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Minorities of South China and North Vietnam (18 days)

Guilin - Yangshuo - Sanjiang - Zhaoxing - Kaili - Kunming - Jianshui - Yuanyang - Hekou - Sapa - Hanoi - Hoa Lu - Halong Bay

Day 1. Arrive Guilin (D)
Arriving in Guilin (Guangxi Province), our guide will welcome you at the airport, transfer you to your hotel and help you check in. Tonight, there will be a welcome dinner with local flavours.

Day 2. Guilin - Yangshuo (Zhuang Nationality area) (B/L/D)
After breakfast, drive to Yangdi dock and take bamboo raft to enjoy the landscape of the Li River. Arrive at Xingping and stroll in Xingping Ancient Town. After that, drive to Yangshuo. You will have a bicycle trip there. Yangshuo countryside provides a very good chance to discover the real beauty of Yangshuo. The cycling is excellent, easy level rural roads and paved country roads will take you through numerous local villages, along bamboo lined rivers and rice fields and up close to the local people and their daily lives with our local guide. It isn't a strenuous tour and we can alter distances to suit your abilities. You may get the chance to visit a local family if you want.

Day 3. Yangshuo (B/L)
Today is free at leisure in Yangshuo.

Day 4: Yangshuo - Sanjiang (Dong Nationality area) (B/L/D)
After breakfast, drive to Sanjiang. Sanjiang (Guangxi Province) is a county inhabited by the South Dong, one of two subgroups of the Dong ethnic minority. A short drive from Sanjiang will take us to Chengyang, a quaint little village with one of the largest Fengyuqiao (Wind and Rain Bridges) in the region. Here we will explore the villages on foot.

Day 5: Sanjiang - Zhaoxing (Dong Nationality area) (B/L/D)
Today we drive to Zhaoxing, one of the largest Dong villages in Guizhou Province, with more than 800 households and a population of 4000. There are five drum towers and five roofed bridges belonging to five large families living in the village. We can enjoy some free time in the village or hike for about 3 hours to reach Tang’an, one of the four eco-museums in Guizhou province.

Day 6: Zhaoxing - Kaili (Miao Nationality area) (B/L/D)
Drive from Zhaoxing to Kaili via the Xia-rong Highway. Much of this newly-built high way is either tunnels or bridges. We’ll see marvelous mountain views and we’ll also stop on the way to visit Yintan, a lovely quaint Dong village hidden in the mountains.

Day 7: Kaili (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we’ll visit the Ethnic Museum, then drive along the beautiful Bala River to visit Jidao Miao Village which represents the long-skirt subgroup and Datang, a Miao village with an aquatic granary and the women’s 'Mini skirt'. Then visit Paika Village to learn about the Lusheng - the Miao people’s most important musical instrument. Finally we visit the Miao’s rice storage houses over the water at Datang Village. The Miao style wooden houses are comfortable but dangerous, too, as there is a great risk of fire. Therefore the local villagers in Datang build small houses above water for rice storage to protect their rice from fire, rats and insects.

Day 8: Kaili - Guiyang - Kunming (B/L/D)
Today in the morning visit Matang Village, a quiet village inhabited by the Gejia minority, where we will learn about their culture, of which very little is known. The Gejia although classified as Miao, is in fact a separate group. You will see the typical costumes, houses, embroidery and batik making. In the late afternoon drive back to Guiyang, the provincial capital of Guizhou. After dinner, you will be transferred to the railway station to catch your train to Kunming.

Day 9: Kunming (B/L/D)
In the morning arrive in Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province, you will be transferred to hotel for breakfast and a short rest. Then drive to visit the Stone Forest (Shilin in Chinese, 89 km, 1.5 hours ), This 80 hectare site of fantastic limestone formations was created during the Permian Era when the sea covered this area. Shilin is on the World Heritage List and managed by the traditional keepers, the Yi people. It is famous in China and unique in the world. We will visit the Stone Forest for about 2.5 hours. Today you will taste Yiliang Roast Duck as lunch. Then back to Kunming and have local flavor crossing bridge rice noodle for dinner.

Day 10: Kunming - Jianshui (B/L/D)
In the morning we drive for about 2 hours to Jianshui and visit the 400 year old Chaoyang Tower. You can also visit the second largest Confucian-temple in China. The small city of Jianshui is the cultural center of southern Yunnan province. In the past, the people of this city became very rich due to the natural deposits of tin. So now, you can see many private houses with typical Chinese architectural style in the city. In the afternoon you will have a chance to visit one of them - the Zhu Family Garden which is formed by 250 rooms and 42 courtyards. Stroll around in the old part of Jianshui Town and see ancient water wells that have been used by local residents for centuries. Thanks to the water quality, a lot of tofu (beancurd) workshops make particularly tasty tofu, and you can see how this popular food is produced in the traditional way.

Day 11: Jianshui - Yuanyang (Hani & Yi Nationality area) (B/L/D)
After breakfast we visit Tuanshan Village. Most people in Tuanshan Village are surnamed Zhang. Tuanshan Village exists as the only intact cultural village of the Qing Dynasty that was previously a habitat of the Yi ethnic minority. There are also residential complexes built 600 years ago that have preserved the characteristics and environment of the southern Yunnan villages. We then drive to Yuanyang and visit the first wonder in the world: Endless Hani Terrace Rice Fields on the mountains at Laohuzui & Duoyishu. They are popular destinations with photographers due to the vast areas of nearby mountains which have been cultivated into terraced rice paddies for at least the past 1300 years by the Hani people.

Day 12: Yuanyang - Hekou (Miao Nationality area) - Sapa (B/L/D)
Drive to Hekou, the China-Vietnam Border port, where you will cross the border in Vietnam. Our Vietnam guide will meet you and drive Sapa & transfer to hotel. Today we take a walking tour to visit Saturday 'mountain market'. Lunch at local restaurant. After lunch we drive to Ta Van village, about 8 km of twisty road from Sapa town. Along the road you will see many H’Mong, Dzay, Dzao ethnic people dressed in their traditional colourful costumes. Two-hour walking tour through a terraced paddy field to discover the lifestyle of the Dzay minority.

Day 13: Sapa - Bac Ha - Lao Cai (B/L/D)
Transfer to Bac Ha. View the wonderful Sunday 'mountain market' full of montagnards from surrounding villages. They dress in their most colourful costumes and head to the market to exchange goods or sell self-made crafts. After lunch, walking tour at Ban Pho village then set off for Lao Cai to board the train for Hanoi. Dinner at local restaurant and overnight on train.

Day 14: Hanoi - Hoa Lu - Hanoi (B/L)
Arriving Hanoi in the early morning. Pick up & after breakfast we drive to Hoa Lu, (100 km south of Hanoi), famous as the so-called Dry-Halong Bay: the same limestone rocks as in Halong Bay but lying in rice fields with winding streams instead of the sea. Spectacular scenery during the boat trip to Tam Coc caves. Lunch at local restaurant. Visit Bich Dong Pagoda and Temples of the Dinh and Le dynasties.

Day 15: Hanoi (B/L/D)
Full day city tour of Hanoi includes Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (closed on Monday, Friday and the whole October-November) and Residence, One-Pillar Pagoda, Army Museum. Lunch at local restaurant. Visit Temple of Literature, built in the 11th century as Vietnam’s first university, Fine Art Museum, Quan Thanh Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. In the evening, see the world-famous Vietnamese Water Puppet show in the theatre & dinner at local restaurant.

Day 16: Hanoi - Halong Bay (B/D)
Morning at leisure. Afternoon about 3 to 4 hours drive to Ha Long Bay. Upon arrival transfer to hotel. Dinner at local restaurant.

Day 17: Halong Bay - Hanoi (B/L)
A morning cruise in a private junk on the emerald green waters of Halong Bay, among the 3,000 spectacular limestone islands. The cruise ends with a fresh seafood lunch on board. Return to Hanoi by road in the afternoon & transfer to hotel.

Day 18: Hanoi (B)
Free at leisure until transfer to airport for your return flight to UK. Arriving Heathrow next morning.

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Please note that this itinerary is our suggestion only- all our tours are custom made to your requirements!

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Your quoted price will normally include:
International flights
Meals as shown in the program (B/L/D)
Transfers, tours with English speaking guide.
All entrance fees and boat fees.
Service charges, rooms tax and handling fee.
Domestic flights.

Your tour price will not include:
Visa fees
Airport departure taxes
Drinks with provided meals
Tips, personal expenses and other services which are not mentioned in the program.