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The Hidden North, Vietnam Tours

Tour duration: 12 days/11 nights
Tour prices: $549 - $1149
Start date: Upon Request
Depart from: Ha Noi
Return to: Ha Noi
 
The interesting culture of many hill tribe groups and the breathtaking mountain scenery of the north are all on this adventure. The journey from Dien Bien to Sapa is quite hard, especially in the wet season. But it is a great chance to explore the remote area and many colorful markets. A combination of some visits to a wide variety of ethnic minority groups generally retaining their lifestyle, traditional costume with high mountains, deep ravines and terraced fields of Vietnam will excite your spirit of adventure. As the northern mountain roads are very rough especially in the wet season however travelling on 4 WD car is the best way allowing visitors to explore in depth.

Tour Prices (Price per person and in US$)
 Wing 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars
Group 2 Persons 829 1069 1149
Group 3-5 Persons 729 949 1029
Group 6-9 Persons 549 799 879




Index >> Vietnam tours >> 12 days Vietnam tours >> The Hidden North



Tour Program
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival
On arrival at Noi Bai Airport, we are met and transferred to hotel. Ha Noi, Vietnam's capital, is a stylish and gracious city that retains an unique old world charm and some Asia s most striking colonial architecture. The many lakes and parks make for relaxing atmosphere. If time permits we embark on a cyclo for a short excursion through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sale at these places.


Day 2: Hanoi City (Breakfast)
Today we enjoy a full day city tour starting with the Ho Chi Minh Complex, containing the mausoleum of the nations founder Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace and the Ho Chi Minhs house on stilts. This complex also comprises the One Pillar Pagoda, whose origins date back to the foundation of city. We follow this with a trip to the Temple of Literature well known as Vietnams first university and the History Museum, which displays an excellent collection of artifacts illustrating the Vietnamese history. Our next stop is the impressive Ethnologic Museum, dedicated to Vietnams 54 hill tribe groups, some of which we will see on our forthcoming days. We also visit the peaceful lake of Hoan Kiem with its sacred temple and the vibrant Dong Xuan Market before attending a performance of Hanoi's famous water puppets.


Day 3: Ha Noi - Son La (Breakfast)
The journey northwards begins as we depart Hanoi and pass through the undulating terrains of tea plantations and the many timeless villages linked to the road which is the main artery of trade between the northwestern region and the capital city. This is our first glimpse of rural Vietnam and sets the tone for the days ahead. Depending on road and traffic conditions our drive will deliver us in Son La by mid or late afternoon. After checking into hotel we take a walk around this mountain town. There is a little traffic on roads and many Black Thai in traditional costume scurry in all directions.


Day 4: Son La Dien Bien Phu (Breakfast)
The provincial museum and the nearby old prison are some of this hill town's major sights. We have a chance to visit these before we leave for our next destination. The winding roads cross over the Pha Din Pass before reaching Dien Bien Phu, the site of the decisive battle in Vietnams struggle for independence in 1954. After checking into our central located hotel we enjoy a walk around to see this fast growing town. Our main stop is Dien Bien Phus Museum which details the event in place. We also pay a visit to the old battle field where the lush vegetation grows behind many war relics including old French tanks and artillery pieces.


Day 5: Dien Bien Phu - Tam Duong (Breakfast)
Heading out of the town, we spend a full day travelling into Vietnams most mountainous region. The roads are difficult at times, but the spectacular landscape with a mixture of terraced fields and hill villages makes the hardship all worthwhile. On the way, we have some opportunities to encounter the Red Hmong, Kho Mu, Mang, Dao people who still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. We arrive in Tam Duong by late afternoon and have time strolling around to catch our first glimpse; a small town surrounded by breathtaking mountains and tea plantations. O/N in Tam Duong.


Day 6: Tam Duong - Sapa (Breakfast)
The scenery of the north is unequalled although the conditions are very simple. After breakfast we set off on a half day drive following the mountain roads to Sa Pa, our final destination. At an elevation of 1,500 meters, Sapa was founded in the early years of the last century as a hill resort for French administrators when the heat on the plain became unbearable. We arrive in Sapa by mid afternoon and can soak up the fresh climate as much as we want by spending our time wandering this famous hill town. The ethnic people are frequently seen on the main street of Sapa and small vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicraft.


Day 7: Sapa (Breakfast)
The range of Phan Si Pan boasts Vietnams highest mountain and lends an alpine feel to the area surrounding this hill station. Today we have enough time to visit the bustling Sa Pa Market where the Red Dao, Black Hmong, Tay and Xa Pho ethnic minorities converge from the nearby mountainsides and valleys to trade their goods and buy provisions. We then get well off the beaten track as we embark on a walk to explore this beautiful mountain region. Along the way we traverse several rustic villages and see many mountaineers doing their daily works such as logging, herding buffalo and tilling the field. The blend of verdant mountain backdrop and colourful population makes for an unimaginable view.


Day 8: Sapa - Muong Khuong - Bac Ha (Breakfast)
After breakfast we continue venturing into northern Vietnam, travelling through the Chinese border town of Lao Cai to the colourful Sunday Market at Muong Khuong. This market also attracts a wide variety of ethnic minority groups including the Variegated Hmong, Dao, Phu La, La Chi, Tay who still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. The experience of this congregation is unique. Upon leaving Muong Khuong, we drive to Bac Ha. As option, we can embark a walk this afternoon, visiting the Hmong Kings former residence and Ban Pho where the villagers make the potent local maize wine.


Day 9: Bac Ha - Hanoi (Breakfast)
The return journey begins as we depart Bac Ha Town and pass through the verdant and rugged mountain scenery to Hanoi. These back roads are a great way to explore the real Vietnam. We see very few other travellers, mostly rural dwellers who are just as interested in finding out about our lives as we are of theirs. The drive is very long, but we can can make many stops along the way to stretch our legs and take some wonderful photographs.


Day 10: Hanoi - Ha Long (Breakfast)
Bay Upon leaving the town we set off on a scenic overland trip to Ha Long Bay. As pleasure we make stop in Hai Phong, the biggest port town of northern Vietnam. There are plenty to see in this bustling town, some of which are the Hang Kenh Communal House, the Du Hang Pagoda, the Hang Kenh Carpet Factory and the vibrant Sat Market. A drive through tree lined boulevards punctuated with many striking French colonial architecture, will deliver us to some of these landmarks. We continue our journey Halong Bay and spend the remainder of the day for a well - earned rest on Bai Chay Beach.


Day 11: Ha Long Bay - Hanoi (Breakfast/Lunch)
The legendary Ha Long Bay is truly one of Vietnams most impressive scenic sights. Today we embark on a sailing boat for a seven hour cruise around this wondrous bay, dotted with some 3,000 limestone islands rising amazingly from the clear and emerald water. The limestone karst formations are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves. Along the way we will anchor for a leisurely swim in a secluded cove and an enjoyable visit to one of the many hidden grottoes beneath towering cliffs. After a seafood lunch on board we continue our trip and have time for another swim. We then travel by roads back to Ha Noi with stopover at Dong Trieu pottery village.


Day 12: Hanoi - Departure (Breakfast)
There is a free time for you to relax or further explore Ha Noi. The trip ends after your transfer to Noi Bai Airport for departure.

Included
Transportation in private air-conditioned vehicle with driver in delta
Transportation in vehicle with driver for four travelers in mountain as under specified: New model 4 WD Japanese car in superior class tour, Medium model 4 WD Japanese car in first class tour
No air- conditioned Russian jeep 4WD in standard class tour
Accommodation in hotels, guesthouses (twin shared room)
Meal as mentioned
English or French speaking guide
Entrance fee to indicated sights
Water puppet show
Boat trip
Excluded
Other meals
Tips
Drinks
Airport tax
Single room
Personal expenses
Insurance
International flight

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