Day 1: HA NOI CITY TOUR (L)
We start the tour by picking you up at your hotel to visit Tran Quoc Pagoda, a national heritage that lies on the shores of West Lake housing numerous Buddhist relics. We continue our tour by paying a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and his former residence which now serves as a museum documenting the life of Vietnam’s father and greatest national hero.
Next up is the Temple of Literature, which houses the oldest university in Vietnam, founded in 1070AD. The temple is dedicated to Confucius, sages, and scholars and occupies a vast structure filled with peaceful gardens.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll spend our afternoon exploring Bat Trang; a local handicraft village specialized in pottery. Around 15:30 our driver will take us back to the center of the city and a walk around the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake. While we’re here we’ll cross the charming little bridge over to the serene Ngoc Son Temple, situated on an island in the lake. The lake is also surrounded by stunning colonial architecture, so there are things to look at in every direction. Following our tour of the lake, we’ll take you back to your hotel where you’re free to spend the rest of the day at your leisure.
Day 2: HA NOI - SAPA (B, L, D)
Following breakfast at the hotel, our driver will pick you up and transfer you to Sa Pa, where you’ll arrive around 12:30 PM. On arrival, our tour guide will welcome you and take you for lunch in a local restaurant.
You will commence your journey from Sapa by walking to Lao Chai village. Views of Muong Hoa Valley and its magnificent surroundings are great here, featuring stunning mountains and sprawling rice terraces.
You’re likely to meet people from the various ethnic minorities in the area (H’ mong, Zay, and Red Dao) as you walk along this route, and there will be plenty of stalls along the way serving tea, fruits and sweets should you be in need of some refreshments.
Eventually, we’ll leave the main road and start taking a local path. Here is where you’ll truly get to experience the local life of the Black H’mong, as you finally reach the village of Lao Chai. Once we’ve had our fill here, we keep walking to Ta Van, where it’s the Zay people's turn to fascinate you. We will have dinner and stay overnight with a local family in a homestay here.
Day 3: SAPA - HA NOI (B, L)
After breakfast, you will set out on a 3-4 hour trek that will take you along buffalo paths and trails to Giang Ta Chai Village of the Black H’mong. You can relax at the foot of the stunning waterfall and see the vestige of a hydroelectric power station that was constructed by the French during colonial times in Vietnam.
We will then return to Sapa town for lunch at a restaurant and then the remaining afternoon (until 15:00) is free to spend at your leisure, at which time you will be driven back to Hanoi and arrive at your hotel around 20:30. This day includes a 7-10km trek.
Day 4: HA NOI - HA LONG (B, L, D)
On the fourth day, we depart for Ha Long Bay at around 8:00-8:30 for a 3.5-hour drive to Hong Gai Tourist Wharf, where we’ll check in at Oriental Sails JSC’s private waiting hall, the OS Lounge. Here we can relax until embarkation around 12:30-13:00 followed by a quick briefing. We’ll spend our first few hours on-board enjoying the views of the limestone islands of Bai Tu Long Bay and savoring a delectable lunch, until at 15:30-16:30 you are free to choose between two activities:
Option 1: Fishing village visit
For those that are interested in learning about local life in the bay. Take a bamboo rowing boat trip lasting roughly 45 minutes, around Vung Vieng fishing village, one of the largest of its kind in Ha Long Bay. The village is set inside a closed lagoon, surrounded by mountains, which makes it a great place for photos in addition to the cultural experience.
Option 2: Beach and kayaking
For the more active travelers and beach-bums, you can be taken in a small boat to Ban Chan beach, where you can sunbathe, swim, play volleyball or try your hands at some kayaking in the magnificent setting of the bay.
You’ll arrive back at the cruise around 16:30, with enough time to get cleaned up and relax before the sun starts to set. At 17:30 you can enjoy happy hour at the bar on the sun deck, enjoying the sunset with a drink in hand, and also take part in a cooking class with the resident Chef.
At 19:00 dinner will be served, and the rest of the evening can be spent socializing with other guests, night squid fishing or just lazing around. There will also be singing and dancing activities until 22:00.
Overnight onboard with the ship anchored in the Cong Do Area of the bay.
Day 5: HA LONG - HA NOI (B, L)
Early risers can enjoy a 30 minute Tai Chi exercise on the sundeck at 06:30 before enjoying the view of the surrounding seascape with your breakfast as you cruise towards Thien Canh Son Cave. You’ll arrive at the cave at 9 am and spend about half an hour exploring this medium-sized and less visited cave situated in Bai Tu Long Bay.
After your cave visits its time to check out of your room at the boat and return to port, docking at noon after having early lunch on-board. Our driver will be waiting for you at the pier and will transfer you back to Hanoi for arrival at your hotel around 16:30. At this point it’s time to say goodbye to your guide, driver and group, hopefully with life-long memories gained and friendships made.