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Tailored from $2,500 per person

11 Days Hanoi, Mai Chau, Son La, Lai Chau, Sapa, Bac Ha

This is a real road trip through some truly spectacular scenery. Taking in the North West corner of Vietnam we are honoured with numerous cultural encounters with the warm and welcoming Hill Tribe groups who inhabit the area. Although we cover a lot of ground by car, there is plenty of time to explore and appreciate our surroundings. We go far off the beaten track to visit Dien Bien Phu, the site of the famous battle of the same name and then continue to Sapa, one of the highlights of any visit to Vietnam. This tour is ideal for those who really appreciate the thrills of travel and for whom the journey is an important part of the experience in itself!

What’s included:

  • Activities & transport as in full itinerary
  • Your choice of accommodation styles
  • Services of private vehicle & driver
  • Professional local staff with fair salaries
  • All activity entrance fees
  • Local English speaking guide

Call us on 0203 143 4293 to start planning your holiday, we’re
looking forward to hearing from you.

or

Your Holiday at a Glance

Day 1

Arrive into Hanoi

Day 2

Explore Hanoi

Day 3

Hanoi to Mai Chau

Day 4

Mai 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

Explore Sapa and its surrounds

Day 9

Sapa to Bac Ha

Day 10

Flower Hmong, night train to Hanoi

Day 11

Depart Hanoi

Trip Itinerary

Days 1-2: Hanoi

Day 1 - Arrive into Hanoi
Downtown Hanoi, with traffic

We will meet you on arrival at Hanoi (HAN) airport, where you will be greeted with a Wayfairer welcome sign, and then transfer together to your hotel for the night on a B&B basis. Depending on your arrival time your local guide can meet you at your hotel and will be happy to suggest an array of dining options from local to international cuisine.

Day 2 - Explore Hanoi

This morning we take a tour of the city. We begin at the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument lavishly built using marble and granite, and where the preserved body of “Uncle Ho” resides. Visitors are permitted pay their respects to this revered man himself. A short walk from the mausoleum is the lotus shaped, One Pillar Pagoda – resting on a single stone pillar emerging from the water. We then wind our way to the Temple of Literature, the first University in Vietnam. Created for the sons of mandarins, it is the ideal; place for an overview of Hanoi history and culture. In the afternoon, we visit the excellent Museum of Ethnology; this well designed museum offers a fascinating insight into Vietnam’s natural and cultural history, as well as its 54 ethnic minority groups. The evening is left free you to enjoy some of Hanoi’s wonderful nightspots.

Day 3: Mai Chau

Day 3 - Hanoi to Mai Chau
Day 3 - Hanoi to Mai Chau Listing Image

After breakfast we leave the hustle and bustle of Hanoi behind and head southwest. The scenery changes quickly and we soon find ourselves climbing into heavily forested hills. We stop for lunch in an ethnic Tai village. The surrounds are stunning, rivers and streams flow through bamboo forests and rice fields. We enjoy a wonderful local lunch with our hospitable hosts before returning to the road. Upon arrival we check into our rustic but charming locally run lodge. Then we set out to explore our surrounds by bicycle or on foot. Mau Chau is a series of villages set among the rice fields in a valley surrounded by mountains. It is inhabited by the White Tai, a friendly people who are also master weavers. We meander through the villages and fields enjoying scenes of everyday life. There are plenty of colorful stalls set up outside people’s homes, which provide an enchanting shopping experience. In the evenings our lodge often provides Tai dance performances in a nearby cave.

Day 4: Son La

Day 4 - Mai Chau to Son La
Son La in Vietnam

Departing in the morning we say goodbye to our charming hosts and climb the winding road up the mountain on our way to Son La, our next stop on the way to Dien Bien Phu. The views are incredible until we arrive at Moc Chau where we stop among the tea plantations for a rest. This area is known for its natural beauty, its fruit and especially its tea. We pay a visit to a local tea factory to see how the process works before savoring a cup of tea or two. We arrive mid afternoon in Song La, the site of an old French penal colony where anti-colonial revolutionaries were jailed. Much of the infrastructure was destroyed during the Vietnam War, but some of the fortifications have been restored giving an impression of its former glory.

Day 5: Dien Bien Phu

Day 5 - Son La to Dien Bien Phu
Day 5 - Son La to Dien Bien Phu Listing Image

This morning we take some time to explore the town and its pleasant surrounds by bicycle or by car. The area is inhabited by a number of ethnic groups or “montagnards” as they were referred to by the French. There are White and Black Tai, Hmong and Moung tribal villages set among the rice fields. We’ll also make a stop at an interesting little museum that documents the town past. In the early afternoon we continue on our way to Dien Bien Phu. Situated in a very remote corner of Vietnam just 30kms from the Laos border, this town owes its fame to the climactic confrontation that finished France’s reign in Indochina. The history of the town is the main attraction here. Since becoming the capital of Lai Chau province, this once small town is now growing significantly. However, the remote, but famous, town of Dien Bien Phu receives very few foreign visitors.

Day 6: Lai Chau

Day 6 - Dien Bien Phu to Lai Chau
Day 6 - Dien Bien Phu to Lai Chau Listing Image

This morning we take a closer look at the historical sites of this famous battle. The main site is marked by the Dien Bien Phu Museum, which provides an informative insight into the tenacious battle techniques of the Vietnamese. A characteristic feature of the determined Viets who have fought for unity and independence for nearly two thousand years! We continue to A1 Hill, where some of the fiercest fighting took place. We then pay our respects to both sides fallen at the nearby War Cemetery. We then leave this battlefield behind and climb into the hills on our way to Lai Chau. The landscape continues to impress and now we find ourselves surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery in the country!

Days 7-8: Sapa

Day 7 - Lai Chau to Sapa
Day 7 - Lai Chau to Sapa Listing Image

We make an early start to make the most of the amazing drive today. We will drive over the top of the 1900m Tram Ton Pass, this highest road pass in the country. This road is widely considered to be one of the most scenic in all of Vietnam! We arrive in Sapa in time for lunch. Sapa is the most popular destination in North West Vietnam, and for good reason! The French knew what they were doing when they decided to establish a hill station in this beautiful valley very close to the Chinese border in 1922. Today the town is a lively place, full of colorful tribes people, hotels to suit every class, shops and restaurants, its no wonder it is often referred to the jewel of the Tonkinese Alps! This afternoon we take some time to relax and enjoy exploring the town on foot.

Day 8 - Explore Sapa and its surrounds

Sapa is the premier trekking destination in Vietnam so we strongly recommend some hiking through the Tonkinese Alps. For centuries these valleys have been a crossroads for Vietnamese, Chinese and a myriad of Hill tribes, all of who have left their mark on the town and the areas that surround it. The Hill tribes are numerous and most continue to wear their traditional dress and jewelry and live according to the ways of their ancestors. There are a number of ways to these amazing valleys and its surrounds depending on your desires and fitness levels. There are easy day hikes to give one a real sense of adventure and a feel for the place and its people. We can also facilitate slightly more strenuous over night treks where we stay in local home-stays.

Day 9: Bac Ha

Day 9 - Sapa to Bac Ha
Day 9 - Sapa to Bac Ha Listing Image

We make a leisurely start today and there is plenty of time for some last personal exploration or shopping, or, just find a café with a nice view and relax. After an early lunch we take the scenic route to Bac Ha, again wonderful vistas follow us on our course. Bac Ha is most popular on Sundays when minority groups come from all over to sell their wares. However, it makes a very worthwhile visit on any day. On any day other than Sunday, there are far fewer tourists. The elevation (900m) is considerably lower than Sapa and it has an even more diverse collection of Montagnard groups. The most visible are, undoubtedly, the Flower Hmong. The town and its surrounds are full of vibrant and colorful markets on many different days and the town is emerging as a less touristy alternative to Sapa. This afternoon we’ll take a look around the town and see what markets are in action for us to visit. 

Day 10: Hanoi

Day 10 - Flower Hmong, night train to Hanoi
Day 10 - Flower Hmong, night train to Hanoi Listing Image

This morning we head out to the nearby village of Ban Pho (The Bac Ha market takes place every Sunday 05.00am to 12.00 pm). This is a Flower Hmong Village where the people continue to live in a manner relatively unchanged for centuries. This group are especially well know for their colorful embroided dress, however, they are also know for their exceptional hospitality and friendliness. We’ll visit the preserved Hoang A Tuong Palace, the former residence of a Hmong King during the colonial times. Then we  spend some time meeting new friends before having a local lunch with one of the families. The its time to make our way to Lao Cai in time to catch our overnight train back to Hanoi. We sleep in a very comfortable sleeper cabin where dinner will be served before we lie back and reflect on the amazing journey we have just experienced. 

Day 11: Fly home

Day 11 - Depart Hanoi

It is time to farewell your guide and enjoy breakfast before your onward travel arrangments from Hanoi airport (HAN). Then organise your photos of the trip, knowing that when you return home they will create envy among friends and family and will form a visual springboard for adventurous and romantic anecdotes about the region you will have come to love. 

Accommodation

Talk to the team

Find out more and tailor your perfect trip with the help of our specialist team on 0203 143 4293

Find Out More

Why Wayfairer

This is a real road trip through some truly spectacular scenery. Taking in the North West corner of Vietnam we are honoured with numerous cultural encounters with the warm and welcoming Hill Tribe groups who inhabit the area. Although we cover a lot of ground by car, there is plenty of time to explore and appreciate our surroundings. We go far off the beaten track to visit Dien Bien Phu, the site of the famous battle of the same name and then continue to Sapa, one of the highlights of any visit to Vietnam. This tour is ideal for those who really appreciate the thrills of travel and for whom the journey is an important part of the experience in itself!

Why Wayfairer Northwestern Vietnam

Call us on 0203 143 4293 to start planning your holiday, we’re
looking forward to hearing from you.

or