Experience the commotion and calm of life in Northern Vietnam. Explore the ancient streets of Hanoi, Vietnam’s millennium-old capital, where modernity and history meet in an eruption of intensity, color, culture and the beauty and bustle of urban chaos. From the heights of cityscape to valley low, observe the calm of rural life. Travel through lush valleys spotted with stilt homes and rice paddies. Interact with the locals in their fishing and farming communities. From ancient architecture, to majestic limestone-faced mountains, to turquoise bays and luminous grottos, this seven-day voyage has something for everyone.
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Touch down in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, where your private car will be waiting for you. After hotel check-in, rest and refresh before embarking on your first adventure: a cyclo (Vietnamese rickshaw) tour through the ancient streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Embrace the frenzied juxtaposition of old and new, urban bustle and nature’s beauty with a tour around Hoan Kiem Lake and the ancient temple it surrounds. The city’s historic center hosts several galleries, museums, temples and gardens for your exploration. Round-off your first day with some relaxation and divine dining.
Traverse 4 hours westward to the province of Hoa Binh. In perfect contrast to yesterday’s experience, today, you will observe a calmer side of Vietnam. Your destination, the Pom Coong village, is nestled in the valley of Mai Chau. Here you will stay at the Mai Chau Lodge, where you can relax before you continue your journey tomorrow.
After a good breakfast, hop on a cycle and explore the villages of Northern Vietnam’s highlands. Immerse yourself in the simplistic purity of the vibrant local culture. Relish the serenity of the countryside before returning to the rush of Hanoi. Enjoy an enchanting evening of entertainment as you take in a water puppetry performance, a unique Vietnamese tradition that dates back to the 11th century.
Today you will visit UNESCO World Heritage site, Halong Bay - a 3-hour drive from Hanoi. The impressive limestone bay and its crystal-blue waters are nothing short of breathtaking. Take in the site while enjoying a lunch buffet aboard a cruise. Following this, you will have the opportunity to visit an authentic fishing village. Take time to appreciate the unique beauty and ingenuity of the floating homes and way of life in small water-based communities. Then it’s back to the cruise for a sunset mocktail, cooking class, dinner and a movie.
Do as the locals do and greet the sun with a morning Tai Chi class on a rooftop deck. After an early breakfast take a boat-ride to the enchanting Sung Sot cave. Living up to its alternative names “Amazing” cave and “Cave of Surprises” this ancient system of grottos and their chambers filled with stalactites and stalagmites reaching up to 100 feet are simply spectacular. Enjoy your last evening in Hanoi and relax for the day ahead.
A scenic 2-hour southbound drive will bring you to the province of Ninh Binh where you will enjoy lunch and prepare for a boat trip through the village of Kenh Ga. Set amongst an impressive, mountainous landscape of limestone cliffs, winding rivers and tranquil lakes the Kenh Ga village-tour offers a glimpse into the peaceful patterns of these rural communities. A short drive to where the mountains meet the sea will bring you to Truong An, home to the 17th century temples of Dinh and Le, built in honor of monarchs long-past. Check in to your hotel and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
For the final day of your guided tour enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel and travel by car to Cuc Phuong National Park. Vietnam’s first National park, Cuc Phuong is a pristine window into Vietnam’s rich biodiversity. A unique opportunity to observe hundreds of mammal, bird, reptile, and fish species, keep an eye out for everything from primates to porcupines. Alas, all good things must come to an end, it is time to return you to Hanoi.
This richly historic 364-room French colonial masterpiece built in 1901 is one of Vietnam's finest hotels, with luxuriously appointed rooms, attentive staff and gracious service. It is ideally located in central Hanoi and houses a beautiful interior garden. Excellent French cuisine is served at Le Beaulieu, and Hanoi specialties are offered at Spices Garden. The hotel has a well-equipped fitness center with cardio machines and weights, as well as a swimming pool and spa offering massage treatments. All of the guest rooms have broadband Internet access and are decorated in an opulent, neo-classical style.
Nestled amongst the tribal villages in the rolling, green valley of Mai Chau you will find the remote Mai Chau Lodge. This entirely unique approach to cultural exploration and relaxation combined will satiate every one of your senses and adventurous expectations. A fantastic blend of modern comfort, breathtaking natural beauty, rich history and culture, will leave you with lasting memories of your stay in Vietnam. Your Mai Chau experience is sure to be memorable and action packed, with a full range of activities - from swimming to kayaking, to cycling and rock climbing - you will not have a dull moment during your stay. The Mai Chau Lodge offers guests comfortable accommodation with a choice of mountain or valley views, along with access to all of the hotel’s impressive facilities. Rooms are tastefully designed with a focus on textiles and traditional furnishings and are equipped with Western style bedding. High ceilings and large windows enhance your space giving the room a peaceful and uplifting feel.
In the beautiful and mysterious province of Ninh Binh, just two hours south of Hanoi, the sleek, contemporary Cuc Phuong Resort meets the wilds of nature and ancient Vietnam. With Cuc Phuong National Park less than two miles away, this ecological resort is surrounded by stunning scenery and sites of natural interest including ancient caves and a 1,000-year-old Chò tree. The hotel’s luxury suites and bungalows are spacious yet cozy, decorated with natural materials and equipped with WiFi and LCD televisions. The resort’s position atop a natural mineral spring allows for hot mineral water to be piped into each room’s private wooden tub, for a relaxing bath with healing properties. The same water flows in the resort’s indoor and outdoor swimming pools and further health-giving properties can be enjoyed in the mineral mud baths. With mountain views and eye-catching dishes, dining at the Dabiru restaurant is as beautiful as it is tasty, not to mention healthy with the use of organic, local ingredients.
Located in the beautiful surroundings of historic Ninh Binh, Vietnam’s ancient capital, the Emeralda is truly a jewel set amidst natural beauty. Just a short 90 minute drive from Hanoi, the hotel is situated on the brink of Van Long Nature Reserve, home to countless species of flora and fauna, making it an unforgettably tranquil retreat. Beautifully designed to capture traditional Vietnamese architecture, the emphasis is on celebrating nature and the environment, from the building itself, to the cuisine served across its four restaurants. Indoor and al fresco dining options are available with dishes that nod to Vietnam’s rich heritage - from authentic, traditional favourites, to French-inspired, colonial fare. Guests can choose from the extensive list in the wine bar or relax poolside with a refreshing cocktail before dinner. Superior and deluxe suites offer comfort as well as style, not to mention stunning views of the beautiful scenery. Finally, guests in search of relaxation will find it in the fully-equipped spa.