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Sapa, Vietnam

Northern Vietnam Explorer

13-day Tailor-Made Journey from £1,930 pp incl. flights


Short description

A 13-day trip to northern Vietnam, visiting Hanoi, Mai Chau, Ninh Binh and Sapa


  • Discover minority hill tribes amid the farmlands and villages of Mai Chau.
  • Marvel at landscapes to rivals those of Halong Bay in beautiful Ninh Binh.
  • Journey by train to Sapa, a region of mist-shrouded mountains, steepled rice fields and rich tribal heritage.

In Brief

  • 2 Nights Hanoi
  • 2 Nights Mai Châu
  • 2 Nights Ninh Bình
  • 1 Night Victoria Express Train
  • 2 Nights Sapa
  • 1 Night Hanoi


Recommended for:
City | History & culture | Natural world | Relaxation

This luxury Vietnam holiday will introduce you to all the highlights of the country's north, giving you the opportunity to discover the minority hill tribes amid the farmlands and villages of Mai Chau, with their scarlet headdresses, indigo fabrics and patterned aprons. You will also be able to marvel at the magnificent, verdant mountain landscapes that are covered with towering evergreens close to the beautiful town of Ninh Binh. Finally, journey by train to Sapa, a region of mist-shrouded mountains, terraced rice paddies and rich tribal heritage. This once-in-a-lifetime trip will steep you in the culture, heritage and unrivalled natural beauty of northern Vietnam. 

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
Fly London – Hanoi

Fly overnight from London to Hanoi, Vietnam.  

Day 2
Arrive in Hanoi

Arrive in Hanoi where you will be met by a local representative who will transfer you to your hotel. 

Stay: Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa (Superior)

Day 3

Today you'll visit the home and mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam's former leader, before exploring the ancient Temple of Literature and the famous 'Hanoi Hilton', the city's notorious former prison. In the afternoon, experience the thrill of a cyclo ride through the bustling streets of the city's old quarter and walk through its small alleyways. Next, visit the tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake and explore the French quarter with its faded colonial buildings and tree-lined avenues. 

Stay: Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa (Superior)

Meals: B L

Day 4
Hanoi - Mai Chau

After breakfast depart Hanoi and transfer by road to Mai Chau. Stop along the way to visit the Muong tribe and then stop at Thung Khe Pass for a spectacular view of Mai Chau Valley. Check into your hotel then have an authentic lunch with a local family of the White Thai Tribe, and enjoy some free time to acquaint yourself with the villagers. 

In the afternoon, trek through terraced rice paddies and small villages, discovering the natural beauty of the valley and encountering the culture of the ethnic minority Thai people on you visits to the Pom Coong and Na Phon villages. Return to your hotel in the late afternoon before spending the evening and dinner at your leisure. In the evening you can also choose to take part in a traditional dance show with Ruou Can (a local wine), a cooking class, or a weaving class at the hotel.

Stay: Mai Chau Lodge, Mai Chau (Superior)

Meals: B L

Day 5
Mai Chau

After breakfast, there may be an opportunity to visit a nearby market place depending on the day, where you can watch people bartering and buying produce and fresh goods. Mai Chau is known for the production of colourful embroidery, which is woven by hand in many of the nearby homes. You will also enjoy a walk through the community and be able to watch people at work, weaving the textiles by hand.

In the afternoon, if you wish to experience Mai Chau's relaxed hill tribe life and spectacular scenery, take a short drive through the surrounding countryside before setting off on a breathtaking trek through rice paddies and winding lanes to Cum and Sam Khoe villages. Whilst there, immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy a delicious authentic lunch.

Stay: Mai Chau Lodge, Mai Chau (Superior)

Meals: B L

Day 6
Mai Chau - Ninh Binh

After breakfast depart for Ninh Binh, a scenic drive through beautiful rural villages and farmland that will take between two to three hours. Upon arrival, take a rowing boat for a three-hour boat trip along the Boi River and explore the Tam Coc caves, ancient temples and green rice fields where you can see and farmers going about their daily labours in the Red River Delta. Ninh Binh is often referred to as the inland equivalent of ‘Halong Bay’ because of the spectacular limestone peaks that can be found towering above the rice paddy fields.

Continue to Bich Dong (Jade Cave), home to three ornate pagodas. The Lower Pagoda, the Middle Pagoda and the Upper Pagoda are all located on a mountain. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before visiting the remains of the once impressive citadel of Hoa Lu that was built when the city was the nation’s capital. Then climb up 200 steps results in a rewarding view. Also, explore the temples of Dinh Tein and Dai Hanh before checking in to your hotel for an overnight stay and spending the rest of the day at your leisure.

Stay: Emeralda Resort, Ninh Binh (Superior)

Meals: B L

Day 7
Ninh Binh

Start your day with an early morning boat trip on the Van Long River that will take approximately two hours. Along the way you will see caves, green rice fields, limestone mountains and have the chance to experience the rural life of the locals.

Van Long has an amazingly beautiful landscape, as well as the largest mangrove nature reserve in the northern delta. In the Van Long Forest, there are 457 species of plants, eight of which are listed in Vietnam’s Red Book, a list or rare and endangered species in Vietnam. There are 39 species of animal recorded here too, including nine rare ones such as languor, Tibetan bear and red-face monkeys. 

Return to your hotel for breakfast, then visit the Kenh Ga floating village in Gia Vien. The landscape is stunning with hundreds of limestone peaks jutting out of the emerald green paddies. Daily scenes include the sight of Vietnamese people rowing with their legs, kids herding ducks and buffaloes and people going about their lives on house boats. Board a boat for a trip along the small river to visit the floating village and floating fish farm.

Stay: Emeralda Resort, Ninh Binh (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 8
Ninh Binh – Sapa

After breakfast at your hotel, check out at noon and travel back to Hanoi, a journey that will take approximately 2–2.5 hours. In the evening, a guide will transfer you to the Hanoi railway station in order for you to take an overnight train to Lao Cai. We advise that you have dinner before boarding the evening train. The superior tour means that you will be staying in a four-berth sharing cabin. You can pay for an upgrade to a private cabin if you'd prefer, but please enquire as early as possible as there is only one and is therefore subject to availability. 

Stay: Victoria Express Train (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 9

On arrival at Lao Cai train station you will be met and driven 35 km to Sapa. The journey passes spectacular mountain scenery before you reach the charming town, set among the highest and most beautiful mountains in Vietnam. After breakfast, enjoy a leisurely morning, starting with a brief guided tour of Sapa town and the colourful local market. The afternoon is free to for you to relax or wander into town in order to explore at your own pace.

Stay: Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa, Lao Cai Province (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 10

After breakfast at your hotel, begin your exploration with a walk through Sapa town and then through the beautiful gardens and surrounding lush pine forest. In the afternoon, walk through the sculptured rice fields to the Red Dzao village of Ta Phin. Nearby you’ll come across an abandoned seminary that was attacked by the Vietnamese in 1952 during the war between the French and Indochina. French missionaries originally tried to convert the Hmong and other tribes to Christianity. Ultimately they were largely unsuccessful and the Hmong to this day mostly remain animist with exorcism and spirit worship both widely practiced. Unlike the Dzao, the Hmong have no written language and have relied on oral tradition to hand down their legends, folklore and songs.

Stay: Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa, Lao Cai Province (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 11
Sapa - Hanoi

Have breakfast at your hotel before departing on an overland journey back to Hanoi that will take approximately six to seven hours. Once you have checked into your hotel, spend the remainder of your day at leisure. 

Stay: Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa (Superior)

Meals: B

Day 12

Spend today at leisure until its time to head to the airport. Your local guide will meet you at the hotel, and transfer you to Noi Bai Airport for your return overnight flight to London.

Optional three-night beach resort extension in Danang

If you have more time, extend your stay by heading south to spend three nights in a luxurious Pool Villa at the all-inclusive beach resort of Fusion Maia in Danang, on the Central Coast. The resort is home to the Maia Spa, the largest spa in central Vietnam. Treatments based on the resort’s Natural Living Practices are included in the room rate. The resort is ideally placed to explore the spectacular cities of Hoi An and Hue as well as the 7th century Cham ruins at My Son.

Meals: B

Day 13
Arrive in London

Arrive in London, and continue on your onward journey home. 



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Superior

13-day Tailor-Made Journey from £1,930 incl. flights


Low Season

from £1,930 pp. incl. flights

High Season

from £1,980 pp. incl. flights

  • Complimentary UK airport lounge access
  • Return flights between London and Hanoi
  • Private transfers throughout with the exception of Sapa to Hanoi (Seat in coach basis)
  • 9 nights accommodation in 4* (Superior) hotels on a B&B basis with lunch included on selected touring days (see itinerary for details)
  • Overnight train to Sapa in a 4 berth cabin (enquire about costs to upgrade to a private cabin)
  • Private touring with local guides, including;
  • Cyclo tour in Hanoi
  • Visit a local tribe in Mai Chau and lunch with a tribal family, trek rice paddies and small villages
  • Boat trips along the Boi & Van Long River Ninh Binh, visit local Pagodas and Kenh Ga floating villages
  • Exploratory walks in Sapa andvisit Hmong tribes and villages

Terms & Conditions

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

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