$6147 AUD per person
$985 AUD single supplement
- Day 1 – Arrival in Hanoi
- Day 2 – Hanoi
- Day 3 - Hanoi to Mai Chau
- Day 4 – Mai Chau to Moc Chau to Son La
- Day 5 – Son La to Dien Bien Phu
- Day 6 – Dien Bien Phu to Lai Chau
- Day 7 – Lai Chau to Sapa
- Day 8 – Sapa to Bac Ha
- Day 9 – Bac Ha to Ha Khau Border
- Day 10 – YuanYang
- Day 11 – Jianshui
- Day 12 - Kunming
- Day 13 - Departure
- Return airport transfers
- 12 nights accommodation
- 12 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 6 dinners
- Entrance Fees as per the itinerary
- Services of English speaking local guides
- Sightseeing as per the itinerary
- Transportation in an air conditioned vehicle
- Scrubba Wash Bag
- International and domestic flights
- Travel and medical insurance
- All services, meals other than those indicated above
- Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
- All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc
Leaving behind the bustling but nostalgic city of Hanoi, venture north as you spend time with the hill tribe minority groups of Northern Vietnam and Southern China. Travel overland between Vietnam and China - a route almost completely untrodden. Witness spectacular vistas of terraced rice paddies, traditional homes, hidden cultures and flourishing traditions.
Day 1 – Arrival in Hanoi
Xin chao! Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam. Upon arrival arrival in Hanoi Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
The capital of Vietnam is a charming city with a population of over six million. Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and its thriving Old Quarter, which is an architectural museum piece with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930s French provincial town. As Vietnam develops to compete with other South-East Asian countries, the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the contrasts of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface.
This evening, enjoy dinner at Madam Hien restaurant, the most exciting new addition to Hanoi’s food scene. Here you will meet your tour leader, and the rest of your group, and there will be a briefing introduction of the adventure that lies ahead! (D)
2 nights at Hanoi Pearl Hotel or similar
Day 2 – Hanoi
This morning, you will take a guided half-day tour of Hanoi that captures the beauty and the history of the laid-back, tree-lined capital. You’ll visit major sights including the Temple of Literature, the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake.
In the afternoon, you will visit the house of the most famous and experienced water puppet artisan, who devoted more than 20 years of his life to water puppets. The traditional art form of Vietnamese water puppetry plays portray both ancient and modern stories of traditional and modern daily life. After the show, you will have the unique opportunity to go behind the scenes and try your hand at working the puppets yourself!
Following the water puppet show, you will be transferred to the Omamori Spa for a relaxing massage. Omamori Spa is a social enterprise, providing a safe and dignified work environment for blind people. The specially trained Masseuses here are vision impaired, and provide quite an experience with a level of gentleness and body awareness that differs from traditional practitioners.
This evening you will be guided on foot through the streets of the city for a real ‘taste of the city’. Eating as you go, you will get an insight into the intricacies and traditions of Vietnamese food culture including details on ingredients and the historical backgrounds of popular northern dishes. Try unique seasonal fruits and sample some tasty French-inspired snacks from the street carts. (B,D)
Day 3 - Hanoi to Mai Chau
This morning after breakfast you will leave the hectic pace of Hanoi and journey to the fresh mountain air of the Mai Chau valley (approx. 3hrs). There are great photo opportunities along the way and you will have time to stop at a look out for a great view of Mai Chau. If time permits, you may also have the opportunity to help local farmers plant rice seeds in their fields.
Mai Chau is home to a variety of minority groups with their own unique culture and languages. Enjoy a traditional lunch with examples of local cuisine in the village of Pom Coong, where your local guide will introduce you to your hosts and provide information on the region’s people, their lifestyles, customs and culture. This is a great opportunity to experience the local area, chat with your hosts and gain a real insight into life in this fascinating and picturesque region.
After lunch, there will be some time to relax before saddling up for a cycle trip to explore nearby villages. This picturesque ride takes you on small footpaths and through rice paddies surrounded by the spectacular mountains of the valley, you will also have many opportunities to interact with the locals as you cycle your way through the villages. (B,L)
Overnight Mai Chau Ecolodge Hotel or similar
Day 4 – Mai Chau to Moc Chau to Son La
Today starts with an early morning departure for Moc Chau. En-route, you will have the opportunity to visit a village of local H’mong people, and witness the unique peach gardens and spectacular roads that twist around the mountains. Enjoy lunch in Moc Chau town, before continuing on to Son La City.
Upon arrival in Son La, visit the French colonial Son La Prison. Its inhabitants once included revolutionary soldiers and polotical prisoners, yet this notorious jail known as ‘hell on earth’ became somewhat of an institution of stamina and solidarity to the the Vietnamese prisoners.
From here you will visit Mong village, where you will immediately notice the spectacular scenery of mountains and rivers. The village is also surrounded by ancient forests and colourful orchid flowers. Each spring, apricot flowers, plum flowers and ban flowers show off their splendour, and during winter Vong Gai flowers bloom, filling the forest with a burst of bright red colour.
Whilst in the area, feel the breeze in the air while immersing yourself in the local hot springs whilst overlooking the red stilt houses and Vong Gai flowers, a most relaxing way to ‘soak in’ the wonderful surroundings! (B)
Overnight Hanoi Hotel or similar
Day 5 – Son La to Dien Bien Phu
Following breakfast, you will depart for Dien Bien Phu. The drive itself showcases the stunning scenery of north-west Vietnam, passing the lush, expansive terraced fields of corn, beans and bananas, as well as the many colourful roadside ‘shops’ as the locals sell their wares. You will have opportunies along the way to stop for photos, stretch your legs, and to visit local villages, where you can learn more about their unique cultures. You will then continue the drive through the impressive Pha Din Pass at the height of 1,500m, it offers a fantastic panorama of the charming valley encompassed by the year round cloud, as well as passing roads of colourful wild flowers.
You will arrive at Dien Bien in the late afternoon where you will have free time to relax or you may wish to do some exploring around the city. (B)
Overnight Muong Thanh Holiday Dien Bien Phu Hotel or similar
Day 6 – Dien Bien Phu to Lai Chau
Today after breakfast you will continue your scenic journey north to Lai Chau (approx. 6hrs).
Arriving in the afternoon, you will have some free time to explore the back roads providing a great way to explore the real Vietnam, where you will likely see mostly rural dwellers, who are just as interested in finding out about you, as you are of them, and very few other travellers. (B)
Overnight Muong Thanh Lai Chau Hotel or similar
Day 7 – Lai Chau to Sapa
Leaving the wild of Lai Chau, you will make your way toward Sapa, driving through picturesque scenery and villages, and traversing Tram Ton Pass. At 1,900m, it is the highest pass in Vietnam, and is often referred to as ‘Heaven’s Gate’, with its picturesque landscapes and sheer magnificence resembling a gate to the Heavens. You will have the opportunity to take a break here to admire the incredible views.
In the afternoon, you will head off on a guided moderate trek (approx. 2-3hrs) to the hill tribe villages of Cat Cat, home to the H’mong people who originated from China about 300 years ago. The H’mong people are easily recognisable by their dark blue or black clothing, the dye they use bieng from the indigo plant which is native to the area. H’mong women wear long aprons with embroidered waist-coats and have their hair rolled up into a turban-like hat, while the men wear a black skullcap.
In the late afternoon, you will return to Sapa where you can relax in your hotel. (B)
Overnight Chapa Dew Boutique Hotel or similar
Day 8 – Sapa to Bac Ha
Today you will travel to the Bac Ha market which is the largest minority peoples market in Northwest Vietnam. Alive with the bright colours and extravagant costumes of the local people, here you will meet different tribal groups such as Flower Hmong, Black Dzao, Tay and Phu La, as well as other minority groups who come from far and wide to buy and sell a wide variety of goods and livestock. You will have time to wander around the market, enjoy the atmosphere and have fun trying out your trading skills with the friendly local people.
In the afternoon, you will embark on a 2 hour walk to visit Ban Pho – A Flower Hmong village where the villagers live a simple life but are renowned for their kindness and hospitality. Situated on a mountain cliff side, the rooftops of nearly 500 village homes appear as nests along the escarpment. It’s here where the beauty of the highlands is most captivating, and paired with the serene village backdrop makes a lasting impression. (B)
Overnight Sao Mai Hotel or similar
Day 9 – Bac Ha to Ha Khau Border
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the border town Ha Khau in the Hekou County of Honghe which is situated in the southeast of Yunnan and borders on Vietnam’s Lao Cai Province.
Hekou derives its name from its location, it is the converging point of the Red River and Nanxi River, and is a vital gateway for trade and travel between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
After seeing off your Vietnamese leader, you will cross the border independently into China, where you will be greeted by your Chinese leader. On arrival in China, you will have a local lunch and then drive to Yuanyang Rice terrace (approx. 4hrs) and if the weather (and traffic) allows, you will have a chance to watch the sunset in the scenic area of Laohuzui. (B,L,D)
2 nights at Yuanyang Yunshang Tianshang Duoyishu Inn or similar
Day 10 – YuanYang
This morning you will rise early to make the most of the spectacular sunrise over the beautiful Yuanyang rice terraces in Duoyishu. The colours, shadows and the reflections on the water are constantly changing, creating an amazing way to start the day.
After breakfast, you will explore the local morning markets before spending the day trekking along the terraced fields and visiting some of the local minority groups on the way.
The Yuanyang rice terraces are on the southern slopes of Ailao Mountain, and are a masterpiece of the ingenuity of the Hani people with slopes varying from 15 degrees to 75 degrees, they extend to many towns along the south bank of the Red River. Known as ‘land sculpture’, these magical terraced fields have been officially acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage site. (B,L,D)
Day 11 – Jianshui
After breakfast, you will drive to Jianshui (approx. 4hrs), an ancient town in the Honghe Prefecture of Yunnan Province. With a history of around 1,200 years the town enjoys a great reputation as a ‘Museum of Ancient Buildings and Residential Houses’.
Here you will visit Tuanshan Village, which is built on a small plateau on a hill and surrounded by a rounded-top mountain. The cobblestone streets of the village are lined with ancient family mansions and gardens, lineage temples and historical courtyards.
The valleys surrounding Jianshui are littered with old stone bridges, the crown jewel of which is undoubtedly Double Dragon Bridge (or Seventeen Span Bridge). Built from local stone in the eighteenth century, it is nearly 150m long, paved in marble and the largest bridge of its kind in the Province. There are also three elegant lofts on the bridge with the middle one known as the ‘Grand View Pavilion of South Yunnan’, as it offers beautiful views of the surrounding green fields, majestic blue mountains and sparkling clear waters. (B,L,D)
Overnight Jianshui Zhu Family Garden Hotel or similar
Day 12 - Kunming
Today you make your way toward Kunming City, visiting Xiushan Hill in Tonghai Town, Xingmeng (Mongolian Village) and Stone Forest (World Natural Heritage) along the way.
Xiushan Park dates back to the Han Dynasty, and throughout its long history various Temples and Pavilions have been added. Today an array of traditional Temples and Pavilions in various styles of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism are found around the lush park covering Xiushan Hill.
The village of Xingmeng dates back to 1253 and is the only ‘Mongolian Village’ within the Yunnan Province and you will see the statue that features the arrival of the Mongolian cavalry. You will also see Xingmeng Mongolians in their traditional clothing as they go about their daily lives and continue to practice their own unique customs.
Stone Forest is a karst landform more than 200 million years old and is known as the ‘First Wonder of the World’. Covering an area of 400 square kilometres, its giant stalagmite-like pillars create huge arrays of labyrinths and includes both large and small stone forests, as well as many other scenic spots. Walking through the site, you will marvel at the sheer size and beauty of the natural stone masterpieces and their intricate formations. (B,L,D)
Overnight Silver Chest Hotel or similar
Day 13 - Departure
The day is yours at leisure until it is time to transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Should you wish to continue your journey further and mingle with the remote Dulong tribe, please join our extension tour, Tribes of Yunnan. (B)