On your arrival at the Noi Bai International Airport, you will be welcomed by our guide and driver who will bring you to Hanoi City. Hanoi is over 1000 years old and is currently the capital of Vietnam as well the commercial, political, and cultural heart of the country.
A city tour of Hanoi starts with a visit to the One-Pillar Pagoda. We will then take a drive to visit the Temple of Literature. The temple was built in October 1073 to worship Confucius and is considered to be the first university in Vietnam. We will then drive to Hoan Kiem Lake where you will see Ngoc Son Temple which worships Van Xuong saint and Tran Hung Dao, a former general commander. Hanoi is one of the few places found in this part of the world that has such elegance. Walk down the tree lined boulevards where we see many French influences such as Hanoi Opera House, the State Bank, the former Governor's palace, and the Hanoi Cathedral (Saint Joseph’s built in the late 19th century).
Later in the afternoon, you will get a chance to enjoy a 1-hour cyclo ride around the 36 streets in the Old Quarter of Hanoi followed by a welcome dinner at one of the many local restaurants. After that, you are free to explore on your own or take it easy and relax in your hotel room. You will spend the night in Hanoi.
Today you will experience the ancient culture and history of Vietnam as well seeing the stunning landscape and beautiful scenery when we travel to the Ninh Binh Province. This area is known as “Ha Long Bay on land” and is located 80 km South of Hanoi.
We will go for a relaxing sampan ride through the gentle and elegant landscape of plains and mountains leading to the beautiful and mysterious Tam Coc Grottoes followed by a gentle cycle ride (4km) and boat ride to Bich Dong Cave and Pagoda. This journey takes you through breath taking scenery of rice fields and imposing mountains. We then move on to the Thai Vy Temple, built in the 13th century, the Thai Vy Temple offers magnificent insight and depth into the ancient Vietnamese culture. After having lunch at Anh Dzung Restaurant (or similar restaurant), we then head off to Hoa Lu, formally the capital of the Dinh and early Le dynasties between the 10th and 11th centuries. We will then head back to Ha Noi where, later in the evening, we will enjoy dinner at one of the local restaurants before going to see the unique and intriguing Water Puppet Show, a traditional folk performance held on the Red River Delta.
At the end of the day, we will have dinner and then take the overnight express train from Hanoi to Lao Cai – Sapa. There is a soft bed onboard the train for you to get some sleep (1 soft berth per guest in 4-berth cabin – Seat-in-coach cabin).
You will be met at Lao Cai railway station, and taken to a local restaurant for breakfast. You will then be driven the 35kms to the former French Hill Station of Sapa. Sapa sits snugly into the mountain side at 1.560 meters. The drive offers beautiful panoramic scenery of mountains and valleys that are typical of the region. You will take a short trip into Cat Cat Valley where you will meet some of the local H’mong people. Cat Cat is an agricultural community that was founded in the 19th century and preserves its old architectural monuments such as Pomu timber plank – roofed triple – room houses. You will visit Ham Rong (Dragon Raw) to see a fantastic view of the town and rice paddy fields on terraces that are carved out of the mountainside. Moving on, you will visit one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sapa, the Silver Waterfall. Finally, you will head back to the hotel in Sapa where you will then be able to relax in your hotel room for the night.
Today we will take you on an excursion to a local Ethnic minority market. Depending on the day of the week, we may visit one of the following Ethnic Minority markets as follows: Bac Ha Market (held on Sunday), Coc Ly market (held on Tuesday), Cao Son market (held on Wednesday) and Can Cau Market (held on Saturday). It is a precious opportunity for you to take photos of the colorful market before heading back to Lao Cao for the night train back to Hanoi.
In the morning, we leave Hanoi and travel to the astonishing and mystical Ha Long Bay which is described by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and is one of the most beautiful places in the region. Located in the Gulf of Tonkin, it is an spectacular collection of 2,000 islands covering an area in excess of 1,500km. This forms a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars and cliff faces.
Our crew will welcome you on board with drinks and a fresh seafood lunch. You will check into your cabins and start cruising around the bay to see the amazing rock formations (karsts). You will cruise towards Bai Tu Long Bay, passing the towns of Hon Gai and Cam Pha, Oan Lagoon, Mat Quy (Monster Head) and Am Tich (Teapot) Islets and Vung Vieng fishing village.
We will explore the mystery of Sung Sot Cave which is one of the most beautiful caves in Ha Long Bay. Later on, you will have plenty of time for swimming and kayaking to the Tunnel Cave. During the evening, relax to the casual and comfortable atmosphere held on the boat where you will have an elegant dining experience. If we are in the right season, we can see fresh squid being caught the traditional way.
Get your cameras ready for a spectacular sunset, lounge under the clear, star filled sky and retire to your cabin at your leisure where you will spend the night on the luxury boat near a remote island.
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