Embark on several of Sapa’s scenic day treks. With idyllic green landscapes, ethnic hill-tribe villages and hidden waterfalls, this is a slice of Vietnam that will linger long in the memory.. Your three-night feature stay on the verdant hilltops surrounding Sapa will give you a stunning perspective of this beautiful country.. Feast on an included lunch at KOTO café in Hanoi – a social enterprise organisation aimed at providing vocational and hospitality skills to young workers.. Explore the weaving laneways of historic Hoi An. Visit the renowned tailors for custom-made garments, experience local fresh food markets, and enjoy the charming riverside atmosphere.
Spend 13 days in Vietnam discovering the highlights and traditions of this colourful country. This adventure samples the old-world charm in this pocket of Asia, while uncovering the natural treasures of Vietnam’s verdant northwest along the way. Venture into the misty mountains of the Hoang Lien National Park, an evergreen realm where cloud and hills often meet. Get lost in the districts of Hanoi, cruise past the limestone karsts of Halong Bay, discover the colonial charm of Hoi An, and navigate the winding streets and chaotic traffic of Ho Chi Minh City. In between, there is still much to discover – this trip distils the country’s finest moments, with plenty of time for hidden treats and quiet surprises.
Breakfast Included: 12 Lunches Included: 3 Dinner Included: 3
Welcome to Hanoi. You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. There will be a welcome meeting at 6 pm where insurance details and next of kin information will be collected. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend the meeting. Subject to availability, additional accommodation may be arranged. If you find yourself with free time before the meeting, why not visit the Temple of Literature or Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum.
Your journey to the verdant mountains of northwest Vietnam begins with a private vehicle ride to Sapa (approximately 5 hours). Considered a summer capital by the French in the early 20th century, Sapa’s grown into the crown jewel of Vietnamese tourism since being opened to international visitors in 1993. The mix of ethnic cultures, eye-popping scenery and hill-tribe villages make it an ideal place to see on foot. Trek about 5 kilometres / 3.1 miles from the center of Sapa town to Cat Cat and return, one of the oldest Hmong ethnic minority villages in the region. Here you’ll see rice growing on terraced fields using traditional methods of cultivation, plus the Hmong people’s famed method of making cloth from hemp and dying it deep indigo.
You will have an evening to relax and enjoy crisp mountain air and vistas.
Notes: Total trekking time today is 2.5 - 3 hours.
After breakfast meet your local guide and drive to Lao Chai. From here you delve deeper into serene Vietnam with a trek past isolated mountain hamlets to Ta Van (approximately 7km / 4.4mi). Passing rice terraces and farm animals you’ll have opportunities to learn about the daily life and traditional culture of the Hmong people. The trek may vary depending on local conditions. Afterwards you’ll need a well-earned rest so perhaps take advantage of the hotel spa and pool facilities. A signature treatment of the area is the Red Dao herbal bath.
Notes: Total trekking time today is 1.5 - 2 hours.
Make the short trek to Lech Village and back this morning. About 5km / 3.1mi from Sapa, the village is home to the Red Dao ethnic minority, a remarkable people whose culture has remained relatively unaffected by outside visitors. Your camera will get a workout as you encounter the stunning vistas and rice paddies of the Thanh Kim valley. Stop to try the regional speciality of 3 colours sticky rice. This dish is so named as the rice is coloured with locally sourced natural ingredients such as leaves and flowers. Afterwards, the day is yours to spend as you please. Those with the energy can venture down further scenic trails (ask your leader for a recommendation). There are many more hill-tribe cultures and photographic opportunities to be found in the surrounding hills. Alternatively, simply sit back and soak it all up from your perfectly appointed lodgings.
Notes: Total trekking time today is 2.5 - 3 hours.
Return to Hanoi (approximately 5 hours) and use free time to discover its many treasures. Perhaps visit Hoan Kiem Lake, the excellent Ethnology Museum or the Hanoi Social Club. In the evening, sit down to a farewell dinner with your fellow travellers at KOTO restaurant. This philanthropic Hanoi institution is a long-time friend of Peregrine and is supported by our sibling charity, The Intrepid Foundation. Not only is it a lovely place to dine, it's also a great cause, doubling as a hospitality training program for disadvantaged local youth.
Have a full day in Hanoi to explore what you may have missed yesterday. You are free to do as you please until you gather together for another meeting, this time with your new group leader. There will be a meeting at 6 pm where you’ll welcome some new travellers on the next stage of your Vietnam adventure. To get acquainted after your meeting, why not head to a local restaurant for some dinner – your group leader will know of some places to go.
Today, you will leave Hanoi and drive north (approximately 4 hours) to the renowned Halong Bay. You can leave your luggage behind at your hotel in Hanoi and pack an overnight bag for staying on the boat. Halong Bay is listed as a World Heritage site and is one of Vietnam’s most spectacular natural wonders. The views of sailing junks navigating past thousands of limestone islands with rocky outcrops are nothing short of spectacular. You will travel to Tuan Chau Port (Halong City West) where you will board a boat for an exploration of the bay, enjoying a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available), as well as spending a night on board. We visit Surprise Cave, and, in the warmer months, you can enjoy a swim from Ti Top Island Beach or go on an optional kayak tour. Access to Surprise Cave is via staircases. Once inside the cave the pathways are a little uneven and slippery. A night on the boat under the stars is very special, but another highlight of this evening is a delicious candlelit dinner out on deck (weather permitting). This is the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful surroundings, dining on a seafood feast.
After breakfast at Halong Bay, return by bus to Hanoi (approximately 3.5 hours). Later this afternoon, you will enjoy a unique Peregrine experience when you sit down to a traditional Hat Xam performance. Hat Xam is an art form of Northern Vietnam dating back to the Tran Dynasty, and literally translates to ‘singing in darkness’. Originally, this was performed by blind performers, and was enjoyed by local working-class audiences, right up until the late 1950s, when a wave of communism deemed all art forms to be corrupting influences. Today, this style of performance occurs rarely, but you and your group will be taken to a private club house for an exclusive performance; one of the few places where such artists still perform acoustically. The performance takes around 90 minutes, and includes some story telling aspects, performances and possibly interaction with guests, so be ready to get involved!
This morning, take a half-day tour of Hanoi with your leader. Enchanting Hanoi stands in contrast to its southern counterpart in Ho Chi Minh City – it is relaxed rather than frantic, and full of lakes and parks to escape to. The tour will take in the major sites, including the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and the former residence of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. The tour will also include lunch at the KOTO café, an amazing project aimed at providing vocational training and experience in the hospitality industry for disadvantaged young people. In the afternoon, you will leave Hanoi and fly south to Danang (approximately 1 hour). You will have the chance to enjoy some spectacular scenery on the drive to Hoi An (approximately 1 hour). Arrive in Hoi An late this afternoon and check into your accommodation.
This morning you will take a tour of the unique town of Hoi An, influenced over the years by myriad traders from various cultures. Originally a busy Cham Port, the town also has Chinese influences scattered about, with pagodas and assembly halls found down the streets. For a small town it has a liveliness alongside its charm and serenity. The tour will take you down the streets of low tiled buildings, taking in a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum. There is some free time this afternoon to further explore the Old Town or surrounds at your own pace.
Ho Chi Minh City
The morning is free for you to enjoy more of delightful Hoi An and the surrounding area. Perhaps browse the market for silk and other materials or collect any garments that you might have had crafted by the efficient tailors or hire a bicycle and ride along the lanes and out to a nice nearby beach. In the afternoon, transfer back to Danang and fly to Ho Chi Minh City. Check into your hotel and enjoy a free evening – perhaps spent exploring the bustling food stalls at Cho Ben Thanh market. Delicious!
Ho Chi Minh City
This morning, head out of the city to the nearby Cu Chi Tunnels. Cu Chi is the name of the district that covers the extensive network (approximately 200 kilometres) of underground tunnels dug by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong. The tunnels contained hospitals, accommodation and schools, and were used for refuge, storage and as a military base for the Viet Cong close to Ho Chi Minh City. A section of them has been widened to allow visitors to enter and get a feel for what the life underground must have been like. Please note that these tunnels will be hot, sweaty, and claustrophobic for some, and so, you can choose to participate in the tunnel walk or continue to explore the complex from above. Afterwards, return to Ho Chi Minh City for a tour of the city, where daily life plays out on the streets and the dynamic atmosphere is a fascinating blend of old and new. Your leader will take you to the Reunification Palace, formally the Presidential Palace and the site of South Vietnam’s surrender in 1975, before visiting the War Remnants Museum. In the evening, perhaps spend some time with your fellow travellers and have dinner at a local restaurant. Your leader will know of some great options.