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Day 1 – Arrival in Hanoi – On arrival at Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport, you will be welcomed by our airport representative who will provide the private vehicle transfer to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day 2 – Hanoi Day Tour and Overnight Train to Lao Cai – After enjoying breakfast at your hotel, meet your guide and embark on a day of touring, and start the day with a visit to the Temple of Literature. Built in 1076, The Temple of Literature was Vietnam’s first university and was established to educate Vietnam’s royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years. Its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past. Proceed to Hanoi’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel. The Citadel was constructed on a Chinese fortress dating back from the 7th century and re-built in the 11th century by the Ly Viet Dynasty. The historical site and remains represent a unique fusion of traits, with influences from China in the north and the ancient Kingdom of Champa in the south. Continue to The One Pillar Pagoda, which was founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049. This structure is one of Vietnam’s smallest but most iconic temples. Close by is the Mausoleum of the historic Father Figure of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, and the Former President’s House on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. His former home illustrates the modesty of this Vietnamese revolutionary
(The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed Mondays & Fridays and from Oct.-Nov, you will view from the outside)
In the afternoon you will visit the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple. Hoan Kiem Lake was already considered the most beautiful lake in Hanoi when Ngoc Son Temple was built on an island in the 19th century. Initially, the temple was called Ngoc Son Pagoda and was later renamed Ngoc Son Temple, since temples are dedicated to saints. Saint Van Suong, considered to be one of the brightest stars in Vietnam’s literary and intellectual circles, was worshipped there along with other National heroes. Afterward enjoy a leisurely one-hour trishaw tour through the streets of this fascinating city, you will come face to face with the daily lives and activities of Hanoi’s streets as you pass through the congested, but delightful, Old Quarter. Ride pass the fascinating streets, which still bear the names of the shops that could be found in them in the 15th to 18th centuries. In the late afternoon attend a performance of the famous water puppet show. The Vietnamese traditional art of water puppetry has roots that date back to the 10th century when it originated in the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. The farmers in the region celebrated festivals and harvests by performing this unique art form. Learning to manipulate the puppets is usually a tradition that is passed on as a family secret. It takes a great deal of skill and because the puppeteer’s hands are underwater, it is easy for them to hide their methods. The fascinating part is that the central stage is below the waterline, and the puppeteers stand in the waist-deep water. A rattan curtain hides them, but they can see the stage and the audience through the bamboo slats.
Approx 20:00 hrs you will be transferred to Hanoi Railway Station and enjoy an overnight train trip to Lao Cai in superior 4-berth compartments sharing with other passengers. The train departs at approximately 21:50 hrs. (B & L)
Notes: The train schedule is subject to change. Train journeys are part of a great local experience. Cabins are shared with other local passengers (unless a private cabin is requested, and all berths paid for – with supplement). Restrooms at either end of the carriages complete the local experience.
2 ways private compartments on request at surcharge of US$ 160/ pax/ (1 pax in 1 private cabin), US$ 110/ pax/ (2 paxs in 1 private cabin), US$ 60/ pax/ (3 pax in 1 private cabin)
Day 3 – Lao Cai to SaPa – In the early morning (approximately 06:30 hrs) you arrive at Lao Cai, the border town to Yunnan, China, you will take a quick shower at a simple, but clean guesthouse, and enjoy breakfast at a local restaurant before heading to Muong Hum (home to the Giay people.) The last 8 kilometres of the trip is quite bumpy, so be prepared for a few ups and downs! Upon arriving to Muong Hum, enjoy lunch with the host before getting ready for the trekking portion of the day. Head up to a narrow dirt track, and then downhill to the bottom of Ky Quan San valley, meeting White Hmong, Dao, and Giay people along the way. Enjoy breathtaking views of high mountains, deep valleys, streams, and green terraced rice paddies. Return to the homestay in the late afternoon and enjoy the evening at leisure. (B, L & D)
2.5 hours Trekking: 4 hrs Difficulty: Easy
Day 4 – Muong Hum to Mong Xoa – After breakfast (and a trip to the local market), enjoy a walk to Nam Pung village where the Ha Nhi people are famous for their beautiful clay-walled houses and surrounding terraced fields. Continue with a hike up through plantations and rice terraces before reaching a Red Dao Village, and then we walk to Khi Chu Phin valley, where upon arrival enjoy a rest by a stream and a picnic lunch.
Continue the day on the opposite bank (crossing the river is a fun challenge!), heading uphill along the dirt path through the bamboo forest and rice terraces. The night’s accommodation is among the Hmong people, located among the high ranges of mountains in Ta Giang Phinh. Overnight at homestay in Mong Xoa. (B, L & D)
Trekking: 6 hrs Difficulty: Hard
Day 5 – Mong Xoa to Suoi Thau – Take an easy walk in the morning through the village, meeting local people and visiting their homes to discover more about their daily routine. Today, enjoy a picnic lunch on the top of Ta Giang Phinh Mountain while staring far & wide over the lower land of SaPa & Bat Xat districts. The rest of today’s route is mostly downhill through remote hamlets of Black Hmong & Red Zao people. Arrive at our homestay in a Dao village where a hot, delicious meal will be waiting. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. (B, L & D)
Trekking: 5-6 hrs Difficulty: Medium
Day 6 – Suoi Thau to SaPa – This morning you will continue the journey to the town of SaPa. While descending along the river and beautiful mountain range, the guide will explain the region’s history as well as some daily routines and traditions of the different minority people in the area.
After lunch with a local family, pass through the rice terraces and cornfields before reaching a small trail leading through spectacular bamboo forests. Finish the trek by hiking downhill to Can Ho, inhabited by Hmong and Dao people where the car is waiting to provide transport for the final 14km to SaPa town for the overnight stay. (B, L & D)
Trekking: 5-6 hrs Difficulty: Hard
Day 7 – SaPa to Nam Sai -Depart SaPa at 0900, transferring approximately 26 kms (or 1 hour) to Ban Den Village with stops along the way to capture the stunning scenery of the Hoang Lien mountain range and Muong Hoa valley.
The uphill trek starts from Ban Den Village (392m) along a steep trail for 1.5 hours to Nam Toong Village of the Red Zao (679m). Explore the village, talking to locals, and discovering about their daily life. Leave Nam Toong for Nam Sang, trekking for 3 hours along a narrow mountainous trail with a series of short ascents and descents. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way.
Arrive at Nam Sang village (625m), home of the Xa Pho people, around mid-afternoon, spending some time exploring their home at the bottom of Nam Sai valley. Later, enjoy an easier one-hour walk through the Nam Sai valley to Ban Sai village (570m). Arrive at the large, prosperous village of the Tay people in the late afternoon. Take some time to relax before enjoying a home-cooked dinner. (B, L & D)
Transfer: 1-hour Trekking: 5-6 hrs Difficulty: Medium
Day 8 – Nam Sai to Sin Chai – Enjoy breakfast and depart Ban Sai at 0900. Trek along a rocky path uphill to Nam Nhiu village and continue along a dirt path for 1-2 hours to Nam Than Village, home of the Red Zao and Black Hmong (865m). This part of the trek offers stunning views of the Nam Sai and Nam Cang Valleys as well as a chance to learn more about the daily life of tribal people in this remote region of Sapa. Leaving Nam Than, trek through wildland dotted with terraced fields amongst mountains and rainforest.
After a lunch break, continue trekking for 2-3 hours in the afternoon along with the cultivated hilly land of Suoi Thau Commune to Sin Chai B Village of the Red Zao (733m). This will be the home base for the night. Enjoy a short rest before exploring this small and quiet village. (B, L & D)
Trekking: 5hrs Difficulty: Medium
Day 9 – Sin Chai via Lao Cai to Hanoi – After breakfast, leave Sin Chai B (around 0830). Trek along a narrow dirt trail for 30 mins to the bottom of the valley, gradually moving uphill for nearly 2 hours to Nam Lang A, followed by Nam Lang B (both villages are home to Red Zao.) Visit some local homes to learn about the Red Zao people before taking a lunch break at Nam Lang B. Following a large, rocky road for 30 mins to the top of the mountain range, trekking gradually downhill to Nam Ket Village of the Red Zao and the Tay. Continue along the same trail downhill for nearly 2 hours to Ta Thang Village which offers a panoramic view of the Red River Valley running through the Bao Thang District.
Afterward, you will be transferred to Lao Cai Railway Station where you will enjoy the dinner and board the overnight train to Hanoi at around 2015 hrs (shared sleeping compartments, sharing with other passengers in 2 lower & 2 upper berths per compartment).
Notes: The Train schedule is subject to change. Private compartments on request at a surcharge. Train journeys are part of a great local experience. Cabins are shared with other local passengers (unless a private cabin is requested, and all berths paid for – with supplement). Restrooms at either end of the carriages complete the local experience. (B, L & D)
Transfer: 1-hour Trekking: 6-7 hrs Difficulty: Hard
Day 10 – Hanoi departure – Arrive in Hanoi early this morning where you will picked-up from the train station and transfer to enjoy the breakfast & special Vietnamese coffee at a local restaurant. After breakfast, you will enjoy a steam bath, sauna with one hour of body treatment (massage) and, thereafter a bowl of noodles with a fresh fruit platter before proceeding to the airport for your international flight home. (B)
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