Sapa Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTHEAST ASIA 538

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Women practising Tai Chi by Hoan Kiem Lake

Day 1: Hanoi

Good morning Vietnam! Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Known as the ‘Paris of the Orient’, Hanoi is the charming capital and cultural heart of Vietnam. Spend the remainder of the day at your leisure.

A street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Day 2: Hanoi - Sapa

This morning head to Hoan Kiem Lake which is the very heart of the city. Residents of Hanoi congregate around the lake early each morning to partake their exercise. You can join in, before enjoying a traditional Vietnamese breakfast (Pho). Take part in a half day cooking tour which will provide you with a hands-on lesson on how to shop for and cook authentic Vietnamese food. At midday sit down and enjoy your creations and receive recipes cards to take home. Later enjoy a guided city tour of Hanoi. This includes the Museum of Ethnology (closed on Monday) and the Temple of Literature. This evening, approx 9pm, board an overnight express sleeper train from Hanoi to the border town of Lao Cai (4 berth shared cabin)

Rice paddy fields in Sapa by Ronan Crowley

Day 3: Sapa

The train pulls into Lao Cai at approximately 06:00am this morning, transfer to Sapa for breakfast. Located 1500m above sea level, Sapa is a former French hill station, nestled in the rugged Tonkinese Alps and surrounded by lush valleys and verdant rice paddy fields. This morning take a light trek to the hill tribe villages of Cat Cat, Ta Van and Cau May. Walking to the villages nestled in the valley below Sapa, you meet some of the local ethnic minority people on their way to and from Sapa. These minority people, including the Red Zao, Hmong and Tay people, walk to Sapa to trade at the markets. Tonight you spend the night at the hotel in Sapa town.

A lady from one of the hill tribes near Sapa

Day 4: Sapa - Hanoi

Start your morning with a hike to a beautiful waterfall before continuing on to a picturesque Red Dao village. Red Dao women wear giant red scarves around their heads and their clothing is embellished with colourful red embroidery and coins. Spend the afternoon at leisure in Sapa before returning to Lao Cai to board the overnight sleeper train back to Hanoi (4 berth shared cabin)

A junk sailing past a limestone peak in Halong Bay

Day 5: Hanoi - Halong Bay

Upon arrival in Hanoi, freshen up before driving to Halong City (approx 4 hours), stopping for refreshments en route. At UNESCO Listed Halong Bay limestone peaks and forest clad islets, hidden coves and beautiful beaches await discovery! Board your Junk boat and cruise to the famous islands of Halong Bay and onto Bai Tu Long Bay, stopping to visit a cave and swim in the warm waters. There is a chance to explore more this stunning area by sea kayak. Return to the Junk boat for a tasty dinner and a memorable night in beautiful surrounds.

Halong Bay at sunset

Day 6: Halong Bay - Hue

Wake up to see a spectacular sunrise over the bay! This morning cruise through Bai Tu Long and visit the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng - where you'll gain a fascinating insight into local life. Cruising back to the dock arrive into Halong City around noon then transfer back to Hanoi airport for your flight to Hue. Upon arrival in Hue, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure.

Hue Citadel

Day 7: Hue

Hue was the Vietnamese capital during the Nguyen Dynasty 1802-1945 and ruins of the city’s regal past can still be seen inside the Citadel and the Imperial City. Created in the 19th century, the Imperial City was modelled on the Forbidden City in Beijing and holds many palaces and temples inside its giant walls. Your tour begins after breakfast with the ancient walled Citadel containing the former Imperial Palace. Spend the morning wandering through the enclosure before lunch and a trip into the surrounding countryside to see the final resting place of the Emperors at two of the most impressive Royal Tombs. This evening, take a scenic boat cruise along the Perfume River

Women trading at Dong Ba Market by Tormod Sandtorv

Day 8: Hue - Hoi An

This morning, continue south to the quaint riverside town of Hoi An. The five hour trip hugs the coastline along the South China Sea with breathtaking views particularly as the road winds its way up Hai Van Pass (“Pass of the Clouds”). From the 16th to 18th centuries, Hoi An was a thriving international commercial port. In the afternoon, enjoy a half day walking tour through the narrow winding streets of the Ancient Quarter visiting Chua Ong Pagoda, Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky house and the Japanese Covered Bridge. Some buildings in the narrow streets have remained unchanged for more than a century and much of the town is heritage-listed.

Men sitting on the street in Hoi An in conical hats

Day 9: Hoi An

Spend a day at leisure on the beach or having clothes made by one of the expert, inexpensive tailors that Hoi An is famous for. In the evening, you might want to stroll Hoi An's romantic, silk latern lit streets and dine in one of its fantastic riverside restaurants

A bridge in Hoi An

Day 10: Hoi An - Nha Trang

Today transfer to the airport in Danang and fly to the coastal resort of Nha Trang, with 7kms of white sandy beaches. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Spend the remainder of the day at leisure. Located along a sublime stretch of beach on the south-central coast, Nha Trang is blessed with a spectacular backdrop of towering mountains and exquisite offshore islands dotted around its turquoise bay.

Day 11: Nha Trang

A day of leisure and indulgence as we cruise through blue clear waters amongst the islands off Nha Trang. We take drive to Cau Da port where we will embark on our boat. We cruise to visit the Tri Nguyen Aquarium, a small world of many sea species of local province at Mieu Island. We will then head out to Mun Island where you have the chance for swimming and optional snorkeling in the crystal clear waters. Lunch stop is at the fishing village of Lang Chai where there is time to explore further before boarding the boat back to Nha Trang harbour.

Days 12-13: Nha Trang

Spend the next two days at leisure in Nha Trang. The resort is ideal for scuba diving, snorkelling or simply relaxing on the sandy beach. Sample some of the delicious seafood in some of the many restaurants and perhaps enjoy a spot of retail therapy at Cho Dam Market.

boats at Mun Island, Nha Trang - by Bruno (BRA)

Day 14: Nha Trang - Saigon

This morning transfer to the airport and take to the skies with a flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Spend the remains of the day at leisure in this lively and cosmopolitan metropolis with its gleaming sky scrapers, expensive restaurants, bars and designer shops, which stand in stark contrast to the ancient pagodas, colonial era landmarks and ramshackle markets.

A street trader in Saigon by William Cho

Day 15: Saigon

Today take a morning excursion to the Cu Chi Tunnels, north west of the city. This immense network of connecting underground tunnels, were used by the Viet Cong and one of the famous battle grounds in the Vietnam War. Explore the maze of tunnels, accompanied by the guide. Also on display are various mantraps and the remains of an American tank as well as numerous bomb craters made by 500-pound bombs from B52 bombers. Returning to Ho Chi Minh City at around 2pm, stop for lunch before visiting some of the city's major attractions including the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the War Remnants Museum.

A street trader in Saigon

Day 16: Saigon - Can Tho

Early morning transfer to Cai Be - Phu An where you board the Cai Be Princess at around 10:00am for your cruise on the Mekong. First stop is the colourful floating market at Cai Be. Then visit some local home factories to discover traditional rice paste making, rice pop corn, coco candies, and longans drying processing. The cruise continues along the Mekong canals to Dong Hoa Hiep Island where you can observe the typical Mekong delta rural life. Lunch awaits you at Le Longanier restaurant at La Residence de Phu An Resort, a superb Indochine style resort before disembarking mid-afternoon and drive to Can Tho.

A woman rowing a boat to Can Tho floating markets

Day 17: Can Tho - Chau Doc

This morning enjoy a boat trip to the floating market of Cai Rang – one of the most colourful markets in the area. Observe boats jostling for position as the locals engage in frenetic trading and be sure to have your camera ready for some great photo opportunities. You will also have time to visit the local orchards to sample some of the delicious tropical fruit. Lunch will be at a local restaurant before driving to the town of Chau Doc.

Day 18: Chau Doc - Phnom Penh

Today you will take a speed boat to Phnom Penh, where you will arrive around lunch time. This afternoon enjoy a sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh starting at the National Museum of Fine Arts, a graceful terracotta building of traditional design housing the world’s finest collection of Khmer sculptures. We continue with the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, famed for its lavish decorations – the floors are paved with silver tiles and statues of Buddha are encrusted with thousands of diamonds.

Day 19: Phnom Penh - Siem Reap

After checking out of your hotel you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap. You will have time to freshen up before visiting the last capital of the Angkorian Empire – Angkor Thom. This monumental fortified city is encircled by a 100m wide moat and is famed for the huge statue heads that glare down from every angle. We continue to the monastic complex of Preah Khan before heading to the mother of all temples – Angkor Wat. This breathtaking monument of man’s devotion to his gods is believed to be the largest religious building in the world and contains thousands of wall carvings and extensive bas-reliefs. In the evening we enjoy a walking tour of the old market.

Day 20: Siem Reap

This morning we visit the Roluos group of temples (Bakong, Lolei and Preak Ko), the earliest large and permanent temples built by the Khmers. The monuments mark the dawn of Khmer classical art, dating from the late 9th century, with elaborate inscriptions in the ancient Hindu language of Sanskrit. Later visit the floating village of Kompong Pluk. Houses built on soaring stilts hover over the Tonle Sap Lake whilst nearby, the petrified trees of a flooded forest are revealed whenever the water level drops. The rest of the day is at your leisure.

Day 21: Siem Reap

Sadly tour tour with us comes to an end today, you will be transferred to the airport in time for your onward flight.