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  • Gap Year Vietnam

    Code: VOT04 - Duration: 20 Days
    Start: Saigon | Finish: Hanoi
  • This trip is the perfect stop over, add-on or sole destination for any Gap Year destination. Vietnam is a place filled with delicious street food, amazing culture and dare we say it, cheap beer! However, we believe that experiencing a culture shouldn’t just be about partying and therefore we have devised this tour which combines cultural insight and experience. This 19-day tour is aimed at providing younger travellers with the option for free days complemented by some truly “off the beaten track” authentic experiences. We guarantee that you won’t be able to find immersion into Vietnam’s culture with last-minute day tours or through our western competitors. It takes a true local. Perfect for two friends or a large group.

    Highlights:

    • Free days for strolling or customise the program to your liking in most wanted places (Saigon, Hue, Hoi An, Hanoi)
    • Authentic experiences with local meetings and welcoming families in the heart of Mekong Delta and Red River Delta to better understand the lifestyle of each region
    • Cruise in the beautiful Lan Ha Bay meeting with local fishermen, go swimming or kayaking
    • Explore Sapa by visiting the villages and markets away from generic tourist places
    • Varied activities where you will have the chance to mingle with local people
    • Plenty of free time and nights with some great recommendations

    Itinerary in brief:Dynamic Vietnam for Youth 20 days

    Day 1: Saigon arrival (-/-/-)
    Day 2: Saigon - Free (B/-/-)
    Day 3: Saigon - Ben Tre - Ba Tri/Home-stay (B/-/D)
    Day 4: Ben Tre - Tra Vinh - Vung Liem/Home-stay (B/L/-)
    Day 5: Vung Liem - Saigon - Flight to Danang - Hoi An (B/L/-)
    Day 6: Hoi An - Free (B/-/-)
    Day 7: Hoi An - Free (B/-/-)
    Day 8: Hoi An - Danang - Hue (B/-/-)
    Day 9: Hue - Free (B/-/-)
    Day 10: Hue - Free (B/-/-)
    Day 11: Hue - Flight to Hanoi (B/-/-)
    Day 12: Hanoi Free - Overnight train to Lao Cai (B/-/-)
    Day 13: Lao Cai - Muong Hum Market - Sapa (B/L/-)
    Day 14: Hiking in the Sapa Valley (B/L/-)
    Day 15: Sapa - Suoi Ho - Giang Tra - Sa Xeng - Bus to Hanoi (B/-/-)
    Day 16: Hanoi - Ninh Binh Home-stay (B/-/D)
    Day 17: Ninh Binh - Giao Thuy - Home-stay (B/-/D)
    Day 18: Giao Thuy - Hai Phong - Cat Ba - Lan Ha Bay (B/L/D)
    Day 19: Lan Ha Bay - Hon Gai - Hanoi (B/L/-)
    Day 20: Hanoi - Departure (B/-/-)

    • Ability to change the direction of the program
    • Possibility of an extension in Laos or Cambodia 

    Notes:

    + We specialize in “tailor-made” tours for groups of two or more. We carefully inspect each step of your journey from the accommodation to the perfect guide to suit your needs
    + The itinerary is open to modification to fit your personal travel needs
    + Modifications to the itinerary may increase the price of the package
    + For the price of this trip, just ask for a quote by clicking on "TOUR PRICE" above

    + If you are looking for a trip modified to your requirements, please send us your needs by filling out the form in Customize your trip” 
    + We will contact and send you a quote, excluding holiday period, within 48 hours of receiving your request .

  • Day 1: Saigon arrival (-/-/-)

    Saigon - Airport: 7km, 20min drive

    Upon arrival in Tan Son Nhat Airport, meet our guide and driver who then escort you to city center. After making sure of successful hotel check-in, they are pleased to let you free  for your own exploration of the largest city of Vietnam which was regarded as the “Pearl of the Far East” with its wide elegant boulevards and historic French colonial buildings.      

    Meals Included: None
    Accommodation: Hotel in Saigon

    Day 2: Saigon - Free (B/-/-)

    After breakfast at hotel, the whole day is free for your personal discovery!

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    Accommodation: Hotel in Saigon

    Saigon City and its surroundings offer many opportunities for visits and excursions. We are glad to recommend some optional tours as below:

    Option 1: Saigon City with most famous and authentic sites

    saigon daily tours

    After a delicious breakfast at the hotel, our guide will appear at the hotel for your first official tour of Saigon. We begin with some beautiful French colonial structures including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Old Saigon Post Office. Notre Dame Cathedral was built between 1877 and 1883, and the stones used to create it were exported entirely from France. Apart from the religious meaning, the most captivating point of this Cathedral is its special neo-Romanesque style of architecture. Next, to the cathedral stands the Old Saigon Post Office, finished in 1891. It is another fine example of French architecture and is Vietnam's largest post office. The tour continues along Dong Khoi Street, where the Opera House and the Peoples’ Committee building were built in 1897 by French architect Ferret Eugene.  The 800 seat Opera House served as the home of the Lower House Assembly of South Vietnam after 1956. After this, we head to the Reunification Palace which is the former residence of the President of South Vietnam. This is until April 30th, 1975 when North Vietnamese tanks came crashing through the front gates thus marking of the Vietnam War.  For a mental break, we’ve booked a popular Saigon restaurant for some lunch.

    In the afternoon, you will visit the War Remnants Museum formerly known as the Museum of American War Crimes. This is a poignant display of the futility of war. For a more relaxing afternoon, next on the sightseeing list is Thien Hau Pagoda located in Cho Lon, the city’s Chinatown. This pagoda is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea. The most impressive features of the structure are the intricate friezes and the carved tableaus towards the front of the pagoda. Another site that cannot be missed the bustling Ben Thanh Market. There are a number of vendors and food stalls which provide fresh & delicious dishes. You also can find many goods for daily use as well as a variety of eye-catching local handicrafts and souvenirs.

    Option 2: Holy See Temple of Cao Dai and Cu Chi Tunnels

    After breakfast, you will be picked up at 8:00 am to drive through archetypal southern Vietnamese countryside heading towards the Tay Ninh Province. Upon arrival, we visit the Cao Dai Holy See temple where the followers of this religion practice a unique religious blend of all the major faiths of the world. The temple is dominated by the all-seeing eye and is an architectural wonder due to its influence from contributing religions. The daily service is impressive where worshippers wear robes of different colours denoting their function and status and kneel in blocks whilst they pray and perform complex rituals. Moving on, we have scheduled a special lunch of the local cuisines in a popular local eatery for your taste of Tay Ninh.

    After lunch, we drive to the incredible Cu Chi tunnel, a 250 km underground tunnel system which was created manually by Vietnamese resistance fighters often known as Viet Cong during their long struggle for independence. Also on display are various mantraps and the remains of an American tank, as well as numerous bomb craters made by 500-pound bombs, dropped by B52 bombers. We then transfer you back to the hotel where the rest of the afternoon is yours free.

    Option 3: Jeep Tour – Saigon By Night

    We would like to give you the opportunity to experience nightlife exactly as the inhabitants of Saigon do. We’ll take you to different places to show you the many faces of the city. Of course, you will see the main avenues and monuments nicely lighted at night (tick that box), but we will take you to other vibrant areas, animated streets, hidden places and nightlife hotspots. As well as the visual aspects of Saigon at night this will be combined with your own gastronomic experience! We don’t do tourist places so expect to get your hands a little dirty as we will be heading to the places local Saigon people eat out with their friends and family.

    After dinner, you will be invited for a different type of night city tour to admire the most magnificent French colonial monuments of the city.  Recently, the municipalities of Saigon have decided to light up brilliantly at night (opera, former city hall, post-office) and creates Saigon’s own version of ‘Enlighten’. Then, we will drive you downtown to for an unexpected bar on top of one of the skyscrapers. From this point, you’ll be able to admire a breath-taking view of the Saigon skyline with all its skyscrapers brightly lighted and avenues full of traffic.

    We designed our “Jeep tour- Saigon by Night” – a city of pleasure and happiness - because we care for your safety as the traffic downtown might seem unsafe to you with so many scooters, cross-overs and noisy motorcycles. Therefore, we do recommend that travelling by jeep is the safest and the most comfortable way for you, with the open-air view you can easy to take photos, capturing unique moments. This is by far what makes us different to other tours. we also care about your time and experience, therefore, this offer will last only 4 hours for you to enjoy all the faces of the nightlife of Saigon, the most unexpected places, in a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere, to share the true life of Saigon inhabitants by the time of an evening. And for the “night birds,” you can even plan to continue that night in a local club and enjoy meeting young Vietnamese, expats and fellow backpackers. We promise a unique and exciting experience.

    Your safety is important to us and we know how daunting it can be being in another country & not understanding the language. Our travel agents are there for you 24/7 and if there are any issues that arise or you don’t feel safe please give us a call. Any language barriers or incidents we are a phone call away.

    Day 3: Saigon - Ben Tre - Ba Tri/Home-stay (B/-/D)

    Saigon - Ben Tre: 60 km, ~1h20min drive

    mekong cruise

    After breakfast at the hotel, we leave the bustling city of Saigon behind us and depart for the Mekong Delta known to local as ‘Vietnam’s biggest rice basket’. Upon arrival at Hung Vuong pier in Ben Tre, we embark a boat to cruise along Ben Tre River, a tribute to the Mekong. With stops at the brickfield to see how bricks are made by hand and a coconut candy home factory located along the canal where we witness how to make these local delicacies. You will then have the opportunity to taste bee honey tea at a local honey farm and a variety of tropical fruit that grow abundantly in the orchards of the Mekong Delta.

    Our boat trip continues to Cai Son and Nhon Thanh and we witness century old traditions skills where local families are specialised in manufacturing mats. We continue exploring the surrounding area by bike.

    After you find some lunch, we board again to explore Cai Coi creek. You will visit the tropical fruit market before heading to Ba Tri passing through the vast paddy fields and coconut. And then take a little walk in the "village of bamboo" to contact with local people. You have the opportunity to learn how to manually pick the coconuts you can drink coconut juice that you pick yourself. Tonight, you will participate in preparing dinner with a local cook and enjoy dinner within a typical Mekong family atmosphere.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
    Accommodation: Homestay in Ben Tre

    Day 4: Ben Tre - Tra Vinh - Vung Liem/Home-stay (B/L/-)

    mekong daily tours

    After breakfast at the homestay, we enjoy a bike ride into the village starting with a visit to authentic markets where you shop and receive a warm welcome from the local people. Then we will explore the vegetable garden, the preparation of dried fish, rice and view many traditional houses. Along the way, you will visit the primary school, the Cao Dai temple and rice processing plant. About halfway, you stop at a local house to relax by drinking coconut juice. The walk continues to observe the daily activities: peeling cashews by hand, the carpenter at work, breeding crocodile farm and making rice cakes. Around 11:30a.m, we return to the homestay for lunch.

    Leaving the family for a direction along Tra Vinh (70km - 1h45min drive) - a region populated by Khmers and is largely free of mass tourism – we visit Ang Pagoda, one of the oldest pagodas Rouge in the province lying in the shade of old trees. We then visit Ba Om pond and Khmer culture museum.

    Continuing on the road to Vung Liem, we cross What Thien ferry and reach out home-stay. Time is now free for preparing dinner in the kitchen with the host family where you will spend the night.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    Accommodation: Home-stay in Vung Liem

    Day 5: Vung Liem - Saigon - Flight to Danang – Hoi An (B/L/-)

    Saigon – Danang: ~850km, 2h flight

    cycling mekong tonkin travel

    After breakfast at the homestay, we depart to discover the authentic life on the Quoi Thien Island. Cycling is the only means of transport on this island, apart from the motorcycle taxi. Quoi Thien Island is located at the meeting point of the provinces of Ben Tre, Vinh Long and Tra Vinh - a hidden place, devoid of tourists and covered with immense orchards and small mangroves along the canals. While walking or biking with the owner, you will see greeting his neighbours, cousins, and family, etc. , you will discover the houses, the customs and traditions of an island where time seems to stand still.

    We then return home-stay for lunch with the locals before heading back to Saigon (170km – 4h drive) for your evening flight to Danang. Upon arrival in Danang, meet your driver who will then transfer you to the hotel in Hoi An for check-in. The night is free for your discover and we’d be happy to recommend a great local bar for your to visit!

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    Accommodation: Hotel in Hoi An

    Day 6: Hoi An - Free (B/-/-)

    hoian tours tonkin travelBreakfast is served at the hotel. Today is completely free for your personal discovery or enjoyment at the beach.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    Accommodation: Hotel in Hoi An

    Day 7: Hoi An - Free (B/-/-)

    Breakfast is served at the hotel. Today is completely free for your personal discovery or enjoyment at the beach.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    Accommodation: Hotel in Hoi An

    Don’t want so many free days? Your stay in Hoi An provides many opportunities for exploration of charming villages around the town. Here are some optional 1-day tours to these villages:

    Option 1: My Son Holy Land & Craft Village

    my son tonkin travel

    After breakfast, we drive towards the archaeological site of My Son (45km, ~1h drive). This is a former capital of the ancient Cham civilisation that ruled central Vietnam between the second and thirteenth centuries. Hinduism from India heavily influenced their religion. Located 60 km from Danang, My Son is considered one of the best-preserved Cham structures in Vietnam. The complex is comprised of seventy Hindu-like towers and temples dating from the second century. This site is a must-see for people who are interested in architecture and ancient civilisations. It is one of four UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites in Vietnam.

    In the afternoon, we enjoy a comfortable ride to Thu Bon river to board a river cruise. Sailing down the river, you can experience the local daily life such as fishing, farming, catching clams. We then visit Thanh Ha ceramic village to admire its intricate pottery and see old men who produce jars, vases, etc. Getting back to the boat, we cruise down to the Cua Dai bay for a spectacular view of the sun setting over Thu Bon River and the sea before returning back to the harbour where our driver is waiting to take you back to the hotel.

    Option 2: From Tra Nhieu to Cam Thanh Water Coconut Village

    tra nhieu tonkin travel

    After breakfast at the hotel, we walk to Thu Bon wharf on Bach Dang street and sail along Thu Bon River to Tra Nhieu village - 3km towards the south-east. Upon arrival, our guide will give you a brief introduction to the history and traditional handicraft of the village such as farming, fishing, poultry, livestock breeding, and mattress making. We then embark a boat with local fisherman to learn how to cast a net, catch fish, etc.

    Bidding farewell to the local fisherman, we continue with a bike ride to visit Cam Thanh village to join more fishermen and learn about fishing techniques. Lunch will be served at the village with special dishes including Banh Xeo (traditional pancake). Then you can relax with herbal foot massage - a traditional therapeutic practice. We return to Hoi An in the middle of the afternoon for your own personal discovery.

    Option 3: Hoi An Countryside

    kim bong hoi an

    After breakfast, we enjoy a great cycling day to see the very best of Hoi An and its countryside away from mass-tourism. This is the busiest time of the day, so we will meet children leaving for school and villagers transporting everyday goods on their bikes and trailers. We then take a 10-minute ferry towards Duy Hai village where we will meet fishermen on small boats landing after a night of fishing. We then cycle along small paths to discover the daily life of residents, visit the college and the Noi Rang market dating back from 1970. After a break to enjoy "My Quang" (a noodle dish from Vietnam’s central region), there is the possibility to see the villagers return to their homes for lunch and enjoy the atmosphere of this quiet village. We then enjoy a 45-minute bike ride to a floating restaurant where a delicious lunch of fresh seafood is awaiting.

    Continuing the trip to Kim Bong carpentry village, you will arrive when carpenters are starting to work after their nap. Strolling through the lush beautiful countryside and tracks lined with coconut trees river, you will have a fun moment of exchange with the villagers. Riding on winding paths through rice fields and villages of manufacturing mats, we will meet one of the old boat builders specialised in bamboo baskets, an endangered local trade. A visit a shipyard will give you an overview on the importance of these jobs in an area where fishing is the main livelihood. Moving to wooden sculpture workshops where you will meet the carpenters, you will also have the chance to see these talented artisans produce everyday objects with intricate details involved in their meticulous design work.

    We then board a local boat and return to the old town. On the way, we stop several times to take pictures with the old houses, the wharf and bustling streets by the river.

    Option 4: Discovery of Cu Lao Cham


    cu lao chamAfter breakfast at the hotel, we depart by speedboat from Cua Dai Harbor to the stunning island of Cu Lao Cham. Consisting of 8 islets 20km off the coast of Hoi An, Cu Lao Cham Island is full of spectacular sandy beaches and lush forested hills, surrounded by pristine ocean waters. We spend the morning exploring the landscape, visiting its marine protected area, boat shelter, the Hai Tang pagoda, as well as a traditional fishing village. Around mid-morning, we head to one of the island's beautiful beaches and spend time swimming and snorkelling through the pristine ocean surrounding the island. A freshly caught seafood lunch is served at around 11:30 a.m. We head back to your hotel in Hoi An around 3 p.m and time is free for your own personal discovery.

    Day 8: Hoian - Danang - Hue (B/-/-)

    Hoian - Hue: 130 km, 3h drive

    lang co fish village tonkin travelAfter a hearty breakfast, we embark on a northern bound journey to Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. The scenic route passes through Da Nang as we are climbing over the Pass of Ocean Clouds and dropping down to the picturesque fishing villages of Lang Co. Upon arrival Hue in late morning, we check-in hotel and the rest of the day is yours free.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    Accommodation: Hotel in Hue

    Day 9: Hue - Free (B/-/-)

    hueBreakfast is served at the hotel. Today is completely free for your own personal discovery and enjoyment.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    Accommodation: Hotel in Hue

    Day 10: Hue - Free (B/-/-)

    Breakfast is served at the hotel. Today is completely free for your own personal discovery and enjoyment.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    Accommodation: Hotel in Hue

    In the spirit ‘off the beaten track’, we offer here some optional Rural - Eco-excursions with beautiful bike rides to explore the local population amongst the authentic countryside around Hue.

    Option 1: Imperial City and Thuy Bieu Village

    hue

    After breakfast at the hotel, we depart for a visit to Hue Imperial City, the last royal city of Vietnam with various beautiful structures including the Flag Tower, Ngo Mon Gate, Nine Dynastic Urns, Nine Holy Cannons, Thai Hoa Palace and the Forbidden City(just to name a few!). Built in the 19th century by the Nguyen dynasty, the City was home to the former Emperors of Vietnam from 1802 until 1945.  We then embark on a local boat along the Perfume River to Thuy Bieu village where you take a short bike ride or walk to the village to discover in depth the lives of local residents. Lunch will be served with a family in the village.

    In the afternoon, we drop in for a visit to the Imperial Tomb of Tu Duc, which was built between 1864 and 1867 by 3000 soldiers and workers. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful works of royal architecture of the Nguyen Dynasty with 50 monuments surrounded by a 1500m long wall covering an area of 12m2. We then move to Tu Hieu Pagoda - a hidden gem near Tu Duc which houses a community of monks who remain very active. In the garden, you can see the graves of some royal mandarins. We return to the hotel at the end of the day for the night.

    Option 2: From An Hien garden house to La Chu Village

    an hien tonkin travel

    After breakfast at the hotel, meet your guide for a drive to An Hien Garden House - the most beautiful garden house in Hue where you will feel very peaceful and comfortable in a world of nature. With traditional architecture, the house helps to soak up the atmosphere of ancient Hue. It’s time for us to discover its history and its beautiful tropical orchards in the most peaceful atmosphere. We then depart for a bike ride in the beautiful countryside of Hue with the first stop at a magnificent pagoda destroyed during the Vietnam War and rebuilt at the end of the conflict. You will be given an introduction to the lifestyle of the monks staying in a calm and serene atmosphere. Our next destination is a small local market place where you can see meat stalls, spices and vegetables, accompanied by the smiles of women who are not yet accustomed to seeing tourists. You will be given a chance to visit a family that produces fermented pork hash wrapped in banana leaves and then another family involved in making rice cakes. After an introduction with families, you have an opportunity to try your turn in producing these foods.

    We continue biking to La Chu village - 10km from the centre of Hue city – passing tranquil local villages, among rice paddies, alongside the river and green vegetables. You have various chances to take photos of farm animals and inhabitants farmers at work on the fields and perceive how can they live and save money for their children. We continue cycling to interact with local people, getting to know their daily lives. Here, you can see how the farmers live and work through many generations. We arrive at a family restaurant where we will cook some typical dishes of Hue with the help of a villager. After lunch, we have time to relax with a foot massage before heading back to the hotel in Hue.

    Option 3: Cycling to Chuon Lagoon

    chuon lagoon

    After breakfast at the hotel, we depart for a visit to Hue Imperial City, the last royal city of Vietnam with various beautiful structures including the Flag Tower, Ngo Mon Gate, Nine Dynastic Urns, Nine Holy Cannons, Thai Hoa Palace and the Forbidden City or Tu Cam Thanh. Built in the 19th century by the Nguyen dynasty, the City was home to the former Emperors of Vietnam from 1802 until 1945.  We then embark on a local boat along the Perfume River to Thuy Bieu village where you take a short bike ride or walk to the village to discover in depth the lives of local residents. Lunch will be served with a family in the village. After the lunch, we enjoy a rest with a foot massage with medicinal herbs.

    In the afternoon, we cycle to Chuon Lagoon, passing through typical villages. Along the way, we will stop at the covered bridge of Thanh Toan. Located 10km from the city of Hue, Chuon lagoon is part of the lagoon system of Tam Giang where 3 major rivers converge: the Perfume River, the O Lau river, and the Bo river before they flow into the sea through the estuary of Thuan An. The locals live mainly at the expense of the tide. The daily life remains very relaxing and peaceful. At the lagoon, we will embark a boat and let immerse yourself in nature to admire this poetic and beautiful landscape in peace. We ride back to the city centre in the late afternoon.

    Day 11: Hue - Flight to Hanoi (B/-/-)

    Hue - Hanoi: 770km, 1h flight

    hanoi city tour

    After breakfast at the hotel, meet your driver in the hotel lobby who will then transfer you to Hue airport for your flight to Hanoi. Upon arrival at Noi Bai Airport, another driver will meet and transfer you to the city centre. Time is now free for your discovery of this bustling city. This is where the Tonkin Voyage Travel HQ so be sure to ask us for some recommendations or pop in and say hello!

    Note: You can replace the plane by overnight train from Hue to Hanoi which is more financially friendly to your wallet. Please contact us for this option.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi

    Day 12: Hanoi Free - Overnight train to Lao Cai (B/-/-)

    Hanoi - Lao Cai: 330km, 9h by train

    Breakfast is served at the hotel. The rest of the day is free for your personal discovery until our driver meets and transfers you to Hanoi Railway Station for an overnight train to Lao Cai leaving at around 10 p.m.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    Accommodation: Overnight on train

    There are some optional tours for your discovery of Hanoi:

    Option 1: Hanoi City

    hanoi

    In the afternoon, we visit the Museum of Ethnology dedicated to Vietnam's fifty-four officially recognised ethnic groups with both indoor and outdoor sections. While the in-house exhibition is particularly informative, the outdoor display continues in the museum’s garden with fascinating examples of traditional houses of numerous minority groups, from the Kinhs to the ethnic groups of the Central Highlands. We then enjoy a 1-hour-cyclo tour (similar to a rickshaw) to the Old Quarter where you can see streets with century-aged trees and French Colonial buildings. We then head to Ngoc Son Temple set on a tiny islet in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. Ngoc Son Temple dates back to the 13th century and the lake itself is the picturesque heart of Hanoi, frequented by tourists and locals. 

    Time is then free until transfer to Hanoi Railway Station for an overnight train to Lao Cai leaving at around 10p.m.

    Option 2: Cycling to Bat Trang Pottery Village

    long bien

    Our guide will pick you up at your hotel lobby at 8:00 am and bring you to the bike store (by taxi of course) for a brief introduction to how the bike works and your pending cycling trip.

    We then cycle to the Long Bien Bridge where you’ll cross the mighty Red River. As you cross the 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) long bridge you’ll learn about this famous bridge’s history from colonial times through to the Vietnamese War and its enduring importance today. Once across the Red River, you continue along the embankment for a bit as you cycle past the patchwork of fields and orchards of fruits and vegetables including rice, corn, grapefruit, and kumquats.

    At around 10:00 a.m, we arrive at the Bat Trang Ceramic Village - a distinctive northern Vietnamese village on the banks of the Red River. It has preserved its charm and small village atmosphere despite the popularity of its world class ceramic production. Here, we can enjoy a tour of the village and visit with the local craftsmen who produce the famous high-quality ceramics.

    Following lunch, at a local restaurant, we stop at a ceramic studio to learn about pottery production from one of the local craftsmen. You also have the chance to make your own piece and have more time to explore the village’s quaint alleyways, lively market scene, local temple and community house. The ceramic market is a great place to see the local craftsmen’s work showcased, and the Bat Trang temple and community house offer a rare glimpse into the life of a Vietnamese village and its history.

    Leaving this idyllic village, you cycle back through the country fields as you return to Hanoi. We arrive at the bike store around 4:00 pm and you will then be taken back to your hotel by taxi.

    Day 13: Lao Cai - Muong Hum Market – Sapa (B/L/-)

    sapa

    We arrive at Lao Cai Train Station around 6:00 a.m. Our first stop of the day will be a delicious breakfast before taking a scenic drive to Muong Hum -50km Northwest of Lao Cai. Arriving at the market about 9:00a.m, we join the locals with the market activities. Here you can see and meet the diversity of ethnic minority peoples living in Lao Cai Province including Black, Flower, Red and Blue Hmong groups; Red Zao, Black Zao, Zao Tuyen groups; Ha Nhi; Zay; Nung groups, just to name a few! You will easily recognise women from many different groups by looking at traditional costumes they wear. The Zay wear black trousers, pink or blue blouse or shirt with a woollen headscarf. The Flower H'mong and Red H'mong wear colourful skirts decorated with thick red and yellow embroidery on the batik patterns, silver earrings and necklaces while the Black H'mong choose the simple indigo colour with light decorative embroidery...

    When the market comes to an end in the late morning, it’s time for us to sit down on a large and flat rock by the river to relax and enjoy a picnic lunch before taking the road ride to Sapa (100km, ~2h30min drive). You'll enjoy some stops for sightseeing along the way. Check into your hotel upon arrival in Sa Pa, the afternoon is all yours!

    Please be informed that Muong Hum market is only held on Sunday morning. We can provide another market in the region depending on the day of the week (Tuesday: Coc Ly market; Saturday: Can Cau market). In addition, we can replace the Muong Hum market by the Bac Ha market which is also held Sunday morning.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch
    Accommodation: Hotel in Sapa

    Day 14: Hiking in Sapa Valley (B/L/-)

    sapaAfter breakfast at the hotel, we embark on a hike that will take us along small paths and trails and through several hill tribe villages of Lao Chai and Ta Van, home to H'mong, and Dzay people. This is an absolutely spectacular walk through stunning scenery inhabited by some of the friendliest people you can meet. We stop for a picnic lunch on the way at a family in Ta Van village.  You will have an opportunity to meet with local people and study the art of making batik and local weaving villages – a tradition of craft with Black H'mong and Red Dzao women. We continue walking along small dirt roads to Giang Ta Chai Village. The path provides an opportunity to view the stunning landscape of Muong Hoa valley. The whole valley was carved by the hands of humans. This amazing landscape of terraced rice fields and small villages will instantly be a Vietnam memory. We drive back to Sa Pa late in the afternoon.

    Distance: 12km, ~4h30min walking

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    Accommodation: Hotel in Sapa

    Day 15: Sapa - Suoi Ho - Giang Tra – Sa Xeng – Bus to Hanoi (B/-/-)

    Sapa - Hanoi: 320km, ~5h by bus

    sapa tour

    Breakfast is served at the hotel. The morning will be spent for trekking to the villages of Suoi Ho, Tra Giang and Sa Xeng, inhabited by Black H'mong and Red Dao, who are immediately recognisable by their red hair. We have the opportunity to see some local craft and watch the villagers working with their buffaloes, according to the time of year.

    We then drive back to Sa Pa for lunch (at your own cost). Around 13:30, we will travel by bus to Hanoi (320km, ~5h drive). On arrival in Hanoi early in the evening, your new driver will be ready to take you to your hotel.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi

    Day 16: Hanoi - Ninh Binh Home-stay (B/-/D)

    Hanoi - Ninh Binh: 106km, ~1h50min drive

    van long tour

    After breakfast at the hotel, we take a scenic drive to the peaceful Van Long natural reserve. Covering an area of 3,000 hectares with 32 beautiful cliffs, Van Long is the largest reserve of wetlands. A bike ride (7km – 45min) along the site will give you a stunning view of its beautiful landscapes and meet with the locals.

    We then transfer to Tho Ha village for your free lunch at a local restaurant before getting on a bamboo boat – rowed by local people – passing rocky peaks to Thung Nham valley. Arriving here, you will be able to admire the beautiful natural landscape, a site as pretty as that of Tam Coc but much less touristy. Small rowing boats then allow you to travel along the canals and admire the natural beauty of limestone peaks. Following the boat ride, we walk about 300m to Thien Ha Cave. This 700m long cave shows up a fanciful space with stalactites inside, which used to be buried in deep muds and has recently be discovered. You can row the boat by hands to explore Thien Ha cave and enjoy natural scenery, mysterious caves and mountain.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
    Accommodation: Home-stay in Ninh Binh

    Day 17: Ninh Binh - Giao Thuy - Home-stay (B/-/D)

    Ninh Binh - Giao Thuy: 100km, ~1h50min drive

    After breakfast at the homestay, we drive towards the coastal district of Giao Thuy in Nam Dinh province, the heart of Red River Delta. It is here that the identity of Viet (Kinh ethnic group) emerged. The ancestors of Kinh invested in swamps; and taking advantage of the Chinese experience, they have mastered the flooded rice cultivation. Upon arrival, we enjoy a walking tour to discover the habitat and traditional life of farmers and fishermen in the delta, communal temples housing the protective spirits, ancestors and founders.

    After lunch, we will transfer towards the Xuan Thuy Ramsar located on a creek. This national park of 71 km2 of a vast wetland is home to many species of birds. Since 1988 the first site in Southeast Asia to have been listed as a Ramsar site. You will take a boat ride through the shellfish and oyster growing areas. You will also see the salt marshes and discover the manufacture of salt. This tour is ideal for travellers in search of originality.

    At the end of the day, we take a bike ride to the centre of Xuan Thuy National Park to observe hundreds of birds returning to many parks at dusk. We ride back to homestay in the early morning for dinner and the night.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
    Accommodation: Home-stay in Nam Dinh

    Day 18: Giao Thuy – Hai Phong – Cat Ba – Lan Ha Bay (B/L/D)

    Giao Thuy - Hai Phong: 140km, 3h drive

    cat ba

    After breakfast at a homestay, we depart Giao Thuy for Cat Ba Island via Halong. Along the way, we drop a visit to Tran Temple - a famous architectural monument of the royal family of Tran.

    Upon arrival in Hai Phong, we board a speedboat to reach Cat Ba Island (1 hour). Boarding another boat at Ben Beo Harbour, we embark an elegant wooden junk for a cruise through a floating fishing village. After a one-hour cruise in Lan Ha Bay to discover the stunning beaches of Ba Trai Dao, you will have the first stop for kayaking and a swim on the beach. While being on board, you will be served fresh, local seafood. Time is then time for a rest while the crew will stop the engine to travel full sails in Ong Cam Bay.  Finally, the Junk will drop the anchor in a remote area free of tourists. The crew prepare the fishing gear. We can’t do justice in our description on how beautiful the sunset on the boat is but we guarantee it will definitely be up there in memories of your trip! Sit back & enjoy another seafood dinner and then spend the night gazing at the stars.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Accommodation: Overnight on Boat

    Day 19: Lan Ha Bay - Hon Gai - Hanoi (B/L/-)

    Hanoi - Halong: 170km, 3h30min drive

    halong cruise

    Waking up surrounded by the tranquil beauty of the bay, we have time for an early morning dip and watching the sunrise on sea followed by tea and breakfast. Kayaking is available to CA tunnel where you can discover a hidden lake.  We continue cruising in the magnificent Halong Bay, admiring the fascinating rock formations that make up this brilliant bay.

    Back on board, it’s time for final packing and freshening up before enjoying lunch. After lunch, you may relax in the dining room and lounge or on the deck enjoying the last views before disembarking and transferring to our awaiting vehicle for your 3-hour journey back to Hanoi.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi

    Day 20: Hanoi - Departure (B/-/-)

    After breakfast at the hotel, time is free until you are transferred to the airport for your flight to next your destination or back home. Thanks for travelling with Tonkin Voyage Travel!

    Meals Included: Breakfast

  • Prices

    This trip is private and therefore can be altered to suit your needs, date of commencement and budget requirements.

    Prices vary due to a number of specifics:

    • The period: during high season (from October till April), the price of services is generally higher compared to the low season (from May till September).
    • The number of participants: the more of you travel together, the less you will pay.
    • The choice of hotels: a 5-star hotel for example can cost ten times as much as a 2-star hotel; two hotels all classified among the three stars may have different prices if they are more or less charming.
    • The activities during the trip: two trips on the same itinerary and of the same length can have two different prices depending on the number and nature of activities included.
    • The booking date: in some cases, too close booking departure date can raise the price due to the low availability of services.

    Inclusion:

    • Accommodation as recommended or similar category according to availability.
    • Transfers according to program by private air-conditioned vehicle with driver except free day
    • English-speaking guide’s assistance at every stage
    • Meals as indicated in program (B: Breakfast /L: Lunch / D: Dinner)
    • Entrance fees for attractions included in the program
    • All activities and cruises clearly mentioned in the program
    • Domestic flights: Saigon – Danang; Hue - Hanoi
    • Train: Hanoi – Lao Cai (sharing 4-berth cabin A/C)
    • Shuttle bus: Lao Cai – Hanoi
    • Halong Bay overnight on boat (private boat)
    • Water and cool tissues
    • Government taxes & service charge

    Exclusion:

    • Other drinks and meals not clearly mentioned
    • Early check-in, late check-out
    • Personal expenditures, tips
    • Personal insurance (compulsory)
    • Any service not clearly mentioned in the program
    • International air transfers associated with airport taxes
    • Visa and visa arrangement (available upon request)

    Booking

    Here are 2 steps to book your trip with Tonkin-Travel:

    Step 1. Focus on your travel program:

    You can choose this trip as is or customize it to your specific desires. Just click on the “Customize this trip” tab and fill in the form. One of our travel consultants will contact you within 48 hours to develop the travel program based on your specifications.

    Step 2. Booking:

    • Following the first step, tour program is selected and we access the rates.
    • Upon confirmation of the trip, the registration must be accompanied by a deposit up to 25% of the total estimate.
    • For programs with private junk (cruise) and/or 5 star hotels, the deposit is represented by 30% of the total estimate.
    • Tonkin-Travel carries out the booking process upon receipt of the deposit. Confirmation of these reservations is sent to customer within 10 days via email

    Nature of travel

    This trip is private. That implies:

    • You will be escorted by a private guide and driver. This approach guarantees a smooth trip with fewer organizational constraints.
    • You will be the master of your trip. We guarantee flexibility in organizing visits at your request.
    • Our services will be personalized according to your desires. Thus the proposals in this package are not fixed and you can bring suggest all the desired changes.
    • You receive individualized care: ample food, organizing small events (anniversary, honeymoon, etc.), targeted information, followed necessary modifications, etc.

    Accommodation

    • Accommodation is an important expenditure of your trip. When you choose a luxury trip for example, the accommodation can represent three quarters of the price. Thus, your choice of hotels is closely related to your budget.
    • Tonkin-Travel has negotiated rates with a wide range of hotels from 2 to 5 stars.
    • In some places you will have the option to choose ‘home-stay’. Although this provides less comfort that a hotel it is a truly authentic experience and highly recommended for at least one night of your journey.

    Transport

    All transfers during your trip are covered by private vehicle with driver, unless otherwise indicated in our offer. We ensure that our vehicles are new and comfortable. Fuel, tolls, accommodation, compensation and the driver are included in our offer. Only gratuities are not included and are at your discretion.

    The size of the selected vehicle is based on the number of tour participants according to the following quality standards:

    No. of participants

    2 pax

    3 pax

    From 4 to 7 pax

    From 8 to 14 pax

    From 15 to 20 pax

    Vehicle size

    Car 4-7 seats

    Car 7 or minivan 
    16 seats

    Minivan 16 seats

    Bus 24 seats

    Bus 35 or 45 seats

    Domestic flights

    If your trip includes domestic flights if any, they will be operated by Vietnam Airlines, the largest airline in Vietnam. The fleet consists mainly of Airbus and Boeing. On some short trips, the company operates 72 ATR and some Fokker.

    Rail transport

    Train travel can be offered (particularly between Hanoi-Lao Cai and Hanoi-Hue). Travelling at a speed of 60km/h on average it is not necessarily the fastest but an interesting experience nonetheless.

  • This form allows us to establish a tour proposal suitable for your needs. It is free and without obligation

      (*) : Required fields

      Have you already booked the flight?
      What type of accommodation do you want?

      Regarding meals, you want the agency to offer you:

      Your message (Ex: The desired steps and activities, what you like, what you do not,
      the health condition of the participants, your questions on this trip...)

    • This form allows us to establish a tour proposal suitable for your needs. It is free and without obligation

        (*) : Required fields

        Have you already booked the flight?
        Which country would you like to discover? *
        What type of accommodation do you want?
        Regarding meals, you want the agency to offer you:
        Describe your trip
        These ideas are a guide for creating a trip suitable for your needs and expectations
        • Your desire to travel (culture, adventure, beach extension, local meetings, nature, etc.)
        • The desired pace of your trip (moderate, free and easy, etc.)
        • Your knowledge of the country. Your interests
        • The opportunity of your trip (vacation, wedding anniversary, cultural group, etc.)
        • Remarks (Room types, diet, special requests, etc.)

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