Hanoi & Halong Bay Holidays: An Overview

Despite an eventful history marked by wars and natural calamities, much of Hanoi's architectural heritage survives intact, including the Old Quarter and over 600 pagodas and temples. Halong, or the 'Bay of the Descending Dragon', is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the mountains meet the sea at this majestic bay containing almost 2,000 spectacular limestone islands and outcrops of various sizes.

We recommend taking a private guided tour of Hanoi's main sights, including temples, museums of the country's recent and ancient history, traditional old quarters and more recent tree-lined boulevards with their French colonial architecture. Famous sites include the One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature and Hanoi Citadel. A walking tour of the Ancient Quarter or the '36 Streets' District is a particular must. This densely populated corner of the city was once a centre of commerce where goods were sold under the street name of a particular guild. Still a thriving community of sellers today, you will see street names such as Sugar Street, Tin Street and Paper Street. Ancient homes and temples are interspersed with fascinating shops.

Once you've had your fill of history and culture, enjoy a stroll around some of the 18 lakes which, with their surrounding gardens and trees, are the lungs of the city. As evening approaches, the lakeshores become the venues for traditional water-puppet shows.

Combine a Hanoi holiday with a tour of Halong Bay, on the Gulf of Tonkin. Cliffs, arches and coves compete for space in an area that is without doubt the most outstandingly beautiful in the country - an incomparable coastal scene.

Viewed from above, Halong Bay resembles a geographic work of art, but the best way to experience this unique natural wonder is by meandering among the islands and inlets on a boat.

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Vietnamese Pho
If You Do Three Things
Hanoi Street Food Tour

Join a local food blogger for a guided street food tour of Hanoi to get a real insight into Vietnamese cuisine. Enjoy specialities such as pho, banh cuon (steamed rice paper stuffed with pork and mushrooms), and nem chua ran (fried spring rolls), and then wrap up the evening with a cold beer at a traditional bia hoi (street-side bar) as you watch the city come alive for the night.

Garden in Hanoi
If You Do Three Things
Hanoi Tai Chi Class

Start your day as the locals do, with a wander through Long Bien market (the biggest fruit and vegetable market in North Vietnam) and then a Tai Chi class in one of the city's peaceful gardens. Away from the hustle and bustle and honking car horns you'll spend 45 minutes practising the slow movements of this popular martial art to rejuvenate your body and prepare for a day of exploring.

Lan Ha Bay
If You Do Three Things
Explore Lan Ha Bay

Guidebooks might tell you there's nothing quite like Halong Bay but we've found the perfect alternative. Beautiful Lan Ha Bay is just south of Halong and boasts as much limestone karst beauty as its more popular neighbour, but without hordes of tourists. Get off your bigger cruise boat and explore the bay by sea kayak to really get to grips with the scale and beauty of the bay.

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Hanoi & Halong Bay
Hanoi & Halong Bay
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A Note on Price

Direct flights cost from £700 per person, but once there, Vietnam is pretty good value – a good 10-day itinerary (staying in four star accommodation) costs around £2,000 per person including guides and domestic transport. Those with a bigger budget should expect to easily spend around £5,000 per person.

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