11 DAY(S) THEMED TOURS
Hanoi - Tu Le/Mu Cang Chai - Paragliding - Mai Chau - Pu Luong - Ninh Binh - Hanoi - Halong - Cat Ba - Halong - Hanoi
11 DAY(S) THEMED TOURS
Hanoi - Tu Le/Mu Cang Chai - Paragliding - Mai Chau - Pu Luong - Ninh Binh - Hanoi - Halong - Cat Ba - Halong - Hanoi
Beyond a fitness adventure, the journey gives an up close image of Vietnam as you have never seen before
Upon arrival at Noi Bai airport, warming greeting by our local tour guide and transfer to the city centre. Standard check in time is 14h00, early check in upon availability. This afternoon, let’s warm-up by a biking tour around West Lake, the largest lake of Hanoi. West Lake is also a religious area of the city with dozens of pagodas, temples and old villages. The first stop is Tran Quoc pagoda, the oldest pagoda of North Vietnam founded 1,400 years ago during Kind Ly Nam De empire. Continue riding to West Lake Palace “Phu Tay Ho” worshipping Mother of Goddess, 1 of 4 most legendary characters of Vietnam. Also cycling to Lotus Pond, lotus is the national flower to take photos during sunset (best time from July to October). End the round 18km and cycling back to our hotel. After a short rest, transfer to Sen Tay Ho for buffet dinner. Overnight in Hanoi.
Breakfast box is prepared. After check out early from the hotel, we leave early (at around 5:00am) to Mu Cang Chai (300km) thru National way 32. This place is home for the most colourful-dressed montagnards, who still maintain lots of their long-term culture and traditions. Stop to enjoy its misty pinewoods, graceful terraced paddy fields and get lovely pictures of landscape and charming Hmong, Dzao, Thai girls you see on the mountainside. After approximately 5 hours driving, we reach Tu Le, situated on the foot of the magnificent winding Khau Pha Pass, said to be one of 4 greatest passes in Northern Vietnam. Have lunch at the best hotel in the area then check in the hotel. This afternoon, we drive to the one of the highest points of Khau Pha Pass. Here we starting our adventure by paragliding over the terrace fields and mountains of Tu Le/Mu Cang Chai. Located between the two popular routes from Hanoi to the Northwest highlights - Sapa and Mai Chau, this area is not so popular for the foreign travelers. This fact can be considered as a terrific luck for those who love off-the-beaten-track discovery. This area has incredible curved terraces that attract tourists from everywhere in the country. Recently, paragliding arrives here but only for top adventurous people, whilst it is not so familiar with other visitors yet. Needless to say what you may get from above, the best view that not everyone can witness. It’s up to you to choose double (with our trainer) or single flying. By late afternoon, we drive back to Tu Le Town for dinner at the restaurants. Overnight in Tu Le.
Enjoy our breakfast in the fresh air of the pristine land the enjoy a leisure walk around the town to see the real life of the local peole. After check out hotel, continue our journey to Mai Chau Valley through Moc Chau, with hundreds of immense farms of dairy cows and tea plantation, where the best tea of Vietnam is produced. Surrounding Moc Chau is the inhabitation of various tribes including the H'mong, Thai, Muong and Dzao. We reach Mai Chau by the afternoon, check in Mai Chau Lodge and relax by the swimming pool.
Unlike wild and shine Mu Cang Chai, Mai Chau is familiar, closer to both Hanoi locals and expats. The beauty and attractiveness of this valley is famous everywhere in Vietnam, starting from poems praising over its special sticky rice aroma, and lasting with easy access for motorbikers, bikers, trekking lovers and mountain climbers. This is the homeland of Thai people, one of the most civilized ethnic groups of Vietnam, which is homogenous with the Thai residing in Laos and Thailand. Though the Thai are living in several provinces, Mai Chau is the nearest place to Hanoi where you can meet their graceful, clean houses-on-stilts with small fishpools upfront, paddy fields next door and long rainforests in walking distance from villages. Have dinner at a local restaurant and enjoy Thai traditional dance show performed by the local people living nearby. We also try the local rice wine “Ruou Can”, a kind of traditional wine of the people who live in the mountain area of Vietnam. Overnight in Mai Chau.
If you wish to witness how the local people start their day and the sun rising from the mountain range then get up early.
Option 1: Biking tour
After breakfast, start our biking trip to explore Mai Chau beautiful ethnic villages including Na Thia, Pom Coong, Lac and Chieng Chau villages. Once cycling on the tranquil road from village to village you will see the farmers working in fields, locals weaving and in their daily activities, children gather in the small groups and wave their hands with a smile when seeing you. Here you will feel a closeness with the natural surroundings and take opportunities to get acquainted with the local culture. Return Mai Chau Ecolodge for relax and prepare your heath for the next hard trip on the next day.
Option 2: Trekking tour (Trekking on dirt & rocky path, uphill and downhill. Trekking grade: 3.5/5. Trekking time: 6 – 8 hours.)
After breakfast, we drive to Hang Kia Village, the land of H’mong people located in a huge valley amid steep rocky mountains. From here we will be setting off on a beautiful trekking today. From here we will not use our car until the last day. We will begin our trek on the village’s road and then walk on dirt path used by the locals and tropical rain forest as well. We are back to Mai Chau early evening.
Dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight in Mai Chau.
After breakfast and check out hotel, we take a short ride along Ma River before getting off the main road and start cycling by mountain tracks, enjoying new and different images of landscape, rainforest, streams that cross over the path. After 20km cycling, we will reach Kho Muong, a peaceful village of Thai hill tribal people in Pu Luong where is seen as trekking paradise recently. Once reaching Pu Luong, you will feel the charm and cozy ambience of human living area, the planted trees and fields, and the existence of cattle and fowl. In the past, it used to be famous just as a Reserve with limits and restrictions for visitors. Along with the development of new but well-organised trekking tours, when participants are strictly recommended “to take away nothing but pictures, to leave behind nothing but footprints”, within a short time hamlets in the valley have become famous as a dreamland of trekking lovers. With new homestay set up not so long ago, Pu Luong is now a hub of eco-lovers, who try to get away from adjacent hectic cities and discover the nature, the real rural culture as well as develop their surviving skills and contribute practical activities to the poor communities of the region, without letting them back to the life relying on the forest’s treasure in the past. But today we have no time for trekking around Pu Luong but stoping for lunch before continuing our journey heady to Binh Binh. We enjoy a picnic lunch en route at a local house. If time available, we can join the ordinary life of locals in their farming works, cultivation or herding buffalo before driving to Ninh Binh latter afternoon. Upon arrival, check in Emeralda Resort. Dinner at the resort organic restaurant. Overnight at in Ninh Binh.
After breakfast and check out hotel, let’s start our journey with 21 km biking to Hoa Lu, used to be one of the many old capitals of Vietnam before Thang Long presently Hanoi take its historical role. From an exciting town and center of cultural and military activities of the Dai Co Viet Kingdom in 10th century, the area now is more well-known for its landscape since almost relics of the urban excitement had been collapsed, except in the Temples of King Dinh and King Le. The off-road route is very typical for rural villages in North Vietnam with lush rice fields, tranquil bamboo trees, communal houses, children jumping onto the river, buffalo swimming in damp. Upon arrival, visit at the two remaining sanctuaries of the ancient citadel (Temple Of Dinh Tien Hoang and Temple Of Le Dai Hanh who had reign in Vietnam during 10th century). There is a mountain peak nearby for the people who love to conquer the height and enjoy the panorama view of the landscape. After a short rest with snacks and fruits keep pedaling to Tam Coc along the picturesque road passing through villages, lush rice fields and rocky outcrops. Having lunch at local restaurant before taking 2 hours of boat trip rowed by the locals on the Hoang Long River to go thru long karst grottoes in Tam Coc, and just enjoy the scenery and relax! , through three caves on the river, all created by wind and water from a legend time, while the sea had occupied this area. The tide-mark is still on the rock about 2m above the water, and in higher mountain wall the erosion have carved some strange shapes that now filled of green grass, delicious foods of the goats that local people breed everywhere. If you are lucky, sometimes you can see mischievous monkeys. The river trip is wonderful for photo hunters, especially when local people come to harvest the water rice planted along the river, or when they transplant some seedling for the next crops. The tourists often compare the place with Guilin in China, or more closely, to the limestone islets of Halong Bay in the Tonkin Gulf for their similar geological structures and shapes. Thus Tam Coc is also called Halong-Bay-On-Land. Half way thru the boat trip, we can stop and take a short walk to Thai Vi temple, dedicated to Tran Dynasty. Disembark from the boat by the late afternoon then drive back to Hanoi. On arival, check in hotel and relax. Overnight in Hanoi.
After breakfast and check out hotel, head east for more than 3 hours to Halong Bay, the pride of the Gulf of Tonkin, a Natural World Heritage as designated by UNESCO in 1994 and 2006. The road will pass by the Red River delta with green paddy fields and rural villages, where hard-work farmers are busy with their farming jobs, ploughing buffaloes or planting seedling.
Halong Bay attracts approximately 90% of the tourists who enjoy Vietnam travel and take part in Vietnam tours. It's a beautiful bay comprising 1,500 square km situate on the Gulf of Tonkin Gulf on the East Sea. Though it forms part of the ocean, its waters are calm and unusually emerald. It has nearly 2,000 islands. The enchanting land mass of the Bay is of limestone and dolomite, and there are many grottos and caves for visitors to enjoy. Tourist who have visited Guilin (China) and Phuket (Thailand) often compare these sites with Halong Bay due to their similar shape and geographical structure. However, upon visiting this Vietnamese wonder, all agree that Halong Bay is much larger and more diversified. In 1991 a scene of the French movie INDOCHINE was shot at Halong Bay. This very popular film is about the life of a French woman who lived in Vietnam during the French domination in Indochina from mid-19th to mid-20th century. The leading role is played by Catherine Deneuve. As the film made its way around the world, not only French-speaking tourists began to make the voyage to Halong Bay, but the world now includes this spectacular seascape on its itinerary.
Upon arrival in Halong, we’ll take a big boat to cruise the Bay to discover the magnificent beauty of this “Descending-dragon” bay, created by thousands odd-shaped limestone rocks and karst grottoes. After a lunch of fresh seafood on board, we can visit the Surprising Grotto, stop for swimming or kayaking, passing floating villages and approach islets to enjoy their beauty in close distance. Back to the boat for dinner late afternoon. Evening attend activities on the boat or relax at your own leisure. Overnight on the boat.
The Vietnamese call the “East Sea” by a point-oriented name “Eastern Sea”, so you may guess how miraculous seeing the sunrise over the islets of the Bay. Early morning we can have optional Tai Chi Exercise on the sundeck before breakfast. Our boat will continue to cruise in marvelous areas, where almost each islet has its own name, adopting its shape or reminiscent like Sail island, Fisherman's head rock, Butterfly rock or Turtle islet, etc. After lunch on board, disembark and transfer to the ferry pier to take the ferry to Cat Ba Island. On arrival, the bus will transfer us to you the beach front resort for overnight. After check in, the rest of the day is at leisure. With an area of 356 square km, Cat Ba encompasses forested zones, coastal mangroves, freshwater swamps, beaches, caves and waterfalls. In 1986, the Northeast side of the island was designated a National Park and includes a protected marine zone. Cat Ba Island supports a population of over 20,000 inhabitants most of whom live off fishing or farming in and around Cat Ba Town. The town is small and ancient, with clusters of fishing boats. It is an ideal spot to watch inspiring sunsets across the harbor. Dinner at the local restaurant. Overnight in Cat Ba.
After breakfast, the day begins with a twenty- minute ride along the coastline of Cat Ba Island into the lush green hills of secluded Lien Minh Village. Soon we will find ourself in the breathtaking Butterfly Valley. From here, a local villager will guide us on a trek through the jungles and mountains of this remote section of Cat Ba National Park. After our trek, we return to a local bee farmer’s home where we will have a delicious home-cooked Vietnamese spread, made with fresh and locally grown produce! Under a hand-made bamboo homestead, enjoy our authentic Cat Ba meal and feel free to interact with the genuinely friendly local villagers of Lien Minh. This afternoon, take a short walk to the climbing area, across the valley pasture. Our qualified climbing guides will outfit us with UIAA certified climbing gear and take us up a variety of routes on the sheer cliffs. Our guides will set up secure top-rope systems so we may ascend the rock safely and without worry. Climb as high as you feel comfortable and don’t forget to take a look around once you reached your top. There’s no feeling quite as rewarding as viewing the stunning valley from the height of the climbs. It’s a unique, active, and authentic experience you will never forget. Transfer back to Cat Ba Town by late afternoon. Dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight in Cat Ba.
After breakfast, have a leisure morning until check out. Lunch at a local restaurant then transfer to the pier for the ferry back to the mainland. On arrival, pick up by our vehicle and drive back to Hanoi. On arrival, visit Hoan Kiem lake and take a leisure "green car" tour around the Old Quarter of Hanoi. In 1 hour, you are driven around 28 old streets in the area with stops to visit Dong Xuan market, the oldest market of Hanoi; Bach Ma temple worshipping 1 of 4 former guardians of the city; Old House 87 Ma May street; Kim Ngan communal house of “Silver” village; Hang Gai “Silk” street, King Ly Thai To statue. We then stop to visit Ngoc Son temple and walk around Hoan Kiem lake. After that, transfer to the hotel to check in. Overnight in Hanoi.
After breakfast, free at leisure until transfer to the airport for our departure flight. Standard hotel check-out time is 12h00 (late check-out upon availability).
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