Kayaking Ha Long Bay Vietnam
More than just a spectacular place to kayak, Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay is UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Here, a community of permanently nomadic boat people live their entire lives on water among the 3,000 islands. In our travels through the Ha Long archipelago, we will discover the beauty of the limestone caves, delight in fresh seafood each day, and observe the unique lifestyle of the Vietnamese fishermen.
Paddling between islands is limited to quarter-mile crossings. Most paddling is on a placid bay, with a few short exposures to the sea swells on the outside of the islands.
The beauty of Ha Long is more than skin deep, as you’ll see on each of many excursions into the sea caves. Some are only a few meters long. Some, with huge vaulted ceilings, feel like a cathedral in the rock and run a half mile into the island.
For the second week of our trip, we’ll move to Ba Be National Park and the mountains north of Hanoi. The hardwood rainforest there is spectacular. We’ll kayak on Ba Be Lake, then paddle down a small river that tunnels through an enormous mountain cave. A highlight of this week will be the day we spend among the Tay people in an idyllic lakeshore village.
Wildlife will thrill us — huge white and brown jellyfish peacefully gliding in the green water, dolphins leaping ahead of our ship, black kites and white-fronted sea eagles soaring around the promontories, macaques interacting in the phongs. Vietnam will definitely be one of the places that lingers in your memory and you’ll feelwhen you remember your days there.
Ha Long Bay
Ba Be National Park
Arrive in Hanoi and overnight at the Galaxy Hotel.
Day 2 (B, L, D)
After breakfast at your hotel in Hanoi, we’ll transfer to Ha Long City via air conditioned minibus. We will have lunch onboard the boat that is to be our floating home for the next few days. The first views of the bay will bring lifelong memories and spectacular photographs. We will have a safety talk and itinerary briefing before an afternoon paddle. Dinner on board at our first anchorage is just a sample of the wonderful fare this ship will offer all week.
Days 3 – 5 (B, L, D)
Each morning we’ll enjoy a breakfast full of fresh fruit, cereals and lots of good strong Vietnamese coffee. Then we hit the water to explore the caves and Phongs of the thousands of Ha Long islands. Anyone preferring to stay on board to read and relax is welcome to do so. Although the island shoreline is usually quite inhospitable, there will be several white sand beaches on which to land for shell collecting or even a swimming break. Back on the mother ship, lunch is served for all of us with hearty appetites while the boat moves to a new set of islands to explore. Our afternoon kayaking may lead to more of the hidden phongs with their troops of macaques and tropical birds. Back on board our ship each evening about sunset, we can shower, enjoy a cocktail or just chat about the events of the day and await another delightful meal of fresh seafood and Vietnamese specialties.
Day 6 (B, L)
We arrive back at Ha Long City where we prepare for the ride back to Hanoi. This night will be spent in Hanoi with dinner on your own in one of the many great capital city restaurants.
Free day in Hanoi. Chance to have laundry done by hotel. A great opportunity for shopping the local markets.
Day 8 (B, L, D)
We’re up at dawn and off to the mountains of the Ba Be region north and east of Hanoi. The drive is through verdant hill country of tea fields and rice paddies. We’ll take a boat to a Tay Village and stay at the Village chief’s stilt house for two nights.
Day 9 (B, L, D)
In the Tay village we’ll visit the people in their homes to learn more about the culture of a minority people in Vietnam. Optional hike to an interior village or stay and explore the area with a local interpreter.
Day 10 (B, L, D)
We’ll visit a local market where members from different villages come together. After we’ll transfer to the Ba Be Lodge and have an easy and relaxing afternoon.
Day 11 (B, L, D)
It will be a fun day paddling the Ba Be River and perhaps a stop at another local market. Then we’ll paddle down to “Pirates” (a very local hangout) for a traditional lunch.
Day 12 (B, L, D)
An early morning start back to Hanoi so we have time to do some last minute shopping before our farewell dinner.
We’ll head for home or stay for the optional add on trips.
Optional: Vietnam Hill Tribe Extension
After our farewell dinner we will leave the restaurant at 8:45 for the railway station for overnight train ride to Lao Cai. We’ll stay in sleepers and can rest quite comfortably.
Day 2 (B, L, D)
Arrive in Lao Cai early and transfer to mini bus for ride to Sapa and on to Tam Duong. We will stop en route to visit villages of Black H’mong, and Dao. Dinner at local restaurant and overnight at Phuohg THanh hotel.
Day 3 (B, L, D)
In the morning we will visit local market before driving back to Sapa. After lunch we’ll take a hike in the valley of Sapa, passing beautiful villages of ethnic minorities of North Vietnam. On the way back, we will visit Ta Van village of Dzay people then return to Sapa for dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 4 (B, L, D)
Today is a beautiful easy 3 hour walk between rice paddies and minority villages. We will visit two Black H’mong villages and we will have time to experience village life in these remote areas. After 3 hours we will arrive in Matra, Where we will visit the school and the ruins of an old church. Then return to Sapa for dinner and to spend the night.
Day 5 (B, L, D)
After breakfast we will drive to Can Cau via Bac Ha just in time to join the colorful market of String H’mong. After market we will check in at Sao Mai hotel and take a walk to Ban Pho village.
Day 6 (B, L, D)
After breakfast we will walk to Bac Ha market. The market is not just a place to purchase goods but it is also a gathering place where different ethnic groups meet to exchange their customs and ideas. After lunch, a boat trip on the Coc Ly River. Then back to the train and Hanoi.
Arrive early in Hanoi. Have the day to enjoy before your flight home.
4 Star Hotels
This trip consists of a variety of accommodations or various days.