Essence of Northern Vietnam 8 days

Departure Date



8 days



Maximum Seats


What's Included?

All Transport
All Meals
All Entrance fees
Tour guide
Airline tickets on tour


Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Mai Chau, Sapa, Halong Bay

Embark on a journey commencing in Hanoi and concluding in Halong Bay! Explore the rich cultural tapestry of Northern Vietnam with the Essence of Northern Vietnam 8-day tour. This comprehensive package encompasses accommodation in hotels, guidance from an expert, meals, and transportation throughout your adventure.

Tour Overview

Day 1

Day 1: Hanoi Half day City tour

Commence the initial day of your journey with an immersive tour of Hanoi. Depart from your hotel at 08:30 for an exploration of Vietnam’s inaugural university, the Temple of Literature. Established in 1076, Quoc Tu Giam was founded within a temple to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins, and the elite. Proceed with a visit to the iconic One Pillar Pagoda, a temple that stands as one of Vietnam’s most distinctive landmarks. Adjacent to this site is the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, a historic figure in modern Vietnam, and his unassuming house on stilts. (Note: Sites are observed from outside; closed on Mon and Fri and from Jun-Aug) Conclude the morning with a visit to the scenic West Lake and the Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda, dating back to the sixth century. Tran Quoc Pagoda is recognized as the oldest pagoda in Hanoi, boasting a history of more than 1,500 years. Savor lunch at an authentic Vietnamese restaurant and enjoy leisure time for the remainder of the day. Optional: Explore two unique traditional performances exclusive to Vietnam: Water Puppet Show: Puppets are skillfully maneuvered on a water stage accompanied by folk music, narrating ancient tales, folklore, and daily life in the Vietnamese countryside. Tu Phu (Four Palaces) Show: A distinctive performance depicting the rituals of spirit practices in Vietnamese indigenous religion, featuring vibrant music, colors, and lively dance. The Four Palaces Shows take place on Thursdays and Saturdays every week. Should you be interested in these shows, kindly reach out to our travel consultants for booking. Meals: Lunch Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi
Day 2

Day 2: Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Hoa Lu & Tam Coc

In the morning, our chauffeur and tour guide will pick you up from your hotel for the journey to Ninh Binh. Upon arrival at Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, explore the two temples dedicated to King Dinh Bo Linh and King Le Hoan. Subsequently, our driver will transport you from Hoa Lu to Tam Coc, where you'll have lunch at a local restaurant, savoring the renowned specialties of the Ancient Capital area. In the afternoon, embark on a 5-minute stroll to the wharf, where a 2-hour boat trip commences, allowing you to visit three caves: Hang Ca (First Cave), Hang Hai (Second Cave), and Hang Ba (Third Cave). Each cave boasts a unique scenery that will captivate you as you enter. Following the boat trip, cycle for an hour to Bich Dong Pagoda, enjoying the picturesque pagodas, verdant paddy fields, mountains, river, and caves. Subsequently, board the bus, and our driver will safely return you to Hanoi. Upon reaching Hanoi, you will be dropped off at your hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. Optional: Hanoi Walkie Foodie Tour Participate in a walkie foodie tour, delving into the narrow lanes and alleys within the Hanoi Old Quarter, offering insights into the real lives, work, and culinary preferences of Hanoians. This popular tour is not only enjoyable but also an excellent way to discover lesser-known dishes cherished by the locals. From Bun Bo (Sauteed Beef Rice Vermicelli) and Banh Cuon (Steamed rice rolls) to "Banh Mi" and concluding with the unique Ca Phe Trung (Egg Coffee), this tour will provide a delightful four-course experience. Immerse yourself in local life, stories, and the tasting of authentic food and beverages. It's the small details that enhance your travel experience! Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi
Day 3

Day 3: Hanoi – Mai Chau - Road transfer

In the morning, we will pick you up from your hotel and proceed to Mai Chau via van, making a brief stop along the way. Upon midday arrival in Mai Chau, enjoy a refreshing welcome drink, followed by a traditional lunch in the village (vegetarian options available). During the afternoon, embark on a bicycle ride guided by your tour guide. Witness farmers diligently working in the fields, observe locals expertly weaving scarves, and explore the serene surrounding villages. Afterward, you'll have free time for bicycling, walking, or indulging in some shopping. In the late afternoon, return to your accommodation. Optional: Enhance your experience by opting for dinner accompanied by traditional Thai dance and savoring the local liquor "ruou can" (additional cost: 20 USD per person). Overnight stay in the communal stilt house or Valley View Bungalow. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Accommodation: Hotel in Mai Chau
Day 4

Day 4: Mai Chau – Hanoi – Night train to Lao Cai

Following breakfast, accompany a local tour guide to explore the more remote rural villages of Na Meo and Na Mo, delving deeper into their culture and customs. Return to the homestay around midday for lunch and check-out. Enjoy some free time for shopping and relaxation. Between 15:00 and 15:30, bid farewell to the hospitable family and board the bus for the return journey to Hanoi, which takes approximately 3.5 to 4 hours. Upon arrival in Hanoi, you will be dropped off at your hotel. You have free time until the arranged pickup at your hotel for the transfer to the train station, where you'll catch the night train to Lao Cai. Gather at your Hanoi hotel around 20:00 hrs for the transfer to Hanoi train station. The overnight train journey to Lao Cai will take place in shared sleeping compartments, with two lower and two upper berths in each compartment. The train is scheduled to depart at approximately 21:15 hrs. Notes: During the train trip, our tour guide will not accompany you. Train schedules are subject to change. Private compartments are available upon request for an additional charge. Train journeys offer a unique local experience, with cabins shared with other passengers (unless a private cabin is requested and paid for in full). Restrooms at either end of the carriages complete the local experience. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Accommodation: Overnight on the train
Day 5

Day 5: Lao Cai – Road transfer to Sapa – Y Linh Ho - Lao Chai - Ta Van

Upon arrival at Lao Cai Train Station around 05:00, embark on a one-hour bus ride uphill to the charming town of Sapa. During the journey, enjoy glimpses of the breathtaking landscapes and remarkable rice terraces that have made Sapa renowned among travelers. An early check-in is possible upon arrival, depending on room availability (subject to a surcharge). At 9:30 am, rendezvous with your local guide and commence the trek. The initial stretch follows a road, but soon veers to the right, leading you along a small path down the valley to Y Linh Ho village, situated by the Muong Hoa River. From there, proceed to the Black H’mong village of Lao Chai. The Black H’mong people form one of the largest minority groups in the Sapa region. They have their distinct language and wear traditional indigo-blue attire. The H’mong community has recently transitioned from a nomadic lifestyle to a more settled one, leaving behind traces of the past such as rudimentary houses and stone walls around their homes. Following the visit to Lao Chai, continue the trek to Ta Van village (1,200 m) to explore the customs of the Zay people. The Zay ethnic group is relatively small, comprising about 38,000 individuals who primarily inhabit the mountains in Northwest Vietnam. After touring Ta Van village, the car will transport you back to Sapa. Enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure. Overnight at Sapa Hotel. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Accommodation: Hotel in Sapa
Day 6

Day 6: Cat Cat - Sin Chai - Sapa - Hanoi - Road transfer

Begin your day with a delicious breakfast at the hotel before checking out. Embark on a scenic walk to the southwest of Sapa (approximately 3 km) to explore Cat Cat Village, inhabited by the Black H’mong people. This village is among the well-known ethnic communities in Sapa. Take in the beauty of the stunning waterfall and visit the remains of a hydroelectric power station constructed by the French during the colonial era in Vietnam. Indulge in a picnic lunch by the riverside, then continue your trek for another 3 km to reach Sin Chai Village, situated at the base of Fansipan Mountain, also known as the "Roof of Indochina." Here, soak in the breathtaking landscapes of the majestic mountain. Return to the main road and be transferred back to Sapa town via a jeep for 3 km. Between 15:00 and 15:30, your driver will pick you up for the 5-hour journey back to Hanoi. Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi
Day 7

Day 7: Hanoi - Halong Bay - Overnight on cruise

Halong Bay, acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage site and acclaimed as a Wonder of Nature by the New7Wonders Foundation, awaits your overnight stay in its renowned waters. Commence your day with breakfast in Hanoi, followed by a 3-hour and 30-minute journey to Halong Bay. Upon arrival at Halong City's jetty (around noon), complete the check-in procedures and receive a warm welcome aboard. Lunch will be served as the cruise begins its journey through the bay. In the afternoon, engage in sightseeing, participate in on-board activities (subject to each boat's itinerary), or simply unwind on the vessel. As the day concludes, the boat drops anchor amidst the stunning karst formations for an overnight stay. Dinner will be served on board. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Accommodation: Cruise in Halong Bay
Day 8

Day 8: Halong Bay – Hanoi

As the new day unfolds, arise at sunrise and partake in an invigorating Tai Chi session on the sun deck. Embrace the refreshing scent of the morning sea breeze and soak in the early sunlight emerging from the mountainous backdrop. Continue your scenic exploration of the captivating bay, relishing brunch on board as the cruise returns to the mainland. Upon reaching the harbor, you will be chauffeured back to Hanoi. Conclude the journey with a drop-off at your Hanoi hotel (arranged on your own). Meals: Breakfast, Brunch Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi not included

Trip Map


Option Private Tour Small Group Hotel
 Standard 999 USD 599 USD 3star
Deluxe 1199 USD 799 USD 4star

* All nights hotel accommodation.
* Meals as mentioned in the program..
* All transfers and transport in
modern air-conditioned vehicles.
* Boat trips   and
Halong Bay.
* 2 domestic flights.
* Sightseeing as specified
* Expert Vietnamese local guides

  • Hotel EARLY check in & LATE check out
  • Peak season surcharge & compulsory dinner at the hotel (if any)
  • International flights with taxes
  • Entry permit or Passport Fees
  • Travel Insurance
  • Tips, laundry and gratuities
  • Meals not marked on itinerary, and water during meals

Children Policy

  • The rate for children applicable for one child sharing a twin or double cabin with two adults
  • For infant (<04 years old): FOC except domestic ticket cost
  • 04 – 11 years old without bed: 50% adult rate
  • 04 – 11 years old with extra bed: 75% adult rate
  • 04 – 11 years old in twin share: 90% adult rate

Responsible Travel

Indochina Royal Travel practices a thorough, realistic Responsible Travel Policy, full details of which can be found in our website – Click here.

Travel Facts

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Thank you for your interest in Indochina Royal Travel. My name is Marissa Brown and I'm your online consultant. I've travelled extensively through all our destinations, including three years as a Indochina Royal Travel tour leader, and still visit whenever I can. Indochina has so much to offer travellers - diverse cultures, complex histories, spectacular landscapes - and of course the food! If you have any queries, would like to order a brochure or book a tour, I'm more than happy to assist. Just contact me via Email, Skype and send it through - I'll be in touch shortly.

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