9 days Secrets of North Vietnam

Hanoi, Sapa, Ninh Binh, Trang An, Halong Bay, Hanoi

This trip provides a fantastic combination of the majestic splendour of Hanoi, the lush rice terraces and the ethnic diversity of Sapa, the sublime beauty of the Red River Delta and Halong Bay. This is an adventure to remember!

Day 1 Arrival

When we arrive at Hanoi airport, our driver will greet us and transfer us to our hotel. If you arrive early, you can stretch your legs with a stroll around Hanoi’s Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake. The night is spent in a hotel

Day 2 Hanoi sightseeing / Overnight train to Lao Cai

Let's start our day by getting a feel for this lovely country with some sightseeing around Hanoi. We begin at the complex dedicated to Vietnam's hero, Ho Chi Minh, honored for his role in liberating Vietnam from colonial rule. This visit provides us with insights into Vietnam's recent history.

Next, we visit the Museum of Ethnology, where we can appreciate the costume and textile traditions that we will encounter throughout our journey. For lunch, we dine at a local restaurant before heading to the Temple of Literature. Founded in 1070, this beautiful temple was Vietnam's first university.

We also spend some time experiencing the famous Train Street, where we can see the trains pass closely by the narrow streets lined with homes and shops. In the evening, we board an overnight train departing from Hanoi at 22:00, arriving in Lao Cai at 5:45 the following morning. (Breakfast and lunch are included)

Day 3 Lao Cai / Sapa

Upon arrival at the Lao Cai railway station early in the morning, our driver will pick us up. We then take a short drive to Sapa town. After showering and having breakfast, we set off to explore the nearby villages of Sa Seng and Hau Thao, inhabited by Black H’mong and Giay ethnic people who speak their own languages. The hilly landscape is filled with terraced fields, and the Sa Seng and Hau Thao trails are narrow paths winding through small villages and open rice terraces. We return to Sapa for an overnight stay in a comfortable hotel. (Breakfast and lunch are included)

Day 4 Sapa / Overnight train back to Hanoi

Y Linh Ho and Giang Ta Chai Sin Chai are situated in a region of breathtaking beauty. We spend the whole day hiking along sculpted rice terraces and through small villages. We trek around the rolling farmlands, passing through several villages of the Black Hmong and Red Dao people. Here, we learn about the intriguing tribal life. In the late afternoon, we board our vehicle and drive back to the Lao Cai railway station. We have dinner at a local restaurant before boarding an overnight train back to Hanoi, arriving there at about 5:45 AM the following day. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included)

Day 5 Hanoi / Ninh Binh Adventure

Upon our arrival at the Hanoi railway station, we check into our hotel to shower and have breakfast. After that we journey into the countryside to Ninh Binh then onto Van Long Nature Reserve. Van Long Nature Reserve is renowned for its largest nature reserve in Vietnam. Immerse yourself in the picturesque scenery as you enjoy a rowing boat ride along the nature reserve, amidst towering limestone peaks and serene backwaters.

Then, we journey to Cuc Phuong National Park, situated in Ninh Binh Province. Spanning over 200 square kilometers, Cuc Phuong is renowned as Vietnam's most celebrated national park, boasting a rich tapestry of biodiversity. As we venture into the park's verdant expanse, following scenic hiking trails we see diverse flora and fauna. Admire ancient and towering trees, vibrant flowers, and lush foliage or listen to the calls of exotic birds.

Continuing our exploration of Cuc Phuong National Park, we visit the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre and the Turtle Conservation Centre. These vital facilities provide invaluable insight into the ongoing conservation efforts dedicated to safeguarding endangered primate species and freshwater turtles.

At the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, we have the opportunity to observe and learn about the various primate species native to Vietnam, many of which are critically endangered. Through educational programs and guided tours, we gain a deeper understanding of the challenges these primates face and the conservation initiatives aimed at their protection and rehabilitation.

Similarly, at the Turtle Conservation Centre, we witness firsthand the dedicated efforts to conserve and protect Vietnam's vulnerable freshwater turtle populations. Through educational exhibits, informative presentations, and interactive experiences, we gain insight into the threats facing these endangered creatures and the measures being taken to ensure their survival.

After our visit to the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre and the Turtle Conservation Centre, we transition into a delightful culinary experience by joining a local family for a cooking lesson. Our culinary journey begins with a visit to a vibrant local market for fresh ingredients.

Additionally, we gather vegetables from our host's lush garden before mastering the art of making traditional Vietnamese spring rolls, zesty dipping sauces, and sticky rice. We share in the warmth of the family's hospitality as we eat a delicious dinner together. The night is spent in a cosy lodge owned by a local family. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included)

Day 6 Ninh Binh Discovery

We depart our lodge for our journey to the pagoda of Bich Dong. Located in Ninh Binh, the Bich Dong Pagoda is a scenic site with its serene beauty and historical significance. Perched amidst stunning natural surroundings, this ancient pagoda complex comprises three levels: Lower, Middle, and Upper.

As we ascend the stone steps leading to the pagoda, they are greeted by lush greenery and scenic views of the surrounding landscape. The Lower Pagoda, nestled at the base of a limestone cliff, features intricately carved statues and altars dedicated to Buddha and other deities.

Continuing upward, visitors reach the Middle Pagoda, which offers panoramic views of the picturesque countryside below. Here, they can admire ancient Buddhist sculptures and architectural details dating back centuries.

Finally, at the Upper Pagoda, visitors are rewarded with breathtaking views of the entire area, including nearby karst formations and winding rivers. The tranquil atmosphere and spiritual ambiance make it a perfect place for hikers.

Leaving Bich Dong behind we embark on a serene rowing boat ride along the Nang River, surrounded by lush greenery and towering limestone cliffs. The two-hour boat excursion weaves along this enchanting river and through the Thung Nang cave system, featuring several caverns adorned with stalactites.

For the adventurous and energetic, there's an opportunity to climb up Mua Mountain and enjoy a panoramic view of the stunning surroundings, while witnessing the sunset cast its warm glow over the mystical limestone mountain range.

We also devote time to a scenic bicycle ride in Trang An. Trang An is renowned for its intricate network of rivers and caves, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rugged limestone cliffs and emerald waters. The surrounding areas are dotted with tiny villages, picturesque paddy fields, temples, and hiking trails, adding to the charm of this UNESCO World Centre.

During our bicycling excursion we weave between towering limestone mountains, serene waterways, peaceful villages, verdant rice paddies, and enchanting historical sites. This presents a wonderful opportunity to immerse ourselves in the rhythms of everyday rural life.

For the adventurous and energetic, there's an opportunity to climb up Mua Mountain and enjoy a panoramic view of the stunning surroundings, while witnessing the sunset cast its warm glow over the mystical limestone mountain range.

Our journey continues as we make our way to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam, holds a special place in the country's history and heritage. Situated in the picturesque Ninh Binh province, Hoa Lu was the political and economic center of the country during the Dinh and early Le dynasties in the 10th and 11th centuries.

We explore the remnants of this once-thriving capital, including the remains of royal palaces, temples, and citadels. One of the most notable sites is the Dinh Tien Hoang Temple, dedicated to the first emperor of the Dinh Dynasty. The temple's architecture and ornate decorations offer insight into the grandeur of the era.

Nearby, the Le Dai Hanh Temple honors the founder of the early Le Dynasty and provides a glimpse into the cultural and religious practices of the time. Aside from its historical significance, Hoa Lu is also renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty, with limestone karsts and lush greenery surrounding the ancient ruins. Following a leisurely stroll through nearby villages and along the banks of the tranquil Sao Khe River we make our way back to our lodge for the night
. (Breakfast and lunch are included)

Day 7: Ninh Binh / Halong Bay

Departing from the Red River Delta, we journey to Halong City, traversing its fertile road through the flatlands of the Delta, flanked by lush green carpets of rice paddies. Continuing north to Halong City, we embark on a boat trip that navigates among the spectacular limestone peaks of Halong Bay. It's a perfect time to relax and soak in the sublime beauty of the bay while enjoying lunch on the boat. Later, we explore one of the most magnificent caves and take a kayak ride among towering rock formations. Finally, our boat finds a peaceful spot for an overnight stay. (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included)

Day 8: Halong Bay / Bai Tu Long Bay

Wake up early in the morning for Tai Chi exercises. After enjoying a light buffet breakfast, take some time to relax and prepare for the day ahead. Transfer to the day cruise boat and begin cruising through Bai Tu Long Bay to the heart of Halong Bay. Along the way, explore the Trinh Nữ Cave area and the Trong Cave area. Continue towards Lan Ha Bay in the Tung Sau area, where you can enjoy kayaking and swimming in the crystal blue waters. You'll also have the opportunity to visit a pearl farm and learn about Halong Bay's agriculture.

Lunch will be served on board, featuring grilled seafood and Vietnamese delicacies, as the boat cruises back to Bai Tu Long via a different route. Explore the magnificent Me Cung Cave or Tien Ong Cave (Heaven Scene Mountain Cave). Later, we return to our overnight boat and continue weaving the Cong Do overnight area. Relax on the deck and soak in the tranquil atmosphere as you enjoy a delicious dinner prepared by our onboard chef. Fall asleep to the gentle lapping of the waves, surrounded by the beauty of Bai Tu Long Bay. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included)

Day 9 Bai Tu Long Bay / Hanoi

We continue exploring the truly fascinating scenery of the bay, with vertical and unusual rocks and islets emerging from the sea. Enjoy a serene bamboo boat ride to visit the floating fishing village of Vung Vieng,  Vung Vieng is a floating fishing village located in Halong Bay, Vietnam.

It is known for its picturesque setting and traditional way of life, where local people live on floating houses and make their livelihood through fishing and aquaculture. In Vung Vieng
we have the opportunity to observe the daily rhythm of life. Afterward, we return to Halong City and board our vehicle for the journey back to Hanoi, arriving at around 4 PM. The night is spent in a hotel. (Breakfast and lunch are included)

The facts…

Physical activities: Our itinerary includes easy walks, hikes, kayaks and bicycles with:

  • A 6-10 km hike on Day 3
  • A 12-15 km hike on Day 4
  • A 6-8 km bicycle ride and a 2-4 km walk on Day 5
  • A 6-8 km hike on Day 6
  • A 1-2 hour kayak ride on Day 7
  • A 1-3 hour kayak ride on Day 8
  • A 1-hour bamboo boat ride on Day 9


  • Air-conditioned vehicle (Car or Bus)
  • Boat
  • Bicycle
  • Kayak

Tour Guide(s): Our experienced, friendly and professional tour guide(s) speaks good English. He is knowledgeable about local cultures, history and the environment.


  • Hotel (3 nights)
  • Homestay lodge (2 nights)
  • Overnight boat (2 nights)
  • Overnight trains (2 nights)

Comfortable and clean trains with soft berths.


  • 8 breakfasts
  • 9 lunches
  • 9 dinners

We choose local ingredients, typical of the way people eat in the area, at local restaurants, markets or homes. We also cater for Vegetarians but please request this at time of booking

Trip cost: 

  • $796USD per person for a group of 2 to 8 people
  • $689USD per person for a group of 9 to 16 people

The cost of the trip includes: 

  • Accommodation
  • Transportation
  • Tour guide(s)
  • Meals listed on the itinerary
  • Purified drinking water
  • Entrance fees


The cost of the trip does not include:

  • Travel insurance
  • Drinks (soft drinks, alcohol)
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Other personal expenses

What to Bring: Pack essentials for a few days away from Hanoi, including light comfortable clothes suitable for outdoor activities, jacket for evenings. It is essential to bring your passport on this trip.

Take a small day pack for walking, hiking and cycling. We also recommend packing: comfortable hiking shoes, rain coat, sun hat, insect repellent and torch.

Have a great journey!!!