Tour Route: Hanoi – Duong Lam – 3-Day in Lan Ha – Sapa – Vientiane – Cruising – Chiang Saen – Chiang Mai – Bangkok
Duration: 24 Days
Start/ End: Hanoi/ Bangkok
River Cruise Name: Champa Pandaw
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival – ½ City Tour
Upon arrival in Hanoi, the heart of Vietnam, you will be met by the local guide & driver who will escort you to hotel. Take time to relax in the rest of the day, relish in the welcome dinner at a local restaurant in Hanoi.
In the next morning, we will have a half-day trip to visit some highlights in Hanoi. First, we visit Ho Chi Minh Complex, which includes many other must-visit sites inside as Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Stilt House, Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh Museum, and the iconic One Pillar Pagoda.
In the afternoon, we visit the Temple of Literature, which is the first university in Vietnam, and first built as a temple to Confucius. Then visit the Vietnamese Women’s Museum – one of the most interesting museums in Hanoi, Vietnam. The museum is divided into three parts based on three main themes: Women in Family, Women in History, and the fashion of women.
Your today trip finishes at the late afternoon and a drop-off at the hotel.
Day 2: Duong Lam Ancient Village
Your today will start by a scenic drive to Duong Lam Ancient Village, the first one recognized as a national relic the Ministry of Culture and Information in Vietnam. The village attracts many tourists to visit with a history of about 1,200 years and many houses dating back up to 400 years. Most of the houses in Duong Lam are made of laterite mixing with mud.
Walk along the tine ancient alleys and enjoy the fresh air here. It’s great that you can meet and talk over a cup of tea with the locals in the ancient house, listen to their hidden stories.
After lunch in a local house with Vietnamese food, cycle to Mia Pagoda. The pagoda was built in 15th Century containing 287 statues of different sizes; also visit Ngo Quyen & Phung Hung Temples, the two Vietnamese National Heroes. In the late afternoon, transfer back to the hotel in Hanoi where we stay overnight for accommodation.
Day 3: Hanoi – Hai Phong – Lan Ha Bay by Mon Cheri Cruise
After breakfast at the hotel, the guide will pick and directly transfer you to the pier in Hai Phong for the cruise.
Upon arrival at Got Pier, embark on Embark Mon Chéri Cruises. After some welcoming drink and cruise briefing, we check-in our cabin. Enjoy lunch while sailing in the bay.
In the mid-afternoon, arrive at Light and Dark Cave, where you can do kayaking or taking bamboo boat rowed by the locals. Then, we return to Mon Chéri Cruises.
Admire the enchant sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin, revel in a complimentary sunset party on sundeck. Join in a cooking demonstration to learn about our Vietnamese food as the traditional spring rolls. Have dinner right on the sundeck.
After dinner, relax in the bar or be lazy on sundeck or even try your luck with squid fishing. We spend the first night on board.
Day 4: Lan Ha Bay – Biking in Viet Hai Village – Cat Ba Island by Mon Cheri Cruise
Start your day in the early morning to adore the marvelous sunrise or attend the Tai Chi class on the top deck. Savor a fragrant cup of coffee made from a special blend created just for Mon Chéri, or a refreshing cup of tea. After that, it’s time for our savory buffet breakfast on board.
Then, we will transfer to a Day Boat to head to Viet Hai Village in Cat Ba Island. We will take the bicycle trip along the village, admiring stunning scenery of the rice fields on the way. Then we will have some time for trekking into the forest and explore a hidden cave or see the village by electric car.
We then return to the boat to enjoy a BBQ lunch. After lunch, we will experience kayaking to explore Van Boi Bay and visiting the local people who live in the floating village, followed by swimming at a pristine beach.
Back to the Mon Cheri Cruise in the late afternoon, refresh before sunset party followed by dinner. We spend the second night on the bay.
Day 5: Cat Ba Island – Hanoi – Night train to Sapa
Start your day with Tai Chi class or watch the sunset on the top deck. Have buffet breakfast on board.
We then tender to Cat Ba Island and get on our local bus and ride to visit Military Hospital Cave, an interesting place to save the history of significance of Vietnam during the resistance war against America. During the travel, be immersed in the natural scenery of the wild, fresh of Cat Ba Mountain.
After that, we return the boat, refresh and check out of your cabin at 10.30. Brunch in the restaurant while cruise back to Got Pier at noon. Get in the cruise’s Limousine and drive back to Hanoi. Arrive in Hanoi at 2.30 PM.
After getting back to Hanoi, you will be drop in a restaurant for a dinner before moving to Hanoi train station for a night train to Sapa.
Day 6: Lao Cai – Bac Ha – Can Cau Market – Bac Ha
Both Can Cau and Bac Ha markets are very well known in the area for its color painted to local hill tribe people. There are Flower Hmong, Phu La, Black Dzao, Tay and Nung…They all gather to these markets to sell their homemade products such as corn wine, handicraft… as well as an interesting animal. Another highlight is the short walk to Ban Pho village of Nung and Flower Hmong and the boat trip upstream Chay River.
We will be met by local guide and driver upon our arrival at Lao Cai station then transferred to a local restaurant for breakfast (optional). Then start our drive to Can Cau market. Begin the journey uphill offering stunning views over the valleys. About 20 km from Bac Ha market, Can Cau is a small, but colorful market. Can Cau Market open only on Saturdays, it always delivers a very photogenic display of ethnic costumes from some minorities as Flower Hmong, Black Zao, Phu La. After spending the whole morning to explore the market, leave the market behind and head to Bac Ha town for lunch.
In the afternoon, take a walk to Ban Pho, a small village of Nung and Flower Hmong. Ban Pho villagers grow vegetables and fruit trees. One of the most famous fruit of the village is plum. Then, visit a local family and taste a cup of corn wine, another special product of the village.
Back to hotel late in the afternoon.
Day 7: Bac Ha Market – Trung Do – Boat trip on Chay River – Lao Cai
After breakfast, take a short walk to the old palace of the former Hmong King. The we head to Bac Ha market, which is the biggest Sunday market in the area. In every Sunday, the different and colorful ethnic minority come all here to sell their homemade products or buy something for the family. They are Hmong, Phu La, Back Dzao, Tay or Nung minorities. Savor lunch at a local family.
In the afternoon, take a half-hour drive to get Lao Cai. Stop en-route (before reaching Lao Cai) to take a short walk to Trung Do village of Tay people. They are always set up at the foot of mountain or along a stream. A large village is divided into a lot of small hamlets. The houses are built on stilts or level with the ground. Stop by a traditional Tay house for a cup of tea before taking a boat cruise upstream the Chay River. The scenery on both sides of the river is very beautiful and should not miss. The boat trip will end at Bao Nhai Bridge where your vehicle will be waiting for you for the journey back to Lao Cai where you will board your overnight train back to Hanoi.
Approx: 2-hour driving/ 1 hour’s walking/ 1.5 hours boat cruise.
Day 8: Fansipan – Hanoi (by bus)
After breakfast at hotel, we take 4-minute Mountain Train through valleys, viaducts and tunnels offering beautiful views of surrounding villages as well as nature. Reaching the Cable Car station, we get off the train and enjoy another 20 minutes cable car ride up to the top.
After 20-minute ride, we start challenging yourself with 636 high steps up to Fansipan Summit – which is considered ‘The Roof of Indochina’ with 3,143-meter height. Enjoy spectacular scenery of Hoang Lien Mountain and lush forest, we walk down to the cable car station and ride back. Take the Mountain Train back to town and have lunch in a restaurant.
After lunch, you will be move back to Hanoi by shuttle bus and take rest in Hanoi.
Day 9: Hanoi – Vientiane – Half day City Tour
After breakfast, you are free until your driver comes & take you to Noi Bai airport for your departure flight to Vientiane.
Check in and spend time to relax before heading out for the city tour. We will see the major temples of Vientiane including the oldest, Wat Si Saket, with it’s thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. Also, take a visit to the national iconic landmark of Laos, That Luang Stupa. Stop along the way to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, it’s Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph.
Heading for the waterfront your evening is free to enjoy a few drinks watching the sunset over the Mekong River, explore the Night Market and take in some of the city’s nightlife.
Day 10: Cruising Mekong
Cruising upstream on the Mekong River, passing through the lush jungle scenery and tiny riverside villages. There is an afternoon cooking demonstration on the upper deck, join in and learn more about Laos cuisine.
Moor in Ban Xanakham for overnight.
Day 11: Pak Lai
Come to see the French administrative town of Pak Lai with many colonial buildings and a bustling local market. The town of Pak Lai boasts as the largest elephant festival in South East Asia, and it is usually hold in February.
Day 12: Ban Park Bor Village
Today morning, we will visit by a walking tour to Khamo tribal village, a typical village on the banks of the Mekong amidst lush jungle. In the afternoon, sailing pass through the Xanyaburi Hydro Electric Power Plant and delve in the scene in the both two sides.
Day 13: Ban Muoang Khai Village & Luang Prabang
In the morning visit a Hmong village and continue upstream to the village of Ban Mouang Khai. In the afternoon, hop on a minibus to visit the jungle pools and dramatic Khaung Si waterfall a visit to a butterfly garden. Arrive in the heart of the temple city – Luang Prabang where has a interesting night market and a series of great cafes as well as the good local restaurants.
Day 14: Luang Prabang
In the morning, the guide will head you to the unique heritage site with many Buddhist temples and royal palace, the National Museum.
In the afternoon, experience the beauty and unique atmosphere of Luang Prabang, enjoy the traditional Laos dancing on the upper deck in the late afternoon.
Dock overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 15: Pak Ou Caves
In the early morning, join in a walking tour to witness the alms which is offered by the locals to hundreds of monks walking around the city in every morning. River cruise passengers are invited to join in with the offerings that we provide for the alms giving.
The morning sightseeing by local boat to explore the unique Pak Ou Caves, a Buddhist sanctuary with spectacular limestone cliff faces. Relish in the evening cocktails on a sandbank while sailing upstream on the beautiful Mekong towards Ban Bo.
Day 16: Pak Beng
Morning visit to a village of Khamo. Sailing upstream on the Mekong passing Pak Beng towards Pak Sit.
Day 17: Ban Houayxay
Early morning, there has a walking tour in a Khamo village then cruising through the stunning scenery to the border of Laos and Thailand. The night is spent in the Huay xay area of Laos where we take a late afternoon village walk.
Day 18: Chiang Saen
Your cruise continue goes upriver to get the Town of Chiang Sean for border crossing at the Golden Triangle. Enjoy farewell cocktails and Thai traditional dance on board for the last evening.
Day 19: Chiang Saen – Chiang Mai
Disembark the cruise in Chiang Sean and group transfer back to the hotel. En route, explore the Golden Triangle consisting of a visit to the opium museum. Continue the drive back to the hotel in Chiang Mai (6 hours).
Day 20: Chiangmai Temples
The morning will be mainly devoted to visiting the old city with stops at Wat Chaing Man Monastery, the ancient wall, the moat and the door of the old city. You will see more beautiful temples in Chiang Mai: Wat Prah Singh Temple, Wat Phan Tao temple and the temple Wat Chedi Luang.
You will also visit Wat Chiang Man, the oldest temple in Chiang Mai, which houses two important and venerated Buddha images: Phra Sila (marble Buddha) and Phra Satang Man (crystal Buddha). The driver will head you to the Tribal Museum outside the city, discover the culture of the 10 major hill tribes in the province such as: Karen, Hmong, Yao, Akha, Lahu, Mlabri, H’tin, Lua, Khmu and Lisu.
In the afternoon, visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the most famous pagoda Chiang Mai. It is reached after climbing a staircase of 290 steps with ramps represents two giant nagas. From the square, you can admire the panorama of the whole Chiang Mai Valley. Then you will stroll along small streets lined with traditional houses, where you will ride a pedicab. From there, you will go to the big central market of Warorot. Then visit craft villages: lacquer factories, silk weaving, and manufacture of umbrellas, wood carvings, and goldsmith work. Enjoy your time at night market on your own
Day 21: Chiangmai – Elephant Sanctuary – Fly to Bangkok
In the morning, pass through rolling hills, forest, and local farming areas to get North of Chiang Mai. On arrival at Kanta Elephant Sanctuary, the first activity is to prepare fruits for the elephants then feed, roam, and play with elephants.
After lunch, prepare and cook sticky rice mixed with herbal for our elephants. You will also learn about interesting knowledge about the healthcare and behaviors of Elephants. Next, enjoy more time roaming, feeding and take the elephant walk to the river and for bathing. Feed them sticky rice balls, fruits to the elephants. This part is concentrated on taking your time to observe and allowing the elephants to revel each moment of their freedom, scratching, rubbing, throwing dirt, enjoy the view and capture a lot of pictures. Next, enjoy tea and coffee break.
Leave Kanta Elephant Sanctuary and drive back to Chiang Mai. Continue to the airport for flight to Bangkok. On Arrival in Bangkok, meet our guide pick up transfer to hotel free on your own after check-in.
Day 22: Bangkok – Ayutthaya Ancient Town
This full-day tour begins with an exploration of Thailand’s ancient capital and cultural heartlands, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Ayutthaya. The city was established as the royal capital in the 14th century and rapidly became the largest city in all of Asia, with grandiose temples and an impressive network of canals. Although much of the city was destroyed in 1767 when the Burmese army invaded, there is still plenty of evidence of its former grandeur.
Visit the main sites, admiring their unique architectural styles and learn about the history of the former city. Wat Phra Si Sanphet, a classic example of Ayutthaya architecture and former home to a 16-meter high, gold-covered Buddha which was melted down by the Burmese. Continue to Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, with an impressive collection of seated Buddha Images, and Wat Mahathat where a tree has, over the course of several decades, grown around a stone carving of the Buddha’s face.
Stroll through Ayutthaya’s local market and take a walk through the town’s Muslim Quarter which offers the opportunity to sample an unusual local delicacy, candy floss roti. At midday begin the return boat trip from Ayutthaya to Bangkok with a one-hour drive to the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Board an air-conditioned riverboat and cruise down the river, commonly referred to as ‘The River of Kings’. In about 3 hours of the journey, you will have plenty of times to behold the passing scenery of riverside life. Arrive in Bangkok in the late afternoon and transfer back to the hotel to stay overnight.
Day 23: Bangkok City Tour – Canal Tour – Street Food Tour
After breakfast at the hotel, the guide will pick you up and transfer to the Grand Royal Palace, dedicated to the ceremony of the Thai royal family. In the same compound is the magnificent Wat Phra Kaew, which is known for the statue of the Emerald Buddha. After visiting this complex, we continue to visit Wat Pho, a giant house of the Reclining Buddha.
After lunch at the restaurant, a walk-in Chinatown is considered the busiest area in Bangkok and known by various specialties from countries in the region. The dishes are prepared only with the freshest ingredients of the day. Then board a long-tail boat for a trip along the Chao Phraya River and many lively inner canals of Thonburi bank offering fantastic views of the local life nearby. You will have the opportunity to snack, buy trinkets or use the toilet at stops along the way. Along the way, stop at Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn. Next, visit the Wat Traimit which is well known as the Golden Buddha.
In the evening, enjoy Bangkok Best Eats Midnight Food Tour by Tuk Tuk. We first visit the local famous eateries at night including Pad Thai and Northeastern Thai food. Next, try the best kept-secret Guay Tiew Kua Gai and see how it’s made. Later on, find a seat and sip chilled beer at “Secret Bar” which is famous for the most fantastic view in Bangkok. Afterward, delve in the mesmerizing flower market and take a visit to the magnificent temple for a unique night-time perspective. Back to the hotel free on your own.
Day 24: Bangkok departure
After breakfast, you will be free until your driver arrives to take you to the airport for your departure flight. Tour ends.