What our specialists say ...
- Take it slow in Ho Chi Minh City by a cyclo trip to get closer to its locals
- Motorbike adventure to Tam Giang Lagoon in Hue and go fishing
- Sleep somewhere else: Sleep on the train, sleep at a local villager's
- Get lost in vivid colors at a big market in Lao Cai
- Halong Bay cruise relaxes your body and soul after a long journey
- Private transfers and English-speaking tour guide
- All guided sightseeing as detailed in the itinerary
- Hotel accommodation mentioned in the itinerary
- Breakfasts at hotels and lunches for every guided day
- Governmental taxes
Itinerary in detail
What you are reading here is just a sample itinerary. Besides all the must-go destinations, you may add a leg to Sapa. However, your interest decides how it will look like.
Day 1 Ho Chi Minh City Arrival, Vietnam
Once known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City was re-named to honor what Ho Chi Minh has done for the country. It sure will welcome you with a big smile.
Transfer to your hotel by a private car with your tour guide. Free time to adjust from jetlag.
Day 2 Ho Chi Minh City - Can Tho | Saigon by Cyclo
Embrace a fresh morning of Saigon. This southern city oozes with nostalgic charm among its colonial-era buildings, street side Cafés and shady boulevards. Take an easy walk to the downtown, where you will see General Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral and Reunification Palace.
For history buffs or children, they must love what the War Remnants Museum has to offer: mind-provoking history and great exhibition dating back to last century during wartime, including F5A fighter and a UH1-Huey helicopter are their most interesting collection. However, please be noted that your guide might not accompany you inside the museum because the content triggers sad memories for many Vietnamese.
Later, hop on a cyclo (local name for rickshaw) that is pedaled by a local. Enjoy the ride to feel the easy-lazy vibe of Ho Chi Minh City. Have some simple lunch after the cyclo ride and your private tour guide will escort you to Can Tho. The drive is long, so just take a nap on the way and you will there when you wake up.
Day 3 Mekong Delta - Danang - Hoi An | Floating Market in the Early Morning
Rise up early to get the real deal of Cai Rang Floating Market. Best time to visit is before 0700am. After an interesting visit here, you will be taken to some small islands by sampan through the tree-shaded canals and you will be riding a bike on a small island to visit a local orchard.
Get back to Ho Chi Minh City by car and take the onward flight to Danang, which will be connected with a 40-minute drive to Hoi An.
Day 4Hoi An | Ancient Town Walking Tour
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hoi An Ancient Town is just the right definition of Vietnam’s timeless charm. This morning, you will have some insightful visits at of this town’s essence: the Japanese Covered Bridge, Fukian Assembly Hall and the Old House of Tan Ky.
After lunch, a class will be taken on how to make lanterns at a workshop run by a NGO. Lifestart Foundation is an Australia-based team that focuses on helping those in need through proven working programs and initiatives which are designed to effect a generational change.
Day 5Hoi An - Hue
Have the whole morning free to yourself.
In the afternoon, at about 2pm, we will drive you up to Hue via Danang. We will make stop at Hai Van Pass for some great photos. Free at leisure upon arrival.
Day 6Hue | Citadel, Palace and Lagoon Fishing Ride
Soak in elegent atmosphere of the ancient city, today you will learn more about its history with a city tour.
Start with a visit to Dong Ba Market and then step into the Imperial City and Royal Palace. Hop on a motorbike and adventure off to the beautiful Tam Giang Lagoon. Get back to Hue after a gorgeous sunset.
Day 7Hue - Hanoi - Lao Cai | Hanoi Highlights with Food Adventure
Leaving the ancient royal seat, you are flying to the modern capital Hanoi. The flight is about 50 minutes.
You will have a whole day exploring the city. Take a city tour that leads you to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, Hoa Lo Prison and you will discover Hanoi's fascinating grasp of gourmet with a visit to the Old Quarter.
During the 2 hours of your food adventure, you will be introduced to plenty of delicacies such as Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich), egg coffee, a time-honored ice cream parlor and some seasonal fruits. Only with your tour guide's insider lead, can you find authentic tastes hidden behind these narrow alleys. (* Notes: The places that your guide chooses for you are in good hygiene.)
You will be escorted to the train station one hour before your train. The overnight train leaves Hanoi at around 10000pm. Sleep tight!
Day 8Lao Cai - Sapa | Colorful Local Market in Sapa
Breaking the morning mist, you will arrive in Lao Cai at about 6am.
Take a short break and have some simple breakfast upon arrival. Later, you will be on the road to a nearby local market. Explore the market with your tour guide, learn about all kinds of funky stuff and interesting interaction between the sellers and buyers.
Local market always takes place in the morning and it will end before noon. Transfer to Sapa town and have simple lunch. Relax for the rest of day.
Day 9Sapa | Trekking through the Moung Hoa Valley
Gear up! Today you will be led to a dirt path passing lush rice peddies, humble villages, pristine forest and a beautiful valley.
First part of the trekking is a scenic uphill path from Cat Cat Village to Y Linh Ho, about 7km (4.4mi); continue on a mountainous road to Lao Chai, about 13km (8.1mi). Today's trekking can be finished within 6 hours at a pace that you desire.
You will stay at a local homestay near Lao Chai Village.
Day 10Sapa - Lao Cai - Hanoi | Beautiful Morning in Sapa
Have breakfast with your homestay host before setting off. Today's trek will follow a dirt footpath up and down the mountain range. Trekking route: Giang Ta Chai - Hau Thao - Hau Thao.
Starting from Lao Chai Village, you will walk uphill for 4km (2.5mi) to Giang Ta Chai Village, home to the Red Dzao people distinguish for their long tunic with embroidered cuffs. Relax with a simple lunch and some cold drinks.
From Giang Ta Chai Village, you will walk downhill for 14km (8.7mi) towards Hau Thao, where you will be picked up and transferred back to Sapa.
When back in Sapa town, take some time to refresh up at a hotel and stretch your legs before getting to Lao Cai for the overnight train back to Hanoi.
Day 11Hanoi - Halong Bay | Relaxing Cruising in Halong Bay
Arrive in Hanoi in the early morning and have breakfast at a hotel. Later you will be picked up by a shuttle car to Halong Bay. Board the cruise and enjoy the relaxing journey.
Your Halong Bay cruise will take you to Cua Van Fishing Village, Vung Vieng Fishing Village, Me Cung Caves, Virgin Cave, and Surprise Cave, as well as some small islets, such as Flight Cock Islet, Human Head Islet, and Toad Islet etc (subject to different itineraries of different boats).
In the evening, the junk will harbor anchor in a less-crowded area for your sweet dreams under the stars.
Day 12Halong Bay - Hanoi
The cruise will reach the shore at about 11am, after a brunch. Your private tour guide and driver rwill take you back to Hanoi.
Free at leisure in Hanoi.
Day 13Hanoi Departure
After breakfast, enjoy some free time at your leisure before your private tour guide picks you up and takes you to the airport. Have a safe flight home, and we hope to see you again soon!
Asia Highlights handpicked hotels
Asia Highlights chooses hotels with a balanced mixture of traditional style and modern comfort, easy access to everything yet quiet enough for a good night's sleep.
- Winner of Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor, ranked 40/457.
- Near the Saigon River, pool and connecting rooms available.
- Premium Deluxe, 30sqm, allows family of 3, higher floor.
- 4/5 points by reviewers on TripAdvisor, ranked 8/45.
- Nice faclity, skybar and friendly staff for a small town stay.
- Deluxe Room, 45sqm, balcony and allows family of 3.
- Winner of Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor, ranked 6/119.
- 10 minutes to walk to ancient town, spa, pool and quiet rooms.
- Deluxe Room Balcony, 30sqm with balcony, extra bed allowed.
- Winner of Certificate of Excellence of TripAdvisor, ranked 14/121.
- Centrally located, bright deco, skybar with good cocktails.
- Deluxe Room with River View, 37sqm and new deco.
- New train with good facilities, running 9 hours.
- Private compartment with soft beds and great pricy.
- Recommended for small groups to book the entire 4-berth cabin.
- Winner of Certificate of Excellence, #11/146 on TripAdvisor.
- Cruising in less-crowded water, experienced crew and elegant deco.
- Deluxe Cabin, upper deck, totally 20sqm with private balcony.
- 4.5/5 points by over 600 travelers on TripAdvisor.
- 10 minutes to walk to the Old Quarter, great service and breakfast.
- Deluxe City View Room, 35sqm, extra bed available and city view.
- Seasonal information: This tour is designed for all-time. As Sapa is on the northern hillside, the ideal time to make the trip is during late September to November and late March to early June.
September to November, late autumn in Sapa, you will see golden rice fields ready for harvest; during summer time, greenery waves in the cool summer breeze and great time for photos. As for the climate and weather, Sapa is always cooler than other parts in Vietnam, which makes it an ideal place to visit all-year-round.
However, everything can be tailor-made, remeber? If your plan doesn't fall in the "best time to Vietnam", our travel advisors can still make it possible by adjusting activities, destinations and etc. Specify your travel time and let us work the magic.
For more Vietnam weather information, please refer to Vietnam Climate and Weather.
- Vietnam visa: Most nationalities are required to obtain tourist visa for Vietnam ahead of the travel time. Holders of British, German, French, Spanish and Italian passports are exempt from visas for a stay of a maximum of 15 days for all purposes. Instead of applying for Visa-on-Arrival (VOA), we would suggest you get your Vietnam visa at least one month ahead of your travel, which can be done either by application at your nearest embassy or online. For more information, please refer to How to Get a Vietnam Visa.
- Meals:Daily breakfast at hotels and a lunch for days with sightseeing are included, so are some dinners as mentioned in the itinerary. For meals that are not included, your tour guides will suggest where and what to eat.
As you will spend one night at a Sapa homestay, the food will be simple yet clean and fresh. But for special dietary requirements, it is subject to the availability of food ingredients on the date you travel.
- Transportation: You will have a private car in each destination; our cars are within 5 years of usage and your private drivers will be polite and drive with strong regard for safety. As for your Halong Bay cruise, a shuttle bus from the cruise company will take you to the certain port for boarding. Of course, private transfer between Hanoi and Halong Bay is also available upon request.
Internal flights are operated by Vietnam Airlines, a memeber of SkyTeam and flag carrier of Vietnam. Safe, punctual and good service, make it our go-to choice for your trip, although airfares might look slightly higher compared to other airlines such as JetStar and VietJet Air. All flights include 20kg of check-in luggage plus a 7kg carry-on for each adlut passenger.
For Sapa trekking, you will walk on narrow dirt road and there will be a supporting motorbike carrying your stuff. We will call on another support motorbike to carry you to the next destination when you feel tired (however, we believe you can do it!).
- Local market in Sapa: Market date:
Monday - Ban Theit or Phong Hai Market;
Tuesday - Coc Ly or Ban Cam Market;
Wednesday - Cao Son or Sin Cheng Market;
Thursday - Lung Khau Nhin or Binh Lu Market;
Friday - Chau or Phong Hai Market;
Saturday - Can Cau , Phang Long or Tam Duong Market;
Sunday - Bac Ha, Muong Hum or Muong Khuong Market.
If you don't feel like travelling too far after a long train ride, your tour guide will firstly take you to Sapa Victoria Resort & Spa for breakfast and a short break, and then check in hotel at noon. You will have the rest of day free at leisure, preparing for the trekking to come.
- Responsible travel: Travel avails you with special experiences. Somehow its impact on the local community can be more beyond imagination and what Asia Highlights wishes to do is lead the impact onto a good path, a path that helps the local people (not only your tour guides) boarden their outlook and the local communities develop. During your trip, you will eat at a training restaurant where underprivileged youngsters get trained as a chef, ride on local cyclo to reduce your carbon footprints and most commonly learn about the country's cultures with respect. Taking baby steps one at a time, we highly appreciate you would like to be part of it.
During your trip, you will stay at a homestay managed by local people who got professional training from Victoria Groups. Also, our trekking tour guide will gather garbage while trekking, join us if you like! (Of course, no pressure!) Taking baby steps one at a time, we highly appreciate you would like to be part of it.
With that being said, detours to so-called factories or specialty workshops are strictly prohibited. We make sure your tour guides earn enough to support their families without squeezing commissions out of you.
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