16 days from just £3,475 per person
Explore northern Vietnam and Laos, a fascinating region of Indochina rarely visited by tourists and yet extraordinary in its scenery and culture. Feel the warmth and experience the every day lives of local people as you travel through remote and interesting villages, a photographers paradise!
Hanoi / Halong / Lao Cai / Bac Ha / Sapa / Dien Bien Phu / Tay Trang / Muang La / Pakbeng / Luang Prabang / Khuang Sy
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Tour Dates & Prices
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Depart London Heathrow for direct international economy flight to Hanoi.
Upon your arrival, warm welcome at the airport in Hanoi and then transfer to your hotel for check in. The balance of day is free at leisure to recover from jetlag. This evening after welcome dinner at a local restaurant you will enjoy the solemn moments of the flag lowering ceremony in Ba Dinh Square.
Accommodation - 5* Sheraton Hanoi Hotel or similar
Today we explore the French Quarter and the Embassy Rows by a cyclo ride, taking in the city's outstanding tourist sites such as Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the traditional stilt house, the Single Pillar Pagoda. We then drive to the Temple of Literature, also known as the “First University of Vietnam”.
Later we will explore Hoan Kiem Lake and theNgoc Son Temple, built on an islet in the middle of the lake, by a combined tour of walking and cyclo riding. Fill up your impression of Hanoi by enjoying a traditional water puppet show in the evening.
Note: Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum closes from September to November for annual maintenance. We will arrange outside visiting during this period.
Hanoi to Ha Long
This morning we will take the new road to Ha Long Bay and arrive around noon. After arriving in Ha Long harbour we board a beautiful private wooden junk for a 24-hour cruise on Ha Long Bay, with an excellent menu of fresh seafood. Overnight on board.
Accommodation - 5* Victory Star or similar
Ha Long to Hanoi and night train to Lao Cai
After breakfast on board we continue cruising the bay. Back to the pier and disembark at around 11.15am. Return to Hanoi passing vast expanse of rice fields of the Red river delta. Stop en route to visit a pottery village. Upon arrival back at your hotel in Hanoi, take free time for relaxation or having a bath (day use only). In the evening you will be transferred to Hanoi Railway station for a night train to Lao Cai. Overnight on the train. (late checkout in Hanoi is included.)
Lao Cai to Bac Ha to Sapa
Arrival in Lao Cai railway station at around 6h00 a.m. Welcome at the station and enjoy breakfast at a local restaurant. Then transfer to Bac Ha on a very beautiful mountain road (100 km – 3 hours driving). Upon arrival at the town, visit Bac Ha market where you can join the beautiful dance of the Flower H’mong minority at an open air market. Bac Ha is the largest market in the area, situated inside the small town of Bac Ha. Every Sunday morning it is a riot of colour as many different ethnic groups such as Flower Hmong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay, Nung minorities etc… gather to buy and sell.
After spending the whole morning exploring the market, your lunch will be served in a local restaurant. Then drive to the former French hill station of Sapa. Upon arrival at Sapa town in the late afternoon we check into the hotel and spend the rest of day is at leisure.
Accommodation - 4* Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa or similar
Sapa / Lao Chai / Y Linh Ho / Cat Cat – 4 hours trekking
Today is devoted to a beautiful excursion in Sapa valley through many rice terraces and villages of Black H’mong and Red Dzao. You will be driven to Lao Chai village then start your trek through a small track, passing Y Linh Ho and Cat Cat villages. Beautiful scenery is waiting for you along the way. Picnic lunch en-route. Return to Sapa late in the afternoon.
Sa Pa to Lai Chau to Sin Ho
Today we depart Sa Pa town for Sin Ho passing by Lai Chau following one of the most beautiful mountain roads of Vietnam. Stop en-route to wander through some villages or the typical market of Lai Chau, where you will meet many different ethnic communities. Lunch en-route. Time to enjoy superb landscape and make some breathtaking pictures. Arrive in Sin Ho in the late afternoon.
Accommodation - Thanh Binh Hotel or similar
Sin Ho to Dien Bien Phu
In the morning we leave Sin Ho for Dien Bien Phu on a beautiful road along Da River. The scenery along the road is very beautiful with the ancient bridge of Hang Tom crossing over Da River. Lunch at a local restaurant on the road. Do not forget to take some pictures wherever we make a stop. Arrive in Dien Bien Phu in the late afternoon and check in at the hotel.
Accommodation - Muong Thanh Hotel or similar
Dien Bien Phu to Tay Trang to Muang La
This morning we take a quick city tour, especially Dien Bien Phu’s historic site where a major battle was once fought between Vietnamese and French colonial troops. Then transfer to Tay Trang border gate, where you will complete custom formalities and get in to Laos’s land. Picnic lunch en-route.
Transfer continues until you cross the Nam Ou river by a ferry. Arrive in Muang La and check into Muang La resort, which is located in the heart of the village. Dinner and overnight at the resort.
Note: Conditions of the road from Tay Trang to Muang La are not very good (especially from Tay Trang to Muang Khua – 70km away from Muang La) and might be worst during rainy season (early June to October).
Accommodation - Mouang La Resort or similar
Muang La visit
Depart this morning by 4×4 passing through a very nice road along the river Nam Phak to meet 2 villages.Ikhos is one of the most remote local communities of Laos, from Yunnan and Tibet. In their mountain villages, with wooden and bamboo houses, you will discover their way of life: their beliefs in the spirit world whose religion is lived everyday and yet not particularly in a place dedicated to it. You will also see the unique way that they have to dye their clothes with dyes from plants.
A half day trip out of time which is undoubtedly unforgettable. Head back to the resort in the late morning. The rest of day is at leisure to explore the area on your own. Dinner and overnight at the resort.
Muang La to Pakbeng
After breakfast we depart for Pakbeng with several stops along the way to visit villages inhabited by Lu and Khmou hill tribes. Arrive at Pakbeng Lodge in the late morning. Check in to your hotel. Lunch on your own. In the afternoon we discover the Mekong Elephant Camp located opposite the Lodge.
We cross the Mekong River to get to the Camp and attend a show of elephant bathing. Afterwards, on elephant back, you will go for a walk (about 2 hours) in the countryside near some ethnic villages which are away from tourist routes. Back to Pakbeng lodge for dinner.
Accommodation - Pakbeng Lodge or similar
Pakbeng / Pak Ou to Luang Prabang
After breakfast, begin our cruising descent on the Mekong to Luang Prabang. You will be cruising for about seven hours through beautiful landscapes. The Mekong is at the bottom of a steep sided valley, with tropical forest invading its banks, and from time to time a village appears.
Have lunch on board. Before arriving, stop to visit the sacred caves of Pak Ou, which shelter hundreds of statuettes of Buddha. The caves offer a splendid view of the Mekong which, here, mixes its water with that of Nam Ou. Arrive at Luang Prabang, the old royal capital and a UNESCO-classified world heritage site.
Accommodation - 5* The Luang Say Residence or similar
Tour this city found on the left bank of the Mekong. Previously a religious capital, Luang Prabang accounts for more than 100 temples, some considered among the most beautiful in Laos. In particular, you will discover:
- Vat Xieng Thong, the Temple of the Royal City, a vast collection of sacred buildings, one of the jewels of Laotian art and the most beautiful temple of the city.
- Vat May, built at the end of the 18th century, a capped sanctuary featuring a five sided roof surmounted by three parasols.
- Vat Visoun, the oldest temple of the city that resembles no other with its wooden windows, inspired by the Khmer Temple of Vat Phou.
- Vat Aham, located just beside Vat Visoun, framed by two large Banyan trees.
At the end of the afternoon, climb Mount Phousi to watch the sunset. Coming back down, discover theH’mong Night Market which sets up every day in the main street between 17.00 and 22.00.
Luang Prabang / Khuang Sy / Luang Prabang
For early risers, we suggest you enjoy the sunrise at the crossroads in town around 06.00 when you will also see monks in saffron robes from Luang Prabang’s many temples walking in long silent processions searching for offerings left to them by the faithful. Respect them, watch them in silence and refrain from disturbing them.
After breakfast we leave the hotel to visit the Royal Palace, which is today the National Museum, before heading off to Khuang Sy waterfall on a return journey of around 70km. The road is bordered by villages and rice fields. You’ll stop in some of these villages and have a countryside lunch at the waterfall.
These places are frequented by locals and villagers. You can swim in the waterfall which scatters into many basins. Return to Luang Prabang and transfer to airport for international economy departure flight.
Morning arrival at London Heathrow.
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