Day 1: Arrival Hanoi
Your holiday starts as we collect you at Hanoi Airport (Noi Bai). You will be met and transferred to your hotel (check in time: 14:00). If the time permits, we will take an hour cyclo ride through out old quarter city of Hanoi. Overnight in Hanoi
Day 2: Hanoi city tour – Lao Cai
Followed by a full day city tour starting with the Ho Chi Minh Complex, containing the mausoleum of the nation’s founder Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts. Close to this site is the One Pillar Pagoda, whose origin dates back to the foundation of Hanoi a thousand years ago. Your tour of Hanoi continues with a trip to the remarkable Temple of Literature, well known as Vietnam’s first university.
After your own lunch, you’ll enjoy a walk around the peaceful Hoan Kiem Lake and through the less peaceful Old Quarter, a maze of shopping streets and restaurants with an amazing assortment of architecture – traditional tube houses, countless pagodas, artisans’ workshops and cottages, colonial houses and modern concrete edifices. You will see an evening performance of Hanoi’s famous water puppets before having a transfer to Hanoi Railway Station for a night train to Lao Cai with your tour guide escort. Overnight on the train.
Day 3: Lao Cai – Sapa
The train arrives at around 6:00 a.m., after which you’ll be transferred by private car to Sapa, about one-and-a-half hours away. At an elevation of 1,500 meters, Sapa was once a hill resort of the French administrators when the summer heat became unbearable. Getting to meet the ethnic minority people is a highlight of visiting Sapa, as although their living conditions are basic, their culture is rich and fascinating. After settling into your hotel you will take a soft trek to Cat Cat village about three kilometers away from the town. You will visit the H’Mong minority people who first lived in Vietnam in the 17th and 18th centuries, after which you will walk (about two hours) to Ham Rong Mountain for a fabulous overview of Sapa town. Overnight in Sapa.
Day 4: Sapa – Local Market – Lao Cai
After breakfast at the hotel the group will check out and then continue on to visit the local market (which is open only on certain days of the week; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday). At this market many of the ethnic minority groups such as the Flower H’mong, Black Zao, Zay, etc., come for their weekly trading.
After your own lunch, we will drive downhill for about half an hour, and then take a short walk to Trung Do village, which belongs to the Tay minority. Here you can stop by a traditional Tay house for a cup of tea before you board the boat. You will have a cruise downstream the Chay River to experience the picturesque scenes and the magnificent sights of the beautiful caves. The boat ride ends at Bao Nhai bridge, where a car will be waiting to pick you up for your journey back to Lao Cai to catch the overnight train and return to Hanoi.
Day 5: Hanoi – Halong bay
You’ll be met at the Railway Station first thing this morning as you arrive, and you’ll have the chance to see early morning life in Hanoi as the locals do their morning exercises and Tai Chi. You’ll also get to see the unique flower market before heading for Vietnam’s number one destination, Halong Bay, made world famous by James Bond in the movie Tomorrow Never Dies. Arriving just before lunch, you’ll embark on a traditional Vietnamese junk. Take lunch on board and enjoy the afternoon and overnight cruise as it provides you with fantastic views of the fabulous scenery blending with the sky and some 3,000 limestone islands which amazingly rise from the clear and emerald water. The limestone karst formations are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves, some of which you’ll visit. Overnight on board in Halong Bay.
Day 6: Halong bay – Hanoi
The tour continues with a morning spent cruising on to the Man’s Head, Tortoise islands and then Luon Cave by way of a small bamboo boat. After brunch, check out and continue to travel though Bai Tu Long to Bai Chay for disembarkation, where you will then meet your driver and guide who will transfer you back to Hanoi. Arrival time in Hanoi will be at about 3 p.m., and you will have the rest of the day free at leisure to relax, shop, or exploe the old town of Hanoi as you wish.
Day 7: Hanoi Departure
After breakfast, you are free to relax until your transfer to Noi Bai Airport for your departure flight. Trip ends at Noi Bai airport.