ITINERARY BY DAY
DAY 1 – HANOI – HOA BINH
Begin this Northern Vietnam tour with a departure from Hanoi at 08:00 (or 07:00 during summer, due to the hot weather) for a picturesque, 2-hour drive to Hoa Binh Province, home to the Muong ethnic people. This rural area is also where Bloom Microventures (a nonprofit) has been working with the local communities to help alleviate poverty; guests will have the opportunity to explore this area and see first-hand the difference Bloom is making to the lives of the local people.
Arrive around 10:00, take a short walk through the villages and meet locals who are directly benefiting from Bloom’s assistance. There will be an opportunity to speak to the locals about their life in the area, and also how they are utilising the assistance from Bloom. There will also be an opportunity to enjoy refreshing fruits from the local orchards.
Following the visit, take part in some local activities such as tending to livestock and crops, harvesting rice, corn, etc., before having lunch in a stilted house. In the afternoon, the tour continues with a walk to a beautiful lake for a boat ride and the chance to check traps for the day’s shrimp catch.
The rest of the afternoon can be spent enjoying a variety of activities: cycling, trekking, traditional fishing, or a visit to the Bloom factory, where local women earn extra income. There is also a range of family-friendly activities available (please consult if interested.)
After dinner, head towards the lake to see the locals fishing during night time. There will later be a traditional show of ethnic dance with bamboo sticks, in which guests can participate.
Overnight in a local ethnic stilted house in Hoa Binh.
DAY 2 – HOA BINH – MAI CHAU
After breakfast, bid farewell to the hosts and begin the transfer to the beautiful Mai Chau Valley.
Arrive in Mai Chau around 11:00 and pay a visit to a typical village of the ethnic Thai people. Discover the daily life of locals and check out some truly stunning traditional handicrafts. Lunch will be served in a local stilt house.
In the afternoon, take a bike ride through the villages and rice paddies of the picturesque Mai Chau Valley, which is surrounded by a wonderful, jungle-clad mountain range. Enjoy the beautiful vistas and watch along as local people go about their daily lives working in rice fields, fishing, building houses, making fishing nets, shrimp traps, etc.
Enjoy the rest of the afternoon free at leisure.
Overnight in Mai Chau.
DAY 3 – MAI CHAU
After breakfast, our guide and driver will provide transport to Mai Ha Village. Begin a day hike (09:00) with a walk through Kha local village. Continue along dirt trails through tropical forests, which cover the Thai’s sacred Pu Poc Mountain. Continue the visit to Te, a charming local village located near a forest, rarely visited by tourists.
Enjoy a delicious lunch at a local house with the friendly host.
After lunch, explore the Thai ethnic minority villages of Pu and Khoe on foot. Meet the locals and learn about their culture and traditions.
From Khoe village, transfer back to Mai Chau, with the remainder of the afternoon free at leisure.
Overnight in Mai Chau.
DAY 4 – MAI CHAU – KY SON
After breakfast, visit the Soldier Cave which stretches 500 meters under Mt. Pu Kha and is rich in local myths and legends. Climbing to the top, enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the valley. Certain parts of the visit require some skills and fitness, as there are some climbs that go through tunnels.
Note: For those who do not wish to visit the cave, there is the possibility to walk in remote rural villages at Na Meo, Na Mo and Xam Pa instead.
After the caves, visit the Mai Chau market to see a range of different products including fresh fruit, fish, crabs, rice fields and other products.
After a local lunch, depart Mai Chau for a 3.5-hour transfer to Duong Lam. Stay overnight in a unique, restored lodge, set in the fertile Tonkinese valley next to the village of Ky Son. Enjoy a free afternoon relaxing and unwinding with a traditional foot bath using fragrant herbs collected by the local villagers.
The rest of the evening is free at leisure.
Overnight in Ky Son village.
DAY 5 – KY SON
Before breakfast, there is a chance to practice an ancient martial art in the garden known as YijinJing. A series of stretches and exercises coordinated with breathing, Yijin Jing is said to enhance physical health dramatically when practiced consistently.
After breakfast, explore the traditional structures and bucolic landscape that comprise this lovely property before heading into the kitchen for a cooking class. Learn how to make (and then eat for lunch) some delicious Vietnamese dishes under the training of the Lodge’s owner.
After some post-lunch relaxation, hop on a bicycle for a 6-km leisure ride along charming back roads, rice paddy fields and through picturesque villages. Pay a visit to the 15th century Mia Pagoda, taking note of its 287 statues of all shapes and sizes. Continue by discovering the Mong Phu temple and commune, one of the few hamlets where the original village entrance remains. Continue riding through the narrow alleys to see old laterite houses. Finish at Ngo Quyen temple and Phung Hung temple, named and dedicated after two national heroes.
Return to the lodge and try a local tisane and a traditional herbal steam bath before dinner.
Overnight in Ky Son Village.
DAY 6 – KY SON – HANOI
Wake up early to join in some more Yijin Jing exercises and traditional Vietnamese worship customs honouring ancestors.
After breakfast, enjoy free time to luxuriate in the stunning natural surroundings. Walk around the village, stopping at any home for a cup of tea and a chat about daily life in the area. Help out with plowing, transplanting seedlings or harvesting crops. Collect tea and medicinal herbs in the garden to use back at the lodge. Alternatively, take some time to relax in a garden hammock or take pictures in traditional Vietnamese garb.
Notes: the bicycle tour can be arranged on the 2nd morning, and is especially advised during June-August period as weather will be hotter in the afternoon.
After lunch, depart for Hanoi to arrive mid-late afternoon.