Hidden Vietnam: Sapa & Beyond

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13 Days
Availability : Multiple 2024 Dates Available
Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh
Tour Details
Hidden Vietnam: Sapa & Beyond

13 Days | Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh

Break away from the backpackers’ trail for an immersive adventure from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.

Prices from $3,420 CAD per person 

 

Departure Location

Hanoi, Vietnam

End Location

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Price Includes

  • 11 breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners
  • Seven nights in comfortable hotels, two nights at lake resort, one night at an ecolodge, and one night on a sleeper train with soft-bed berths
  • One night in a hill village homestay to experience local hospitality
  • One day boat trip on Lan Ha Bay with lunch and kayaking
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Arrival & departure transfers

Price Excludes

  • Travel insurance
  • Any private expenses
  • Optional excursions
  • Visa's, if required
  • International flights

Tour Specialist

  • Lesli Heron
What to Expect
 
  • Stay overnight at a hill village and hike through Sapa's terraced rice fields
  • Stay at an ecolodge on Cat Ba Island
  • Kayak secluded Lan Ha Bay
  • Discover underground rivers and caves at Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
  • Visit the historic trading town of Hoi An and explore on a leisurely bike ride
  • Enjoy a cyclo adventure through the streets and markets of Ho Chi Minh City
For more information on this tour, or help with booking, please contact your favourite Lloyds Travel Agent!
Itinerary

Day 1Start Hanoi

The adventure starts in the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi. If you have time after your flight, familiarise yourself with the city by wandering the tree-lined avenues. There will be a welcome meeting this evening with your leader, followed by an optional group dinner.

Accommodation: Hoa Binh Hotel (or similar)

Day 2Early departure to Sapa; free time to explore the market

We depart Hanoi early this morning and drive north (approximately six hours) through scenic countryside and mountainous terrain to the remote town of Sapa in northwest Vietnam.

It overlooks a beautiful valley and is known for its cool mountain atmosphere, while the surrounding region of picturesque hills, terraced rice fields and villages are home to many different ethnic minority communities.

Upon arrival in the early afternoon, we have time to explore the town. We visit the lively market: a maze of stalls where local people buy and sell handicrafts and fresh produce. Make sure to sample the delicious street food.

Accommodation: Hotel De Sapa (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3Trek among lush forests and terraced rice fields to Ta Phin village; overnight homestay

After breakfast, we hike to the traditional hillside village of Ta Phin. Accompanied by a local guide, we follow a scenic route through lush forests and terraced rice fields, stopping en route for a picnic lunch. The hike takes four to six hours and will be adjusted by the local guide and leader to suit the group’s pace and fitness. The terrain is mainly flat and covers approximately 8mi (13km) with occasional uphill and downhill stretches. There will be plenty of stops along the way to admire the views.

Upon reaching Ta Phin, we learn about the sustainable practices of the local Hmong and Red Dao communities on a village walk, where we see how they live and work in harmony with nature. This evening, we experience the warm hospitality of the villagers with an authentic home-cooked dinner made from local produce and spend the night in a homestay.

Accommodation: Homestay in Ta Phin village

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4Return to Hanoi; free time to explore

This morning, we bid farewell to our hosts and drive back to Hanoi (approximately six hours).

After checking into our hotel, we have the rest of the day free to explore Hanoi, the fascinating capital of Vietnam. You may wish to wander through the Old Quarter, where the 36 Streets are named after the product in which each specialises, such as Silk Street, Gold Street, Paper Street, and Tourist Souvenir Street. Or perhaps take a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake, a favourite pastime for many Hanoi residents.

You may have the choice this evening to see a water puppet performance, which your leader can arrange (subject to availability).

Accommodation: Hoa Binh Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 5To Cat Ba Island; boat cruise and kayak Lan Ha Bay; dinner and overnight at an ecolodge

We rise early and transfer to Cat Ba Island by road and a short ferry transfer (approximately four hours in total).

After arrival, we board our boat and spend the afternoon cruising Lan Ha Bay, where incredible karst islands and limestone outcrops mirror those at the better-known Halong Bay. The tour includes kayaking for those who wish to participate, allowing us to get up close to the towering limestone cliffs, hidden lagoons, and tranquil beaches of the bay. We also enjoy an included lunch on the boat.

Following the trip, we transfer to Cat Ba Ecolodge, a sustainable eco-resort in the heart of Cat Ba Island. The resort offers beautiful mountain and forest views and is the perfect place to unwind following an afternoon of adventure. In the evening, we have a barbecue dinner at the resort featuring locally sourced ingredients allowing us to taste the unique flavours of Vietnamese cuisine and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.

Accommodation: Cat Ba Ecolodge

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6Transfer to Hanoi; overnight train to Dong Hoi

We leave Cat Ba Island after breakfast and head back to Hanoi (approximately four hours). There will be a bit of free time in the afternoon and early evening in the capital. You might like to join the local people by pulling up a plastic stool and sampling one of the many street food offerings; the bun cha (barbecued pork with rice noodles and fresh herbs) is particularly delicious. In the evening, we transfer to the railway station to board our overnight train to Dong Hoi, 310mi (500km) south of Hanoi.

Accommodation: Overnight train

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7Arrival in Dong Hoi; transfer to Phong Nha; option to kayak on lake or relax

Arriving early in Dong Hoi, we stretch our legs and stop for breakfast in town before we take a transfer (approximately one hour) to Phong Nha where we spend the next two nights at an eco-resort. Phong Nha is located in the Quang Binh province, a true beauty and relatively undiscovered by mainstream tourism. It’s home to a wide range of natural wonders, including the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, home to remarkable caves and rivers.

Our accommodation by the tranquil Dong Suon Lake is the perfect place to recharge after the overnight train ride. The day is free for you to kayak on the lake, swim or soak up the peaceful atmosphere.

Accommodation: Phong Nha Lakehouse (or similar)

Day 8Journey to underground rivers, karst mountains and verdant jungle of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Following a relaxed breakfast, we start our day of adventure with a short transfer to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Designated a Unesco World Heritage site in 2003, the national park contains the oldest karst mountains in Asia. Home to hundreds of cave systems and spectacular underground rivers, this is an area very new to tourism but sure to impress.

We begin at Thien Duong Cave, also known as Paradise Cave, which was only discovered in 2005. It is known for having intricate and unique rock formations, while the colours and patterns within the cave are truly awe-inspiring.

Our next stop is a boat trip to the Phong Nha Cave. This journey takes us along the Son River, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs; an excellent opportunity to take in the serene beauty of park.

Accommodation: Phong Nha Lakehouse (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9Take a scenic transfer to Hoi An

Departing after breakfast, we transfer south to Hoi An. Although the journey will take approximately six hours, our drive passes a wide range of scenery along the way. The route between Phong Nha and Hoi An is among the most scenic in Vietnam, encompassing majestic mountains, verdant forests and serene waterways.

After checking into our hotel, we embrace the sleepy ambience of Hoi An on an orientation walk around the old town: the original European trading port in Vietnam dating to the mid-16th century. It is now a living museum, with attractive wooden merchant houses and pagoda-style temples displaying Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European architectural influences.

It is also a marvellous place to wander around, dipping into the thriving riverside market and shopping for silk clothing.

Accommodation: Emm Hotel Hoi An (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 10Half-day cycle around Hoi An countryside; free afternoon

Following breakfast, we have a leisurely half-day bike trip through the Hoi An countryside including a stop at Can Kim Island.

Upon arrival at Cam Kim Island, we receive a warm welcome into a local family’s home and learn the secrets behind my quang. This traditional rice noodle dish is one of the most popular meals in the region and often served on special occasions, including at parties, anniversaries and during Tết (Vietnamese New Year). During the demonstration, we learn about the ingredients and cooking techniques used and then roll up our sleeves to make the dish ourselves under the expert tutelage of the family.

We then return to Hoi An, where the rest of the day is free to enjoy a town that has become a favourite for so many travellers to Vietnam.

Accommodation: Emm Hotel Hoi An (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 11Fly to Ho Chi Minh City; afternoon orientation walk

This morning, we transfer to Da Nang Airport for the flight (approximately 1hr 25min) to Ho Chi Minh City (formally Saigon). This is an exciting, absorbing metropolis where scooters pack the streets and temples stand alongside modern developments. Devastated by the Vietnam War, it is now a bustling free-market city where anything goes. The Saigon River and Ben Thanh market are within walking distance and are highly recommended.

After arrival, we take a short, leisurely orientation walk passing sites such as Bach Dang Wharf, Bitexco Tower, Ton That Dam old market and Ben Thanh market.

Accommodation: Huong Sen Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12Morning cyclo tour of Ho Chi Minh City; free afternoon

After breakfast, we jump into a cyclo (a three-wheeled bicycle-taxi) for a two-hour tour, a unique, immersive experience through the markets and streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

Our first stop will be the energetic Hoa Ho Thi Ky market, where we stroll around and get a feel for the bustling atmosphere. We then hop back on our cyclo and make our way to Nhật Tảo market, a paradise for tech enthusiasts. Next, we visit Thiếc market, which specialises in fresh vegetables, fruits, and some types of jewellery. Finally, we visit Thien Hau Pagoda, a spiritual landmark dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu. The colourful interior and intricate decorations of the pagoda provide a peaceful respite from the electric city.

The remainder of the day is free for your own independent exploration. You may wish to visit the War Remnants Museum, which has an extensive photographic record of the Vietnam-American War. Please be aware that some images at the museum are very graphic. Alternatively, other popular sites to visit are the Notre Dame Cathedral or the Reunification Palace.

Accommodation: Huong Sen Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 13End Ho Chi Minh City

Our Vietnam tour ends this morning after breakfast. However, if you’re not ready for the adventure to end, speak to your sales representative about joining our four-day post-trip excursion to Angkor in Cambodia, the standout archaeological site in Southeast Asia.

Meals included: Breakfast

Photos


Why Book With Us?

  • Worry free planning
  • Exceptional knowledge
  • Family owned & operated
  • Superior value


Have a Question?

Don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our team of experts are happy to assist you in creating your next dream vacation.

1.800.800.7252

travel@lloydstravel.com