Sapa, Sampans & Saigon - 14 Days
From Hanoi to Saigon, discover Vietnam’s colourful ethnic minority tribes and the spectacular scenery of the north in Sapa, cruise around the limestone peaks of picturesque Halong Bay and the floating markets of the Mekong, explore imperial cities and more!
Tuesday. Good Morning Vietnam! Included transfer from Hanoi airport to the city before taking the overnight sleeper train to Lao Cai. (Please note your flight into Hanoi should arrive no later than 14:00).
Overnight: Sleeper Train
Lao Cai - Sapa. Early this morning we arrive into Lao Cai. After breakfast, we drive uphill through the Muong Khuong district onto Cao Son commune, passing terraced rice paddies, tea farms and pine plantations along the way. At Cao Son local market, we browse the wares on offer.
Leaving the market, we take a short walk to Flower Hmong village before a break for lunch. The road then takes us along the Chay River through mountains, valleys and hamlets, we will enjoy a few photo stops of the spectacular scenery before arriving at Coc Ly Bridge. We then board a local boat and cruise along the Chay River to Trung Do village before continuing onto Sapa.
Overnight: Sapa | Breakfast, Lunch
Sapa - Tribal Villages. Today we meet the ethnic hill tribes of northern Vietnam with a visit to the Black Hmong minority village and Dzay hill tribe. After our picnic 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 Sapa we visit another beautiful waterfall for a refreshing end to the day.
Overnight: Sapa | Breakfast, Lunch
Sapa - Hanoi. This morning we enjoy a trek through the scenic Ma Tra Valley, with views of verdant terraced rice paddies on steep hillsides, to the Ta Phin Village of the Red Dao group. Returning to Sapa spend the afternoon at your leisure. 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 we climb aboard our train back to Hanoi.
Overnight: Sleeper Train | Breakfast
An early arrival into Hanoi we then 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 and other exercises as the sun comes up. On the way to the hotel we 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.
Overnight: Hanoi | Breakfast
Hanoi – Halong Bay. This morning a scenic drive leads us to the stunningly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. Hanoi – Halong Bay. Take a moment to picture in your mind some two thousand rugged karst islands dappled with lush vegetation seeming to float on top of pristine emerald coloured waters and you have the natural wonder that is Halong Bay. This morning a scenic drive will take us to this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site where we will enjoy a junk boat cruise.
Based on traditional designs, these wonderful vessels combine oriental style with modern luxury. Soak up the panoramic views from the sundeck as the boat gently plies its course, this afternoon we will visit the spectacular Tien Ong Cave which was recently opened to the public in 2010, with its stunning stalagmites and stalactites.
Later this evening back on board, watch a Vietnamese cooking demonstration held on the sundeck before settling down for a sumptuous seafood dinner.
Overnight: Halong Bay, Deluxe Junk Boat | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Halong Bay - Hanoi - Hue. Early birds can start the day with a relaxing Tai Chi class on the sundeck or a traditional massage - the perfect way to start the day. Before heading back to port we'll explore by kayak the Floating Village of Cua Van, which is home to generations of fishing families. Here we’ll see the traditional and colourful floating wooden houses and the locals going about their daily lives.
On our arrival back into Hanoi mid-afternoon we'll explore the maze of streets known as the ‘36 streets of the old quarter’, named after the numerous guilds that once set up shop on a particular street from silk tailors to silversmiths. Travelling by cyclo (rickshaw), the quintessential mode of transport in Hanoi, we'll see traditional narrow-front tube houses with the chance to sample some of the local delicacies sold on street stalls from ripe fruits to steaming noodle dishes.
Later this evening there's a chance to freshen up before boarding the train (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic standard) on the ‘Reunification Express’ railway line to Hue.
Overnight: Sleeper train | Breakfast
Upon arrival to Hue we embark on a guided sightseeing tour of the 19th-century Nguyen empire capital. We visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, home to the oldest monastery in the city, whose 21m high tower has become something of a symbol for Hue and the citadel. Within the citadel is the Imperial Purple Palace, an exact copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing, with its impressive ramparts, formal moats and imperial palaces, some of which lay in ruin.
In the countryside lies the Royal Tombs of the Nguyen kings, here 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.
Overnight: Hue | Breakfast, Lunch
Hue - Road of the Ocean Clouds - Hoi An. Today we take the scenic Hai Van Pass (Road of the Ocean Clouds), which offers magnificent views of beaches to one side and lush hills to the other. En route we stop for a walk along My Khe beach, a beautiful stretch of coastline which was nicknamed 'China Beach' by the Americans during the war and famously featured in Francis Ford Coppola’s movie ‘Apocalypse Now’. Perhaps enjoy a refreshing swim in the sea before continuing our journey south along the coast to Hoi An.
The charming, old-world trading port of Hoi An with it cobbled streets, traditional homes and tiny shop houses is a perfect place to lose yourself in a by gone era. Boutique restaurants, hip cafes along the waterfront, delightful craft shops and artisans including some of Asia’s best bespoke tailors (whose services come at a nominal price), all can be found here.
On a short walking tour of the enchanting historical town, 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.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast
A bicycle ride into the countryside, leads us to Tra Que village. Here,we discover age old farming practises 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.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast, Lunch
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. The massacre was a significant turning point in the Vietnam War and the story is told through photo presentation on a walk through the village.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast
Hoi An - Saigon. 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 it fantastic views while boating along the canals. Taking our sampan from Vinh Long we’ll cruise downstream from Cai Be through the maze of waterways watching the hubbub of daily life on the river. Passing colourful trading boats, house boats and children swimming we stop to visit some of the 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.
Overnight: Can Tho | Breakfast, Lunch
Can Tho - Saigon. Early today we 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.
Overnight: Saigon | Breakfast
Monday. Today offers free time in Saigon till 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!
You could also extend your stay and join us on a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels Here you can go underground to explore the vast network of tunnels and hideouts used by Viet Cong guerrilla fighters, see booby traps, trap doors or test your skill with an AK 47 at the firing range.
Cu Chi Tunnels - go underground!
Discover the Cu Chi Tunnels - a vast underground network of tunnels and hideouts used by Viet Cong guerrilla fighters during the 1960’s. Often lead by a relative of a Viet Cong fighter in green fatigues you’ll walk the bush trails discovering grass covered trapdoors, ingenious, yet gruesome booby traps and hidden underwater entrances in rivers. There is also an opportunity to go underground and pop off a few rounds at the firing range. Our Cu Chi Tunnels bolt-on includes return transportation to and from Cu Chi, guided tour and 1 night accommodation in Saigon.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who require their own room and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price. If you are happy to be paired up with another single traveller of the same sex on your tour, this can be arranged, thus avoiding the single person supplement.Read More
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard when necessary.
Sunny Mountain Hotel, Sapa
In the heart of Sapa town, the Sunny Mountain Hotel offers great accommodation with fantastic views of the surrounding area. The deluxe guest rooms have either a garden or mountain view and are beautifully designed with excellent amenities. The hotel has an onsite restaurant which serves up an array of local and international cuisine as well as tasty beverages. There is also a spa at the hotel as well as a heated swimming pool and gym.
Sunway Hotel, Hanoi
This ambient, boutique hotel combines traditional appeal with modern pleasures. Rooms are furnished in a contemporary fashion with an array of amenities for added comfort. Its restaurant provides a great variety of Vietnamese cuisine and you are welcome to enjoy cocktails and live music in the Jazz Bar or relax in the hotel's health spa.
The Ann Hotel, Hanoi
In the centre of Hanoi sits the contemporary and sophisticated The Ann hotel. Guest rooms are spacious and well appointed with delightful en suite facilities including bath and shower. The hotel boasts both a bar and restaurant. The swanky A lounge offers a wonderful selection of beverages and diners can enjoy the Onyx house for delicious local and international dishes on A la carte or buffet style. Our top tip is to head to the roof top pool for a refreshing dip and wonderful views across the city.
Bhaya Classic Junk Boat, Halong Bay
This premier cruise boat offers 18 well appointed cabins with en suite amenities. Cabins are contemporary in design, whilst the finer touches have a distinct oriental influence. All cabins feature large windows creating a bright and airy atmosphere as well as scenic views. Facilities and services onboard include a dining room and bar, a sunbathing area on-deck, masseur and small library. This boat departs from the port of Halong City and plies its route through the karst peaks of Halong Bay during their journey and overnight stay on the water.
Syrena Junk Boat, Halong Bay
A tradition hand crafted boat, the Syrena Junk Boat offers superb en suite air conditioned cabins with comfortable interiors and balconies. The on board Lotus Restaurant serves up a delicious array of Vietnamese and International cuisine. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in the public areas. Swimming, kayaking and tai chi are all offered on board and movie nights are also very popular.
Mondial Hotel, Hue
Just a 5 minute walk from the Ho Chi Minh museum, the Mondial Hotel is a contemporary hotel with excellent amenities. Guest rooms benefit from spacious interiors, comfortable beds and lots of mod-cons. There is complimentary Wi-Fi for guests, an outdoor pool and onsite spa - perfect for a re laxing massage. As well as the delicious Huong Xuan Restaurant there is also the Lobby Lounge - great for cocktails before dinner!
Vinh Hung Riverside Resort, Hoi An
Vinh Hung Riverside Resort offers luxury and gracious hospitality in a traditional Vietnamese environment right on the banks of the Thu Bon river with top notch facilities.
Thanh Binh Riverside hotel , Hoi An
Boasting a beautiful outdoor swimming pool, the Thanh Binh Riverside offers excellent accommodation in a great loacation. Guest rooms benefit from garden or river views and all come full air-conditioned, with stunning hardwood floors and all mod-cons. The onsite restaurant offers a great selection of Vietnamese and International dishes and the town centre is just a mere 200m walk away. Why not grab a cocktail and relax by the pool in the afternoon - a great way to refresh yourself from the Vietnam heat.
Victoria Hotel Can Tho, Can Tho
This attractive, colonial-style resort is tastefully decorated with well-appointed rooms and a wide range of facilities including a spa, tennis courts, open-air bar, restaurant and a gym. The hotel also offers sunrise and sunset cruises to the floating markets aboard the Lady Hau junk.
Iris Hotel, Can Tho
This elegant hotel is housed within a modern building in the city of Can Tho. Each guest room comes equipped with plush furnishings to ensure a good night's sleep and is decorated with a neutral palate and calming tones. Rooms look over the city and boast a range of modern amenities such as air conditioning and stylish ensuite facilities. Magnificent views of the city can be had from the hotel's skybar while a range of gourmet local and international dishes can be sampled at the onsite restaurant. The accommodation is just a few kilometres from the Cai Rang floating market.
Northern Hotel, Saigon
Located in Saigon's central business district, the Northern Hotel offers comfortable and stylish accommodation. Guest rooms are contemporary in style and are decorated with warming tones and excellent en suite facilities. The onsite restaurant offers a variety of European and Asian dishes set on the mezzanine floor. The hotel also offers complimentary use of computers in the lobby and a fully equipped gym for those who wish keep fit whilst staying in the city.
Enhance your trip with these amazing added extras and bolt-ons
Need to be more Information on Times to leave Hotel for Departures. Otherwise everything excellent and well up to On the Go Tours Standard. Excellent variety in tour really enjoyed Sapa and the guide there was good.”