Discover Vietnam’s vibrant, multi-cultural capital and cruise UNESCO-listed Halong Bay with this memorable 4-day itinerary, starting out from Hanoi. Weave your way through Hanoi’s Old Quarter on a cyclo tour, visit the Ho Chi Minh complex and browse for bargains at Dong Xuan Market, then get up close to moon bears at the Tam Dao National Park. Finally, embark on an overnight cruise around Halong Bay, stopping to swim or kayak around the islands, and sleeping onboard a traditional junk boat. This private tour includes accommodation, transport and some meals.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Please see itinerary below for schedule of activities.
Your four-day immersion in northern Vietnam takes in Hanoi’s highlights, from bustling markets to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, with time to explore the sights of Hanoi on your own. After a scenic drive further east, relax as you cruise the calm waters of Halong Bay. You have your choice of three-star or 4-star accommodation, including a night spent on board a luxury junk (type of sailing vessel)!
Day 1: Hanoi (L)
Your Hanoi highlights tour begins with pickup from your hotel for a visit to the Ho Chi Minh complex, including the former leader’s stilt home, presidential palace, museum and mausoleum. After lunch at a local Vietnamese restaurant, visit Hanoi’s bustling Dong Xuan Market, where stalls are crowded with everything from clothing and vegetables to whitegoods and live chickens. You’ll also see the 13th-century temple of Hgoc Son on its tiny island on Hoan Kiem Lake, and take a one-hour cyclo (bicycle taxi) tour through the Old Quarter’s narrow streets -- an essential Hanoi experience.
Accommodation: Authentic Hanoi Hotel (three-star) or Lan Vien Hotel (four-star)
Day 2: Hanoi Cooking Class in the morning (both 3 star and 4 star)
Spend your day at the Hanoi Cooking Centre, a restored building on the edge of the city’s famous old quarter. The owner is Tracey Lister, an experienced chef and cookbook author from Australia, and the centre is staffed by experienced Vietnamese cooks.
Begin the tour with a visit to Chau Long Market. Here you will browse hundreds of stalls, and interact with vendors selling everything from garlic to tapioca flour. Take in all the colours, sights and smells! Hanoi’s markets are world famous, and you’ll quickly see why. Part of the pleasure is discovering local herbs, vegetables and salad greens that are never sold in Western countries.
Then its aprons on and knives at the ready, as you slice and dice and to create popular Vietnamese dishes. After the class, move to the centre’s second-floor dining room to sample your efforts along with a beer or glass of wine. The best part is that you will receive detailed recipe cards to take home. Your dinner guests will be impressed!
Day 3: Hanoi – Halong (4 star)
Disembark Hanoi in the morning and head through picturesque countryside to the coastal port of Halong by shuttle bus. There you will board a traditional “junk”, a wooden boat that has seemingly been resurrected from a foregone era. The boat will cruise into the archipelago of Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site composed of nearly 2,000 islands and limestone pillars that emerge dramatically from the emerald green waters of the bay.
Admire the endless islands and jungle-clad limestone pillars as you sit down to a delicious lunch and a cruise briefing. In the afternoon, explore one of Halong's most impressive caves, Sung Sot grotto, or head to Titov beach to swim in the shadow of the spectacular karst mountains. There is plenty of time to relax on the junk's sun deck, take advantage of the Spa services and sip a cocktail or two (on your own expenses), before a cooking demonstration in the evening. Learn to create a traditional Vietnamese dish with the boat's own chef and try even more during the set menu dinner. Later, take the opportunity to try your hand at squid fishing before the day is done!
* Your transfer is with a driver only, who may have limited English skills. Should you need any assistance please ask the driver to call the office.
* Kayak could be booked in advance at reception with extra cost.
Day 4: Halong – Hanoi (4 star)
Wake early to start your day with Tai Chi on the sundeck, as the sun rises over the bay. After a light breakfast, exchange the junk boat for a traditional row boat to visit the Cua Van Fishing village and meet some Halong Bay locals. Enjoy a final extravagant brunch before sailing back to the harbour, where you will continue to on Hanoi.
Please note: Itinerary subject to change or cancellation due to weather conditions.