Cairn Travels will be visiting Northern Vietnam March 1-12, 2023. Our small group will explore the city of Hanoi with private guides, cruise the bay of Ha Long where we will dock for the night and marvel at the rugged scenery of Mai Chau & Moc Chau.
Vietnam offers destinations for everyone – wildly chaotic cities full of culture and history, quiet, rural villages where rice fields disappear endlessly into the horizon, mountains for hiking, beaches for relaxing, and landscapes so unique they’ve been UNESCO-listed for preservation.
Day 1-2: Arrive at Hanoi airport after an overnight flight. A driver will escort us to the hotel, located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.
Our hotel is situated right in the teeming center of Hanoi’s ancient Old Quarter, where each street is famous for the traditional goods that shopkeepers sell there. You can wander past the jewelry stores on Hang Bac (Silver Street), smell dried ginseng wafting from the shops along Lan Ong (the traditional medicine street), and even have clothes made to order on Hang Gai, which is famous for silk. Have the evening to yourself to rest and relax.
Day 3: Enjoy a leisure breakfast and morning. Today a private guide will escort us on a city tour of Hanoi. Included is the Bat Trang ceramic village and a water puppet show.
On our tour we’ll visit Hoan Kiem Lake which is at the center of Hanoi city life. Located in the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake is where people gather in Hanoi to rest, eat lunch, play, or simply take a walk around the perimeter of the lake. Ngoc Son Temple, an 18th century Buddhist temple, sits on a tiny island in the lake reachable via the bright red bridge connecting the island to the northern shore of the lake.
Day 4-5: Today we leave Hanoi and begin the journey to Ha Long Bay. The next two days will be spent on a deluxe cruise tour taking in the scenic vistas and enjoying delicious food on board. Halong Bay is a stunningly beautiful bay in Northern Vietnam where over 1,600 islands and islets rise up from the turquoise waters of the East Sea.
Day 6: Have breakfast at the hotel in Hanoi before we are escorted to Mai Chau. Located only a few hours southwest of Hanoi, we’ll pass through picturesque farming towns and over epic mountain passes. The area is rich in culture and one of the best places to experience Vietnamese hospitality. Tonight we stay in a bungalow.
Day 7-9: Over the next few days, spend time in Mai Chau and Moc Chau immersing yourself in the culture. Trek or bike through the village taking in some of the most picturesque sights of the country.
Savor a cup of high quality tea produced in the area and taste the fragrance of the various rices. Try local fish, caught from the clean streams of Moc Chau plateau. (the fish are cleaned and organs removed before before being grilled.) The tantalizing smell of the grilled fish is absolutely irresistible and the taste won’t disappoint.
Day 10: Today is a free day to relax and walk around Hanoi. Be sure to walk to the Bia Hoi corner. Bars in the vicinity offer 25 cents local freshly made beer. Sit with the locals and learn the culture while enjoying delicious food.
Day 11: Today we travel to Bich Dong Pagoda, built by two Buddhist monks in the early 18th century. The entrance is stunning and is one of the most photogenic and recognized spots in Vietnam. The arched concrete pathway leads out over the field of lily pads where you’ll find a traditional Vietnamese style gateway. The scenery and structures surrounding the area are all incredibly unique and beautiful.
Relax and take in the amazing scenery on a Tam Coc boat tour in Ninh Binh. We end the day back at the hotel in Hanoi for our last evening in Vietnam.
Day 12-13: After breakfast, a driver will take you to the airport for the return flight home.