splendor of the north
A short but inviting itinerary of 7 days in Vietnam is expertly designed for those who don’t have plenty time and want to be surrounded by gentle setting and friendly locals. Spend one week in the northern Vietnam to uncover the beauty of ancient capital, ethnic minorities and natural wonders.
Arrival in Hanoi, welcomed by our guide and transfer to hotel. First visit city center to be immersed in the charms of the millennium capital (1010-2010):
– Sword Lake with the temple of Jade Mountain and the islet of the Turtle Tower – the heart of Hanoi.
– Palace of King Ly Thai To overlooking the Sword Lake where you could discover the long-lasting history of the Vietnam’s capital.
– Old Quarters and its 36 streets – the historical heart of the 1000-year-old merchant city: walking through artisanal streets whose names are originated from the goods produced and sold there: Cotton, Iron, Sugar, Traditional Medicine… Stop at Ma May street, take a visit to the Ancient House of Vietnamese – the characteristic feature of traditional Hanoi architecture.
– The colonial heritage with French concessions: cyclo-ride through the Opera House, the 5-star Hotel Metropole, the State Bank and the Central Post Office.
The rest of the day is free for your relaxation. Overnight at hotel in Hanoi.
Day is dedicated to discover the most remarkable cultural sites and historical monuments of Hanoi:
– Tran Quoc Pagoda located on the shore of West Lake, the oldest one of the city
– Ba Dinh Palace, the complex of former Indochina governor palace, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and his stilt house
– Temple of Literature – the symbol of feudal education and one of the emblems of Hanoi
– Vietnam Museum of Ethnology – the collection of 25,000 ancient and contemporary ethnic objects from Vietnam that will allow you to take a glimpse of their lifestyles
– Late afternoon, transfer to theater to enjoy the water puppet show – a specialty of Vietnamese culture, a part of UNESCO’s intangible heritage
Overnight at hotel in Hanoi.
In the morning, drive to Mai Chau – the home of Thai and Muong ethnic minorities, vast green tea plantations and rice fields. Drop by Giang Mo Village which houses a score of ethnic stilted houses. Take a stroll around the village and talk with the Muong, who until now still practice slash-and-burn agriculture.
Resume the trip to Mai Chau, a verdant valley populated by the Thai ethnic. Stop en route at the top of a pass overlooking the valley to observe rice paddies peppered with villages and traditional houses and surrounding mountains clad in bamboo forests.
Upon arrival, take a ride to survey rice paddies and Thai villages. At the end of the day dine and have a sip of “Ruou Can” with a local family. Overnight at homestay in Mai Chau.
Greet the morning by some steps through green rice fields dotted with charming stilted houses of local minorities. Meet the Thais who are working in rice fields. Afternoon, transfer to Ninh Binh, the heavenly land of limestone formations, sugar cane forest and rice paddies flooded by rivers and lakes throughout the year (having similar traits to Ha Long Bay , Ninh Binh is known as “Halong Bay on land” by the travelers). Check-in at the hotel upon arrival. The rest of the day is free for your rest. Overnight at hotel in Ninh Binh.
Day excursion by boat to discover the Halong Bay on land – Ninh Binh. Take boat trips on Trang An and Kenh Ga:
– Trang An, an aquatic area of more than 30 lakes surrounded by numerous limestone peaks covered with lush vegetation. Take a stirring sailing through the massive underground caves dug by erosion.
– Kenh Ga, a floating village of Catholics who live in autarky thanks to fish farming, they move in sampans or in cement boats. Possibility of crossing the rowers on foot. Everything is far from modern life, in the midst of timeless landscapes.
– Late afternoon, join a refreshing bike tour through villages and sugar cane forest to enjoy the serene atmosphere of this rural area.
Overnight at the hotel in Ninh Binh.
Morning depart for Ha Long, the most beautiful bay of Vietnam, one of the most beautiful landscapes of Asia. Located 180 km east of Hanoi and close to China, Ha Long is an expanse of water, about 1500 km². On arrival, take a magnificent cruise trip to explore the bay. Admire the picturesque islands and islets of various shapes (veil, dog, cock, incense…). Lay down on the upper deck of the junk, swimming and diving in the sublime waters of the bay. Kayak or boat trip on the bay. Lunch and dinner based on fish and seafood from the bay. Free evening, relax on your bed or evolve in card games, night fishing… Overnight on board.
Greet the morning by a precious moment when the first rays of sunlight emerge from thousands karsts of the bay. Visit the splendid caves of Ha Long Bay including Sung Sot – “Surprise Cave” (in the 19th century the first French sailors, who was surprised by its fairy-like beauty, had baptized it). Observe stalagmites and stalactites dating back thousands of years ago. Continue the cruise to the unknown hidden corners of Ha Long Bay. Lunch on the junk, then return to Hanoi. Arrival in Hanoi towards the end of the afternoon. The rest of the evening is free for your relaxation and your last shopping in the city center before our guide escorts you to the airport for departure flight.