This 11 days trip allows you to explore the most stunning scenery of the northern part of Vietnam ( Sapa – Tam Duong, Lai Chau, Phong Tho and Dien Bien) and combination with the charming UNESCO World Heritage city. You will enjoy the beautiful French colonial architecture and get inspired by its ancient temples and get on a boat to cruise the mighty Mekong River and admire the famous Pak Ou Budha Caves. Visit the amazing Kuang Si waterfall, with its refreshing turquoise pools, and go to an elephant camp.
Tour Route: Hanoi – Sapa – Tam Duong – Phong Tho – Muong Lay – Dien Bien – Oudomxai – Luang Prbang – Pak Ou Cave – Khuangsi Water fall – Luang Prabang departure
Day 1: Hanoi arrival (Dinner, Guide pick up)
Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel, the capital city of Vietnam, is an elegant city located on the banks of the Red River with tranquil Restored Sword Lake at its heart.
With food stalls on every corner Hanoi is famous for its street food cuisine and Bia Hoi, a draft beer that is brewed daily and sold on street corners. Start your evening at ‘Bia Hoi corner’ and pull up a stool to taste the local brew and do a spot of people watching. Then walk through the bustling streets of the Old Quarter as your guide introduces you to the various foods on offer. You will stop at one of the many pop up restaurants and try a Vietnamese barbeque of flame grilled meats, tofu and vegetables on skewers just like the locals. End the evening with a walk along Hoan Kiem Lake for dessert at Hanoi’s most famous ice-cream street. You will spend the night in Hanoi.
Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, ranks amongst the world's most attractive and interesting cities. It was first the capital of Vietnam in A.D. 1010, and though the nation's capital moved to Hue under the Nguyen dynasty in 1802, the city continued to flourish after the French took control in 1888. In 1954, after the French departed, Hanoi was declared Vietnam's capital once again. The remnants of over 1,000 years of history are still visible here, with that of the past few hundred years wonderfully preserved.
Day 2: Hanoi Orientation – Overnight train to Lao Cai (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast at your hotel, you will be taken to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and historical presidential relics and then the Temple of Literature nearby. Afterwards you will head to Ngoc Son Temple and Hoan Kiem Lake. The Ngoc Son temple is set on a tiny island on the Hoan Kiem Lake and dates back to the 13th century. The lake itself is a picturesque focal point of Hanoi, frequented by tourists and locals alike. In the afternoon, you will visit Museum of Ethnology, widely acknowledged as the best in the country which houses a display dedicated to Vietnam's 54 ethnic minority peoples. You will then enjoy a cyclo ride through the Old Quarter also known as the ‘Hanoi’s 36 streets’. This bustling area of narrow streets and alleys is home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. It's a great place to explore with plenty of photo opportunities all around you. After that, you will come back to your hotel for refreshment then you will be free until the driver/guide arrives to take you to the railway station to catch the overnight train at 21.00 pm to Lao Cai. You will spend the night on the train.
The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum is closed every Monday and Friday (outside grounds and garden area will be open on these days) and normally closed from September 4 through November 5 for preservation and maintenance of the building.
On Mondays, the Museum of Ethnology is closed. If our tour of Hanoi is on a Monday, our visit to the Museum of Ethnology will be replaced by a visit to Hanoi's History Museum or Fine Arts Museum.
Alternative For Day 2 : Hanoi city tour by motorbike and street food – Overnight train to Lao Cai (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
You’ll have the whole day to explore Vietnam’s capital city on the back of a motorbike. Your guide will take you to the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century, and a popular attraction, as is Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, his simple stilt house where he lived and worked and the museum dedicated to his memory. After that, you’ll visit the bustling Old Quarter with its eclectic mix of architectural styles - traditional ‘tube’ houses, religious buildings, colonial houses, vernacular dwellings and modern concrete edifices.
The day also includes a ‘Street Life’ experience, also on the back of a motorbike. You’ll spend a couple of hours wandering around the back streets in and nearby the Old Quarter. A street food brunch is included – take your pick from traditional Hanoi Pho (beef noodle soup), Nom (green papaya salad with seasoned beef), Banh Goi (pillow-shaped rice pastry with minced pork and mushroom), Banh Cuon (hot rice paper with pork and fried onion) or Bun Cha (fresh noodle with grilled pork). If you’re hungry, try two or three varieties – they’re snacks rather than a meal. After that, you will come back to your hotel for refreshment then you will be free until the driver/guide arrives to take you to the railway station to catch the overnight train at 21.00 pm to Lao Cai. You will spend the night on the train.
Day 3: Lao Cai - Bac Ha Sunday market or another markets - Sapa (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
You’ll arrive in the early morning, where you’ll be met and taken by car to visit a market frequented by ethnic minority peoples and also be a place where many ethnic groups gather to buy and sell, eat and drink together. You can buy homemade handicrafts and clothes. After a picnic lunch, you’ll return to Lao Cai and continue your journey into the mountains to Sapa, a small town perched on the mountainside opposite Mt. Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest peak. You’ll arrive with time to relax and stroll around the town. You’ll spend the night in a Sapa hotel with good mountain views.
Although it’s quite a long drive, the landscape is attractive and the ethnic markets are a fascinating experience. Unlike those in the tourist areas, the markets that we choose are for not only for buying and selling, but are also meeting places for ethnic minority people to meet and exchange news. There will be plenty of colour and authentic costumes, but very little to buy as souvenirs unless you want to barter for a water buffalo or a sack of fertiliser!
The trips to ethnic minority markets must be on Tuesday (Coc Ly or Ban Cam market), Thursday (Lung Khau Nhin market), Saturday (Can Cau) or Sunday (Bac Ha, Muong Hum or Muong Khuong markets).
Day 4: Sapa – Lao Chai village - Ta Van Village - Sapa (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast, you will start on a lovely trek that will take us along buffalo paths and trails and through several hill tribe villages Lao Chai and Ta Van, home to Black H'mong, and Dzay people. This is an absolutely spectacular walk through stunning scenery inhabited by some of the friendliest people you can meet. Once on the valley floor, you can really appreciate the wonderful scenery that surrounds you. The walls of the valley are covered with multi-layered rice terraced fields and scattered villages. After that, you will return to Sapa where you will spend the night.
Day 5: Sapa - Tam Duong – Paso - Muong Lay (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
The day will begin with a drive to Tam Duong with an en-route stop at the Heaven Gate, the highest road in Vietnam where you will enjoy the views from the pass. Upon arrival in Binh Lu (if the weather permits), you will travel along a dirt road which leads to the hidden valleys, inhabited by Lu and Nhang ethnic minorities. There are opportunities to visit some of the villages on the way, witnessing the embroidery skills of some of the local people.
Once you arrive in Tam Duong you’ll stop for lunch in a local restaurant. An afternoon drive will take you to Muong Lay (formerly named Lai Chau). The road weaves its way through the picturesque Na river valley, passing by many small villages of Red and White Hmong, Kho Mu and White Thai ethnic minorities until you reach Lai Chau in the mid afternoon. You’ll have the opportunity of having a walk around this small town and you’ll spend the night in Muong Lay.
Day 6: Muong Lay - Dien Bien (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
You will take a boat ride downstream in the Black River to visit a Thai minority village along the riverbank. The boat will take you further downstream, until you are picked up for a drive to Dien Bien. The drive to Dien Bien is in the picturesque mountainous area which runs along the river in a beautiful valley. Today you will pass more ethnic villages of Black Thai, White Thai, Red and White Hmong and Kho Mu minorities. Upon arrival in the early afternoon, you will have a guided visit to some of the historic sites, including the museum, A1 hill and the Commander's Post. Your overnight stay will be in Dien Bien Phu.
Day 7: Dien Bien - Tay Trang border gate – Laos (Oudomxai) (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
Morning we transfer to Border gate of Vietnam and Laos then our guide and driver here will pick you up to Oudomxai. Arrive Oudomxai in the late afternoon, relax and overnight here.
Day 8: Oudomxai – Luang Prabang (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast, you will pass through the countryside and reach to Luang Prabang city at lunch time. In the afternoon, you will visit the oldest living temple in Luang Prabang, Wat Visoun dates back to 1513 and contains a collection of antique wooden Buddhas. You also visit the nearby Wat Aham before continuing to Wat Xieng Thong, the crowning jewel of all the monasteries and temples in the city. Its many ornate buildings feature exquisite mosaic and gold-stenciled murals. From there, you will stroll down the main street of Luang Prabang, stopping at some of the many temples that line its sides, including Wat Sene. After that you will be transferred to your hotel. You will stay overnight in Luang prabang.
Day 9: Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Caves and Xiengmene (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
Today, you will embark on a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, firstly stopping at Xiengmene, where you visit Wat Long Khun, and the limestone cave Tham Sakkarin, and a tour around Ban Xiengmene village. Following a picnic lunch, you will then continue by boat up the Mekong which also gives us a breathtaking view of the tranquil countryside as well time to explore the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. Along the way, you will stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, where they make the local rice wine. On return, you will take a short drive to Ban Phanom, a small village known for its hand weaving. You’ll spend the night in Luang Prabang.
Day 10: Luang Prabang - Khuangsi Waterfall (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast, you will visit local villages of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ouay, a Hmong village, Ban Ou, Laoloum Village and Ban Thapene, all Khmu villages. Your guide will then takes you to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall where you can cool off with a refreshing swim in the pools or walk along the forest trails. After returning to Luang Prabang by late afternoon, you will then continue to Ban Xangkhong, a village well known for its silk weavings and for its Saa (jute) Papermaking. You will return to the city by late evening to admire the sunset at Wat Siphouthabath. In the afternoon, you will be free at your leisure. You will stay overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 11: Luang Prabang – Departure (Breakfast, Driver Pickup)
After breakfast, you will be free until transfer to the airport for the flight back home.
- Free Vietnam Visa intivation letter.
- Private door-to-door pick-up & drop-off services.
- Travel in an appropriate private air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced safe driver.
- Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.
- The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary
- Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) in the best local restaurants, picnics where suitable restaurants are not available
- All sightseeing tickets.
- VAT and other taxes
- 24/7 hotline support guaranteed
- International flight tickets and airport tax.
- Lunches and dinners, except as specified above.
- Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
- Travel insurance
- Surcharges for Peak seasons (if any)
- Vietnam visa stamp fee
- Other services not mentioned above.
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