Hiking, Minority People and Ha Long Bay
You get a unique insight into Vietnamese culture as you hike past terraced rice paddies, water buffaloes and traditional minority villages in the mountains. Enjoy the beautiful Ha Long Bay and limestone formations from a kayak and help plow a rice field “the vietnamese way”. In northern Vietnam, you hike on narrow paths in the mountains, past terraced rice paddies, water buffaloes and traditional minority villages. You live locally and get a unique insight into Vietnamese culture. From a beautiful wooden boat you get to experience the emerald green waters of Ha Long Bay and see free-standing limestone formations. You can also explore the area with the emerald green water during a kayak trip. In addition, you get the opportunity to stay at a homestay for a night where you can take part in the traditional way of growing rice. Hanoi is one of Asia’s most charming and romantic cities and you have plenty of time to explore the city on your own.
Day 1: Departure from Scandinavia
You fly from Scandinavia to Vietnam where you arrive the next day.
Day 2: Arrival in Hanoi
Upon arrival in Hanoi, you will be picked up at the airport and driven to the hotel which is centrally located in Hanoi. Hanoi is one of Asia’s most charming and romantic cities. It is a cozy and green city, filled with large lush trees, many small and large parks as well as beautiful French mansions. Especially the old town is charming, with the lake Hoan Kiem, the narrow alleys and the smell of freshly baked baguettes. But the first thing that is striking about the streets of Hanoi is the chaotic traffic. Motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and an ever-increasing number of cars are crowded together on the streets without any clear systems or patterns.
Day 3: Hanoi on your own
On the agenda is relaxation and experiences on their own. If you are a morning person, between 05:00 and 07:00 you can see Vietnamese doing morning exercises and taiji along Hoan Kiem Lake. You can also just stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere of the city’s old quarter at your own pace. Or you can choose to take a ride in a bicycle taxi. Locals call the Pho Puong neighborhood “the 36 streets.” The name comes from the time when the streets were divided according to the type of product / craft sold on each street. e.g. skogatan, kugghjulsgatan, silkesgata etc. North Vietnam and the area around Ha Long Bay are considered to be the origin of the unique water puppet theater. This type of theater can only be experienced in Hanoi and in this part of Vietnam. The plot of these theaters often consists of drama with love stories, ancient myths and fairy tales.
Day 4: Hanoi and night train to Lao Cai
You can do whatever you want in Hanoi until the train leaves north. You will be picked up at the hotel about an hour before the train departs and driven to the station. From here, take the night train (Soft Sleeper and air conditioning) to Lao Cai.
Day 5: Hike to the minority villages of Lao Cai and Sin Chai
You arrive at Lao Cai train station early the next morning and from there you take a minibus to Sapa (35 km, the journey takes about an hour). The guide will provide you with the necessary information about the hike before you visit the villages of Doi Bong and Sin Chai. Sin Chai is a small village belonging to the minority people Hmong. Hmong is one of the largest and poorest minority peoples in the Sapa area. The Hmong people are very proud of their culture and they still adhere to their distinct traditions and way of life. They speak their own language, wear special indigo-colored clothes and have their own distinct architecture. Hiking: 15 km
Day 6: Hike to the minority villages of Y Linh Ho, Lao Chai and Ta Van
After breakfast, continue to Cat Cat and Linh Ho which is a small village. In the afternoon, visit the village of Lao Chai and learn more about their culture. After that you continue to Ta Van (1,200 m) which is a village belonging to the Zay people. In step with the development, many of the original customs of the Zay people have been lost, but some of the women still wear the traditional costume with characteristic strong pink, blue or green colors. The Zay people’s houses are built of wood and bamboo and have clay floors. You live with a local family in Ta Van and are also invited to dinner. Hiking: 15 km
Day 7: Hike to Giang Ta Chai and Ban Ho
After breakfast, the hike continues to the village of Giang Ta Chai, which belongs to the Yao people, where you can, among other things, view a beautiful waterfall. The women of the village have colorful costumes that are adorned with embroidery and patterns. They wear red turbans on their heads. Some have shaved off the eyebrows and even a few inches of the hairline because a hairless face is part of the beauty ideal for the women here. After lunch, the hike continues to Ban Ho, where you will once again spend the night at a homestay with the friendly Tay people. Hiking: 15 km.
Day 8: Minority market in Sapa, trip to Hanoi
After breakfast, take a jeep to visit the local markets. Depending on the day of departure from Hanoi, it is possible to visit one of the following markets: The Sunday Market in Bac Ha. This is one of the largest markets in the area. Many minority groups will come here to buy, sell, eat and drink. There are ten minority groups in the Bac Ha region. You can, among other things, buy real crafts and home-made clothes. The afternoon continues with a short hike to Ban Pho. Saturday market in Can Cau. A colorful market held in a small mountain village. Several different minority groups gather here, but mainly people from the Hmong people. The locals come here to buy and sell clothes, vegetables, meat and cattle. The afternoon continues with a short hike to Ban Pho. Tuesday market in Coc Ly. This is a small but very colorful market. It is located in a mountainous area where mainly the Hmong people meet to buy and sell homemade products. The market is visited by relatively few tourists. After the market, take a boat trip down the river and visit a small village belonging to the Tay people. Then we drive back to Lao Cai where you take the night train back to Hanoi.
Day 9: Arrival in Hanoi – Ngoc Hoa Village
You arrive at the train station in Hanoi at about 05:15 in the morning. You can arrange your own transfer from the station to the hotel in Hanoi. From the hotel, the journey then continues towards your homestay and Ha Long Bay around 08:30. On the way, you pass field workers who are busy cultivating their rice fields in the traditional way. After a few hours, you arrive at the village and meet the family you will be staying with at the homestay. A bike ride around the village is also planned. During the tour you can see some of the old houses and get an insight into the daily life of the locals. Back at the family, lunch is then served. After lunch, it’s time to put on a traditional farmer’s outfit and go out and plant rice and plow the fields with the help of a water buffalo. This is a really fun and challenging experience. In the afternoon you can visit a local temple and take a boat trip to see Stork Island where there are thousands of storks and herons. Back at your homestay, it’s time to help cook dinner and relax in the cozy surroundings. (L , M )
Day 10: On to Ha Long Bay. Embark on the ship, kayak and enjoy nature.
Breakfast is served at 07:30. Before heading to Ha Long Bay, you can visit the market where the locals sell their crops and products. This is a genuine experience that many tourists miss. You arrive at the ship shortly after lunchtime and check into your sleeping cabin. Lunch is served while the boat passes the beautiful limestone cliffs that the area is known for. In the afternoon you can go kayaking and explore the small islands nearby. Dinner is served on board approx. at 19:00. Then you can relax on the deck and enjoy the starry sky or play cards. ( F , L , M )
Day 11: Ha Long Bay. Kayak, explore caves and enjoy the surroundings.
After breakfast, the ship continues out to the less visited areas of the bay. You can then explore the small islands by kayak and enjoy the beautiful nature. After lunch you visit one of the lesser known caves in the area. Then you can continue exploring the area by kayak or relax on the ship’s sun deck before a good dinner with BBQ is served. Accommodation on the boat ( F , L , M )
Day 12: Ha Long Bay to Hanoi
If you are up early, you can enjoy the beautiful sunrise before breakfast is served. Then visit one of the area’s most famous caves, Sung Sot, early before the crowds arrive. After that you sail back to the harbor and have lunch. You then go ashore and head back towards Hanoi, where you arrive late in the afternoon. ( F , L )
Day 13: Hanoi
You can spend the day relaxing or perhaps exploring the streets of Hanoi on your own. Many exciting experiences await you in Hanoi. For example, you can visit the Hero of the People and the former president Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum or the single-column pagoda, one of the city’s most famous pagodas. The Hanoi War Museum contains information on Vietnam’s top victories, with particular emphasis on the victory over the Chinese at Bach Dang, over the French at Bien Phu and in the war against the Americans during the Vietnam War. The Peaceful Temple of Literature was founded in 1070 to honor the Chinese philosopher Confucius. At the Temple of Literature you will find the restaurant KOTO (Know One, Teach One) which functions as a non-profit project. The focus here is to give street children in Hanoi a possible career in the service industry, for example as a chef or kitchen staff. The food tastes great.
Day 14: Hanoi: Return from Vietnam
After an exciting holiday, it’s off to home. If you have some time left before your flight departs, you can take a walk along Hoan Kiem Lake or take the opportunity to buy the last souvenirs. You take a taxi to the airport yourself and the time of course depends on when your flight departs.
Day 15: Arrival in Scandinavia
Arrival time to Scandinavia depends on which airline you travel with.
Four nights at a budget hotel in Hanoi
Two nights by train (soft sleeper) from Hanoi to Lao Cai and return to Hanoi.
Three nights at the homestay on the hike.
Two nights in a sleeping cabin with air conditioning and its own shower / toilet on the boat.
A night at a homestay on the way to Ha Long.