This journey takes you to the right when everyone else travels to the left. You visit an area north of Halong Bay that is still untouched, you get to see the beautiful natural areas at Mai Chau and Pu Luong as well as Vietnam’s beaches on the island of Con Dao which are not as well visited as the neighboring island of Phu Quoc. Stops in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) are of course also planned!
This trip starts in charming Hanoi and then continues to Quan Lan Island north of Ha Long where you explore the area by bike. Enjoy the white sandy beaches before continuing to the beautiful Pu Luong Nature Reserve where you can enjoy magnificent scenery with mountains, rice fields, waterfalls and rivers. Of course you can also experience the highlights of Ho Chi Minh City from the prayer podium on a scooter and explore the island of Con Dao which has not been invaded by tourists yet.
Day 1: Departure from Scandinavia
Today you fly to Vietnam’s charming capital Hanoi.
Day 2: Arrival in Hanoi
You arrive at Hanoi Airport and are driven to your hotel. Once you have checked in, it’s time to explore the area around your hotel, which is located in the charming old part of Hanoi. Enjoy the food in one of the fast food restaurants or take a walk down by Hoan Kiem Lake.
Day 3: Explore the old part of the city on foot
Your guide is ready at 9am and is waiting in one of the oldest cafes in town, right next to the lake (next to 11 Hang Gai). On foot through the old part of the city you get a good insight into the traditional architecture and everyday life in the city. You will hear stories about ancient Hanoi and gain an understanding of both today’s and yesterday’s city. The tour ends with sightseeing by bicycle taxi, where you can cross between the streets that offer e.g. paintings, instruments or paper. The afternoon is spent on your own. You can stroll the winding streets or perhaps enjoy a massage at one of the excellent places near the hotel.
Day 4: Cooking class in Hanoi
You will be picked up at Go Beyond’s office at 9.30, and will be taken by taxi to the cozy and leafy backyard where the cooking class is held. You can come to the market and help choose the ingredients for the local dishes that you are going to prepare. You can also buy most of the ingredients in specialty stores at home, so that you can impress with your new knowledge when you get home. The course ends around 14.00 and you will be transported by taxi back to the office. ( L )
Day 5: Hanoi – Ha Long Bay – Bai Tu Long Bay – Quan Lan Island
Departure to Ha Long City is by private car from your hotel at approximately 8.00. Lunch is served when you arrive and then you take a boat to Quan Lan Island, which is north of the more famous Halong Bay. The trip takes about 1.5 hours by fast boat, so you have plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings with its famous limestone cliffs. When you arrive, a driver will wait to drive you to your hotel. Here you will later in the evening have a good dinner with Vietnamese specialties. ( L , M )
Day 6: Quan Lan Island – bike ride
After breakfast, it’s time to explore the island by bike. You will pass pagodas, through rice fields, large dunes and ancient ruins. The island also has some of the most beautiful beaches in northern Vietnam, where you can take a refreshing dip. After lunch at a local restaurant, the bike ride continues and in the evening you will return to your hotel. There you can relax for a while before it’s time to have a well-deserved dinner. ( F , L , M )
Day 7: Quan Lan Island
This day is spent on your own – after yesterday’s presentation of the island, you can explore the island yourself or simply relax on one of the beautiful beaches. We recommend a hike along the east coast. ( F , L , M )
Day 8: Quan Lan Island – Bai Tu Long Bay – Halong Bay – Hanoi
Depending on when the local boat departs, you should expect to get up early and be ready by 6.30. Take the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful view on the way back. You pass a pottery factory on the way back and have lunch at a local restaurant before being driven back to Hanoi. ( F , L )
Day 9: From Hanoi to Pu Luong
Pu Luong is a new nature reserve only 160 km from Hanoi. Here are beautiful mountains, lovely rice fields, waterfalls and traditional villages. You will be picked up in Hanoi at 7.30. On the way you stop at Mai Chau to visit the small villages before continuing to Pu Luong through a stunningly beautiful mountain pass, where you can look out over the entire valley. You arrive just in time for a wonderful lunch and then you have time to enjoy the quiet surroundings in peace and quiet. in the afternoon you will be driven to a suspension bridge over the Cham river, where you can start looking for the beautiful water wheels in bamboo. You can visit a local fisherman where you can rest for a while before you go rafting down the river. Back at the beautiful Tan Lap Bridge, your ride back to your retreat awaits you where you will be served dinner. ( L , M) Walking distance about 2.5 km
Day 10: On a journey of discovery and hiking in Pu Luong
Start the day early with a walk down the beautiful valley located at your guesthouse. You walk along narrow paths through the dense vegetation and come past a small village located at the foot of the mountain. There are lots of photo opportunities here. You continue along the small roads and through villages, wilderness and along rivers back to your guesthouse where lunch awaits. After lunch, it’s time for an off-road jeep ride, where you’ll get to see the hidden village of Hieu and a beautiful waterfall before being pushed back to your retreat. ( F , L , M ) Walking distance about 12 km
Day 11: Back to Hanoi
Today you get a presentation of and an insight into life in a village in Kho Muong. Get small glimpses of everyday life on your walk along the rice fields. Back at Pu Luong Retreat, you will be served lunch before returning to Hanoi. ( L ) Walking distance about 6 km
Day 12: By plane to the island of Con Dao
Take a taxi to the airport (not included) where you will take a flight via Saigon to the island of Con Dao. In our opinion, Con Dao is one of South Vietnam’s absolute gems that is still relatively untouched. The island has a dramatic background as a prison island, but today is a peaceful island with beautiful unspoilt beaches, dense forest, coral reefs and the cozy little town of Con Son. ( F )
Day 13-15: Con Dao on your own
Your hotel is centrally located in the small town. From here you can explore the old prisons, take a walk along the nice beach or rent a scooter and look around among the island’s hidden beaches. The island’s best beach is called Bai Dat Doc – it is a beautiful bay that is perfect for sunbathing and swimming – one of the slightly more deserted beaches is Bai Dram Trau which you reach via a gravel road 1 km before the airport – here it is perfect for snorkeling and eat seafood sold in the small stalls. ( F )
Day 16: Flight to Saigon
Ask the hotel staff to assist you with airport transfers (not included). From there you take a flight to Saigon. Upon arrival in Saigon, you will be picked up at the airport and driven to your hotel. Here you can relax or take a leisurely stroll in the area.
Day 17: Experience Saigon from the back seat of a scooter
The morning tour starts when the sun rises at 7.00 and you will be picked up at your hotel. As you drive from the hotel, the city begins to wake up, the street sweeps prepare the city for the day and the food stalls are in full swing serving breakfast to the first customers. If you do not have anything to eat for breakfast, you can stop at a stall and buy some food that you can eat in a park where the locals come with their bird cages. It is an absolutely fantastic experience to enjoy your morning coffee while the birds sing. You drive to the largest flower market in the city, where the streets are filled with beautiful flowers in all the colors of the world. You continue along the back streets past the city’s famous neighborhoods (the street with paintings and the street with old books) and you get the opportunity to experience everyday life on the streets. You can also visit a market where you can taste different delicacies. The last stop is made at a really cozy café. You’re back at the hotel by 11am. At 5.30 pm you will be picked up again. This time you will go on a snowmobile tour – you will get a tour of the Vietnamese cuisine with a taste of the various specialties from the city’s food markets. You will be back at your hotel at 9.30 pm. (F , M )
Day 18: Homecoming day
You will be picked up at the hotel and driven to the airport where your journey home begins
Day 19: Arrival in Scandinavia
Five nights in budget hotel in Hanoi
Three nights in budget hotel in Quan Lan Island
Two nights in homestay with shared bathroom / toilet in Pu Luong
Four nights in budget hotel in Con Dao
Two nights in budget hotel in Saigon