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Northern Vietnam

Vietnam Adventure Tour

Summary : Prepare to discover the many and varied wonders of Northern Vietnam. Combining an array of overland and water travel, experience the captivating blend of culture, people and history through the charm of Hanoi, vibrant hill tribe markets and glistening Halong Bay. Explore Ho Chi Minhís Complex and enjoy a leisurely walking tour in the Old Quarter in Vietnamís capital city. Take an overnight train to Lao Cai where you will travel through terraced mountainsides to Sapa. Spend time wandering markets, meeting local people and learning about the villages in the area. Conclude the Vietnam expedition with two nights cruising the emerald green waters of the Halong Bay. This journey is a unique adventure packed full of ancient sights, charming people and breathtaking beauty.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography


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$999,999,999 to $0

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Day 1 – 2
Depart Home

Travel from the United States or respective countries. Lose a day crossing the date line if traveling from the United States.

Day 3
Hanoi, Vietnam

Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport, you will be met by your local guide and transferred to the hotel for check-in. Hanoi is Vietnam's capital and is described by almost all who go there as 'an old-fashioned city.' Old-fashioned in style, it is a city of lakes, parks, trees, villas, mansions, and an area called the Old French Quarter where crumbling houses are crammed into narrow alleyways that are still named after the goods that were traded there: Silk Street, Gold Street, even Fried Fish Street! Join your expedition leaders for cocktails and a welcome dinner at the popular Wild Lotus restaurant.
Overnight at Sofitel Metropole Hanoi (D)

Day 4
Hanoi, Vietnam

For early risers, take the opportunity and your camera for a visit to the famous Hoan Kiem Lake, a popular local spot for social activities and if you're feeling energetic, join in on some Tai Chi. After breakfast, sightseeing will begin with a visit to Ho Chi Minh's Complex where you can see Ho Chi Minh's house and belongings on display, the interesting Ho Chi Minh Museum, and the famous One Pillar Pagoda. Next, visit the Temple of Literature that served as Vietnam's first university for more than 700 years. This ancient Confucian sanctuary is considered one of Hanoi's finest historical and cultural sites and includes the five courtyards, the temple itself and 82 stone steles that sit upon stone tortoises representing Vietnamese architecture at its finest.

Lunch will be served at the innovative KOTO restaurant where a safe environment has been created to help extremely vulnerable, young people learn and grow through an internationally-accredited hospitality program that is breaking the cycle of poverty amongst street and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam. Enjoy a leisurely walking tour in the Old Quarter filled with reminders of Vietnam's colonial past. View Hanoi's magnificent Opera House that was built in 1911 and is a jewel of French colonial architecture. Complete the day with a Cyclo ride through the streets of Hanoi.
Overnight at Sofitel Metropole Hanoi (B,L,D)

Day 5
Thay Pagoda / Overnight Train / Lao Cai

For early risers there is the opportunity for a photographic excursion to the fresh vegetable wholesale market known as Cho Rau Dau Cau and the lively and very colorful flower market known as Cho Hoa, a recognized photographer's delight. For those that would like, you can re-visit the famous Hoan Kiem Lake, a popular local spot for social activities and if you're feeling energetic, you can join in on some Tai Chi. Following breakfast, visit inside the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. It is possible to join the silent, single file queue of Vietnamese and foreigners going to pay their respects to Ho Chi Minh's embalmed corpse in the Mausoleum. The tomb is monumental, built of marble, granite and precious wood.

For the rest of the day, choose between two options. Travel to the countryside for an excursion to Thay Pagoda and the historic Duong Lam Village. Enjoy a bicycle ride through the Duong Lam Village along the small alleys lined with traditional houses and to the green of the surrounding rice paddies, stopping for a picnic lunch and the opportunity to meet a local family. Alternatively, you may choose to take a Vietnamese Cooking Class. Join the Chef of one of Hanoi's, famed restaurants, Wild Rice, on an exploration of the fine ingredients that go into making some of the country's famed dishes. After an early dinner at Hanoi's renowned Press Club Restaurant, transfer to Hanoi Railway station for an overnight train journey to Lao Cai aboard The Victoria Express train.
Overnight aboard Victoria Express Train (B,L,D)

Day 6
Lao Cai, Sapa / Ta Phin

The train arrives at Lao Cai train station early in the morning, where you will transfer to Sapa. Sapa is located in the rugged mountain region north of Hanoi inhabited by ethnic groups seemingly a world away from the fast pace of urban life. Primarily Vietnamese in character, Sapa comes alive during the weekend market when the local ethnic Hmong and Dao people trek in from nearby villages to sell their wares. The region holds countless trails and walks for all levels of enthusiasts and provides an introduction into the lives of the isolated communities of the north.

After check-in and a late breakfast, begin your exploration with a walk through town and the beautiful surrounding gardens and lush pine forest. Pass through the Black Hmong ethnic minority village of Matra, a small village hidden away from civilization. Explore the sculptured rice fields by foot on the way to the Red Dzao village of Ta Phin. You'll come across an abandoned seminary which was attacked by the Vietnamese in 1952 during the French/Indochina war. French missionaries originally tried to convert the Hmong and other tribes to Christianity. Ultimately they were largely unsuccessful and the Hmong to this day mostly remain animist with exorcism and spirit worship both widely practiced. Unlike the Dzao, the Hmong have no written language and have relied on the oral tradition to hand down their legends, folklore and songs.
Overnight at Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa (B,L,D)

Day 7

The day begins with a walk through spectacular scenery down to the local village of Ban Ho where you will interact with the Tay minority people at one of the most beautiful villages in the Sapa valley. Leaving Sapa, begin an exploration of the scenic valley, home to Dao, Giay and Hmong settlements, each distinguishable by their colorful everyday dress. Following a scenic downhill road, walk through the terraces of Cat Cat village with views of the local Hmong people working in the rice field and then continue along the Muong Hoa river to nearby villagers.

The Dao originated in China. The men are traditionally skilled at metalwork and woodwork and make their own tools and a variety of wood and bamboo goods. The women are excellent embroiderers and can sew complex patterns entirely from memory. The pattern has been handed down through the generations. The walk is moderately paced with some descents into valleys of cascading water and you will be met by your vehicle on the main road to transfer back to accommodations.
Overnight at Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa (B,L,D)

Day 8
Sapa / Lao Cai / Bac Ha

After check-out, drive to Lao Cai for lunch and onto Bac Ha. Bac Ha is home to several "montagnards," the French term for the local hill tribes. The village is renowned for its fermentation of alcoholic brews, in particular rice and corn wine!

Drive to Bao Nhai Bridge where you will board a local motor boat for a cruise on the Chay River in the afternon. A stop will be made at the Fairy Cave, deeply embedded in the surrounding cliffs and at Trung Do village, home to the Tay ethnic group, before returning to Bac Ha.
Overnight at Sao Mai Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 9
Can Cau Market / Ban Pho Village

Leaving early, on a scenic mountainous road, drive to Can Cau market where you will spend time exploring the remote market that attracts colorful villages from surrounding hill tribes and is only a few miles from the Chinese border. Take the morning to photograph and experience all the market has on offer before returning to Bac Ha for lunch.

Back in Bac Ha, visit the H'mong King's House built by the French colonists and the Chinese in 1920, and then take a short walk to visit Ban Pho village. There is plenty of time to explore the village, meet the locals and for photography along the way.
Overnight at Sao Mai Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 10
Bac Ha Market / Lao Cai / Overnight to Hanoi

As you wander the streets of Bac Ha this morning, you'll have plenty of photographic opportunities when the little town comes to life with the Sunday markets. Bac Ha is filled with many different hill-tribe peoples, Flower Hmong, Dzay and Tay people. These markets give you a chance to enjoy unique kinds of food with special wines made from rice, corn and different sorts of fruits such as plums, apples and peaches. Be sure to peruse the intricately embroidered garments the women so beautifully hand craft.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before transferring to Lao Cai. Refresh in a mini hotel nearby the station and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before departure on the overnight train back to Hanoi.
Overnight aboard Victoria Express Train (B,L,D)

Day 11
Hanoi to Halong Bay / Bhaya Cruise

On arrival into Hanoi station early this morning, transfer to the Mercure La Gare Hotel for breakfast before departing to Halong Bay for two nights aboard the luxurious Bhaya Cruise boat. Styled after the Emperor's grand junks, all cabins and suites are finished in traditional Vietnamese hardwood, giving them rich, luxuriant warmth. The interiors are furnished with hand-crafted hardwood furniture with gold and white fittings.

Halong Bay is considered Vietnam's eighth wonder of the world – and on arrival it is easy to see why. Three-thousand spectacular chalk and limestone outcroppings, cliffs, arches, and coves form a dragon's tail across the bay. Traditional sailing junks and local fishing boats glide by selling their latest catch.

Set sail and take in the beauty as you cruise the emerald green waters of the bay, sip on your welcome drink and glance out at the magnificent scenery passing you by. Visit a selection of islands and caves, jump in for a swim, kayak or relax onboard with a traditional massage.
Overnight aboard Bhaya Classic Cruise (B,L,D)

Day 12
Halong Bay / Bhaya Cruise

Spend a full day cruising Halong Bay, discovering Ho Ba Ham Islet and its quaint fishing village and lagoon. Swim in the turquoise waters from the pristine Three Peach Beach or go for a guided kayak trip amongst the stunning limestone islands. Come together for happy hour and a Vietnamese cooking demonstration out on deck followed by dinner.
Overnight aboard Bhaya Classic Cruise (B,L,D)

Day 13
Halong Bay / Hanoi

While the sun rises over the bay, practice Tai Chi skills on the sundeck as the Bhaya continues cruising through Halong Bay, allowing a last chance to enjoy the spectacular views of this unique seascape before returning to shore by mid-morning.

After returning to Hanoi, check in and eat lunch, stretch your legs with a leisurely, guided walking tour of the Old Quarter, filled with reminders of Vietnam's colonial past and its colorful side streets. As you stroll through the atmospheric streets of the old quarter, visit some local artists' homes, open as public galleries. Later this afternoon, enjoy a wonderful Thang Long Water Puppet Show, an amazing art form of local tales and ancient legends originating from Red River Delta over one-thousand years ago. After the show, join your Expedition Leaders for a farewell dinner at the famous Ly Club restaurant.
Overnight at Sofietel Metropole Hanoi (B,L,D)

Day 14
Depart Hanoi

After breakfast at your hotel, depending on your departure flight time, there may be some time at leisure, before transferring to Hanoi Noi Bai airport. Board independent flights back home, or continue your travels independently. There will be a group transfer for those continuing onto Cambodia for the post-extension. Contact ExpeditionTrips for details about pre- and post-trip extensions.


Pre- and Post-Trip Extensions:
Join a 6-day pre-trip extension to Laos ($2,980 per person, $400 single supplement) and a 5-day post-trip extension to Cambodia ($3,120 per person, $540 single supplement). Contact ExpeditionTrips for details.

All accommodations in twin/double share rooms as outlined in the itinerary (overnight train travel on the Victoria Express Train in superior 4 berth carriage); exclusive boat charter of the Bhaya Classic in Halong Bay; exclusive coach charters; all group meals; welcome and farewell cocktail receptions and banquet dinners; soft drinks, drinking water, tea and coffee during lunch/dinner at all hotels; bottled water in rooms and on tour; all group transfers and baggage handling; all tours, nature walks and excursions as outlined in the itinerary; exclusive services of professional guides; services of expedition leader(s); photographic workshops; all gratuities to porters, guides, drivers, resort and wait staff; government, service and room taxes; all permits and entrance fees; complimentary slideshow DVD; donations.

Not Included:
All international and domestic airfares; any airport arrival and departure taxes; passport and visa fees; immunization costs; individual airport transfers, meals and baggage handling outside the group travel itinerary; travel insurance (*required); excess baggage charges; personal items, such as laundry, any alcoholic beverages or bar charges (unless specified above), email, telephone, fax calls.

*Mandatory Travel Insurance:
An active travel insurance policy is required. It is a pre-requisite that arrangements are made for comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical, accident and medical evacuation.

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