This ten-day adventure culminates on the summit of Mt. Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest mountain, but it includes much more than just a climb. Apart from an introduction to Hanoi and overnight travel by rail to the north, you’ll encounter many of the colourful ethnic minority peoples living in the northwest mountains. As you’ll be travelling tailor-made, you can ask us to rearrange this itinerary to suit you – no limit to the number of changes you make, and no charge for making them.
Hanoi Vietnam – The charming Vietnamese capital has aged well, preserving the Old Quarter, monuments and colonial architecture, while making room for modern developments alongside. Hanoi may have shrugged off several former names, including Thang Long, or “ascending dragon”, but it hasn’t forgotten its past, as sites such as Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Hoa Lo Prison attest. Lakes, parks, shady boulevards and more than 600 temples and pagodas add to the appeal of this city, which is easily explored.
Showcasing sweeping boulevards, tree-fringed lakes and ancient pagodas, Hanoi is Asia’s most atmospheric capital. Just don’t expect a sleepy ambience. It’s an energetic city on the move, and Hanoi’s ambitious citizens are determined to make up for lost time.
Experience the highlights of Sapa, nicknamed the ‘Tonkinese Alps’ by the French, is a wonderful destination if you want to experience any combination of trekking (or light walking), photography, minority village markets, and generally explore a region that’s stayed relatively untouched by modern life. Located in the far north of Vietnam, just a few miles from the Chinese border, Sapa and the surrounding region offers a completely unique holiday experience, not to be found elsewhere in Vietnam. This is where those misty, pastoral images of traditional Vietnam are still a reality. Traditional dress is still worn here, with colourful outfits identifying each different hill tribe. Buffalo are farmed in the valleys, while the mountainsides are terraced for miles with lush green rice paddies. When you realise that the highest mountain in Sapa, Fan Si Pan, is actually the final significant peak in the Himalayan chain, you’ll understand how far you’ve come. Sapa is usually reached by train (Hanoi to Lao Cai), which takes approximately 10 hours, but it’s well worth it. The view en route is wonderful enough, and once you’re here you’ll discover a constantly stunning landscape. Although most visitors are aware of Sapa’s hill tribes, fewer realise that the region is also home to diverse wildlife. Many rare and unique species live here, in habitats that range from alpine forest to acres of dwarf bamboo, the only vegetation that can survive here above 3000 metres. During your visit, you’ll travel to remote hillside villages and local markets, which are an essential part of mountain life. Visiting is always a pleasure. Don’t be surprised to find villagers from several minority groups bartering hard over a basket of hens whilst sipping locally brewed rice wine.
The Roof of Vietnam 10 Days
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 – 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. Then you will take 1 hour by Cyclo ride through Hanoi's Old Quarters to experience daily life of people who are living in the oldest parts of the city. After that, you will be transferred back to your hotel for refreshment. You will be free until a car arrives to take you to Hanoi railway station in time to board the 21.10 p.m. overnight sleeper to Lao Cai.
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.
Day 3: Lao Cai - Bac Ha ethnic market (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
Arrive in Lao Cai in the early morning where your car will be waiting at Lao Cai station in the early morning to take you to a remote ethnic market, followed by a visit to the Lung Phin ethnic village. Your overnight stay will be in Bac Ha.
The authentic markets in the area are nearly all weekly - the one referred to above takes place on a Saturday. If the itinerary cannot be adjusted to fit your requirements, we will suggest alternatives
Day 4: Bac Ha Market - Sapa (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast, a morning visit to another colourful market. After 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 in Sapa in the late afternoon and free time at leisure. Your overnight stay will be in Sapa.
Day 5: Sapa (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
An easy walk to visit a H’mong ethnic village in a scenic valley followed by a streamside picnic lunch. Your afternoon will be free to allow you to prepare for the mountain climb starting on the following day. Your overnight stay will be in Sapa.
Day 6: Sapa - Fan Si Pan (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
Our team will first trek along the bottom of the Valley heading for the Black H’mong village of Sin Chai. Soon after, the ascent begins with about a three-hour hike up the foothills before our cook serves a well prepared lunch in the forest. Afterwards, we continue to climb. Around 4.30 pm we should arrive at our base campsite at approximately 2,500m above sea level. The tents will already have been pitched for you and the cook will be busy preparing dinner. You should have time to relish the fresh air and the sounds of nature before darkness falls and you eat your meal under a blanket of stars.
Day 7: Fan Si Pan (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
After an early breakfast, we leave our base camp around 7.00 am and continue climbing. Hopefully, around noon we can put our hands on the summit marker and quietly enjoy the spectacular view towards Laos and China while eating lunch and resting our feet! The duration of our stay at the summit depends on the weather conditions - normally it takes around four hours to return to our base camp, where a small feast will be laid out to celebrate the climb and simply enjoy life!
Day 8: Fan Si Pan - Sapa (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
Your body will probably be complaining after your exertions, but a refreshing cup of coffee and some breakfast should give you enough energy for the descent. After the camp has been broken and packed, we start walking around 9.00 am. After lunch in the forest, we should reach Sapa in the early afternoon with plenty of time for refreshment. You will spend the night Sapa.
Day 9: Sapa - Lao Cai (Breakfast, Guide)
A free day in Sapa until the early evening when you’ll be driven back to Lao Cai station for the overnight train to Hanoi.
Day 10: Hanoi (Breakfast, Driver pickup)
You’ll arrive in Hanoi in the early morning. A car will be waiting to take you to your hotel to check in for refreshment and relaxation until you’re picked up for your departure flight. Tour ends!
In view of the prevailing weather conditions, this adventure tour should only be undertaken from October to mid-December and from March to April. Please note that the climb up Fan Si Pan is long, strenuous and requires fitness and good health. Anyone in doubt should consult his or her doctor about the advisability of this challenge. No specialist skills or technical equipment are needed – just plenty of stamina and a good head for heights. All camping and cooking equipment can be provided, or you can bring your own. Porters are available to carry equipment, if required.
To enjoy the best of the ethnic markets of this area, the adventure tour should commence on a Friday, as indicated. However, if it is not possible for you to start your holiday on that day, we will reschedule the itinerary to make best use of the dates you have available.
- Vietnam Visa invitation 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 a porter (or porters) for climbing Fan Si Pan.
- Bottled drinking water during the trip and snacks for climbing Fan Si Pan.
- Return train tickets: Hanoi – Lao Cai (air-conditioned soft four-berth cabin, good local standard in Fanxipan Train carriage or similar)
- 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
- 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