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Local Trail Walking and Eco Retreat – North Vietnam

from £1221 pp

Northern Vietnam, Vietnam

9 nights/ 10 days

A private group of 2 - 8

Local Trail Walking and Eco Retreat – North Vietnam

What You'll Do

This once in a lifetime trip takes you to the real Vietnam, visit the North West province and meet with locals, stay in rural home-stays in traditional stilt houses, trek in the breathtaking mountains and verdant valleys, sail on the river in a traditional boat on your ultimate off the beaten track adventure. You will trek through traditional villages, world heritage sites, and past tumbling rice paddies, bathe in rural lakes and then take time to relax in an award winning mountain eco-lodge with its own spa.

Arriving in Hanoi, you’ll be taken directly to your accommodation to relax before you embark on the trip of a lifetime exploring vibrant Hanoi with its bustling markets, crafts and street food and discovering the amazing peace and tranquility of the lush green hillsides and river valleys which make up the magnificent natural landscapes of Northern Vietnam.

Your local guide will show you the traditional village communities with their typical stilt houses and friendliest of people, sipping tea and sharing their authentic Vietnamese recipes.

You will cycle and trek through rural trails by farmland and rivers where locals drive cattle from place to place in this timeless off the beaten track adventure, sail down the river on a traditional boat, admire the bamboo water wheels and discover Pu Luong Nature Reserve and the amazing Unesco world heritage site, Trang An Landscape Complex.

You’ll travel by train through the countryside back to Hanoi and then on to Topas Eco Lodge in Sapa. The magnificent hilltop retreat which is home to the ultimate sustainable  boutique eco resort, where you can relax and refresh, reflecting on your intrepid adventures.  Enjoy the peace and tranquility of the elegant infinity pool in the clouds overlooking terraced hillsides and valleys; indulge in delicious Vietnamese influenced fusion food, all grown in the locality, and enjoy the treatments and services at the Rice spa.

Return home refreshed and invigorated with amazing memories to last a lifetime.

 

Experience
Highlights

A taste of bustling Hanoi with its busy markets and delicious street food

Discover the UNESCO heritage site of Trang An

Trek through magnificent verdant countryside, authentic villages and breathtaking scenery

Relax in a stunning hilltop eco lodge with infinity pools and panoramic views

Your Local Host:

Lam

Lam started off working for an NGO, organizing events that support the implementation of sponsorship and promotional activities. Having a college education in Languages & International Studies and Tourism & Travel Management, Lam supports Quynh Anh as Operation Assistant based in Hanoi. Lam loves to travel through Vietnam and beyond.

Experience Itinerary

Hanoi at Leisure

Upon arrival, you will be picked up and transferred to your hotel in Ha Noi.

Have some time to relax and freshen up, then why not head down to the hustle and bustle of Hanoi 36 Streets area (aka ‘the Old Quarter’).

Hanoi is a great city to explore by foot, although the traffic is mental you can see so much more from a ground level. Later 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 ( around 16p !). 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  specialities such as pho,  banh mi or bun cha. Also worth mentioning is the egg coffee, another Hanoi classic.

Overnight at La Siesta Hanoi Classic Ma May – Deluxe room

Dinner included

Hanoi to Mai Chau

At 8:30 am, you will be collected from your hotel and we depart Hanoi for a scenic drive towards the North West of Vietnam.

As you cross into the mountainous Hoa Binh province to the west, the landscape transforms from congested row houses to wide-open rice fields, karst mountains, and quaint wood-and-bamboo villages.

Our drive the Vietnam’s North West village of Mai Chau takes around 4 hrs.

Along the way we will travel through Thung Khe pass where you will have a spectacular view down to fields of tapioca and sugar cane as well as rice paddies. Today’s destination is Mai Chau village, nestled in a scenic valley, the first view as we near the village is of its poetic views of traditional stilt houses. Over fifty ethnic minorities inhabit Vietnam alongside the majority Kinh (Viet) people; Mai Chau’s Tai Dam and Tai Kao (“White Thai” and “Black Thai”) inhabit Mai Chau, infusing the local travel experience with their traditions and culture.

We will reach Mai Chau valley by lunchtime.

Traditional food here draws heavily from the land: steamed sticky rice, or xoi nep thuong, serves as the base of a Mai Chau meal times whih usually include grilled meat, bamboo shoots, and of course a chance to try the favourite local sticky-rice wine (ruou can).

Food will be locally grown: crops like corn, sugarcane, and rice figure heavily in the food served during dinnertime, as do herbs like coriander.

Lunch will be in Lac Village and then we will have a bike ride through the villages

Cycling along Mai Chau’s dirt roads, the scenery is ever changing , wildflowers in season; rice paddies, green with rice shoots or mirror-like, depending on the time of year; and locals walking with livestock from place to place.

We will stop at a local dam in the middle of the rice fields. There you will have a chance to immerse yourself  in this natural water which is like an infinity pool with an amazing view over the picturesque valleys.

If you don’t fancy a swim, you can continue with your bike ride and explore the local farming activities in the area and learn about their traditional handcrafted bamboo weaving.

Breakfast Lunch and Dinner are included on Day 2

Overnight at a local homestay in Mai Chau

Mai-Chau – Pu Luong

Today you will be transferred to Pu Luong Nature Reserve

Pu Luong Nature Reserve was established in 1999 to protect the area’s biodiversity. Inside the reserve, you’ll find a mix of pristine forest and cultivated rice terraces. It’s a perfect landscape for trekking amongst the beautiful scenery.

On the way to the reserve takes you via a breathtaking mountain pass giving you a breathtaking panoramic view of the whole valley. You will arrive at your accommodation in time for a delicious lunch, followed by free time to explore the beautiful retreat, with its captivating views and tranquil setting.

In the afternoon, you will be transferred to a place about 12 km from the Retreat, where you will begin your trek to a suspension bridge over the Cham River.

The locals here are among the most friendly people in Vietnam, don’t be surprised to be invited to their homes for a cup of tea on your way! The local culture is rich and authentic

Your trek will take you along the river bank; the landscape of the river, rice fields and the village are awe inspiring, walk from village to village in search of stunning traditional water wheels. Get up close to each wheel and discover how water is moved from river to handmade bamboo aqueducts via simple constructions of all sizes; a very simple and effective invention, centuries old and a symbol of this area.

Arriving at Chieng Lau village,  you can take a rest and enjoy tranquil stream-side scenery.

We will then walk back to the  main road to pick up our transport  back to Pu Luong Retreat for dinner.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included on Day 3

Overnight at Pu Luong Retreat in Pu Luong

Pu Luong to Ninh Binh

After an early breakfast at the Retreat you will start the day with trek to descend into the beautiful valley facing the Retreat where you walk around the tumbling rice terraces. Trek through narrow paths shrouded in vegetation which slowly reveal a picturesque village sitting at the base of a towering mountain. This trek is full of once in a lifetime photo opportunities.

Continuing to the base of the valley, visiting villages and wild fields, ponds and rivers, mountains and open land. Savour the ever-changing scenery and embark a bamboo raft to view the fabulous scenery from the water as you sail serenely down the river.

We arrive back to the retreat for a ride to Ninh Binh,  famous for the relics of the ancient capital city in Hoa Lu and the breathtaking landscape often dubbed as “Ha Long Bay on Land”.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included on day 4

Overnight at King Kong homestay in Ninh Binh.

Visit Tang An UNESCO site, take a Sampan boat ride and train journey to Hanoi

After breakfast, you will drive  to  a UNESCO world heritage site; Trang An Landscape Complex, situated near the southern margin of the Red River Delta, it is a spectacular landscape of limestone karst peaks permeated with valleys, many of them partly submerged and surrounded by steep, almost vertical cliffs

The blend of towering mountains draped in natural rain forest, with large internal basins and narrow cave passages containing quietly flowing waters, creates an extraordinarily beautiful and tranquil landscape and within the complex are temples, pagodas, paddy-fields and small villages.

You will take a traditional sampan boat tour through lush rice fields and rocky outcrops. A variety of beautiful landscapes await you that will not disappoint!

After lunch with Ninh Binh specialties, such as crunchy rice crust, Nehech fish salad or cellophane noodles, you will take  a bicycle ride to

Bich Dong, a charming sequence of cave temples. From the Lower Pagoda you can climb the one hundred steps up to the Middle Pagoda, there is then a much shorter but steep path to the Upper Pagoda. Inside each cave temple are looming statues peering out from the haze of burning incense and outside there are incredible countryside views.

You will continue your ride into the local villages around Tam Coc before taking your transport to  Ninh Binh train station to board the train back to Hanoi.

Estimated time of arrival will be around 20:00.

There will be time see night-time Hanoi like a local or to have a well deserved rest after the long day’s adventures.

Breakfast and lunch are included on day 5

Overnight at La Siesta Hanoi Classic Ma May – Deluxe room

From Hanoi to Sapa Eco-Lodge

After breakfast at your hotel  in Hanoi you will be transferred to Topas Ecolodge in Sapa.

The journey by limousine will start at around 6:30 AM and you will arrive at the Ecolodge at 12:00.

Check in to your Premier Executive bungalow and begin your adventure exploring the beauty of Sapa.

Amazing spa treatments will be available to book on arrival at Topas Eco lodge.

Topas Ecolodge is a boutique ecolodge situated atop a beautiful hillside deep in the mountains of Hoang Lien National Park, just 45 minutes outside Sapa in Northern Vietnam.

Nominated as one of the best places to stay if you care about the Earth, Topas Ecolodge provides the perfect setting to indulge in guilt-free modern convenience all while protecting the surrounding environment and local cultures,

The 41 rustic mountain bungalows are  built from local white granite in a minimalistic chalet-style, providing a comfortable and relaxing base, while letting the main attraction, the magnificent and raw natural beauty of Vietnam, take centre stage.

Whether you’re enjoying the view from your private balcony or out and about  exploring the surrounding areas by foot or bike, Topas Ecolodge is the only place to be for the the utmost in exclusivity as well as the finest mountains views in all of Vietnam.

Breakfast is included on day 6

Overnight at Topas Ecolodge in Sapa.

Three full days of relaxation in this other-worldy location. Topas eco lodge is a place to totally relax and recharge

Breakfast is included in your stay at Sapa ecolodge , and most of your meals will take place in our Stilt House Restaurant, located at the heart of the resort in our main building. It was constructed from two traditional Tay stilt houses and carefully moved piece by piece from the original site and later reassembled at the lodge. It boasts a romantic terrace overlooking the property as well as a small wrap-around porch, loved by those who prefer morning teas and coffees while lounging in the fresh air and sunshine.

The menu is a dream mix of European-styled plates with a distinct Vietnam influence in regards to flavors and types of dishes. All ingredients are based primarily on local, seasonal ingredients, and our rice, vegetables, and fruit all come from surrounding villages or our organic garden which you will pass any time you go from the restaurant to your bungalow.

You can’t miss our Pool Bar situated next to our upper-level infinity pool. If you’re feeling a bit peaky while sunbathing or splashing around, we serve a multitude of snacks, tapas, drinks and fruit here ranging from homemade pizzas to mountain-inspired iced teas and Moscow Mules.

To help guests truly unwind, our mountain spa offers traditional Red Dzao herbal baths and an array of wellness treatments including massages and facials, providing the perfect treat after a day of intrepid exploration and a chance to discover more about the special ways the mountain people use herbs in their daily lives.

Overnight at Topas Eco Lodge, with Breakfast included on days 7,8,9 &10.

 

Departure Day

Today is your check out date, after breakfast please pack and say goodbye to breathtaking Sapa.

The transfer to Hanoi is by limousine arriving at around 20:00 in Hanoi.

It will then take 1-1:15 hours from Hanoi city to Noi Bai Airport.

Please keep this information in mind and book your return flight back home departing after 12:00 midnight.

Your trip comes to an end after you arrive at the airport for your homeward flight.

We wish you a safe onward journey!

Location Information

This once in a lifetime trail walking and eco retreat experience begins in the bustling city of Hanoi, more than a thousand years old, the ‘city of lakes’ is located on the banks of the Red River, it is one of the most ancient capitals of the world, with elegant colonial buildings, ancient pagodas, and unique museums. It has a French colonial history and is renowned for its delicious cuisine, vibrant nightlife, silks and crafts.

Chaotic and noisy, but fascinating, Hanoi traffic is unlike anywhere else. Motorbikes zoom past you, there are no signals and footpaths in evidence and traffic rules are non existent. You should always look in both the directions before crossing the road in this city, it is often said that “If you can make it through Hanoi rush hour traffic, you can make it anywhere in life”.

Meanwhile, its peaceful and picturesque countryside is a marked contrast to the busy city and is just a short drive away, fea

  • Airport transfers to your first and from your last accommodation
  • Accommodation for 9 nights as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Meals as indicated in your itinerary - full board during the trekking part and then BB at the Eco lodge
  • Your local guide for the duration of the trekking and discovery part of your experience
  • All transport as mentioned in the itinerary

FAQs

Weather in Vietnam is usually humid and warm, lightweight layers are recommended. Avoid 'short' shorts — even in hot weather, most locals don’t wear them.
For walking /trekking you will need sturdy trainers