Northern Vietnam Encounter
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Some of the highlights included are:
- Discover the myriad of Hanoi attractions
- Explore the remote mountains while trekking in Sapa
- Travel to historic Son La
- Meet friendly H'mong tribes people
- Trek to charming Cat Cat village
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- Meals: 8 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 2 dinners
- Accommodation: Homestay (2 nights), Hotel (5 nights), Overnight sleeper train (1 night), Resort (1 night)
- Transport: Overnight sleeper train
- Activities: Ba Be Lake - Boat trip, Dong Van - Day trek, Hanoi - Temple of Literature
Need to know
- Group size: Min 4, Max 12
- Ages: Min 15
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and its thriving Old Quarter, which is an architectural museum piece with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930s provincial French town. As Vietnam develops to compete with other South-East Asian countries, the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the contrasts of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface. We take a guided half-day tour of Hanoi that captures the beauty and the history of the laid-back, tree-lined capital, visiting the major sights including the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and paying a homage to Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. You will pass by the Hoan Kiem Lake and visit the historic Old Quarter. We also include lunch at the KOTO café, an amazing project aimed at providing vocational training and experience in the hospitality industry for underprivileged young people.
Arrive in Lao Cai in the morning and transfer by road to Sapa, where you'll start the adventure with a walking tour of Sapa town and visit the town’s market where you can indulge in some local goods – for example, dyed fabrics, hemp plants and handmade textiles. From the market, head off on a short trek (approximately 2.5 hours) to visit a hilltribe village called Cat Cat, home to the H’mong people, who emigrated from China 300 years ago. It is also a beautiful place physically, located in a valley and surrounded by rice terraces. The H’mong people are easily identifiable thanks to their dark clothing, died with the local indigo and hemp plants, and their headwear – the women with their hair curled up into a turban-like hat, and the men in skull caps. The second day in Sapa will be more relaxed, offering the chance to explore this beautiful place with the tour group.
From Sapa, embark on the bus journey to Ha Giang province (approximately 7 hours). This is a beautiful highland region of lush forests and terraced rice paddies, with the dramatic mountains of Heaven’s Gate soaring in the background. Ha Giang province also shares a border with southern China, and is known as Vietnam's final frontier. After relaxing and getting to know your surrounds, visit the local markets and shopfronts - relics of a bygone era. You'll also visit the local museum and explore Cuom Village, where you can witness the colourful traditional dress of the local people.
Depart for the first of many scenic mountain drives throughout Ha Giang province today. Stop to browse (and possibly buy!) at Minh Tao Market, before wandering through Nam Luong village. You'll also pass through Lung Tam textile village and the Vuong Family Palace in Sa Phin commune, before continuing to Dong Van where you'll spend the night. Awake the following day and visit the local market before setting off on a trek through the spectacular local landscape. The trek (approximately 4 hours) is surprisingly moderate and suitable for passengers with an average fitness level. You'll also visit Mrs Mai's Responsible Tourism project where you will learn about the harrowing reality of human trafficking. Most of the women working here were victims or witnesses of this crime, and here they have found an opportunity for a life free from exploitation.
Ba Be Lake
Ba Be Lake
Travel to Ba Be where you'll board a houseboat to truly explore this beautiful area. The drive to Ba Be is approximately eight hours, but the views are breathtaking and the destination is well worth the trip. Your boat will glide you around the largest natural lake in Vietnam, surrounded by limestone bluffs and mountains - you'll also have the chance to disembark for some light walks, visit waterfalls and observe the natural flora and fauna from the deck. This is a wonderful way to unwind and experience the beauty of this hidden gem first hand. In the evening, return to shore where the accommodation for the night is in a local home. Depart Ba Be on day 10 and head back to Hanoi, where our trip comes to an end. If you are flying out of Hanoi today, please do not book a flight that departs before 4pm.