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 two night feature stay on the verdant hilltops surrounding Sapa will give you a stunning perspective of this beautiful country.. Be rewarded at the end of your trekking with spectacular views of the Hoang Lien mountains while enjoying the comforts of your hilltop lodge.. Pick a path through the terraced rice fields of Sapa, which shimmer like mirrors after being watered by local farmers.
Travel to Sapa and uncover the jewel of Vietnam’s verdant northwest. The region is home to terraced mountainsides descending into valleys like magnificent staircases, a multitude of minority cultures, and quaint villages hidden in the distant green hills. This adventure features a stay at a lodge deep in the misty mountains of Hoang Lien National Park, a stand out destination for budding shutterbugs with photographic opportunities around every turn. With plenty of scenery and exotic wildlife to discover, this is Vietnam at its picturesque best. Then embark on a small-ship adventure cruise which offers a chance to experience the coastline in a way few tourists have. Starting in Hanoi, visit not only Halong Bay, historic Hue, and the important war sites of Vinh Moc and Khe Sanh, but also the largely unknown natural paradise of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. This immense, unspoiled haven takes the ancient limestone scenery to the next level – or more precisely, underground. If there’s one natural wonder to see in Vietnam before it changes, this is the one.
Breakfast Included: 12 Lunches Included: 4 Dinner Included: 9
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 and rest is what you’ll find at your hilltop lodge in Hoang Lien National Park. After arriving via private vehicle (approximately 1 hour) take in the views from your private room across the valley in this majestic location. Perhaps even take a massage or simply unwind at the lodge’s hilltop spa.
Notes: Total trekking time today is 1.5 - 2 hours.
Sapa - Ecolodge
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 lodge.
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.
You will have free time today until the evening welcome meeting at the hotel for the Adventure Cruise part of your tour. Afterwards you may like to sit down to your first dinner with fellow travellers. Enchanting Hanoi stands in contrast to its southern counterpart Ho Chi Minh City, with an atmosphere that's a little less frantic, due in no small part to the abundance of lakes and parks to escape to.
Why not soak up all that Hanoi has to offer on an immersive one-day Urban Adventure tour? Visit www.urbanadventues.com for more details.
Hanoi to Halong Bay
Those feeling active can rise early for a leader-led walking tour this morning. This includes 'laughing yoga', tai chi and other lakeside activities enjoyed by Hanoi's local population. It's a great first taste of everyday life in Vietnam. Today you'll also visit a traditional water puppet theatre. Here your host Liem invites you into his home, a small-scale theatre that continues a long running family tradition, passed down from generation to generation. Witness not only the show itself but gain a behind-the-scenes insight into how the puppets are made and animated. Afterwards, return to the hotel for a 2 pm bus transfer from Hanoi to Halong, to board the Panorama II.
Transfer to a smaller local boat today for a tour around beautiful Halong Bay. Take in glorious views of this World Heritage-listed beauty and its pretty limestone islands. You'll also visit a cave in the area and have the option for swimming from Ti Top Island. Overnight on board the Panorama II.
Settle into a full day's sailing, heading south towards Hon Lang, which is located just north of Na Trang. Take the opportunity to relax with a drink, play some board games, chat with fellow travellers, or simply curl up on a comfortable chair on deck with a good book as the glorious coast streams by.
Hon La and Phong Nha National Park
Arrive in Hon La at around 8 am, then transfer by bus to the unspoiled Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Spanning 885 square kilometres and boasting some of Asia's most ancient limestone karst landscapes, this chunk of land is one of the last true paradises of Vietnam. Visit the Thien Duong cave (aka Paradise Cave), which clocks in at an astounding 31 kilometres long and was discovered only in 2005. Later, set sail overnight for Vinh Moc, departing at midnight.
Vinh Moc and Khe Sanh
Arrive at 9 am in Vinh Moc, where another incredible, but very different, underground site is found. The tunnels here were built to shelter local communities in the Demilatarised Zone that separated North and South Vietnam during the war. As you'll learn, the tunnels grew in sophistication and depth, and many families resided in this underground village in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some 17 children were born down here. Today you'll also visit the Khe Sanh Combat Base, where the bloodiest conflict of the Vietnam-America conflict took place.
Dock at Chan May, then transfer by road to Hue, the former imperial capital and hub of Vietnam's historic past. Here the group will split up into smaller groups for a guided tour of the city with local guides. This includes a visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda, an active Buddhist monastery that dates back to 1601. You'll enjoy some tasty vegetarian fare for lunch at a pagoda. Also visit the elaborate royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, with its beautiful lake, frangipani and pine trees. In the evening, enjoy a final dinner onboard with your shipmates.