11 days 10 nights
Hanoi – Ha Giang – Mai Chau – Bac Ha – Sapa – Halong
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival (-/-/-)
You will arrive in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Your guide and driver will meet you outside the baggage claim of Noi Bai Airport and take you to your hotel in the city centre. In the afternoon, you can take a walk around the centre, visiting some of Hanoi’s main attractions: the Opera House, Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple. In the evening enjoy a traditional Water Puppet Performance – a unique Vietnamese Art form hailing from Southeast Asia’s wet-rice culture – followed by a welcome dinner at one of Hanoi’s finest restaurants.
Day 2: Hanoi – Ha Giang (B, L, -)
After breakfast in your hotel, you will be collected by your driver and guide. Now you will leave behind the buzz of the city and travel to the sweeping countryside of Ha Giang via Tuyen Quang. You will arrive in Ha Giang in the early afternoon and check into a local Tay homestay. Then, you can take a short walk around the rice fields or take an easy trek to a waterfall, and if it gets too hot, you can always copy the kids jump into the pools. You will have dinner and stay overnight in the village with the local people.
Day 3: Ha Giang – Quan Ba – Yen Minh – Dong Van (B, L, D)
After breakfast, you will take a drive to Dong Van Karst Plateau. On the way, you will have a chance to see a beauty of Pac Sum pass, Heaven Gate, Fairy Mountain in Quan Ba, looking down at Tam Son Town from above. After lunch in Yen Minh, you visit a beautiful, old house named Pao's House which was made famous in the film Chyuen Cua Pao or The Story of Pao. You will then visit the residence of the Vuong family (Palace of Hmong King) before continuing the drive to Dong Van town. You will visit ancient houses, a Lo Lo minority village, trek to the flag tower on the top of Lung Cu Mountain and view the ancient valley from above. You will have dinner and stay overnight in the Rocky Plateau Hotel.
Day 4: Dong Van (B, L, -)
After breakfast, you will visit the Dong Van Old Quarter, lined with old houses full of character some of which are one or two hundred years old. Here you can enjoy the peaceful and ancient atmosphere of Dong Van. The rest of the day will be spent travelling through the remote and beautiful countryside of Dong Van where you will pass through several small villages.
The journey will be rewarded with a brilliant back of picturesque valleys covered in rice paddies and the warmth of the local people. The H’mong and Hoa people, who are the local ethnic minorities, exhibit their friendliness through their colourful clothing and warm hospitality. Later you will return to the same hotel in Dong Van.
Day 5: Dong Van – Ma Pi Leng Pass – Meo Vac – Ha Giang (B, L, D)
After breakfast, you will start the trip back to Ha Giang, this time taking a different route. The van will stop at Ma Pi Leng Pass*, one of the most incredible stretches of road in Vietnam, for taking photos of the mountains and plummeting valley below. You will visit Meo Vac Market and then come back to Ha Giang via Bao Lam, Bao Lac and Bac Me. You will stop for lunch on the way and arrive in Ha Giang in the late afternoon. After checking into your hotel, you are free at leisure to explore the town or recover your energy for the next day.
* Ma Pi Leng Pass is one of the four most beautiful passes in Vietnam, ranked number 4. Others are O Quy Ho Pass (Sapa – Laocai), Khau Pha Pass (Yen Bai) and Pha Din (Dien Bien).
Day 6: Ha Giang – Sin Man (B, L, -)
After breakfast, you will set off on a full day journey to Sin Man and Hoang Su Phi from Ha Giang Town. The rough but scenic route traverses a dense jungle before crossing over a pass and down to Sin Man. This day is a real challenge for our driver as we travel by winding roads with many hairpin bends and steep hills. Along the way, you may meet people from the many different ethnic minority communities living in the mountain. The Nung Ing, Tay, Red Dao, Dao Ao Dai, La Chi and Co Lao are just some of the many hill tribe groups who have settled there. You will stay overnight in a homestay in Sin Man.
Day 7: Sin Man – Bac Ha (B, L, D)
Today you will drive to Bac Ha, the capital of the region of the Flower Hmong, a relaxed base to explore the northern highlands and hill-tribe villages. You will have lunch en route. After you arrive in Bac Ha and check-in to your hotel, you are free to explore the town as you wish. This is a long drive from Ha Giang to Sapa (about 6 - 7 hours on over 230km mountainous road), though there’s no time to get bored as the scenery is truly breathtaking.
Day 8: Bac Ha – Sapa – Visit Hill Tribe Village (B, L, D)
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel, before setting out on a full day’s trek to explore Sapa’s cultural diversity and unforgettable natural beauty. Take a guided hike through yawning valleys decorated with terraced rice fields and pass through remote hill tribe villages. You have three trekking options to choose from: Soft trek (~ 3 km), medium trek (~ 6km) and long trek (~ 12km). Trekking is an excellent way to explore the daily life and familiarise yourself with the cultures of the H’mong, Dzao and Dzay people who populate the region. You will have lunch in a hill tribe village after which you can explore the village by yourself. In the evening you will have dinner with a local family and enjoy the night in a traditional longhouse homestay.
Day 9: Sapa – Night train to Hanoi (B, L, -)
After breakfast at the homestay, your driver will take you back to Sapa Town. Then you are free to discover the hillside town at your leisure. In the afternoon, take a drive back to Lao Cai to catch your return night train to Hanoi.
You have the option of hiring a motorbike if you wish to drive to the Silver Waterfall, O Quy Ho Pass and Xeo villages. (This is not included – please let us know if you want to take this service).
Day 10: Hanoi – Ha Long Bay – Overnight on Cruise (B, L, -)
You will arrive in back Hanoi in the early morning and regroup at the railway station. Your guide will take you to a hotel nearby for a shower and breakfast before setting out on a 3 to 4-hour drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site: Ha Long Bay.
You will spend 24 hours on a traditional Junk Cruise in the amazing bay: a natural wonderland composed of jutting limestone islands and sparkling turquoise waters.
You will arrive at the dock around noon and board your junk. You can savour a gourmet lunch of fresh seafood on board as you sail out into the mystical bay. In the afternoon, cruise around some of Ha Long’s many islands, including Dinh Huong and Ga Choi.
Along the way, you will visit one of the bay’s three largest caves (Thien Cung, Dau Go, or Sung Sot). You will have the chance to feel the soft white sand and the cool clear ocean when you stop at a sheltered island cove (weather permitting). You will spend the night on your junk lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of calm waters.
Note: The above itinerary is subject to change without prior notice and depends on weather condition!
Day 11: Halong – Hanoi – Departure (B/-/-)
You can awake early and participate in Tai Chi on the top deck or simply relax and enjoy the sunrise over the bay’s towering islands. Enjoy a morning cup of coffee or tea, before setting out to explore nearby islands by rowing boat. You will return to the junk for breakfast and then you can take advantage of the sundeck and admire the amazing rock formations of Bai Tu Long Bay as you navigate back to Halong City. Your driver will meet you at the Ha Long jetty and take you back to Noi Bai airport in Hanoi for your return flight home.