Hanoi and Halong Bay
The “Little Paris” and the most famous and spectacular bay in Asia, noted as among one of the 7 most natural wonders of the world, backdrop of so many films, and a site that cannot be overlooked in the collective imagination that is so closely linked to the Indochinese saga. If you have only a few days and not enough time to discover the whole of the Vietnam, do not hesitate: it is here that you must come. In fact the ideal would be to come twice: in good weather in order to feast your eyes over the blues and emerald greens found in the sea and its Islands. And in winter to see them emerge from the fog and clouds, creating may be even more suggestive views.
Day 1: Hanoi
Arrival at Hanoi, meeting your guide and booking into the hotel. Half Day sightseeing tour of the city based on the maze of alley ways formed by the district of 36 guilds. A real maze, it took shape under the Ly dynasty, when in each street there settled the guilds of artisans requisitioned by royal power for its own use and that of its Court, all originating from the same village. Visit to the Historical Museum, installed in an old wooden house, and then a walk and a cyclo ride along the alley ways up to Hoan Kiem Lake, at the southern limit of the District.
Dinner in a former colonial villa.
Option : Puppet show on the water in the Municipal Theatre (50 minutes). Booking in advance is recommended, the theatre is quite often full.
2nd Day: Hanoi – Halong Bay
Road trip (3hrs approximately) to the port of Halong, boarding at the end of the morning for a cruise approximately 20 hours long in the bay, with meal and overnight stay on board.
Lunch and dinner on board.
Amarita remark: plan only to take the essential, preferably in a flexible bag, because the cabins in the boats do not allow storage for large suitcases. Unnecessary luggage will be left in the care of the hotel in Hanoi, and recovered before departure to the next stage.
For cruises there are 2 types of craft on offer, with different styles: a traditional Vietnamese junk equipped with cabins (in groups or in private for families or small groups,) or a colonial style wheeled craft, an original rebuilt boat dating from 1910.
3rd Day: Halong Bay – Hanoi
Landing during the morning and returning to Hanoi. Depending on the time available, a visit to the Quanh Thanh temple, founded in 1010 and several times rebuilt, the last time in the xviiith century, and then the sunset view from the Tran Quoc pagoda, on the shores of West Lake.
4th Day: Hanoi
Last visits, to Ba Dinh square where Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum is built (inside visit possible from 8 to 11h only, except on Mondays). Then the adjacent One Pillar Pagoda, founded in 1050 by the Emperor Ly Thai To. Crossing over to the French Quarter, where the beautiful neo-classic style buildings today are renovated and brought back to their former glory, now occupied by ministries and head offices of State companies. With the Hotel Metropole, the Opera House and the Museum of History, these buildings justify the nickname of “Little Paris”, which Hanoi boasted during the colonial era. Finally a visit to the Temple of Literature, where exams were held to gain access to an administrative career. Transfer to the airport in time for your flight departure.
End of suggestions.