From Sapa to Halong to Hanoi, Northern Vietnam is hands down the winner when it comes to crowd-pleasing destinations. Start with its capital – Hanoi with its trademark colonial architecture, a labyrinth of tree-lined avenues and narrow alleyways, the ubiquitous presence of street vendors, etc. The very heart and soul of Vietnam possesses a wealth of cultural and historical treasures spanning over a thousand years vividly etched on its every corner and waiting to be uncovered. Take an overnight train and veer off the urban centers to the dreamy, poetic Sapa Town – known for some of the most ravishing terraced landscapes and trekking trails on earth, as well as its hotpot of exotic ethnic minority cultures. Then, proceed from Sapa to Halong – characterized by thousands of limestone outcrops towering over and reflected off its emerald waters, to treat yourself to a perfect mix of indulgence and immersion in one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival
Meals: N/A – Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi.
Xin Chao! Welcome to Hanoi, the timeless capital of Vietnam. Upon your arrival, our tour guide will transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Day 2: Hanoi Orientation – Sapa
Meal: Breakfast/lunch– Accommodation: Overnight on train.
As the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi surely has a good many to offer its visitors, with its perfectly balanced mix of cultural, historical and natural spectacles. Pay a visit to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in the center of monumental Ba Dinh Square, where the embalmed body of Vietnam communist leader in the 20th century, Ho Chi Minh, is preserved. Your exploration is followed by a visit to the Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh’s stilt house in the garden at the back, as well as the neighboring diminutive One Pillar Pagoda – a symbol of Hanoi. A little further southwest is the tranquil Temple of Literature – the first university in Vietnam, inviting quiet contemplation.
You have until noon to explore West Lake, 15km in circumference, covering a sizable part of Hanoi and offering colorful Vietnamese life filters with aesthetic temples scattered here and there such as Tran Quoc Pagoda and Quan Thanh Temple, fishermen casting their fish rods and nets, as well as Western-oriented cafes and bars. Return the Old Quarter right at the heart of Hanoi and take a rickshaw ride to admire its signature tree-lined boulevards, saffron yellow French colonial villas and civic architecture landmarks. You will also pass by Hoan Kiem Lake, framed by winsome flame trees, along the way. Enjoy an authentic Water Puppet Show, the proudest and most intricate traditional folk art of the country, before taking an overnight soft sleeper train to Sapa Town.
Day 3: Sapa – Ta Van – Giang Ta Chai – Sapa
Meal: Breakfast/lunch– Accommodation: Hotel in Sapa.
Upon arrival at Lao Cai Railway Station, you will be picked up and transferred to the hotel to check in to your room (if available). After breakfast, you will start a lovely trek through the spectacular landscape of Lao Chai Village – home to the Black H’mong, to have a glimpse of tribal life on the mountains. Enjoy a pleasant picnic lunch and continue your highland adventure to visit the Dzay people in Ta Van village, whose houses nestled in a beautiful valley that provides the best view of intoxicating rice terraces in Vietnam. Keep trekking through a bamboo forest, you will finally reach Giang Ta Chai – a village of Red Dzao Tribe. Later in the day, you will head back to Sapa Town and enjoy some free time in Sapa Market.
Day 4: Sapa – Hanoi
Meal: Breakfast/lunch– Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi.
After breakfast in Sapa, you will head over to Bac Ha Town to visit its most colorful Sunday Market. As thousands of villagers from various ethnic backgrounds clad in their recognizable traditional costumes will gather here to exchange local products, it is also a very good opportunity to get a taste of local life. In the afternoon, you will set out on an enjoyable walk to Ban Pho Village, populated by Flower H’mong people. The best way to get from Sapa to Halong Bay is through Hanoi, so after a close-up experience with the hospitable locals, you will take a tourist bus to Hanoi.
Day 5: Hanoi – Ha Long Bay
Meal: Breakfast, lunch, dinner– Accommodation: Overnight on Cruise.
After enjoy a breakfast, you will head out on a 3-4-hour ride to embark on your amazing Halong Bay cruise. Sailing around the UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can marvel at the grotesque myriad of islands and islets towering over and reflected off the emerald waters of Halong Bay, such as Dinh Huong and Ga Choi etc. Later on, you will go ashore to visit one of the most fascinating caves in the bay area. Enjoy dinner and stay overnight on the junk.
After getting picked up from your hotel, you will be transferred by van/car to Ha Long Bay at 12:00. Upon arrival in Ha Long Bay, you will be welcomed aboard and enjoy lunch while weaving through a myriad of islands and islets towering over and reflected off the emerald waters of Halong Bay. After lunch, take a short trek to a nearby summit for a birds’ eye view of the bay peppered with golden sails, and then proceed to a quiet beach for some swimming or kayaking, or just simply go back to the ship and sunbathe on the sundeck, whatever tickles your fancy. Later in the afternoon, pay a visit to a tranquil fishing village to interact with fishermen who have inhabited the bay for almost three generations. Go back on board and enjoy a drink on the sun deck while can enjoy drinks while basking in the glorious sunset. Enjoy dinner and stay overnight on the junk.
Day 6: Ha Long Bay – Hanoi
Meal: Breakfast, lunch ( Or Brunch)– Accommodation: Overnight on Cruise.
Today, you will continue to sail around Ha Long Bay. Get up early to join a Tai Chi lesson with other passengers on the deck, or just simply take in the beautiful view of limestone islands, charming beaches, and amazing grottos unfurl right before your eyes. The cruise will pass by the Bai Tu Long Bay later, and you could enjoy a pleasant brunch while admiring the charming scenery. Afterward, your tour guide will wait for you at the dock and transfer you to the hotel in the city center of Hanoi. The rest of the day will be up to your own agenda.
Day 7: Hanoi – Departure
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport to catch your flight to your next destination. Your memorable trip ends here. We hope you will enjoy your experience in Northern Vietnam, from Sapa to Halong to Hanoi, as much as we do.
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