You can join this tour as a ‘stand-alone’ or join it either before or after another tour of Vietnam. Prior to heading into the hill tribe region of Northern Vietnam we will familiarize ourselves with the beautiful city of Hanoi on a city tour showcasing the highlights such as Temple of Literature and the Hoa Lo Prison before transferring to the overnight sleeper train to Sapa. You will be amazed by the colorful hill tribes in Sapa all selling their local handicrafts with well-honed sales pitches to relieve you of your Dong – all in an incredibly friendly manner. On a visit to Taphin village you will learn more about the lives of the Red Dzao and Black H’mong before catching the overnight train back to Hanoi.
Day 1: Hanoi
Day 2: Hanoi
Day 3: Sapa
Day 4: Sapa
Day 5: Sapa – Hanoi
Day 6: Hanoi
DAY 1: HANOI
On arrival in Hanoi you will be transferred to your hotel. Please remember that hotel check-in times are after midday – unless the hotel has some rooms already available. If you do arrive early you can leave your luggage at reception and we would encourage you to get out and explore Hanoi – but please take a hotel business card so that you will be able to find your way back. Before leaving the hotel, please look in the reception area for a notice advising your tour leader’s name, mobile phone number and other helpful local information. There are no activities planned until your 6 pm tour briefing. It’s important you attend the tour briefing and afterwards, for those interested, your leader will be happy to escort you to a local restaurant to sample the delights of Vietnamese cuisine and toast the start of what will be an unforgettable journey.
DAY 3: SAPA
We may catch a glimpse of China over the other side of the river this morning as we disembark from the overnight train and begin our drive into the mountains and on to the picturesque minority hill tribe market in the northwest of Vietnam. Just before reaching the market we will see colourful activities as beautiful Flower H’mong people carrying hand crafted products or pulling dogs or buffalos on their way to the market. You are free to wonder around the market and become a part of the trading activities. After having lunch at a local restaurant we continue driving to the hill station town of Sapa. Set amidst some magnificent mountain scenery and in the shadow of Vietnam’s tallest peak, the 3143-metre-high Mt. Fansipan, the former French colonial hill station town of Sapa is home to some of Vietnam’s most colorful minority hill tribes. Like Dalat in the south, the French developed Sapa in an effort to replicate parts of the European Alps. A number of their villas remain, but many were lost in 1979 when the Vietnamese army evicted the invading Chinese. We spend the rest of the afternoon discovering the charms of this magic little town.
DAY 5: SAPA – HANOI
After breakfast we take a 5 hour drive back to Hanoi, there are many photo opportunities on the way included of a short walk to stretch your legs. Upon arrival in Hanoi you are free in the remainder of the day.
DAY 6: HANOI
Free at leisure, it is subject to your flight schedule you might have some free time once we transfer you to the airport for taking your international flight back home. Today is the last day of your tour. You can use your hotel room in Hanoi until check out time (most times at 12 pm noon). We wish you a comfortable journey home and are sure you will take with you some wonderful memories of Vietnam.
DAY 2: HANOI
This morning we bid farewell to our hill tribe hosts and return to Hanoi. Although there has been a permanent settlement here since the 3rd Century AD, the city of Hanoi can trace its origins back to 1010 B.C., when Emperor Le Thai To moved his capital from Hoa Lu to this site.
When the French occupied Vietnam from the 1880s to World War II, Hanoi was developed as their colonial Indochinese capital with many of the ancient and historical structures being razed to make way for new French buildings. Today, the people of Hanoi take a lot of pride in their grand old colonial buildings which, together with the wide spacious boulevards and tree-lined lakes, help make Hanoi one of most graceful and charming cities in South East Asia. This afternoon we enjoy a city tour, showcasing some of Hanoi’s most interesting attractions. We begin by visiting the One Pillar Pagoda which is near to the Soviet-inspired Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. One Pillar Pagoda was first constructed in 1049 and is one Hanoi’s oldest structures. If it doesn’t look that old, it is because the French blew it up in 1954 as a parting gesture and the current building is a replica. Afterwards, we will visit the Temple of Literature. Founded in 1070, it was Vietnam’s first institute of learning and the place where candidates for the position of Mandarin were examined. Finally we will visit the Hoa Lo Prison, better known to many as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’. These days the prison serves as a museum and a reminder of the Vietnamese who were incarcerated here by their French masters and, later, American pilots shot down over North Vietnam airspace during the Vietnam War. The afternoon is free to wander around and one of the best places to do this is the city’s Old Quarter, situated to the north of the Hoan Kiem Lake – a great (and easy) place to get lost in for a couple of hours.
This evening we transfer to the railway station and board our overnight sleeper train journey north to the Vietnamese-Chinese border town of Lao Cai. This is a local train and conditions on board are generally quite basic. Also, breakfast tomorrow is not always available on the train, so it is recommended that you purchase some breakfast supplies before boarding in Hanoi.
DAY 4: SAPA
This morning we will take a short ride from Sapa to our trekking base where we start our trek through terraced rice fields and H’mong villages, we have chances to meet and talk with locals working in the fields. After having a picnic lunch we continue trekking to Ta Phin village of Red Dao people. Your Dao host family will warmly welcome you to their traditional home. Afterwards we drive back to Sapa.
Accommodation as mentioned in the program, based on Double/Twin Room with breakfast
Meals as indicated in itinerary
English speaking guide throughout the trip
Tours, transfers and all services as mentioned in the itinerary
Private driver and vehicle for city tours, train and airport transfers
Entrance fees for all sights visited
Shared A/C soft sleeper cabin in the train HAN – LAOCAI
Vietnam visa arrangements
International flights to and from Vietnam
Any other meals not mentioned above
Personal expenses are such as laundry, telephone, drinks, camera and video fees, etc.
Gratitude for guide and driver
All other services which are not mentioned in INCLUSIONS
``Both our tour leaders were outstanding. Thang in particular was extremely organised and solved any issues that arose immediately. Both Thang and Hai have excellent English language skill and were extremely, knowledgeable. Our booking officer Duc was also outstanding.``