Have More Time in Northern Vietnam?
You can add extra nights to any of our three packages to include one more two Hanoi Side Trips. There is so much to see that we hope you take the time to explore more of this fascinating and colorful region. All of these day trips involve a road trip through the countryside, where you are sure to see magnificent scenery and get an up-close view of rural life in Vietnam.
In the early morning you journey far beyond the outskirts of Hanoi to the shores of the gentle Yen River. From there, travel by boat through the lush farmlands to the Perfume Pagoda, one of Buddhism's most significant spiritual sites, where pilgrims burn offerings for loved ones in the spirit world in a huge limestone grotto believed to be the birthplace of the goddess Quan Am (Quan Yin). Return to Hanoi late in the afternoon. You will see some very spectacular scenery on this trip. A new cable car makes the trip to the top of the mountain practically effortless.
Tam Coc & Phat Diem
Often called "Halong on Land," Tam Coc is one of Vietnam's most beautiful natural landscapes. Aboard a small boat you glide through a fertile plain of rice fields, surrounded by immense, jagged limestone rock formations that are geologically identical to the steep stone shards that punctuate Halong Bay. After lunch you will visit Phat Diem, one of the most exceptional pieces of religious architecture in Vietnam. The center of Northern Vietnamese Catholicism, the Phat Diem complex of stone and wood churches and ecclesiastical buildings dates to 1875. The architectural style is a remarkable marriage of Chinese, Vietnamese and European traditions making use of local woods and decorated with lotus and bamboo. The centerpiece is a massive stone cathedral. Phat Diem was also the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the French war, immortalized by Graham Greene in his book, The Quiet American. The best day to visit is Sunday, when roads are packed with people going to and from mass.
Tam Dao French Hill Station
The French established the Tam Dao "hill station" a century ago as a place to escape the sometimes-blistering Summer heat of Hanoi. While many of the colonial villas of that era have disappeared, Tam Dao still remains a favorite get-away for Hanoians—especially on weekends. This is a place for relaxation and not activity, so there is not a lot to do here. Hotel rooms are available for day use if you decide to bring a friend along. The adjacent Tam Dao National Park offers some great opportunities for hiking. Local trail guides are available at a small cost. The Tam Dao tour begins at your hotel early in the morning, returning in the afternoon. Available April through October only.