- Day 1: Arrival Hanoi
- Day 2: Hanoi - Countryside Tour - Overnight train to Sapa
- Day 3: Lao Cai – Sapa
- Day 4: Sapa – Bac Ha
- Day 5: Bac Ha – Ha Giang
- Day 6: Ha Giang – Quan Ba – Yen Ninh
- Day 7: Yen Minh – Lung Cu – Dong Van
- Day 8: Dong Van - Meo Vac
- Day 9: Meo Vac – Cao Bang
- Day 10: Cao Bang - Ban Gioc Waterfall
- Day 11: Cao Bang – Ba Be Lake
- Day 12: Ba Be Lake Discovery - Hanoi
- Day 13: Departure Hanoi
- This itinerary is a privately guided tour, designed just to show you what is possible.
- We can tailor this trip, it's inclusions and the accommodations, to meet your requirements, budget, and interests.
Arrival HanoiDay 1
Arrive at Noi Bai International Airport where you will be met and welcomed by your Vietnamese guide. Transfer by road to your hotel for checking-in and briefing of the tour. The remainder of the day is free at leisure.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi - Countryside Tour - Overnight train to SapaDay 2
Depart the capital for the surrounding countryside. Arriving at the village of Van Giang we meet a local family who give us a cooking demonstration followed by lunch.
After lunch we embark on a cycling tour of the village and the local area where we can observe how rural Vietnam functions. This is a great opportunity to learn about the traditional professions and way of life in a typical North Vietnamese community. On our way back to Hanoi we stop at Bat Trang – a village renowned for its ceramic making, whose origins date back a thousand years.
Transfer to Hanoi train station for the overnight train to Lao Cai on the Chinese border.
Overnight on A/C train
Lao Cai – SapaDay 3
Arrive in Lao Cai in the early morning your private guide and driver will collect you from the train station and transfer you by road to Sapa, situated at an altitude of 1,600 meters. In the early 20th century the French took advantage of Sapa’s cool climate, developing it into a summer retreat from the heat and humidity of Hanoi. Today, Sapa town still retains its European feel, largely due to the French architecture and gardens and today is a popular destination due to its beautiful scenery and colourful ethnic people. After breakfast at your hotel you have a short orientation tour of Sapa town.
Explore some Sapa’s neibouring hill tribe villages nestled in the Muong Hoa valley. Your first stop is at the Hmong hamlet of Lao Chai. From here you walk along local tracks and terraces to Ta Van, a Giay village before returning to Sapa by road.
Overnight in Sapa
Sapa – Bac HaDay 4
After breakfast you will depart Sapa and drive to Bac Ha Market – a fascinating weekend market frequented by a variety of ethnic tribes people. Here local villagers come from miles around to buy and sell local products and livestock.
Finish the market tour transfer to a local hotel to check in. The rest of the day is free at your leisure.
Overnight in Bac Ha
Bac Ha – Ha GiangDay 5
Today you venture in to one of the most remote parts of northern Vietnam. Ha Giang boasts an amazing landscape of limestone pinnacles and granite outcrops and has some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. In addition over 90% of the population belong to one of the various ethnic minority hill tribes.
Around 12 pm, you will have lunch at Xin Man before continuing to Ha Giang. Along the way, you will have the chance to see beautiful rice terraces, waterfalls and the Heaven’s Gate as well as various ethnic minorities.
You will arrive in Ha Giang where you will spend the night at a Resort Hotel situated 3 km from Ha Giang.
Overnight in Ha Giang
Ha Giang – Quan Ba – Yen NinhDay 6
After breakfast you will depart Ha Giang for Quan Ba Valley – an area of stunning natural beauty with green hills and abundant limestone caves. Travel through Quan Ba Pass – known as Heaven’s Gate with its panoramic views of the terraced rice fields below.
Following lunch at a local restaurant in Quang Ba you will visit Lung Tam where you will learn about Hmong handicraft. The craftswomen will demonstrate the techniques of hemp weaving and other traditional handicraft.
After this educational segment, you will continue your scenic drive towards Yen Minh. Arrive and check in to your mini hotel. The rest of the day will be free at your leisure.
Overnight in Yen Ninh
Yen Minh – Lung Cu – Dong VanDay 7
After breakfast you will leave Yen Ninh for for Lung Cu. Along the way you will get to visit the local market if it is the day of the week it is open. Alternatively, you can admire the scenery of the Landscape and the corn fields. You also visit the small remote village where you can mingle with the Hoa people.
Continue to drive until you reach Dong Van, a Geopark littered with an array of ancient karst formations. In Dong Van you will visit the former residence of the Vuong family, still called “Palace of Hmong King”. Then check in to the hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight in Dong Van
Dong Van - Meo VacDay 8
After breakfast you will embark on a moderate hike to the rocky mountains on backroads which leads us to some hill tribe villages which is situated in between the grey rocks. After the morning hike, you get back to Dong Van town for lunch.
You will leave Dong Van and drive over the massive Me Pi Leng Pass to Meo Vac. Have a break on the pass to admire the panorama over the huge abyss which is bottomed by the Nho Que River. Arrive at Meo Vac town and check in to your hotel. The rest of the day is free at your leisure.
Overnight in Meo Vac
Meo Vac – Cao BangDay 9
You have a long drive today to Cao Bang but it will be broken up with numerous photo stops and more dramatic scenery. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant on the way.
In the late afternoon you will arrive Cao Bang and check in to your hotel.
Overnight in Cao Bang
Cao Bang - Ban Gioc WaterfallDay 10
An early start today as you pay a visit to Ban Gioc Waterfall. The falls, fed by the Quay Son River that marks the border with China, are an impressive sight and in a highly scenic location. At 30 metres high and 300 metres across Ban Gioc is the widest – but not the highest – waterfall in the country. From here you have a short walk to nearby Nguom Ngao Cave. This immense cave holds a series of majestic, jaw-dropping caverns, filled with delicate, intricate formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
After having lunch at a local restaurant you will return to Cao Bang and free time at leisure.
Overnight in Cao Bang
Cao Bang – Ba Be LakeDay 11
You have an excursion to Pac Bo Cave driving through a scenic landscape of green rice paddies and water wheels. Pac Bo Cave is revered in Vietnam as the place where Ho Chi Minh stayed briefly upon his return from China in 1941. It was here that the Vietnamese Independence League or Viet Minh was established.
After lunch in Cam Bang you will depart for Ba Be Lake. Again the roads are bumpy but the views more than make up for this.
In the late afternoon you will arrive at Cho Ra Town, from here you will be transferred to the Center of the National Park. Tonight you will spend the night in the village of Tay People in a home stay.
Overnight at a local home stay
Ba Be Lake Discovery - HanoiDay 12
After breakfast you will take a boat trip down the Nag River to discover Ba Be Lake. Ba Be is Vietnam’s largest natural lake and is now the centrepiece of an extensive National Park. The park and the surrounding area is limestone country, so lakes, waterfalls, caves and unusual rock formations abound. The whole area is richly forested and is home to many ethnic minority communities. Ba Be National Park has been recognized as a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
After one hour and a half boat trip and the visits to Dau Dang Waterfall and Puong Cave you will get back to the homestay for lunch and then check out.
Depart Ba Be Lake you will drive back to Hanoi. En route we stop at the Museum of Ethnology in Thai Nguyen.
Arrive in Hanoi and check in to our hotel. Enjoy your last night in Hanoi before going home.
Overnight in Hanoi
This tour is built upon our firsthand knowledge & experience, offering you the best choices available. The price of this trip varies depending on the number of people in your party, dates of departure, and availability of ground services. Please click on REQUEST A FREE QUOTE (above) and supply the required information, enabling us to send you your personalized quote within 24 hours!
Note: Amendments CAN be made to this tour to suite your requirements.
- Accommodation with daily breakfast at selected hotels
- Private Vehicles and Drivers
- Private English Speaking Guides (Other languages if available, upon request)
- Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
- Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
- Service Charge & Government Taxes
What’s Not Included?
- Your International Flights to and from Vietnam
- Vietnam entry Visa Fees (contact us for further information)
- Personal Expenses (such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.)
- Any bank fees or charges at your end
- Meals other than those mentioned in the itinerary
- Personal Travel Insurance
- Tips for guides and drivers
How to Plan a successful Trip to Vietnam, Step-by-Step
Why to visit Vietnam
Where to Go
When to Go
Obtain a Vietnam Visa
How to Book a Tour
Packing and Luggage Allowance
Why to visit Vietnam
Vietnam, the S-shaped country, also commonly likened to the shape of a dragon, is located to the west of the South China Sea. The perfect combination of colonial elegance and rustic charm, it guarantees to satisfy all types of travelers with its rich experiences made all the more special by its charming people.
With cities to explore, temples to admire, and green countrysides to roam, there is plenty to see and do in Vietnam. Known as a colorful and diverse country from the wild mountainous north, with its myriad of ethnic communities, to the sleepless city of Ho Chi Minh City (previously known as Saigon) on the edge of the Mekong Delta, it is difficult to pick just one region to visit when coming to Vietnam.
The charming capital of Hanoi is a fascinating mix of fading colonial buildings and national monuments; the scenery of Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is bound to leave you speechless; Hue, home to the old Kings of Vietnam, appears to have been frozen in time for several hundred years with its ancient atmosphere and architecture.
With a 3260km coastline, Vietnam is home to many top-tier beaches; the country’s most unsung beauties. My Khe beach – “one of the most attractive beaches on the planet” as described by Forbes – offers blue skies, smooth white sand, clear & warm water year-round. Phu Quoc island, boasting several luxury resorts, is also a favorite escape for the rich and famous. The abundance of mountains, rainforests, and natural lakes also makes Vietnam a great destination for trekking, hiking, mountain biking, sea and river kayaking, and classic overland tours.
Where to Go
Most popular sites of Vietnam
• Sapa & Mai Chau – visit the hill tribe villages and plantations
• Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam
• Halong Bay – a UNESCO World Heritage site
• Hue – the ancient capital of Vietnam
• Hoi An – the kitchen of Vietnam and paradise on Earth
• Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon) – the economic heart of Vietnam
• The Cu Chi Tunnels – walk through the history of the Vietnam War
• Mekong Delta – see the floating markets
When to Go
Even though Vietnam lies entirely in the tropic zone, its climate varies surprisingly from region to region. Therefore this charming land is well-known as an “all-year-around” available destination for travelers.
In the north, from Sapa to Hanoi, there are 4 seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
In the central region, from Nha Trang to Hue, sunshine lasts throughout the year, except for the months of November and December when heavy rainfalls occur. Dalat, at an altitude of 1500m, is cooler than the coastal area, particularly from November to March. Da Nang and Hue both experience typhoon activity from mid-October to mid-December when the climate becomes cooler, more overcast and wet.
In the south, from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet, there are two main seasons: wet and dry. The wet season falls between April and September, with sudden heavy showers that don’t last very long. The dry season spans the months of October to March, with higher temperatures and long days of sunshine, followed by cooler nights.
Obtain a Vietnam Visa
Almost all visitors to Vietnam need a visa to enter the country, although some exemptions apply for citizens of countries with reciprocal agreements with Vietnam. Depending upon the nationality and passport of the applicant, a tourist visa can be obtained at the Vietnamese diplomatic office or consulates in foreign countries. Visas can also be obtained with the help of a licensed Vietnamese Travel Company, known as a “Visa on Arrival”. Visas may be either single-entry or multiple-entry, as requested at the time of application.
Visa on Arrival (VOA)
The easiest way is to get your visa through a licensed Vietnamese Travel Company, such as Indochina Pioneer. We can quickly and efficiently organize your pre-arranged VOA if you wish. Our visa processing fee is a reasonable rate of USD$10 / person only. Except for American citizens who are required to pay a stamping fee of USD$135 to get a 1-year, multiple-entry tourist visa, other nationalities need to pay just USD$25 / person for a single entry and USD$50 / person for multiple entries.
- To apply for your VOA please email us the following information:
- Arrival and departure dates
- Full passport details:
- Passport number
- Issuing date
- Expiry date
Note: your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your travel date, and there must be several blank pages left on your passport.
- Once we have received your information, we will secure a Visa Approval Letter for you. This usually takes about 2 – 4 working days (ie. excluding weekends). We will then send you the letter via email or fax. You must present this letter upon boarding your flight. Also, you will need to prepare two photos (6 cm high x 4 cm wide – white background, no glasses, no smiling).
- On arrival at the airport (in Hanoi, Da Nang or Ho Chi Minh City) please find the Visa on Arrival window/counter where you will hand over your passport and photos, and be given a simple form to fill out. Pay the stamping fee of USD$25 for the single entry and USD$50 for multiple entries. The staff at the airport will shortly return your passport with your visa, after which you will be allowed to exit the airport.
The citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter Vietnam for a certain amount of time:
- Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia (maximum stay of up to 30 days)
- Philippines (maximum stay of up to 21 days)
- Japan, South Korea (maximum stay of up to 15 days)
- Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and United Kingdom (maximum stay of up to 15 days)
Unfortunately, citizens of the following countries are ineligible for a VOA and will have to apply at their nearest Vietnamese embassy/consulate :
South Asia – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Africa – Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa
Starting from February 1st, 2017, the Vietnamese government officially launched the electronic visa plan for foreign tourists of certain countries visiting Vietnam. To apply for an e-visa, please visit http://www.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn or http://www.immigration.gov.vn. For the list of
countries whose citizens are eligible to apply for an e-visa to Vietnam, click here.
How to Book a Tour
Booking your holiday with Indochina Pioneer cannot be easier! Follow our 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Browse our website www.indochinapioneer.com for tours, cruises and other destination information.
Should you find something that matches your interest, fill in the REQUEST A FREE QUOTE forms. Can’t find something that fits your needs? Then fill the BUILD YOUR OWN TRIP or CONTACT US form and click SUBMIT.
Then sit back! One of our travel experts will get back to you shortly with our customized package and most favorable offer!
In a hurry? Don’t like filling forms? Then call +84 982 116 630 (MR. LAM) or +84 983 145 799 (MR. Quyen). We’re available 24/7 and would be more than happy to talk! Certainly, your request will be carefully noted and a nicely crafted package with a pleasant price will follow!
Step 2: Reviewing/ Customizing our offer!
It’s your holiday so everything should be exactly what you want! We encourage your careful review of what we offer, letting us know what changes you would like to make. We’ll be more than happy to fine-tune the tour to fit best your interests, budget and time! This step may require several emails/call exchanges until perfect!
Step 3: Confirming/Paying/ Packing for the trip!
Once you’re satisfied with the customized tour, please let us know and Indochina Pioneer will need a few working hours to place reservations for all of the tour services. As soon as the availability and reservations of the services are confirmed, we will request a deposit. Please refer our Payment Guide for more details.
Once your deposit is received by Indochina Pioneer, we will send you the service voucher which confirms all the services of the tour and provides ground contact details and a guide for the final payment schedule.
And then you start counting down the day for your most fabulous trip!
Booking Amendment & Cancellations:
Booking Amendment: Flexibility is our strongest point. You can amend your booking even after it is made. Just contact your salesperson or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your booking number. Our reservations team is glad to amend your booking with your preferable alternatives. Please kindly note that you will be responsible for any change of the final price caused by your amendment requests.
Travel smart with Indochina Pioneer!
Packing and Luggage Allowance
Packing Checklist – Be sure to check them all 😉
- Travel documents (passport, visas, travel insurance certificate, air tickets, tour voucher)
- Money (cash, credit card, debit card, traveler’s cheques and money pouch)
- Day pack for your personal needs during the day
- Camera and extra memory cards and batteries
- Cell phone and cell phone charger
- Laptop charger (if you are bringing your laptop)
- Travel plug/international adapter
- Medication (including a doctor’s letter if you are carrying a large amount of medication)
- Prescription glasses / contacts and if necessary, contact lens solution
Best to bring along
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Refillable water bottle with filter
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Comfortable clothing, either light or heavy options, depending on the season you are travelling
- Clothes suitable for visiting temples (long pants / skirts, long sleeved tops)
- Waterproof jacket / raincoat / umbrella
- Hat & sunglasses
- Bathing suit
- Ear plugs & eye mask
- Sleep sheet for home stays / trains
- Lightweight travel towel
- Local language phrasebook