North Vietnam Trip with friendly New Zealanders

1st day: Beginning of North Vietnam Trip with greeting from to Hanoi

North Vietnam Trip with wonderful New Zealand friends
Around noon I met Jan, Helen, Edward, Jacquelin and Michael at Noi Bai airport. We drove to Hanoi center where their hotel is located – a good chance for them to experience the hustle and bustle of the city.

2nd day: Old and New sides of the capital

North Vietnam Trip with wonderful New Zealand friends
I met them at their hotel at 8 am for a city tour. We first visited Ho Chi Minh historical site, an important point of pilgrimage for Vietnamese and wonderful designs: Marble Mausoleum, French botanical garden, Presidential Palace and humble house on stilts.
We then headed to the Museum of ethnology which is one of the largest museums in Vietnam.
Temple of literature is the third place to visit. It was here first university of Vietnam was established and many talent people studied here. We spent almost one hour to explore this beautiful temple as well as learnt about Vietnam traditional education.
We took a walking tour around the Old Quarter. Take a chance, we stop at some local restaurants to try some local food. This is a great way to experience a fascinating insight into the capital.
End of the day trip, a rickshaw, also known as a cyclo toured us toward to the puppet theater where we enjoyed puppet show for one hour.

3rd day: Travel to Mai Chau and Experience minority culture

North Vietnam Trip with wonderful New Zealand friends
In the morning, we left Hanoi at 7:30 for Mai Chau beautiful valley. We stopped on the way to visit one of Muong ethnic villages. We loved this place very much. One of house owner invited us to have tea and cassava wine. Local people here are very friendly and the scenery is awesome.
Around 1 pm we arrive in Mai Chau where we stay overnight. Here we had interesting activities such as visiting the cave, biking, shopping and enjoying local meal.

4th day: Drive down to Halong Bay inland

North Vietnam Trip with wonderful New Zealand friends
Morning, our driver took us to Ninh Binh which is consider Halong Bay inland. After around 3.5 hours, we arrived in Son Ha village where we made a river trip by rowing boat as well as had an opportunity to visit Thien Ha grotto (Galaxy grotto), one of the beautiful caves in Ninh Binh. We then stroll over a wonderful site of Thung Nham.

5th day: Explore further in Ninh Binh

North Vietnam Trip with wonderful New Zealand friends
I met Jan, Helen, Edward, Jacquelin and Michael at their hotel with nice bicycles arranged for the cycling tour. We rode through scenic routes. Combine with the cycling trip, we visited Thai Vi stone temple, Bich Dong cave pagoda and cruise through three nature caves named Tam Coc, a fantastic spot.

6th day: Welcome to the World Heritage Site of Halong Bay.

North Vietnam Trip with wonderful New Zealand friends
We checked out early in morning, traveled to Halong Bay. It took us around 4 hours to get to this world heritage site.

7th day: Return to Hanoi

North Vietnam Trip with wonderful New Zealand friends
After more than 3.5 hours we arrived in Hanoi. End of North Vietnam Trip we had a wonderful meal together at a local restaurant.
I enjoyed spending time Jan, Helen, Edward, Jacquelin and Michael so much.  They are really kind and friendly. It was a truly great trip.