Get truly off the beaten track on this trekking holiday in Northern Vietnam, and experience authentic local cultures in far-flung rural communities, set amongst some of the most dramatic landscapes on earth. Discover the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City like a local, and relax on beautiful white-sand beaches as you reflect on a whirlwind experience in Vietnam.
Your Vietnamese trekking adventure begins in Hanoi, where you’ll be picked up by your host and taken straight to your accommodation. Get to know the hidden gems in the city on a local guided tour, that takes you off the beaten track and to some of the city’s best kept local secrets, before heading north to begin your trekking experience in earnest.
The Sapa region of Vietnam is the country’s most dramatic. Lush, green forest cover rugged mountainsides, shimmering rice paddies climb improbably steeply up valleys, and rivers wind lazily through quiet villages.
It’s an incredible place for trekking, and with the help of your local guides you’ll be able to get further off the beaten track than any ordinary tourist and discover some of the best trails and hikes known only by the locals.
You’ll also get a true taste of authentic Vietnamese culture, as you stay in local homestays and villages, and experience hospitality like never before, as well as real Vietnamese home cooking, some of the best food you are ever likely to taste.
Once you’ve spent some time exploring this incredible corner of Vietnam, you’ll head south, diving into the buzz of Ho Chi Minh City before spending a last few days taking time to unwind and relax on the white-sand beaches of Mui Nei – the perfect way to round off a stunning retreat in Vietnam. And with stunning weather year-round, this unique experience in Vietnam is also a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a winter sun activity holiday.
Discover the hiking trails and rural communities only the locals know of in offbeat Vietnam
Explore vibrant buzzing cities and find hidden gems in the hectic streets
Stay with local host families to get a taste of authentic Vietnamese culture
End your experience with some days to relax and unwind at stunning beaches
Your Local Host:
Quynh Anh (QA) graduated in tourism from Hanoi university and is super passionate about travel. She has exceptional people and communication skills and always finds a way to create the best holiday experience for her customers. QA is a very experienced tourism professional and knows all the hidden gems in Vietnam. She is based in Hanoi but spends a large part of her time in the local communities in North Vietnam developing IMPACT projects in the local communities. QA’s colleagues and customers all value her kindness and friendship. Much to many people's surprise, she is actually a passionate and vibrant soul dressed in a gentle and elegant look! She will ensure you have the best time in her home country.
Upon arrival, you will be picked up and transferred to the hotel in Ha Noi. Have some time to relax and chill. Then we recommend you head down to the hustle and bustle of the Hanoi 36 Streets area.
Hanoi Like a Local
Hanoi is a great city to explore by foot, although the traffic is mental you can see so much more from a ground level. Today kick off with a full-day walking tour of the city and explore Hanoi like a local! By the end of the day you will have a feel for this awesome city. We will start with Ngoc Son temple, the gem of the Hoan Kiem Lake, have an overview of Vietnamese culture and religion from our local guide. Hop in a traditional red cyclo and get taken through the organized and sometimes not so organized chaos of Hanoi.
Later we will stroll back to the Old Quarter, stop along the train tracks where locals still live and sample a Hanoi institution ‘Bia Hoi’ – this is an amazing fresh beer brewed and served by the friendliest local people. One glass sets you back around 5,000 VND (0.25USD). You’re also encouraged to try some of the best street food Asia has to offer. We suggest diving right in and eating local Vietnamese (such as pho/ banh mi or bun cha. Also worth mentioning is the egg coffee, another Hanoi classic.
In the evening, the opportunity to sit down to a traditional water puppet performance (or the ‘Four Palaces’ cultural show). This northern tradition, dating back nearly a thousand years, is performed alongside traditional Vietnamese music that employs drums, wooden bells, horns and bamboo flutes.
Overnight train in 4-berth cabin with A/C
Overnight train in first-class 4-berth cabin with A/C will be booked if available
Begin Your Trekking Adventure
Arrive at Lao Cai train station early in the morning. Our Hmong local guide will pick you up and we will get transferred to the Sapa town (1 hour driving). There will be spot for breakfast with a spectacular mountain-valley view.
On Day 1 of your trekking, we will leave Sapa at 9.30am and trek down to Cat Cat village, taking in the picturesque waterfall at the bottom of the hill. After a slight retrace of steps (but not all the way back up!) we will take a turn towards Y Linh Ho and begin a 2km walk through rice terraces. Y Linh Ho is home to the Hmong minority, and their hereditary rice terraces are around 100 years old.
This is a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in true Hmong culture! From Y Linh Ho we will make our way to Lao Chai, an established Hmong minority village which has been inhabited for centuries. See the products of this minority at its best, with established rice terraces, homes and a vibrant community. You will be welcomed warmly by Mai and her family who run the first ever homestay owned and run by Hmong minority in the Sapa region. Sapa O’Chau supported Mai in setting up this homestay and we hope it’s the first of many!
Comfortable homestay in Ta Van Village
Explore Rural Vietnam
When you awake, open the window and have a look outside – weather permitting – you will be treated to amazing views across the rice terraces in the valley. After breakfast you will make your way to Ta Van where you will visit the Giay minority people. This tribe traditionally fished for a living and as a result established themselves close to rivers.
They have mastered the art of fishing with bamboo sticks, and cook the fish inside bamboo. Nowadays however you are more likely to see the Giay working in fields planting or harvesting rice. We will continue our walk through an impressive bamboo forest to Giang Ta Chai, and then on to the village of Su Pan where you will be able to rest your legs and take in the stunning mountain scenery as we stop for a picnic lunch.
Feeling revitalized we will hike the final 6km to Ban Ho village where we will spend the night at a Tay people’s homestay. Their houses are particularly special as they are built on stilts overlooking rice terraces. Dinner will be cooked on an open fire, and some local speciality rice wine will be on offer to help you wind down!
Comfortable homestay in Ban Ho Village
A Final Day With A Host Family
Early morning trek to the top of the mountain for sunrise , then after breakfast with the family, you will leave the village and trekking to Nam Sai village. You can enjoy the spectacular view, and then walk uphill to another almost untouched village of the Red Dzao (Nam Sai). Return to Thanh Phu village, say goodbye to the family and get to the main road where a car is waiting to get you back to Sapa. Hop on the train back to Hanoi.
Overnight on the train with 4-berth bunk cabin with A/C
VIP 2 berth cabins will be booked if available
The Train to Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast, enjoy your free time until the pick up to Hanoi Train Station for your 33-hour journey to HCMC by train arriving in HCMC around 5:00 AM on day 8.
Overnight on train, 4-berth AC cabin
Explore Ho Chi Minh City
Upon arrival at HCMC, you will be picked up by our Local Guide for a Saigon style breakfast and street coffee. The city tour will follow. A vibrant metropolis, HCMC teems with energy, activity and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the meeting of traditional and modern life. The emerging modern skyline stands cheek by jowl with colonial buildings and traditional temples. Outside on the streets, young professionals zip by on motorbikes, chatting on cellphones; inside the quiet temple courtyards, worshippers pray amidst clouds of incense.
Begin your tour into modern history with a tour of the Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s style building was famously stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975 signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates.
Afterwards driving to the historic center to visit Emperor Of Jade Pagoda, one of Saigon’s most interesting pagoda. Proceed to pay a quick visit to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. Finally, end up at the Central Ben Thanh Market, where vendors display a vast array of goods and handicrafts, appealing to every taste.
You will then hop on a private transfer to your beach resort – Anantara Mui Ne. The journey will take around 4.5 hours.
Anantara Mui Ne Resort
Relax and Unwind
These are your free days to enjoy and unwind, and reflect on your incredible experiences in rural Vietnam.
Anantara Mui Ne Resort
Today is your check out date, please pack your stuff and say goodbye to the beautiful Mui Ne. The transfer to HCMC by private van will be arranged. The drop off service will be ready for you and it will take 4.5 hours from to Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Your trip comes to an end after you arrive at the airport for your homeward flight.
We wish you a safe onward journey!
Your experience begins in Hanoi, where you’ll be met by your host and taken straight to your first accommodation.
From there, you’ll head off on a stunning trekking adventure in the mountains of Northern Vietnam, in particular the Sapa region.
You’ll then travel to Ho Chi Minh City, then Mui Nei, where you will spend your last few days relaxing on the beach. At the end of your time in Vietnam, you will be transferred back to Ho Chi Minh City.