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Spectacular Northern Vietnam Tour

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Trip length: 9 days | Trip code: HLVNT06

Trip Style: Comfort | Physical Rating: 3/5Trip Price: Upon request

Places visited: Hanoi, Mai Chau, Pu Luong, Ninh Binh, Halong Bay, Yen Tu


Day 01: Hanoi arrival  

Day 02: Hanoi City tour & backstreet ride

Day 03: Hanoi – Mai Chau - Pu Luong nature discovery – bamboo rafting

Day 04: Pu Luong Authentic hiking   

Day 05: Pu Luong - The Stream of “Holy Fish” – Ninh Binh – Tam Coc boat trip

Day 06: Ninh Binh - Halong Bay cruising, boat row (joined tour)  

Day 07: Halong Bay – Sunworld  Complex -  Yen Tu Mountain

Day 08: Sacred Yen Tu Mountain by cable car 

Day 09: Yen Tu morning relaxing, Check out at noon and drive back to Hanoi 

Day 10: Hanoi departure


map showing the itinerary of Spectacular Northern Vietnam Tour


Day 01: Hanoi arrival

Hanoi city
Ho Chi Minh Masoleum

Xin chao Hanoi...
Tour guide will pick you up at the airport and escort you to your hotel in Hanoi.
The journey to downtown Hanoi will span approximately 40 minutes.
Rest for the night in a hotel in Hanoi.

Inclusions: Private airport transfer & driver, hotel in Hanoi

Day 02: Hanoi City – highlights and backstreets

long bien bridge in Hanoi
hanoi city tour

Commence your day with a delightful breakfast at the hotel. Then start a tour of Hanoi's prominent landmarks.


At 08:30 AM, explore Hanoi's featured sights, including the memorial complex dedicated to the historic figure and father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh. Visit the Presidential palace, Uncle Ho's house on stilts, One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature (Vietnam's first university built in 1076), and the Hoa Lo prison museum.

Have lunch at a local restaurant.

Post-lunch, return to the hotel for some relaxation and a change into comfortable clothes in preparation for the afternoon motorcycling tour.


From 3:00 PM until the evening, continue the Hanoi City tour on a vintage Minsk Motorcycle.
Explore the REAL HANOI with day-in-the-life experiences, delving into the unknown parts of the city. Navigate through backstreets, tiny alleyways, local homes, schools, random markets, and the black market, immersing yourself in where and how locals live, work, and play. While other travel companies showcase only the beauty and advise you to avoid the less savory aspects of your destinations, our backstreet journeys reveal the authentic, including the good, the bad, and the quirky. For us, the typical tourist sites are merely the tip of the iceberg; the majority of your destinations remain concealed in the unknown.

Overnight in the hotel in Hanoi.

Inclusions: Private Van & vintage Minsk Motorcycle, Hanoi sightseeing, walking, riding motorcycle (sit at the back of your guide), Breakfast, hotel in Hanoi

Day 03: Hanoi – Mai Chau valley - Pu Luong water wheels 

Mai chau
Mai Chau country side

​At 8:30 AM, after breakfast at the hotel, launch a journey to Mai Chau. The scenic drive takes you through the enchanting Hoa Binh Province, nestled in the mountainous southeast region of Hanoi. The landscape is adorned with limestone karsts, and the area is inhabited by Thai, Hmong, and Dao hill tribes. Along the way, you'll pass through ancient villages, each offering a glimpse into the diverse local cultures.


Descend the final 14 kilometers along a steep mountain road, revealing the breathtaking valley of Mai Chau. Start a walk from Poom Coong village to Lac village, where a delectable hot lunch awaits in one of the charming villages.


After lunch, transfer to a suspension bridge over the Cham River, marking the starting point of your walk to discover captivating water wheels. Explore each wheel closely, unraveling the ingenious mechanisms that transport water from the river to handmade bamboo aqueducts through a variety of simple constructions.


Upon reaching a local fisherman's house, take a brief rest before gearing up for a bamboo river rafting adventure with a local team. Drift along the serene river, soaking in the picturesque views, and acquire the skills to paddle and steer your handcrafted rafts. A driver will pick you up for a short ride to the hotel.


Conclude your day with dinner and an overnight stay at the hotel.

Inclusions: Private vehicle & driver in Lao Cai, Joined Limousine Van for the ride from Hanoi to Sapa, Sapa trekking/walking, Private English-speaking guide, Entrance fees: To all sites listed in the itinerary, Breakfast, hotel in Sapa

Day 04: Pu Luong Authentic hiking

Pu Luong
Pu luong field

Commence your day with a delightful breakfast at your hotel. At 9:00 AM, set out the enchanting valley overlooking the village, where the local market of Pho Doan takes place only on Thursday and Sunday mornings. Wander through the market and traverse the cascading rice terraces. Hike along narrow paths enveloped in greenery, gradually revealing a picturesque village (Bản Hiêu) nestled at the foothills of a majestic mountain. Explore Hieu waterfall and partake in a delicious lunch at a local house in Hiêu village.


After that, take a leisurely stroll around the village to witness unique customs and traditions, such as the art of making rice wine, and textiles.


Get back to the hotel, offering an opportunity to relax by the pool. For your second dinner, feel free to choose from the hotel's dining options (tonight's dinner is at your own cost).

Inclusions: Private vehicle & driver (Diving time, total 50 minutes), Pu Luong villages walk, Breakfast & Lunch, Hotel in Pu Luong

Day 05: Pu Luong - The Stream of “Holy Fish” – Ninh Binh

Pu luong rice terraces
Pu Luong nature

At 08:00, transfer to Ninh Binh, covering a distance of 130 km over a pleasant 3.5-hour drive. Along the way, make a stop at the sacred fish stream in Cam Luong. This stream originates from the cooling Bo Um mountainous cave and meanders through the village, hosting a variety of unique fishes adorned with a red ring at the gill, golden glimmers, and red tails. The fish, resembling carp, exhibit distinctive characteristics, creating a captivating sight.


Continue the scenic ride to Ninh Binh and enjoy a delightful lunch at a local restaurant. Post-lunch, engage in a 2-hour boat rowing adventure amid the imposing mountains of Tam Coc. Traverse through limestone caves adorned with mesmerizing stalactites, creating a visually stunning experience that stands out as the highlight of the day.


Return to the shore and prepare for a cycling excursion through the verdant fields of Ninh Binh, passing by untouched villages devoid of tourist influence. Your destination is the Bich Dong Pagoda, known as the second most beautiful grotto in Vietnam during the 17th century.


In the late afternoon, arrive at the hotel, take advantage of the pool, and relax. At 19:00, savor a delightful dinner experience at a village restaurant (at your own cost), or you can opt to dine at the hotel restaurant.

Inclusions: Private vehicle & driver, boat, boating, biking, Breakfast, lunch, hotel in Ninh Binh

Day 06: Ninh Binh – Halong Bay – Lan Ha bay by Orchid cruise (joined cruise)

trong mai islet on halong bay
halong bay beach

At 8:30 AM, set out from Hanoi on a scenic 1 ½-hour drive through the captivating countryside of the Red River Delta to Ninh Binh province. This region is renowned for its breathtaking karst landscapes and charming rustic countryside.

Upon arrival, explore the historic Hoa Lu ancient capital, home to temples dedicated to national heroes and Kings of the Dinh and Early Le Dynasties dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries.


Savor a delightful lunch at a local restaurant, followed by a transfer to the boat dock for an enchanting rowboat excursion through the picturesque landscapes of Tam Coc, surrounded by towering mountains. The gentle rowing journey is truly captivating and stands as the highlight of the day's activities.


Return to the shore and head back to the Red River Delta, where you'll check into a homestay with the welcoming Viet people, a major group in Vietnamese culture.


In the evening, enjoy a dinner featuring local specialties with a tea party, and conversation with your gracious hosts to gain insights into their life and culture.

Inclusions: Private vehicle & driver, Joined cruise (guide on board only), Cruising, cave visiting, Kayaking, Swimming, Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner on board, Orchid Cruises -5*

Day 07: Halong Bay –Yen Tu Mountain

yen tu pagoda
halong tour to yen tu

At 06:30 AM, refresh yourself in the serene beauty of the bay with a tai chi session on the sundeck. Early risers aiming to catch the dawn can consider waking up between 5:30 to 6:00, depending on the season.


At 07:45 AM, after enjoying breakfast, engage in kayaking activities at the Ao Ech area to uncover the hidden charm of Ha Long - Lan Ha Bay.


08:30 AM: Orchid Cruises welcomes you back on board for the check-out process.


10:30 AM: Savor a delightful brunch at the restaurant while cruising back.​

Say good bye to the Cruise Team and guide to head to Halong City for an Amusement Park visit - Sun World Halong Complex. The Coastal Amusement Park on scenic Bai Chay Beach spans up to 169 hectares and features various enticing facilities, including the Dragon Park - an extreme game zone with Vietnam's most spectacular roller coaster; the exhilarating Typhoon Water Park, known as the Tornado Bay; and the relaxing coast of Ha Long, surrounded by sapphire waters and silky white sandy beaches. A 2km sea-crossing cable car system carries passengers to Ba Deo Amusement Park, a complex with exciting games and delightful amusement facilities. Notable attractions on Ba Deo Hill include the Zen Garden, the indoor game zone The Mysterious Castle, and the Sun Wheel, one of the world's tallest Ferris wheels.


For more information, visit: Sun World Halong Complex. Purchase tickets on-site and stay as long as you wish. Alternatively, you can explore Halong market and Halong museum.


Once finished, you'll be transferred to a hotel in Yen Tu Mountain for an overnight stay. Check into your hotel, enjoy the swimming pool, and have free time at your own pace.

Inclusions: Cruise/ Private vehicle – 70 kms – 1.5 hrs, driving, Halong bay sightseeing – free time to enjoy Halong city/Sun world Amusement Park, Light breakfast, brunch on board & dinner at Yen Tu, Hotel in Yen Tu

Day 08: Sacred Yen Tu Mountain & Truc Lam Buddhist Zen Monastery 

Buddhism in Vietnam
Yen Tu Quang Ninh

Nestled in the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh, Yen Tu Mountain stands as Vietnam's most renowned religious attraction. Its fame is attributed to the breathtaking landscapes, ancient pagodas, and the establishment of the Truc Lam Yen Tu Zen Sect. Revered as the spiritual capital of Buddhism in Vietnam for over 700 years, Yen Tu boasts an extensive network of pagodas, temples, and precious relics.

Embarking on the journey to Yen Tu evokes a sense of pilgrimage toward a sanctuary where inner peace can be discovered.


At 09:30 AM, commence the expedition by traversing the foothill in an electric car, followed by a short walk to the cable car station for a scenic ascent to Yen Tu Mountain. Revel in the panoramic vistas unfolding during the cable car ride, revealing ancient pagodas, temples, and towers nestled in the vast expanse of pristine forests. Explore one of Yen Tu's pagodas, temples, and towers, spread across nearly 2,800 hectares within the Yen Tu Forest Natural Reserve, showcasing a diverse tropical ecosystem. Capture the picturesque Limestone Mountains in a camera-ready moment.


Embark on a further journey by hiking up/down on concrete paths for 500m (approximately 250 steps), strolling along a tree-shaded path adorned with vibrant green pine trees, culminating at Hue Quang Tower Garden. This site houses a tower featuring the statue of Buddhist King Tran Nhan Tong, a 62cm marble sculpture depicting a meditating monk. Ascend an additional set of steps (150 steps) to reach Hoa Yen Pagoda, a small 11th-century pagoda from the Ly Dynasty. Immerse yourself in the serene ambiance of the pagoda.


At this juncture, choose to either continue the expedition by cable car to Mot Mai Pagoda for a trek to the mountain's summit or return to the foothill to visit Truc Lam Monastery, considered the central hub of the Truc Lam Zen Buddhism Sect in Vietnam.

Inclusions: Cable car/electric cart, to YenTu pagoda complex by cable car & hiking, Breakfast at hotel, Hotel in Yen Tu

Day 09: Yen Tu Mountain - Hanoi

Hanoi capiatal
hanoi city

Indulge in a delightful breakfast at the hotel, savoring the morning in the refreshing atmosphere. Take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque surroundings of the hotel.


At 12:00, complete the check-out process from your resort. The journey back to Hanoi awaits, offering scenic views and a comfortable transfer. Anticipate arrival in Hanoi around 15:00, concluding your retreat.

Inclusions: Private vehicle & driver – 140 km – 2.45 hrs. driving, Breakfast, Hotel in Hanoi

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Amy O

Jun 30, 2024

halong bay tour rating

Fantastic Travel Company

Dream trip that came true!!! Thomas helped me design a 24 day adventure thru Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand...

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Jun 21, 2024

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Great company to book with

We booked with travel authentic Asia for a couple ports during our celebrity cruise to Thailand and Vietnam...



May 25, 2024

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A well spent Vietnam holiday with Travel Authentic Asia

I decided to book a family tour in Vietnam with Travel Authentic Asia and were absolutely thrilled as it turned out to be an excellent decision...

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May 30, 2024

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A gem of a company.

Everything about the trip was 5 star, from the service levels, value for money, communication, response times and personal attention to detail.

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Halong Bay Travel FAQs

How Halong Bay was formed?

Halong Bay was formed over millions of years through geological processes, primarily due to the erosion of limestone karsts by the sea. The bay features thousands of limestone islands and islets, each sculpted by the natural forces of wind and water.

How many days in Hanoi and Halong Bay?

The ideal duration for exploring both Hanoi and Halong Bay can vary based on individual preferences and interests. Typically, travelers spend around 2-3 days in Hanoi to explore its rich history, culture, and cuisine. For Halong Bay, a cruise experience usually lasts for 1-2 nights, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the breathtaking scenery and activities offered in the bay.

Why is Halong Bay famous?

Halong Bay is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, featuring thousands of limestone karsts and islets rising dramatically from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most iconic destinations in Vietnam, attracting millions of visitors each year for its scenic cruises, kayaking opportunities, and serene atmosphere.

Which Halong Bay cruise to choose?

There are numerous cruise options available in Halong Bay, ranging from luxury to budget-friendly. The choice depends on individual preferences, budget, and desired level of comfort and amenities. Researching and reading reviews from other travelers can help in selecting a cruise that best suits your needs.

Is Halong Bay worth it?

Absolutely! Halong Bay is considered one of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world. Its mesmerizing landscapes, serene waters, and unique limestone formations make it a must-visit destination in Vietnam. Whether you choose to explore it on a cruise, kayak through its caves, or simply admire its beauty from the shore, Halong Bay offers an unforgettable experience for travelers.

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