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North Vietnam Family Cultural Holiday - 10 Days / 9 Nights
North Vietnam Family Cultural Holiday - 10 Days / 9 Nights

North Vietnam Family Cultural Holiday - 10 Days / 9 Nights

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Hanoi - Ky Son - Duong Lam - Mai Chau - Ninh Binh - Halong Bay - Lan Ha Bay - Cat Ba Island - Bai Tu Long Bay - Hanoi

Bask in the natural beauty and adventurous landscapes of Northern Vietnam with an itinerary ful of family fun, cultural interaction, rural exploration and plenty of leisure time.From Hanoi you will experience the picturesque villages and scenic mountains that typify the area, with opportunities to meet locals and partake in traditional customs at Ky Son Village and Mai Chau before concluding at the spectacular limestone scenery of Halong Bay.

Day 1 - Arrive in Hanoi

Arrive in Hanoi.  Meet, greet and transfer to hotel by a private guide and vehicle.

The rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight in Hanoi.

Distance & journey times:

Noi Bai airport - Hanoi (38km): 1 hour

Day 2 - Hanoi (B,L)

Start the day with a visit to Bat Trang pottery village located east of Hanoi.  Famous for its blue and white pottery, much of Bat Trang’s pottery is made in moulds and handpainted in family style businesses which consume the entire village.  The main street is lined with shops and just about every household is involved in the production.  Once here, ride through the village by buffalo cart to a workshop where pottery can be handpainted with any design and taken home.  Children love this creativity activity that includes a souvenir to be taken home at the end.  (If shipped, costs are extra and can take several days.)

Return to Hanoi and “lunch for a cause” at KOTO restaurant.  KOTO, or “Know One Teach One”, is supported by NGO Street Voices dedicated to offering a brighter future to disadvantaged youth in Vietnam.  The youth in the KOTO training program study hospitality, English language and life skills while gaining essential work experience training at KOTO restaurant.

After lunch, take a tour of the city’s Ethnology Museum (closed on Mondays).  Observe Vietnam’s diverse culture through the museum’s unique presentation of articles, houses and dress used in daily life.  At the back of the museum, explore houses highlighting the 54 different ethnic groups of Vietnam.  Wander freely into long houses, stilt houses and traditional Vietnamese houses, amongst others, learning how different ethnic groups live.

End the afternoon with a “swan” paddle boat on Truc Bach Lake which is a loved Hanoian pastime.  Afterwards, taste some to Hanoi’s best ice cream – the legacy of the French in Vietnam.

Dinner on your own.

This evening watch a traditional water puppet show, a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form especially designed for depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history.  Marvel as the puppets are made to leap on water, light tiny fireworks and even have a swimming race.

Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 3 - Hanoi - Ky Son Village (B,L,D)


After breakfast, drive 1 hour northwest of Hanoi for a two night stay in a unique home stay reconstructed from authentic Thai Binh and Mai Chau province buildings set in the fertile Tonkinese valley next to the village of Ky Son.

En route, visit the iconic Thay pagoda, and two interesting non-tourisy handicraft villages, to learn how Bhuddhist statuary and vermicelli noodles are made (optional). 

Upon arrival, enjoy exploring the traditional structures and bucolic land that comprise this lovely property before rolling up your sleeves in the spacious, bright kitchen for a cooking class learning from the proprietress how to make sumptuous Vietnamese food served as lunch!

After lunch, relax or take a leisurely bicycle ride or casual walk to discover the Ky Son, Tam Son and Van Minh farming communities.  Stop at any home for a cup of tea.  Chat with local people about their daily life and farming. 

Help with plowing, making rice beds, transplanting seedlings or harvesting rice, cassava, corn, or sweet potatoes depending on the harvest season.  Collect tea and medicinal herbs to use back at the home stay.

Return to the home stay for happy hour trying local tisane and a traditional steam bath with the fragrant herbs gathered before dinner.

Over night in Ky Son Village.

Distance & journey times:

 Hanoi – Ky Son (55km): 1 hour 30 minutes

Day 4 - Ky Son Village - Duong Lam Ancient Village - Ky Son Village (B,L,D)


Wake up early to join in Yijinjing exercises and traditional Vietnamese worship customs honoring ancestors with morning rituals.

After breakfast, drive or cycle 4 km to Duong Lam Ancient village to explore an intact traditional ancient village and have lunch in an authentic local house.  After  lunch, continue on to Mia Pagoda, explore small hamlets and slowly wend back to Ky Son.

In the late afternoon, enjoy free time to luxuriate in stunning natural surroundings. Relax in a garden hammock, take pictures in traditional Vietnamese garb, or fish until dinner!

*Plowing ricefields with a Water Buffalo learning an ancient tradition of working with the animal  using Vietnamese commands can be arranged prior in certain seasons.*

Overnight in Ky Son.

Distance & journey times :

 Ky Son – Duong Lam (4km): leisure cycling

Day 5 - Ky Son Village - Mai Chau (B,L,D)


Vietnam’s northwest is still relatively untouched.  Beautiful scenery and idyllic villages make travel through these fertile valleys and snaking mountain passes memorable.  After breakfast, say goodbye to your gracious hostess and travel approximately 2 hours to the lush Mai Chau valley.

Arrive in the picturesque Mai Chau Valley surrounded by spectacular karst rock formations and rice paddies. Upon arrival, check into your hotel. 

Enjoy lunch, depending on the time of day.  Spend the afternoon exploring the idyllic natural surroundings including the extraordinary, old Mo Luong (Soldier) cave across from the lodge, or thread your way through a maize of handicraft shops set amongst intriguing Mai Chau stilt houses in Poom Coong.

Enjoy dinner and a performance of ethnic Thai music and dance at a local home.  The Thai ethnic group has inhabited this area for centuries and much of their lifestyle and traditions have remained untouched over the years.

Overnight in Mai Chau.

Distance & journey times :

 Ky Son – Mai Chau (150km): 3 hours 

Day 6 - Mai Chau - optional Mai Chau homestay (B,L,D)


Start this morning with a light trek through the Mai Chau Valley to interact with the local tribes people.  Have lunch in the home of a Thai family to learn about their lifestyle.  Choose to return to Mai Chau lodge by foot or a vehicle.

This afternoon is at leisure with many option available to while away time. 

Options available:

Explore the valley floor by bicycle, kayak on a nearby peaceful lake taking in the magnificent scenery, visit a handicraft co-operative supporting local livelihoods, learn how to use a loom to make beautiful woven scarves, or try a rock climbing class.  (Activities are optional and not included in price.  They can be reserved at time of booking or upon arrival, payable direct.)  Or just relax poolside.

Tonight, stay in a traditional Thai stilt house*, an incredibly enriching experience providing an opportunity to learn about this fascinating culture firsthand. 

(*The home stay accommodation consists of comfortable curtained-off sleeping areas in one long room; all bedding and mosquito nets are provided along with a home cooked Vietnamese meal.  An extra night at Mai Chau Lodge is available instead, with a home cooked meal only at the home stay to interact with locals over a meal.  Also, the home stay can occur on the first night clients arrive in Mai Chau; then overnight in the lodge on the second night.)

Day 7 - Mai Chau - Ninh Binh (B)

After a leisurely breakfast, depart Mai Chau for a countryside drive through Ninh Binh province where fascinating limestone karsts jut forth skywards between verdant rice paddies and lazy rivers.

Stop along the way for photographs before ending up at tonight’s accommodations in picturesqe surroundings.

Set in delightful gardens surrounded by stunning landscapes, this villa style resort is styled with traditional Vietnamese architectural elements and furnishings that incorporate an environmental commitment evident throughout the resort down to the local produce and ingredients used to create memorable dining experiences. Exquisite natural surroundings  and three outdoor swimming pools offer ample opportunities to explore and enjoy outdoors while an indoor swimming pool offers family fun without concern for the weather! Eight spa treatment rooms, a gym, spa and sauna create an atmosphere of pampering and relaxation. Perfect for families.

Evening at leisure.


A stop at Cuc Phuong National Park is an interesting way to break up the long drive from Mai Chau to Ninh Binh, especially mid-week in the dry months from November to February.  Cuc Phuong, created by President Ho Chi Minh in 1962, was the first national park of Vietnam and is one of the few remaining tropical rain forests left in the country.  Hundreds of species of animals and plants can be found here, including several endangered species.  In April and May, visitors may see some of the millions of butterflies that breed here.

The park is also home to the Cuc Phuong Endangered Primate Rescue Center which homes species like the Delacour’s Langur, Golden-headed Langur, Tonkin Snub-nosed Langur and Black Crested Gibbon. 

The center is open to visitors during the day and a visit to the center with a short walk in the park is an educational way to stretch legs and make the drive more enjoyable.  (Park entrance fee is not included in tour cost.)

Overnight Ninh Binh

Distance & journey times :

Mai Chau – Ninh Binh (180km): 3 hours  30 minutes

Day 8 - Ninh Binh - Halong - Lan Ha Bay (B,L,D)


Depart Ninh Binh at 7:30 AM for Halong Bay. Drive through Thai Binh province, the lands where the Ky Son home stay houses were deconstructed from before being rebuilt in Tonkin. Although situated in the center of the Red River Delta, Thai Binh has been considered an “island” bounded by three large rivers and is the only province never to have been merged or separated. This give the people of Thai Binh a very distinct culture where people are noted for their practical and clever characters.

Head to Halong Bay, a designated world heritage site known for its limestone rock formations, is home to about 2,000 islets and breathtaking scenery. Caves, grottoes, floating villages, emerald waters and welcoming locals make it a must see on any Vietnam itinerary.

Arrive Tuan Chau pier mid-morning to check in for your cruise.  This 3D/2N voyage is exceptional as there is no dayboat needed for 2nd night guests and deep exploration in less-traveled bays is a compelling reason to take the time to “do Halong right”.Today, experience the amazing scenery of Halong Bay and southern Lan Ha Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin. Tranquility and nature abound as you quietly sail past famous spots such as Me Cung cave, Titov island, and Ho Ba Ham islet. Once anchored take a refreshing swim in emerald waters or a guided kayak tour to learn about your surrounds up close and personal.

Overnight on board.

Distance & journey times :

Ninh Binh – Halong (220km): 4 hours 

Day 9 - Cat Ba Island - Bai Tu Long Bay (B,L,D)

Cat Ba Island is famous for its national park and endangered langurs. The island is the largest in the Gulf of Tonkin and is covered by a dense rainforest home to numerous indigenous species of flora and fauna. Spend time walking or cycling exploring this natural paradise. Visit an organic farm responsible for the majority of produce onboard. 

Reboard and sail to Bai Tu Long Bay, east of Halong, and the most remote area of the voyage. Geological rock formations create an impressive “other world” atmosphere. A relaxing rowboat tour through the village of Vung Vieng and into the bay’s geological park will provide enviable photo’s to be shown back home!

Overnight on board.

Day 10 - Halong - Hanoi - Departure (B)

After disembarking, head for Haiphong for an afternoon flight onwards. 

Distance & journey times :

Halong – Hai Phong (90km): 2 hours 30 minutes

Tour Duration: 10 Days / 9 Nights
Tour Operates: Available Upon Request
Tour Price: Year Round / On Demand

Rates vary frequently. Please contact us to get the best possible price based upon your travel period and specific touring needs.

Our services include:

  • Accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room
  • Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
  • English or French speaking guide
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle
  • Entrance fees for mentioned visits
  • Boat trip as mentioned in the itinerary

Our services do not include:

  • Other meals than mentioned
  • Other services than mentioned
  • International and domestic Flights
  • Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature
  • Tips, Travel insurance



  • We strongly recommend the purchase of travel insurance (covering emergency medical evacuation) for trips to Vietnam.
  • Prices are valid 30 days from date of offer. Past this date price and conditions may be readjusted.
  • The cost of air tickets is subject to change without prior notice by the airlines.
  • Reservations during peak times (Christmas, New Year, Vietnamese Lunar New Year, National Holidays) may be subject to supplementary charges.
  • Rooms at hotels are available only from 1400 on arrival day till 1200 on departure date. A supplement will be added if early check-in or late check-out is desired.
  • Please note that all the above services & tours have yet to be booked, they are proposed for your information only and we will not make any reservations before we receive your confirmation to do so.
  • If one or some proposed service(s) is (are) not available at the moment of booking, we will try to find other possibilities/options or other similar service(s) in order to avoid changes to the program. 


Creating Unique Touring Experiences

All the touring itineraries on this website have been carefully crafted by our in-country management teams and represent a series of experiences we can certainly recommend. However, we understand that every travel experience should be as unique and individual as each traveler. Our consultants are waiting to hear from you so that we can tailor or custom design a Vietnam Luxury Tour to your individual specifications.

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icon-quote-l  Thank you for all the choices and arrangements you made to make our visit to Cambodia & Vietnam so successful  icon-quote-r

Adrian & Gill Risso-Gill

Exo Foundation