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Northern trek & Southern Coastal Cycling – 16 days / 15 nights
Tour Code: AD2
Duration: 16day / 15 nights

Day 1; Hanoi - city tour – overnight sleeper train

We will meet for a team briefing and embark on a tour of Hanoi City.

Hanoi is a city with a unique mix of French colonial architecture and Southeast Asian. You will see the tree-lined boulevards, the peaceful lake and ancient temples, as well as the busy markets, shops and cafes.

Your tour will include well-known sites like Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the One Pillar Pagoda (A small but significant pagoda with a Buddhist representation of the world), the Temple of Literature which was originally built in 1070, and the Old Quarter. In the late afternoon you can enjoy the amazing water puppet theatre. This puppet show is a must see, very colorful, humorous with the water puppets putting on a cultural show, making fun of the ethic way of life.

We will have dinner before boarding the sleeper night train to Lao Cai. The 4 berth cabins are two levels, which can at times be supplied with slippers, water and basic toiletries. Hopefully you will be rocked to sleep with the rhythm of the train to arrive hopefully fresh at your destination the next morning for a rather full day.

Includes: Lunch & dinner

Accommodation: Overnight: train / sleeping car

Day 2: Lao Cai, BAC Ha market - Sapa

When the train arrives in Lao Cai early morning we will transfer to a hotel to freshen up and enjoy a Vietnamese breakfast.

Today we will drive about 60km along the border between Vietnam and China, visit the famous Bac Ha market (Sunday) where you will many colorful ethic minorities.

On visiting the local market our guide will explain all about the local produce and the many different colorful hill tribe ethnic groups such as the flower H’mong, the Tay and the Phu La as well as a visit to the animal section where they sell buffalo, pig, swans and dogs.

There will be ample time to take photos of the green tea & tobacco plantations and the lush green landscape of rice terraces. You will also have the opportunity to see the local people making noodles.

After lunch in a local restaurant we depart to Sapa where you have free time to explore this interesting town with the local black H’mong tribe.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breakfast, lunch & dinner

Day 3: Sapa – Trekking - Home stay

We depart Sapa on our two day trek following a road down to Cat Cat village passing a Hydroelectric station and rice paddy terraces, witnessing daily life between ethnic villages on the way to the H'mong village of Y Linh Ho. Mist often swirls around the hills as local villagers tend their farms and animals and go about their life.

You will have a picnic lunch in the outdoors with beautiful views and then trek in the Hoa valley on the way to Lao Chai village.

We will spend the night in a local house of the Gay minority. There is a river near by for swimming or just relax with our host and mingle with the local culture. Tonight we will be treated to a magical homestay.

Accommodation: Home stay

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 4: ½ day Trekking - Sapa

After breakfast you will continue to trek through bamboo forest and a visit to Giang Ta Chai of Red Dao ethnic village. You will have a picnic lunch by a stream and trek through the Hoang National Park visiting more ethnic villages. Our trek finishes in Su Pan with your transfer back to Sapa by minibus.

The rest of the day will be to relax.

After dinner we will be entertained by a local ethnic group with music and dancing. You will have a chance to join in with the locals and also perform an item in appreciation.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breakfast, lunch & dinner

Day 5: Sapa - Lao Cai - Night train to Hanoi

Today will be a day to relax unwind, shop for local handcrafts or hang out in the many cafes in Sapa before transferring to Lao Cai where we will have dinner before boarding our overnight train back to Hanoi.

Accommodation: Overnight: train / sleeping car

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch & dinner

Day 6: Hanoi - Halong Bay

After arrival in Hanoi we will transfer to a hotel to freshen up, have breakfast before transferring to Halong city where we will broad a small junk and cruise for about 30 minutes to the mother junk (3*) and enjoy a lunch of fresh sea food while the junk cruises along the green bay amongst 3,000 of limestone Islands

 

Day 7: Halong Bay –Cat Ba Island – Monkey island resort

Our host lead us in a early morning Tai Chi lesson on the deck and swim with the local sea life before breakfast.

We then take a ride to a different floating fishing farm and board a bamboo boat to be rowed around the pearl farms. There is a demonstration on the process of pearl farming and course the opportunity to buy one from the floating shop.

We will then transfer through the Cat Ba National Park to Cat Ba Island. From here we will get on another small junk and cruise through the bay with different scenery for about 45 minutes to the Monkey island resort where you will spend the second night in a sea view bungalow.

Lunch will be served at the resort and in the afternoon there will be an option for more kayaking, a one hour trek on the rock trail to visit the wild monkeys or just kick back and relax. After returning from our walk to the resort we will enjoy a buffet dinner of local sea food

Accommodation: Resort sea view bungalow

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch & dinner

Day 8: Monkey island resort – Cat Ba Island – Hanoi

After breakfast and enjoying a swim we will transfer via a small junk (approx. 30min) through the bay back to Cat Ba central and bus back to Hanoi.

Depending on time we will stop along the way to mix with the local people at a farm where you will have the opportunity to do some planting of vegetables, picking up the sweet potato, plowing the farm etc.

We hopefully will arrive early in Hanoi where you will have time to relax and enjoy your last evening in Hanoi before travelling south.

Accommodation: Hotel

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch & dinner

Day 9: Hanoi – flight to Hue

We will transfer to Noi Bai airport in the early morning for the short (1 hour) flight to Hue.

Here we will meet our guide and start our cycling tour around some of the Imperial Cities complex of monuments with a cruise up the Perfume river to visit the oldest Buddhist Pagoda in Hue ‘Heavenly Lady Pagoda’.

Hue is steeped in 3,000 years of history and we cycle through the local areas to the Mingh Mang & Khai Dinh tombs, the Citadel and Forbidden City. Hue was built by the Ng Ugen Dynasty and has a population of 300,000 which is 60% Buddhist & 10% of Catholic and built on the banks of the Perfume River. In season it is a colorful sight with many Lotus & Lilly pods to be seen.

At dinner tonight we will be entertained with traditional music in the garden courtyard.

Accommodation: Hotel

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch & dinner

Day 10: Hue to Hoi An – Cycling

We cycle and drive some of the way from Hue to Lang Co Beach, a superb beach where you may like to have a swim before lunch. After a few kilometers of flat road, we tackle the 10 k’s uphill to the Hai Van Pass.

The view from the top of the pass of Marble Mountain which is a cluster of 5 marble & limestone hills which each is named after the five elements of the universe; water; metal; earth; wood and fire.

The descent from the pass is outstanding and well worth the effort of your climb. After a fabulous 10 k’s descent we reach Da Nang.

From here you may like to visit China Beach (30k’s of lovely white sand) where American servicemen went for their rest and recreation during the Vietnam /American War or alternatively a marble factory to view their exquisite workmanship. There are many bamboo round boats lining the shore and after dark the local fisherman gear into action to try their luck at some squid fishing.

Cycling Distance: Lang Co Beach to Hoi An - 75 km

Accommodation: Hotel

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch & dinner

Day 11: Hoi An – Rest day Cycling

Today is rest day or  you can take a lesson at the ‘The Red Bridge’ cooking school, which includes a guided tour of Hoi An's (population of 76,000) colorful central market, a boat trip, herb garden walk and a 2 hour practical cooking class, finishing with lunch.

One of the most striking features of Hoi An is the over 300 year old buildings all which have maintained their original Architecture. Previously occupied by the Japanese & Chinese town, Hoi An has a strong oriental charm. The Japanese covered bridge, a landmark of Hoi An connects two sides of the town and is artistically carved with motifs of Japanese & Chinese design. The bold motifs are of the dragon & Phoenix.

Hoi An is renowned for the handmade silk lanterns. A must do is – to visit one of the local tailors who will custom design any garment to measure in a few hours just by choosing a garment out of a fashion book or coping a existing garment. Maybe get some leather shoes made to measure overnight to your own design.

Or you can just explore this delightful town at your leisure with its street side cafes, artists and markets, take in the morning concert of traditional music or take a gentle ride (c.10km return) to the fabulous Hoi An beach. There is so much to see and do in this interesting town, and wonderful pastry shops and cafes to hang out in this fabulous old town you will just want to return.

Accommodation: Hotel

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch & dinner

Day 12: Hoi An – Quang Ngai Cycling

We leave Hoi An on a delightful little road into the countryside where we sample a slice of rural Vietnamese life. On the way we stop at the Cham temple dating back to the 10th century. Approaching Quang Ngai (Population of 108,000) we take a side road, passing a local fishing village and a lively local market. The route includes 12 k’s of unsealed road and finishes at My Lai, where you may wish to visit the My Lai Massacre memorial site which has been preserved like it was during this fatal crisis. The rest of the day you can relax on the pristine Son Tinh beach.

Cycling distances: Back road sections - 48 km

Accommodation: Hotel

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch & dinner

Day 13: Quang Ngai – Qui Nhon Cycling

We drive south to the small town of Sa Huynh, a pleasant fishing backwater perched on a broad curve of palm fringed, golden sand. Speckled with blue fishing boats, sleepy Sa Huynh is a convenient and relaxing place to rest en route.

Today's cycle ride is on a fabulous coastal back road through several little villages observing a range of scenery. The road is mostly flat with two steep climbs. On arrival in Quy Nhon linger on the hill for a visit to Thap Bac (10th century Silver Temple) where there are three temples to see in this historical complex.

Cycling distances: Option of 60 km or 95 km

Accommodation: Hotel

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch & dinner

Day 14: Qui Nhon – Nha Trang - Cycling

We will cycle & drive the quiet road up a gentle valley and then down to Chi Thanh. This afternoon includes great coastal views and war memorials from 1972, dragon fruit farms, rice paddy fields.

Our overnight stay is in NhaTran city(population of 315,000), known as the city of white sand beach and crystal clear water, the Cham Ponagar Temple and the Oceanography Institute with its aquarium.

Cycling distances:

Dieu to Tri to Chi Thanh: 73 km

Tuy Hoa to Ca Pass: 40 km

Accommodation: Hotel

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch & dinner

 

Day 15: Nha Trang – Ho Chi Minh City

Today there is a boat trip to the islands where you will visit a fishing village and be rowed ashore in Vietnamese bamboo round boats. There will be time to swim and snorkel, so bring your swimwear. A stop will be made at the Oceanographic Institute and Tri Nguyen Aquarium, having lunch at a lovely bamboo restaurant on an offshore island then returning to Nha Trang mid afternoon.

Later this afternoon we will transfer you to the airport for your evening flight to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) also known as Saigon. We will have a farewell dinner with our support crew and new found friends.

Accommodation: Hotel

Includes: Breakfast, Lunch & dinner

Day 16: Ho Chi Minh City

After breakfast and checking out of our hotel, the trip will end.

You may wish to stay an extra few days in Saigon and see all historical sights that Ho Chi Minh City has to offer. Maybe choosing to shop at the many boutiques or galleries or search for bargains at the crowded Ben Thanh central market. A visit to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels is also an option.

HCMC is Vietnam's most cosmopolitan city of (10 million people) which presents an image of organised chaos bustling with cars and thousands of motor bikes, many bearing 2-3 passengers bedecked in bandanas and dust masks. The city still showcases many beautiful buildings from the French Colonial era such as the Opera House and the magnificent post office. Other landmarks such as the Rex Hotel and the Reunification Palace also provide a spectacular photo opportunity or the newly opened tower where you can take the lift to the 49th floor and get a 360 view of the city.

 

 
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