The interesting culture of many hill tribe groups and the breathtaking mountain scenery of the north are all on this adventure. Travelling from Dien Bien to Sapa is quite hard, especially in the wet ..
Day 1: Hanoi – Arrival
Day 2: Hanoi City tour
Day 3: Hanoi – Son La
Day 4: Son La – Dien Bien
Day 5: Dien Bien – Tam Duong
Day 6: Tam Duong – Sapa
Day 7: Sapa Explore
Day 8: Sapa – Muong Khuong – Bac Ha
Day 9: Bac Ha – Hanoi
Day 10: Hanoi – Halong
Day 11: Halong – Hanoi
Day 12: Hanoi Departure
Day 01 : Hanoi – Arrival
We are met and transferred to hotel. Ha Noi, Vietnam’s capital, is a stylish and gracious city that retains an unique old world charm and some Asia ‘s most striking colonial architecture. The many lakes and parks make for relaxing atmosphere. If time permits we embark on a cyclo for a short excursion through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sale at these places. O/N in Ha Noi.
Day 02 : Hanoi City tour (B,L)
Today we enjoy a full day city tour starting with the Ho Chi Minh Complex, containing the mausoleum of the nation’s founder Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace and the Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts. This complex also comprises the One Pillar Pagoda, whose origins date back to the foundation of city. We follow this with a trip to the Temple of Literature well known as Vietnam’s first university and the History Museum, which displays an excellent collection of artifacts illustrating the Vietnamese history. Our next stop is the impressive Ethnologic Museum, dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 hill tribe groups, some of which we will see on our forthcoming days. We also visit the peaceful lake of Hoan Kiem with its sacred temple and the vibrant Dong Xuan Market before attending a performance of Hanoi’s famous water puppets. O/N in Hanoi.
Day 03 : Hanoi – Son La (B,L,D)
The journey northwards begins as we depart Hanoi and pass through the undulating terrains of tea plantations and the many timeless villages linked to the road which is the main artery of trade between the northwestern region and the capital city. This is our first glimpse of rural Vietnam and sets the tone for the days ahead. Depending on road and traffic conditions our drive will deliver us in Son La by mid or late afternoon. After checking into hotel we take a walk around this mountain town. There is a little traffic on roads and many Black Thai in traditional costume scurry in all directions. O/N in Son La.
Day 04 : Son La – Dien Bien (B,L,D)
The provincial museum and the nearby old prison are some of this hill town’s major sights. We have a chance to visit these before we leave for our next destination. The winding roads cross over the Pha Din Pass before reaching Dien Bien Phu, the site of the decisive battle in Vietnam’s struggle for independence in 1954. After checking into our central located hotel we enjoy a walk around to see this fast growing town. Our main stop is Dien Bien Phu’s Museum which details the event in place. We also pay a visit to the old battle field where the lush vegetation grows behind many war relics including old French tanks and artillery pieces. O/N in Dien Bien Phu .
Day 05 : Dien Bien – Tam Duong (B,L,D)
Heading out of the town, we spend a full day travelling into Vietnam’s most mountainous region. The roads are difficult at times, but the spectacular landscape with a mixture of terraced fields and hill villages makes the hardship all worthwhile. On the way, we have some opportunities to encounter the Red Hmong, Kho Mu, Mang, Dao people who still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. We arrive in Tam Duong by late afternoon and have time strolling around to catch our first glimpse; a small town surrounded by breathtaking mountains and tea plantations. O/N in Tam Duong.
Day 06 : Tam Duong – Sapa (B,L)
The scenery of the north is unequalled although the conditions are very simple. After breakfast we set off on a half day drive following the mountain roads to Sa Pa, our final destination. At an elevation of 1,500 meters, Sapa was founded in the early years of the last century as a hill resort for French administrators when the heat on the plain became unbearable. We arrive in Sapa by mid afternoon and can soak up the fresh climate as much as we want by spending our time wandering this famous hill town. The ethnic people are frequently seen on the main street of Sapa and small vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicraft. O/N in Sa Pa.
Day 07 : Sapa Explore (B,L)
The range of Fansipan boasts Vietnam’s highest mountain and lends an alpine feel to the area surrounding this hill station. Today we have enough time to visit the bustling Sa Pa Market where the Red Dao, Black Hmong, Tay and Xa Pho ethnic minorities converge from the nearby mountainsides and valleys to trade their goods and buy provisions. We then get well off the beaten track as we embark on a walk to explore this beautiful mountain region. Along the way we traverse several rustic villages and see many mountaineers doing their daily works such as logging, herding buffalo and tilling the field. The blend of verdant mountain backdrop and colourful population makes for an unimaginable view. O/N in Sa Pa.
Day 08 : Sapa – Muong Khuong – Bac Ha (B,L)
After breakfast we continue venturing into northern Vietnam, travelling through the Chinese border town of Lao Cai to the colourful Sunday Market at Muong Khuong. This market also attracts a wide variety of ethnic minority groups including the Variegated Hmong, Dao, Phu La, La Chi, Tay who still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. The experience of this congregation is unique. Upon leaving Muong Khuong, we drive to Bac Ha. As option , we can embark a walk this afternoon, visiting the Hmong King’s former residence and Ban Pho where the villagers make the potent local maize wine . O/N in Bac Ha.
Day 09 : Bac Ha – Hanoi (B,L)
The return journey begins as we depart Bac Ha Town and pass through the verdant and rugged mountain scenery to Hanoi. These back roads are a great way to explore the real Vietnam. We see very few other travellers, mostly rural dwellers who are just as interested in finding out about our lives as we are of theirs. The drive is very long , but we can make many stops along the way to stretch our legs and take some wonderful photographs. O/N in Ha Noi.
Day 10 : Hanoi – Halong (B,L,D)
Upon leaving the town we set off on a scenic overland trip to Ha Long Bay. As pleasure we make stop in Hai Phong, the biggest port town of northern Vietnam. There are plenty to see in this bustling town, some of which are the Hang Kenh Communal House, the Du Hang Pagoda, the Hang Kenh Carpet Factory and the vibrant Sat Market. A drive through tree lined boulevards punctuated with many striking French colonial architecture, will deliver us to some of these landmarks. We continue our journey Halong Bay and spend the remainder of the day for a well – earned rest on Bai Chay Beach. O/N in Ha Long.
Day 11 : Halong – Hanoi (B,L)
The legendary Ha Long Bay is truly one of Vietnam’s most impressive scenic sights. Today we embark on a sailing boat for a seven hour cruise around this wondrous bay, dotted with some 3,000 limestone islands rising amazingly from the clear and emerald water. The limestone karst formations are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves. Along the way we will anchor for a leisurely swim in a secluded cove and an enjoyable visit to one of the many hidden grottoes beneath towering cliffs. After a seafood lunch on board we continue our trip and have time for another swim. We then travel by roads back to Ha Noi with stopover at Dong Trieu pottery village. O/N in Ha Noi.
Day 12 : Hanoi Departure (B,)
There is a free time for you to relax or further explore Ha Noi. The trip ends after your transfer to Noi Bai Airport for departure.
Transportation in mountain region: private Landcruiser or 4X4 car with A/C
Shuttle bus transfer for the route Hanoi – Ha Long – Hanoi
Meal as mentioned: B = breakfast, L = Lunch, D = dinner
Hotel accommodation with 3* category, based on Double/Twin room.
English or French speaking guide
Entrance fee to indicated sights
Water puppet show, Cyclo trip
Boat trip in Halong
Other meals, tip, drinks, single room supplement, personal expenses