For the first time travellers will be able to explain the key sites of Northern Vietnam by river ship traversing the Red River delta and its main tributaries, connecting the wonders of Halong Bay with the excitements of down town Hanoi, and then on into the interior, well off the beaten track. Sailing deep into Highland Vietnam we will discover the mountain villages and a number of tribal areas. We will go as far as is navigable up the Song Red River and then down the little known Da or Black River. Note this is a new river expedition and itineraries and schedules very much subject to change due to uncertain local conditions
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DOWNSTREAM CRUISE ON PANDAW HALONG BAY
Day 1: Viet Tri
Embark after transferring from Hanoi International Airport or coming from Sapa and the Tonkinese Alps. Set sail upstream for sunset and a night on the Red River.
Day 2: The Upper Red River
The Red River flows down from China’s Yunnan province and has for centuries been a key trade route between nations. Between Viet Tri and Hoa Ha the mountains loom large and the river narrows and flows fast. Hoa Ha is a typical riverine village and a pleasant place for a hike ashore.
Day 3: Da River
Enjoy a day sailing downstream admiring the unspoilt beauty of the Da River. We pass the Ba Vi National Park with its rich and diverse tropical and sub tropical flora and fauna before arriving at Hoa Binh.
Day 4: Hoa Binh
Hoa Binh was the site of a major battle in 1951 & 1952 with the French and is home to the Muon ethnic group of. We visit a museum and a local village where villagers still wear traditional dresses. The largest power station in South-East Asia was built here buy the Russians between 1979 and 1994 and is still fully operational and subject to security clearance tours can be arranged deep inside the mountain where at one point 1,000 Russian engineers toiled. We will also visit a 400 ton statue of Ho Chi Minh which commands spectacular views over the Hao Binh valley.
Day 5: Mai Chau
Early morning we will take a coach trip to Mai Chau through staggeringly lovely scenery. The sleepy town of Mai Chai is home to the Black Thai & White Tai, an ethnic minority who still live in Tai bamboo stilt houses. In the afternoon we return downstream to the town of Viet Tri. In the afternoon we visit an orphanage, set in lush gardens, in Viet Tri where the children are encouraged to live together with their own responsibilities in family units under the care of a foster parent
Day 6: The Lower Red River
In Viet Tri we visit a timeless Arcadian Vietnam with emerald green rice paddies punctuated by limestone rock formations. Of particular interest is the Tay village, hardly known, yet with exquisite temples dating from the 8th and 11th century and home to some fine Buddhist statuary carved from jackfruit trees. We then sail on the Lower Red River to Hanoi.
Day 7: Hanoi
Docked in the bustling city of Hanoi, passengers will visit some highlights of this Asian metropolis, must see’s like the notorious Vietnam war prison known as the Hanoi Hilton, the water puppets show, temple of literature where Confucius did his thinking and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
Day 8: Further explorations of Hanoi
Further explorations of Hanoi visiting the Van Phuc Silk Village with personal time to explore the Old French Quarter with its café life and many interesting boutiques
Day 9: The Duong River
From Dong Trieu town we continue the expedition towards Halong on the Duong River. Here we will explore the Bat Trang ceramic village where traditions of producing ceramic items are passed on from generation to generation and then on to Dong Ho village, where we can witness the Dong Ho Vietnamese folk painting, dating back to the 11th century, on paper made from sticky rice & oysters. All colouring is natural, from materials such as coal for burned bamboo leaves.
Day 10: The Kinh Thay River
Enter the Kinh Thay River and moor at Yen Duc Village, a beautiful spot set amidst poetic scenery on a charming stretch of rivers with historical mountains coupled with sacred legends and relics related to Ly and Tran dynasty. The village was recognised as a national relic in 1993. Continue to enter Halong Bay to drop anchor in a sheltered bay amidst the amazing island scenery.
Day 11: Halong Bay
Morning sail around in Halong Bay and beyond with its 1,500 dramatic limestone islands and extraordinary rock formations, dating back 20 million years. We will visit by local boat a floating fisherman village, a floating school and limestone caves. Disembark late morning for transfer to Hanoi
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