- Day 1: Hanoi Arrival
- Day 2: Hanoi City Tour
- Day 3: Hanoi – Cao Bang
- Day 4: Cao Bang – Ban Gioc Waterfall – Nguom ngao Cave – Cao Bang
- Day 5: Cao Bang – Ba Be Lake
- Day 6: Ba Be – Hoang Su Phi – Pan Hou
- Day 7: Pan Hou – Bac Ha – Sapa
- Day 8: Sapa – Lao Chai – Ta Van
- Day 9: Sapa – Cable Car to Fansipan Mount – Drive to Hanoi
- Day 10: Hanoi – Halong Bay
- Day 11: Halong Bay – Hanoi
- Day 12: Hanoi Deaparture
- 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.
Hanoi ArrivalDay 1
Arrival at Noi Bai International Airport, collect your luggage process through custom. Your private tour guide and driver from Indochina Pioneer will be waiting for you outside the baggage claim/ customs area to transfer you in a private vehicle to the hotel downtown.
Please look for your tour guide who is waiting for you OUTSIDE the arrival hall. He/She will hold up your names on a welcome signboard.
While every effort is made to have your room available upon arrival, check in time is at 02:00 pm; your room may or may not be ready before this time. Your tour guide will provide additional details regarding your stay, and you will be able to ask any questions you may have. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Note: For the Vietnamese Visa on Arrival, please make sure you have 2 passports sized 4 cm x 6 cm photos and $25 for the stamping fee.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi City TourDay 2
This morning, we are picked up from our hotel and start the city tour with a visit to Hanoi Ancient Citadel (the New World Heritage site), dating back 1,300 years to the Chinese Tang dynasty. The ancient citadel of Hanoi was the former home of Vietnamese sovereigns going back to Dai Viet when Hanoi was known as Thang Long. Today, the ancient citadel houses the main office of the Ministry of Defence and Cot Co Tower.
We then visit the Soviet-style Ba Dinh Square where Ho Chi Minh read out the declaration of the nation’s independence in 1945. Pass through his Mausoleum (closed Monday and Friday year-round and every day throughout September, October, and November) escorted by the soldiers in full regalia (you will be asked to remove hats if entering, and no shorts or vests are allowed either).
As you leave, you will be able to walk through the gardens of the Presidential Palace before seeing “Uncle Ho’s” house; the humble dwelling he built (based on a traditional Vietnamese stilt house) and where he lived for the last ten years of his life.
After that, we will have lunch at a local restaurant.
After lunch, we visit the Temple of Literature. Originally built in honor of Confucius by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong in 1070, a university was added to the grounds six years later. The university provided education to the royal family and children of the aristocracy or “mandarins”. The University remained here until Emperor Gia Long moved the countries administrative capital from Hanoi to Hue in the 18th century.
Continue to visit the Hoa Lo Prison, the highest security prison of Indochina during the French colony. It was where the Vietnamese patriotic soldiers were detained by the colonialists and were later known as the “Hanoi Hilton” for American pilots during the American War.
Return to your hotel after the tour.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – Cao BangDay 3
After breakfast, you will be picked up by your guide and driver for the journey to Cao Bang. The journey takes 6 hours driving. En-route, we will visit the Thai Nguyen Museum – located in the center of Thai Nguyen province on the poetic Riverside. It is considered to be a cultural work with large scale and beautiful architecture. 3000 documents and original items on the traditional culture of 54 ethnic groups are exhibited and stored at the Museum.
After lunchtime served in Bac Can, we will continue heading to Cao Bang. On Arrival, check into your hotel and relax at your own leisure in Cao Bang.
Overnight in Cao Bang
Cao Bang – Ban Gioc Waterfall – Nguom ngao Cave – Cao BangDay 4
This morning, after breakfast, we will take a short visit to the Central Market of Cao Bang.
Afterward, we will take a scenic drive to Ban Gioc Waterfall close to Vietnam’s northern border with China. Along the way, you will be introduced to the Nung people in the village of Phuc Sen, a small village famous for the production of farming tools. Like the Tays, the Nungs largely live by farming the terraced rice paddies that you will see all around.
On arrival to Ban Gioc Waterfall, you will board the bamboo raft for the most up-close discovery of the most beautiful Waterfall in Vietnam.
After lunchtime served at a local restaurant, the trip will continue with a visit to Nguom Ngao limestone Cave which is 2 km away from Ban Gioc waterfall.
Return to the hotel in the late afternoon. Spend your night at leisure.
Overnight in Cao Bang
Cao Bang – Ba Be LakeDay 5
After breakfast, we will continue our journey to Ba Be National Park where you will embark on a boat ride along the Nang River, with time to explore Ba Be Lake, the caves of Puong Grotto, the rapids of the Dau Dang waterfall and tiny Widow Island. You will enjoy a picnic lunch by the waterfall.
Finish the boat trip and transfer to a Tay people village called Pac Ngoi where you will stay overnight at a local thatched house. After check-in and short rest, you will take a walk around the village, meet and interact with the local people.
Tonight you will enjoy dinner cooked and served by the family. You may want to join them in the cooking activity. This is a great fun.
Overnight in Ba Be Lake
Ba Be – Hoang Su Phi – Pan HouDay 6
After breakfast, we will take a scenic drive to Hoang Su Phi – a rural district of Ha Giang province in the northeastern region of Vietnam. This region is blessed with rugged mountains and lush valleys, but best known for its beautiful rice terraces classified as “National Heritage” by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
On the way, we will have the chance to visit some villages and local markets in the mountainous region of Vietnam.
Arriving to Panhou in the early evening. Check in and relax at your own leisure in Pan Hou. Dinner is served at the lodge.
Overnight in Pan Hou
Pan Hou – Bac Ha – SapaDay 7
After breakfast at the hotel, you will have time to hike to the rice paddy field and then get back to resort to transferring to Sapa. You will have lunch on the way.
On the way, we stop at the Border of Vietnam and China for a short break and take pictures.
Overnight at hotel in Sapa town.
Overnight in Hanoi
Sapa – Lao Chai – Ta VanDay 8
We start the day trekking through the beautiful Muong Hoa valley to Y Linh Ho village, home to Black H’Mong minorities. Weather permitting you will enjoy stunning views across the valley with mountains and rice terraces as far as the eye can see. Next on the route is a stop at Lao Chai, an established H’mong minority village which has been inhabited for centuries. Here you will have the opportunity to see the products of this minority at its best with hereditary rice terraces, homes and a vibrant community. Continuing on to Ta Van Village you will visit the Giay minority people. This group traditionally fished for a living and as a result, valley established themselves close to rivers. They have mastered the art of fishing with bamboo sticks, and cook the fish inside bamboo. Nowadays, however, you are more likely to see the Giay working in fields planting or harvesting rice. Transport will be waiting in Tavan to take you back to Sapa
Overnight in Sapa
Sapa – Cable Car to Fansipan Mount – Drive to HanoiDay 9
After breakfast, getting picked up by our tour guide for starting your visit to Fansipan Peak.
Visit Fansipan Mountain by the cable car – The world’s longest and highest cable car, running up from sleepy Sapa Town in Lao Cai Province to the peak of 3,143-meter Fansipan Mountain, known as Indochina’s rooftop. Enjoy the view from the highest point of this incredible mountain. The lush green and subtropical vegetation makes this mountain really very beautiful.
After the visit, our driver and tour guide will transfer you back to Hanoi.
On arrival, check in your hotel and relax at your own leisure.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – Halong BayDay 10
After breakfast, you will leave Hanoi for Halong Bay (travel time approximately 4 hours), passing through several Northern Vietnamese towns and villages. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed aboard your traditional junk; designed in the same style as those that have sailed the bay for hundreds of years. You will begin a relaxing and unforgettable cruise around the breathtaking and unique limestone karsts and islets. A delicious fresh seafood lunch will be served as you cruise this spectacular bay, a UNESCO listed site.
Aboard the junk, you will visit several key locations.
– One of the most stunning caves of Halong Bay
– Stop at Titop Beach and take a refreshing swim on this quiet beach or sunbathe on the sundeck; take a short trek to the nearby summit for a panoramic view of the bay
Back onboard the junk, you will watch the sunset and be served a sumptuous dinner, with cocktails available for purchase from the bar. You will spend the night onboard the junk, in a cabin with an ensuite bathroom.
Notes: The program may differ slightly based on the junk cruise’s itinerary.
Overnight on board
Halong Bay – HanoiDay 11
You will wake up to see the sun rise over the spectacular horizon, reflecting in the pristine waters of the bay. You may join a Tai Chi class on the sundeck if you wish, before enjoying breakfast. You will continue sailing around the natural wonder of Halong Bay and have lunch onboard, before arriving back at the dock where your private guide and driver will be waiting for you.
Later, you will be taken back to the heart of Vietnam – Hanoi. Enjoy your leisure time in this vibrant town.
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 the 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 suit 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)
- Domestic flight
- Airport Taxes and Fuel charges
- Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
- Service Charge & Government Taxes
What’s Not Included?
- Your International Flight 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
"12 days in Myanmar"
Kata Tran has organised many holidays for me – in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. All excellent. She organised a 12 day trip to Myanmar in January 2016 with a few days each in Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle. Great guides and drivers. Lovely hotels. Terrific boat trip from Mandalay to Bagan. Day trip to old colonial Maymyo. Highly recommended. Kata always listens carefully to what you want and is very flexible.
"Fantastic trip amazing service"
Fantastic trip from start to finish. All our expectations were met and exceeded from the moment we booked the trip with Mr Lam to our last day.
We had one minor problem during our stay and it was sorted immediately with profession
And made our trip the most memorable holiday ever.
Mr Lam customised our trip to suit us and we loved all of our guides and drivers.
We were even lucky enough to be invited to the companies end of year party and got to meet everyone who made our holiday so special. I can’t recommend this company enough and that’s something coming from someone in the tourist industry. Well done indoctrination pioneer.
"Indochina Pioneer – Great Tour Organizer"
I arranged a 28 day customized tour of Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand in January, 2016 the assistance of Indochina Pioneer. Lam, the principal of the company, was fabulous to deal with. He made many suggestions, booked all of our drivers and local tour guides, hotels, admission tickets, and even some restaurants. All of his choices were excellent, and when there was a need to make a last minute change, he was readily available. His tour included many extras that other tour organizers did not include, and he made sure that we visited off the beaten track places, took local tours that the big groups do not see, and that our hotels were carefully chosen to be very central and more of a local boutique nature. Lam never hesitated to make sure that our trip was going well as we travelled, and even made a point of meeting us at our stop in Hanoi and sent flowers to me on my birthday. The tour was priced very favorably compared to 3 others I contacted, and all of our guides were excellent. I would highly recommend this company and Lam in particular to anyone wanting to arrange a local tour or a detailed itinerary of Indochina.
Roger CAustralia, Adelaide
"Excellent 20 day tour of Myanmar with Indochina Pioneer"
This was our first trip to Myanmar . We have traveled to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with Lam Duong from Indochina Pioneer in the past and having had such a great trip chose Lam to organise our Myanmar trip.
Lam chose and booked great hotels in Yangon, Kyaing Tong, Kalaw, Inle Lake , Bagan and Mandalay as well as organise excellent tour guides and drivers at those places. We wanted to do a short cruise on the Irrawaddy from Bagan to Mandalay and Lam selected Amara River Cruises which operate small extremely well founded wooden vessels. Our boat Amara 1 was excellent, comfortable and with friendly attentive staff who took us on excursions and provided us with superb food and service.
We also did a memorable balloon flight in Bagan with Balloons over Bagan which Lam organised.
Our tour organised by Lam in Myanmar was superb, we could not fault the guides and the overall balance of the itinerary.
Full marks Indochina Pioneer!
"An amazing trip"
In my younger years I spent months backpacking on the cheap around Asia. I now have more money, less time and a family. I found Indochina Pioneer on-line and contacted Mr Lam for our recent trip to Cambodia. He was full of information, answered all of my many questions, suggested great ideas, incorporated my changes and organised all smoothly.
I wanted airport transfers and to organise hotels before we left. Mr Lam suggested a range of hotels to choose from all of which were good. Internal transfers and flights were also organised. We only wanted tours for Angkor Wat and The Killing Fields which Mr Lam arranged. Our other days were left free for us to choose what we wanted. The tour consisted of myself, my husband and twin sons which was perfect. The tour guides were knowledgeable and helpful, as were the drivers.
Mr Lam suggested we get a speed boat from Chau Doc, Vietnam to Phnom Penh up the Mekong River which was a great way to travel. The crocodile farm on the way was well worth the lunch stop.
I would recommend Indochina Pioneer as a great tour company for families. My in-laws are travelling with them later in the year. I am currently planning another trip to Laos using Indochina Pioneer again.
For someone who doesn’t like or do package tours having a private tour for my family was just perfect.