This trip brings you to the famed and iconic spots. However we promise an individual and memorable experience by adding healthy servings of creativity and panache. So to offer you the best service possible we find the trails and hidden gems that others overlook in their haste. When you visit the 'must do' spots with Handspan, you'll do more than just see them, we'll give you a deeper understanding of these beautiful places. We'll take you to the spots you expect to see while taking you far beyond your expectations.
• Hanoi, Vietnam's vibrant 1000-year-old capital and one of Asia's loveliest cities• Sapa area, nestled valleys, mountainside roads, high passes.• The breathtaking natural splendor of the World Heritage Halong Bay archipelago• Hue, a journey into the magnificence of an imperial past• The World Heritage ancient port town of Hoi An and its seductive atmosphere• The always bustling, never sleeping, perpetually changing Ho Chi Minh City• The Mekong Delta, feel the pulse of the life generated by the mighty Mekong river
• Explore some breathtaking sceneries of Sapa surroundings• See the very best of the world's nature and culture heritages in Halong, Hue and Hoi An• Cruise along the rivers maze of canals for a taste of the lush and lively culture in Mekong delta
[Day 1] Hanoi ArrivalMeal: N/A | Accommodation: hotel in Hanoi
Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you'll be met and driven to your hotel. Time for relaxing after the journey. You'll spend the night in Hanoi.
[Day 2] Hanoi Orientation – Night train to Lao CaiMeal: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: cozy cabin on train
Departing from the hotel at 8.00 am, we'll start the day with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Complex: which includes the Ho Chi Minh Museum, and his modest stilt house which provide valuable insights into the life and times of one of the most successful leaders of the 20th century. After that, an easy walk through Hanoi's boulevards lead you to the lovely Temple of Literature - Vietnam's first university, which was established in 1070.
The afternoon will be devoted for a wandering around the Old Quarter of Hanoi. It is a maze of shopping streets and restaurants with a hotchpotch of architecture - traditional tube houses, religious buildings, artisans' workshops and cottages, colonial houses and modern concrete edifices. Dinner will be on your own selection. After that, your guide will take you to the train station for the night train to Lao Cai. Overnight in a cozy cabin on train.
[Day 3] Lao Cai – SapaMeal: lunch | Accommodation: hotel in Sapa
5.00 am: Arrive in Lao Cai and be transferred by shuttle bus to Sapa. The bus ride uphill to Sapa takes a little over an hour giving you a glimpse of the stunning vistas and impressive rice terraces.
On arrival, you will stop by our office and leave your luggage and possibly take a shower in our partner hotel’s waiting room.
7.00 am: Have breakfast at a local restaurant.
9.00 am: Start trekking from Sapa to Ta Phin valley. We start from Sapa and walk through the town for about 20 minutes before turning to a dirt road to Ma Tra, a black H’mong village. The trekking route offers a breathtaking view of vegetable gardens and rice terraces with green mountains rising above. There will be time for visiting with local families and learning about their traditional fiber processing. We continue trekking to Ta Phin village of the Red Dzao setting in one of the most scenic valleys. Here we’ll stop for a simple picnic lunch before exploring the village.
3.00 pm: Return to Sapa by private vehicle to check in your hotel. You’re free to explore the town, its market and sloping streets decorated with many colorful handicrafts.
Tip from Handspan:At your free time, you could go up to Ham Rong peak where you are able to experience a stunning vista over the charming Sapa town. This is a great chance for some unforgettable photos! This is recommended for the good weather afternoon only (Entrance fee is not included).
[Day 4] Sapa – Lao CaiMeal: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: cozy cabin on train
You meet your guide and depart at 8.00 am and start trekking. The first part we will mostly trek down hill Y Linh Ho hamlet. The trek offers some stunning views of the rice terraces, gardens and Fan Si Pan mountain ranges. After going through a suspension bridge, we start walking up to Lao Chai San village. The scenery is great here as you will enjoy the view from a higher point of the rice terraces and small villages. Walk down through the village to the Golden Stream Valley, stopping at Lao Chai village for lunch. After lunch, we explore the villages of Lao Chai (Black H’mong) and Ta Van (Dzay) villages. This trek is relatively trouble-free though the trail can be quite slippery if it rains, so good footwear is recommended. You will visit some local families and learn about their daily life and fascinating culture.
After chatting one of the families in the village, we walk to the main road to meet up with our driver and return to Sapa town. Shower is available at our partner hotel’s waiting room.
In the afternoon, you’re free to explore the town, its market and sloping streets decorated with many colorful handicrafts.
6.00 pm: Join Handspan's bus and getting back to Lao Cai, in a good time to catch up a night train to Hanoi (soft sleeper with air-conditioning)
[Day 5] Hanoi – Ha LongMeal: breakfast, lunch, dinner | Accommodation: Traditional Junk
Early arrival in Hanoi, you'll be pick up and transferred to a local restaurant for breakfast and refreshment.
At 8.00 am - depart from Hanoi for a 3.5 hours drive to Halong City through the Red River Delta. Upon arrival, get on board of the Aloha Junk. Start cruising and enter the Bai Tu Long bay while lunch with fresh seafood is served (vegetarian menu available).
We reach the perfect spot, remote and scenic, and get ready for serious things. Swimming suits, ok. Kayaks and tender boat, ok. Paddles and gears, ok. Let's start our closer exploration of the limestone rocks. Dinner and overnight on board.
[Day 6] Ha Long – Hanoi – HueMeal: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: cozy cabin on train
Wake up and enjoy breakfast while witnessing the silence of beautiful misty bay. You'll be free to relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery on sundeck, take fantastic photos of the bay. We visit a secluded floating village surrounded by the mountains. Lunch will be served while cruising back to the harbor. Finally, to conclude your tour, we provide a minibus transfer back to Hanoi.
In the evening, you'll have tickets for a night train to Hue.
Air ticket Hanoi – Hue is available with a little surcharge
[Day 7] Hue OrientationMeal: lunch | Accommodation: hotel in Hue
9.00 am - Upon arrival at Hue railway station, you'll be pick up and transfer to the city centre for hotel check-in.
After refreshment, you'll begin with a cruise along the Perfume River to visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda. From there, we take a short drive into a lush valley of the river where seven tombs were built for seven Nguyen emperors. Each is an expression of the unique personality of the man whose remains it holds. We will visit two of the tombs of emperors Minh Mang.
Lunch will be served with Hue cuisine at a restaurant in a beautiful garden setting. In the afternoon, you'll have a guided visit to the the Imperial Citadel – the most well known and iconic site in Hue, and then the Dong Ba market before returning to your hotel before sunset.
[Day 8] Hue – Hoi AnMeal: breakfast| Accommodation: hotel in Hoi An
Your car now heads to Hoi An via the dramatic Hai Van pass. The panoramic views are excellent - you should be able to see Lang Co beach and village, and the lagoon far below, with the city of Da Nang spread out before you to the south.
You'll visit the Cham Museum in Da Nang which houses the largest displays of Cham art anywhere in the world. We will also drive to the nearby Marble Mountains: five limestone peaks with marble outcrops known for their beauty and their cave network.
The afternoon will be on your own arrangement. You'll spend the night in Hoi An
[Day 9] Hoi An FreeMeal: breakfast | Accommodation: hotel in Hoi An
The day will be free for strolling in the town, lazing on the beach, or whatever takes your fancy. You'll spend the night in Hoi An.
Hoi An town is three kilometres from Cua Dai Beach - part of what was once known as China Beach and used for rest and recreation by American GIs during the Vietnam War. The beach is composed of white sand fringed with palm trees and overlooks the beach.
There are plenty of good restaurants offering a variety of cuisines and price levels. The town is also a good place for shopping for silk. You can have your clothes tailor-made within a day or two at reasonable cost.
[Day 10] Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh cityMeal: breakfast | Accommodation: hotel in Ho Chi Minh city
Time will be on your own until our driver arrives and take you to Danang airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh city.
Upon your arrival at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh city, you'll be met and driven to your hotel in the city centre. After checking in, you'll be free for a preliminary wander around District 1. Your overnight will be in Ho Chi Minh City.
[Day 11] Ho Chi Minh city – Mekong DeltaMeal: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: hotel in Ho Chi Minh city
Morning we leave Saigon for My Tho. Upon arrival, board a motorboat and head out on the mighty Mekong to Xuan Dong Islet for an exploration of a less crowded and more authentic slice of Mekong life. Hop on a bike and savor the leisurely time to explore and pedal through this green and unspoiled island. Make frequent stops for photos and glimpses and of the daily lives of local villagers. We also visit a 'Coconut Artisan' village, enjoy some honeyed tea at the to check out the workshops where a range of coconut husk and fiber products are skilfully handcrafted.
We next take a small sampan along Vam Chua canal, gliding peacefully along the hidden waterways surrounded by immense variety of tropical plants. The quiet, rural setting is a welcome and restorative retreat to the frenetic buzz of Saigon which seems far, far away. We then stop for lunch at a local restaurant. At last we'll reboard the boat to head back to My Tho and start the drive back to Saigon.
[Day 12] Ho Chi Minh city DepartureMeal: breakfast | Accommodation: N/A
Your time will be your own until your private car and driver arrives to take you to Tan Son Nhat airport for your homeward flight.
PRICE PER PERSON (Valid from 01/01/2013 to 31/12/2013)
• Accommodation at all destinations• Visa on arrival arrangement fee to Vietnam• Meals as specified in the program• Travel in an appropriate air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced driver• Return train tickets Hanoi – Lao Cai – Hanoi – 4-berth sharing cabin, wooden carriage• Train ticket Hanoi – Hue in 4-berth sharing soft sleeper cabin.• Air tickets Danang – Ho Chi Minh city at Economy class• Boat trips in Ha Long bay and Hue as specified• The services of an experienced English-speaking guide• All entrance fees• VAT and other taxes
• International flight tickets and airport tax.• Visas stamp fee at the Noi Bai airport•Visa on arrival arrangement for passport holder from India; Sri Lanka; Pakistan; Middle East countries; Turkey; African countries... that needs special arrangement.• Beverages, gratuities and personal expenses.• Gala dinner (if any)• Insurance• Surcharge in peak season (Christmas & New Year)
Mid-range• Hanoi: Le Foyer hotel – Superior room• Sapa: Chau Long hotel – Superior room• Ha Long: Treasure Junk – Superior cabin• Hue: Ngoc Huong hotel – Deluxe room• Hoi An: Thuy Duong 3 hotel – Superior room• Ho Chi Minh city: Hoang Hai Long South hotel – Superior room
Superior• Hanoi: Serenade hotel – Junior twin hotel• Sapa: Chau Long New Wing hotel – Superior room• Ha Long: Treasure Junk – Superior room• Hue: Camelia hotel – Sky view room• Hoi An: Vinh Hung resort – Superior room• Ho Chi Minh city: Lavender hotel – ROH room
Deluxe• Hanoi: Lan Vien hotel – Deluxe room• Sapa: Victoria Sapa resort – Superior room• Ha Long: Treasure Junk – Suite cabin• Hue: Imperial hotel – Deluxe city view room• Hoi An: Boutique Hoian – Superior room• Ho Chi Minh city: Royal Lotus hotel – Deluxe room (Contemporary Wing)
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