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VN Sapa

9 nts Vietnam £1,295

Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay

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Northern Vietnam

 

The north of Vietnam consists of mountains in the far north and west, stunning Halong Bay, the Red River Delta and the scenic limestone landscapes around Ninh Binh and Mai Chau.

Vietnam’s northernmost major town, Sapa is set in a mountains gateway for trips into Vietnam's hill tribe region and is famous for its pristine environment, unparalleled scenery, the highest mountain in Vietnam and the more than 30 colourful Vietnamese hill tribes who live in the area.

Mai Chau further south and easily accessed from Hanoi is an area of rich rice paddies dotted with White Thai villages - an area for trekking or cycling out into the countryside.

Ninh Binh, known as Dry Halong Bay is the place to experience quintessential limestone cliff scenery and to get off the beaten track close to Hanoi.

Other highlights of the north include the famous battlefields of Dien Bien Phu, the spectacular caves at Phong Nha and the stunning scenery around Mu Cang Chai. For classification purposes we have designated Northern Vietnam as everything north of Dong Hoi.

 

Discover Northern Vietnam

Sol Bungalows

Charming boutique hotel in the centre of the Mai Chau Valley in a beautiful location.

Spacious Rooms
Mai Chau Valley
2 Nights from
£230pp
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Package Price from Hanoi

Topas Eco Lodge

Wonderful location, comfortable bungalows, trekking and cycling packages - an easy & seamless add-on from Hanoi.

Hike, Cycle, Relax
Close to Sapa
2 Nights from
£230pp
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Package Price from Hanoi

Mai Chau Eco Lodge

19 bungalows on stilts in an idyllic location in Mai Chau. Spacious rooms, large outdoor pool, high standards,

Highly Recommended
Great option for Mai Chau
2 Nights from
£245pp
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Package Price from Hanoi

Tam Coc Garden

Cosy, boutique lodge close to Ninh Binh - a great base for exploring the area including Cuc Phuong and Phu Luong Nature Reserve.

8 bungalows Eco-Lodge
Charming Ninh Binh Lodge
2 Nights from
£250pp
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Package Price from Hanoi

Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh

Larger resort close to Ninh Binh with high standards and facilities for couples and families.

Lots of Facilities
Rural Ninh Binh Location
2 Nights from
£260pp
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Package Price from Hanoi

Victoria Sapa

Sapa’s top hotel and a great base for exploring the region.

Overnight Train Included
Luxury in Sapa
2 Nights from
£299pp
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Package from Hanoi

Phong Nha Lakehouse

Stay at Phong Nha Lakehouse and discover this emerging region of Vietnam with the world's largest cave system.

Includes Hang En Cave
Natural Wonders!
3 Nights from
£485pp
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Incl Flights from Hanoi

Sapa Trekking

Sapa is the premier trekking destination in Vietnam with beautiful scenery and unique hilltribe cultures to discover.

Private Guided Trekking from Sapa
1-5 night treks from Sapa
1 Nights from
£145pp
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Package from Sapa

Dry Halong Bay

Visit Cuc Phuong National Park, one of Vietnam's most beautiful and important nature reserves, home to a wealth of beautiful tropical birds.

2 Nights from
£220pp
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Package from Hanoi

Mai Chau Discovery

Discover the lifestyle and culture of White Thai and Hmong hilltribe people in Mai Chau on this overnight trip from Hanoi.

Longer Trips Available
Hilltribe Villages
2 Nights from
£220pp
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Package from Hanoi

Sapa Discovery

See the best of Sapa on this inclusive package from Hanoi including overnight train journeys.

Touring with a Full Day Trek
Private Tour & Trek
4 Nights from
£390pp
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Package from Hanoi

Indochina Highlights

See the best of Cambodia & Vietnam in one varied trip. Cities, ancient temples, stunning landscapes and time to relax by the beach.

Tailor Make your Trip
Vietnam & Cambodia
12 Nights from
£1695pp
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Flight inclusive price from UK

Red River Cruise - Pandaw

Discover Hanoi, Halong Bay, the Red River & the best of northern Vietnam on this exciting Pandaw River Cruise.

Tailor Made River Cruise Holiday
Red River Cruise & Beyond
12 Nights from
£2975pp
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Flight Inclusive Price from UK

Mai Chau

Located in a scenic valley, Mai Chau is one of the most beautiful areas of Vietnam (and there is strong competition) and is attracting increasing numbers of visitors to see the quintessential landscape of patch-worked rice paddies and to experience something of a Vietnamese rural idyll.

Traditional villages dot the landscape, populated by mostly White Thai ethnic people, who are expert weavers and distantly related to minority tribes in Thailand and Laos.

In addition to White Thai there are also Mon and H’Mong villages to be found in the area around Mai Chau.

Mai Chau is a great option for those looking to do some cycling and easy trekking and to experience rural Vietnam, far removed from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi.

The best time of year to visit Mai Chau is October to April when temperatures are more reasonable. Things warm up considerably between June and August. In March and April the rice paddies are a verdant green, which turns golden by autumn when the rice is ready to harvest.

Comfortable homestays are a popular option in Mai Chau and allow visitors to connect a little more closely with the local population who are generally extremely welcoming and easy going.

Sol Bungalows and Mai Chau Eco Lodge are two of the best hotels in Mai Chau and are our recommended options for exploring this area of Vietnam.

Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh is easily reached by a 2 hour drive from Hanoi and is renowned for its karst limestone scenery and comparisons to Halong Bay. The area is indeed known as the “Dry Halong Bay”.

Ninh Binh itself is a dusty unpromising town but the scenery and surrounding attractions are what draw visitors here.

Many visitors explore this area by bicycle or on foot as sights are mostly within a few km of Ninh Binh.

Tam Coc is a major attraction, with boat trips along the river winding between towering karst cliffs. It’s without doubt a scenic spectacular but beware, the hawkers are persistent – it’s become quite a commercial circus.

Tam Coc is a good base however for exploring the area and Tam Coc Garden Resort is just 3 km from town and an ideal option for accommodation in Tam Coc.

Close to Tam Coc, Bich Dong is worth a visit for the pagoda and caves. Climbing to the top offers spectacular views of the surroundings.

Cuc Phuong National Park is the oldest National Park in Vietnam and is easily combined with a visit to Ninh Binh from Hanoi.

Cuc Phuong is an area of great natural beauty, with forest, caves and wildlife to be discovered – best explored by car, foot and bike.

Sapa

Dating back to the early years of the 20th Century, Sapa was established as a Hill Station in the Tonkinese Alps by the French and nowadays attracts visitors from around the world for its rugged mountain scenery, dramatic valleys and towering mountain vistas.

Sapa takes a little bit of effort to get to (an overnight train) but for a mountain escape in Vietnam with an insight into the colourful hilltribe people who inhabit this region of Vietnam, a visit to Sapa is well worth the effort.

Sapa itself has boomed in recent years and the town itself has expanded substantially and not altogether in a pleasant way. Thankfully there’s not too much reason to be based in Sapa itself however and once out of town trekking and adventure opportunities abound.

Trekking ranges from easy strolls from your mountain retreat to multi-day hikes through the mountains or hikes up Mount Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest peak.

However energetic you feel, the misty mountain peaks of North West Vietnam and the colourful hilltribe people are sure to leave an enduring impression of this corner of Vietnam.

For the most comfortable way of experiencing Sapa we suggest an overnight journey on one of the many private carriages from Hanoi to Lao Cai, or even better aboard the luxurious Victoria Express train, combined with a stay at the Victoria Sapa Resort.

The climate in Sapa can consist of “Four Seasons in a Day” and November to February sees temperatures plummet because of the altitude. August can see rain in the mornings although the mountains are at their greenest and lushest at this time of year.

Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park

Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park is home to the largest cave systems in the world and is attracting more and more interest, partly due to exposure via National Geographic a feature in the movie Pan.

The location of Phong Nha is strictly speaking in the north of Central Vietnam although we have included it in this section for simplicity sakes. It is most easily accessed via a short flight from Hanoi or overland from Hue to the south.

The World’s largest cave (Hang Son Doong) is located here and is one of the true natural wonders of the world although it takes some effort and a good degree of fitness to reach. The cave contains stalagmites up to 80-metres high and a cavern large enough to fit a battleship.

We are able to arrange visits to Son Doong. It’s a deliberately expensive trip (to restrict visitors) and an expedition-style journey of 4 days but for an other-worldy experience, this is a journey well worth considering – it’s one of the world’s most remarkable places.

Fortunately there are more accessible and less expensive options for visiting caves in Phong Nha.

Hang En is of particular interest as the cave is dramatic and it’s possible to sleep overnight within the cave at Hang En Adventure Camp (tented accommodation set up on the ‘beach’ within the cave entrance). The exit to Hang En is truly spectacular.