This is a 11-day introduction to Vietnam’s culture and nature. It includes a local tour to Hanoi Old Quarter and then followed by hiking and biking days to the Northern mountainous areas of Ba Vi, Hoa Binh and Pu Luong. Besides soft adventures, this tour also includes boat trips to the must-see World Heritage Site Halong Bay. As you’ll be travelling tailor-made, you can transform this sample tour into your dream holiday. Just ask us to make any changes, and you’ll have a revised itinerary with 24 hours – no limit to the number of changes, and no charge for making the amendments.
Itinerary in brief
Day 1: Arrival at Hanoi
Day 2: “Hanoi: Like a Local”
Day 3: Hanoi/ Ba Vi Jungle Trekking/Hoa Binh
Day 4: Hoa Binh/ Mai Chau/Off beaten hiking tour to local villages
Day 5: Mai Chau soft cycling and boat trip in Hoa Binh lake
Day 6: Mai Chau/Pu Luong/Water Wheels walk and rafting
Day 7: Pu Luong/ Uoi – Lan villages trekking half day/Pu Luong
Day 8: Pu luong/Mua Cave hiking/Ninh Binh
Day 9: Full day hiking in Cuc Phuong National Park
Day 10: Ninh Binh/Hai Phong/Lan Ha Bay
Day 11: Lan Ha Bay/Hanoi/ Departure
Program day by day
Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. You’ll have time to relax after your journey.
In the evening, you will have a welcome dinner at a local restaurant near your hotel. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
Today, meet your guide and driver in the early morning at 6.00am and head towards Hoan Kiem Lake. It is a popular practice in Vietnam to awake very early and start the morning with some exercise. You’ll see several groups of people here practicing tai chi and aerobics. Immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture and join the locals in their morning routine.
Passing Ngoc Son Temple, you will visit a traditional coffee shop for a taste of Vietnam’s local iced coffee, ‘Ca phe sua da’. If you're up for it, you can also try the ‘Egg coffee’. Continue from here to find some street food; we recommend the delicious ‘banh mi’, a typical baguette sandwich filled with a variety of fresh local ingredients. Later, proceed farther into Hanoi’s Old Quarter for glimpses of French architectural influence as seen in different Vietnamese buildings. The first stop will be the St. Joseph Cathedral, a French gothic building constructed in 1886. Next, you’ll arrive at Hoa Lo Prison, where Vietnamese, American and French prisoners were kept in different periods. Vietnam is justifiably well known for its food, and you will now stop by a ‘Bun Cha’ restaurant to try this specialty of Hanoi.
After lunch, you will visit the Temple of Literature. Built in 1076, this temple was the site of
Vietnam’s first university, established to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The day’s final sightseeing stop will be at the railway line cutting through urban Hanoi, sometimes running just meters away from the front doors of houses! Walking along a stretch of the railway with your guide offers some incredible photo opportunities. The tour will finish, in true local style, at a Bia Hoi where you can enjoy some local draft beer. Note that innumerable street food specialties will be available throughout the day; to best appreciate them you may wish to skip your hotel breakfast before this tour.
Distance: 5.5 km – easy to medium level
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel then get transferred in 1.5 hours to the Ba Vi National Park. On arrival at the national park, your driver will take you to the relaxing point of 400m above sea level to rest. Afterward, you move to the point of 1,100m above sea level to start trekking to Tan Vien Peak, one of 3 Ba Vi’s highest peaks – at the point of 1,226m above sea level then hike up to visit the Upper Temple, where worships the God of Ba Vi Mountain Range, one of The Four Immortals in the traditional Vietnamese mythology. Here, you can capture the most breath-taking panoramic view of the Ba Vi Mountain Range. The trekking takes 45 minutes total.
Lunch is served at the local restaurant in the national park.
In the afternoon, get ready for the hardest 2.5km-trekking route from the point of 1,000m down to 800m, which will challenge your ability with a lot of steep slopes as well as slippery roads. This trekking takes 2 hours total. During this route, you can see some giant thousand-year-old Old Green Cypresses, one of the world’s rare species preserved in the primeval forest at an altitude of 1,000m and discover the Political Prison, a French ruin built in the early 19th century. Moreover, there are also many special species of birds, reptiles and amphibians waiting for you to discover along the way.
After finishing the trekking tour through Ba Vi National Park, our driver will take you to visit Ba Trai Village, a 500ha-area of tea plantation. On arrival at the village, you will join with the locals to learn a full process of making raw tea leaf products.
After that, a driver will transfer you to Hoa Binh city in a 2-hour drive. You will have dinner and spend the night at a hotel in Hoa Binh city.
Distance: 20 km – easy to medium level
After breakfast, you will check-out and transferred to Mai Chau. Here you will meet a local guide to take you to Mai Ha village and start hiking to Kha and Te village and sightseeing around Kha lake, the heart of Mai Chau. This lake is the irrigation system that reserves the water source for Van Mai valley, providing life to the peoples living around. On our way you will see many White Thai villages. Local people leave their houses to do daily works in forest or in the rice field. During your walk you will take some short breaks to drink tea and chat with them. Continuing to Te Village, a small authentic village located in the jungle. Top off the journey by dropping by a Thai family to understand more about culture of Thai minority people. Picnic lunch will be served on the way or in a local house.
After lunch, you continue to head to Mai Hich Village. The tour today will help you to indulge in the daily life of people there that remains unchanged through many generations. Total trekking tour today is 20km, in 4-5 hour.
You will spend the night at a hotel in Mai Chau.
Distance: 15 km cycling –medium level
In September, Mai Chau golden rice fields are stunning in the fall, and cooler temperatures are guaranteed to make your visit pleasant. After breakfast, you head out with our guide for a morning bike ride to some of Mai Chau’s more remote villages and a walk through the jungle to see the rice terraces. During this unique experience, you also get a closer look at daily life through Thai ethnic’s culture.
The captivating journey will depart from your hotel, cycle around the valley; explore the beautiful landscape and unique Thai culture in the villages: Nà Thia, Chiêng Sai, Cha Village, Cha Long, Tong Dau, and Văn Village. Soak up the tranquil daily life by seeing the farmers working on their lush green paddy fields: growing rice, vegetable, raising fish and grazing livestock depending on the seasons. Furthermore, guests have chance to visit Mr. Điep’s family (where four generations live under the same roof) and experience the daily life as well as farm-work with indigenous people. You will be welcomed by the friendly local people, talk with them and discover their traditional culture and stilt house. Enjoying local fruit and tea, try weaving, embroidering, pounding rice, and learn how to make “Happy Water”. Total biking tour today is 15km, in 2 – 2.5 hour.
Around noon, you will return to your hotel for lunch.
In the afternoon, you will head to Hoa Binh Lake. On your journey, you will get car transfer to Suoi Lon village, a famous village for the authentic and ancient. After more than one hour boating trip on Mã River to visit fish farming cages on the hydropower reservoir. Many kinds of freshwater fish are raised in bamboo cages in the middle of the lake. The spectacular scenery is filled with hundreds of lime stone mountains and emerald water that the land is considered as Halong Bay on the mountain. On the way back, we will hike though Mo Rut village. All along the hiking way, you will catch the pictures peaceful life such as: quite river shore, fish catching activities, bamboo raft…
You will have dinner and spend the night at a hotel in Mai Chau.
Distance: 15 km cycling –medium level
Today, you’ll drive to Pu Luong – a Nature Reserve by road via a breathtaking mountain pass giving you a panoramic view of the whole valley. You arrive at your accommodation in time for a delicious lunch, followed by free time to explore the beautiful retreat, with its captivating panoramic views and tranquil setting.
After lunch, you will be transferred to a suspension bridge over the Cham River, where you begin your walk in search of stunning water wheels. Get up close to each wheel and discover how water is moved from river to handmade bamboo aqueducts via simple constructions of all sizes.
Arriving at a local fisherman’s house, you have a short rest to gear up for the rafting adventure with Dinh and his team. Float along the calm river and enjoy the views, in between learning how to paddle and steer your handcrafted rafts. You’ll then get back to Pu Luong Retreat for dinner and your overnight stay.
*Note: Rafting is subject to the water level at that time.
This is a common and easy walk around the most beautiful valley of rice terraces in front of the Retreat. We start to descend into the beautiful valley facing the Retreat where you walk around tumbling rice terraces. Then we will walk through small paths shrouded in vegetation to slowly reveal a picturesque Uoi village sitting at the base of a towering mountain. Your camera will not be able to sit still when you see the panorama view of the village from the above. Continue walk down hill to Uoi village then on to Lan village.
Afterward, return back to your Retreat for lunch and free on own to relax, dip in the infinity swimming pool while admiring the stunning view of the beautiful valley. Dinner will also be arranged at the Retreat and you’ll spend the night in Pu Luong.
It is nice to wake up early to enjoy this moment and sunrise. After breakfast then we take you to Ninh Binh in 3.5 hours.
Arriving Ninh Binh, you’ll move to Mua Cave where there is the most beautiful place to view in Ninh Binh, which is considered as “miniature Great Wall” of Vietnam, hiking to the peak of Ngoa Long mountain to get amazing view of Tam Coc landscape and Ninh Binh city. Later, return the hotel where you’ll spend the night.
A morning drive takes you to the Cuc Phuong National Park. You’ll wander through a subtropical forest, rich in flora and fauna with thousand-year-old trees and dripping vines, visiting the Prehistory Cave and the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre en-route. In the afternoon, you’ll return to hotel for your overnight accommodation.
The Endangered Primate Rescue Centre is a temporary home for many gibbons and langurs that have been injured, or have been orphaned by poachers. Among them are two of the rarest species in the world, Delacourt’s Langur, now confined to two or three spots in North Vietnam, and the elegant Cat Ba Golden Langur, now reduced to a colony of around 50 individuals in Cat Ba Island National Park. Strenuous efforts are being made to conserve both species. When those in the rescue centre have regained their strength, a carefully staged programme will release them into the wild.
After your breakfast, at 9.00 AM you’ll leave for Hai Phong for boarding a cruise to visit a remote parth of Halong Bay, named Lan Ha Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the world’s largest marine limestone ‘karst’ landscape. You’ll be taken the highway to Pha Got Port, Haiphong where we arrive at around 11h30. You then embark the V’Spirit Premier Cruise, enjoy a welcome drink and cruise briefing. A splendid lunch is served while cruising into the primitive Lan Ha Bay with its hundreds of small and large islands creating an enormous picture depicting the scene. Then you will experience a bamboo boat ride to visit Bright Cave, a serene round lake surrounded by lush trees and high stone cliffs. After enjoying swimming in the private emerald water, you will return to the boat to catch the daily spectacle of a gorgeous sunset, as well as happy hour at the bar.
In the evening, along with a fantastic dinner, you have a very special performance of traditional Vietnamese music in the dining room or on the top deck. Before you retire to your cabin tonight, perhaps you would like to head to the bar, the spa or join the crew for some squid fishing. You will spend the night on the boat.
You’ll wake in the fresh air of the bay with a Tai Chi session on the large sundeck (beginner welcome!). Spend the early morning relaxing while cruising to Halong Bay.
After a light breakfast, you will then exprerience the fantastic kayaking to discover the poetic Tra Bau area, enjoy swimming in the emerald water, visit fishing farm, socialize with fishermen to know more about local life here and how they work every day.
After that, you’ll return to the junk and check out, join a cooking demonstration before enjoying a lovely Buffet lunch on boat, while cruising back to the main dock, and around noon you’ll leave for Noi Bai airport for your departure flight. Tour end!
- English speaking tour guide following itinerary
- All entrance fees and tickets mention on itinerary
- Selected Accommodations with daily breakfast
- Cruise: Boutique Swan Cruise - 2D1N
- Private car following itinerary
- Shuttle bus: Hanoi - Halong
- Meal: B: 08, L: 07, D: 05
- Bike: Ninh Binh
- Kayak: Halong
- Leisure: Water puppet, Thung La temple music, Beach swimming, Squid fishing, Morning Tai Chi
- Cooking class: Halong (on board)
- Service charges and Taxes
- International flight from/to your country
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses
- Tipping and Gratuities
- Other not mentioned in the program
(1.1) FIT – An initial deposit of 20% is required at the time of booking.
(1.2) Leisure groups – An initial deposit of 20% is required at the time of booking.
(1.3) Incentive and MICE groups – An initial deposit of 20% is required at the time of booking.
(1.4) In some circumstances it may be necessary for us to request additional deposits due to the contracture requirements of our suppliers. SKY ASIA TRAVEL will advise you of the complete conditions attached to any deposits required at the time of confirmation.
(1.5) In the event of the non-payment of any requested deposit, we reserve the right to cancel the reservation.
(1.6) Note that if many extra services are booked after initial confirmation, Cashel Travel may require extra payments.
(1.7) Please note initial deposits (20%) are non-refundable
Following the receipt of the initial deposit, the client will be furnished with a confirmation of the tour details. The client shall immediately notify in writing if any errors are noted. SKY ASIA TRAVEL shall not be responsible for any errors not so notified.
+/ Full payment must be received 45 days prior to the tour/programme commencement date unless credit facilities agreed.
+/ In the event of the non-payment by due date we reserve the right to cancel the reservation, and in such event all deposits received shall be non-refundable.
+/ In the event of billing errors we reserve the right to re-invoice the correct amount.
+/ Amendments: In the event of cancellation of individual participants which results in changes in number of passengers within the group, SKY ASIA TRAVEL might apply a charge.
Travel insurance and medical precautions are essential. We do not give specific advice on these matters as we are expert in neither, and individual circumstances differ.
We advise you to tell us the name of the company and its contact details so that we can give notification on your behalf if you are unable to do so in the unlikely event of an accident occurring.
If you are intending to engage in any activity that could be considered ‘hazardous’ in any way, you should check your insurance carefully to make sure that you will be covered in the case of an accident.
You can send your request via the form below.
Package name: Vietnam Soft Adventure 11 Days