Traveler to Vietnam who also wants a bit of adventure will find this tour a perfect combination of relaxing, sight-seeing and adventurous activities. You'll travel from the North to the South, trekking in Sapa, cycling in Hue then Hoi An, and doing a homestay excursion in Mekong Delta. The program itself is not too tough for the beginners of "adventure lover club".
Upon your arrival in Noi Bai airport, you will be picked up and transfered to your hotel in Hanoi. In the afternoon, watch a performance of traditional Water Puppetry, an art form unique to northern Vietnam, and a good, light-hearted introduction to its rural culture.
Overnight in Hanoi.
You'll have the whole day to explore Vietnam's capital city. Your guide will take you to the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century, and Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum. After lunch, you'll drive to the excellent Ethnology Museum for an overview of Vietnam's 54 distinct ethnic groups in anticipation of your trip to Sapa. Then follow by a visit to the serene Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest pagoda in Hanoi, on the bank of West Lake. The bustling Old Quarter is a magnet for visitors, it's noisy and hectic, but definitely a 'must-see' attraction. The Old Quarter is a maze of shopping streets and restaurants with a hotchpotch of architecture - traditional tube houses, religious buildings, artisans' workshops and cottages, colonial houses and modern concrete edifices. Later in the evening, you'll be driven to Hanoi Railway Station to board your overnight train to Lao Cai.
Optional Tour: Cycling and exploring villages around Hanoi (B, L) In the morning, you'll be picked up to drive to Bat Trang – a village specialist in traditional ceramic production. On arrival, you'll be able to stroll in the small alleys of this old village to watch local people producing their fine products and visit some of the houses used as workshops and showrooms. You will then pick up your bicycles and ride along the riverside dike, through some more villages surrounding Hanoi. The total distance on bicycles is about 7km along a small road that runs beside a tributary of the Red River. You'll then drive to Dong Ho village - famous for its traditional paintings. After a picnic lunch, your vehicle will take to Tam Tao village to enjoy its traditional Quan Ho music performed by villagers in the communal house. The singers have been officially designated as part of Vietnam's 'living heritage' by UNESCO. In the late afternoon, you'll return to Hanoi. Later in the evening, you'll be transfered to Hanoi Railway Station to board your overnight train to Lao Cai.
You'll arrive in the early morning, then transfer up the mountains to Sapa, a small town perched on the mountainside nearby Mount Fan Si Pan, Vietnam's highest peak. After breakfast, you'll be driven along a scenic valley to visit one of the H'mong minority villages. After a stream-side picnic lunch, you'll visit the Red Dao ethnic minority people of Giang Ta Chai village.
Later in the afternoon, you'll return to Sapa for overnight.
After breakfast, drive about 3 hours to a market frequented by ethnic minority peoples. The first part of your journey is a visit to Lao Cai, which is a border crossing point, and alongside the river marking the boundary with China. After a long drive, you will arrive an ethnic market with fascinating experience. Unlike those in the tourist areas, the markets that we visit are for not only buying and selling, but also meeting places for ethnic minority people to meet and exchange news. There will be plenty of colors and authentic costumes, but very little to buy as souvenirs unless you want to barter for a water buffalo or a sack of fertilizer! The trips to ethnic minority markets must be on Thursday (Lung Khau Nhin market), Saturday (Can Cau) or Sunday (Bac Ha, Muong Hum or Muong Khuong markets). After lunch, you'll return to Lao Cai for a shower and freshen-up before boarding on the train to Hanoi.
Overnight on train.
Arriving in Hanoi in the early morning, transfer to your hotel to refresh. After breakfast, you'll leave for Ha Long Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world's largest marine limestone 'karst' landscape. After boarding your boat, a wooden junk built from the model of the old Vietnamese court vessels with sails that will take you to the busy World Heritage area, you then be transferred to visit some amazing grottoes and caves. Weather permitting, you'll be able to swim, fish, climb a hill (not a mountain!) for an overview of the Bay's remarkable seascape, or venture into some of the sea level caves in a small sampan. All your meals will be provided on board, usually based on fresh seafood, and you'll sleep in a twin cabin with an en suite toilet and shower.
Overnight on the bay.
You'll spend the morning cruising Ha Long Bay, followed by brunch just before disembarking around noon and leaving for Noi Bai airport to take your evening flight to Hue. Upon arrival in Hue, you'll be transferred to your hotel.
Overnight in Hue.
Attention: The itinerary and sightseeing points may be changed due to the weather condition and policies of cruises.
In the morning, your bicycles will be ready for you to ride through Hue's rural villages towards the Thanh Toan Bridge (roofed in Chinese style). Nearby, a local market will provide you with views of daily life and local products. You'll then return to Hue's city center with en-route visit the Ngoc Son Princess 'garden house'. It has an attractive family altar and the owner is an expert on Hue's culture and history - he will be pleased to explain the geomantic principles underpinning the building and garden's construction. After lunch, your route will take you to visit the Imperial Citadel and some of the garden houses in Phu Mong Kim Long village, then ride toward one of the handicraft villages in Hue's hinterland that specialist in a single product range of traditional cakes - 'banh it' and 'banh phu the' before looping back to your hotel.
Overnight in Hue.
After breakfast, you will cruise along the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu, a tranquil pagoda on the banks of the Perfume River. From there, you will be transferred to the tomb of Emperor Minh Mang. After lunch, you'll drive to Da Nang. Upon arriving in Da Nang, you'll have a brief look at the remarkable Hinduism statuary in the Cham Museum before leaving for Hoi An.
Overnight in Hoi An.
After breakfast, you will ride a bicycle through the rural scenery of Hoi An to a small village located on the banks of the Tra Que lagoon, three kilometers northeast of the old town. You can join local people in their daily work of planting and watering vegetables, then return to the old town to learn how to make silk lanterns at a local house. It is also possible to view the complex process of creating Hoi An-style lanterns. Your lunch will be prepared by the family. In the afternoon you are free at leisure for maybe strolling in the town or lazing on the beach.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Free day in Hoi An.
Optional Tour (with additional charge): Hoi An/My Son/Hoi An (B) After breakfast, you'll be transferred to the World Heritage 'My Son Sanctuary'. Your guide will show you the remains of the remarkable Hinduism towers, temples constructed by the Cham people century ago. In the afternoon, you'll return to your hotel. When you return, the rest of the day will be free.
You'll spend the night in Hoi An.
After breakfast, free until being picked up and transferred to Da Nang airport for a flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon your arrival, you will be picked up to the hotel in the city center. Hotel check in and free at leisure .
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
After breakfast, your guide will show you around Ho Chi Minh City. Your tour includes a visit to the Reunification Hall, the Museum of War Remnants provides a very partial, but riveting, perspective of the 'American War': not for the squeamish! The huge Ben Thanh market, one of the liveliest areas of Ho Chi Minh City, is packed with every conceivable commodity, and also a visit to the Jade Emperor Temple - one of the best Taoist temples in Vietnam, with superb effigies, remarkable carved panels of the descent to Hell and somewhat incongruous terrapin and tortoise sanctuaries. You will finish your day with a visit to a lacquer workshop to see the complex processes and meticulous workmanship involved in this traditional Vietnamese craft product.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
After escaping from Ho Chi Minh City's urban sprawl, you'll arrive to Vinh Long where a traditional family-run brick kiln and traditional cottage industries are fascinating visits. A workshop making the huge coffins unique to the Mekong is particularly interesting. You'll also visit a local house to listen to traditional music of the Delta performed by local people. Later, a rowing boat will lead you through the myriad of Mekong's tiny channels to a family house in a canal-side orchard where you'll spend the night.
Overnight in Vinh Long.
A boat cruise to the Cai Be floating market needs an early start if you're want to see the market at its best. Once finishing the market, your bicycle(s) will be waiting for you. Your route will take you along shadowy zigzagging road and paths passing canal-side villages, orchards and many bridges, often small and narrow. After lunch, you'll return to Ho Chi Minh City where you'll spend the night.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City
A free day in Ho Chi Minh City.
Optional tour (with additional charge): Ho Chi Minh City - Tay Ninh - Cu Chi (B, L) A morning drive will take you to Tay Ninh to visit the Cao Dai Holy See in time to watch the mid-day ceremony. After lunch, you'll visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels, a maze of underground passages, chambers, rooms and bloody traps used by the Viet Minh in the Vietnam War.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Free until your transfer to Tan Son Nhat airport for your departure flight.