Hiking and Helping in Vietnam 14 Days
Vietnam Travel Agency – Travel Agency Vietnam – Travel Agent Vietnam – This charming 14 day hiking tour of Vietnam, visiting the remote areas around Sapa, Pu Luong and Hoi An is ideal for visitors who enjoy simple living and experiencing the authenticity of the underlying cultures and landscapes, with a strong emphasis on sharing your time among the many ethnic minorities, staying in their villages, seeing their ways of life up close and occasionally assisting them in their daily tasks.
Don’t forget that we’re tailor-made specialists. Want to visit Ha Long Bay and the Red River Delta? No problem! Want to leave your flight dates open? Easy – we work to your requirements, not ours! Whatever you want, just ask – if it’s physically possible and not illegal, it’s yours for the taking.
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival (GP, D)
Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. You’ll have time to relax after your journey before a welcome dinner at a good restaurant in a colonial building. In the evening, you’ll have tickets for a performance of traditional Water Puppetry (an art form unique to northern Vietnam, and an interesting, light-hearted introduction to its rural culture). Your overnight stay will be in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi/Lao Cai (B, L, G)
You’ll have the whole day to explore Vietnam’s capital city. Your guide will take you to the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century, and a popular attraction, as is Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. You’ll then drive to the excellent Ethnology Museum for an overview of Vietnam’s 54 distinct ethnic groups in anticipation of your trip to Sapa.
After lunch, you’ll call in at the serene Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest in Hanoi, on the banks of Hanoi’s Ho Tay (West) Lake. The centre of Hanoi, including Hoan Kiem Lake, the Ngoc Son temple and the bustling Old Quarter, is a magnet for visitors – it’s noisy and hectic, but definitely a ‘must-see’ attraction. The Old Quarter is a maze of shopping streets and restaurants with a hotchpotch of architecture – traditional tube houses, religious buildings, artisans’ workshops and cottages, colonial houses and modern concrete edifices. At 9.00 p.m., a car will take you to Hanoi railway station in time to board the 10 p.m. overnight sleeper to Lao Cai.
We’ll arrange your city programme to avoid the busy times at popular destinations, but if there’s anything you particularly want to see, let us know.
Day 3: Try the Tay ethnic minority’s lifestyle in Sapa (B, L, D, G)
You’ll arrive in the early morning, where you’ll be met and taken up into the mountains by jeep to Sapa, a small town perched on the mountainside opposite Mt. Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest peak. After breakfast at your hotel and a drive along a scenic valley to Ban Ho, a Tay ethnic minority village, you’ll meet some of the members of the hiking management board and ‘check-in’ to the stilt-house where you’ll spend the night. For the rest of the morning, you’ll be able to help with the owner’s domestic tasks and thus find out about the Tay lifestyle.
After lunch, you’ll hike to the Nave waterfall (swimming if the weather permits).
In the evening, you’ll join some of the locals in the village’s communal house to listen to folk songs and watch the traditional dancing of Tay and Red Dzao people to music played on the community’s vernacular musical instruments.
Day 4: Sapa (B, L, D, G)
A 6km route developed by local residents takes you through bamboo thickets along the mountainside to Jumping Fish waterfall.
After lunch, you’ll be able to join in some traditional sports such as archery, one-legged racing, and tug-of-war, visit another H’mong ethnic minority village and plant a tree as a contribution to the re-forestation of the area.
In the evening, you’ll probably find the householder will be eager to learn some simple English sentences from you! In return, liberal amounts of rice ‘wine’ will help you to acquire some of the H’mong language.
Day 5: Sapa/Hanoi (B, L, GP)
After breakfast, you’ll plant a tree to contribute to the re-forestation of the area, help with painting the local school, or whatever else needs to be done. After lunch, you’ll return to Sapa, and thence to Lao Cai to shower and freshen-up before boarding the sleeper train to Hanoi.
Day 6: Hanoi free (DP, B)
You’ll arrive in Hanoi railway station in the early morning – our representative will be waiting to take you to your hotel. The day will be your own to unwind after your trip to Sapa. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 7: Hanoi/Mai Chau/Pu Luong (Hang Village) (B, L, D, G)
After breakfast, you’ll drive to Mai Chau, passing through mountainous landscape on the way. When you arrive, you’ll have lunch in a stilt house in Lac village, the home of a Thai ethnic minority group. After lunch, you can wander around the houses to see the daily life of local people. They specialise in weaving brocade products, and are happy to show visitors their skills. The village is operated as a community co-operative, set up by the people themselves. You’ll then drive a further 15km to board a sampan on the Ma River, stopping en-route to visit some ethnic minority villages. Later, you’ll dock and hike to Hang Village where you’ll spend the night in the stilt house.
You might consider a traditional folk song and dance performance by the local people (at additional cost). The show usually lasts about an hour and the artists are the peasants who work on the fields at daytime. Although it’s very much amateur entertainment, it’s good fun and an opportunity to mingle with the villagers and understand their traditions and customs.
Day 8: Pu Luong (hiking to ethnic minority villages in Pu Luong) (B, L, D, G)
After breakfast, you’ll stroll around Hang Village, a small Thai minority community where you can visit local families in their stilt houses, and drink green tea. You’ll then hike through pristine scenery will take you to Eo Ken village, well off the beaten track high on a slope of a mountain. It’s a stiff hike, but the effort is worth it. Lunch will be prepared by a local family, after which a short hike takes to meet a waiting land-cruiser for a one-hour drive. When you step down, a stroll downhill will take you to Kho Muong village where you’ll spend the night with a family in a traditional stilt house complete with a natural stream for your bathroom!.
You’ll be surprised when you sample the villagers’ hospitality and their competence in serving and preparing meals. The explanation is that the Pu Luong trekking route is a good example of effective collaboration between foreign NGOs (non-governmental organisations), mainly Flora and Fauna International (FFI – a UK-based environmental charity), local authorities and individual communities. Apart from assisting families to convert their homes to be able to host visitors, they are taught recipes, cooking techniques, and other hospitality requirements. We are pleased to be involved with this community-based development project.
Eo Ken village is far from the beaten track, high on the side of a mountain. It’s a stiff climb requiring stamina and much effort. We’ll allow plenty of time, and your guide will assist you, but if you feel it’s too much you just say so and you’ll return to the lower slopes.
Day 9: Pu Luong (hiking continues) (B, L, D, G)
After an early breakfast, you’ll explore a large limestone cave near the village. Care must be taken as the route can be dangerous in some places. Your guide will be on hand to see all goes smoothly – the cave is worth the effort! From there, you’ll continue through the forest, passing thorough villages on the way with a picnic lunch en route. Your dinner and overnight stay will be in a stilt house.
Day 10: Pu Luong/Thanh Hoa/Hanoi (B, L, G)
This morning, you’ll drive through several villages to visit a local market. You’ll see the local people heading to the market and going about their business. From there, your route takes you a small town for lunch. On the way, you’ll see the remarkable water wheels of Muong people. After eating, a ferry crossing over the Ma River and a single kilometre walk takes you to Cam Thuy’s ‘Sacred Fish Stream’. Not only will you see these obliging fish in a shallow stream, but also be able to paddle among them! Then it’s back to Hanoi, arriving in the late afternoon.
Day 11: Hanoi/Danang/Hoi An (B, L, DP, G)
After breakfast, your car will arrive to take you to the airport for the morning flight to Danang. Upon arrival, you’ll have a brief look at the remarkable Hindu statuary in the Cham Museum before leaving for Hoi An. After lunch, you’ll have a guided visit to the Ancient Town. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Day 12: Hoi An – From Farmer to Fisherman Tour ½ day (B, L, G)
The day starts with cycling the narrow roads through the countryside, passing by rice paddy fields, water buffalos, bamboo bridges and local farmers on their daily work. You’ll then board a boat to the mouth of the Thu Bon estuary where the river meets the Cua Dai Sea and cruise along the coastline observing the lives of the local fishermen.
After joining the fisherman to try your hand at catching fish in a traditional ‘Thung Chai’ basket boat, you will meander through the water palm coconut canal. During the American War, Viet Cong soldiers made use of this area as a highly effective hiding place from enemy attacks through their long struggle. Following an insightful visit to a local fishing village, you’ll be free to relax and enjoy a fresh seafood lunch before cycling back to your hotel.
Thung Chai Basket boats, similar in style to coracles in use throughout the ancient world, are widely used throughout Central Vietnam, and are highly suited to the local terrain and lifestyles of local fishermen due to their relative light weight and portability, often doubling as a carrier for various handy items. Circular and constructed of bamboo and tarred for waterproofing, these small boats can typically carry up to five people, and represent a fun-filled opportunity to touch the authentic rural soul of Vietnam. As a precaution, life jackets are provided for your safety during this excursion.
Day 13: Hoi An free (B)
The day will be free for strolling in the town, lazing on the beach, or whatever takes your fancy. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Day 14: Hoi An/Danang/Ho Chi Minh City departure (B, DP)
After breakfast, you’ll be picked up to the airport for a flight to Ho Chi Minh City in good time to connect with your international departure flight. Vietnam Travel Agency – Travel Agency Vietnam – Travel Agent Vietnam
“We had very good guides”
“Mr Phuoc was outstanding. His command of global events and being able to put Vietnam into international context was impressive. Very personable, knowledgable, flexible and enthusiastic. A real ambassador for his country while also recognising the shortcomings and opportunities facing Vietnam. He didn’t just repeat history about sights, but he actively sought our own views and then worked out what would be of interest and why. If we were to revisit Vietnam, or recommend a top guide, it would be Mr Phuoc”
“Thanks to Avada Travel Team”
“I am very pleased with how much effort the booking agents put into helping me customize my trip. They were receptive to my input and understanding when I wanted to make changes. They also helped me put my itinerary together very quickly. I booked the trip less than two weeks before I travelled. Avada Travel was successfully able to get me a visa in time for my trip with the strict time constraint we were working under.”
“I will come back Vietnam”
“I wish I had time to see Sa Pa. I am already trying to figure out when I can go back to Vietnam just so I can visit Sa Pa. Even though Ha Long Bay is incredibly beautiful and it was one of my favorite places, I wish I had opted to visit Bai Tu Long or a nearby area instead. Ha Long Bay was so overcrowded and touristy, it was disappointed to be stuck in such a limited area of the Bay when it is so vast. I would recommend that travelers explore their options and stay in nearby areas Cat Ba, Bai Tu Long, Lan Ha, etc and spend more time.”
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