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Undiscovered Vietnam Private Adventure

Trip Length 12 days

From $3,295

  • Explore hill tribe villages, hike, and kayak in undiscovered Ba Be National Park—far from the crowds!
  • Enjoy four days of expeditionary sea kayaking in the far reaches of Halong Bay
  • Immerse yourself in a fantastic mix of culture, activity, interactions with locals, on this exciting adventure in undiscovered Vietnam

This incredible cross-cultural adventure combines our love of sea kayaking with enriching encounters with tribal ethnic minorities in the region of Ba Be National Park, one of Vietnam's undiscovered jewels. Besides enjoying the rich natural heritage of the park's thunderous waterfalls, rivers, and serene lakes, you'll hike to Tay and Dao hill tribe villages, visit markets, and experience a village home stay. You'll then head to legend-bound Halong Bay, where strange and fanciful legends abound. Kayak through rocky islets, created by dragons of legend, and discover secret passages to hidden lagoons and magnificent sea caves. This is a true expeditionary-style adventure!

Day 1: Hanoi

NOTE-Depending on your air schedule, most flights from the U.S. require two to three days of travel and an overnight en route (you arrive in Hanoi either on the second or third day). More specific details will be sent to you in your pre-trip packet of information. We encourage you to arrive a day early in Hanoi to explore this fascinating city, or to help overcome jet lag before the tour actually starts. We'd be happy to make additional hotel reservations if requested. Additional costs will be reflected on your invoice.

Arrive in Hanoi in the afternoon. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel for a rest after your long journey. The remainder of the day is free to rest, relax, or explore on your own. Hanoi, the up-and-coming capital of the new Vietnam, is a picturesque city of more than three million people. Its tree-shaded streets are filled with lovely examples of French colonial architecture. Our hotel is situated on one of the narrow bustling streets of the ancient commercial quarter. As we walk the streets we will be transported back in time. We'll be swept away by the scenes in the marketplaces, family life in the street, commerce, and a mixture of old and new technologies. In the evening we'll enjoy a "welcome" dinner at Seasons restaurant where we will begin our exploration of the culinary delicacies of Vietnam and have our trip orientation.

  • Dinner
  • Accommodation:Chalcedony Hotel

Day 2: Hanoi

This morning depart your hotel for Hanoi’s Old Quarter also known as the ‘36 streets.’ Take a walking tour around Hoan Kiem Lake. Stop at Ngoc Son temple. This bustling area of narrow streets and alleys is home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. It's a great place to explore with plenty of photo opportunities all around you. Continue to the Temple of Literature. In 1076 Quoc Tu Giam - Vietnam's first university, also referred to as Van Mieu, was established within a temple to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years and its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past.

Continue to the nearby mausoleum of the historic figure and father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh (viewed from outside), and visit the former president’s house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. His former home illustrates the modesty of this Vietnamese revolutionary. Visit the small but iconic One Pillar pagoda before heading back to your hotel.

Time permitting, or as an alternative to one of the above, visit the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum (closed on Mondays).  The museum is located near Hoan Kiem Lake and offers wonderful insight into the lives of Vietnamese women.  Displays highlight Vietnam’s vast cultural diversity and educate on the significant role Vietnamese women play in Vietnamese society. Learn historic and modern-day traditions centered around births, weddings, motherhood, spirituality and more.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Chalcedony Hotel

Day 3: Hanoi - Tuyen Quang

In the morning, we drive 4 - 5 hours to Tuyen Quang to visit and stay in an organic farm. Green Vietnam Farm is eleven organic fruit and vegetable farms spread over 55 hectares (136 acres), with humanely-raised, free-range ducks, Muscovy ducks, chickens and pot-belly/wild pigs, as well as fish. Upon arrival, we will explore the expansive farm and its fruit trees, vegetable gardens, ducks, chickens and fish. Experience and taste firsthand the exotic flavors that make Vietnamese cuisine so well known.

(Approximately 1.5 hours walking; 4-5 hours driving)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Green Vietnam Farm

Day 4: Tuyen Quang - Ba Be National Park

In the morning, drive to Ba Be National Park, situated in Bac Kan province of northern Vietnam.  Ba Be, a relic of natural lower mountain forests that once covered all the mountain ranges north of the Red River Delta, covers an area of some 90 square miles, of which more than half is strictly protected and the remainder is in a forest restoration zone. The park’s densely forested area is a refuge for unique flora and fauna (410 plant species and 300 wildlife species), and surrounds the only natural lake in Vietnam (it is actually three linked lakes). The area is home to Tay, Hmong, Dao, and Nung ethnic groups, who have lived on the shores of the lake and in the surrounding mountains for hundreds of years.

We’ll arrive and cross the lake by boat to a Tay village where we stay with a local family in a wooden stilt house on the edge of the lake. Here you’ll have the unique opportunity to interact with a family over a series of several days and observe how they live.  Our homestay is extremely basic with simple mattresses for sleeping and shared toilets.

(1-2 hours trekking)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Homestay

Day 5: Ba Be - Dau Dang Waterfall

After breakfast, we will take a short walk to the boat pier and then enjoy the whole morning on the boat to explore Ba Be Lake and National Park, including Dau Dang Waterfall. We descend into a scenic valley, home of the Tay minority people and encircled by rock formations. The scenery is extraordinary, with rural farmland and rugged mountains jutting out of the tangled jungle growth.  Lunch will be provided in a simple local restaurant.  Our homestay is extremely basic with simple mattresses for sleeping and shared toilets.

 (2-3 hours trekking up to 6-8 hours trekking--your choice)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Homestay

Day 6: Ba Be - Hanoi

We stroll along the riverfront, visit some lovely villages and hike the upper reaches of the lake, in an area marked by massive limestone cliffs and mountains. Then take a boat trip to Buoc Lom and visit Puong Cave on the way. Car transfer back to Hanoi

(1-2 hours trekking. 7 hours transfer)

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Chalcedony Hotel

Day 7: Hanoi - Ninh Binh

Depart your hotel early morning for the 2-hour drive through rural northern Vietnam to the site of Vietnam's first capital, Hoa Lu. Visit the temples dedicated to Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang of the Dinh Dynasty (968-80), and Emperor Le Dai Hanh of the Le Dynasty (980-1009). The ancient Hoa Lu Citadel, most of which has since been destroyed, once covered an area of three square kilometers.

Start biking from Hoa Lu to Tam Coc. We will visit local villages, rice fields and many beautiful limestone mountains on the way. The cycling is easy as the path is quite flat and the distance short. Have lunch at a local restaurant in Tam Coc.

After lunch drive to Trang An, a nature reserve similar to Tam Coc, but less visited. Limestone hills surround a peaceful river which passes through a series of caves (one which takes 15-minutes to pass through ). Take a three-hour boat trip through dozens of limestone grottoes and enjoy the beautiful, scenic mountain ranges, valleys, caves and rivers. The only interruptions here are the sound of birds and the gentle paddle of the oars on the crystal clear river.  In the late afternoon, return to our hotel in Tam Coc

(Driving:  approximately 2 hours; biking:  7 - 9 mile easy ride)

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Tam Coc Rice Field

Day 8: Ninh Binh - Halong Bay

Depart early this morning for the 3.5-hour drive to Halong Bay. Journey there through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta, observe everyday life of Vietnamese villagers as they work the rice fields, take pigs to the market on motorbikes and plough the fields with their water buffalo. After three hours we come to Halong Bay, where the silhouettes of endless limestone formations beckon us to begin the second part of our adventure.

Here we’ll board our support vessel, a traditional wooden boat or “junk.” Present day junks are based on the ancient style of Chinese sail boats. Originally working vessels built for oceanic commerce, dominating maritime trade from Singapore to Korea for hundreds of years, today they are more commonly retrofitted or designed specifically for use as luxury yachts for both personal use and tourism. Have lunch while cruising in the magnificent Bai Tu Long Bay, admiring the fascinating rock formations in the bay. Cruise to Cap La. Enjoy paddling around Cap La and Tra San by kayak.

In the late afternoon, return to the junk for swimming or relaxation.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Boat accommodation

Days 9-10: Halong Bay

After a kayak lesson, you'll venture out into one of the most scenic areas of Halong Bay. We visit spectacular beaches sheltered by imposing limestone towers, and on the first day encounter fishing families in a "floating village." These are true boat people, spending their lives in the narrow confines of their small vessels. They still practice an ancient cult of worshipping creatures of the sea, and we may be invited to share in their ceremonies at the temple. We also visit the three tunnel lakes, a series of limestone lagoons accessible only by small boats when the tide is right.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Boat accommodation

Day 11: Halong Bay - Hanoi

After the morning onboard, we cruise towards the harbor while an a la carte lunch is served. We say farewell to our boat crew and transfer back to Hanoi making a stopover at Bat Trang pottery village en route. In Bat Trang, village life centers on ceramics. We’ll also visit a ceramic factory and the home of a famous artist, and pass by stands of old women selling betel nut.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Chalcedony Hotel

Day 12: Depart for home

Transfer to airport for departure on homeward-bound flight. (NOTE—some air schedules permit arrival home on this day.)

  • Breakfast

Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availability. Call us for details.

pricing

2016 / 2017 Prices

$3,295 per person (4 or more passengers)
$4,095 per person (2-3 passengers)
$850 single supplement (2016) and $1,000 single supplement (2017)
$5,895 solo traveler

Rates quoted are per person, based on sharing double accommodations (except "solo traveler" cost).

If you prefer single accommodations, you must pay the Single Supplement Fee.

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Boat accommodation

Chalcedony Hotel — Hanoi


Green Vietnam Farm — Tuyen Quang

The Green Vietnam Ecolodge is a very special place with comfortable accommodations and an unwavering commitment to responsible tourism. The organically designed bungalows compliment the gardens and orchards which are engulfed by rolling hills. Guests enjoy the luxury of traditionally prepared Vietnamese cuisine with fresh, farm-grown ingredients and friendly service. There are plenty of activities around the property such as swimming, boating, fishing, mountain biking. In search of something more relaxing? Many guests simply relish the tranquility of the property, relaxing and enjoying the sights and sounds of the bountiful natural environment.

Homestay


Tam Coc Rice Field — Tam Coc

Nestled within the hills and rice fields of Ninh Binh Province, the Tam Coc Resort is a beautiful place to stay with first class accommodations and scenery. This property is clean and peaceful, making it a perfect place to relax with modern comforts amidst incredible surroundings. The resort draws wonderful reviews from its marvelous gardens and lovely bamboo houses, which allow the traveler to feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of urban areas. The Tam Coc Rice Fields Resort is sure to be a memorable and relaxing stop on your journey through Vietnam with mouthwatering cuisine, comfortable rooms, mountain views, and easy access to the Bich Dong Pagoda and Thai Vi Temple

  • Explore hill tribe villages, hike, and kayak in undiscovered Ba Be National Park—far from the crowds!
  • Enjoy four days of expeditionary sea kayaking in the far reaches of Halong Bay
  • Immerse yourself in a fantastic mix of culture, activity, interactions with locals, on this exciting adventure in undiscovered Vietnam

This incredible cross-cultural adventure combines our love of sea kayaking with enriching encounters with tribal ethnic minorities in the region of Ba Be National Park, one of Vietnam's undiscovered jewels. Besides enjoying the rich natural heritage of the park's thunderous waterfalls, rivers, and serene lakes, you'll hike to Tay and Dao hill tribe villages, visit markets, and experience a village home stay. You'll then head to legend-bound Halong Bay, where strange and fanciful legends abound. Kayak through rocky islets, created by dragons of legend, and discover secret passages to hidden lagoons and magnificent sea caves. This is a true expeditionary-style adventure!

DAILY itinerary

Day 1: Hanoi

NOTE-Depending on your air schedule, most flights from the U.S. require two to three days of travel and an overnight en route (you arrive in Hanoi either on the second or third day). More specific details will be sent to you in your pre-trip packet of information. We encourage you to arrive a day early in Hanoi to explore this fascinating city, or to help overcome jet lag before the tour actually starts. We'd be happy to make additional hotel reservations if requested. Additional costs will be reflected on your invoice.

Arrive in Hanoi in the afternoon. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel for a rest after your long journey. The remainder of the day is free to rest, relax, or explore on your own. Hanoi, the up-and-coming capital of the new Vietnam, is a picturesque city of more than three million people. Its tree-shaded streets are filled with lovely examples of French colonial architecture. Our hotel is situated on one of the narrow bustling streets of the ancient commercial quarter. As we walk the streets we will be transported back in time. We'll be swept away by the scenes in the marketplaces, family life in the street, commerce, and a mixture of old and new technologies. In the evening we'll enjoy a "welcome" dinner at Seasons restaurant where we will begin our exploration of the culinary delicacies of Vietnam and have our trip orientation.

  • Dinner
  • Accommodation:Chalcedony Hotel

Day 2: Hanoi

This morning depart your hotel for Hanoi’s Old Quarter also known as the ‘36 streets.’ Take a walking tour around Hoan Kiem Lake. Stop at Ngoc Son temple. This bustling area of narrow streets and alleys is home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. It's a great place to explore with plenty of photo opportunities all around you. Continue to the Temple of Literature. In 1076 Quoc Tu Giam - Vietnam's first university, also referred to as Van Mieu, was established within a temple to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years and its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past.

Continue to the nearby mausoleum of the historic figure and father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh (viewed from outside), and visit the former president’s house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. His former home illustrates the modesty of this Vietnamese revolutionary. Visit the small but iconic One Pillar pagoda before heading back to your hotel.

Time permitting, or as an alternative to one of the above, visit the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum (closed on Mondays).  The museum is located near Hoan Kiem Lake and offers wonderful insight into the lives of Vietnamese women.  Displays highlight Vietnam’s vast cultural diversity and educate on the significant role Vietnamese women play in Vietnamese society. Learn historic and modern-day traditions centered around births, weddings, motherhood, spirituality and more.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Chalcedony Hotel

Day 3: Hanoi - Tuyen Quang

In the morning, we drive 4 - 5 hours to Tuyen Quang to visit and stay in an organic farm. Green Vietnam Farm is eleven organic fruit and vegetable farms spread over 55 hectares (136 acres), with humanely-raised, free-range ducks, Muscovy ducks, chickens and pot-belly/wild pigs, as well as fish. Upon arrival, we will explore the expansive farm and its fruit trees, vegetable gardens, ducks, chickens and fish. Experience and taste firsthand the exotic flavors that make Vietnamese cuisine so well known.

(Approximately 1.5 hours walking; 4-5 hours driving)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Green Vietnam Farm

Day 4: Tuyen Quang - Ba Be National Park

In the morning, drive to Ba Be National Park, situated in Bac Kan province of northern Vietnam.  Ba Be, a relic of natural lower mountain forests that once covered all the mountain ranges north of the Red River Delta, covers an area of some 90 square miles, of which more than half is strictly protected and the remainder is in a forest restoration zone. The park’s densely forested area is a refuge for unique flora and fauna (410 plant species and 300 wildlife species), and surrounds the only natural lake in Vietnam (it is actually three linked lakes). The area is home to Tay, Hmong, Dao, and Nung ethnic groups, who have lived on the shores of the lake and in the surrounding mountains for hundreds of years.

We’ll arrive and cross the lake by boat to a Tay village where we stay with a local family in a wooden stilt house on the edge of the lake. Here you’ll have the unique opportunity to interact with a family over a series of several days and observe how they live.  Our homestay is extremely basic with simple mattresses for sleeping and shared toilets.

(1-2 hours trekking)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Homestay

Day 5: Ba Be - Dau Dang Waterfall

After breakfast, we will take a short walk to the boat pier and then enjoy the whole morning on the boat to explore Ba Be Lake and National Park, including Dau Dang Waterfall. We descend into a scenic valley, home of the Tay minority people and encircled by rock formations. The scenery is extraordinary, with rural farmland and rugged mountains jutting out of the tangled jungle growth.  Lunch will be provided in a simple local restaurant.  Our homestay is extremely basic with simple mattresses for sleeping and shared toilets.

 (2-3 hours trekking up to 6-8 hours trekking--your choice)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Homestay

Day 6: Ba Be - Hanoi

We stroll along the riverfront, visit some lovely villages and hike the upper reaches of the lake, in an area marked by massive limestone cliffs and mountains. Then take a boat trip to Buoc Lom and visit Puong Cave on the way. Car transfer back to Hanoi

(1-2 hours trekking. 7 hours transfer)

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Chalcedony Hotel

Day 7: Hanoi - Ninh Binh

Depart your hotel early morning for the 2-hour drive through rural northern Vietnam to the site of Vietnam's first capital, Hoa Lu. Visit the temples dedicated to Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang of the Dinh Dynasty (968-80), and Emperor Le Dai Hanh of the Le Dynasty (980-1009). The ancient Hoa Lu Citadel, most of which has since been destroyed, once covered an area of three square kilometers.

Start biking from Hoa Lu to Tam Coc. We will visit local villages, rice fields and many beautiful limestone mountains on the way. The cycling is easy as the path is quite flat and the distance short. Have lunch at a local restaurant in Tam Coc.

After lunch drive to Trang An, a nature reserve similar to Tam Coc, but less visited. Limestone hills surround a peaceful river which passes through a series of caves (one which takes 15-minutes to pass through ). Take a three-hour boat trip through dozens of limestone grottoes and enjoy the beautiful, scenic mountain ranges, valleys, caves and rivers. The only interruptions here are the sound of birds and the gentle paddle of the oars on the crystal clear river.  In the late afternoon, return to our hotel in Tam Coc

(Driving:  approximately 2 hours; biking:  7 - 9 mile easy ride)

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Tam Coc Rice Field

Day 8: Ninh Binh - Halong Bay

Depart early this morning for the 3.5-hour drive to Halong Bay. Journey there through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta, observe everyday life of Vietnamese villagers as they work the rice fields, take pigs to the market on motorbikes and plough the fields with their water buffalo. After three hours we come to Halong Bay, where the silhouettes of endless limestone formations beckon us to begin the second part of our adventure.

Here we’ll board our support vessel, a traditional wooden boat or “junk.” Present day junks are based on the ancient style of Chinese sail boats. Originally working vessels built for oceanic commerce, dominating maritime trade from Singapore to Korea for hundreds of years, today they are more commonly retrofitted or designed specifically for use as luxury yachts for both personal use and tourism. Have lunch while cruising in the magnificent Bai Tu Long Bay, admiring the fascinating rock formations in the bay. Cruise to Cap La. Enjoy paddling around Cap La and Tra San by kayak.

In the late afternoon, return to the junk for swimming or relaxation.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Boat accommodation

Days 9-10: Halong Bay

After a kayak lesson, you'll venture out into one of the most scenic areas of Halong Bay. We visit spectacular beaches sheltered by imposing limestone towers, and on the first day encounter fishing families in a "floating village." These are true boat people, spending their lives in the narrow confines of their small vessels. They still practice an ancient cult of worshipping creatures of the sea, and we may be invited to share in their ceremonies at the temple. We also visit the three tunnel lakes, a series of limestone lagoons accessible only by small boats when the tide is right.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Boat accommodation

Day 11: Halong Bay - Hanoi

After the morning onboard, we cruise towards the harbor while an a la carte lunch is served. We say farewell to our boat crew and transfer back to Hanoi making a stopover at Bat Trang pottery village en route. In Bat Trang, village life centers on ceramics. We’ll also visit a ceramic factory and the home of a famous artist, and pass by stands of old women selling betel nut.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Chalcedony Hotel

Day 12: Depart for home

Transfer to airport for departure on homeward-bound flight. (NOTE—some air schedules permit arrival home on this day.)

  • Breakfast
lodgings

Boat accommodation

Chalcedony Hotel — Hanoi


Green Vietnam Farm — Tuyen Quang

The Green Vietnam Ecolodge is a very special place with comfortable accommodations and an unwavering commitment to responsible tourism. The organically designed bungalows compliment the gardens and orchards which are engulfed by rolling hills. Guests enjoy the luxury of traditionally prepared Vietnamese cuisine with fresh, farm-grown ingredients and friendly service. There are plenty of activities around the property such as swimming, boating, fishing, mountain biking. In search of something more relaxing? Many guests simply relish the tranquility of the property, relaxing and enjoying the sights and sounds of the bountiful natural environment.

Homestay


Tam Coc Rice Field — Tam Coc

Nestled within the hills and rice fields of Ninh Binh Province, the Tam Coc Resort is a beautiful place to stay with first class accommodations and scenery. This property is clean and peaceful, making it a perfect place to relax with modern comforts amidst incredible surroundings. The resort draws wonderful reviews from its marvelous gardens and lovely bamboo houses, which allow the traveler to feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of urban areas. The Tam Coc Rice Fields Resort is sure to be a memorable and relaxing stop on your journey through Vietnam with mouthwatering cuisine, comfortable rooms, mountain views, and easy access to the Bich Dong Pagoda and Thai Vi Temple

Dates and Pricing

Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availability. Call us for details.

pricing

2016 / 2017 Prices

$3,295 per person (4 or more passengers)
$4,095 per person (2-3 passengers)
$850 single supplement (2016) and $1,000 single supplement (2017)
$5,895 solo traveler

Rates quoted are per person, based on sharing double accommodations (except "solo traveler" cost).

If you prefer single accommodations, you must pay the Single Supplement Fee.

Activity Level Moderate
Trip Length 12 days

From $3,295

Interested in this adventure? Take the next step and book it!

Got questions?

Call us at 1-888-831-7526
or click here!

Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure

Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure