12 days Treasures of the North

Hanoi, Sapa, Binh Lu, Sin Ho, Dien Bien Phu, Son La, Black River, Pu Luong, Ninh Binh, Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, Hanoi.


The Treasures of the North offers some of the most diverse travelling in Vietnam. Allow us to take you on a fabulous journey through North West Vietnam. 

From Sapa we venture to Sin Ho and Muong Lay, Dien Bien Phu and Son La, through the villages of Mai Chau and the Red River Delta to magnificent islands in Bai Tu Long Bay. What a great combination!


Day 0 Hanoi / Overnight train to Lao Cai
We pick you up from our office from 19:00 to 19:30 for a short transfer to Hanoi railway station for boarding an overnight train bound for Lao Cai.


Day 1 Sapa trekking

Upon our arrival in Lao Cai railway station in the early morning, we have a pick-up. This is followed by a short drive to Sapa town, which is 35 km away by car. 

After shower and brekfast we set off to discover Sapa and its nearby villages of Sa Seng and Hau Thao, set in a spectacularly beautiful valley and home to Black H'mong people. We have ample opportunities to see how they live and give wonderful insights into their way of life.


Along the way we stop at one of the friendly villages and enjoy a picnic lunch. Finally, we arrive in the village of Giang Ta Chai, nestled in a spectacular region. Tonight we spend a memorable night in the traditional stilt-house of a Zay family.  

Zay people are adept at rice cultivation and are responsible for tending to the manicured terraces that stretch as far as the eye can see. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).


Day 2 Sapa Trekking 
The beautiful Giang Ta Chai is surrounded by verdant hills and rice terraces. We enjoy a hike through lush rice terraces and along verdant hills, before we return to Sapa. In free time, why not wander through a local market and appreciate the laidback lifestyle in this beautiful township. 

Afternoon finds us in the villages of Hau Thao and Thanh Phu, situated in a region of sculpted rice terraces and home to Black H’mong people, we walk around peaceful villages and farmlands at an easy and leisurely pace to suit everybody. 

At night we stay over in a home stay in the village of Thanh Phu, home to Tay ethnic minority people. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).


Day 3 Sapa / Binh Lu / Lai Chau / Sin Ho 
The day begins by crossing hills and hiking through rice terraces, passing peaceful villages. This is followed by a short drive to Binh Lu. Here we take a delightful hike around villages and along towering stunning mountains. 

En route, we meet local villagers going about their daily life. Arriving in Sin Ho, we explore the charm of the township and nearby villages. Tonight we spend the night in a hotel. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).


Day 4 Sin Ho / Dien Bien Phu 
After breakfast we take a hike along beautiful towering mountains, through lush rice terraces and around tiny villages. Later in the morning we walk to our waiting vehicle and make our way to Dien Bien Phu. The night is spent at a comfortable hotel. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).


Day 5 Dien Bien Phu / Son La 
We continue our journey due north to Son La province by car, viewing spectacular mountain scenery, we break our journey with some stops along the way to explore some beautiful villages, home to Black Thai and Hmong people. 

Arriving in Son La we enjoy this town's laid-back atmosphere and retire to a comfortable hotel for a good night's rest. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).


Day 6 Son La / Black River 
The day begins with a scenic drive from Son La to Black River. En route we take a beautiful hike through the tiers of splendid rice terraces and past several idyllic villages.


This is followed by an enjoyable bicycle ride around a spectacular area, which features verdant hillocks, lush farmlands and beautiful mountains. 

Finally, we descend to the Xom Moi village, located by the Black River and home to the Muong people.


Tonight we settle in with a Muong family in a traditional wooden house to experience their way of life. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).

Day 7 Black River / Pu Luong 
The Pu Luong Nature Reserve is an area of outstanding beauty, cultural interest and high biodiversity value stretching from Mai Chau in the northwest to Cuc Phuong National Park in the south east. The region is blessed with rich forest, limestone panoramas, magnificent rice terraces and breathtaking scenery. 

We depart from Black River and hike along paths amid verdant hills and pictursque villages, before arriving at the reserve where we begin our hike to the Thai village of Hang.


We relax in the cool climate, enjoy their hospitality and culture over our dinner. We spend the night in our lodge. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).


Day 8 Pu Luong / Ninh Binh 
We take a hike through farmlands and rice terraces, along verdant hills. We see the villages and local people going about their day.


Later in the morning we hike to our waiting vehicle and journey alongside the beautiful Ma river. We head out into the countryside to a typical village in the Red River Delta. Here, we retire to a local family for the night. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).

Day 9 Ninh Binh 
We take a short drive to to Ninh Xuan area, a firm favourite with walkers, we enjoy a wonderful boat ride along a scenic canal. This is followed by a delightful hike through spectacular scenery, and dramatic limestone peaks rising up from open rice fields. 

Those who are more interested in local cuisine than just sightseeing can settle in with a local family and learn how to make some authentic Vietnamese food. Dishes include succulent Spring Rolls, zesty sauce dips and sticky rice. We then enjoy the family’s gracious hospitality as they share lunch with us.

After lunch we cycle around several villages and witness the tight-knit community at work. We learn about agriculture, such as rice cultivation, and the growing of peanuts and assorted vegetables. There is plenty of time for us to experience the way of life in the delta. 

We also observe the various steps required to make rice noodles, which are time-consuming and labour-intensive. The night is spent in the same local family. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).


Day 10 Ninh Binh / Halong Bay 
Bai Tu Long Bay of the submerged dragon, which boasts 3000 craggy and towering islets, is amongst the most picturesque places in Vietnam.

The fantastic beauty of the bays has given rise to many legends, some of them dating back to the ancient past. It is said that a dragon descended into the deep water spitting out gems as he did so. And thus the rocky islands were formed.

Departing our local family we journey to Ha Long City. Upon our arrival we embark on a boat trip among some of the spectacular limestone peaks – time to relax and appreciate the sublime beauty of the bay. Time is also spent kayaking among towering rock formations.

In the evening we indulge in the uniquely fascinating nature as we stay overnight on our boat. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).


Day 11 Halong Bay / Bai Tu Long Bay 
A morning boat trip brings us to some of the bay’s truly awesome scenery – vertical and unusual rocks and islets emerge from the sea. Weather permitting, there will be an opportunity to swim in the clear waters.

This is followed by a drive to Cai Rong Island. Here, we embark on a boat trip among the spectacular limestone peaks. Weather permitting, there is an opportunity to enjoy a kayaking ride through stunning rock formations and fishing villages.

Arriving on Van Don Island, a serene and beautiful island, we head to our lodge for the night. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner included).


Day 12 Bai Tu Long Bay / Hanoi
Van Don is located in Bai Tu Long Bay. The island is blessed with stunning beaches, scenic hills, sand dunes and surroundings sprinkled with tiny villages. 

After a quiet morning strolling around the picturesque village of Quan Lan and watching the day unfold on the island, we board our boat to discover further northern reaches of Bai Tu Long Bay - time to appreciate the sublime beauty of the bay. 

This is followed by our journey back to Hanoi, arriving there at about 6pm. (Breakfast and lunch are included).


The facts…


Physical activities: 

Our itinerary includes bicycle rides, walks, hikes and kayaks with:


- a 12-15 km trek on Day 1.

- a 18-20 km trek on Day 2.

- a 12-15 km hike on Day 3.

- a 5-7 km hike on Day 4.

- a 8-9 km hike on Day 5.

- a 4-6 km hike on Day 6.

 

- a 6-9 km hike on Day 7. 

- a 8-9 km hike on Day 8. 

- a 5-7 km hike on Day 9.

- a 1-hour bicycle ride on Day 9. 

- a 1-2 hour kayak ride on Day 11 and Day 12.


From May to September, the climate is usually humid and hot. From October to April brings cooler and more pleasant weather.


Transport: 

- overnight train.

- vehicle.


- bicycle.

- kayak.

- boat.


Tour Guides: 

All of our experienced and friendly Tour Guides speak fluent English. 

They are knowledgeable about local cultures, history and the environment.

Accommodation: 

- overnight train (1 night).

- home stays (5 nights). 

- lodges (2 nights).


- boat (1 night).

- hotels (3 nights).

Clean and comfortable home stays with mosquito nets provided. 

Meals: 

- 12 breakfasts.

- 12 lunches.

- 11 dinners. 

We choose local ingredients, typical of the way people eat in the area, at local restaurants, markets or homes. 

We also cater for Vegetarians but please request this at time of booking. 

Trip cost: 

- $798USD per person for a group of 2 to 6 people. 

- $735USD per person for a group of 7 to 10 people.

The cost of the trip includes: 

- accommodation.

- transportation.

- meals listed on the itinerary.

- Tour Guides.

- all entrance fees.


- permits during guided excursions.

The cost of the trip does not include: 

travel insurance.

- drinks (soft drinks, alcohol, bottled water).

- other personal expenses.


What to take:


Pack essentials for 12 days, including light comfortable clothes suitable for outdoor activities, jacket for cool evenings, comfortable hiking shoes.


Take a small day pack for cycling, walking, hiking and trekking. 

It is essential to bring your passport on this trip.


We also recommend packing: swimsuit, insect repellent, sun cream, raincoat and sun hat...


Have a great journey!!!