- Exploring the historic city of Hanoi, described by Lonely Planet as 'Asia's most atmospheric capital'
- Trekking in the lush Sapa valley with its dramatic mountains and terraced rice fields
- Meeting fascinating hill tribe villages and experiencing local cultures
- Enjoying mouth-watering Vietnamese cuisine and sampling the delicious street food of Hanoi
- Taking in the spectacular mountain views from your private bungalow at Topas Ecolodge
- Cruising on a luxury steamship through the limestone karts and clear waters of Halong Bay
Combine Historic Hanoi and magical Halong Bay with Northern Vietnam’s remote mountains, enjoying superb trekking in the famed Sapa Valley. Discover diverse hill tribes, lush valleys terraced with rice paddies, and the sublime beauty of limestone formations rising from the clear waters of Halong Bay on this comprehensive tour of Northern Vietnam.
This tour takes you on a journey by train, on foot and by colonial steamship through the beguiling north of Vietnam. Begin in Hanoi with its old world charm and French influenced architecture and broad tree-lined boulevards. Take an overnight train to Lao Cai on the border with China and spend four days trekking through the beautiful mountain ranges of Sapa where you will be welcomed by fascinating and diverse hill tribes such as the Red Dao, and Black H’Mong. Finish your adventure with a two day cruise on Halong Bay aboard a luxury steamship taking in the hundred of islets and grottos which make up this breathtaking bay of water.
Your tour of Vietnam includes an English speaking adventure guide, a local guide in Sapa and Halong Bay, all transfers, sightseeing tickets and entrance fees as mentioned in the itinerary, and authentic hand-selected accommodations.
DAY 1: Arrive Hanoi
On arrival at Hanoi’s international airport, our representative will meet you and transfer to your hotel. After you have checked in the day is yours to relax and enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of ancient and modern Asia, before meeting at the hotel lobby to go for a welcome dinner and your trip orientation.
Activity: Free time in Hanoi, welcome dinner
Dinner & Overnight: Hanoi Boutique Hotel, Hanoi (D)
Stay in a deluxe room at this charming city centre hotel, in the heart of Hanoi’s old quarter.
DAY 2: Discover Hanoi
The capital city of Hanoi blends the old world charm of French colonialism with the trademark features of a bustling Asian city. Today your guide will take you on a full city tour, exploring the Temple of Literature, one of Vietnam's most iconic temples The One Pillar Pagoda, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Ethnology Museum. Lunch is included at one of the city's finest restaurants.
In the evening you are transferred to the railway station for your overnight train to Sapa. Travel overnight on the Livitrans Express. Compartments offer soft berths, air-conditioning, reading lights, baggage storage and non-private bathroom facilities. Your guide will also travel on the train with you.
Activity: Full-Day sightseeing tour of Hanoi
Overnight: 4-berth cabin on overnight train (B,L) - option to upgrade to a private 2-berth cabin available
DAY 3: Trek to Sin Chai Village
You will arrive in Lao Cai, a border town to China, by early morning where you will have time to have breakfast and repack your bag for your 3 day trek into the Sapa valley. Porters will carry your luggage needed for the next 3 days and the rest will be transferred to Topas Ecolodge, where you will stay after the trek. A short drive takes you to Ta Thang, inhabited by the Tay minority, where your trek starts. Continue uphill with views over the green valley lying along the Red River and onwards towards the Red Dao village of Sin Chai. The trail leads you through small minority villages and bamboo forests in this fabulously mountainous area and most remote part of Sapa. Be prepared for curious wide-eyed children as this area is largely untouched by tourism. On arriving at Sin Chai village, you will have a short 1 hour transfer to Nam Cang village.
Activity: 4-4.5 hours walking/2 hours 20 min driving
Dinner & Overnight: Private Cabin with shared facilities, Nam Cang Riverside Lodge, Nam Cang village. (B,L,D)
The lodge is a new kind of homestay with comfort private rooms. There are 2 shower rooms with hot water and shared bathrooms. It is owned by one of the oldest Red Dao minority families of Nam Cang.
DAY 4: Loop Trek in the Sapa Valley
An ascent of half an hour with amazing aerial views takes you to the cardamom fields on top of the nearby mountains this morning. The Red Dao earn their living growing cardamom, used for making Vietnamese and Chinese traditional medicine. Enjoy a picnic lunch by a picturesque waterfall before returning to the lodge. For the rest of the afternoon you can enjoy relaxing by the river at the lodge or have a walk around Nam Cang village. During your walk you can learn how the local villagers make writing paper, jewellery and embroidery.
Activity: 4 hours of walking
Dinner & Overnight: Nam Cang Riverside Lodge, Nam Cang village (B,L,D)
DAY 5: Trek to Topas Ecolodge
Crossing the river, you follow a steep trail up to the Red Dao village of Nam Ngan. Here you can explore the village whilst lunch is prepared, before enjoying an easy walk in the afternoon to My Son village, home to one of the smallest minorities in Vietnam, the Xa Pho, who still maintain a nomadic lifestyle.
Your final destination for this evening, reached by a car transfer to take you up to 1000m, is the Topas Ecolodge which sits in a wonderful location on a hilltop right in the middle of the valley.
Activity: 4-4.5 hours walking/1 hour driving
Dinner & Overnight: Topas Ecolodge (B,L,D)
The Topas Ecolodge is based on sustainable principles to ensure that the lodge has a minimum impact on the surrounding environment, employing local people and using local products and goods. You will have your own deluxe bungalow with a private balcony from which to enjoy the magnificent views of towering peaks and endless valleys dotted with villages.
DAY 6: Loop walk from Topas Ecolodge
Walk straight from the doorstep of the ecolodge today through lush valleys and rice paddy terraces to explore Lech village, inhabited by the Black h’mong. You will have another opportunity to visit a village school if it is a class day, before returning via the beautiful Muong Bo river to Topas Ecolodge in the afternoon where you can relax before dinner.
Activity: 5-6 hours walking
Dinner & Overnight: Topas Ecolodge (B,L,D)
DAY 7: Free day in Sapa and shuttle transfer back to Hanoi
Today can be as active or as easy-going as you wish. You can enjoy relaxing in your bungalow taking in the surrounding views of the Sapa valley.
If you prefer, take a trip to Sapa town to explore the busy market. Or there is also the option to do some more walking in the Muong Hoa Valley and through Cat Cat village at the foot of Fansipan Mountain. In the late afternoon leave Sapa on a comfortable shared shuttle transfer back to Hanoi (approx 5 hours).
Activity: Optional 4-5 hours of walking
DAY 8: Hanoi to Halong Bay
Depart for Halong Bay first thing this morning. Check in at the Emeraude Café around lunchtime and feel as if you are stepping back into French Indochina as you board this wonderful replica of one of the classic steamships of the era. Have lunch as you cruise among hundreds of islets to discover unspoilt pockets of Halong Bay, and visit ‘Sung Sot’, one of the most imposing grottos of the bay.
As the boat cruises through the limestone karsts and clear waters in the afternoon, there are several options available including on-board kayaks, swimming off the boat’s platform, or even a Vietnamese spring roll cooking demonstration. After the sun sets, enjoy a delicious Vietnamese buffet dinner and a screening of award winning film Indochine on the deck before retiring to your cabin.
Activity: Optional kayaking, swimming or cooking demonstration
Dinner & Overnight: Deluxe cabin onboard Emeraude (B,L,D)
Named after a cruising vessel that plied the waters of Halong Bay between 1906 and 1937, this beautiful replica of a classic steamship allows you to enjoy Halong Bay in style. Stay in a superior air-conditioned cabin with en suite bathroom and enjoy award-winning cuisine and spacious deck space.
DAY 9: Halong Bay to Hanoi
For early risers complimentary tea and coffee are served on the sundeck followed by a Tai Chi class. As you return to Halong City, enjoy a wholesome brunch on deck before arriving back at Emeraude’s exclusive private pier for disembarkation where your driver awaits you for your transfer back to Hanoi.
Enjoy a final night at leisure in Hanoi to finish off your wonderful Vietnamese adventure.
Overnight:Hanoi Boutique Hotel 1, Hanoi (B)
DAY 10: Depart Hanoi
Transfer to Hanoi airport for your onward flight
You will stay in 9 nights of carefully selected accommodations including a 3* hotel, 4-berth cabins in overnight trains, a riverside lodge, an ecolodge and a superior cabin onboard the steamship.
If the hotels detailed in the itinerary are not available we will book hotels of the same or better standard.
Single rooms are available, there is a supplement payable. Unfortunately this tour is not available to solo travellers.
9 breakfasts, 7 evening meals and 7 lunches are included.
Hanoi Boutique Hotel, Hanoi
Combining the refined flair of French Colonial architecture, renowned Vietnamese hospitality, and prime Old Quarter location, Hanoi Boutique Hotel 1 offers an excellent base in the centre of Hanoi. Dine in style at the Hanoi Boutique Club and sample authentic French and local cuisines. Then stop at the spa for a revitalizing sauna or massage session before exploring the town for sightseeing
Livitrans Express Train
Livitrans Express Train is considered one of the most luxurious trains in Vietnam. You will sleep in a 4-berth cabin. Facilities included a shared bathroom, a bar, LCD television sets and air-conditioning. If you would prefer to upgrade to a private 2-berth cabin upgrades are available.
Nam Cang Riverside Lodge, Nam Cang Village
Located deep in the remote Sapa Valley with a beautiful river running in front of the lodge and green forest just behind you, you will not find a better location for staying overnight in an old traditional minority village, in the heart of the Vietnamese mountains. This new lodge is built and owned by a Red Dao minority family.
Topas Ecolodge is now the only one of its kind in Vietnam. It has a perfect location – situated atop two cone formed hills, set deep in the spectacular Sapa valley of northern Vietnam. You will stay in your own deluxe bungalow with spectacular views over the Sapa valley.
Emeraude Steamship, Halong Bay
Named after a cruising vessel which plied the waters of Halong Bay between 1906 and 1937, this replica of a classic steamship offers air-condition cabins, en suite bathrooms, award winning cuisine and spacious deck space. You will sleep overnight in a private deluxe cabin aboard the ship.
Single Rooms & Solo Walkers
If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. Unfortunately, this trip is not available to solo travellers.
Drivers & Guides
You will be accompanied by an English-speaking certified adventure guide throughout your trip except on the boat in Halong Bay where you will have a local guide, and you will also have a local guide in Sapa.
Fitness & Grade
The four days trekking on this trip are graded as moderate and include 4-5 hours of trekking per day. To get the most from this trip you should be comfortable walking for up to six hours through hilly terrain. You follow well-maintained paths and tracks and some sections can be steep.
Our pre-departure information pack has detailed advice on what to pack.
When to Go
The North of Vietnam tends to be cooler than the rest of the country. During the winter, from November to February, the day time temperature is pleasantly cool. It beings to warm up in March and stays dry and warm until May. From June to October, it is hot and rainy so we recommend the best time to travel on this trip as anytime between November and April.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for cancellation, curtailment, the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all the necessary items, for example, proper rain gear, sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for the warmer months, and a day pack.
Getting to Hanoi
- 9 Nights accommodation—3 nights 3* hotel, 1 night in a 4-berth cabin on overnight trains, 1 night in a homestay, 1 night in a riverside lodge, 2 nights in an ecolodge, 1 night in a superior cabin on a steamship
- 9 Breakfasts
- 6 Dinners & 6 Lunches
- Transfers as per itinerary
- English speaking adventure guide throughout except on boat in Halong Bay where you have a local guide
- Local guide in Sapa
- Snacks, water and local fruits during trekking days
- Sightseeing tickets and zone entrance fees where mentioned in the itinerary.
- Airport transfers.
- Personal expenses such as laundry, drinks, telephone bills and airport tax.
- Lunches on Days 1,7, 9 and 10, Dinners on Day 2, 7 and 9
- Tips to drivers, guides and staff at your discretion.
- Travel insurance
- Flights to/from Vietnam
- Single room supplement if required
- Upgrade to 2-berth cabin on overnight train
- Hotel upgrades for Hanoi
We are often asked the following questions and we hope that you will find the answers useful. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further queries.
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the accommodation offered within this tour is extremely popular. Please note you can start this tour on any day of the week.
You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans.
Do I need a visa?
Most tourists visiting Vietnam require a Tourist Visa to enter the country and all travellers must have a passport valid for 6 months after their planned exit from Vietnam.
French, German, Italian and Spanish passport holders can enter Vietnam without
a visa for up to 15 days (single entry only). This policy is currently in place
until 30 June 2016. If the visit is longer than 15 days these nationalities
will still need to apply for a visa. If the above nationalities have visited
Vietnam before, the new entry date must be over 30 days since the previous exit
in order to re-enter with visa exemption.
We have partnered with Visa Swift (for UK clients) and PVS Global (for US clients). You can visit their websites to find out the latest requirements for your destination or to make general enquiries.Please see more details here - http://www.macsadventure.com/visas
How fit do I need to be?
The four days trekking on this trip are graded moderate and include 4-6 hours of trekking per day. To get the most from this trip you should be comfortable walking for up to six hours through hilly terrain. You follow well-maintained paths and tracks and some short sections can be steep.
What equipment do I need?
Your detailed information pack will be sent to you after you book. This has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.
When is the best time of year?
The North of Vietnam tends to be cooler than the rest of the country. During the winter, from November to February, the daytime temperature is pleasantly cool and weather often damp. It beings to warm up in March and stays dry and warm until May. From June to October, the north of Vietnam is hot and rainy. Overall the best time to visit is from November to April.