This 14-day-package offers you the real hidden charm Vietnam! Let’s prepare your backpack and ready to experience our beloved country in an exotic way: Northern with Moc Chau – a range of traditional and deep-rooted ethnic cultures, hidden misty valleys, small remote villages that appear mysteriously from the fog, stunning panoramic views, ideal biking routes; with Lan Ha Bay - unique kayaking routes through another part of the archipelago right in the heart of a protected maritime reserve, eco-friendly choice to explore deserted lagoons, unspoiled grottos and caves, and beautiful sandy beaches. Central with a glorious route - the ancient imperial city of Hue and the sixteenth century silk route trading port of Hoi An. Southern with Mekong Delta - home of lush orchards, vibrant flower gardens, musicians playing traditional music and boat trip through the canals and stroll on small islands. This is the Handspan version, and our vision of what a trip to “Vietnam off the beaten path” should be!!!
[Day 1] Hanoi ArrivalMeals: N/A | Accommodation: hotel
You'll be greeted at the Noi Bai airport and transferred to your hotel at the city centre. Time will be free for your refreshment.
Overnight in Hanoi
[Day 2] Hanoi City TourMeals: breakfast and lunch | Accommodation: hotel
Departing from the hotel at 8am, we’ll start the day with a visit to Ho Chi Minh Complex: which includes the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Museum, and his modest stilt house which provide valuable insights into the life and times of one of the most successful leaders of the 20th century. You will then visit the historic Temple of Literature - Vietnam’s first university, which was established in 1070.
After lunch, you will visit the Ethnology Museum for an overview of the culture and history of the 54 ethnic minorities living in Vietnam and see reconstructions of their traditional housing styles at the outdoor museum. Back in the city center we’ll take a small walk through Hanoi’s medieval Old Quarter for innumerable glimpses of daily life throughout the narrow streets and alleys while pausing to sample coffee or tropical fruits. Overnight in Hanoi
[Day 3] Hanoi – Moc ChauMeals: breakfast, lunch and dinner | Accommodation: homestay
7.00 am: Departure from the Handspan head office. We head west, and arrive for lunch in a beautiful valley filled with rice paddies and surrounded by limestone mountains of the Thai and Muong minority peoples.
After lunch we enter the Moc Chau plateau and stop at Hua Tat. From there we start a beautiful and leisurely mountainside ride along the old colonial road 6. It is a 25-kilometer ride to Moc Chau town, and the journey is at your own pace, usually taking about 3 hours.
We arrive in a large and beautiful Thai village lying at the bottom of a limestone mountain. Time for a shower and some rest before dinner. Overnight in the stilt house of our gracious hosts.
[Day 4] Moc Chau BikingMeals: breakfast, lunch and dinner | Accommodation: homestay
After breakfast, we discover the secrets of making the excellent local Oolong tea. We then take a ride on a quiet road, up and down along plum orchards, trading ‘hellos’ with locals along the way. We stop after a few kilometers to walk down to a beautiful valley inhabited by H’mong people. Your awesome guide will set up a picnic lunch here before we get back on our bikes. We keep riding for few kilometers more before veering left on one of the most beautiful roads of the area. The ride ends at our homestay where we can shower and rest before dinner and a good night’s sleep.
[Day 5] Moc Chau - HanoiMeals: breakfast and lunch | Accommodation: hotel
In the morning, we take a walk through the village bordered by rice and tea fields. If time allows, we may also walk to the tea factory of our host on the edge of the village to learn about the processing of the precious leaves. We then leave the area and start on our way back to Hanoi with a stop for lunch at a local restaurant between Moc Chau and Mai Chau. We typically arrive back in Hanoi around 5.30pm. Overnight in Hanoi
[Day 6] Hanoi – Haiphong – Cat BaMeals: lunch and dinner | Accommodation: On boat
Depending on the transportation option you chose, the departure will be from your hotel either in a taxi to the bus station and then by a good comfortable public bus to Haiphong; or by private van straight from your hotel to Haiphong. Plan an early departure, around 6.30am, we can’t miss the boat.
After a 2.5-hour drive, we reach Haiphong’s pier. We take from the pier a 30-minute ride on a speedboat to Cat Ba Island. Our private car is waiting there, the adventure may start. It is first another 30-minute drive on the scenic road of Cat Ba to reach Beo pier, and get on board. But you are not boarding any regular tourism boat here. We offer you to travel in harmony with the bay and its people; on a fishing-boat equipped and slightly arranged to make your cruise comfortable in one hand and in a true local style in the other hand.
Now that you’re cozy on board, far from the tourism clichés and crowds, we start the navigation across Beo floating village and out to the limestone labyrinth of Lan Ha. Lunch is served on board. The whole afternoon is dedicated to the exploration of the pristine natural environment of the bay. We take the kayaks with us if you want to get closer to the sea and visit some hidden lagoons. The rhythm is yours, we keep the program flexible. Sandy beaches, swimming spots, kayaking ventures, floating farms, it will all be your choice.
Around 5.30pm, the boat reaches its anchorage area, a quiet fjord of Lan Ha. Dinner and overnight on board.
[Day 7] Cat Ba – Hai Phong - HanoiMeals: breakfast and lunch | Accommodation: N/A
Wake up easy; have a cup of tea or coffee, everything around is quiet and sound. It is like if the bay was waiting for you to wake up along. After a good breakfast, we go again. We have few hours ahead to discover further the archipelago.
About 11am, we get back on land, say farewell to our friendly sailormen and take a short drive to a hidden gem of Cat Ba Island. We arrive to Cat Ba homestay, an ancient house set in a beautiful garden. Warm welcome; let’s have a cup of tea while the lunch is getting prepared by our hosts. How to better end a trip in Halong than with a homemade lunch prepared by smiling people and enjoyed in a beautiful setting?
After this refreshing experience, we get back on the bus, then on the speedboat to the main land and on the bus again to Hanoi. Arrival is expected about 6pm.
[Day 8] Hanoi - HueMeals: breakfast | Accommodation: hotel
In the morning, you'll be transferred to Noi Bai airport, board a flight to Danang, then private car to Hue. We pick you up at Hue Airport upon your arrival and transfer to your hotel.
In the afternoon, we’ll tour the Imperial Citadel. This site enclosed the land of eight villages and covers 6km2 - sufficient area to house the Emperor and his family, courtiers, officials, concubines, bodyguards, and servants. There are ten gates through the four massive walls of the citadel, and although many are in poor condition, the city overall remains undamaged by war or natural disasters. The complex has been recognized as a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage site. You'll also have time to experience daily life of Hue's locals with a visit to the Dong Ba market before returning to your hotel for a good night’s rest.
[Day 9] Hue – Hoi AnMeals: breakfast and lunch | Accommodation: hotel
The morning starts with a motorized sampan ride down the Perfume River to the towering yet delightful Thien Mu Pagoda, considered to be the finest pagoda in Hue, and an icon throughout Vietnam. Car transfer from the pagoda to the tomb of emperor Ming Mang to enjoy a walk through a courtyard guarded by statues of mandarins, horses and elephants. Carefully planned by the emperor himself and built shortly after his death in formal Chinese style, it's opulent and exotic, and a good example of classic Sino-Vietnamese architecture.
Your car now heads to Hoi An via the dramatic Hai Van pass. The panoramic views are excellent - you should be able to see Lang Co beach and village, and the lagoon far below, with the city of Da Nang spread out before you to the south.
You'll visit the Cham Museum in Da Nang which houses the largest displays of Cham art anywhere in the world. We will also drive to the nearby Marble Mountains: five limestone peaks with marble outcrops known for their beauty and their cave network. At the foot of Marble Mountain, an important religious site since the time of the Chams, you can see many artisans crafting fine marble objects. Overnight in Hoi An.
[Day 10] Hoi An Free and EasyMeals: breakfast | Accommodation: hotel
A full day free to spend at your leisure enjoying the incomparable Hoi An. Dive into this mecca of clothes shopping, enjoy a beer by the river, or ask your guide for any number of other enchanting possibilities. Overnight in Hoi An.
[Day 11] Hoi An – Danang – Sai GonMeals: breakfast and dinner | Accommodation: hotel
Pick up from your hotel to drive to Danang airport for your flight to Sai Gon. You'll be greeted at Tan Son Nhat airport and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your flight’s arrival time, there should be time to relax before tasting a Southern Vietnamese dinner. Overnight in Sai Gon.
[Day 12] Saigon – My Tho – Ben Tre – Can ThoMeals: breakfast and lunch | Accommodation: hotel
8:00am – We leave Saigon for My Tho. Upon arrival, board a motorboat and head out on the mighty Mekong to Xuan Dong Islet. In contrast to many of the overly visited Mekong islands, we choose Xuan Dong for its quieter, less crowded, and more authentic slice of Mekong life. Hop on a bike and savor the leisurely time to explore and pedal through this green and unspoiled island. Make frequent stops for photos and glimpses and of the daily lives of local villagers.
We'll then take a small boat as you are rowed quietly along the thick mangroves of Vam Xep, a small canal with little village houses dotted along its sides. Get off the boat to enjoy some honeyed tea at the ‘Coconut Artisan’ village to check out the workshops where a range of coconut husk and fiber products are skillfully handcrafted.
We next take a small sampan along Vam Chua canal, gliding peacefully along the hidden waterways surrounded by immense variety of tropical plants. The quiet, rural setting is a welcome and restorative retreat to the frenetic buzz of Saigon which seems far, far away. We then stop for lunch at a local restaurant.
At last we’ll reboard the boat to head back to My Tho and start the drive through the fields and towns of the Mekong to Can Tho city. Spend the evening at your leisure seeing the town by foot or pedicab, or find a quiet place for a cocktail by the river.
[Day 13] Can Tho – SaigonMeals: breakfast and lunch | Accommodation: hotel
After and early breakfast, we start a boat cruise to head to the bustling Cai Rang floating market – the largest and most colourful in the Mekong delta. Feel free to take photographs, talk or bargain while our boat glides slowly through the market mayhem. There are fantastic photo opportunities amidst the huge variety of agricultural bounty on sale here. Farming boats big and small trade seasonal fruits and an array of other goods in a chorus of sights and smells that you won't soon forget. We then take a leisurely stroll through the farms and houses of a nearby village to see fragrant tropical fruit orchards, cross over quiet streams on monkey bridges, and pause for a cup of tea with friendly locals. Returning to our car, we make a short drive to the historic ancient house of Binh Thuy. This 130 year-old home has lovely traditional architecture and many of its features are carved from the local and long-lasting ironwood tree. The roof of the house’s temple is decorated with lions, fish, and dragons and is well worth a look. The complex has served as a filming location for several movies and is a fine place to wander and lose yourself in the history of the area.
We then make the short drive back to Can Tho for a relaxing lunch, and we then start the drive back to Saigon and return you back to your hotel around 5pm.
[Day 14] DepartureMeals: breakfast | Accommodation: N/A
Note: Hue’s airport will be closed for upgrade until October 2013. Until then you have two main options to reach Hue from Hanoi:
1) Take a flight to Danang and then an overland transfer to Hue (from your hotel in Hanoi to your hotel in Hue, it is an approximately 6-hour journey by day) or
2) Take the night train to Hue (from your hotel in Hanoi to your hotel in Hue, it is an approximately 15-hour journey by night).
The night train option allows you to save some day time in transportation. It is also a nice insight into local travel atmosphere. You spend the night in a 4-berth cabin with air-conditioner. It is an economic choice and also a real travel experience. For night train option, please contact our sales staff at
PRICE PER PERSON (Valid from 01/01/2013 to 31/12/2013)
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