North to South - Best of Vietnam

Trip Overview

Bring the whole family along on this two-week adventure taking in Vietnam’s highlights. Start your journey in the capital Hanoi soaking up the atmosphere and touring the city landmarks before hiking through valleys and terraced rice fields in Sapa, spending a night at Topas Riverside Lodge. Head higher up into the mountains to relax and unwind at Topas Ecolodge, before heading south to central Vietnam, exploring the charm and history of the ancient merchant town, Hoi An.  End your trip in the south’s laid-back Mekong Delta and vibrant Ho Chi Minh City.







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Home > North to South – Best of Vietnam


  • Staying at the world-renowned Topas Ecolodge high in the hills of Sapa 
  • Hiking through terraced rice fields, mountains and jungles deep in northern Vietnam and seeing minority villages
  • Discovering the capital of Hanoi and beautiful Halong Bay

This Tour is Perfect for

  • Exploring Northern Vietnam’s highlights and lesser visited mountain areas 
  • Relaxing after the travel restrictions due to Covid 19! 
  • Diving into the local culture of the Vietnamese as well as ethnic minorities  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi   

Day 2: Visit Bat Trang ceramic village. Evening Jeep Tour   

Day 3: Hanoi – Topas Ecolodge 

Day 4: Explore the most remote area of Sapa 

Day 5: Topas Ecolodge – Hanoi 

Day 6: Hanoi – Bai Tu Long 

Day 7: Bai Tu Long – Hanoi. Flight to Danang 

Day 8: Hoi An cooking & lantern making 

Day 9: Free day in Hoi An 

Day 10: Free day in Hoi An 

Day 11: Hoi An – Danang. Flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Vespa night tour 

Day 12: Saigon – Mekong Delta 

Day 13: Mekong Delta 

Day 14: Mekong Delta – Saigon. Departure 

Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi Welcome to the land of the ascending dragon 


Xin chao and welcome to Vietnam! Upon arrival at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport, you will be welcomed by your Topas guide to the capital before heading straight to your hotel in the heart of the city. The day is yours to spend at your leisure discovering Hanoi, perhaps wandering the streets and alleys of the iconic Old Quarter and enjoying the evening promenade around Hoan Kiem Lake. You can of course speak to your guide for some tips on what to do. 

Included meals: N/A  

Distance and activities: 45’ drive 

Day 2: Hanoi – Bat Trang Ceramic Village and Sunset & Night tour by jeep 


After eating breakfast at your hotel, you will be picked up and driven to Bat Trang Ceramics Village. This half-day tour takes you to the most famous and long-established pottery village in Vietnam, having existed for over a hundred years. Here you will have the chance to see the local artisans carrying out their craft and even try your hand at making your own ceramic product. 


First stop on the tour will be a visit to Bat Trang communal house, which was built during the reign of Le Du Tong between 1719 and 1720. Next, you’ll visit an old French building, built in the 1920s as well as the workshop of one of the ceramic artists, Tran Van Do or To Thanh Son. Here, the artists will guide you through the ceramic making process and you’ll have a chance to try it for yourself. Returning to the city center, you can enjoy some free time in the afternoon exploring the city until your evening tour begins. 


At 5pm you will be picked up to embark on a Sunset & Night tour, travelling by jeep. You could spend a decade living in Hanoi and still be surprised at the number of hidden gems within its narrow streets. Gilded temples, quiet lake-side pagodas, and romantic French villas clamor for space on Hanoi’s narrow streets, while wide tree-lined boulevards lead to impressive historical attractions and dreamy lakes. Experiencing the city as it moves from daytime into evening is made even more special by travelling in a vintage Jeep. 

Included meals: Breakfast, dinner   

Distance and activities: 4.5-hour tour by jeep  

Highlights of the jeep tour include:


  • Driving through the chronology of time in Hanoi from the ancient to the ultra-modern. 
  • Cruising around the enchanting French Colonial Quarter and vibrant Old Quarter. 
  • Passing by the must-see highlights of Hanoi such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Presidential Palace, Ba Dinh Square, Temple of Literature, Tran Quoc Temple, West Lake, Truc Bach Lake, Hoan Kiem Lake, the Opera House, Saint Joseph Cathedral and the train tracks. 
  • Crossing the historical Long Bien bridge, stopping to admire the sunset 
  • Savoring the seven food wonders of Hanoi 
  • Sampling healthy and authentic Hanoi specialties 
  • Sipping unique egg coffee, green tea, sugar cane juice and fresh local beer (Bia Hoi) 

Day 3: Hanoi – Topas Ecolodge and hike to neighboring Red Dao village

From 6:30 – 7:00 AM, you will commence from your Hanoi hotel with Topas Mountain Express for 5 hours transfer to Topas Ecolodge. After checking in your bungalow, you will enjoy the beautiful and peaceful view of the surrounding mountains and valleys from your private balcony.

The walk in the afternoon starts from Topas Ecolodge on a quiet road with a great view of the rice terrace below. You then take a slight ascent to Lech village. You will visit a wooden local house, meet the friendly Red Dao hosts and experience their daily way of life. The Red Dao women, like their ancestors, have hair and eyes brows shaved and wear very colorful customs. They are famous for beautiful handmade embroidery. On the way back to Topas Ecolodge, you will walk on small trails passing rice terraces and cross a suspension bridge, where you can take some great pictures of the natural landscape. Your guide will explain the interesting cultivating culture of the local farmers.

Included meals: Breakfast   

Approx: Grade: Easy/ 2.5 – 3 hours walking

Day 4: Explore the most remote area of Sapa


Enjoy a great breakfast and prepare for today´s walk. At 8:30 AM, you will commence the excursion with a transfer deeper into Hoang Lien National Park to the trek starting point near Sin Chai village. You are now “off the beaten track” enjoying beautiful views of high mountains, waterfalls and deep valleys. The trails will soon lead you to the Red Dao village of Nam Nhiu, here you will meet the villagers, visit their houses, and learn about their daily way of life. Leaving the village behind, you will turn into a small dirt trail and soon be inspired by the marvelous view of the rice valley dotted with bamboo huts, which are used by local farmers as overnight lodges on harvesting days. Passing the rice terraces and a river you will walk on a quiet road for a while before arriving Nam Cang village where your lunch will be served.

Nam Cang village locates in the most remote area of Sapa. The Red Dao women wear some of the most colorful and diverse costumes of all Vietnam’s ethnic groups. Herbal bath, local medicine and embroidery are some of the things that the Red Dao are very skilled at. Accompanied by your guide, you will explore the village and learn how the local villagers make writing paper, jewelry and embroidery.

At 14:15, you will have a transfer back to Topas Ecolodge. Here you may want to book a traditional Red Dao herbal bath at the lodge’s spa.

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

Approx: Grade: Moderate/ 3-3.5 hours walking

Day 5: Topas Ecolodge – Hanoi 

The day is yours to spend at your leisure until a mid-afternoon departure for Hanoi via the Topas Mountain Express.  Simply enjoy the lodge grounds and views, taking a dip in the mountain infinity pools, or talk to us if you’d like to take another trek into the surrounding mountains.  The lodge spa is also available, alongside a selection of restaurants with local and international options.   

Depart from the Ecolodge at 14:30, refreshed and rejuvenated from your time spent in nature.  

Included meals: Breakfast 

Distance and activities: 5-hour drive, leisure time, trekking (optional) 

Day 6: Hanoi – Ha Long – Bai Tu Long Bay


You will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to Ha Long Bay for your overnight cruise in Bai Tu Long Bay. 

At midday we will arrive at Sunworld International Harbor in Ha Long City where you will transfer by tender to your Tonkin cruise boat. Enjoy a welcome drink and safety briefing before checking in to your cabin.  

After settling in you will begin cruising through Bai Tu Long Bay while enjoying a delicious set menu lunch. After lunch, you will have the opportunity to kayak to explore some of the picturesque lagoons, swim in the bay and relax at Cap La beach. Back on board, you will have the chance to unwind with happy hour drinks (from 5h30pm- 7h30pm), taking in the sun setting over the bay, while the boat gently cruises to Cong Dong-Cong Do area where it will anchor overnight. 

At 7pm a BBQ dinner will be served on the sundeck (weather permitting). After dinner you will be free to try your hand at squid fishing or relax with some activities onboard the boat, such as playing board games or guitar, watching a movie or even indulging in some karaoke (please request in advance), or simply enjoy some beverages at the luxury sky bar which stocks a good selection of wines, cocktails, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages. 

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner 

Distance and activities: 3-hour drive, kayaking, swimming, squid fishing 

Day 7: Bai Tu Long Bay – Hanoi. Flight to Danang – Hoi An


Wake up early to experience Tai Chi aboard your boat. 

After Tai Chi, you can enjoy a light breakfast before hopping aboard a bamboo boat to visit Vung Vieng fishing village where you will discover the daily life of the fishing communities, before heading back to the main boat. 

Check-out is at 9.30am, after which you can relax on the sundeck enjoying the last scenery of Ha Long Bay over an early lunch while the boat makes its way back to shore. 

Just before midday you will disembark and relax in the cafe lounge before transferring to Hanoi to take a short flight to Danang. Upon arrival in Danang, you will transfer to your hotel in Hoi An, where you will have the remainder of the day to spend at your leisure.  

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch 

Distance and activities: Fishing village tour, 4.5-hour drive, 1h20’ flight 

Day 8: Hoi An – Cooking class and Lantern making


Today you will delve into some of the town’s history and sample signature flavors of central Vietnam in this 5-hour walking, cycling and cooking tour around Hoi An.

After breakfast, you’ll be picked up from your hotel to start your cooking tour. You’ll cycle to a nearby food market, accompanied by a local chef, where you can marvel at the dizzying array of sumptuous seasonal fruit, noodles, herbs, vegetables, meat and fish on display. Interact with the vendors and get some tips from your guide on how to bargain. Here, you will purchase the ingredients for the dish you have chosen to make.

After collecting all the necessary ingredients, you’ll cycle to a cooking school in Tra Que vegetable village, where the chef will guide you through the requisite steps to make your dish. Expect plenty of hands-on participation and lots of tasting as you cook!

There will be some time for a wander around Tra Que village, where you can try your hand at fertilizing the plots, preparing the soil, planting herbs, and watering and hoeing the vegetable beds. You can even pick some fresh herbs to enjoy with your lunch.

Finally, just relax and enjoy the lunch you have made. You’ll leave the cooking class with a detailed recipe and the culinary skills needed to serve up a feast back home.

With a full belly, you’ll cycle back to the Old Town for a lantern making class. Cycling through the narrow lanes and street markets will take you back to Hoi An in its heyday, when it was a thriving and bustling trading port. You’ll head to the Reaching Out workshop, where Ha, a papercraft artisan, will guide you through the steps needed to make a traditional foldable Vietnamese lantern to take home.

After the workshop, you’ll be guided back to your hotel to spend the evening at your leisure.

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

Distance and activities: 5-hour cooking class/vegetable village tour and 2-hour lantern making – about 8km cycling

Day 9: Hoi An – Free day


With its bright pink bougainvillea spilling over the yellow walls of the ancient houses that line the picturesque streets, Hoi An is undoubtably one of Vietnam’s most charming towns. Enjoy the day at your leisure, ambling through the quaint alleyways and getting to know the restaurants, cafes, and tailors situated on the banks of the Thu Bon River. We suggest popping into Reaching Out Teahouse, a lovely ancient house providing work for the hard of hearing and serving delicious teas and homemade snacks. 

Included meals: Breakfast 

Distance and activities: Leisure time 

Day 10: Hoi An – Free day/optional activities 


Today you will have a second day to spend at your leisure, whether it’s relaxing at the swimming pool, wandering the streets of the old town or hitting the beach.  

Included meals: Breakfast 

Optional activities: kayaking, organic farm visit, basket boat ride, cycling tour. Please speak to one of our travel experts for more information and costs. 

Day 11: Hoi An – Danang. Flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Night tour by Vespa 

Today you will take the noon/early afternoon flight from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Youwill be greeted by one of our friendly drivers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport who will transfer you to your hotel in the city center.

You’ll have a chance to unpack and relax in your room until sunset, when it’s time to do as the locals do, and jump on the back of a scooter. Your trusty driver will zip you down tiny alleyways and along wide boulevards flanked by skyscrapers to show you the Saigon few travelers get to see. Sample delicious street food dishes as you pass major tourist attractions, getting to know Vietnam in style.

Included meals: Breakfast, dinner
Distance and activities: 4h motorbike food tour

Day 12: Saigon – Mekong Delta – Coco Riverside Lodge  


After breakfast, you’ll be picked up and start the 3-hour drive to Coco Riverside Lodge in Vung Liem. 

Upon arrival, a representative will lead you to the lodge along a countryside path. Here, you will be treated to a welcome drink while you check-in and make yourself comfortable, before enjoying lunch at the lodge’s restaurant. 

After a short rest, a cycle tour along village paths will lead you to the home of Mr. Cong, who will show you how he makes popped rice using a blend of traditional and modern agricultural methods. Mr. Cong will reveal the secret of making rice pop and creating the product that sustains the village. Your guide will also explain how the villagers raise their animals and collect ‘biogas’ to make free and sustainable cooking fuel. 

You’ll then continue riding along a quiet village road, passing by a duck farm, green rice paddies, agricultural fields and small villages. Stopping off at one of the dragon fruit or orange plantations, you can pluck some juicy fruit straight from the tree and enjoy it at its freshest. There will be plenty of opportunities to stop and capture the picturesque rural village scenes with the backdrop of the setting sun, before cycling back to the lodge. 

In the evening, you’ll have the chance to try your hand at cooking some local dishes in a traditional cooking class, before relaxing over dinner at the lodge’s restaurant. 

Accommodation at Coco Riverside Lodge 

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner   

Distance and activities: cycling, village tour, cooking class, 3-hour drive 

Day 13: Coco Riverside Lodge  


After breakfast, a small ferry will take you across the river to visit the splendid Cao Dai temple. En route, you can take in the sight of loaded boats heading to the local market and transporting goods such as coconuts from one factory to another. Lining the banks of the river, these small coconut-processing operations are hives of activity. Once the coconuts have been shelled, the fibers are removed from the husks to make rope, which in turn is used to weave rugs. In just a short time you can see the whole manufacturing process. Most of the work is done by hand by skilled workers and the products are mainly sold to foreign companies.     

Lunch will be served back at the lodge, with some time to relax on the picturesque riverbank, watching the local people go about their day.   

The afternoon will begin with a sampan trip along the waterways to visit another village, before walking to a local household to see how the homeowner makes Vietnamese pancakes and trying your hand at making your own. You’ll arrive back at the lodge in the late afternoon.   

After time to shower and freshen up, you will start a walk to the home of a neighbor who fought during the Vietnam war and will share his story with you.  You’ll be treated to a performance of traditional music before walking back, traditional torches made from dried coconut leaves lighting the way. Dinner with a twist is served after the night tour. 

Accommodation at Coco Riverside Lodge 

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner 

Distance and activities: temple visit, village tours, 3-hour drive 

Day 14: Coco Riverside Lodge – Saigon. Departure 


After breakfast you’ll have a chance to explore the lodge garden, feed the fish or try your hand at fishing. You can even visit the family’s ancestral grave to pay your respects if you wish. 

Relax and enjoy the remainder of your time in the Mekong Delta before heading back to Saigon Airport for your departure flight. 

Extending your stay to include a beach vacation on Phu Quoc or Con Dao Island can be arranged upon request.  

Included meals: Breakfast 

Distance and activities: 3-hour drive, garden visit 

Tour Includes

Tour Excludes

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