Caves, hiking, and adventure in Vietnam

18 days / 17 nights

Destinations: Hanói - Sapa – Bahía de Halong - Phong Nha - Hoi An - Ciudad Ho Chi Minh (Saigón)- Can Tho

Day 1: Gastronomic Hanoi (dinner)
Welcome to Vietnam! You will meet your guide at the airport and you will be taken to the hotel to cool off. At nightfall, you will make your first explorations in Hoan Kiem, the historic center of the capital, of gastronomic nature with street food. It will be a great opportunity to taste dishes as strange as they are wonderful. This culinary tour of Hanoi will start at the corner of Bia Hoi Corner, where you can taste the local beer on tap. Like the inhabitants, you will sit on a small plastic stool to sit, have a drink and contemplate the urban scene. Your guide will point out varieties of tasty noodles, breads and appetizers as you glide through the narrow streets of the old quarter. At night, the sidewalks are full of Hanoians posing in their seats, in the middle of sizzling woks and bubbling pots. These small restaurants that pop up everywhere also appear during the day. You will be installed decorating your palate with a Vietnamese barbecue of beef, chicken, tofu and vegetables on skewers. Then you will have a dessert at one of the most famous ice cream parlors in Hanoi, and return to the hotel.


Day 2: Historic Hanoi (breakfast, lunch)
You will begin your tour in the main sites and hidden treasures of Hanoi, visiting the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. This imposing building houses the remains of the venerated former president who led the campaign to liberate Vietnam from colonialism. Next, you will head towards the Temple of Literature, an ancient complex of courtyards, gardens and buildings built in honor of the Chinese scholar and scholar Confucius. Its origin dates back almost a thousand years. Then you will make a traditional Vietnamese meal at the Home Restaurant, a friendly and small establishment immersed in the peaceful surroundings of Lake Truc Bach. Its yellow walls and rustic decoration date back to the French colonial era. Then with the guide, it will slide on the 36 streets of Casco Viejo, whose names derive from the products that were originally sold there. You will go through labyrinthine streets, outside the tourist circuits, discovering the best of authentic Hanoi. You can contemplate the temples and traditional houses, listen to some historical stories about the ancient and fascinating city, and meet some residents. Your guided tour will continue with a strong Vietnamese coffee, if you feel like it, in an establishment with views over the Hoan Kiem lake, very emblematic. You will make a penultimate stop on your small island, where you will visit the Ngoc Son temple. The tour will conclude nearby with a water puppet show, a traditional scenic art, before returning to the hotel to prepare quickly. Then you will be taken to the station by the guide, to take a night train to Sapa.


Day 3: Sapa - Cat Cat - Lao Chai (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
You will meet your new companion at the hotel in Sapa in the morning, and walk south of the city to the lively town of Cat Cat. You will visit one of the least crowded areas of the region passing through its most picturesque valleys. Then you will follow a gentle slope through emerald green rice paddies, dominating the throat of a deep river. Arriving at its shores, you can relax by wetting one foot in the cold mountain waters and watching children fishing with nets. Stroll at your own pace afterwards, exploring villages and terraces of Hmong Negros, with the pleasure of contemplating one of the most beautiful panoramas that Vietnam offers. Then you will eat at a local restaurant, and continue through the valley to the Lao Chai village. You will make a well-deserved rest there, enjoying a relaxing cup of tea, and then you will learn the art of batik painting. The beautiful fabrics of the Black Hmong are famous throughout the world for their intricate patterns and embroidery. This technique of dyeing is one of their cultural traditions, threatened by modernization and worked by a handful of villagers. You will join a practical workshop led by one of these specialists, and you can even take home your own creation. He will then go to the house of Miss Moo and her family, where she will spend the night. You will be able to appreciate the sunset on the terraces of rice fields before enjoying a traditional foot bath with herbs, typical of the Black Hmong, as well as the delicious dinner. Your kind hosts will show you how they prepared it, with a hearth, and listen to them with the sounds of the valley. This way you will know the culture and lifestyle of the ethnic group.

Day 4: Muong Hoa Valley - Ta Van (breakfast, lunch)
You will get up early to enjoy the view of the rising sun over the rice terraces. After a tasty breakfast, you will bid farewell to Miss Moo and her family to walk along the Muong Hoa valley to the village of Ta Van. You will hike along an altitude road, with unforgettable views, and you will arrive at the village of the Giay ethnic group, from where you will be transferred to Sapa. You can cool off in your hotel, and then the guide will take you to the station for a scenic trip back to Hanoi.


Day 5: Hanoi - Halong Bay (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
You will leave the capital by bus and reach Halong Bay in approximately four hours. Then we will take a boat to embark Mon Cheri Cruise anchored not far from the coast. You will sail towards the confines of Bai Tu Long Bay, navigating among the impressive peaks of karstic stone rising from the waters. Then paddling in a kayak, you will see more closely these sugar loaves covered in jungle, which make the archipelago's world fame.


Day 6: Halong Bay - Hanoi (breakfast, lunch)
Climb up in a traditional rowing boat to visit the floating Vung Vieng fishing village. You will be able to observe the daily life of the locals, molded by the eternal rhythms of the sea, and then contemplate the archipelago for the last time, returning to the port. You will enjoy on board the junk of the food served, and return to the capital by road. On the way, you will stop by the Yen Duc village to attend a traditional water puppet show, an ancient art of the Red River delta. Arrival in the capital is scheduled for the end of the afternoon.


Day 7: Hanoi - Dong Hoi (breakfast)
Your guide will accompany you from the hotel to the airport. There you will take a flight to Dong Hoi, and get to Phong Nha more in the south.


Day 8: Dong Hoi - Phong Nha (breakfast, lunch)
You will leave your hotel in Phong Nha in the morning, after breakfast, to go to the village of Tan Hoa, about 70 kilometers away. Their adventures will begin with a march of two and a half kilometers through beautiful rice fields. You will reach the Rao Nan River and climb 30 meters on a rocky hill to a clearing in the jungle. Then it will continue with a descent of 100 meters to the Hung Ton valley. You will enjoy a meal at the entrance of the tocaya cave, before moving on to a slightly harder level of hiking. It will cross Mount Mango below, and will descend again to another valley, Tu Lan, about three kilometers. Once you arrive at your camp, you will continue swimming to explore the Ken cave, which is located on the site. You will end this relaxed day, having dinner with a succulent barbecue and sitting next to the campfire. Then you will sleep in a hammock in the middle of nature.


Day 9: Tu Lan - Dong Hoi (breakfast, lunch)
Your second day of intense hiking will start with a good breakfast before immersing yourself in new adventures. After exploring the wet and dry parts of the Tu Lan cave, you will return to the camp to eat. A challenge will wait for you later, difficult but pleasant. It will consist of swimming 450 meters and walking a half kilometer more through the Hang Kim cave, to reach the To Mo valley. From there, you will continue swimming through another cave, Hung Ton, to access its underground dry corridor. After another 800-meter march through the Hung Ton valley, you will climb a small rocky mountain towards Hang Chuot, affectionately dubbed the "rat cave". You will explore it for 300 meters and then the tour will be easier, crossing again the Rao Nan river and going through the picturesque fields to Tan Hoa. You can enjoy the scenery there with a cold drink, and take a real shower. You will return to Phong Nha below, arriving after dark.

Day 10: Dong Hoi - Hue (breakfast)
You will be driven to the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue. After registering at the hotel, you will have the possibility to relax and recover. You can also make your first discoveries of the city at your leisure, strolling through the surrounding streets.

Day 11: Hue (breakfast, lunch)
You will have breakfast before discovering the famous royal tombs (and the little garden houses) of the old capital, illustrious examples of their past with great dynasties. The excursion will begin with navigation down the serene Perfume River, with the pleasure of contemplating the endless vegetation of the surroundings. After the one-hour cruise, you will be taken to the tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh, where you can admire the unusual combination of traditional Chinese architecture and western modernity. Then continue the walk with the tomb of Minh Mang, a place of opulent and exotic repose, designed in an equally Chinese formal style. Then you will taste different vegetarian dishes, prepared by the nuns of the Dong Thuyen Pagoda, a temple located on the heights of a hill that offers a fantastic view. First you will observe how the food is prepared, in a frying pan with wood fire, and then you will enjoy it in the company of the pious cooks. It will be an opportunity to learn about Buddhism, or simply to meet your very kind hostesses. Next, you will go to the village of Thanh Tien, known for its paper flowers, a craft that has been practiced for 300 years. You will meet one of its inhabitants and learn how they are made, making their own decorations. Finally, you will head to the Tha Om garden house and meet with its owner, Mr. Vinh, who will tell you the story of his royal heritage. You will find out what a typical Hue residence was like in the 19th century, before returning to the hotel to enjoy your free time the rest of the night.

Day 12: Hue - Hai Van -Hoi An (breakfast, lunch)
From Hue we will continue to Hoi An, further south, taking one of the most spectacular coastal roads in Vietnam. An experienced guide will make you discover the unique dishes and aromas of the city first. The secrets of its cuisine will be revealed to you in its most famous restaurants, starting with one recognized for its "white roses", the large ravioli with shrimp that look like flowers. You will love this Hoi An exclusivity, admiring the employees who produce them, each up to 6000 units per day, and all as beautiful as the others. The program leaves the possibility of trying, you also try to make one. At the end of a small street nearby, you will leave the restaurant to take a tour of an old 250 year old mansion. You will have the opportunity to enter this traditional house of Hoi An and observe the uses and customs of its inhabitants. You can even share a meal with them, if you arrive at dinner time. You will walk around the property, chatting with your host to discover his lifestyle and his workshop. There, with his skillful hands, he devotes himself for hours to the creation of sophisticated and innovative silver jewelry. Next, you will move on to another local and popular specialty, the "banh can" crackers. People serve this street food with quail eggs, pork and a tasty salad. You can take a stool and enjoy them with your guide, also tasting the "banh mi", the bread type "baguette" of the Vietnamese. You will follow the culinary tour tasting grilled pork skewers "sate" style, and you will also visit the central market on the way. Not forgetting to taste the famous noodles "cao lau", or the also popular rice with chicken. This visit will conclude with a good typical coffee if you feel like it, the best you can expect to finish a meal.

Day 13: Hoi An (breakfast, lunch)
You will make a walking tour of this historic site, an ancient port of Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Arab merchants between the 16th and 18th centuries. It is now one of the most charming coastal cities in Vietnam, offering some of the most beautiful architecture in the country, inspired by Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese cultures. Walk on the pedestrian streets of Hoi An bordered by honey yellow buildings. Your first stop will be in the Chinese pagoda Chua Ong dating from 1653, and among whose walls floats a sweet smell of incense during the day. Then you will head to the Phuc Kien assembly hall and the Jinshang temple dedicated to the sea goddess. After passing by the old bicentennial house Tan Ky, he will pause at the Japanese Covered Bridge, which turns out to be a temple too; is undoubtedly one of the most emblematic monuments of Hoi An. He will later sit at the Reaching Out tea room, an establishment that helps people with disabilities. You will have a relaxing cup of tea before tasting a tasty meal, complemented by a cooking demonstration at a restaurant specializing in the traditional delicacies of Hoi An. You will get on a bicycle afterwards, to discover the picturesque surrounding countryside, pedaling to Cam Thanh. You will spend some time with a family from this village, learning about their lifestyle. Then, in a nearby river, you will embark on a bamboo boat-basket to visit a coconut water forest. Later, you will take another boat to return to the center of Hoi An, enjoying the fascinating scenery along the Thu Bon River. Your tour will end at sunset, with a cocktail on the roof of a bar, when the sun goes down.

Day 14: Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City (breakfast, lunch)
Your guide will take you to the airport in the morning to take a short flight to Saigon. Another companion will welcome you there, and you will be transferred to your hotel to refresh yourself. Your excursion on the history of Saigon will then begin with a visit to the Museum of the Vestiges of War. This place of memory features military aircraft, weapons and a collection of moving photographs. Your guide will remember the darkest and most tragic hours of the city during the conflict against the United States. He will then go to the Reunification Palace, the former symbol of the government of South Vietnam, named for what happened there on April 30, 1975. The war ends when a tank of the North Vietnamese army opens its doors crushing them. You can see the place where the crisis cabinet, the ceremonial room and the presidential office. Then your guide will take you to the Central Post Office of the city, whose metal structure was designed by Gustave Eiffel, and where perhaps you will use to send a postcard. Just behind is the Notre Dame cathedral, built between 1863 and 1880, another famous building in Saigon, a witness to the French past in Indochina. Then, it will walk along Dong Khoi Street, which has its importance in "The Quiet American", the famous Graham Greene novel about Vietnam. The tour will continue with the Saigon Opera, whose story is interesting because it served as a refuge against the bombs and the building for the lower house of parliament. It will end the day with a motor boat trip along the old canals, where life has not changed. You will return to the hotel when the sun is setting over the fascinating city. The tour will resume with a gastronomic touch, afterwards, strolling through the narrow streets that become bustling at night. Together with your guide, you can try some strange and wonderful meals at the same time, starting with a very original "rice paper" pizza. You will also taste some "banh beo", some fresh snails, and a Vietnamese "banh xeo" pancake. Finish the culinary tour with a dessert served in a small establishment appreciated by the inhabitants.

Day 15: Ho Chi Minh City - Can Tho (breakfast, lunch)
It will leave Saigon in the morning and will be driven for approximately two hours to Cai Be, a gateway to the Mekong delta. You will climb a small boat and sail along winding water courses, observing how life takes a very different form in your banks. It will stop at Dong Phu and An Binh, where you can visit small homemade oil factories, carpets, candies and also wine, all made from the coconut and its fruit. Then you will pass through an old French colonial mansion of more than 150 years. After a brief lunch break, you will board another boat to go to Vinh Long. Then, from this ferry port, you will take a car to Can Tho, where you will arrive at sunset.

Day 16: Can Tho - Chau Doc (breakfast, lunch)
You will get up early to sail to the Can Tho floating market. You will notice the effervescence with merchants haggling for merchandise and boats full of fruits and vegetables or household items. Next, you will be driven around three hours to Chau Doc, picturesque and sleepy village near the border between Vietnam and Cambodia. It will embark from there in a sampán, traveling by means of a series of endless rivers, flanked by mangroves and an exuberant vegetation. You will find yourself in the natural reserve of Tra Su, an ecological park that extends over 850 hectares. It is a refuge for flora and fauna, with more than 100 species of waterfowl and huge bat colonies. Going towards the forest, you will visit a small ethnic village of Khmer in which you will discover the importance of Buddhism for that community. You will have the opportunity to chat with the monks of the monastery.

Day 17: Chau Doc - Ho Chi Minh City (breakfast, lunch)
You will bid farewell to the delta and return to Saigon by car during a seven-hour scenic tour. You can stretch your legs at the numerous stops, and take pictures.

Day 18: Ho Chi Minh City (breakfast)
Your guide will meet you at the hotel and take you to the airport to take your flight.

HIGHLIGHT:

  • Immersion in the hustle and bustle of the old quarter of Hanoi.
  • Hiking through the Sapa Mountains and meeting ethnic minorities.
  • The cruise in a reed through the spectacular Halong Bay.
  • The exploration of the impressive caves and karst formations of Phong Nha.
  • The visit of the imperial city of Hue, navigating the Perfume River.
  • The walk through the streets of the beautiful and quiet Hoi An, with its waters and its lanterns. The effervescence of Ho Chi Minh City and its main monuments.
  • The slow pace of life observed from a boat in the Mekong Delta.

Tour Include

  • Accommodations carefully selected, including breakfast.
  • Other meals indicated in the program.
  • Local Spanish-speaking or English-speaking guide with experience.
  • Tours mentioned and transfers in private vehicle with air conditioning.
  • Cruises and scheduled trips.
  • All internal flights (economy class).
  • Admission expenses to the sites included in the circuit.

Tour Exclude

  • All travel insurance 
  • All services not mentioned above 
  • Tipping and personal expenses

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