DAY 1: ARRIVAL - HANOI
Pick up at the airport, meeting the tour guide of AdventureTours.vn and transfer to Ha Noi , Vietnam's capital, is a stylish and gracious city that retains an unique old world charm and some Asia ‘s most striking colonial architecture. The many lakes and parks make for relaxing atmosphere. If time permits we embark on a cyclo for a short excursion through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sale at these places. Overnight in Ha Noi.
DAY 2: HANOI CITY TOUR ( B, L )
Today we enjoy a full day city tour starting with the Ho Chi Minh Complex, containing the mausoleum of the nation’s founder Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace and the Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts. This complex also comprises the One Pillar Pagoda, whose origins date back to the foundation of city. We follow this with a trip to the Temple of Literature well known as Vietnam’s first university and the History Museum, which displays an excellent collection of artifacts illustrating the Vietnamese history. Our next stop is the impressive Ethnologic Museum, dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 hill tribe groups, some of which we will see on our forthcoming days. We also visit the peaceful lake of Hoan Kiem with its sacred temple and the vibrant Dong Xuan Market before attending a performance of Hanoi's famous water puppets. Overnight in Hanoi.
DAY 3: HANOI - SONLA ( B, L )
The journey northwards begins as we depart Hanoi and pass through the undulating terrains of tea plantations and the many timeless villages linked to the road which is the main artery of trade between the northwestern region and the capital city. This is our first glimpse of rural Vietnam and sets the tone for the days ahead. Depending on road and traffic conditions our drive will deliver us in Son La by mid or late afternoon. After checking into hotel we take a walk around this mountain town. There is a little traffic on roads and many Black Thai in traditional costume scurry in all directions. Overnight in Son La.
DAY 4: SONLA - DIEN BIEN PHU ( B, L )
The provincial museum and the nearby old prison are some of this hill town's major sights. We have a chance to visit these before we leave for our next destination. The winding roads cross over the Pha Din Pass before reaching Dien Bien Phu, the site of the decisive battle in Vietnam’s struggle for independence in 1954. After checking into our central located hotel we enjoy a walk around to see this fast growing town. Our main stop is Dien Bien Phu’s Museum which details the event in place. We also pay a visit to the old battle field where the lush vegetation grows behind many war relics including old French tanks and artillery pieces. Overnight in Dien Bien Phu .
DAY 5: DIEN BIEN PHU - TAM DUONG ( B, L )
Heading out of the town, we spend a full day travelling into Vietnam’s most mountainous region. The roads are difficult at times, but the spectacular landscape with a mixture of terraced fields and hill villages makes the hardship all worthwhile. On the way, we have some opportunities to encounter the Red Hmong, Kho Mu, Mang, Dao people who still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. We arrive in Tam Duong by late afternoon and have time strolling around to catch our first glimpse; a small town surrounded by breathtaking mountains and tea plantations. Overnight in Tam Duong.
DAY 6: TAM DUONG - SAPA ( B, L )
The scenery of the north is unequalled although the conditions are very simple. After breakfast we set off on a half day drive following the mountain roads to Sa Pa, our final destination. At an elevation of 1,500 meters, Sapa was founded in the early years of the last century as a hill resort for French administrators when the heat on the plain became unbearable. We arrive in Sapa by mid afternoon and can soak up the fresh climate as much as we want by spending our time wandering this famous hill town. The ethnic people are frequently seen on the main street of Sapa and small vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicraft. Overnight in Sa Pa.
DAY 7: SAPA ( B, L )
The range of Phan Si Pan boasts Vietnam’s highest mountain and lends an alpine feel to the area surrounding this hill station. Today we have enough time to visit the bustling Sa Pa Market where the Red Dao, Black Hmong, Tay and Xa Pho ethnic minorities converge from the nearby mountainsides and valleys to trade their goods and buy provisions. We then get well off the beaten track as we embark on a walk to explore this beautiful mountain region. Along the way we traverse several rustic villages and see many mountaineers doing their daily works such as logging, herding buffalo and tilling the field. The blend of verdant mountain backdrop and colourful population makes for an unimaginable view. Overnight in Sa Pa. (B)
DAY 8: SAPA - CANCAU - BAC HA ( B, L ) ( Saturday )
After breakfast we continue venturing into northern Vietnam, travelling through the Chinese border town of Lao Cai to the colourful Saturday Market at CanCau. This market also attracts a wide variety of ethnic minority groups including the Variegated Hmong, Dao, Phu La, La Chi, Tay who still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. Return backto Bac Ha. As option , we can embark a walk this afternoon, visiting the Hmong King’s former residence and Ban Pho where the villagers make the potent local maize wine . Overnight in Bac Ha.
DAY 9: BAC HA - HANOI ( B, L ) ( Sunday ) .
Am : Free visit market ( BacHa market open on sunday morning only). This is the most colourful market in North Vietnam. At the market, you have chance to enjoy BacHa people's simple but unique kinds of food with special wines made from rice, cassavas, corn and different sorts of fruits such as plumps, apples, peaches... talking to the minorities through the guide's interpretation. Leave the market for the H'mong King's house (King Hoang A Tuong) built by the French colonists and the Chinese in 1920. Return the town for lunch. In the afternoon, spend time visiting another village (BanPho village). Then transfer back Hanoi. Night in Hanoi.
DAY 10: HANOI - HALONG ( B, L, D )
08:00 – 08:30: Pick-up at hotel and start the 3 hour-and-a-half drive to Hong Gai Tourist Wharf, check in Oriental Sails JSC’s private waiting hall – The OS Lounge.
12:30 – 13:00: Embark on Oriental Sails followed by cruise briefing.
13:00 – 15:30: Savor a delectable lunch as Oriental Sails cruises further along the limestone islands of Bai Tu Long Bay.
15:30 – 16:30: Fishing village visiting.
Those are interested in local daily life: Take a bamboo rowing boat trip (around 45 minutes) around Vung Vieng fishing village – one of the largest fishing villages in Halong Bay to see the life of local fishermen. The village is set in closed lagoon, surrounded by mountains, excellent settings for some good photos.
16:30 – 17:30: Return to Oriental Sails and have bath then relax as the sun starts to set.
17:30-19:00: Enjoy the Happy Hour at the bar and on the sun deck and take part in our cooking class with Oriental Sails Chef
19:00: Dinner is served. Socialize with other guests, night squid fishing or just laze around. Singing and dancing activities are available till 22h00. Overnight on board at Cong Do Area
DAY 11: HALONG - HANOI ( B, L )
06:30 – 07:00: Start your day with Tai Chi exercise on the sundeck.
07:00 – 09:00: Catch morning view of seascapes with a cup of tea or coffee, have breakfast while cruising toward Thien Canh Son Cave
09:00 – 09:30: Visit Thien Canh Son Cave – the medium size and less visited cave in Bai Tu Long Bay
09:30 – 10:00: Check-out room. Luggage can be delivered to the reception area.
10:00 – 11:00: Head back to the Harbor. Have early lunch on board. Disembark Oriental Sails at around 12h00.
12:00 – 16:30: Transfer back to Hanoi and trip finishes at the hotel around 16h30.
Night in Hanoi .
DAY 12: HANOI - DEPARTURE ( B )
There is a free time for you to relax or further explore Ha Noi. The trip ends after your transfer to Noi Bai Airport for departure.