Day 1: Hanoi. Arrive in Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, and transfer to your hotel. The day is at your leisure to explore on your own or relax. This evening, attend a performance of Hanoi's Mua Roi Nuoc, literally 'puppets that dance on water'. This traditional form of entertainment dates back as far as the tenth century and originated in Northern Vietnam. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi - Lao Cai. Hanoi is a unique city with tree-lined boulevards, French colonial architecture, peaceful lakes and oriental temples and a full day tour will show you the highlights. On foot and by cycle, tour the historical sights, museums, and the bustling Old Quarter of the city. In the evening, depart for the train station to catch the sleeper train to the northwest town of Lao Cai, the homeland of many of Vietnam's ethnic minorities. Overnight aboard the train. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Lao Cai - Sapa. Early morning you will arrive in Lao Cai and transfer by road to Sapa. Here, in the terraced hills and mountains, the monotony of the expansive green landscape is brightened by the colours of the area's native hill tribes. Take a morning walking tour of Sapa town and visit the busy market where the ethnic minority people converge to sell their embroidery, silverware, and handicrafts. Overnight at Chau Long, Sapa. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 4: Sapa. This morning, set out on a light trek to discover Sapa's lesser-known areas. Along the way, enjoy the breathtaking scenery of mountain rice terraces, waterfalls, and buffaloes working in the fields. As you cross rivers by suspended bridges and traverse rolling hills, look for views of Vietnam's highest point, Mt Fansipan, the last major peak of the Himalayan chain. Return to Sapa town in the afternoon where you have the rest of the day at your leisure. Overnight at Chau Long, Sapa. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 5: Sapa - Ethnic Market - Lao Cai - Hanoi. After breakfast, continue your exploration of the Sapa area with an early morning visit to the Ethnic Market. Afterwards, there is time for another light trek to a nearby village before transferring to Lao Cai for the overnight train to Hanoi. Overnight on the train. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Hanoi - Halong Bay - Emeraude Cruise. Upon disembarking in Hanoi, enjoy breakfast and continue through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta to reach Halong Bay. At the harbor, board the Emeraude, a wonderful replica of one of the classic steamships of the colonial era. Spend the remainder of the day cruising through the emerald green waters of the bay, weaving in and out of the hundreds of limestone karsts. Stop and visit one of the area's many caves, have a swim in the refreshing waters, and enjoy sumptuous meals aboard the boat. Overnight on board the Emeraude, Halong Bay. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: Emeraude Cruise - Halong Bay - Hanoi. Early this morning, participate in a Tai Chi class on the sun deck, or relax with a fresh cup of coffee as you view the awakening of Halong Bay's local fishermen. A wholesome breakfast is served as you cruise back to Halong City where you disembark and return to Hanoi, arriving mid-day. Your private car and guide remain at your disposal for last minute sight-seeing or shopping until your departure for your onward travel. Includes: (B).
Note: This is simply a suggested itinerary, which can easily be customized to suit your schedule, budget, and interests.
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