North and Central Vietnam Adventure

TRIP TYPE
Active
PRICE
From 38,400,000 VNĐ
DURATION
12 DAYS

Trip Overview

Take 12 days to venture through northern and central Vietnam’s most jaw-dropping landscapes, with the two historic capitals of the country thrown in for good measure. Zip around Hanoi on a Vespa, cruise the jade-like waters of Lan Ha Bay, trek through rice terraces in Sapa, and experience the world-class hospitality of Topas Ecolodge. End your journey investigating ancient tombs in Hue and hiking through Bach Ma National Park.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Discovering the culture and traditions of Hanoi and Hue
  • Cruising around beautiful Lan Ha Bay
  • Marveling at the rice terraces and ethnic diversity of Sapa
  • Spending a night at the world-renowned Topas Ecolodge
  • Trekking through Bach Ma National Park

THIS TOUR IS PERFECT FOR

  • First- or second-time visitors to Vietnam
  • An active twist without being too strenuous 
  • Diving into the local culture of the Vietnamese as well as ethnic minorities
  • Families with children of all ages, however, some activities listed are recommended for children at least 9 years old. Please speak with your travel designer about potential modifications to this proposed itinerary

Detailed Itinerary

Topas Travel creates tailor-made tours for our guests according to their specific requests. This itinerary has been designed to show you just one of many options.

Day 1: Hanoi Arrival
Day 2: Hanoi
Day 3: Hanoi – Hai Phong – Lan Ha Bay
Day 4: Lan Ha Bay – Cat Ba Island
Day 5: Lan Ha Bay – Hai Phong – Hanoi – Lao Cai
Day 6: Lao Cai – Sapa – Hang Da – Hau Chu Ngai – My Son – Nam Cang
Day 7: Nam Cang – Topas Ecolodge
Day 8: Topas Ecolodge – Hanoi
Day 9: Hanoi – Hue
Day 10: Hue
Day 11: Hue – Bach Ma National Park
Day 12: Hue Departure

Xin Chao and welcome to Vietnam! Upon arrival to Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport, a Topas representative will welcome you to the land of the ascending dragon before heading straight to your hotel in the heart of the city. The day is at leisure to discover Hanoi on your own, wandering the crooked alleys of the iconic Old Quarter and the promenade around Hoan Kiem Lake, until an evening sightseeing tour on the back of vintage Vespa.

Your trusty driver will zip you down alleyways, beneath tangled electricity lines, and alongside tranquil lakes, stopping to let you sample the local food scene in Hanoian-approved establishments. Finish the evening at Hanoi’s first jazz club, hidden beneath the gorgeous frame of the French-colonial Opera House, for some quirky cocktails and live music.

Included meals: Dinner
Distance and Activities: 45’ transfer – 4h motorbike tour

Experience the morning like a true Hanoian at Hang Be Market, one of the Old Quarter’s liveliest “wet” markets. Wet means fresh, so expect picture-perfect mountains of vegetables, a rainbow of exotic, tropical fruits, and fish that couldn’t be fresher (because it’s still alive and kicking). Then, head into an alley and pull up a tiny plastic stool for a breakfast bowl of bun ca and ca cuon (a noodle dish served with fried fish, plenty of vegetables, and usually a broth).  

Once you’ve had enough to eat, head to the Citadel, a true testament of Vietnam’s strength, resilience, and beauty. Marvel at the ancient architecture while strolling past leafy gardens and learning about the Citadel’s central position of power, of which it maintains even to this day. Then, head over to the superb Vietnamese Women’s Museum, an essential stop on any visit to Hanoi. Explore the heroines of Vietnamese society, especially in regards to ethnic minorities, war, and modern exhibitions before heading back to the Old Quarter for a tasty lunch on one of the most famous food streets in Southeast Asia. 

Finally, spend the afternoon at a local café soaking up the atmosphere of a favorite Vietnamese hobby, drinking coffee with friends. Surrounded by businessmen and giggling teenagers, take your pick of local drinks, although we suggest trying the quintessential Hanoi specialty, egg coffee, a decadent drink brewed with Robusta beans and whisked together with chocolate powder and egg whites.  

Included meals: Breakfast and Lunch  
Distance and activities: 4km street walk

Depart Hanoi after a leisurely breakfast for a 2-hour drive east to the port city of Hai Phong. From Hai Phong, board your cruise for an epic voyage through Lan Ha Bay, the pristine little sister of the popular (and crowded) tourist destination, Halong Bay. 

Check in to your cabin and get accustomed with your cruise ship. Tuck into an onboard lunch while sailing between the limestone karst formations the region is known for. Spend the afternoon deep within Cat Ba National Park, hiking through Trung Trang Valley to Trung Trang cave, a 2000-year-old cavern filled with stalactites and stalagmites.

Return to the ship for some downtime, enjoying a traditional Vietnamese cooking class and a delicious dinner onboard before retiring for the night in your comfy cabin.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance and Activities: 2h drive – Sightseeing walk

As the sun rises over the bay, join the ancient practice of Tai Chi on the sundeck, a martial art known for its health benefits and meditational use. After working up an appetite, sit down for a delectable breakfast as the boat docks at Viet Hai pier, the only way to reach Viet Hai Village as there are no roads connecting it to the rest of Cat Ba Island.

Cycle along well-made paths for 3.5 km to reach the village. Spend time getting to know the history and traditions of the Vietnamese people who live there, enjoying a lunch before setting off for Van Boi, a secluded beach area where you have time to swim, sunbathe, and kayak.

After dinner in the ship’s restaurant, retire to your cabin or stay for a showing of Top Gear: Vietnam Edition, to see a familiar site at the episode’s finale.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance and Activities: 3.5km cycling –  Full-day swimming and kayaking 

Savor your last morning in the Gulf of Tonkin with an excursion via bamboo boat to the Dark and Bright Cave, one of Halong Bay’s most atmospheric water caves. Look out for monkeys on the tree-lined shores, sometimes visible on the rock faces or swinging from the branches before returning to the cruise ship for last-minute photos.

Return to Hanoi for an afternoon at leisure until your overnight train departure to the valleys and mountains of Sapa. Settle in to your cozy bunk bed and let the clickety-clack of the railroad tracks lull you to sleep. 

Included meals: Brunch

Distance and Activities: 2h transfer – 8h overnight train ride

Your train arrives to Lao Cai Station in the early morning hours, around 5am. From here, a car will transfer you the remaining 30 minutes up the mountain to the hill-station of Sapa, where you will have breakfast.

Then, the fun really begins! Trek downhill from Hang Da, a Black Hmong Village, taking in the beautiful mountain vistas on the way to Hau Chu Ngai, another Black Hmong Village. Browse their hand-embroidered textiles and visit their homes before moving on to Thanh Phu of the Tay minority group in the valley. The trek continues to My Son, where the Xa Pho, one of the most isolated groups in Sapa, live. The trek ends in Nam Cang, a Red Dzao Village, which is also coincidentally where the accommodation for the night is, the boutique homestay styled Topas Riverside Lodge.

The Red Dzao are noted as great healers, so this is a great opportunity to try traditional methods such as herbal baths made with herbs plucked from the mountainside, either before or after dinner.

Note: Due to the high altitude, the morning walk may shift to the lower valley of Lao Chai and Ta Van if the weather is too foggy to see anything.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance and Activities: 13 km trek – 45’ transfer

Discover the jungle on a gentle hike this morning. See where the villagers plant cardamom along with other herbs and spices that can fetch a good price in the local markets, and make your way to the local stream, dipping your toes in or going for a final swim.

Enjoy the scenery, which is notably wilder than yesterday’s before heading back to the lodge through the forest for lunch. Then, say good-bye to your host family and depart for Topas Ecolodge by private transfer. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure at this certified Unique Lodge by National Geographic.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Distance and Activities: 8km jungle hike – 30’ transfer

As the sun rises over the bay, join the ancient practice of Tai Chi on the sundeck, a martial art known for its health benefits and meditational use. After working up an appetite, sit down for a delectable breakfast as the boat docks at Viet Hai pier, the only way to reach Viet Hai Village as there are no roads connecting it to the rest of Cat Ba Island.

Cycle along well-made paths for 3.5 km (there’s an electric buggy available if you would rather survey the jungle landscape at a comfortable pace) to reach the village. Spend time getting to know the history and traditions of the Vietnamese people who live there, enjoying a lunch before setting off for Van Boi, a secluded beach area where you have time to swim, sunbathe, and kayak.

After dinner in the ship’s restaurant, retire to your cabin or stay for a showing of Top Gear: Vietnam Edition, to see a familiar site at the episode’s finale.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Distance and Activities: Full-day swimming and kayaking 

Spend your day at leisure until a late afternoon flight to central Vietnam’s Hue. Stop by the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s oldest university and a place of worship, or browse the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology’s carefully curated exhibits.

Included meals: Breakfast
Distance and Activities: 45’ transfer – 1h20’ flight

Start your morning with a calm cycling tour down colonial Le Loi Head boulevard, looking out for colonial mansions before crossing the iconic Truong Tien bridge, built by none other than Gustave Eiffel (who also built the Eiffel Tower). Park your bike to roam the former grandeur of the Hue Citadel, a grand walled city of parks and lakes as well as a traditional garden house for lunch.

Spend the afternoon gliding down the Perfume River on a colorful dragon boat to two different tombs on UNESCO’s list for preservation due to their cultural and historical significance. First, explore the rural setting of Emperor Tu Duc’s mausoleum, with its spacious fields and lotus ponds. Then, wander the immaculately landscaped gardens and ornate temples of Emperor Minh Mang, the final resting place of one of the Nguyen Dynasty’s staunchest Confucians.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Distance and activities: 2h cycling – 3h boat ride

Not only is Hue a wonderful place to discover because of its legendary history, but also because of the lush scenery that surrounds it. Leave the sleepy city on a day excursion to Bach Ma National Park, one of Vietnam’s least-visited protected reserves.

Spend the morning hiking to Hai Vong Dai for a panoramic overview of Lang Co Beach, Cau Hai Lagoon, and even the Hai Van Pass. Then, push through the verdant rainforest to the picnic lunch stop beside the ethereal Five Lakes, a group of interconnected bodies of water colored stunning shades of green and blue. Rest in the shade or take a swim through the refreshing waters in order to have enough energy for the final stop of the day, Do Quyen Waterfall. Watch the waters plunge from off a 300m cliff before making your way back to the car for the return drive to Hue.

 Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Distance and Activities: 3h round-trip transfer – 12km trekking

Enjoy your last morning in Hue before transfer to Hue airport for onward booked transportation.

Included meals: Breakfast
Distance and Activities: 20’ transfer

Tour Price

From: 38,400,000 VNĐ

(equivalent of 1,670 USD)

TOUR INCLUSIONS

  • Private A/C airport transfer as indicated in the program (4)
  • Join-in Mountain Express Limousine between Topas Ecolodge and Hanoi
  • Join-in Limousine Hanoi and Hai Phong (Lan Ha Bay)
  • All accommodation indicated as twin-shared room
  • All meals as indicated in the program
  • All entrance tickets to local villages, Hoang Lien National Park,Cat Ba Island , Lan Ha Bay and Bach Ma National Park
  • Refillable water in vans (Please check with your guide or driver)
  • 1 x English speaking local tour guide on days with activities (except for Lan Ha Bay)
  • 1-way domestic flight ticket between Hanoi and Hue
  • Government VAT

TOUR EXCLUSIONS

  • Drinks and alcohol
  • Vietnam visa (On request with additional charge)
  • Travel insurance (Compulsory with Topas Travel programs)
  • Upgrades to higher standard rooms or single supplements
  • Personal travel items (Please visit our Vietnam weather page for more information)

IMPORTANT NOTES

  • Prices are quoted in Vietnamese Dong and valid until 31st October 2020
  • Exchange rate applied at VND 23,200. to USD 1
  • Prices calculated with Value Added Tax
  • Surcharge may be applicable during peak season and public holidays

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

This program utilizes comfortable accommodation in the form of carefully curated hotels, lodges, and homestays. Hotels and lodges have been selected with the active traveler in mind, offering standard services and located as close to nature and local engagement as possible. Homestays are simple and equipped with western toilets and amenities such as fans and mattresses. If you have a specific property in mind you wish to stay at, please let your travel designer know so they can work it into your program.

All bookings are made with and through Topas Travel. By booking a trip with Topas Travel, you agree
to the terms and conditions set forth here.

Plan Your Adventure…

Get in touch with our travel designers now to begin planning your trip of a lifetime
phuongPhung2
“I love the simple things when I travel, like sitting outside a local coffee shop soaking up an amazing sunset over the Thu Bon River in Hoi An, or a steaming bowl of Hu Tieu with all the toppings on a Saigon sidewalk. I can’t wait to share with you our beautiful landscapes, friendly people, stunning cuisine and more in Vietnam.”
 – Phuong Phung, Trip Designer

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