This North to South Vietnam 17 Day Itinerary offers the opportunity to visit some of Vietnam most popular travel destinations such as Hanoi, Mai Chau, Kenh Ga village, Tam Coc, Lao Cai, Can Cau market, Bac Ha market, Sapa, Halong bay, Hue, Da Nang, Hoian, Cu Chi tunnels, Ho Chi Minh city and the Mekong Delta. Begin the tour in Hanoi, continue with the north-western mountainous area, then the central cost and finally the southern Vietnam. You will experience different travel activities such as trekking, cycling, sea kayaking, cooking, sightseeing culture, history discovery and more. The itinerary is recommended for individuals, small group size, family holidays.
Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau
Depart Hanoi for Hoa Binh province and the town of Mai Chau. This scenic drive takes around three hours. Along the way we pass fields of tapioca and sugar cane as well as rice paddies. Arrive in Mai Chau village, we take a short walk around Lac & Poom Coong village to have the first sights of the White Thai community culture. In the evening, assist to the traditional music and dance show which is performed by The Thai young girls and boys. Try also some rice alcohol made of traditional plants and local sticky rice. Overnight on a stilt house.
Day 2: Mai Chau Hiking
Breakfast at the Thai stilt house then we leave the village for a full day hiking around. We will pass many different Thai hamlets, through rice fields, hill sides…Stop sometimes to visit local houses and talk with local people. And one of the highlight on this walk is to experience the everyday life and culture white Thai people and stay in their traditional house on stilts as honored guests.
Day 3: Mai Chau – Kenh Ga – Tam Coc
Breakfast then we say good bye to our hosts. Depart for Ninhbinh. We will arrive at Kenh Ga around noon. Have lunch in a local restaurant and try some specialty of the region. After lunch, the car will drive you to Kenh Ga floating village. Set on the banks of the Hoang Long River, Kenh Ga is a remarkable place, not only because it is surrounded by the same massive rocks that dominate Hoa Lu, but also because for most of the year the entire community lives on the water itself. The floating village of Kenh Ga receives relatively few visitors compared to nearby Hoa Lu and the peoples’ aquatic way of life has changed little over the centuries. Then take to boat trip to the floating village. Here there are many people live on their boats. They formed a community with their particular ways of life and culture. Have some stop on the way to visit local people and talk with them. Overnight at local guest-house.
Day 4: Tam Coc – Hanoi – Lao Cai
The river trip in Tam coc 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 – 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. We move on to Tam Coc for a 3-hour boat trip along the Boi river. Along the way we will visit caves and ancient temples. After lunch we can make a visit Bich Dong Pagodas before making our way back to Hanoi. After dinner (at your own account), transfer to Hanoi railway station to take the night train to Laocai. Overnight on the train.
Day 5: Lao Cai – Can Cau – Bac Ha
The train arrive Laocai station early morning. You will be meet by our local guide and driver. After having breakfast in town, start the ride up to Can Cau market. The ride is relatively flat from Lao Cai to Bao Nhai, where you will be taken through rural area. Situated in the mountains in border area, 20 km from Bac Ha, Can Cau is a small, but very colorful market. Opening only on Saturdays, it always delivers a very photogenic display of Flower Hmong, Black Zao, Phu La ethnic costumes. Chinese people also come for trading. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, you will leave the market for Bac Ha town for lunch. In the afternoon, you will take a walk to Ban Pho village of Nung and Flower Hmong, which locate in a small valley. The villagers grow vegetables and fruit trees. One of the most famous fruit of the area is plum. You will be able to visit a local house, where you might have chance to taste a cup of corn wine, another famous product of the village. You will go back to hotel late in the afternoon. Overnight in Bac Ha.
Day 6: Bac Ha – Sapa
After having a morning coffee, you take a short walk to visit the old castle of the former Hmong King. From there you can have a view over the town. You will then visit the huge market of Bac Ha with its colorful array of ethnic minority people such as Flower Hmong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay, Nung who gather to buy and sell. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, your lunch will be served in a local restaurant. After lunch, you drive downhill for about half an hour. You will then start 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 get on a boat. You will have a cruise upstream the Chay River to experience the picturesque scenes and the magnificent sight of a beautiful cave. The boat ride ends at Coc Ly Market, where you get on the car for the journey to Sapa. Overnight in Sapa.
Day 7: Sapa Hiking
The day commences with a jeep ride to the trekking route. The trek starts by walking through the incredibly scenic “Ban Ho” valley. Here you will have the opportunity to visit and explore the wooden houses, which traditionally belong to the Tay ethnic minority. You will then continue to walk to Thanh Phu village where you stop for lunch in a local house. After lunchtime, you head to Sin Chai village of Red Dao minority where the night will be spent in bamboo huts. The wonderful hospitable atmosphere of the Red Dao will attract you. Overnight in Sapa.
Day 8: Sapa Hiking
Today’s Sapa trek takes you through several villages where you will be able to meet Tay, Hmong and Xa Pho ethnic minorities. You will have time to photograph the beautiful rice paddy terraces and the surrounding mountain. On the way you will visit a local school. Your lunch will be prepared and served in a local house. In the afternoon, you head back to Thanh Phu village of Tay minority. Here you will spend the night. You can take a walk to explore local daily life while your dinner will be served with Vietnamese dishes. Day 9: Continue trekking. Return Sapa town. Travel to Lao Cai. Overnight train back to Hanoi. On the last day of the trek you will cross several suspension bridges and trek through lush rice paddy fields and stunning scenery. You have a unique opportunity to meet Xa Pho minority in My Son village, one of the smallest group ethnic living in Northern Viet Nam. They always maintain their unique costume and nomadic life. You trek uphill to Nam Toong village of Red Dao minority, where you have lunch in a local school. In the afternoon, your trek will be firstly downhill to Ban Ho village where you will have time for a swim in the river. You will then climb toward Su Pan. The car will meet you there and take you then to Laocai railways station for the night train back to Hanoi. Overnight on the train.
Day 10: Hanoi – Halong Bay
Arrive in Hanoi in the early morning, transfer to a local restaurant for early breakfast then depart to Halong. Enjoy the journey through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta and the scenery of rice fields, water buffalo and everyday Vietnamese village life. Arrive in Halong and board the Bai Tho traditional sailing junk (or similar junk) for the overnight Halong bay cruise. Whilst cruising the exquisite waters sample the regions fresh seafood. Visit the recently discovered Surprise Grotto with its great views, and on the next island see the yawning mouth of Bo Nau Cave. Alternatively journey to Dau Go Cave and nearby see the famous stalagmites and stalactites of Thien Cung Cave. Enjoy a swim in the emerald waters of Halong Bay at any spot that you wish to visit or take a kayaking trip to explore the Bay. Watch the sun set over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner. Overnight on board junk.
Day 11: Halong Bay – Hanoi
Wake up to fresh coffee and a wholesome breakfast before cruising back to Halong City. En route the junk weaves through strange-shaped rock formations that invite comparisons from fighting cocks to dragons. After another wonderful fresh seafood lunch (early) on board disembark at the dock at Halong City. Transfer back to Hanoi.
Day 12: Hanoi – Hue
Breakfast at hotel then transfer to Noibai airport for your flight to Hue. You will be greeted at Hue airport by another guide and driver and transferred to the hotel downtown. Starting visiting Hue by taking the boat trip on Perfume River to visit Thien Mu Pagoda considered as Royal Pagoda of the Nguyen Dynasty and Imperial Citadel. In the afternoon, visit Mausoleums of Tu Duc or the one of Khai Dinh King. Visit a typical garden-house in Hue (Hue has another name as “city of garden”). Overnight at hotel.
Day 13: Hue – Da Nang – Hoian
Breakfast at hotel. Depart for Lang Co, a small village of fishermen. Taking photograph from Hai Van Pass (The pass of Sea and Cloud). Visit Cham Museum in Da Nang. Free lunch en route. You will arrive in Hoian in the afternoon. Free dinner and overnight in Hoian.
Day 14: Hoian Sightseeing Tour
Start the visit of this charming small town, first commercial center in Vietnam since the 15th century, with more than 800 classified buildings : Japanese Covered Bridge, Tan Ky Old house, Assembly Hall Chinese. Phuc Kien Pagoda, Hoian Museum and Market. After lunch, continue the visit. In the evening, walk on the river Thu Bon in sunset. Free diner in town. Overnight at hotel.
Day 15: Hoian – Da Nang – Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
After breakfast, transfer to Danang airport for the morning flight to Saigon. Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh city airport, you will be meet by another guide and driver and transferred to city center. Start the tour with Ho Chi Minh City highlights including the Post Office, cathedral, Reunification palace, centre town, then continuation towards Cholon, visit Thien Hau temple, Binh Tay market. Free lunch in town. Overnight at hotel.
Day 16: Saigon – Tay Ninh – Cu Chi Tunnels – Saigon
Breakfast at hotel. Enjoy a morning drive through typical southern Vietnamese countryside to Tay Ninh Province in the west of Vietnam. At Tay Ninh visit the incredible Cao Dai Great Temple, with architecture that could have come straight from a Walt Disney fantasy and where all the major faiths of the world blend together in a unique religious cocktail. After lunch in a local restaurant visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters during the long struggle for independence. Overnight in Saigon
Day 17: Mekong Delta Day Tour
Breakfast at hotel. Leave Ho Chi Minh City for Vinh Long. On arrival at Cai Be, board a boat to explore the floating market, typical of the Mekong Delta. Continue by boat to Binh Hoa Phuoc Island to visit orchards of tropical fruits. After lunch continue by boat to Vinh Long Town for transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City. Trip ends.
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