The Hanoi Tam Coc Mai Chau Sapa Halong Bay Vietnam 8 Day Itinerary includes easy outdoor activities that can be suitable for children, parents, senior people – walking, hiking, river boat trip, countryside cycle, boat cruise, sea kayaking. Highlights of the tour are day tour in Hanoi, boat cruise in Tam Coc, hike in Mai Chau, visit Cao Son market, trek in Sapa, boat cruise Halong bay, cyclo ride in Hanoi. The tour is highly recommended to small group family holidays, couples and those seeking a real life experience.
Vietnam 8 Day Itinerary
DAY 1: HANOI – TAM COC (NINH BINH)
Depart for Ninh Binh. Visit the two remaining sanctuaries of the ancient citadel of Dinh & Le in Hoa Lu. Travel to Tam Coc where we will have lunch before taking a 2-hour boat trip along the Boi river. The river trip in Thung Nang is wonderful for photo hunters, especially when local people come to harvest the water rice planted along the river, or when they transplant some seedling for the next crops. After the boat trip, enjoy a half hour easy cycle around Tam Coc before checking-in hotel for overnight.
DAY 2: TAM COC – MAI CHAU
Transfer to Kenh Ga – “The Chicken Canal” for another boat trip along the Hoang Long river to experience the real life of a Vietnamese catholic community. Set on the banks of the Hoang Long River, Kenh Ga is a remarkable place, not only because it is surrounded by the same massive rocks that dominate Hoa Lu, but also because for most of the year the entire community lives on the water itself. The floating village of Kenh Ga receives relatively few visitors compared to nearby Hoa Lu and the peoples’ aquatic way of life has changed little over the centuries. After the boat trip, continue our journey to Mai Chau valley where we stop for overnight. In the evening, assist to the traditional music and dance show which is performed by the Thai young girls and boys who all come from the village. Try also some rice alcohol which is made of traditional plants and local sticky rice. Overnight in a stilt-house.
DAY 3: MAI CHAU – HANOI – LAO CAI
Breakfast will be provided in a Thai stilt house. Then we leave the village for a half day walking around. We will pass many different Thai hamlets, through rice fields, hill sides…We will stop by some local houses to talk with local people to understand their customs and culture. After lunch, we will take our journey back to Hanoi. Enjoy one-hour body massage in one of the most luxury spa salon in town before take the overnight train to Lao Cai. Overnight on board train.
DAY 4: LAO CAI – CAO SON
Arrive in Lao Cai Railway station early this morning. You will be welcome by our local guide, driver then transferred to a local restaurant in Lao Cai city for breakfast and short rest before proceeding to Cao Son region. Stop en route for photos. You will join the Cao Son trekking stream of people from Lung Khau Nhin and some nearby villages heading to Cao Son. Free to discover the market with our tour guide. Heading for the lunch in Cao Son Ecolodge. In the afternoon, visit the primitive forest in La Pan Tan commune. Back to the Lodge for dinner and overnight.
DAY 5: CAO SON – SAPA
After breakfast, transfer to Sapa. We will arrive in Sapa around noon. Check-in hotel and have your lunch in a local restaurant in town. In the afternoon, there will be a walking tour to a H’mong hill tribe village of Ma Tra (or Cat Cat). As we walk to the villages nestled in the valley below Sapa, we will meet some of the local people on their way to and from Sapa. Here we have the opportunity to share cultural experiences with the families that live in the area. Overnight in Sapa.
DAY 6: SAPA – LAO CAI – HANOI
After breakfast, we will travel by car downhill to Mong Sen where we start a dirt trail through rice fields and villages. Enjoy spectacular view along the way. Your picnic lunch will be provided on spot. After lunch, we continue our trek downhill towards Taphin village inhabited by Red Dao and Black Hmong minorities. These are two largest ethnic groups living in Sapa area. Stop by some house to meet local people and talk with them to understand their culture, customs and traditions. Late afternoon, we will trek back to to main road to get on our vehicle for the journey to Laocai railways station. Day use will be provided in a standard hotel before taking the overnight train back to Hanoi. Overnight on board train.
DAY 7: HANOI – HALONG BAY
Arrive in Hanoi early this morning, transfer to the Morning Flower Market for a short visit before departing to Halong Bay. Breakfast will be provided in a local restaurant en route. Enjoy the journey through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta and the scenery of rice fields, water buffalo and everyday Vietnamese village life. Arrive in Halong and board the Bai Tho traditional sailing junk (or similar junk). Whilst cruising the exquisite waters sample the regions fresh seafood. Visit the recently discovered Surprise Grotto with its great views, and on the next island see the yawning mouth of Bo Nau Cave. Alternatively journey to Dau Go Cave and nearby see the famous stalagmites and stalactites of Thien Cung Cave. Enjoy a swim in the emerald waters of Halong Bay at any spot that you wish to visit or take a kayaking tour to explore the Bay (optional). Watch the sun set over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner. Overnight on board junk.
DAY 8: HALONG BAY – HANOI
Wake up to fresh coffee and a wholesome breakfast before cruising back to Halong City. Disembark at the dock at Halong City at 11:00 and travel back to Hanoi.
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Occasionally our tour itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travelers’ comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the service proposal. It’s very important that you print and review a final copy of your itinerary a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact us. We are here to help you!
Please note that while we operate successful trips in Vietnam throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.
Our trekking tours can be classified into three levels
There are about 8 – 10K to walk on flat roads. No previous experience is necessary. Anyone in good health and fit enough to perform an occasional hike can take an easy level trek. Vietnam easy walks are provided in Hanoi, Bac Giang, Mai Chau, Ngoc Son Ngo Luong…
There are about 10 – 15K to hike on flat and hilly roads. At this point too, no special background is required. Hikers accustomed to trekking in hilly areas of Mai Chau, Pu Luong or Lai Chau, Yen Bai successfully accomplish our treks “moderate”, provided they are in good health and to have a correct fit. These treks are moderate or easy hikes with an average duration or shorter but more difficult steps.
There are about 16 – 23K to trek on uphill/downhill dirty, rocky trails. Physical fitness is very important for these treks and you may have to lead you home before the trek. Most treks in this level are comparable with long rides in the Fansipan mountain or the the mountainous region of Ha Giang, Cao Bang, sometimes higher altitudes. The climate and isolation can also participate in difficulty. Prior trek experience is preferable but not vital if you have confidence in your fitness.
Our trip cost usually includes the following services. Please bear in mind Lotussia Travel is specialized in tailor-made trips. Trip cost vary depending on group size and other details.
- Car transfers
- Local tour guide. The English-Speaking guide is provided by default. Other language may be available upon request (with extra charge).
- Local porter(s)
- Sightseeing entrance fees.
- Bottled water.
Unless required most of the following services are usually not included in our tour price.
- Visa (required)
- Flight/Train tickets.
- Accommodation pre/post trip.
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses
Our tour guides speak English or French. They hold a university degree in tourism and national license as a guide. If you wish to send a tour leader along with any group, he or she can fully rely on the knowledge and experience of our local guides.
Remote treks are always accompanied by a local representative to deal with permits and authorities and manage the porter team. They speak the local dialects, know the cultural traditions and give tips on suggested behavior in fragile ecological areas and tribal communities. For some itineraries, the role of tour leader and representative is combined.
When to hike
The north Vietnam experiences two distinct seasons; winter and summer. Winter is cool, dry and lasts from November to April. Temperatures range between 15 to 25°C during the day and 0 to 10°C during the night. With little rain, the winter season offers the most pleasant weather conditions for trekking in Vietnam. Read more about Vietnam weather.
During all trekking tours we may use local porters to carry your luggage as well as our trekking equipment, where required. To generate local income we employ local villagers for this task. Participants will have their own porter, carrying trekking equipment and luggage to a maximum of 15 kg per client. Travelers only have to carry their day packs. Read more how to pack
Depending on the nature of the tour, journeys will be accompanied by an air-conditioned car/minibus cover the larger overland sections.
Campsites and lodges are not common in Vietnam, instead we make use of homestays; staying the night in tribal villages along the way. Facilities are clean, but very basic. Travelers share a bamboo-slat floor, separated by curtains. Animals usually sleep under the house and restrooms and showers are often absent. Water sources are available outside. Mattresses, blankets and mosquito nets are taken care of.
Over the years Lotussia Travel has established a number of projects to upgrade home stay accommodation into a bit more comfort. Basic facilities aside, spending the night in a tribal village and enjoying a meal with the locals brings travellers unforgettable cross-cultural experiences. In the past 15 years of organizing trekking by this way, we never received a complaint.
During all treks meals will be arranged on the spot, in local restaurants and at home in local villages along the way. The meals are prepared by our cooks, the local guide or by the local host. Our cooks are well trained to prepare and serve food hygienically and they cook a variety of local delicacies. Sometimes this may include the slaughter of a chicken, duck or pig. We sometimes have the chance to bring western food, and snacks from Hanoi for breakfast and picnics along the way, and coffee and tea are available in abundance. Our cooks make a special effort to provide as much variety as possible. The porters give necessary assistance on the spot.
There are many shops and villages that have bottled water for sale. On remote trekking tours, we buy a sufficient supply of water for the next couple of days. We recommend bringing some water purifying tablets.
Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for travelling in Vietnam. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat is a good idea in the rainy season. During the winter months warm clothing is needed for visiting the north of Vietnam. Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting religious buildings such as pagoda, temple, communal house and shoes should be removed before entering a private home.
What you take will naturally depend upon where you are travelling and the style of journey you are undertaking, and it can often be difficult to decide what to pack. Nevertheless, the following should act as a useful checklist of essential items worth thinking about taking.
- 1 medium-sized backpack.
- Comfortable walking shoes with good grip
- 1 long (easy to dry) pants and 1 long sleeved shirt to wear during the trek (easy to dry).
- 1 pair of flip flop (sandals).
- 1 pair of shorts and T-shirt to wear at camp site (2 if you do 4-day trek).
- 1 medium-sized towel.
- 1 medium-sized dry bag.
- Hiking poles/walking sticks
We strongly believe that Responsible Tourism can support to local communities: proving incomes,positive cultural exchanges and an incentive to protect natural environment. We recognize that there is always space for improvement. We continually strive to narrow the gap between principle and practice.
We have been turning environmentally responsible tourism into practices to minimize tourist impact upon the local habitat. From biodegradable soaps to re – usable water containers, we provide clients with the best information and mean to help them identify and implement effective ways to positive protect local nature and communities. It is a vital criteria that can be passed on and abided by all, long after the trip ended.
Prior to our tours, we contact and work with local community leaders to make sure we are welcome and in a manner that minimizes negative social and cultural impacts. We visit local development and community projects specific to the region, encouraging customers to donate and assist such a projects in appropriate and sustainable manner.
Where make sure that where and whenever possible our tours positively benefit the local community. We stayed at locally owned accommodation and visit cottage industries for local handicraft souvenir, generating income for local business. We often employ, hire support team such as local guide, motor-taxi drivers, cook assistants on all trips to ensure that the local community benefit not only short term but with increased employment opportunities for the future.