The Real Vietnam
Originally published 04 April 2011
Over the years we have travelled extensively in the Far East, visiting several countries in the region, seeing superb locations, people and generally having a great time.
The holiday we put together with Lyn was to be a different experience; we had grown away from the more popular tourist locations over the past few years and wanted to see the real country, the people and their cultures. The visit to Ha Giang province was an idea we nurtured for a couple of years and October 2010 was crunch time after meticulous planning.
Arriving in Hanoi felt great, we had been here once before so the city was familiar. The next evening we boarded the overnight train to Lao Cai with our guide, who was to be with us now for the duration; little did we know at this point how valuable he would become.
We spent a couple of days in Sapa before the real experience began and what an enthralling next eight days it was, seeing the wonderful colourful minority tribes, breathtaking scenery and cultures that had not changed from one generation to the next.
The rice terraces, which tumble down the mountainsides, were an array of wonderful greens and yellows as the harvest season was just starting. We walked through these terraces seeing close up how people gather the crop by hand in a centuries old tradition, being invited into their homes, sharing a cup of tea or rice wine with them as they made us most welcome; memories that will last forever.
Experiencing the different markets en route was another fantastic insight into the daily life of these minority tribes, the colours all around were stunning, from the fresh vegetables to the tribal costumes, it was a rich feast for the eyes wherever you looked.
People talk about a high point of their holidays; these eight days in Ha Giang were eight high points as every day was a new and enthralling experience.
We negotiated minor landslides; visited schools, villages, rice terraces, people’s homes and markets; drank tea, rice and corn wine and all this was possible because of our guide’s knowledge and the fact that he had access to places you wouldn’t normally visit.
He wanted to show us the best of his country and particularly Ha Giang province with everything it had to offer. We think he succeeded in more ways than one.
This trip had class written all over it, from planning the holiday with Audley, to the guide and support on the ground. Put simply Ha Giang was the hidden Vietnam uncovered and eight stunning days.
Itinerary Ideas for Vietnam
This trip is ideal for the first-time visitor to Vietnam, using short flights and overland travel to take in all the highlights. In the north you visit the capital Hanoi, the Tonkinese Alps and Halong Bay before flying down to the centre and visiting Hue and Hoi An. A short flight takes you to Saigon, and the Mekong Delta for the end of your trip.View Itinerary
Find out more about tailor-made trips to Vietnam
Book a holiday to Vietnam, which was where Audley first began creating tailor-made trips. Highlights include a journey from Hanoi to Saigon, the limestone islands of Halong Bay, hill tribes of the Tonkinese Alps, a boat trip on the Mekong Delta and the Vietnamese themselves, who are charming and friendly.Read more about Vietnam »
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