This morning will devote to 3 hour hiking which takes you mainly downhill, firstly with a gentle descent on a wide track, then turns into a narrow path winding through hamlets, cultivated fields where you enjoy beautiful views over the valley below. The trek involves several stream crossings, steep descents and balancing between rice paddies. There are lovely views of karts rock formations at a distance.
After a home lunch at a local family, you'll be picked up to the starting point of the trail leading to Pu Luong Nature Reserve where you will commence a 3-hour trek to Hang village. The route takes in peaceful landscape of the Nature Reserve, quaint stilt houses, and rice paddy fields. You will cross a small stream which later can be seen snaking its way at the bottom of the valleys. Enjoy a delicious home dinner with the local family of White Thai minority where you stay the night.
Today you might consider getting up early to get a true feeling of a remote village life and wander around to witness daily activities of the locals such as feeding the cattle and poultry, watering and harvesting vegetable in their gardens.
After breakfast, start the day with trekking along a small hilly path all the way to Eo Ken village, observing and interacting in the everyday life that goes on around you, soaking up the fresh air and slow pace of this picturesque valley. The trek also involves stream crossing, steep ascent beautiful mountain views.
After lunch, you will slowly descending and passing through a series of small villages. Late afternoon arrive at Kho Muong village, nestled beneath steeply walled limestone karsts in a tranquil valley. This is no doubt the village is one of the most beautiful villages in the area. Stay another night with a Muong family in their traditional stilt-house.
Today you might consider hiking to an incredible cave which is only recently discovered and now protected by the Forest rangers. Thence continue trekking through the valley with some steep climbs and yet more stream crossings. The trekking becomes more remote yet one is never far from a villager tending fields, passing steep limestone mountain, rain forest inside the Pu Luong Nature Reserve to Nua village with en-route stop for a break by a cool stream for stream bathing [weather permits]. After picnic lunch, the route takes you to Hin village, home of Thai people where your car is awaiting for you and taking you to Ninh Binh for a sampan ride through 3 caves. Overnight in Ninh Binh.
After breakfast, drive to Cuc Phuong National Park, head into the core zone for a 7km hike to learn about the variety of fauna and flora of the forest in fresh atmosphere. Visit Cho trees - the huge ones would take ten arm’s length in circumference. After lunch at Park’s Canteen, visit the renowned Endangered Primate Rescue Centre to see some of the rarest apes and monkeys in the world and learn about the conservation efforts to save them.
In the late afternoon, return to Ninh Binh to board one of the fastest overnight trains to Dong Hoi leaving at 20.35. Overnight on the train.
Day 6: Dong Hoi - Phong Nha – Ban Doong - Hang En (B, L, D)
Start your ultimate adventure with a pickup from your hotel in Phong Nha between 8:00 am and 8:30 am and short transfer to Oxalis Headquarters. Learn all about safety and collect your gear before driving 45 mins through the National Park to reach the trailhead. A steep jungle hill starts the adventure, with a refreshing river at the bottom. Hike through rich jungle to reach the Ban Doong minority village, where a hot cup of tea welcomes you. Lunch takes place shortly after near the river, and then it’s back into the jungle, through river streams, and across the river valley until Hang En lays on the horizon. Enter the cave around 3 PM, and enjoy your afternoon swimming, before a sizzling BBQ dinner is served, complete with rice wine and beautiful flocks of swifts overhead. Overnight in a tent.
Day 7: Dong Hoi - Phong Nha – Ban Doong - Hang En (B, L)
Awake for breakfast early and explore the breathtaking exit, and then trek through the dry passage to the viewpoint high above camp, where 300 million year old fossils can be witnessed. In the late morning, trek back through the mountainous river valley, through jungle and across streams, until reaching Doong village again. Enjoy a picnic lunch by the stream and then prepare for the biggest challenge ahead, climbing the treacherous hill up to the Ho Chi Minh Road. Watch out for leeches and push ahead to the road, where cold drinks are waiting. Return by vehicle to Phong Nha by 5:00 pm. Overnight in Phong Nha.
Day 8: Dong Hoi – Morning Flight to Hanoi (B)
Morning transfer to Dong Hoi airport for a short flight to Hanoi, the remainder of the day will be your own! Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 9: Off to Halong Bay & Bai Tu Long Bay (B, L, D)
Leave at 8.00 for a 4-hour drive to Halong City through the Red River Delta. Upon arrival, get on board of the Treasure Junk. Start cruising from Hon Gai pier to the boundaries of Halong Bay while lunch with fresh seafood is served (vegetarian and kids menus available). After lunch, just make yourself at ease and relax. We are slowly getting off the classic cruising routes, far from the clichés of a busy tourism spot. Limestone rock formations will parade around us for about 2 hours before our first stop. We reach the perfect spot, remote and scenic, where the waters of Halong and Bai Tu Long hit and wave together. Let's get ready for serious things. Swimming suits, kayaks and tender boat, paddles and gears. Let's get closer to the water and explore the bay in depth. After one and a half hour kayaking, you get back on board to refresh and start the aperitif on the sundeck. Dinner is served either inside or outside depending on weather conditions. Overnight on board in a cozy air-conditioned cabin with en-suite bathroom facilities.
Day 10: Halong Bay Kayaking (B, L, D)
The breakfast will be served from 7.15am. But if you like, we invite you to share a cup of tea or coffee from 6.30am and participate then in a Tai Chi session before breakfast. Around 8.30am, we board a smaller boat. It takes us even farther from the touristy area, to the hidden nooks of the archipelago. The whole day of fun and relaxation with more kayaking, more swimming, more sandy beaches, more floating houses, more local cuisine. The exact program depends on tide and weather conditions but we guarantee that we will make this trip extension worth. Lunch will be served on the support boat. The guide will lead you back to the Treasure Junk in the mid-afternoon. Time to refresh and to make yourself cozy on the sundeck. Dinner will be served again either in the dining room or on the deck. Enjoy the second night onboard.
Day 11: Halong Bay - Hanoi (B, L)
We will be back at the pier about 11am, and driven to Hanoi with an expected arrival time about 4pm. The day will be short so let’s wake up early to take the maximum of it.
Coffee, tea and cakes will be served from 6.30am. Wake up smoothly while witnessing the silence of beautiful misty bay. A 30-minute Tai Chi session will be organized, energize your body and soul or just allow yourself some idle time on a sunbath with a cup of coffee.
About 7.45am, we hop on bamboo boats to go visiting a secluded floating village surrounded by the mountains. We spawn our way between numerous floating houses and small rowing boats that serve the everyday life as vehicle, itinerant shops, fishing utility, sometimes overnight shelter. Back on the boat before 9 a.m., start cruising back to the pier. From 9.30 a.m., a brunch will be served. Take a last glance at the rocks, standing still as the eternal guardians of a kingdom, we are about to reach the pier. Once on land, we sit in a small café to wait for your vehicle which takes you to Hanoi, arriving around 16.00. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 12: Depart Hanoi (B)
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight. End of services.