Attractions: rich bio-diversity, national parks, lakes, waterfalls, forests, cruising, mountains, adventure travel.
Destinations: Hanoi, Ba Be National Park, Ha Long Bay World Heritage Area, Cat Ba National Park, Cuc Phuong National Park, Bach Ma National Park.
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival (Dinner, Guide pickup)
Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel, the capital city of Vietnam, is an elegant city located on the banks of the Red River with tranquil Restored Sword Lake at its heart. In the afternoon, you’ll ride a cyclo to visit the bustling Old Quarter, a magnet for visitors – it’s noisy and hectic, but definitely a ‘must-see’ attraction. The Old Quarter is a maze of shopping streets and restaurants with a hotchpotch of architecture - traditional tube houses, religious buildings, artisans’ workshops and cottages, colonial houses and modern concrete edifices.
After that, you will have a chance to enjoy a water puppet show, an art form in which puppets are suspended over water, directed by puppet masters who must sit semi-submerged for hours at a time. The tradition of water puppetry is at least 1,000 years old, originating with peasants in the Red River Delta of the north. The puppets, which the French used to call “the souls of the Vietnamese rice fields,” are made of the water-resistant wood of the fig tree and depict villagers, farm animals, dragons, and more.
In the evening, you’ll have a ‘Welcome’ dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant in a restored French colonial building. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi- Ba Be Lake (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
In the morning, you’ll drive the 240km to Ba Be Lake National Park in a comfortable vehicle. It’s a long trip, but there will be breaks en-route, and the latter part of the journey takes you through striking mountain scenery. You’ll arrive with time for a sunset stroll in the crisp forest air before dinner. You’ll spend the night in a local guesthouse in Ba Be National Park
Day 3: Ba Be Lake (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
You’ll have a full day to visit the park. In the morning, you’ll travel down the river in a motor launch through Puong Cave. After lunch, you’ll reach the lake. You visit the Fairy Pond, set in dense forest with many birds, and Widow’s Island, where the ‘river ghost’ punished greedy villagers by creating the lake. It’s a pleasant experience to relax as the boat glides through the unruffled crystal-clear water. In the late afternoon, you’ll disembark at a Tay ethnic minority village for dinner. You’ll spend the night in a ‘stilt’ house in Ba Be National Park.
Day 4: Ba Be Lake - Ha Long Bay (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
In the morning, you’ll leave Ba Be for Ha Long Bay with en-route stop to visit a weekly market (if available on that day). You’ll be arriving in Ha Long City in the late afternoon. You’ll spend the night in Ha Long.
Day 5: Ha Long Bay - Cat Ba Island (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After an early breakfast, you’ll board a cruise to visit Ha Long Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world’s largest marine limestone ‘karst’ landscape. You’ll visit some of the less well-known grottoes and caves. Weather permitting, you’ll be able to swim, and climb hills (not mountains!) for an overview of the Bay’s remarkable seascape, or venture into some of the sea level caves in a small sampan. You’ll be served a seafood lunch on the boat. In the late afternoon, you’ll dock at Cat Ba Island for your overnight accommodation.
Day 6: Cat Ba Island (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After an early breakfast, your guide will take you to the National Park to hike through the forest. Although the distance is only about 18 km, it will take at least 6 hours to cover the undulating terrain. On the way, you’ll have a break for a picnic lunch at Viet Hai village. You’ll finally arrive at a bay on the south of the island where a boat will be waiting to take you back to the town’s harbour. You’ll spend the night in Cat Ba town.
Day 7: Cat Ba Island - Hai Phong - Cuc Phuong (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
The morning will be free for you to relax on a nearby sandy beach or while away your time in the small seafront town. After lunch, you’ll board the hydrofoil trip to Hai Phong where a car and driver will be waiting to take you to Cuc Phuong National Park with stop en-route for a visit at Van Long Nature Reserve by a sampan. You may have a chance to watch rare langurs. You’ll then drive to the Park where you’ll stay overnight.
Day 8: Cuc Phuong (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
After breakfast, you’ll be able to wander through a subtropical forest, rich in flora and fauna with thousand-year-old trees and dripping vines, visiting the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre. You’ll spend the night in the National Park Guesthouse.
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.
Day 9: Cuc Phuong - Ninh Binh - Hanoi (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
This morning, you’ll travel to Ninh Binh. On arrival, you’ll visit Tam Coc where you’ll be rowed along a river meandering through rice paddies and caves in a peaceful valley between limestone ‘karst’ mountains. Later in the afternoon, you’ll drive back to Ha Noi. Your overnight stay will be in Ha Noi.
Day 10: Hanoi – Hue - Bach Ma (Breakfast, Dinner, Guide)
Your morning will be free until your guide and driver arrive to take you to board the noon flight to Hue. On arrival, a car will be waiting for you to drive you to Bach Ma National Park (60 km) for your overnight accommodation in the Park guest house high on the slopes of a mountain.
Day 11: Bach Ma (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
After an early breakfast, you’ll walk 500m up the mountain to the summit for the views and, hopefully, the sunrise. Then you’ll walk along the Rhododendron trail and Five-Lakes cascade trail (6 km in total) through evergreen forest to visit cascades and waterfalls. Your lunch will be at a nearby local restaurant. In the afternoon, you’ll follow the Pheasant Trail (2.5 km) to visit a series of waterfalls and crystal-clear pools. You’ll spend the night in the park.
If you’re interested in bird watching, we can arrange a special park local guide who can’t speak English but can whistle to call the birds. He’ll research the Pheasant Trail in the afternoon of the day before to spot their mating places, and guide you to places where you’d be most likely to spot the pheasants. The best time for this activity is from June to August.
Day 12: Bach Ma – Hue - Hanoi departure (Breakfast, Guide)
Your morning will be free until your guide and driver arrive to take you to Hue for your flight to Hanoi for your departure flight or hotel accommodation.
- Vietnam Visa invitation letter.
- Private door-to-door pick-up & drop-off services.
- Travel in an appropriate private air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced safe driver.
- Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.
- Domestic flight tickets: Hanoi – Hue, Hue - Hanoi including domestic airport taxes.
- The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary
- Speed boat ticket: Hai Phong – Cat Ba.
- Boat cruises as specified in the programme. All Ha Long Bay boats will be fully licensed and comply with current safety regulations.
- Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) in the best local restaurants and full board on the boat in Ha Long Bay.
- All sightseeing tickets.
- VAT and other taxes
- 24/7 hotline support guaranteed
- International flight tickets and airport tax.
- Lunches and dinners, except as specified above.
- Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
- Travel insurance
- Surcharges for Peak seasons (if any)
- Vietnam visa stamp fee
- Other services not mentioned above.