14 days North Vietnam Expedition
Hanoi, Ba Be National Park, Cao Bang, Ta Lung, Lang Son, Bai Tu Long Bay, Cai Rong Island, Tam Coc, Kenh Ga, Cuc Phuong, Mai Chau, Hanoi
This trip is designed for those seeking adventure off the beaten tourist path. We hike and trek through hilltribe areas in the north, boat and kayak in Bai Tu Long Bay, explore the Red River Delta and immerse ourselves in the local culture of a family homestay in Mai Chau. A brilliant experience!
Day 1 Arrival
Upon your arrival, we have a pick-up. This is followed by our short transfer to hotel in the Old Quarter.
Day 2 Hanoi
Let's get a feel for some of the history of this lovely country we are in, starting the day with a little sightseeing around Hanoi. The complex dedicated to Vietnam's hero Ho Chi Minh, honoured for his role in liberating Vietnam from colonial rule is where we start.
This gives us some insight into Vietnam's recent history. The Temple of Literature, founded in 1070, is our next port of call, this beautiful temple was Vietnam's first University.
Lunch is at KOTO- a great restaurant set up with the intention to train former street kids and help them start a career, then we head through the centre of the Old Quarter, through the tangle a small streets on bicycle rickshaws, a perfect pace to catch the atmosphere of this bustling area.
Then you might like to spend some time wandering around Hoan Kiem Lake for some quiet time to watch the world go by. Let us share dinner together tonight overlooking the city and celebrate our fist day on tour. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 3 Hanoi / Ba Be National Park
Departing from Hanoi at 8 am, we embark on a route up into mountain areas north of Hanoi. Then onwards to Ba Be Lake National Park, one of the largest natural lakes in Vietnam, home to many kinds of bird, scenic valleys, towering rocky outcrops, underground tributaries rivers, a gigantic cave and local ethnic minorities, including the Tay, Red Dao and Hmong.
Following a relaxing boat trip, we stroll along the riverfront. The night is spent in the traditional stilt-house of a Tay family. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 4 Ba Be National Park
Today we have a spectacular boat trip on the lake. We stroll along the riverfront, visit some lovely villages and hike to the upper reaches of the lake, in an area marked by massive limestone cliffs and mountains. We spend the night in a local Tay family by the Lake. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 5 Ba Be / Cao Bang
We take to the road again for a 90 km drive, arriving in Cao Bang town around lunch time. The rest of the day we go to the border village of Pac Po, home to the local Nung ethnic minority and visit Coc Bo (the Sourse), the tiny natural cave lived in briefly by Ho Chi Minh when he returned to Vietnam after thirty years of self-imposed exile.
We hike along a rocky path, take in the cave and explore its stunning visual neighbourhood, before we return to the town for an overnight stay in a hotel. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included).
Day 6 Cao Bang / Ta Lung
The day begins by driving to the border town of Ta Lung, in an area marked by massive limestone cliffs jutting out of the rice fields, spotted by scenic hill tribe hamlets. We begin our adventure with a trek.
We trek for 15 km, with breathtaking scenery, staying in simple village accommodation with our friendly hosts of the Tay ethnic minority people. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 7 Ta Lung / Lang Son
We leave our hosts this morning and trek for a further 12 km until we reach the village of That Khe. After lunch in a local restaurant we meet up with our vehicle for a 2-hour drive to the border town of Lang Son.
This town has become a booming trading town since the normalization of relations between China and Vietnam in the early 1990s.
We go to visit To Thi Mountain, which received its name from the local legend concerning the lady named To Thi. The night is spent in a hotel in Lang Son. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 8 Lang Son / Bai Tu Long Bay
Arriving on Cai Rong Island, one of the largest islands in Bai Tu Long Bay we embark on a boat trip among spectacular limestone peaks.
Weather permitting, there is an opportunity to kayak through picturesque limestone outcrops and swim in the clear waters.
On Quan Lan Island we stay overnight in a local family to experience their way of life. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 9 Bai Tu Long Bay
Quan Lan Island is located in Bai Tu Long Bay. The island is blessed with stunning beaches, scenic hills, sand dunes and surroundings sprinkled with tiny villages.
We cycle across the island, relax and unwind on a pristine beach. Following a lunch with a local family, we board our boat to explore further northern reaches of Bai Tu Long Bay.
Those who are energetic can take a kayak ride to discover some floating fishing villages - time to appreciate the sublime beauty of the bay.
We spend the night in a hotel on Cai Rong Island. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 10 Cai Rong Island / The Red River Delta
We retire to a beautiful cave and make a wish to the perfect panoramas of the dramatic rock formations, before we board our vehicle and drive through Red River Delta to Yen Mo, a typical village in the Red River Delta.
On arrival we settle in a local family where we observe the various steps required to make rice noodles, which are time-consuming and labour-intensive.
The day would not be complete without making authentic Vietnamese food, such as succulent spring rolls, zesty dipping fish sauce.
We then enjoy the family’s gracious hospitality as they share dinner with us. We spend the night in a lodge. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 11 The Red River Delta / Kenh Ga / Cuc Phuong National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park, located within three different provinces of Ninh Binh, Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa and covering over 200 sq km.
Thanks to its special terrain set on Truong Son Mountain Range, Cuc Phuong is comprised of rugged outcrops and tangled jungle growth and claims to be home to some of Asia’s rarest species of fauna and flora, among them: Langur, weasels, black giant squirrel, loris and small carnivores.
This is Vietnam’s most famous park offering a perfect hiking place. Morning finds us in the floating village of Kenh Ga. Here, we take an unusual foray into the rural life and spirit of the delta.
We combine a wonderful boat ride along a scenic canal with walking around open rice fields and looking at the amazing folds of the rock formations caused by earth movement some hundred million years ago.
In Cuc Phuong National Park, we take a short hike along a narrow path winding its way in an area rich in wildlife, lush foliage and blessed with a bounty of ancient trees. Following that we visit the Prehistoric Cave.
The night is spent at a comfortable guest house at the park’s headquarters in the midst of spectacular mountains and rainforest. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 12 Cuc Phuong National Park / Mai Chau
Situated in a scenic valley 160 km northwest of Hanoi, Maichau is home to the White Thai and Muong ethnic minority people.
Known for their hospitality and resistance to assimilation, their indigenous and diverse cultures provide an individualism unique to others. The rolling hills coupled with their sculpted rice terraces make an ideal place for hiking.
In the morning we visit the impressive Endangered Primate Rescue Centre to see the endangered Langur, a primate species. Time is also spent strolling around the Turtle Conservation Centre to witness how they preserve threatened tortoises and freshwater turtles.
This is followed by a minibus drive through spectacular mountains and hills to Mai Chau, home to White Thai, Muong, Green H'mong people and breathtaking scenery.
Here, we take a hike through open rice fields, pass tiny villages and meet the local farmers at work, as they plough their paddies behind water buffaloes, tend their seasonal crops or fish in the river.
We arrive at the village of Te, nestled in a picturesque valley and inhabited by White Thai people. Our host offers us a toast and we stay overnight in a traditional wooden stilt-house to experience their way of life. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 13 Mai Chau / Hanoi
The day begins by a morning hike along a footpath amid splendid rice terraces and verdant small hills. We have plenty of time to take a bicycling ride through small villages, along sculpted rice terraces and verdant hills.
Following lunch in a local family, we make our journey back to Hanoi, arriving there at about 5pm. The night is spent in a hotel. (Breakfast and lunch are included).
Day 14 Departure
Today you can depart at any time. (Breakfast is included).
Our itinerary includes walks and hikes, bicycles and kayaks with:
- a 5-6 km walk on Day 3.
- a 12-15 km hike on Day 4.
- a 15 km hike on Day 6.
- a 9-12 km hike on Day 7.
- a 1-2 hour kayak ride on Day 8.
- a 9-12 km bicycle ride on Day 9.
- a 1-2 hour kayak ride on Day 9.
- an 8-9 km hike on Day 11.
- a 6-8 km hike on Day 12.
- a 4-6 km hike and a 2-3 hour bicycling ride on Day 13.
- 13 breakfasts.
- 12 lunches.
- 11 dinners.
A wide variety of food is commonly available in local restaurants, markets and family homes, using fresh local ingredients, typical of the way people eat in the area.
We cater for Vegetarians but please request this at time of booking.
All of our experienced and friendly tour guides speak fluent English.
They are knowledgeable about local cultures, history and the environment.
- hotels (6 nights).
- lodge (1 night).
- guest house (1 night).
- local homestays (5 nights).
Clean and comfortable homestays with mosquito nets provided.
- $828USD per person for a group of 2 to 6 people.
- $765USD per person for a group of 7 to 12 people.
The cost of the trip includes:
- meals listed on the itinerary.
- tour guides.
- entrance fees.
- permits during guided excursions.
The cost of the trip does not include:
- travel insurance.
- drinks (soft drinks, alcohol, bottled water).
- other personal expenses such as shopping; telephone, laundry and bar bills etc.
- admission fees during free time.
What to take:
Pack essentials, including light comfortable clothes suitable for outdoor activities, small day pack for cycling, walking and hiking.
It is essential to bring your passport on this trip.
We also recommend packing: comfortable hiking shoes, insect repellent, sun cream, raincoat, sun hat…
Have a great journey!!!