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Purple Dragon

The countryside surrounding Hanoi is still rustic and unspoiled. Not far from the center of the city the landscape is a patchwork of rice fields, vegetable farms, and ancient villages crafts villages and pagodas. During your day in the country you will have an intimate look at rural Vietnamese life that is not possible through the window of a bus. Many villages produce a single product, such as furniture, ceramics or lacquer ware. Each of the sample itineraries below includes a visit to at least one crafts village plus a stop at an historic pagoda seldom visited by tourists. The itineraries below are merely a suggestion. You and your private guide can decide on the exact course based on your interests. If you are a photographer, if love to shop, or you are a commercial buyer, this could be one of the best days of your Vietnam vacation.

Suggestions for your day in the countryside

Option 1: Begin with the Bat Trang pottery village where ceramics are produced in massive quantities. As you wander among the little factories and shops you will see artisans at work, producing everything from kitchy life-sized ceramic dogs to very fine table accessories. You are certain to find something interesting to take home. Later you visit the Co Loa Citadel, Vietnam's tenth century capital and first walled city. The tiny village a short walk away is very picturesque and representative of rural Vietnamese life.

Option 2: First a visit to Van Phu, a silk weaving village where the narrow streets hum with the clickety-clack of scores of looms. Continue to the Tram Pagoda and the Tram Gian Pagoda. These date to the 12th century and are considered to be among the most beautiful religious structures in Northern Vietnam.

Option 3: Visit the Bat Trang ceramic village, the Dong Ho painting village, Dong Ky, which was once the firecracker capital of Vietnam, where you will see wooden furniture being made. Later you visit either the But Thap Pagoda with its three-storey prayer wheel or the Dinh Bang Communal House, a complex of very beautiful 18th century buildings constructed from massive local timbers.

Option 4: Visit two pagodas that date to the eighth and twelfth centuries respectively: Thay Pagoda, a massive temple complex with its own water puppet theatre, and the Tay Phuong Pagoda, famous for 79 statues depicting classical Buddhist stories. Your guide will escort you through the narrow, winding lanes of the adjacent village if you like. We recommend it highly because you will get a chance to see daily village life up close as few visitors to Vietnam have an opportunity to do.

Also see: Hanoi Side Trips

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Includes
 air-conditioned car, driver, private guide and lunch. Not included: beverages, other meals, gratuities, features not specifically mentioned in the itinerary