Vietnam North & Central Highlights
10 days / 9 nights
Discover some of the best spots in the north and central regions on this 10-day adventure. Take a journey through time in Hanoi’s historic Old Quarter before travelling to the mountainous north to trek through valleys and gain an insight into the local minority cultures. Hop aboard a Junk boat and sail through the spectacular karst scenery of Ha Long Bay before heading to the pretty UNESCO heritage town Hoi An.
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- Staying at the world-renowned Topas Ecolodge high in the hills of Sapa
- Hiking through terraced rice fields, mountains and jungles deep in northern Vietnam and seeing minority villages
- Discovering the capital of Hanoi and beautiful Halong Bay
This Tour is Perfect for
- Exploring Northern Vietnam’s highlights and lesser visited mountain areas
- Relaxing after the travel restrictions due to Covid 19!
- Diving into the local culture of the Vietnamese as well as ethnic minorities
Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi
Day 2: Hanoi – Bat Trang. Evening Jeep Tour
Day 3: Hanoi – Nam Cang
Day 4: Nam Cang – Nam Pa Velley, jungle hike with BBQ \
Day 5: Nam Cang – Hanoi
Day 6: Hanoi – Ha Long Bay
Day 7: Ha Long Bay – Hanoi. Flight to Danang
Day 8: Hoi An cooking & lantern making
Day 9: Hoi An free day
Day 10: Departure
Day 1: Welcome to the land of the ascending dragon – Hanoi
Xin Chao and welcome to Vietnam! Upon arrival at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport, your Topas guide will welcome you to the capital before heading straight to your hotel in the heart of the city. The day is yours to spend at your leisure discovering Hanoi, perhaps wandering the streets and alleys of the iconic Old Quarter and enjoying the evening promenade around Hoan Kiem Lake. You can of course speak to your guide for some inside tips on what to do.
Included meals: N/A
Distance and activities: 45’ drive, leisure time
Overnight in Hanoi at Hong Ngoc Dynastie hotel
Day 2: Bat Trang Ceramic Village, Sunset & Night tour by Jeep
After eating breakfast at your hotel, you will be picked up and driven to Bat Trang Ceramics Village. This half-day tour takes you to the most famous and long-established pottery village in Vietnam, having existed for over a hundred years. Here you will have the chance to see the local artisans carrying out their craft and even try your hand at making your own ceramic product.
First stop on the tour will be a visit to Bat Trang communal house, which was built during the reign of Le Du Tong between 1719 and 1720. Next, you’ll visit an old French building, built in the 1920s as well as the workshop of one of the ceramic artists, Tran Van Do or To Thanh Son. Here, the artists will guide you through the ceramic making process and you’ll have a chance to try it for yourself. Returning to the city center, you can enjoy some free time in the afternoon exploring the city until your evening tour begins.
At 5pm you will be picked up to embark on a Sunset & Night tour by Jeep. You could spend a decade living in Hanoi and still be surprised at the number of hidden gems within its narrow streets. Gilded temples, quiet lake-side pagodas, and romantic French villas clamor for space on Hanoi’s narrow streets, while wide tree-lined boulevards lead to impressive historical attractions and dreamy lakes. Experiencing the city as it moves from daytime into evening is made even more special by travelling in a vintage Jeep.
Included meals: Breakfast, dinner
Distance and activities: 4.5 hour tour by jeep
Highlights of the jeep tour include:
- Driving through the chronology of time in Hanoi from the ancient to the ultra-modern.
- Cruising around the enchanting French Colonial Quarter and vibrant Old Quarter.
- Passing by the must-see highlights of Hanoi such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Presidential Palace, Ba Dinh Square, Temple of Literature, Tran Quoc Temple, West Lake, Truc Bach Lake, Hoan Kiem Lake, the Opera House, Saint Joseph Cathedral and the train tracks.
- Crossing the historical Long Bien bridge, stopping to admire the sunset
- Savoring the seven food wonders of Hanoi
- Sampling healthy and authentic Hanoi specialties
- Sipping unique egg coffee, green tea, sugar cane juice and fresh local beer (Bia Hoi)
Day 3: From Hanoi – Topas Riverside Lodge
You’ll be picked up early by the Topas Mountain Express and start the five-hour journey to Thanh Phu Bridge, followed by another short transfer to Nam Cang village. Upon arrival, you’ll walk through the village, cross a small bridge and check into your private room in the comfortable Topas Riverside Lodge.
The afternoon can be spent visiting the Red Dao minority village. Nam Cang lies in one of the most remote areas of Sapa and the Red Dao women wear some of the most colorful and diverse clothing of all Vietnam’s ethnic groups. The Red Dao people are skilled in herbal bath preparation, herbal medicine and embroidery, as well as a number of artisan crafts. Your guide will show you around the village where you can learn how the villagers make writing paper, silver jewelry and embroidery.
Back at the lodge, there’ll be time to relax with a cold beer or jump in the river that runs in front of the lodge. Enjoy the evening in the cozy atmosphere of the lodge, chatting or playing board games.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Distance and activities: 5-hour drive, village tour
Grade: easy/ 2 hours walking.
Optional add on: Join a local woman and pick your own mixture of herbs and spend the evening in a special traditional bath, based on your blend. This must be pre-booked and is not included in the tour price.
Day 4: Topas Riverside Lodge – walking in nature
Make your way through the quiet streets of Nam Cang Village towards a dirt road framed by bamboo forests and views of the rice paddies in the valley below. Eventually, you’ll reach a narrow-paved road used by the locals to get around and make the gentle climb up and down through lush green jungles and glittering rice fields to our brand-new mountain hut for a sumptuous Sapa-inspired BBQ lunch.
Rest inside or take advantage of the stunning scenery to take photos while the BBQ is being set up by a Red Dao woman, resting your feet in the cool, rushing river, or crossing make-shift suspension bridges to explore further. Make sure to eat as much as you can of the wide array of freshly smoked trout, vegetables, tofu and mushrooms served straight from the grill and accompanied by fragrant jungle herbs.
Once you’ve had enough to eat, you can make the return 1-hour walk back to Topas Riverside Lodge to spend the rest of the afternoon at your leisure.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Grade: easy/ 2,5 – 3 hours walking.
Day 5: Topas Riverside Lodge – Hanoi
The morning will be spent at your leisure at Topas Riverside Lodge. You can simply relax or borrow high-quality mountain bikes from the lodge to explore the surrounding area.
At 14:15, you will transfer by shuttle bus back to Thanh Phu Bridge, where the Topas Mountain Express will depart at 15:00 and take you back to your hotel in Hanoi.
Included meals: Breakfast
Distance and activities: 5-hour drive, mountain biking (optional)
Day 6: Hanoi – Ha Long Bay – Bai Tu Long Bay
You will be picked up at your hotel, transferred to Ha Long Bay for overnight cruise in Bai Tu Long Bay.
At midday you will arrive at Sunworld International Harbor in Ha Long City where you will transfer by tender to your Tonkin cruise boat. Enjoy a welcome drink, safety briefing before checking in to your cabin.
After settling in you will begin cruising through Bai Tu Long Bay while enjoying a delicious set menu lunch. After lunch, you will have the opportunity to kayak to explore some of the picturesque lagoons, swim in the bay and relax at Cap La beach. Back on board, you will have the chance to unwind with happy hour drinks (from 5h30pm- 7h30pm), taking in the sun setting over the bay, while the boat gently cruises to Cong Dong-Cong Do area where it will anchor overnight.
At 7pm a BBQ dinner will be served on the sundeck (weather permitting). After dinner you will be free to try your hand at squid fishing or relax with some activities onboard the boat, such as playing board games or guitar, watching a movie or even indulging in some karaoke (please request in advance), or simply enjoy some beverages at the luxury sky bar which stocks a good selection of wines, cocktails, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages.
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance and Activities: 3-hour drive
Day 7: Ha Long Bay – Hanoi – Flight to Danang – Hoi An
Wake up early to experience Tai Chi aboard your boat.
After Tai Chi, you can enjoy a light breakfast before hopping aboard a bamboo boat to visit Vung Vieng fishing village where you will discover the daily life of the fishing communities, before heading back to the main boat.
Back on board, you can relax on the sundeck enjoying the last scenery of Ha Long Bay over an early lunch while the boat makes its way back to shore.
Just before midday you will disembark and relax in the cafe lounge before transferring to Hanoi to take a short flight to Danang.
Upon arrival in Danang, you will transfer to your hotel in Hoi An. After checking in, you will have the remainder of the day to spend at your leisure.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch
Distance and activities: 4.5-hour drive, 1h20’ flight
Day 8: Hoi An – Cooking class and Lantern making
Today you will delve into some of the town’s history and sample signature flavors of central Vietnam in this 5-hour walking, cycling and cooking tour around Hoi An.
After breakfast, you’ll be picked up from your hotel to start your cooking tour. You’ll cycle to a nearby food market, accompanied by a local chef, where you can marvel at the dizzying array of sumptuous seasonal fruit, noodles, herbs, vegetables, meat and fish on display. Interact with the vendors and get some tips from your guide on how to bargain. Here, you will purchase the ingredients for the dish you have chosen to make.
After collecting all the necessary ingredients, you’ll cycle to a cooking school in Tra Que vegetable village, where the chef will guide you through the requisite steps to make your dish. Expect plenty of hands-on participation and lots of tasting as you cook!
There will be some time for a wander around Tra Que village, where you can try your hand at fertilizing the plots, preparing the soil, planting herbs, and watering and hoeing the vegetable beds. You can even pick some fresh herbs to enjoy with your lunch.
Finally, just relax and enjoy the lunch you have made. You’ll leave the cooking class with a detailed recipe and the culinary skills needed to serve up a feast back home.
With a full belly, you’ll cycle back to the Old Town for a lantern making class. Cycling through the narrow lanes and street markets will take you back to Hoi An in its heyday, when it was a thriving and bustling trading port. You’ll head to the Reaching Out workshop, where Ha, a papercraft artisan, will guide you through the steps needed to make a traditional foldable Vietnamese lantern to take home.
After the workshop, you’ll be guided back to your hotel to spend the evening at your leisure.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch
Distance and activities: 5-hour cooking class/vegetable village tour and 2-hour lantern making – about 8km cycling
Day 9: Hoi An – Free day
With its bright pink bougainvillea spilling over the yellow walls of the ancient houses that line the picturesque streets, Hoi An is undoubtably one of Vietnam’s most charming towns. Enjoy the day at your leisure, ambling through the quaint alleyways and getting to know the restaurants, cafes, and tailors situated on the banks of the Thu Bon River. We suggest popping into Reaching Out Teahouse, a lovely ancient house providing work for the hard of hearing and serving delicious teas and homemade snacks.
Included meals: Breakfast
Distance and activities: Leisure time
Day 10: Hoi An – Danang, final departure
You can spend the day at your leisure until your transfer to Danang International Airport for your departure flight.
Included meals: Breakfast
Distance and activities: 45′ drive
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Hanoi: 1B Alley 12/2/5 Dang Thai Mai St. Tay Ho District
Sapa: 15 Le Van Tam Street
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