This tour package hits on three of the main destinations around Hanoi while making Hanoi home base. The only activity in Hanoi was the water puppet show. To be clear this is not one cohesive tour but four separate tours/activities packaged together so there will be some down time between tours which is nice to unwind and explore Hanoi on your own or book a separate walking tour, cooking class or anything else you want to do in Hanoi. The package provided everything from my transport to and from the airport and various activities as well as all of the lodgings. The staff at The Church Travels were very accommodating, responsive and had a lot of good recommendations.
Now on to the tours themselves. It goes without saying that Halong Bay has one of the most beautiful sceneries out there, even on my first day when there was overcast. The bedroom on the boat was clean and had all of the amenities needed for an overnight stay and the meals were nicely prepared. I was very satisfied. Although some of the stops in the bay were jam packed with other tourist groups, it did not spoil the views once we made it.
Trekking and the homestay in Sapa was definitely the highlight of this package for me. What a unique and wonderful experience to trek through the mountains and end up at our host's home. I was very fortunate to be part of a good group of fellow trekkers as well as having an awesome host, Mama Chao and her family. Her home cooked meals were made of dishes mostly grown on here land! Though simple, her home had all the amenities for comfort like a shower, western toilets and even wifi!
Since Halong Bay and Sapa were my main objectives for this tour, I really didn't do any research or have any expectations for Ninh Binh and treated it as a bonus but it turned out to be very educational and interesting with views and destinations I won't forget. The row boat ride through the mountains and rice fields of Tam Coc and the views a top of Dragon Mountain were spectacular!