Explore the best of northern Vietnam on this week-long tour. You'll go trekking, explore the Hanoi's diverse architecture, visit local ethnic communities, and end it all with a picturesque boat ride in Hanoi Bay.

Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi

Than Nien Street, Hanoi
Than Nien Street, Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi! You'll be transferred to the city and your hotel, where you'll then have the rest of the day to relax and settle into your new surroundings. Depending on your interests, we'll be happy to recommend a few great places to check out. 

Day 2: Hanoi Sightseeing – Overnight train to Sapa

Ceramic mosaic in Hanoi
Ceramic mosaic along the street in Hanoi

Today, in the early morning, you can take a walk through the local morning market. This is a great chance to observe the daily life of the locals and capture some memorable pictures. Then, start to explore the diverse architecture of Hanoi and its famous 36 streets of the Old Quarter on a walking tour. 

Hanoi’s architecture reflects the atmosphere and soul of Hanoi. You'll see influences from Vietnamese, Chinese and French colonial to Communist architecture. Hanoi is an architectural treasure and has been the political and historical center of Vietnam for over a thousand years, with a wealth of sights to explore. Heavily influenced by French colonial architecture, Hanoi is both historically beautiful and a vibrant capital city sure to entice you.

Visit the humble house on stilts from which ‘Uncle Ho’, as he is affectionately known, ruled Vietnam until his death in 1969. You can also view the nearby Presidential Palace, One Pillar Pagoda, and the intriguing Ho Chi Minh Museum, which houses an almost surreal exhibition of the life of Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam’s struggle for independence. The next stop will be Tran Quoc pagoda, a beautiful pagoda, located by the side of the West lake.

After lunch, we pay a visit to the Ethnology Museum where you can discover the diversity of Vietnam’s many ethnic groups. The balance of the day is free at your leisure. In the evening, a local driver and guide will take you to Hanoi Railway Station for an overnight train to Lao Cai.

Day 3: Lao Cai – Sapa – Sa Seng – Hau Thao

Sapa
Rice fields at Sapa

We will arrive at Lao Cai Station around 6.30 am. After breakfast at local restaurant in Lao Cai Station, we will drive to a remote ethnic village of Sa Seng where you will be able to see how the Black H'mong's daily life is. You will continuously pass through Sa Seng for another village of Hang Da where you will spend some time here for rest and a delicious picnic lunch.

After lunch, you can visit the Catholic Church and explore the village with your guide. Along the mountain side will appear the amazing scenery of the Muong Hoa valley with its river, rice terraces and villages located close together. Keep trekking down the trail to the center of Hau Thao commune and then the sealed road where your car is waiting for the pick-up and transfer to Sapa Town. 

Day 4: Sapa – Y Linh Ho – Lao Chai – Ta Van - Overnight train back Hanoi

Sapa
Sapa

After breakfast at the hotel, we start the trek to the most impressive areas of Sapa. We drive to the small village of Sin Chai, inhabited by Black H’mong people. Upon arrival at the village, you start the walk around and experience the daily life of the villagers who still maintain their ancestor’s way of life. You continue the walk out of the village, following a dirt trail running through a rice paddy and corn hill along a narrow river, enjoying the spectacular scenery surrounding. 

Follow the trail to Y Linh Ho Village of the Black Hmong people from here you will hike along small paths down the valley to the Muong Hoa River to visit the Black H’mong village in Lao Chai, one of the biggest minority groups in Sapa area. They are proud of their culture and keep their own traditions and lifestyle. Continue to Ta Van village (1.2 km) to visit Zay hill tribe people, a fairly small minority group of about 38,000 people who live mainly in the mountains in Northwest Vietnam. Zay women still wear traditional shirts with a purple, blue or green color. The Zay houses are built of wood and bamboo with a clay floor. Return to Sapa in the late afternoon.

Enjoy your lunch at a local house. You'll have some free time before your drive back to Lao Cai Station for the night train to Hanoi. Room in Sapa is at your disposal until noon time only. Overnight on the train in an air-conditioned cabin with soft sleeper berth.

Day 5: Hanoi – Halong

Tran Quoc Pagoda, Hanoi
Tran Quoc Pagoda, Hanoi

Arrival in Hanoi Railway train station in the early morning. Transfer to your hotel for breakfast and a short rest before transfer to Halong Bay, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site with its 3,000 islands of towering limestone dotting the bay and Gulf of Tonkin (180 km / 3-3.5 hours traveling time).

Arrive in Halong in the late morning and board a traditional wooden boat and begin your exploration of magical Halong Bay, one of Southeast Asia’s premier travel destinations. A fresh seafood lunch and dinner will be served on the boat.

Day 6: Halong Bay - Hanoi

Halong Bay, Vietnam
Halong Bay, Vietnam

Wake early to enjoy a spectacular dawn over the bay. After a light breakfast, you will continue your cruise to view the beauty of the islands that dot the bay. In the late morning, you can enjoy brunch served on board your junk as you head back to the pier ready to travel back to Hanoi.

Day 7: Hanoi - Departure

Breakfast at the hotel, be ready for the transfer to the airport for the flight home.

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Best of northern vietnam - 7-day itinerary, Vietnam - Dec 18 - Dec 24, 2018

Traveler: Anwar A. - Local specialist: Alex Nguyen

Had a great holidays in Hanoi and Sapa. Fortunate to be blessed with good weather in both locations, although the cloud was a bit too low when we were in Sapa. Hence, missed the beutiful view of the valley from the Heavens Gate. On the whole, it was a good programme planned by Alex. The local guides were good and helpful.

Best of northern vietnam - 7-day itinerary, Vietnam - Nov 16 - Nov 24, 2018

Traveler: Sarah H. - Local specialist: Ha Thu

My trip to Vietnam was packed with highlights. Here are the tops:

1) My first few days in Hanoi were great. I really enjoyed Kien and his historical perspective that he was able to provide about Hanoi and Vietnam. It was clear that he studied history at the university, and had many interesting stories and perspectives to share. I walked away with a very rich view of Hanoi and Vietnam, both historically and present day. Kien also let me take my time and come back to him with questions which... read more

My trip to Vietnam was packed with highlights. Here are the tops:

1) My first few days in Hanoi were great. I really enjoyed Kien and his historical perspective that he was able to provide about Hanoi and Vietnam. It was clear that he studied history at the university, and had many interesting stories and perspectives to share. I walked away with a very rich view of Hanoi and Vietnam, both historically and present day. Kien also let me take my time and come back to him with questions which I really appreciated.

2) The third guide Ngoc was equally excellent. He provided a great perspective of Ninh Binh, Hoa Lu, Tam Coc, the many religions of Vietnam, and daily life in Vietnam. He provided a great cultural perspective that gave me a real picture of what it was like to be Vietnamese. He also shared great personal anecdotes. Our boat ride on Tam Coc was a beautiful highlight!!

3) All hotel accommodations were excellent. The staff were professional and welcoming, the rooms were very clean and well- appointed, and the breakfasts delicious. Each hotel was comfortable and relaxing, including the cruise on Halong Bay. Each night I was able to sleep very peacefully.

4) Transportation was also excellent. All drivers were on time, courteous, and drove safely. This was a great feature for sightseeing!

My only feedback is on the second guide Sang in Sapa. Compared to Kien and Ngoc, she was not as engaged. She didn't share any stories or anecdotes about the region. I would ask her questions, and her answers were very limited. I eventually gave up and starting asking other tribal women we encountered hiking. I bought something from another tribal woman and gave her a big tip since she was more informative and interesting; I talked with this woman more than I talked with Sang.

Sang also made me feel very stressed out about the train back to Hanoi on November 20. She wasn't sure how to get my ticket for the train, and kept asking me for details. Eventually, she figured it out but I'm not sure why she panicked. This was the first and only time that I was concerned about logistics and my itinerary.

Despite my interaction with Sang, the trip was still unbelievable. Vietnam is a special and beautiful place that I hope to visit again.