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Hike, Bike & Cruise Northern Vietnam: Ninh Binh, Halong Bay & Sapa

11 Days
Prices From:
US$ 2,993

FIRST-CLASS | PRIVATE-GUIDED: Embark on an unforgettable adventure across Northern Vietnam, traversing the capital of Hanoi, cycling through the scenic wonderland of Ninh Binh, taking in the awe-inspiring Halong Bay on a traditional junk cruise, and exploring the region of Sapa, famous for its ethnic villages, vibrant markets, and friendly locals.

Begin your 11-day Northern Vietnam vacation in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum for an immersive discovery of the former North Vietnam president’s legacy. Make your way to the Temple of Literature, founded in 1070, honouring Vietnam’s finest scholars and symbolizing traditional Vietnamese architecture. Continue through the alleyways of Hanoi’s Old Quarters, stopping at roadside restaurants and cafes and indulging in Vietnamese culinary delights, including Nom Kho Bo, Banh Cuon, and Bun Cha.

Embark on a two-hour drive through the beautiful countryside to the UNESCO-listed Trang An and board a rowboat to set sail along the small river nestled among scenic mountains and green fields. Visit the Trang An cave complex before enjoying lunch at a local restaurant.

Travel South to Ninh Binh for a bicycle tour of Tam Coc, riding along gorgeous trails through limestone mountains. Take a short hike to the peak of Hang Mua for uninterrupted views of Tam Coc before venturing to Bich Dong Pagoda, a timeless and striking spiritual attraction. Continue to the citadel of Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Dinh and Le dynasties dating to the 11th century.

Your next transfer takes you to the hidden pools, grottoes, and mystical islands in Halong Bay. Enjoy early morning Tai Chi lessons, the diverse ecosystem at Luron Cave, and the charming Cua Van fishing village before boarding an overnight train to the city of Lao Cai. Venture further to the mountain town of Sapa, the expansive rice terraces in Muong Hoa Valley, the majestic Fansipan Mountain, and the iconic Rattan Bridge.


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11 Days
Prices From:
US$ 2,993

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Arrive to Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi! Upon arrival to the airport, grab your bags and enjoy a private transfer to your hotel for the next few nights! Spend the rest of the day at your leisure!


Accommodation: Silk Path Luxury Hotel

Duration2 Nights
Day 2

Half Day Hanoi at a Glance City Tour and Vibrant Hanoi Street Food Scene

Set off today with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, a remarkable construction where Vietnamese people express their profound love and gratitude to the great leader (closed Monday & Friday weekly and all afternoons). Then stroll around the serene grounds while learning about Ho Chi Minh's life and legacy. There is an option to visit the nearby iconic One Pillar Pagoda, built-in 1049. Continue to the Temple of Literature, a serene retreat from the busy streets outside. It is known as the first national university in Vietnam and the symbol of Vietnamese architectural values. Cap off the excursion strolling through the labyrinthine alleyways of the Old Quarters. This oldest continuously developed area of Hanoi was once an important centre of commerce where goods were sold on the street name of a particular guild. Stop at a roadside coffee shop, mingle with the locals and enjoy the daily life passing by.

Hanoi is a paradise for lovers of street food and the city's best dishes can be found on its bustling sidewalks, where the air is filled with the aroma of lemongrass, chili, cilantro, and other fresh herbs. Your guide will offer you insights into the intricacies and traditions of Vietnamese food culture, including details about the ingredients and historical backgrounds of popular northern dishes. Start strolling through the labyrinthine streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter and indulge your taste buds along the way. Let's sit down with young locals and try the popular Nom Kho Bo, a salad made with green papaya and beef jerky. The key to this dish is the crunchy texture of the papaya and the flavor imparted by lime and fish sauce. Next, follow the scent of fragrant food to a rustic venue where Banh Cuon, a steamed rice roll, is served. You will be astonished as the skilled chef demonstrates how this delicious dish is cooked. Then visit a family-run eatery that serves Bun Cha, a one-dish meal of noodles with flame-grilled pork cooked over hot coals for extra flavor. After satisfying your appetite, it's time for dessert. Venture down a small alley in search of seasonal sweet treats. Before heading back to your hotel, optional mingle at a hidden café with stunning views of the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 3

Hanoi to Ninh Binh

Depart from your hotel to Ninh Binh. Following a two-hour drive through the beautiful countryside, you will reach Trang An ecosystem. Visit Trang An Scenic Landscape complex nearby which recently recognized as a UNESCO World Natural heritage, get on a rowing boat (small sampan) travelling along the small river with scenic mountain and green fields landscape. The boat takes you to visit cave complex of Trang An: Sang Cave, Toi Cave, Ba Giot Cave, Nau Ruou in mystery and wildness, the scenery of mountain and rivers - Halong on the land of Ninh Binh.

Lunch at local restaurant before transferring back to the hotel.


Accommodation: Tam Coc Garden Resort

Meal Plan Lunch
Duration2 Nights
Day 4

Ninh Binh

Depart from hotel for a day tour of Tam Coc. Here, we will start our bicycle ride on a very quiet and peaceful trail without any tourist. The trail provides gorgeous views of the surrounding beautiful limestone mountains. Cycling there gives you the amazing experience of the awesome natural wonder of what the area offers you. You will feel like you're right there interacting and soaking in the magnificent beauty.

Stop at Dancing Cave, have a short hike to the top of Hang Mua where you can see the whole view of Tam Coc. We will stop at a local house in a peaceful village with an amazingly beautiful setting. Enjoy your time chatting, learning how the local here live their daily life.

Have our lunch at a local restaurant then drive nearly 3km to reach Bich Dong pagoda - an ever ancient three-tiered cave pagoda. It is only accessible by steep stone steps, but it is really worth climbing up for a charming pagoda and stupendous view from the top. Bich Dong pagoda is composed of 3 structures: Ha Pagoda (lower pagoda), Trung Pagoda (Middle pagoda), and Thuong Pagoda (upper pagoda).

Continue to visit the little remains of the once impressive citadel of Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of the Dinh and Le dynasties dating back to the 11th century. Temples that are still standing include the royal temple of the early Le Dynasty, Dai Hanh and Dinh Tien Hoang, another royal temple which contains a statue of Emperor Dinh Bo Linh and his sons. The energetic may undertake the climb of some 200 steps to explore the temples and for a rewarding bird's-eye view of the surrounding countryside. A short drive to Bai Dinh pagoda - a Buddhist complex, it leans on the hillside near Ninh Binh. The work started in 2003 and completed in 2010. It is very impressive with the landscapes surrounding either sunrise and sunset. The range of limestones is at that far including the vast rice paddy fields. This complex is functionally used for grand or national Buddhist ceremonies.

Return to the hotel for freshening up and relax.

Meal Plan Lunch
Day 5

Ninh Binh to Halong Bay

This morning, transfer from your Ninh Binh hotel to Halong Bay. Upon arrival at Tuan Chau Island, transfer to the Paradise Elegance. You will be greeted by the Paradise crew who will aim to provide you with the highest standards of service throughout the journey.

Halong Bay is blessed with numerous grottoes, hidden pools and mystical islands and this afternoon, there will be the opportunity to disembark the boat and explore the region further. Off-boat excursions are usually by ship's tender although often there is the opportunity to discover the beautiful landscapes of the bay by kayak or bamboo rowing boat. Today’s cruising program includes a visit to Tung Sau pearl farm and Titov Island.

At sunset, Paradise Elegance will anchor overnight. It is the perfect time to enjoy Happy Hour and Canapés while being serenaded by a live music performance at L'Odyssée Sundeck or Piano Lounge before sitting down to a delicious dinner.


Accommodation: Paradise Elegance

Duration2 Nights
Day 6

Halong Bay

Rise early and start the day with a Tai Chi session at L'Odyssée Sundeck before breakfast.  Today explore magnificent Halong Bay further.  Visit Luon Cave, which boasts a diverse ecosystem and impressive scenery and later a visit to Cua Van fishing village.  Over lunch, enjoy incredible scenic views of this area such as Ho Dong Tien Cave, Trong Cave, Trinh Nu Cave, Tien Ong grotto, Hang Dau islet and Hang Than islet. In the late afternoon, experience a cooking class which showcases Vietnamese dishes before enjoying a scrumptious dinner.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 7

Halong Bay to Hanoi to Lao Cai by Overnight Train

Rise early and start the day with a Tai Chi session at L'Odyssée Sundeck before enjoying a light continental breakfast at Le Marin Restaurant. This morning you will visit Sung Sot cave, the most beautiful and largest cave in Halong Bay.  Back on the ship, enjoy a full breakfast while cruising past Thien Cung and Dau Go Cave and the Fighting Cock Islet. Paradise Elegance returns to Tuan Chau Marina, and you will get transferred to Hanoi.

Spend the rest of the day at your leisure and then this evening, transfer to Hanoi railway station for the overnight train to Lao Cai. Train departure time is 10.00 PM.


Accommodation: Fanxipan Express Train

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Day 8

Arrive Lao Cai - Sapa - Ancient Rock field - Giang Ta Chai

Sapa was established as a hill station by the French in 1922. This mountain town is a popular trekking destination known for its cool climate, stunning landscapes, and numerous ethnic minority groups who still wear traditional costumes. Upon arrival in the early morning, transfer an hour to Sapa town.

In the afternoon, embark on a short drive south of Sapa towards Muong Hoa Valley, the largest area of rice terraces in this region. Walk to Sapa Ancient Rock Field and beyond through beautiful terrain with outstanding views across terraced rice fields. Explore the field strewn with ancient volcanic boulders covered in petroglyphs and carvings and learn something of a mystery. Uncovered by a French researcher in 1925, there are 159 carved rocks across an area of eight square kilometers that have puzzled researchers and archaeologists ever since.

After exploring the rock field, follow a dirt trail downhill across Rattan Bridge, a suspension bridge named after the material from which it was constructed, and see waterfall before continuing on foot to the village of Giang Ta Chai, home to the Red Dao. This section of the trek offers stunning views of Muong Hoa Valley and provides the opportunity to understand the lives of tribal people in this region. The trek continues toward Su Pan Village, home of the Black Hmong, before joining your transfer back to Sapa.


Accommodation: BB Sapa Resort & Spa

Duration2 Nights
Day 9

Sapa - Ban Khoang and Ta Giang Phin village

Drive north of Sapa, and admire the majestic Fansipan Mountain and the beautiful valley en route. It is also a famous area for farming vegetables and flowers in Sapa. Capture the picturesque landscape when getting closer to Ban Khoang village. Stop for an easy walk to visit the village of Red Dao ethnic in  Ban Khoang village. The Red Dao women are very skilled in making their embroidery. The trip will continue with a short drive to Ta Giang Phinh village. There are some modern houses of Kinh ethnic nearby, a large beautiful valley with a pretty stream running through, and a home of Black H’mong ethic. Take the opportunity to explore the village by walking and enjoy the valley view. The H’mong ethnic is famous for making their clothes from hemp and dying with indigo plants. Your picnic lunch is served on the way on a nice grassy spot. End your walking tour and transfer back to Sapa town.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Lunch
Day 10

Sapa to Hanoi and Evening Sundown Sojourn and Dinner

After breakfast, embark on a 5.5-hour drive back to Hanoi. Upon arrival in Hanoi, transfer to your hotel for check-in. 

Spend the day at your leisure until evening when it's time to transfer from your hotel to the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake area, which transforms early evening into a haven for exercise, romantic walks and people watching, join the locals for a stroll to a nearby rooftop bar, a perfect Old Quarter vantage point to enjoy the sunset and watch the lights of Hanoi come alive with a drink or cocktail & nibbles. Your guide can then point out the 360-degree overview of Hanoi and the surrounding areas before we head back down onto the streets.

The street vibe changes at night and a little electric buzz fills the air as locals come out to eat and vendors try to make their last sales of the day. It can be overwhelming but with your guide to assist in haggling and with local info, this becomes a fun, enchanting environment. The "blue stool" experience is next as you sample the translated local dishes, engage in banter with your stool neighbors and marvel at the passing trade. You will be fascinated by local life and encouraged to ask and discuss any burning questions about real-life in, and the history of, this fascinating country. Followed by a dinner with authentic Vietnamese cuisine in an elegantly cozy ambiance.

Transfer back to your hotel for the night.

Meal Plan Breakfast and Dinner
Duration3.5 Hours
Day 11

Depart Hanoi

It's time to pack up and say goodbye to Hanoi! Grab your bags and enjoy a private transfer to the airport where you can catch your flight home!

Meal Plan Breakfast

Other Information




  • Private arrival and departure airport transfers
  • 3 nights first-class hotel accommodations in Hanoi
  • 2 nights first-class hotel accommodations in Ninh Binh
  • 2 nights first-class cruise accommodations on Halong Bay
  • 1 nights moderate overnight train accommodation
  • 2 nights first-class hotel accommodations in Sapa
  • Private-guided Half Day City Tour in Hanoi
  • Private-guided Evening Hanoi Street Food Scene Tour in Hanoi
  • Private-guided Evening Hanoi Sundowner Sojourn Tour in Hanoi
  • Shared excursions and activities onboard Halong Bay cruise
  • Private transfers/overland transportation by A/C vehicle as per itinerary
  • Private tours & experiences as per itinerary with English-speaking guide
  • Breakfast daily (excluding day 1), 5 lunches, 4 dinners


  • Travel insurance
  • International and domestic airfare 
  • Visa fees if applicable
  • Meals and beverages not mentioned
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature


Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please inquire.


12 Sep 2024
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