8D Best of Vietnam (Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay)

In this itinerary, you will visit the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi and the picturesque rice terraces of Sapa and world UNESCO site Halong Bay located only hours away. Each destination on this itinerary carries its own history, culture and beauty that leaves you in no doubt that you are immersed in the wonder of Vietnam.

Exceptional Experiences:

  • Explore Hanoi's hidden alleys, and get to know the city's best delicacies on a Secret Food Walking tour

 

  • Take a luxury overnight train to Sapa. This luxury train – harkening back to the romantic, golden age of travel in Indochina with its dark wooden fixtures, cosy sleeping cabins, and spacious lounge

 

  • Sleep overnight in a Certified Unique Lodge of the World by National Geographic at Topas Ecolodge in Sapa

 

  • Interact and visit local communities and villages on your half-day hike in Sapa, have lunch at a local Family's home

 

  • Go on board a privately chartered overnight cruise to explore Halong Bay

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Itinerary:

Day 1: SINGAPORE  - HANOI (-/-) 

Welcome to Hanoi – Vietnam!

Upon arrival to Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport you will be welcomed by your local guide and driver holding a sign with your name on it. Your guide will lead you through fast-track security services and after you have collected your luggage, will lead the way to your awaiting guide and vehicle. You will be privately transferred between your accommodations and Hanoi Airport by a professional driver and an English-speaking guide.

Hanoi is a bustling and fascinating place – a whirlwind of colours, smells and sounds and a wonderful place to get a real flavour of life in Vietnam.

This afternoon, explore Hanoi's hidden alleys, and get to know the city's best delicacies on a Secret Food Walking tour! Discover traditional Vietnamese food, experience the local’s way of life, inspired by stories of the city's culture and cuisine. Hanoi's cuisine has been known to captivate thousands of foodies around the world.

Step off the beaten track and travel through the maze of Hanoi to seek real authentic food. Your local guide will introduce you to the local food scene over a light and refreshing appetizer, nom bo kho — green papaya salad with beef. Then, to understand the background of Vietnamese cooking ingredients, your guide will take you to visit Hang Be Market, where you'll find all kinds of goods ranging from meat, and tropical fruits to dried food items for worshipping.

Watch how locals make your steamed meat and mushroom pancake and enjoy it while it's hot and fresh. A Vietnamese food tour would be incomplete without slurping a bowl of phò.

Then, on the way to Old Quarter, don’t forget to explore the winding lanes and discovering your own favourite hidden corners. The hustle and bustle of Hanoi is contagious and it is also one of the best places to sample the mouth-watering array of street food that Vietnam is famous for.

Follow in President Obama's footsteps and enjoy bun cha — rice noodles topped with grilled pork. After which, enjoy a nice stroll along Hanoi's 1,000 year old streets while sipping on sugar cane juice with cumquat, which are popular drinks for locals. After your stroll, indulge in a bánh mì. Enjoy the crisp baguette and colourful combination of cheese, pickled vegetables, sausage, fried egg, chicken, or beef.

Then, at our last stop for the day, take a break in a cozy café to enjoy some regional rice wine alongside sausage and cashews, just like the locals do and unwind.

Return to your accommodation to rest for the night.

Accommodation: 5* Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Exclusive Amenities, For 2020:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (no upgrades to Grand Premium or Suites)
  • $75 USD equivalent Food and Beverage credit per room, per stay {provided once only during the first stay if a second stay takes place within 7 days. However, breakfasts are offered for second stay.} (Credit is not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full. Excludes the mini bar.)
  • Chocolate buffet OR a glass of Champagne Brut in Bamboo bar or Le Club bar per person for up to 2 people** and on the first stay only (except the 2nd stay is after 7 days from the check-out date of the 1st stay)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

 

Day 2: HANOI (B/L/D)

This morning after breakfast, start your day on the outskirts of the city with your private driver and English-speaking guide by visiting the Museum of Ethnology.

The museum provides an insightful glimpse into the country’s lengthy history, with more than 15,000 photos and 10,000 objects and artefacts depicting a historical perspective of the lives, activities, customs, and habits of the 54 recognized ethnic groups of Vietnam.

Drive back into central Hanoi, stopping at the Temple of Literature, built in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius. Enjoy a local Vietnamese lunch at Banh Tom Ho Tay, a restaurant famous for its shrimp cakes in the West Lake area.

After lunch, visit Truc Bach Lake, featuring a monument to the late US Senator John McCain, commemorating the spot where he parachuted to safety after his plane was shot down over the lakes. At the nearby Huu Tiep Lake, the wreckage of an American B-52 bomber lies as a memorial to the war. From here, visit Hoa Lo Prison, constructed in 1896 by the French to house Vietnamese political prisoners. Under the French regime, it was known as the Maison Centrale and was an important symbol of colonialist exploitation of the era. Continue to Ngoc Son Temple, a pagoda situated on a small island in Hoan Kiem Lake accessible by a classically painted wooden bridge. The view of the city from the pagoda is particularly popular.

This evening, visit the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre for a traditional theatrical performance, followed by a delicious dinner at La Verticale, a restaurant specializing in French-Indochina cuisine. If La Verticale is extremely busy or not available, another restaurant of the same quality will be offered.

At night, head to the train station to board your overnight luxury train to Sapa. This luxury train – harkening back to the romantic, golden age of travel in Indochina with its dark wooden fixtures, cosy sleeping cabins, and spacious lounge – departs six days a week from Hanoi at 10pm and arrives in Lao Cai at 6:10am, allowing travellers to have a restful night before embarking on the day’s adventure.

Accommodation: Overnight in Express Luxury Train to Sapa

 

Day 3: HANOI - SAPA (B/L/D)

This morning upon arrival in Sapa, meet your driver and proceed for check-in upon arrival in Sapa at Topas Ecolodge, a Certified Unique Lodge of the World by National Geographic. 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.

Thereafter, take a short break and refresh yourself with a hot bath before hopping on a drive to the Silver Waterfall (best in the rainy season from May to November). Take a short walk to the waterfall where a great view is offered of the surrounding mountains and the lush forests of Hoang Lien National Park. Along the way, your experienced local guide will explain about this special part of Sapa, where many tree species are grown such as plum and peach trees.

After which, continue your journey up to Heaven's Gate where you can see Fansipan Mountain, ‘the roof of Indochina’ at the height of 3143 meters above sea level.

Return to your accommodation to rest for the night.

Accommodation: 5* Topas Ecolodge

 

Day 4:  SAPA (B/L/D)   

This morning after breakfast, depart Sapa for a half-day walking-trekking tour (Approx 6 hours)

Meet you experienced local guide. Then embark on your journey to explore. The first stop on your trek offers a view where you can look over to Fansipan peak, then, traverse through the scenic Muong Hoa valley. This trail leads through an astonishing landscape with stunning views of mountains and rice paddies as far as the eye can see. The views are only interrupted by rivers, local houses or farmers working their fields.

At noon, arrive at Y Linh Ho, a small village of the Hmong minority.  Here we will cross a bridge over the beautiful river below. Here, you will follow the hiking route will lead us to Lao Chai Sang where you will stop for lunch. Continue to stroll past endless rice fields in the shadow of the mighty mountains

Arrive at Lao Chai Sang village for lunch at a local Hmong Family's home. Enjoy the local food.  After lunch we'll continue to Lao Chai, where you are likely to see the people working in rice fields, planting or harvesting depending on the time of year. Get a unique experience learning local culture, daily life and making the traditional clothing of the Hmong people here.

Lastly, trek to Ta Van village of Dzay minority.

Transfer to your private vehicle which will return you to Sapa in the late afternoon.

Accommodation: 5* Topas Ecolodge

 

Day 5: SAPA – HANOI (B/L/D)

Depart Sapa by going downhill to the villages. The ride takes you into one of the most beautiful valleys of the area. From Lao Chai, you swerve to a dirt trail which sneaks through rice paddy terraces and villages, home to different hill tribes such as Black H'mong and Giay. You will have time to stop by a local house as well as enjoy excellent views over huge rice paddy terraces. You will later arrive in Ta Van, where the car will return you to Sapa. You will be privately transferred from Sapa to Hanoi via the Noi Bai-Lao Cai expressway by a professional driver and an English-speaking guide. Approximate travel time is five hours.

Accommodation: 5* Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Exclusive Amenities, For 2020:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (no upgrades to Grand Premium or Suites)
  • $75 USD equivalent Food and Beverage credit per room, per stay {provided once only during the first stay if a second stay takes place within 7 days. However, breakfasts are offered for second stay.} (Credit is not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full. Excludes the mini bar.)
  • Chocolate buffet OR a glass of Champagne Brut in Bamboo bar or Le Club bar per person for up to 2 people** and on the first stay only (except the 2nd stay is after 7 days from the check-out date of the 1st stay)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

 

Day 6: HANOI - HALONG BAY (B/L/D)

Early this morning, head deep into the Vietnamese countryside for the scenic drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay, adjacent to the Gulf of Tonkin. Dotted with scenic limestone karsts, monolithic islands, exciting grottoes waiting to be explored and aquamarine waters, this natural wonder is a must-see for visitors to Northern Vietnam. The transfer is approximately 4 hours. Your local guide and driver will be happy to make stops along the way to take in the gorgeous scenery. Welcome onboard the Cruise.

Check-in at Tuan Chau Marina, and get ready to set sail towards Bai Tu Long Bay. After embarkation, enjoy a welcome cocktail during the Cruise Manager’s safety briefing and itinerary introduction. Boarding time is at approximately 12:30 p.m.

Enjoy lunch on board as you head towards Halong Bay’s famous limestone formations.

Note: The Bhaya Legend is a privately chartered cruise, so there is flexibility in the sailing itinerary.

In the afternoon, visit Thien Canh Son Cave, a fascinating natural cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites. The natural geological formations of the cave include rocks that resemble a lotus and a baby elephant and the ceiling sparkles with natural gemstones that resemble hanging lamps. Afterwards, return to the boat where you can opt to relax on the sundeck or indulge in a massage (Spa can be booked at reception). This is also an opportune time to swim in the azure waters of the bay. In the late afternoon join in a MasterChef cooking competition with traditional Vietnamese dishes on the sundeck and watch the sunset over the enchanting Halong Bay while cruising to the overnight anchorage spot.

Note: The cooking class may be held inside the restaurant if the weather does not permit.

Enjoy a candlelit set-menu Vietnamese dinner on board. After dinner, retire to your cabin for the evening or choose to join the crew for a unique opportunity for squid fishing. As part of your overnight Halong Bay cruise, free kayak usage is included for your enjoyment, allowing you to set out and explore the bays and rock formations in a more intimate setting. This is a uniquely beautiful way to discover the natural scenery.

Accommodation: Overnight on board Cruise

 

Day 7: HALONG BAY - HANOI

Start off your day with a Tai Chi lesson on the sundeck with complimentary tea and coffee being served. Rejuvenate your body and mind with the slow movement of Tai Chi and enjoy the dawn on the bay. After a light breakfast on board, visit the traditional fishing village of Vung Vieng by traditional rowboat or by kayak. This is the least touristy of the four fishing villages in Halong Bay, where you’ll find approximately 50 families living in clusters of houses anchored within the natural protection of the limestone peaks. Later in the morning return to your boat where brunch will be served on board while the vessel cruises back to the harbour. Upon arrival to the Tuan Chau Marina in Halong Bay, you'll disembark from the ship. You will be transferred to your accommodations in Hanoi and enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.

Accommodation: 5* Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Exclusive Amenities, For 2020:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability (no upgrades to Grand Premium or Suites)
  • $75 USD equivalent Food and Beverage credit per room, per stay {provided once only during the first stay if a second stay takes place within 7 days. However, breakfasts are offered for second stay.} (Credit is not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full. Excludes the mini bar.)
  • Chocolate buffet OR a glass of Champagne Brut in Bamboo bar or Le Club bar per person for up to 2 people** and on the first stay only (except the 2nd stay is after 7 days from the check-out date of the 1st stay)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

 

Day 8: HANOI - SINGAPORE (B)

Today marks the end of your Vietnam tour. Transfer to the airport by private car for your flight back home. We hope you've enjoyed your trip to Hanoi and return home with lifelong memories and unforgettable impressions. We wish you a safe flight and hope to work on your future trips!

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Please note: This itinerary is designed to give you an idea of what to expect on the tour but is not set in stone. What we actually do on a given day is flexible and can be tailored based on the interests of the group.


This itinerary and its package inclusions might be changed later in time, subject to availability.

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