Vietnam: The Red River Delta Discovery
- Culture & Heritage
- Off The Beaten Path
Day 1 – 3: Hanoi – Hai Duong
- Arrive in Hanoi. Hanoi city tour. Explore Hanoi’s lesser-known spots from the back of the Russian Minsk Motorcycle.
- Experience life as a local farmer for a day in Hai Duong. Learn the farming techniques, fishing and preparing a traditional meal.
Day 4 - 5: Ninh Binh - Nam Dinh
- Explore the mesmerizing grottoes and caves of Ninh Binh. Gain an insight into the history of the Ancient Capital Hoa Lu.
- Transfer to Nam Dinh. Discover the diverse wildlife in Xuan Thuy National Park. Visit the ancient houses, Catholic churches, and the Agriculture Museum
Day 6 – 9: Lan Ha Bay - Hanoi
- Board your cruise in Lan Ha Bay (Quang Ninh). Discover the charm of the karst islets and caves in the bay. Visit the remote Viet Hai Village on Cat Ba Island.
- Head back to Hanoi. Depart from Hanoi to your next destination.
A special journey which will let you discover the Red River Delta of Vietnam! Experience a more ‘genuine’ Hanoi by riding on the back of a Russian Minsk Motorcycle. Try living as a farmer for one day in Hai Duong – learning about the farming techniques. Prepare a Vietnamese meal and attempt fishing. Head to Ninh Binh, or sometimes we call ‘Halong On Land’, to marvel at its splendid karst landscape while rowing on the clean water. In Nam Dinh, explore the wonderful nature of Xuan Thuy National Park – part of the UNESCO Red River Biosphere Reserve. Spend a few days travelling and cruising in the area of Cat Ba Island and Lan Ha Bay. Lan Ha Bay lies in the south of Halong Bay, while its beauty can rival that of the UNESCO Heritage Site with hundreds of giant karst formations, this destination still remains off the beaten track.
Xin Chao! Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam.
Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport, your private guide and driver are waiting to meet you, holding up a welcome signboard with your names on it and take you directly to your hotel in the Old Quarter.
After checking-in, you will have time to relax and adjust to the pace of Hanoi. There will be a short tour briefing this evening with your guide followed by a welcome dinner at KOTO restaurant, a social enterprise that trains and employs underprivileged youth to provide a step up in life.
Please note: Your travel documents contain a Visa-on-Arrival letter (unless otherwise arranged). Please ensure to pack this in your carry-on luggage. Your Visa-on-Arrival letter must be presented to Customs upon entry into the country.
Overnight in Hanoi
Today you will experience Hanoi Off the Beaten Path in the back of the Russian Minsk Motorcycle. This one-of-the-kind tour will bring you into the true livings museum of Hanoi life, give you a rich insight into how the locals live. With your experienced guides (also your drivers), you will explore Hanoi’s different neighborhoods, a few key attractions, local markets and beautiful urban agricultural land on an island. They will show you some hidden gems of Hanoi and special places where you can taste amazing street food. Motorbike tour? It sounds a little scary but you will be safe with your courteous, friendly and very professional drivers.
Note: If you are not keen on the motorcycle, there is an alternative option for your family to take an open-air war-time Jeep car.
Your family is met in the hotel at the appointed time by your guides (also drivers) and after some safety briefing, set off as pillion riders on Russian built 1952 150cc motorcycles heading out of the city. While riding you will be shown some sights and your guides knowledgeably and proudly explain their city.
The first stop is at the black market where you will get through tiny zigzag alleyways. Meet and interact with the friendly local people. Pause at a food court in the back of the market and try some delicious street food.
Continue your ride zipping in and out of the backstreets. You will arrive at a local home where you are introduced to an old woman at her apartment to hear about her life stories.
Proceed to a narrow stretch of housing where the only space between both sides of the street is the railroad track. Here your guides have timed it so you can get to see a Reunification Express train passing through! It’s your Kodak moment.
Return to the City you are driven through the French colonial architecture of the precinct known as the French Quater. You will pass the French-style villas, the Vietnam History Museum, the heritage Metropole Legend Hotel, and the Opera House, name to a few.
Proceed to Hanoi’s Old Quarter (in contrast to the French Quarter) to explore the maze of small alleyways and narrow streets. You are safely skirted through traffic amongst the thousands of scooters as you marvel at the composition of the city. Stop at different AUTHENTIC eateries and food stalls to savor the tastiest of the tasty dishes of Hanoi including family heirloom & secret recipe dishes, local delicacies and specialties.
Ride out of the city toward the historic Long Bien Bridge, a magnificent structure built by the French over a hundred years ago which spans the Red River.
From the bridge, you will get to Bai Giua, more commonly known as Banana Island, a 24ha stretch of land in the middle of the Red River. Running down from the centre of the bridge is a steel staircase leading to an island covered by a green canopy of banana, papaya and guava trees, interspersed with the cloudy-white flowers of the wild reeds. Thanks to the abundance of the Red River’s water, the island has been formed by warp providing shelters for many fishermen. The area is vast with no roads, just beaten paths zigzagging behind gardens and trees. It’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of the vibrant city you left behind.
After meeting some locals and having a leisurely experience in getting to know them you will get back to the City. The final stop will be made at a hidden Cafe for an unmissable egg coffee. Then your guides will drop you back at your hotel where you will bid them a fond farewell.
Overnight in Hanoi
After breakfast, you will be picked up by your private guide and transferred in a private vehicle for two hours to the picturesque village of Ngoc Hoa in Hai Duong, another province in the Red River Delta.
Upon arrival, you will be warmly welcomed by the host family with a cup of tea. Soon after that you will change into the traditional Vietnamese farmer outfits, take your working tools, including scoop plow and rake, and walk with the water buffalos to the rice field. Here you will learn how to do some farming practices.
Next, return to the local home to prepare your lunch. You will pick your own fresh vegetables from the garden, prepare all the ingredients, and cook your lunch following the instructions of the hosts. You will be amazed by how well you did once you enjoy the food that you’ve prepared for lunch.
Embark on a leisurely bicycle ride down the village lanes to see the village up close and interact with the friendly villagers. You will fall in love with this beautiful village and its warm-hearted people. You will also pay a visit to the Ca Temple, the old temple which represents the history and spirit of the Ngoc Hoa Village.
Note: if you are not keen on the bicycle, we can replace it by the motorbike which you can sit in the back. The ride is within the village so there will be no traffic at all.
Back to the local home. You will take your bamboo rowing boat to meet and see how local fishermen make their living on the water. Learn how to fish using the fishing net in the unique local way. The breath-taking river, with its banks shaded by lychee trees, will give you an awesome photo opportunity.
Take a short drive to Stork Island, in Thanh Mien commune. The island is in the middle of a large natural lake and home to about ten thousand storks and herons and various species of birds such as pelicans and teals. Take a rowing boat to approach the island to see the birds closer but not walk on.
Finish the tour and return to the homestay for your leisure time. Take a nice and hot shower and get ready to join the meal with the family.
Enjoy a delightful barbecue dinner while getting to know your family hosts, and experience their lifestyle and culture. You will have a private room with air-conditioning for your night.
Overnight at the local homestay
Rise early for a visit to the local market and return to the homestay for your breakfast. After that, you will bid a fond farewell to the family and head to Ninh Binh to explore the third province of the Red River Delta.
Upon arrival, you will set out to explore the Trang An eco-tourism complex (a Unesco World Heritage site), and its staggering karst landscapes, replete with secret grottoes, towering peaks, and tranquil streams. Board a sampan for a journey through Trang An’s spectacular network of caves, archways, and grottoes, including Sang Cave, Toi Cave, Ba Giot Cave, and Sinh Cave.
After lunch, you will continue to visit Hoa Lu, the location of the Ancient Capital of Vietnam dating back to the 11th century. Having been eroded over the millennia, the dilapidated ruins have nearly been absorbed by the spectacular scenery creating a mystical atmosphere that will be sure to titillate your imagination.
On arrival, dive into the history at the remaining two temples of Dinh and Le Emperors. Restored in the 17th century but the temples are believed to be built on the original foundations of the old palaces from the 11th and 12th centuries.
Hop on a bike for a leisurely ride through the area, limestone karsts towering above you as you ride along backroads and beautiful scenery. Arrive at Mua Cave Mountain where you enjoy a short hike which leads you to an incredible viewpoint with a spectacular sight of the Ngo Dong River below that cuts its way around the towering mountains.
Transfer to Tam Coc Garden boutique resort for your overnight stay. Surrounded by stunning rice paddies and limestone formations Tam Coc resort is an oasis that lets you escape from the hustle and bustle of city life in the middle of the most incredible landscapes.
Overnight in Ninh Binh
After breakfast, you will depart Ninh Binh and drive 3 hours to Xuan Thuy National Park in Nam Dinh Province, lying in the southern coastal zone of the Red River Delta. On the way, you will pay a visit to the Ancient Co Le Pagoda dating back to the 10th century.
The next stop is Vi Khe Village, one of the largest bonsai villages in Vietnam. You can see the bonsai in various shapes, such as a phoenix, dragon, horses, unicorn… or the symbol of the Temple of Literature.
Continue on to Xuan Thuy National Park, formally known as a Nature Reserve of the area and later became Vietnam’s first Ramsar site, for the conservation of wetlands. Xuan Thuy National Park is located in the Giao Thuy district forming part of the UNESCO Red River Biosphere Reserve. It is a rich, bio-diverse, coastal wetland that houses about 220 species of birds, 110 aquatic plants and 500 other aquatic organisms.
Around mid-day, you will arrive at the Xuan Giao Commune near the National Park. Here you will embark on a boat trip to discover the wetland. After a one-hour boat trip through the National Park, you will arrive at a Clam Hut where you will be served a delicious seafood lunch. Rest and relax in the Hut for a while before transferring back to the mainland.
After a short rest, you will commence a leisure sightseeing tour around the Giao Xuan Commune and through the villages. Walk along country lanes at a peaceful pace viewing local life and pause to see farmers toiling in their rice fields using centuries of farming practices. You will also visit the ancient houses, Catholic churches, and the Agriculture Museum. If it is a sunny day you can visit the salt fields to watch the locals making salt. You can try to become a salt-farmer!
Proceed to the bird station (applied for the wintertime from Nov – Mar) to watch various species of birds of East Asia – Australia flyways such as Black-faced Spoonbill, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Spotted Greenshank, Saunders’s Gull and Asian Dowitcher…etc.
Transfer to a local home in Xuan Giao Communie where you will enjoy a delicious home-hosted dinner and spend the night with the family. Clean and comfortable bedding is provided for your stay.
Overnight in Xuan Giao Nam Dinh
Start your day with a leisurely bicycle ride (or by car) around the commune, enjoy the beautiful sunrise over the ocean and then visit the local Fishmarket. Here you can watch fishermen bring in their overnight catch. Hundreds of people from the surrounding villages rush to this wholesale market for the best buys of the day.
Return to the local home. Along the way, you will pause to visit a local fish-sauce making family where you can see the traditional methods of making this delicious sauce.
After breakfast and check out of the homestay your private guide and driver will take you to Thai Binh Province where you will visit the 400-year-old Keo Pagoda, a peaceful spot overlooking the Red River Delta. This religious site is famous for its unique wooden structure, which represents Vietnam’s ancient architectural style.
Continue your road drive to Hai Phong city (the final province of the Red River Delta) and then catch a local ferry to reach Cai Ba Island where you board a private wooden Junk Boat that is your home for two lovely nights.
On arrival around midday, you’ll be welcomed aboard your Junk boat and begin your cruise toward Lan Ha Bay. Lying south and east of Cat Ba Island, the 300-or-so karst islands and limestone outcrops of Lan Ha are just as beautiful as those of Halong Bay but more isolated and untouched. The special thing about Lan Ha is that the karst formations are close to each other which makes it become the best place for kayaking and swimming activities.
Around midday, the anchor is dropped in the middle of the bay for lunchtime. Enjoy the delightful Vietnamese cuisine along with fantastic panoramic views of the scenery.
Continue the journey to Ba Trai Dao beaches past the floating fish farms. Later your boat will stop to launch the kayaks into the bay for a leisurely paddle the limestone karsts before swimming and sunbathing on the tiny beach.
Return to your Junk boat for a cooking demonstration with the chef. Learn about local ingredients as well as the preparation of classic Vietnamese dishes.
As the sun sets, you will arrive at a remote spot where you get the anchor dropped. Take more swim off the boat if you wish.
After a scrumptious dinner, enjoy some more drinks on the top deck or have some fun fishing for squid with the boat crew before retiring to your cabin for a good night sleep.
Overnight on board in Lan Ha Bay
Get up early to enjoy the sunrise and it’s followed by breakfast. Then get ready to start your second day of adventure. The boat lifts her anchor and cruise to other parts of the bay include the Coconut beach area and Vung Kiem Lam area. You are escorted to discover a hidden lake that can be accessed by only one tunnel-like cave (Hang Sang). Take out the kayaks again and paddle around the lake to enjoy the quietness at this beautiful spot.
You will continue on your cruise toward Viet Hai Village. Once you reach the Viet Hai Pier you will enjoy close-up views of pristine natural surrounds on a leisurely bicycle ride of approximately 5 total km along the quiet, paved paths to the remote village of Viet Hai. Little has changed in Viet Hai since the ancestors of the 80 households settled here centuries ago. Situated in a valley within Cat Ba National Park and surrounded on all sides by forest and mountains, the locals are isolated from the island’s other villages and towns.
You will explore the village school and organic gardens meeting the local people. If you want to be more active you can take a hike up to the summit of Hai Quan Mountain for a wonderful view over the park and a part of Halong Bay.
End the tour and ride back to your boat then cruise to a hidden spot in Lan Ha for your second night.
Enjoy a set-menu dinner. After that try your luck again with the squid fishing before retiring in your cozy cabin.
Overnight on board in Lan Ha Bay
After breakfast, start your day with a gentle cruise, meandering around the sheer cliffs of Lan Ha Bay toward Monkey Island where the beautiful sandy beach is ideal for the last swim. Spend time to relax at the beach or take a short hike up to a viewpoint on the mountain for a wonderful bird.
Return to the boat to check out of the cabin. Then enjoy a set-menu lunch as you cruise back to the shore.
Disembark at the pier where your private driver will take you back to Hanoi.
After checking into your hotel, spend the remainder of the day at your leisure. Stroll around the town or visit Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple, a short walk from your hotel. It’s beautifully lit up at night.
Overnight in Hanoi
Your private transfer greets you at the hotel after breakfast and escorts you to Hanoi International Airport where you board your flight home or travel on to more adventures, we will help you with the planning.
This tour is built upon our firsthand knowledge & experience, offering you the best choices available. The price of this trip varies depending on the number of people in your party, dates of departure, and availability of ground services. Please click on REQUEST A FREE QUOTE (above) and supply the required information, enabling us to send you your personalized quote within 24 hours!
Note: Amendments CAN be made to this tour to suit your requirements.
- Experience Hanoi off the beaten path by Russian Minsk motorcycle
- Spend a day being a farmer, join farming and fishing activities in a Northern Vietnam province
- Row through a huge network of waterways out into lakes dwarfed by limestone mountains in Ninh Binh
- Discover the National Park and local life in The Red River Delta area
- Take the overnight cruise trip. Admire Lan Ha Bay’s majestic beauty and explore Monkey island
- 8 hotel buffet breakfasts.
- 5 dinners and 7 lunches at well-selected restaurants
- Your own private guide and driver for in-depth cultural touring based on your interests
- Firsthand, sophisticated destination knowledge and recommendations from our locally born travel specialists
- Itineraries that are customized according to your interests and preferences
- A seamless travel experience, including all logistics, hand-picked hotels and restaurants, private airport transfers, internal transportation, and entry visa assistance…etc
- Around-the-clock support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
Private English speaking guide, accommodation, private tours and transfer, domestic flights, A/C vehicles, some main meals, all entrance fees, tax, and service charge.
What’s Not Included?
Your international flights from and to Vietnam, the entry visa to Vietnam, personal expense, tips to guide and driver.
Free service. No credit card required
Reviews on Our Service
We are committed to giving our customers unforgettable experiences in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and beyond, not just something staged for tourists. Read reviews written by our customers about their experiences in Indochina after they have returned home. These include the ratings and comments on attractions, guides, activities, hotels and food.
Vietnam Luxury Vacation Review: Sightseeing, Culture, 12-Day Travel
Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Sightseeing, Rice Fields, Boat Rides, 18-Day Trip
We started searching for our tour for Vietnam / Cambodia back in October 2022 to start the tour in the first week of January 2023. We selected this travel agency, and contact name provided to us was Elly. She was extraordinary with her communication with us. Excellent English speaking language capability & excellent in communication on Whats app and email communication. We went back & forth few times to arrange the tour we wanted. She was very accommodating in arranging our schedule. We requested automobile tour for both countries, just for two of us.
We requested SUV FOR OUR COMFORT AND WE GOT IT!
We requested to get the high end hotel in each city and she gave us choices and not only that but send videos of each hotel for each City and then waited for us to decide which hotel we select. All the Hotels turned out to be one of the best we would expect to be. M/s Elly, personally came to visit with us on the evening of our first day tour. Very respectful and asked if she could do anything for us.I had requested before in our communication, if she would arrange for power converter for us, since my camera chargers are all in 110. So brought two power converters for us! Something, not everyone will do this kind of service. So all the kiddos to her!
as to the drivers in each city were very courteous, very professional and very careful in how and where they have to do driving.
our Guides in each city were so friendly, courteous and knowledgeable in where ever we visited. How ever wish two guides in Hue An and Ho Chi Minh City spoke English more clearly.
We only wish we had one extra day in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, , however, there is so much to see in the world! Perhaps next time will visit Vietnam.
As to Cambodia, same thing to express about site seeing and our Guide and drivers. Guides and drivers really made our travel thro’ the countries where we do not speak that language, made it so comfortable and enjoyable.
Hi Lam…hope you don’t mind me contacting you directly. My wife Barb & I (Paul) have just arrived home after completing a great tour of Vietnam which was organised through your company Asia Pioneer Travel.
We want to tell you personally how impressed were were with the level of service that we received…it was amazing and the best that we have experienced anywhere. After we made initial contact with you, you handed us over to Chloe to arrange the trip which she did in very quick time and the amount of detail that she went to was fantastic. From the moment that we walked out of Hanoi airport on arrival to see our guide waiting, we knew that we were in for a great trip. The drivers & guides were fantastic and Chloe was in contact by email constantly making sure that everything was going to plan & that we were happy. At one stage we need to vary the itinerary by extending accommodation & changing air tickets and Chloe did that without any fuss or bother.
We also met some wonderful Vietnamese people along the way and Ive got to say that they are our kind of people, very generous & friendly.
Enough of my ramblings, thanks for a great visit to Vietnam, and a special thank you to Chloe for looking after us in such a terrific manner…she is a very special caring lady.
Kind regards & I hope that we have the opportunity to use Asia Pioneer Travel again….Paul & Barb Little from Newcastle Australia
Superbly organised and very flexible
We travelled to Vietnam for two weeks, booking the whole trip through Lizzie at Asia Pioneer, including hotels, excursions, trips, guides and internal flights. Lizzie was so helpful and flexible, accommodating changes to our schedule until the last minute, especially as we missed our connecting flight in Dubai and arrived a day later than planned (our fault). Nothing was too much trouble, including getting my wallet back to me after I left it in the car taking us to the airport.
We started in Hanoi in the North and worked our way south to Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon), taking in Ha Long with its amazing sea stacks and sleeping on a boat, then to Sa Pa on the overnight sleeper train from Hanoi, with its wonderful countryside and rice terraces. Afterwards, we went to Hoi An for three days of relaxation. Hoi An probably my favourite place and three days are enough to cover it. Then onto Hue, the original capital, my least favourite place and then finally on to HMC, which was a real contrast to the North.
The 3-star hotels that Lizzie picked were very good and comfortable, and the guides were very knowledgeable. I would definitely use Asia Pioneer again for future Asia trips.