Vietnam & Sa Pa Discovery
Adventure, culture, and nature in one of Asia's most exciting countries
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Group Size: Max 22
Trip code: OLVS
Duration: 15 days
If you’re looking for a Vietnam tour that gets off the beaten track, and comes with a healthy helping of adventure, this is the one for you! Visit the parts of this amazing Asian country that most tourists don’t, from remote villages in the Sa Pa valley, to pristine Pu Luong Park. The bucket-list biggies are in there too, but we’ve put a unique spin on them, arriving in historic Hoi An by kayak, exploring the Hai Van Pass in an authentic army jeep, playing da cau (AKA foot badminton) in Ho Chi Minh City, and squid fishing in untouched stretches of Ha Long Bay. With local guides and tons of quirky activities, it’s the perfect group trip for travellers who like to do things a little differently.
- Meet the Black Hmong and Red Dao people and spend a night in an authentic homestay in the Sa Pa valley
- Discover hidden corners of Ha Long Bay with an overnight cruise into Bai Tu Luong
- Spend a night in an cultural village and try bamboo rafting in beautiful Pu Luong National Park
- Marvel at the incredible scenery on the Hai Van Pass from an open-top army jeep
- Kayak down the Thu Bon River into the heart of historic Hoi An
Day 1: Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City. Xin chao and welcome to Vietnam! A member of our local team will transfer you from the airport to our starting accommodation. Take a dip in the rooftop pool or explore the city until it’s time to meet the rest of the travel gang!
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City walking tour. We’ll kick off (literally!) today with a round of da cau (AKA ‘foot badminton’!). with a local team before heading out on a walking tour of the city. See the most iconic sights and secret gems before cosying down on the sleeper train to Da Nang.
Day 3: Hoi An kayaking & tour. We’re taking the road (or river) less travelled to Hoi An today as we kayak down the Thu Bon River to the centre of the ancient town. What a way to arrive! This evening, take a guided walk through town, as colourful Chinese lanterns illuminate the streets.
Day 4: Hoi An bike tour & eco-project. Explore the tranquil countryside on bicycles today. We’re helping protect the environment as we stop at a riverbank to collect plastic before turning the waste into eco-bricks! Then enjoy a free afternoon at the beach – bliss.
Day 5: Hue & Hai Van Pass. Make the journey to Hue along the Hai Van Pass in an open-top army jeep. The views are out of this world! We’ll pay a visit to some historical colonial buildings before arriving in beautiful Hue in the afternoon.
Day 6: Hue. Head to Hue’s unforgettable Imperial City today and explore the faded grandeur of the Citadel. Then take a Vietnamese cooking class in a local garden house on the banks of the Perfume River. This evening, hop on the night train to Ninh Binh.
Day 7: Pu Luong National Park. Take some time this morning to explore your beautiful surroundings, before hopping on the bus to Pu Luong National Park. We’ll be staying in Ban Hieu, a village where we’ll dine with local families and spend the night in local homes.
Day 8: Pu Luong waterfall trek & bamboo rafting. Take a morning trek to a rural lake house, where we’ll try bamboo rafting and enjoy a picnic lunch. They take a forest trail to a hidden waterfall. Relax by the water before trekking back to the homestay for dinner with the locals.
Day 9: Hanoi. Get ready for big city adventure as we travel to bustling Hanoi after breakfast. Arrive at our beautiful boutique hotel and freshen up before talking a guided walk round the city. This evening, we’ve lined up a feast of local delicacies – yum!
Day 10: Ha Long Bay. Travel to the one-and-only Ha Long Bay for an overnight adventure on a traditional boat. Leave the other tourist boats behind and travel north to Bai Tu Long. Kayak round Cap La and visit some floating villages before sundowners and some squid fishing!
Day 11: Thien Canh Cave and Hanoi. Start your day with Tai Chi on the sundeck, then cruise to the Thien Canh Son cave system. Head back to the mainland this afternoon, trying Vietnamese fruit and veg carving as we sail. This evening, take a yummy food tour of Hanoi.
Day 12: Hanoi free day. You’ve got a free day in Hanoi. Buy some unique souvenirs on the famous ’16 Streets’, visit Hoa Lo Prison, pick up a steaming bowl of pho for lunch and take a stroll round Hoan Kiem Lake. We’ll leave Hanoi on a night train to Sa Pa at around 10pm.
Please note: your guide will not be taking the train with you. You will be picked up when you arrive at the station in Lao Cai (Sa Pa).
Day 13: Sa Pa homestay. Hike through stunning scenery to Lao Chai and Ta Van villages today – home to the Black Hmong people. We’ll spend the night in a homestay, where we’ll get to know the local families and sample some rice whiskey, corn wine, and delicious mountain food.
Day 14: Sa Pa villages & local culture. Say goodbye to our host families and trek to Giang Ta Chai village, where we will meet the Red Dao people. Learn all about their ancient culture and enjoy some lunch before heading back to Sa Pa town and taking the night train back to Hanoi.
Day 15: Hanoi & trip end. We’ll arrive back in Hanoi around 6am, swap contact details and say our goodbyes. See you next time!
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Most expensive: £1,130 December, 2023
Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City on day 1 of your tour. Tan Son Nhat (SGN) is the nearest international airport. You’ll be met by one of the local team and transferred to your accommodation. There are no activities planned for today apart from a welcome meeting this evening.
The trip ends on day 15 at 6am in Hanoi. You’ll need to make your own way to your next accommodation or to the airport. Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) is the nearest international hub. Your tour guide can help with onward transport.
14 nights of accommodation are included on this trip, including three nights in authentic homestays. Rooms are on a twin / double basis with ensuite bathrooms in most destinations and some of our accommodation options have pools! You’ll also spend 2 nights in comfy sleeper train cabins and 3 nights in local homestays). Examples of accommodation used on this tour (subject to change) are:
Ho Chi Minh City - Alagon City (twin)
Hoi An - Hoang Trinh (twin)
Hue - Alba Hue (twin)
Pu Luong National Park homestay (multi-share)
Hanoi - Media Hotel (twin)
Ha Long Bay - Renea Cruise (twin)
Sa Pa - Ta Van Homestay (multi-share)
Overnight trains (4 berth carriages)
12 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 6 dinners are included on this tour. You’ll have to buy the rest of your meals yourself, which gives you a great opportunity to explore the delicious local cuisine.
You’ll need to be 18 years old or over to join this trip.
British citizens do not need a visa for tourism visits of up to 45 days. If you wish to stay longer in Vietnam, you can apply for an e-visa online. Your passport should be valid for 6 months from the date you arrive.