DAY 1 – HANOI – HOA BINH (L,D)
Depart from Hanoi at 8:00 AM for a picturesque, two-hour drive to Hoa Binh Province (70km west of Hanoi), an area which is home to the Muong ethnic people. This rural area is also where Bloom Microventures have been working with the local community, and guests will get an opportunity to explore this area and see first-hand the difference they are making to the lives of the local people.
Bloom Microventures is a non-profit social enterprise (a registered UK charity) providing microcredit to women living below the poverty line in developing countries, using a unique model that harnesses the power of responsible tourism and microfinance. Most importantly, part of the tour fees will touch lives by directly funding a low-interest microcredit loan for marginalized woman you will meet during the tour; so part of the cost of the tour goes towards supporting this worthy project.
Guests will arrive at 10am and take a short walk through the villages. Here, they will meet the woman who will directly benefit from the visit by receiving the low-interest microcredit loan, and learn about her livelihood and her plan for the use of the loan. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions about her aspirations, and for guests to share their own experiences – an educational and meaningful exchange with someone whose life has been touched for the better. There will then be an opportunity to enjoy refreshing fruits from the local orchards.
This is a beautiful, action-filled, heart-warming day during which guests will learn a great deal about the realities that disadvantaged women face here in Vietnam, as well as local traditions, livelihoods, history, religious customs and culture.
(Please note, this tour is not a solicitation nor will it require any further “out-of-pocket” donation. The Bloom Microventures business model will use part of the tour fees to directly fund a micro-credit for pre-screened applicants to fund their approved business ideas. From a guest experience, this tour is a unique opportunity to learn about Vietnamese life and the hopes of the Vietnamese people who work so hard and diligently to improve their quality of life.)
Following this, guests will have an opportunity to try their hand at traditional rural activities such as tending to livestock and crops, harvesting rice, corn, etc, before having lunch in a stilted house.
In the afternoon, the tour continues with a walk to a beautiful lake, where guests will take a local boat and check the shrimp traps for the day’s catch.
The rest of the afternoon can be spent enjoying a variety of activities, including cycling, trekking, traditional fishing, or a visit to the Bloom factory where women earn extra income. Families with children may like to spend some time with the farm animals, including goats, trying to find duck and chicken eggs, egg painting, or taking a tractor ride through the villages and rice fields. There may even be the chance to join the local host family in preparing the evening meal.
After dinner, guests will head toward the lake one more time to see the locals fishing during the night time. There is then a traditional show of ethnic dance with bamboo sticks, in which guests can participate.
Overnight in a local ethnic stilted house in Hoa Binh.
Distances and journey time:
Hanoi – Hoa Binh = 70 km, 2 hours transfer
DAY 2 – HOA BINH – MAI CHAU (B,L,D)
9:00 am: After breakfast, guests will bid their hosts farewell and transfer to the wonderful Mai Chau valley, surrounded by mountain chain which is the area of the Thai ethnic people.
Arriving in Mai Chau at around 11am, guests will be able to visit the typical village of the Thai people, Pom Coong. Discover the daily life of locals and see traditional handicrafts. Lunch is served in a local stilted house belonging to Ms Chung.
In the afternoon, take a bike ride through the villages and rice paddies of the picturesque rural Mai Chau valley, which is surrounded by a wonderful jungle-clad mountain range. Enjoy the beautiful vistas and discover the local people in their daily lives working in rice fields, fishing, building houses, making fishing nets, shrimp traps, etc.
Guests are free for the remainder of the afternoon to enjoy the facilities at their comfortable resort.
Overnight in Mai Chau
Distances and journey time:
Hoa Binh – Mai Chau = 65 km, 1h30 transfer
Biking: 1 – 2 hours
DAY 3 – MAI CHAU – HANOI (B)
After breakfast, we visit the Soldier Cave which stretches 500 meters under Mt. Pu Kha and is rich in local myths and legends. The cave itself contains four caverns. Climbing to the top, guests will enjoy beautiful views of the valley. Guests start in the main chamber which can hold up to 500 people. Here, the legend related to the cave will be told and a part of the country’s history explained. The second part of the visit requires some skills and fitness as guests venture through a tunnel. NOTE – For those who do not wish to visit the cave, there is the possibility to walk in remote rural villages at Na Meo, Na Mo and Xam Pa instead.
Then, visit the Mai Chau market and see all the different products, including fresh fruit, fish, crabs, rice fields and other products appreciated by the Thai people.
Return to the resort to check out by 12 noon. After lunch at the hotel’s restaurant (not included) transfer back to Hanoi by road, arriving around 5:00 PM.
Option: If it is Sunday, there is the possibility to visit the colorful ethnic markets of Pa Co village (45-minute transfer) or Xa Linh village (40-minute transfer) where local people, mostly Hmong, come from the surrounding neighborhood to trade. These markets start very early in the morning and are best visited early in the day – they will finish before noon. Note this is an optional extra with surcharge payable – ask your travel consultant for further details.
Distances and journey time:
Mai Chau – Hanoi = 140km, 3h30 transfer