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From Mountain to the Sea: 10-Day Trekking Sapa & Cruising Bai Tu Long Bay

Explore the fairy-tale landscapes of Northern Vietnam in style. Travel to Sapa by comfortable overnight train then spend the days hiking through verdant landscapes to colorful hilltribe villages. Sleep in well-appointed mountain lodges then cap off the adventure with a relaxing luxury cruise on Halong Bay. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Various activities on sites

  • Exploring the city of Hanoi learn about its history and culture
  • Trekking to the remote villages inside the secret mountains of Sapa
  • Experiencing the local life of hill tribe people and enjoying the local cuisine
  • Cruise along the beautiful Bai Tu Long Bay and exploring and surrounding area

Unforgettable moments

  • Strolling around Hanoi old quarter, admiring local life whilst the sea of motorbike running around
  • Admiring the panoramic green view of from the mountains of Sapa with plenty of rice terraces
  • Seeing various ethnic people and admire their way of life
  • Admire the sunrise and sunset on Ha Long Bay

Nature exploration

  • The amazing nature of northern Vietnam with plenty of unspoilt secret mountains of Sapa
  • The pure nature of Bai Tu Long with open scenic view

Culture experience

  • Learn about the never-fading culture of Hanoi and its magnanimous history
  • The colorful culture of various hill tribe people in the northern Vietnam

Map

Detailed schedule

Day 1 - Welcome to Hanoi

Upon arrival at Noi Bai International Airport, Sonasia’s guide & driver will pick you up and transfer directly to the hotel in the old quarter of Hanoi.

Vietnam's capital races to make up for time lost to the ravages of war and a government that as recently as the 1990s kept the outside world at bay. Its streets surge with scooters vying for right of way amid the din of constantly blaring horns, and all-around layers of history reveal periods of French and Chinese occupation – offering a glimpse into the resilience of ambitious, proud Hanoians.

 

Notes

Check out the Hanoi travel guide

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Day 2 - Hanoi Exploration - O/N Train to Lao Cai

The first day sets out around 8:30 AM for a visit to the Temple of Literature. Constructed in 1070, this was Vietnam’s first university and is one of the country's most significant historic sites, ripe with UNESCO-recognized relics. 

The university was established within a temple to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins, and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years; its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past.

Next, pay a visit to the landmark One Pillar Pagoda, founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049. Close by is the mausoleum where the historic figure and father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, lies in state. 
Nearby is the former president’s house on stilts, where “Uncle Ho” lived from 1958 to 1969. Visit this home, which illustrates the modesty of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary.

Continue to the picturesque West Lake and the sixth century Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda.
Lunch will be held in one of the city’s finest restaurants.

In the afternoon, visit the fascinating Ethnology Museum (closed on Mondays), dedicated to the different ethnic groups of Vietnam. 

As an alternative to the Ethnology Museum, it is also possible to visit the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum (closed on Mondays). Displays highlight Vietnam’s vast cultural diversity and educate visitors on the significant role Vietnamese women play in Vietnamese society. Learn historic and modern-day traditions centered on births, weddings, motherhood, and spirituality.

In the evening, transfer to the railway station for the overnight train to Sapa.

Overnight on sharing 4-bed cabins. (Today late checkout at hotel is included)

Notes

Transfer: 2 hr Trekking: 11.6km (Approx: 4-5 hrs) Difficulty: Medium

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Day 3 - From China Border to the Remote Sapa Valley

It is early morning and you are well arrived in Lao Cai, a border town to China. 

First you have breakfast at a nearby restaurant while you hear about the coming adventure.  You will leave Lao Cai for a drive for 1 and a half hours to the starting point in the Tay minority village of Thanh Phu. 

The hike is through rice terraces in hill sides and you have many opportunities to enjoy magnificent valley view and encounter animals as water buffalos, mountain goats or pigs, which belong to the nearby Tay and Red Dao minorities. 

You will soon realize that you are “off the beaten track”, as the local people are looking interested and happy. All along the trail you will have a beautiful view towards Hoang Lien mountain range and some of the biggest rice fields in Sapa area. 

The trails will soon lead you to the Red Dao village of Nam Nhiu, here you will meet the villagers, visit their house, and learn about their daily life as mostly farmers. 

Leaving the village behind, you will turn into a small dirt trail and soon note the marvelous views of the valley dotted with bamboo huts, which used by local farmers as overnight lodge during harvest season. 

Your nice picnic lunch will be server along the way at nice spot, before continuing in afternoon hiking through the beautiful valley for heading to Nam Cang village. Soon the walk ends in the small and remote Red Dao minority village of Nam Cang. 

Your accommodation is Topas Riverside Lodge, situated few meters from the river with own suspended bridge and with the jungle close by. The lodge is owned by a local Red Dao family and built into a small Inn with several twin or double rooms. 

The afternoon is perfect for exploring the quiet village or a swim in the river.    

Overnight at Topas Riverside Lodge (Former Nam Cang Riverside Lodge)

Notes

Bring only a small backpack to hold a camera and drinking water during the day. The rest of the luggage will be transferred to Nam Cang village

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Day 4 - Exploring Nam Cam & Surrounding Area

Most Red Dao in Nam Cang earn their living by growing cardamom on the top of nearby mountains. Cardamom, used for making Vietnamese and Chinese traditional medicine, has helped bring an easier life to the villagers, in comparison with other very poor villages.

You will take an ascent of half hour before following the hilly trails to the fields of cardamom. On the way will enjoy an aerial amazing view over the surrounding mountainous area. You will have your picnic lunch next to the waterfall. After the break, you will come back to Topas Riverside Lodge.

In the rest of the afternoon you can enjoy relaxing by the river at the lodge or have a walk around the Nam Cang village.

The Red Dao women wear some of the most colorful and diverse costumes of all Vietnam’s ethnic groups. Herbal baths, traditional medicine, and embroidery are some of the things that the Red Dao are very skilled at.

Overnight at Nam Cang Riverside House

Notes

Trekking: 9 km (Approx.: 4 hrs) (6.8km hiking to forest plus 2km walking around village) Difficulty: Easy

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Day 5 - Mountains & River Crossing

You will start the day of the trek by enjoying breakfast in a peaceful atmosphere. You are closer now to Sapa town and the view is even more stunning.

Crossing the river, you follow a hilly trail up to the Red Dao village of Nam Ngan, relax walking around the village while the cook prepare your lunch.

In the afternoon, you descend to Nam Sai village, where your vehicle is waiting. 

On the way having a transfer to Topas Ecolodge, you will take a break visit My Son village. The Xa Pho minority, one of the smallest minorities in Vietnam, locates my Son village. 

Heading out of My Son you will soon see the final destination for today: Topas Ecolodge with private bungalows situated on a hilltop right in the middle of the valley. With tiered legs after hiking you enjoy the last transfer and the ascent by car to 1000m altitudes and a memorable night above the valley.
Overnight at Topas Ecolodge
 

Notes
  • Bring only a small backpack for camera and drinking water during the day. The rest of the luggage will be transferred to Topas Ecolodge.
  • Transfer: 1 hour Trekking: 12km ( Approx: 4-5 hrs ) Difficulty: Medium
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Day 6 - More Hiking - More Paddy Rice Fields - More Villages

You commence the walk from Topas Ecolodge along the footpaths of Silver Stone Mount. During the walk you will witness the stunning views of the valleys and rice paddy terraces. 

Today you will visit Lech Mong village, inhabited by Black H’mong minority. You may know about the Hill tribe from the Black H’mong porters who have been accompany during the previous trek; visiting one of their villages will help you to experience more of their culture. 

Descending to the bottom of the valley, you are now among the heaven of rice terraces.

You will meet again the Red Dao people, who live in a nearby village also named Lech. If it is a school day, a visit to the village’s school is the nice opportunity to meet all the children, who can be from Red Dao or Hmong minority, and are at different ages, but sharing the same class room.

From the village, you will follow the hill trails up to the main road, enjoying the surrounding breath-taking view of dotted peaks, endless rice terraces and the beautiful Muong Bo river. You will arrive back to Topas Ecolodge in the mid afternoon.

Overnight at Topas Ecolodge

Notes

Trekking: 12km ( Approx: 5-6 hrs ) Difficulty: Easy to Medium

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Day 7 - Leisure Day or More Walking - Hanoi (O/N Train)

The day can be just relaxing in your bungalow; enjoying the surrounding picturesque view with good memories from the previous days. You may also like to visit Sapa town? You will first have a 45 minutes transfer to the town, where you will visit the Sapa market at it most busy time.

The people from surrounding minority’s village gather everyday at the market not only for purchasing, but also for socializing. The rest time of the day is at your leisure to enjoy the nice atmosphere of the small beautiful mountain town.

Should you like to take more hiking today? You will have a transfer toward Sapa town. At Lao Chai village, you will start walking downhill to bottom of the Muong Hoa valley, where you follow the trail running uphill along the Muong Hoa river, heading to the Black H’mong village of Y Linh Ho.

The area is close to Sapa town but you will not see many other hikers around as the route is quite hard for majority. Muong Hoa is a very deep valley set by the enormous Hoang Lien mountain range with the highest peak of Fansipan, 3,114m asl.

From Y Linh Ho village, you continue the ascent through Cat Cat village, situated on the foot of Fansipan Mountain, and arriving Sapa town in the mid afternoon.

In the afternoon, transportation will be provided (by shared shuttle bus) for the 5 hour trip on the new highway to Hanoi; arrive in Hanoi in the evening (at about 9 PM.)
Overnight in Hanoi.

Notes

Transfer: 6 hrs Trekking:8km ( Approx: 2-3 hrs ) Difficulty: Easy

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Day 8 - Bai Tu Long Cruise

Depart at 8:00 AM for Ha Long Bay. The journey out runs along the rich farmlands and rice fields of the Red River Delta.

Upon arrival to Halong, check in at the Huong Hai sealife Junk. Enjoy welcome drink as Cruise Manager gives you a brief overview of the itinerary and important safety guideline. Check in your cabin.

13.30–14.30: Have lunch while cruising to magnificent Bai Tu Long Bay; Start sailing among famous Islets (Indochina studio, Am Islet…) of Bai Tu Long Bay, the wildest beauty with the panoramic natural views.

15.00–16.30: Visit and explore the well-hidden Co Cave (known as Thien Canh Son Cave) where you can hiking to the middle of the mountain to see the wild and mysterious beautiful cave, contemplate numerous sparkling stalactites appear like ’hanging lamps’ inside the Cave. (No swimming)

Return to the boat and enjoy Happy hour. You will have 30% discount off from the special menu drinks including of cocktail, mock-tail and mixed drinks (from 16.30 pm to 19.00 pm.).

16.30–17.30: Enjoy kayaking/swimming at Cong Do or relaxing on the cruise.

17.45–19.00: Attend our chef’s cooking demonstration and try your skills in the art of traditional Vietnamese cooking (spring roll).

19.00-21.00: Dinner is served in the restaurant. You can enjoy the charm of Bai Tu Long Bay at night.

21.00-22.00: Enjoy evening activities (Squid Fishing, Movie Night, Board Games, Massage & Spa services) or relax at the leisure then overnight at private cabin at Cong Do area.

Overnight in sharing cruise

Notes

Hanoi to Bai Tu Long: 4-hour transfer

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Day 9 - Bai Tu Long - Hanoi

06.30-07.00: Welcome a new day with an amazing dawn on Bai Tu Long Bay. Refresh your body and soul with a Tai-chi session on the sundeck.

07.00-07.30: Catch the morning view of seascape while enjoying the breakfast with cookies and tea, café in the restaurant.

07.30-08.30: Visit Vung Vieng fishing village - the famous fishing farm by bamboo boat and discover life of local people living on the surface of Halong Bay. (No swimming)

08.30-9.30: Pack up the luggage and check out of the cabin.

09.30-10.40: Enjoy the brunch in the restaurant while cruising back to Vinashin tourist harbor.

11.00: Disembark from boat.

Pick up at noon time then transfer back to Hanoi. Overnight in Hanoi.

Note: 

Notes
  • This tour may be subject to change depending on weather conditions
  • 4 hour transfer
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Day 10 - Hanoi - Departure

You are free to stroll around the town for your own exploration before taking the departure flight

Notes

45-minute transfer from Hanoi Center to Noi Bai International Airport

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PLACES TO VISIT IN Vietnam
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Vietnam BLOG ARTICLES

"Should I visit Thailand or Vietnam?" is some of the most frequently asked questions that we have from our travelers

Well, Vietnam and Thailand are the most popular holiday destinations in Southeast Asia. They are similar in climate and food, though obviously different in culture, lifestyle and travel experience.

Below we list 13 major differences between the two countries, to give you a quick overview and help you decide which to visit first. These are based on our own travel experiences, investigations, and partnerships with local operators.

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How long to spend in Vietnam may seem like a ridiculous question to address, but if you have plenty of time and aren’t sure how much to dedicate, this blog will definitely help you out.

You can find here and there that you should spend 10 days, 2 weeks, 20 days, or 1 month to best explore Vietnam. So what is the best Vietnam tour duration for you?

Well, as long as you like! From 10 days to a month, there are various ways you can travel across Vietnam and uncover its secrets. Advising an ideal trip length for Vietnam is a bit of a complex challenge, as it depends on several factors such as the places you wish to visit, the activities you plan to join, or if you want to combine Vietnam with its neighbor countries. 

Stay tuned! We are going to sort all these things out including the step-by-step guide to create the best itinerary in Vietnam.

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Vietnam would scrap the Covid-19 testing requirement for all arrivals starting Sunday, May 15th 2022, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has directed.

In a document issued Friday, the Prime Minister requested the Ministry of Health to closely follow the coronavirus situation and provide proper guidance. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should direct Vietnamese authorities outside the country to inform people who wish to enter Vietnam to follow appropriate disease prevention measures, he said.

The latest decision has been made as the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths drops both in Vietnam and around the world. Several countries have been taking steps to relax coronavirus restrictions, including scrapping testing before entry.

Current policies issued by the health ministry require entrants to have negative results from PCR tests done within the previous 72 hours, or a negative result from a rapid test done within the last 24 hours.

Those who don’t have a negative test result must refrain from making contact with others during the first 24 hours after entry. They will be able to move freely once they test negative after arrival.

Children under two don’t need to be tested.

Vietnam stopped requiring medical declarations from those arriving from abroad starting April 27, and for domestic travel starting April 30.

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The “Colorful Hanoi” hot air balloon festival is one of the attractive activities within the framework of the program “Hanoi tourism welcomes 2022” taking place from March 25-27, 2022.

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The Ministry of Health said on Wednesday, March 16th, 2022, foreigners entering Vietnam only need to furnish a negative Covid-19 test certificate and are not required to quarantine.

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Vietnam is determined to fully reopen its tourism industry and will adopt measures to treat foreign and domestic tourists alike, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

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