Vietnam: North + South Family Adventure

Angela Broderick

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Vietnam

North + South Family Adventure


 

Journey across Vietnam on a rare, undiscovered route, from North to South. Delve into Vietnam's many cultural heritages and its remarkable natural sites, and peek into hidden corners through immersive experiences with local communities. Get an enticing taste of this mystical land of history and legends.

 


Sample Itinerary

Our itineraries are designed to let the country and its people guide your experiences. Please be flexible and allow the program to unfold.

DAY 1

Arrival in Hanoi

Welcome to Vietnam!
Upon arrival at Noibai airport, you'll be welcomed by your local guide and transferred to the hotel. Check-in and relax.

In the evening, enjoy a show performed by local artists combining multiple contemporary art and music performances, all providing a glimpse into the culture, tradition and daily life of the Vietnamese, past and present.

Overnight in Hanoi

Drive time: 45 min. / Distance: ± 30 km

MEALS:  None


DAY 2

Hanoi

After breakfast at the hotel, begin the morning with a visit to Thang Long Citadel, one of the country’s most outstanding world heritage sites. Constructed on a Chinese fortress during the Chinese Dynasty, later to be re-built by the Ly Viet Dynasty, this citadel stands today as a reminder not only of the Chinese influence from the north but also the influence from the south's ancient Cham Panduranga Kingdom.

Next, take a short drive to the Temple of Literature. Built in the 11th century, the temple is dedicated to the worship of Confucius and the Scholars, and is seen as a symbol of not only Hanoi but also Vietnamese culture.

In the afternoon, drive to Vietnam’s Museum of Ethnology, an impressive museum celebrating the multiculturalism of Vietnam. Learn about the fascinating lifestyles and cultures of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups through detailed descriptions and exhibits.

Later in the afternoon if time allows, take a short walk around the iconic West Lake. Absorb the ambiance of Hanoi’s largest, most breathtaking lake whilst enjoying a local Vietnamese coffee or a refreshing coconut drink. View Hanoi’s Tran Quoc Pagoda, the city's oldest pagoda, in this beautiful setting. West Lake is one of Hanoi’s more affluent areas, with many diverse types of architecture to admire - an example of Vietnam’s rapidly growing economy.

Overnight in Hanoi

MEALS:  B


DAY 3

Hanoi - Tam Coc

In the morning, drive to the Red River Delta countryside. You'll stop at the village of Lang Chuong and meet with local artisans who have been making non, the famous Vietnamese conical hat, for generations.

Then, a short drive brings you to the village of Vac, where you can discover the local craft of making birdcages. Local makers use great skill and their reputation extends throughout the country.

Later, continue to the village of Uoc Le, which appears on the horizon with its proud steeple, erected like a lighthouse in the middle of a rice tide that changes colors with the seasons. Meet with a local family and share lunch of local specialties including a tasting of gio cha (pork sausage). After the meal, enjoy a bike ride through the narrow streets lined with churches, pagodas, old houses, monumental gates, family tombs, and farm fields.

Mid-afternoon, continue the drive to Ninh Binh Province, taking in the incredible beauty of the Red River Delta and colorful rice fields throughout the journey. In the late afternoon, arrive at Tam Coc. Settle into a local resort and enjoy its stunning setting and facilities. Complimentary bikes are available to discover the surroundings at leisure.

Overnight in Tam Coc

Far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, nestled amidst rice fields, the eco-resort is a jewel of hospitality, harmoniously intertwined with local farm life. Its construction is modeled after an authentic Tonkinese village surrounded by rice paddies and karst peaks, with traditional stone houses and tile roofs, bamboo groves, gardens, and orchards. Composed of 8 bungalows with a wide Tonkinese garden, this ecolodge was ranked in 2014 among the 10 best small hotels of Vietnam. The pool is available from March until November.

Drive time: 3 hours 30 min / Distance: 125 km

MEALS:  B,L


DAY 4

Tam Coc

In the morning, take a short walk to Linh Coc jetty and embark on a rowing boat to meander along the serene waterways and idyllic rivers, lined with green rice paddies, water lilies, lotus, and reeds, arriving at Galaxy Grotto. Enjoy the amazing stalactites in different shapes and colors and take in the quiet ambiance; only hearing the sounds of the boat rowing and water dropping down from the ceiling.

Disembark and hop on a bike for a spin through Tho Ha village to discover stunning scenery, observing local life and farmers working on the rice paddies. Explore a local church for a deeper insight into Catholicism and western influence in Vietnam. Leisurely pedal past stilt houses amongst enchanting limestone peaks, as well as a local school and a small market where you can admire the local handicrafts.

Next, you'll move on to the house of Ms. Dung, where you'll receive a heart-warming welcome and share in a lunch of local delicacies served in an idyllic natural setting of endless rice paddies and phenomenal karst peaks.

In the afternoon, take a short drive to the district of Hoa Lu, located in the heart of Trang An Landscape Complex, recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO in 2015. Hoa Lu was the capital of the first independent Vietnamese Dynasties (968 – 1009) after more than a thousand years of Chinese rule. Visit the temple dedicated to Dinh Tien Hoang, founder of the first of these dynasties, whose name was given to the main avenue bordering the central lake of old Hanoi.

Return to the resort and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Tam Coc.

Bike: 5 – 10 -15 km. Flat road.

MEALS:  B,L


DAY 5

Tam Coc

In the morning, enjoy a short drive to Yen Mac where you'll be welcomed by a local family. Your host will take you to visit a lively rural market. You'll be be greeted by locals while you wander the market to purchase fresh food in preparation for lunch with the family.

Learn about the history and mysteries of the village your local hosts as guides. Wander the narrow streets, visit a local pagoda and absorb the spirit of this fascinating area. Observe (or take part in!) in daily activities such as gardening, cultivating rice and discovering local handicraft. At around noon, share lunch with the family.

After lunch, return to the resort and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Optional activities, directly organized by the resort, are available. They include instructional classes in traditional embroidery, calligraphy, bamboo basket weaving, kite making, or cooking classes to learn to make local delights such as bong (Vietnamese pop-corn), candied coconut ribbons, or 'Chung cake'. You can also hit the water to go fishing or take a sampan rowing class.

Overnight in Tam Coc

MEALS:  B,L


DAY 6

Tam Coc - Lan Ha Bay

In the morning transfer to Haiphong, Vietnam’s major port on the Red River Delta, passing through colorful rice fields and authentic rural villages along the way. Upon arrival at the pier around noon, receive a warm welcome on board the boat and begin the cruise to Halong Bay.

Enjoy lunch while taking in the outstanding landscape made of steep cliffs and partially-submerged limestone peaks on the Gulf of Tonkin; considered a ‘sensational watery milky way'. The phenomenal scenery continues to unfold as you cruise around Lan Ha Bay. Explore astonishing hidden lagoons and floating villages, or go swimming and kayaking at the foot of the verdant giant stones before dropping anchor in an isolated area for the evening in the peaceful ambiance of the bay. Under clear skies, the upper deck offers a vista onto the magical beauty of the Lan Ha sunset.

During the evening, observe a cooking demonstration and indulge in some fine cuisine before casting out into the enchanting waters to enjoy a bit of squid fishing, or relax with a comfortable massage on the top of the deck within the marvelous landscape.

Overnight on board.

Drive time: 3 hours 30 min / Distance ± 165 km

MEALS:  B,L,D


DAY 7

Lan Ha Bay - Hai Phong - Saigon

Before enjoying breakfast, participate in Tai Chi on the sundeck under the rising Southeast Asian sun. Then continue the journey by heading out in a day boat to explore an impressive cave engulfed with thousands of stalactites and stalagmites, creating a marvelous natural palace. You'll slowly cruise back through the majestic karst peaks as you head back to the pier.

Then you'll take a short drive to Cat Bi Airport in Hai Phong for a flight to Saigon.

Upon arrival in Saigon, you'll be greeted by your local guide and get transferred to a centrally located hotel. Check-in and relax.

If time allows, take an orientation walk in Saigon's former colonial quarter, which holds the Notre Dame Basilica and Gustave Eiffel's Central Post Office. Meander along Dong Khoi and Nguyen Hue streets to get a great view of the famous city hall.

Overnight in Saigon.

Car Transfer: 1h30 // Distance ± 40 km

MEALS:  B,L


DAY 8

Saigon - Ta Lai

In the morning, drive from Saigon to Nam Cat Tien Park. Upon arrival, enjoy lunch at Ta Lai Longhouse.

Ta Lai Longhouse is an adventurer's heaven overlooking untouched forests and steeped in the culture and history of the Stieng and Cau Maa’ minorities. Situated on a hill slope overlooking a lake on Cat Tien National Park’s jungle border, the traditional bamboo longhouse offers a wonderful rainforest wilderness experience.

Cat Tien National Park covers more than 70,000 km² and is divided into two sections, Cat Loc in the north and Nam Cat Tien in the south, separated by agricultural land. It holds a myriad of fauna and flora species, some of which are endemic (more than 1600 different plants, 105 mammal species, more than 350 bird species, 120 reptile and amphibian species, 130 freshwater fish species, and several hundred butterfly and insect species!)

Classified by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve in 2001, and as a Ramsar site (notably for the importance of its wetlands), it is a refuge for animals in danger of extinction such as the black gibbon, the yellow-cheeked gibbon, the red-cheeked gibbon, the black-legged douc, the silver tongue, the rare leopard, and Sun and Moon bears, which are present in the park's Bear Rescue Center.

Shaped by steep hills and lush jungle, it is also the territory of the Cau Maa’. Formerly known as the 'explorer's tomb' and a rebel hinterland, it is home to the formerly impassable Prööng (in Cau Maa’) forest - once a huge empty only entered for gathering or hunting. According to ancient local legends, it is inhabited by Srae, evil man-eating creatures, inspiring many myths and legends.

In the afternoon, visit an ethnic village, hike through paddy fields, meet local weavers and visit the local museum. Then, take the opportunity to relax and kayak in the lake near the lodge.

Overnight at Ta Lai Longhouse.

Drive time: 3 hours / Distance: 145 km

MEALS:  B,L,D


DAY 9

Ta Lai

This morning, take a soft trek for 3-4 hours through the Nam Cat Tien forest with a local Cau Maa’ guide. Start from the Longhouse and explore a trail used by the Cau Maa’ to search for natural resources and bamboo shoots. The forest is considered sacred by the locals and they still recount fascinating legends. Continue into deep undergrowth and ascend an ancient volcano. Stop in the "Grotto of Bats”, then descend into a landscape of rice fields and return to the Longhouse.

Later in the afternoon, take a canoe ride on the lake behind the Longhouse.

This evening, you'll enjoy dinner with a traditional dance performance.

Overnight at Ta Lai Longhouse.

Hike: 10 km. ± 3 hours – challenging

MEALS:  B,L,D


DAY 10

Ta Lai - Ho Tram

In the morning, transfer by car to Ho Tram, located in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.

Ho Tram Beach extends over more than 10 kilometers of fine sand supported by casuarinas to the tiny fishing hamlet of Ho Tram in the east. To the west of the beach, a long sandbar is formed by the Ray River, surrounded by the South China Sea on one side and the river and mangrove forest on the other. The region benefits from a regular sea breeze and an ideal amount of sunshine for a relaxing seaside retreat.

Arrive in the late morning at the hotel and settle in your rooms. The afternoon is free to enjoy the view and resort facilities, including: complimentary shuttle bus to the nearest town (Ba To) & Ba Ria town, complimentary bicycles to use,
two tennis courts, and two pools – salt water pool & freshwater pool, each with a separate children's pool. The freshwater pool's kids slide is highly regarded by visiting children, and the salt water pool draws its water from the sea and processes it with an ozone system which is gentle on the skin.

Overnight at the resort.

Drive time: 4 hours / Distance ± 145 km

MEALS:  B


DAY 11

Ho Tram

After breakfast, take a short transfer to Phuoc Hai, a town in Dat Do district, Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province. Take a walk to visit Phuoc Hai fishing village and a colorful local market (about 4km and discover the beautiful countryside and the nearby forest. On the way, stop at Mo Ca Ong (Grand Fish Temple) to learn about the whale cults in Vietnamese fishing villages. Stop at the fish sauce factory and spend some time at the unique sandy hill habitat. Cross through the forest and take a rest to hear the birds singing, and enjoy a picnic lunch.

In the afternoon, join a boat trip on the river: enjoy rowing, swimming in the clean blue river or simply lying on a boat flowing down the river, absorbing the tranquility of the land and sky, sometimes broken by a wild bird flying by -- a very relaxing experience.

In late afternoon, return to hotel and free time at leisure.

Overnight in Ho Tram.

Drive time: 1 hour / Distance: 30 km
Walk (optional): 4 km
Boat: 6 km

MEALS:  B,L


DAY 12

Ho Tram - Departure

Enjoy free time at leisure until departure for the airport.

Drive time: 3 hours / Distance: 110 km

MEALS:  B


PRICE

$2,335 based on a family of 4

DURATION

12D / 11N

DEPARTURE DATES

Available year-round


ACTIVITY LEVEL

Easy-Moderate

ROUTE

Hanoi - Tam Coc - Lan Ha Bay - Hai Phong - Saigon - Ta Lai - Ho Tram - Hanoi

PROGRAM ELEMENTS

Customizable, Village Experience, Great for Families



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