Vietnam: Mountains to the Sea
- Active Adventure
- Culture & Heritage
- Off The Beaten Path
Day 1 – 2: Hanoi
- Arrive in Hanoi. Full-day city tour.
Day 3 – 5: Cao Bang
- Drive to Cao Bang. Go sightseeing: Ban Gioc Waterfall, Nguom Ngao Cave. Explore Ba Be Lake, etc.
Day 6 – 10: Hoang Su Phi - Sapa
- Travel to Hoang Su Phi. Hike to hill tribe villages. Explore Bac Ha Sunday Market.
- Head to Sapa. Trek and observe the life of the ethnic groups. Take a cable ride to the top of Fansipan Mountain.
Day 11 – 13: Hanoi – Halong Bay
- Drive back to Hanoi.
- Embark on a cruise in Halong Bay. Discover the extraordinary scenery of the bay.
- Board your departure flight from Hanoi.
Vietnam is renowned for its intriguing landscapes, and this ‘Mountains to the Sea’ tour will take you to the best sights in our country. In Hanoi, wander the streets of the Old Quarter and visit the capital’s attractive sights. Drive to Cao Bang, relish the stunning views along the way and admire Vietnam’s most spectacular waterfall, the Ban Gioc waterfall and the unique karst shapes inside Nguom Ngao Cave. Explore Ba Be Lake, the caves of Puong Grotto, the rapids of the Dau Dang waterfall and the tiny Widow Island. In Hoang Su Phi, trek through the picturesque terraced rice fields – classified as a ‘National Heritage’. There will be short treks to the villages of the hill tribes in Sapa, enhanced with a cable car ride to the peak of Fansipan, or ‘Indochina’s rooftop’ as it’s sometimes called. End this great adventure with a scenic cruise trip through Lan Ha Bay.
Xin Chao! Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam.
Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport, your private guide and driver are waiting to meet you, holding up a welcome signboard with your names on it and take you directly to your hotel in the Old Quarter.
After checking-in, you will have time to relax and adjust to the pace of Hanoi. There will be a short tour briefing this evening with your guide followed by a welcome dinner at KOTO restaurant, a social enterprise that trains and employs underprivileged youth to provide a step up in life.
Please note: Your travel documents contain a Visa-on-Arrival letter (unless otherwise arranged). Please ensure to pack this in your carry-on luggage. Your Visa-on-Arrival letter must be presented to Customs upon entry into the country.
Overnight in Hanoi
After breakfast, you will meet your guide and driver and then set off on an orientation tour of Hanoi to discover the most emblematic sights of this historic city.
You will first visit Ho Chi Minh Complex and Mausoleum, dedicated to the nation’s founder. In the same compound, you will see Ba Dinh Square and One Pillar Pagoda, which dates back to the foundation of the city.
Continue to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, home to
beautiful gardens and well-preserved architecture.
Enjoy lunch at a local Vietnamese restaurant sampling some of the most delightful cruises of Hanoi.
Flowing lunch is a short drive to the outskirt of Hanoi to visit the Museum of Ethnology exhibiting the 54 officially recognized ethnic groups in Vietnam. Some of them you will meet during your trip to the mountain.
Get back to the City center to attend a traditional evening Water Puppet performance in a local theatre. This northern Vietnamese art form beautifully illustrates scenes of rural life and natural history and began approximately a thousand years ago, possibly in the flooded rice fields of Vietnam.
End your tour on the banks of beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, where you can learn about the legend of the lake and visit Ngoc Son Temple.
Return to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the evening at your leisure.
Overnight in Hanoi
After breakfast, you will be picked up by your guide and driver for a six-hour journey to Cao Bang. En-route, you will visit the Thai Nguyen Ethnic Museum. 3000 documents and original items on the traditional culture of 54 ethnic groups are exhibited and stored at the Museum.
Continue to drive to Cao Bang. You will arrive in the afternoon and check in to your hotel. The rest of the day will be free at your leisure.
Overnight in Cao Bang
Get up early to take a short visit to the Central Market of Cao Bang. Afterward, you will take a scenic drive to Ban Gioc Waterfall close to Vietnam’s northern border with China. Along the way, you will be introduced to the Nung people in the village of Phuc Sen, a small village famous for the production of farming tools. Like the Tays, the Nungs largely live by farming the terraced rice paddies that you will see all around.
On arrival to Ban Gioc Waterfall, you will board the bamboo raft for the most up-close discovery of the most beautiful Waterfall in Vietnam.
After lunch at a local restaurant, the trip will continue with a visit to Nguom Ngao limestone Cave, one of the most spectacular cave systems in Vietnam. Created by an underground river, it extends for several kilometres underground; villagers sheltered here during the 1979 war with China.
Finish the tour and return to your hotel in Cao Bang where the balance of the day will be at your leisure.
Overnight in Cao Bang
After breakfast, continue your journey to Ba Be National Park where you will embark on a boat ride along the Nang River, with time to explore Ba Be Lake, the caves of Puong Grotto, the rapids of the Dau Dang waterfall and tiny Widow Island. You will enjoy a picnic lunch by the waterfall.
Finish the boat trip and transfer to a Tay people village called Pac Ngoi where you will stay overnight at a local thatched house. After check-in and a short rest, you will take a walk around the village, meet and interact with the local people.
Tonight you will enjoy dinner cooked and served by the family. You may want to join them in the cooking activity. This is great fun.
Overnight in Ba Be Lake
After breakfast, you will take a scenic drive to Hoang Su Phi – a rural district of Ha Giang province in the northeastern region of Vietnam. This region is blessed with rugged mountains and lush valleys, but best known for its beautiful rice terraces classified as “National Heritage”.
On the way, you will have the chance to visit some local villages and markets.
Arrive and check in to Ecolodge Pan Hou Village, hidden at the heart of the High Song Chay mountains, surrounded by the most striking sceneries in Vietnam.
Dinner will be served at the lodge.
Overnight in Pan Hou
After breakfast, you will set off for a hiking tour to the hill tribe villages. At the beginning of the walk, you pass through a village of Yao with long tunics who have settled their house on pillar on the mountainside. You will hike through the rice fields in terraces and the bamboo forests. Finally, you will arrive at a Red Dao House. The family is welcoming you with a cup of local tea. You can either rest while waiting for lunch or join your local guide to assist him in the preparation of the meal.
After enjoying a home-hosted lunch, you will return to Ecolodge Pan Hou to check out. Then depart for a 4-hour drive to Bac Ha town. Nestled deep in the mountains, Bac Ha town is a quiet backwater Monday to Saturday, but by Sunday crowds of locals from thousands of surrounding villages descend on the town for the colourful Sunday market. Here you will have a chance to meet some of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups.
Arrive in Bac Ha in the late afternoon and check in to a local hotel.
Overnight in Bac Ha
After breakfast with your guide, you will explore Bac Ha Sunday Market. The market itself is a kaleidoscope of color, noise, and culture, where locals in an array of traditional dress barter for cows and show off delicately embroidered and embellished designs. Wander, camera in hand, and soak in the lively atmosphere while fending off the persistent sellers. The scent of fresh herbs and fragrant, strong tobacco wafts among the tented stalls and the overpowering smell of animals drifts down from the live market above.
After lunch at a local restaurant, you will drive downhill and begin a short walk to Trung Do Village which is home to the Tay minority. Here you will visit a traditional Tay house. Then travel by boat through this amazing countryside to Bao Nhai Village. Finish the boat trip you’ll continue onwards to Sapa Town for the night.
Overnight in Sapa
After breakfast, you will meet your tour guide and begin the day with a 3km-trek through the breathtaking landscape to the village of Suoi Ho, home to H’mong minority. Along the way, you can enjoy beautiful views over endless rice terraces, and you will have plenty of opportunities to take photographs.
Continue your hike toward the stunning village of Matra. You will pass the impressive ruins of a French Catholic church built in the early twentieth century. Take a few minutes to explore this intriguing sight and take some photos as you wish.
Your hike will grow deeper until your arrival at Ta Phin Village, inhabited by another Red Dzao ethnic minority tribe, with their beautiful traditionally embroidered outfits and practice of shaving their hair and eyebrows as a sign of respect. Also in Ta Phin village, the black H’mong minority live their own way with no cultural mixture.
You will visit a Red Dzao family and over a cup of tea, have a chat with them learning about their lifestyle. Enjoy a delicious lunch cooked and served by the family.
After lunch, you have time to stroll around the village, take pictures and do some fun shopping. The Red Dao people are known for their expertise in herbal medicine as well as the usage of plants from the land to treat many illnesses. If you’re a bit sore from the activities of the day, sample a traditional herbal bath made by a local Dzao specialist, famous for its therapeutic qualities.
Leaving Ta Phin you will be picked by your private driver and taken back to your hotel in Sapa. The remainder of the day will be free at your leisure.
Overnight in Sapa
After breakfast, your guide and driver will transfer you to Fansipan Cable Car Station to enjoy the cable car ride – the world’s longest and highest cable car, running up from the sleepy Sapa Town to the peak of 3,143-meter Fansipan Mountain, known as Indochina’s rooftop.
Upon arrival, you will take a 20-minute cable car ride through the clouds up to Mt Fansipan. Enjoy the view from the highest point of this incredible mountain. The lush green and subtropical vegetation makes this mountain beautiful.
Leaving Fansipan Mountain you will get back to the hotel for check out. After enjoying lunch at a local restaurant your guide and driver will take you back to Hanoi. The drive is around 5 hours with a quick stop en route to visit the Chinese Border.
Overnight in Hanoi
After breakfast, your private guide and driver will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to the port city of Hai Phong, where you board the stylish Junk Boat that is your home for the evening.
On arrival around midday, you’ll be welcomed aboard your boat, each with its own individual route, to begin your cruise around the Lan Ha bay. Lying south and east of Cat Ba Island, the 300-or-so karst islands and limestone outcrops of Lan Ha are just as beautiful as those of Halong Bay but more isolated and untouched.
After checking into your cabin, a delicious lunch will be served, enjoy the delightful Vietnamese cuisine along with fantastic panoramic views of the passing scenery.
Relax on the terrace deck or on your private balcony and soak in the enchanting aura which emanates from the surreal seascape.
Continue the journey, the Junk boat snakes her way past the islets of Con Vit and Gia Luan, their karsts (limestone formations) rising dramatically from the bay.
Late afternoon you will reach the shore of a small lagoon on Cat Ba Island, hop on bicycles (electric cart transfers are also available) for a sightsing tour along small paved roads towards Viet Hai village. Little has changed in Viet Hai since the ancestors of the 80 households settled here centuries ago. Situated in a valley within Cat Ba National Park and surrounded on all sides by forest and mountains, the locals are isolated from the island’s other villages and towns. Here you have the unique and authentic opportunity to meet the local inhabitants, learn about the fruits and vegetables grown in the valley, have a glimpse of local households and try some homemade liquors.
Return to your Junk boat for a cooking demonstration with the chef. Learn about local ingredients as well as the preparation of classic Vietnamese dishes.
As the sun sets, you will arrive at a tranquil anchor spot for the night. In this hidden spot, you can revel in the memories of the day’s adventures with a cocktail under the stars.
After a scrumptious dinner, you may like to unwind at the bar with a digestif, watch a movie in the cinema, or have some fun fishing for squid before retiring to your room.
Note: If your time permits, we would highly recommend an additional night on board which gives you a lot more time to relax and take in the amazing landscape. You’ll get to cruise deeper into the Bay where it’s more beautiful and less crowded.
Overnight on board in Lan Ha Bay
Wake up early and join the Tai Chi session on the terrace deck to ease your mind and muscles with the first rays of the sun touching the water. Coffee, tea and breakfast pastries await you in the dining room to start the new day.
It is time for Junk boat to lift her anchors and cruise toward Frog Lake, a secluded spot perfect for our morning excursion. Go for a refreshing “bay swim” or explore this captivating marine landscape via kayak. The cliffs stretch vertically out of the water and you feel a sense of freedom while meandering through this green medley of water and tree-topped islets.
Return to the Junk boat to check out of the cabin. Then enjoy a full brunch buffet as you cruise back to the pier.
Disembark at Got pier in Hai Phong city, your private driver is waiting for you and take you back to Hanoi.
After checking into your hotel, spend the remainder of the day at your leisure. Stroll around the Old town or visit Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple, a short walk from your hotel. It’s beautifully lit up at night.
Overnight in Hanoi
Your private transfer greets you at the hotel after breakfast and escorts you to Hanoi International Airport where you board your flight home or travel on to more adventures, we will help you with the planning.
- Discover Hanoi’s best-known landmarks, enjoy authentic local food
- Pay a visit to Ban Gioc Waterfall, an impressive sight and in a highly scenic location
- Explore Ba Be Lake, the biggest natural lake in Vietnam is surrounded by limestone cliffs and covered by primary forests
- Explore incredible mountainous Ha Giang and admire the scenery of the landscape with panorama views
- Discover the Hill tribe villages and lively local market of ethnic minority groups in Sapa
- Enjoy the cable car ride – the world’s longest and highest cable car, running up to the peak of 3,143-meter Fansipan Mountain, known as Indochina’s rooftop
- Spend a night onboard an overnight cruise in Lan Ha Bay
- 12 hotel buffet breakfasts.
- 5 dinners and 10 lunches at well-selected restaurants
- Your own private guide and driver for in-depth cultural touring based on your interests
- Firsthand, sophisticated destination knowledge and recommendations from our locally born travel specialists
- Itineraries that are customized according to your interests and preferences
- A seamless travel experience, including all logistics, hand-picked hotels and restaurants, private airport transfers, internal transportation, and entry visa assistance…etc
- Around-the-clock support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
Private English speaking guide, accommodation, private tours and transfer, A/C vehicles, some main meals, all entrance fees, tax, and service charge.
What’s Not Included?
Your international flights from and to Vietnam, the entry visa to Vietnam, personal expense, tips to guide and driver.
Free service. No credit card required
Reviews on Our Service
Vietnam Luxury Vacation Review: Sightseeing, Culture, 12-Day Travel
Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Sightseeing, Rice Fields, Boat Rides, 18-Day Trip
We started searching for our tour for Vietnam / Cambodia back in October 2022 to start the tour in the first week of January 2023. We selected this travel agency, and contact name provided to us was Elly. She was extraordinary with her communication with us. Excellent English speaking language capability & excellent in communication on Whats app and email communication. We went back & forth few times to arrange the tour we wanted. She was very accommodating in arranging our schedule. We requested automobile tour for both countries, just for two of us.
We requested SUV FOR OUR COMFORT AND WE GOT IT!
We requested to get the high end hotel in each city and she gave us choices and not only that but send videos of each hotel for each City and then waited for us to decide which hotel we select. All the Hotels turned out to be one of the best we would expect to be. M/s Elly, personally came to visit with us on the evening of our first day tour. Very respectful and asked if she could do anything for us.I had requested before in our communication, if she would arrange for power converter for us, since my camera chargers are all in 110. So brought two power converters for us! Something, not everyone will do this kind of service. So all the kiddos to her!
as to the drivers in each city were very courteous, very professional and very careful in how and where they have to do driving.
our Guides in each city were so friendly, courteous and knowledgeable in where ever we visited. How ever wish two guides in Hue An and Ho Chi Minh City spoke English more clearly.
We only wish we had one extra day in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, , however, there is so much to see in the world! Perhaps next time will visit Vietnam.
As to Cambodia, same thing to express about site seeing and our Guide and drivers. Guides and drivers really made our travel thro’ the countries where we do not speak that language, made it so comfortable and enjoyable.
Hi Lam…hope you don’t mind me contacting you directly. My wife Barb & I (Paul) have just arrived home after completing a great tour of Vietnam which was organised through your company Asia Pioneer Travel.
We want to tell you personally how impressed were were with the level of service that we received…it was amazing and the best that we have experienced anywhere. After we made initial contact with you, you handed us over to Chloe to arrange the trip which she did in very quick time and the amount of detail that she went to was fantastic. From the moment that we walked out of Hanoi airport on arrival to see our guide waiting, we knew that we were in for a great trip. The drivers & guides were fantastic and Chloe was in contact by email constantly making sure that everything was going to plan & that we were happy. At one stage we need to vary the itinerary by extending accommodation & changing air tickets and Chloe did that without any fuss or bother.
We also met some wonderful Vietnamese people along the way and Ive got to say that they are our kind of people, very generous & friendly.
Enough of my ramblings, thanks for a great visit to Vietnam, and a special thank you to Chloe for looking after us in such a terrific manner…she is a very special caring lady.
Kind regards & I hope that we have the opportunity to use Asia Pioneer Travel again….Paul & Barb Little from Newcastle Australia
Superbly organised and very flexible
We travelled to Vietnam for two weeks, booking the whole trip through Lizzie at Asia Pioneer, including hotels, excursions, trips, guides and internal flights. Lizzie was so helpful and flexible, accommodating changes to our schedule until the last minute, especially as we missed our connecting flight in Dubai and arrived a day later than planned (our fault). Nothing was too much trouble, including getting my wallet back to me after I left it in the car taking us to the airport.
We started in Hanoi in the North and worked our way south to Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon), taking in Ha Long with its amazing sea stacks and sleeping on a boat, then to Sa Pa on the overnight sleeper train from Hanoi, with its wonderful countryside and rice terraces. Afterwards, we went to Hoi An for three days of relaxation. Hoi An probably my favourite place and three days are enough to cover it. Then onto Hue, the original capital, my least favourite place and then finally on to HMC, which was a real contrast to the North.
The 3-star hotels that Lizzie picked were very good and comfortable, and the guides were very knowledgeable. I would definitely use Asia Pioneer again for future Asia trips.