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Study Trip

A VISIT TO NORTHERN VIETNAM

Thursday 7 –  Monday 11 September 2017
Leader: Khun Somlak Charoenpot, Honorary Secretary

 

 

Northern Vietnam is a rich repository of history and tradition, with many of the country’s oldest temples and fortresses. It is also blessed with great natural grandeur, ranging from the high mountains and craggy canyons of the west, to the magical karst islands rising from Halong Bay in the east. In addition, the northwest mountains are inhabited by several diverse and culturally unique ethnic minorities.

The fertile plains of the Red River Delta are full of ancient temples, clan houses and pagodas, including the very scenic and the highly venerated Perfume Pagoda. Farther north, neatly cultivated fields and urban settlements give way to the magnificent Hoang Lien Mountains. The most popular destination here is the hill resort of Sapa, from where it is easy to visit nearby Bac Ha, and explore the surrounding remote areas that are home to several minority tribal groups.

Sapa. With cascading rice terraces and lush vegetation, Sapa is perched on the eastern slopes of the Hoang Lien Mountains, also known as the Tonkinese Alps.  Jesuit priests first arrived here in l9l8 and sent word of the idyllic views and pleasant climate back to Hanoi. By 1922, Sapa was established as a hill station where the French built villas, hotels, and tennis courts, transforming the place into a summer retreat. It is one of the main market towns in the area, where several ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao, Giay, Pho Lu, and Tay, congregate to sell their wares and food stocks.  These people, who differ both linguistically and culturally from the lowlanders, have remained comparatively aloof from other civilizations; therefore, many elements of their culture and history are still unfamiliar to outsiders.

There are over 50 ethnic groups and hundreds of subgroups all of which have a variety of different traditions. Even the same group or subgroup in various locations has different characteristics. Some of the ethnic groups are nomadic, moving from place to place. The largest ethnic minority in Vietnam are the Tay, who number almost 1.2 million and live in northern Vietnam. The Hmong or Meo tribal people are one of large minority groups who emigrated from China to Vietnam in the early 19th century. These people are categorized under five main subgroups -Flower, Black, Green, Red and White – the name is based on the primary color of the dress of the women. The mountains and valley of northern Vietnam are covered with thick forests, sheltering a wealth of tropical and sub-tropical flora, ranging from towering rainforests, dwarf bamboos and tiny ferns to creeping vines and colourful orchids.

Located on the Southern end of the Red River Delta, Ninh Binh is blessed with diverse topography of both mountainous and coastal areas. It can be said that the province contains all the scenic quintessence ofwhole Vietnam within its relatively small size. Not only that, Ninh Binh represents typical rural villages of Northern region with vast green paddy field, expanding mountains and poetic river that flows to thehorizon. Ninh Binh's history is also worth mentioning: the ancient capital of Vietnam in the 10th century, Ninh Binh is a venue of relics that reflect its 1000 years of history and development.

Tam Coc or Three Caves at 10 km southwest of Ninh Binh town is often promoted as Vietnam’s  "Halong Bay on Land." It also features karst outcrops, but while those at Halong Bay thrust upwards from the waves, at Tam Coc they rise majestically from a sea of green rice fields. It takes about three hours to visit Tam Coc, punted in metal boats along the watery landscape and through three long caves. In places, these are so low that it is necessary to duck, while boatwomen propel the craft by pushing on the cave roof with their hands.

Under the leadership of Khun Somlak Charoenpot, the Siam Society is arranging an expedition for members to visit Northern Vietnam from Thursday 7  – Monday 11 September 2017. Members will be visiting Hanoi, Sapa, Ninh Binh and Tam Coc the Vietnam’s "Halong Bay on Land."

 

The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Thursday 7 September: Bangkok – Hanoi

5:45 a.m. Meet at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport check in counter for Thai Airways
7:45 a.m. Depart Bangkok for Hanoi by Thai Airways flight TG560.
9:35 a.m. Arrive at Hanoi Noi Bai Intl Airport; proceed to visit the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant
Afternoon: Visit National Museum of History and visit Hanoi Old Quarter.
Hanoi Old Quarter has a long history of 2000 years of development which is the beating heart of the city. In here, bustling life of Hanoians is reflected in the most vivid way with crowded streets of people trading with each other. The quarter consists mainly of 36 Old Streets divided and named according to their craft guilds in the past, and remain like that until now. This area is also the eternal soul of Hanoian cultural architecture, historic relics and religious center.
Evening: Dinner at local restaurant.
- Overnight at Hotel Hilton Opera Hotel

Day 2: Friday 8 September: Hanoi - Sapa

- Breakfast at the hotel.
8:30 a.m. Proceed to Sapa by bus.
1:00 p.m. Arrive Sapa and have lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Proceed to visit the hill tribe villages of Cat Cat, home to the Hmong minority peoples. As we walk in the village which nestled in the valley below Sapa, we have the opportunity to share cultural experiences with the families that live in the area.
Evening: Dinner at local restaurant.
- Overnight at Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa.

Day 3: Saturday 9 Sepember: Sapa

- Breakfast at the hotel.
9:00 a.m. Set out on our 3-4 hour trek that will take us along buffalo paths and trails and through several hill tribe villages of Lao Chai and Tavan, home to Hmong, and Dzay people. This is an absolutely spectacular walk through stunning scenery inhabited by some of the friendliest people you can meet.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant in a village.
Late Afternoon: Drive back to Sapa.
Evening: Explore the Sapa market.
- Dinner and overnight at Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa.

Day 4: Sunday 10 September: Sapa – Morning Market – Hanoi

- Breakfast at the resort.
8:00 a.m. Proceed to visit Bac Ha Village Market.  Meet with Flower Hmong (Red Hmong), Giay, Black Dao and Kinh people. The market traders sell clothes, handicrafts, vegetables and livestock.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Proceed back to Hanoi.
Evening: Dinner at local restaurant in Hanoi.
- Overnight at Hilton Opera Hotel.

Day 5: Monday 11 September: Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Airport

- Breakfast at the hotel.
8:30 a.m. Proceed to Ninh Binh; visit Tam Coc and take a boat for a peaceful cruise up the river (Tam Coc was known as Halong Bay on land). Tam Coc is best explored by boat as there are a series of interlinks caves and rowing through these natural marvels is quite a thrill.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Proceed to Hanoi Noi Bai Intl Airport.
4:15 p.m. Depart Hanoi for Bangkok by Thai Airways flight TG565
6:08 p.m. Arrive at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Intl Airport.

Booking

Bt. 49,500 (Bt. 52,500 for non-members). Single room surcharge Bt. 9,000. A deposit of Bt. 15,000 and photocopy of passport must accompany the booking. Payment in full is required one month before the start of the trip (i.e. by Saturday 5 August 2017). Please pay by cash or cheque payable to ‘The Siam Society’.  Alternatively you can deposit/transfer the money to the Siam Society travel account at the Thai Military Bank, Asoke Branch saving account no. 053-2-18000-7.  Please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us.

Your booking will be confirmed as soon as the deposit has been made. There is a 4% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges.

Includes/Excludes:

The contribution includes airfares by Thai Airways, airport transfers; all meals from our arrival in Vietnam to our departure, accommodation for two persons per room, entrance fees, gratuities and other costs incurred to make this trip possible. It excludes visa fee to Vietnam (if any), personal expenses, etc.

Cancellation charge:

Cancellation after booking:                                        
14 days before the start of the trip:                           30% of the tour cost
13-10 days before the start of the trip:                      50% of the tour cost
Less than 10 days or cancellation without notice:        No refund

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary. Seats are limited. Please book your place as soon as possible. For further information and bookings please contact Khun Prasert or Khun Supanut.