier, a gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. Check-in to your cabin and get accustomed with your cruise ship before making your way to the dining room to settle down for a delicious seafood lunch depending on the catch of the day (vegetarian and kid’s menus are also available).
Sail through the gorgeous scenery of Halong Bay, leaving the crowds and ships behind as you make your way east towards the borders of Bai Tu Long Bay, pausing for a break in scenic Cong Do Area to kayak, swim, and sunbathe on quiet beaches.
Head back to the ship and enjoy a sundowner while joining the Chef in re-creating some traditional Vietnamese cuisine classics during a cooking demonstration followed by dinner.
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Distance and activities: 2h drive – 2h kayaking
As the sun rises over the bay, join the ancient practice of Tai Chi on the sundeck, a martial art known for its health benefits and meditational use. After working up an appetite, sit down for a delectable breakfast before boarding a smaller ship to dive even further into Bai Tu Long Bay.
Pass by exotic limestone formations in Cap La and Cong Dam hamlets before arriving to Bai Tu Long Geology Park. This pristine area is home to tons of isolated beaches and floating houses, making it the perfect location to explore by kayak. Find your own private beach or swim in the warm jade-like waters, the choice is up to you!
After a hot lunch served on the boat, join a local fisherman’s family and learn how to fish the traditional Vietnamese way. Return to the mother ship and relax onboard until dinner time, retiring to your comfy cabin for a good night’s sleep.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Distance and activities: Full-day swimming and kayaking
Spend your final morning in the Gulf of Tonkin with another Tai Chi session or a hot cup of coffee as you watch the sun rise. Around 7:45, board a small bamboo row boat and lazily float through the canals of a secluded floating village, an iconic image of the region.
Back at the ship, a brunch is served as you cruise through the now-familiar scenery on the way back to Hon Gai Pier. Disembark, bid farewell to cabin and crew, and return to Hanoi around 4pm with drop-off in the Old Quarter or Tayho.
Included meals: Brunch
Distance and activities: 3h drive
- 1-way private A/C airport transfer with welcome guide
- Join-in 3 day/2 night cruise (Led by English-speaking Cruise Manager on board)
- All accommodation indicated as twin-shared room and cabin
- All meals as indicated in the program
- All entrance tickets to Bai Tu Long and Halong Bay
- Free refillable water in vans
- 1 x English speaking local tour guide on airport transfer Day 1
- Government Value Added Tax
- Drinks and alcohol
- Vietnam visa (On request with additional charge)
- Travel insurance (Compulsory with Topas Travel programs)
- Upgrades to higher standard rooms or single supplements
- Personal travel items (Please visit our Vietnam weather page for more information)
This program utilizes comfortable accommodation in the form of carefully curated hotels, lodges, and homestays. Hotels and lodges have been selected with the active traveler in mind, offering standard services and located as close to nature and local engagement as possible. Homestays are simple and equipped with western toilets and amenities such as fans and mattresses. If you have a specific property in mind you wish to stay at, please let your travel designer know so they can work it into your program.