Sapa Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTHEAST ASIA 477

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Women practising Tai Chi by Hoan Kiem Lake

Day 1: Hanoi

Good Morning Vietnam! Included transfer from Hanoi airport to the hotel.

A street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Day 2: Hanoi - Sapa

We will transfer you to the train station for the day train to Lao Cai (departing at 06:10 and arriving at 16:00, hard seat). On your arrival late afternoon, we will transfer you to the hotel.

Rice paddy fields in Sapa by Ronan Crowley

Day 3: Sapa

Today after breakfast we visit a local market. Take a leisurely walk to Cat Cat village, home to the famous Black H’mong tribe and pay a visit to a local family. Continuing on visit Cat Cat waterfall for lunch. This afternoon take a trail through the mountain, surrounded by spectacular scenery, to another local village. Once back at the main road drive back to Sapa for the evening.

A lady from one of the hill tribes near Sapa

Day 4: Sapa

This morning we head to the Lao Chai village and begin a walk to Ta Van village - home to the Dzay tribe, for a rest and a picnic lunch. After lunch we continue our walk through a bamboo forest to Giang Ta Chai. This is a village of the Red Dao tribe, who dress in beautiful embroidered trousers topped with bright red turbans and chunky silver jewellery. Before we head back to Sa Pa we visit another beautiful waterfall for a refreshing end to the day.

A local child in Sapa

Day 5: Sapa - Hanoi

Today is spent at leisure in Sapa. Why not take a walk up to the Sapa radio tower where you can get spectacular views of the surrounding rice paddies, terraces and the valley. Sapa also has a local market where you can buy souvenirs and try your hand at haggling. This evening climb aboard the train back to Hanoi.

The Huc Bridge

Day 6: Hanoi

An early arrival into Hanoi. Proceed to the famous Quang Ba Flower Market where you will witness one of the most frantic and colourful markets in the world. Some great photo opportunities to be had! Afterwards we take a stroll to Truc Bach Lake where you will witness locals doing their morning Tai Chi as the sun comes up. On the way to the hotel visit a local restaurant for breakfast. The rest of the day is at leisure so you can properly explore Vietnam’s buzzing capital. Why not head to the Ho Chi Minh complex, home to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum (closed in the afternoon), the Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh’s famous House on Stilts.

Vietnamese Water Puppets

Day 7: Hanoi - Halong Bay

This morning a scenic drive leads us to the stunningly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. Boarding our traditional wooden junk boat cruise the emerald waters soaking up the panoramic vista of the thousand or so karst limestone islands that stud the bay. Later opt for a refreshing swim in one of the many sheltered coves before taking row boats to the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng. Tonight, there's a Vietnamese cooking demonstration held on the sundeck before an impressive seafood dinner is served.

A junk sailing past a limestone peak in Halong Bay

Day 8: Halong Bay - Hue

Start the day with a Tai Chi class on the sundeck or a traditional massage. After exploring a lofty grotto hidden beneath towering cliffs, we sail back to port. Arriving to Hanoi mid afternoon an hour or so is spent exploring the quixotic web of streets, known as the ‘36 streets of the old quarter’, onboard a cyclo with the chance to sample the exotic fruits, sizzling noodle dishes and delightfully sticky snacks being offers by he pavement vendors. We will then transfer you to the airport for the flight to Danang and onward transfer to Hue.

The Perfume River in Hue

Day 9: Hue

Arriving into Hue enjoy a hotel breakfast before embarking on a sightseeing tour of the 19th-century Nguyen empire capital. We visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, home to the oldest monastery in the city, and the Imperial Purple Palace, an exact copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing with impressive ramparts, formal moats and imperial palaces. In the countryside lie the Royal Tombs of the Nguyen kings where we’ll view the elaborate mausoleums of Emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. As the sun sets opt for a cruise in a long boat along the gentle Perfume River, beautifully illuminated at night.

Women trading at Dong Ba Market by Tormod Sandtorv

Day 10: Hue - Hoi An

Take the scenic Hai Van Pass for a walk along China beach and visit the peaks of the Marble Mountain. Reaching the summit of Thuy Son enter the naturally formed grottoes-cum-Buddhist sanctuaries of Huyen Khrong cave and the towering seated Buddha carved from the rock face. Onward to the charming, old-world trading port of Hoi An. With its cobbled streets, traditional homes and tiny shop houses it is the perfect place to lose yourself in a by gone era. On a short walking tour we’ll visit the Chua Ong Pagoda, Chinese Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky house, former merchants’ homes and the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge.

Men sitting on the street in Hoi An in conical hats

Day 11: Hoi An

A bicycle ride into the countryside, leads us to Tra Que village. Here,we discover age old farming practices and learn about traditional medicine. It’s a hands on experience today where we’ll assist with tending the fields and gardens and cooking lunch.

A bridge in Hoi An

Day 12: Hoi An

A free day for you relax or further sightsee. You may wish to take a relaxing rowboat journey along the river or spend the day lazing by the beach or hotel pool. It’s also possible to take an optional excursion to the most holiest and evocative of Vietnam’s Cham sites, My Son or to Quang Ngai, the site of the My Lai massacre memorial.

A local man in front of an ancient building in Hoi An

Day 13: Hoi An - Can Tho

Early morning flight to Saigon. Drive to the Mekong Delta. Often referred to as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the fertile Mekong Delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits, flowers and rice, as well as its fantastic views while boating along the canals. Taking a sampan from Vinh Long cruise Cai Be’s colourful and lively floating markets and continue downstream through the maze of waterways visiting local cottage industries that produce popcorn, coco candies and paper along the way. Lunch is served today in a traditional wooden home on Dong Hoa Hiep Island.

A boat on the Mekong Delta

Day 14: Can Tho - Saigon

Early today visit Cai Rang floating market and drive to Saigon. Once called the Pearl of the Orient, modern Saigon is a thriving metropolis on the move. Sleek sky scrapers, gourmet restaurants, designer malls and swanky bars and spas are scattered between ancient pagodas, colonial era landmarks and lively street markets. Our walking tour of Saigon includes visits to the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post office and the sombering War Remnants Museum. Evening at leisure.

Ho Chi Minh's Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral at night

Day 15: Saigon

Today offers free time in Saigon until your departure transfer to the airport. Opt for a relaxing foot massage, shop for souvenirs at Ben Thanh Market or visit the grand Independence Palace, with its secret bunker and military command centre beneath!