Realizing some friends and family are coming from afar, we are planning two days of fun for everyone after the big day.
The first day we will visit the famous Ha Long Bay.
We will go by private bus (about 2 hours) in the morning from Hanoi directly to a private "junk" (aka asian-style boat... in fact it is very nice) with a dedicated crew, chef and bar-keep, where we will:
The boat tour is about 6 hours. In the evening we will return to Hanoi around 6 to 7pm.
This is a very accessible day trip for anyone of any age and even for parents with young kids/strollers. The caves are setup with lighting and a paved walking trail of about 500m. There are maybe 100 or so steps in all, and plenty of people to help go up and down. If you wish, you may stay aboard the boat, and skip the cave, but they are terrific.
We have space for 42 people. Please indicate your participation in the wedding RSVP.
The second day we will adventure to lush Ninh Binh.
Again, we will go by private bus (about 2 hours) in the morning from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, a unesco site, the old-Vietnamese capital, and said to be the Ha Long Bay on land.
Ninh Binh is full of towering peaks draped with natural rain forest that rise above vast carpets of rice fields dotted with small villages and pagodas. There is no place better to see this than our first stop, the Trang An grottoes.
At Trang An, we will embark on a river adventure in small groups. Each group of 2-6 people will get their own small row boat and a guide. The guide will row you several kilometers through a network of long, dark (but lit), low-vaulted caves. Watch your head! In between the caves you'll enjoy the fresh moist air and take in the hills that rise around you. You can have some fun with help paddling if you're inclined to race the boat next to you, or you can sit back and put up a parasol. We'll make a quick stop to stretch and see some of the temples lining the river banks before we come to the end of a 3-hour cruise on the river.
It's time for lunch!
We'll have lunch at Tam Coc Garden Resort, in the heart of Tam Coc, another unesco world heritage site full of limestone outcrops amid serene rice-paddy fields. The restaurant at the resort is dropped in the middle of all this, and circled with colorful flower and fruit gardens.
After enjoying traditional Vietnamese cuisine, we will set off to experience the 1500th-century Bich Dong pagodas walking up some 200 steps to the middle and high temples partially carved into the mountain. Then we're continuing the trekking at the largest of all southeast-asian temples, Bai Dinh. Bai Dinh is an impressive new complex of Buddhist temples, pagodas, and monuments on Ba Rau hill that overlooks the Hoang Long river valley. After all that walking, you can rest up on the ride back to Hanoi.
This day 2 trip is much more of an adventure than day 1. It's beautiful and worthwhile for anyone that is up for a good deal of walking and steps (there is plenty of time for you to take it easy or opt out of Bich Dong's steps), and sitting on a simple row boat for a few hours. Obviously this is less accessible to anyone with babies for example, but kids would totally love it.
There is no limit to the number of people we can accommodate for day 2. Please indicate your participation in the wedding RSVP.