- Visit friendly Red Dao villagers and discover their way of life
- Enjoy views of mountains and waterfalls in Hoang Lien National Park
- Cruise, kayak, and swim in Hạ Long Bay and quiet Bai Tu Long Bay
- Eat the finest Vietnamese cuisine in the culinary capital, Hoi An
|Day 1||Arrive in Hanoi||Hanoi|
|Day 2||Private Transfer from Hanoi to Topas Ecolodge||Sapa|
|Day 3||Half-Day Trek to Remote Villages||Sapa|
|Day 4||Sapa to Hanoi||Hanoi|
|Day 5||Hanoi to Hạ Long Bay||Hạ Long Bay|
|Day 6||Explore Hạ Long Bay, Fly to Da Nang, Onward to Hoi An||Hoi An|
|Day 7||Countryside Tour, Explore Hoi An||Hoi An|
|Day 8||Hoi An Cooking Class||Hoi An|
|Day 9||Free Day in Hoi An||Hoi An|
|Day 10||Hoi An to Da Nang, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi
Chao Ban, and welcome to Hanoi! When you arrive in Hanoi, your guide will greet you at the airport and transport you to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, exploring Vietnam's capital city. Set in the north of the country on the banks of the Red River, there is plenty to see and do. Wet out and wander around the lively streets on your own. For dinner, try Hanoi's most famous delicacy, bun cha, a dish of grilled pork with noodles and herbs.
Day 2: Private Transfer from Hanoi to Topas Ecolodge
Early this morning, you'll board the Topas Mountain Express directly from your hotel in Hanoi and shuttle the 5-hour journey to the Topas Ecolodge mountain property, far removed from the bustling tourist hub of Sapa. Lying within the boundaries of the Hoang Lien National Park, you'll check into your secluded bungalow that offers serene vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys from your private balcony.
After settling in, it's time to join your guide for a gentle walk from the ecolodge to Lech, an ethnic Red Dao village. The Red Dao (or Yao as they are called outside of Vietnam) are famous for their beautiful embroidery and vibrant culture. One unique custom is that the women shave the front of their hair and eyebrows after marriage. You'll have time to visit with the friendly locals to discover their way of life. Take in the peaceful environs and the panoramic view of the rice terraces along the way as you follow a quiet road, cross a suspension bridge, and pass by local farmers.
Day 3: Half-Day Trek to Remote Villages
After a hearty breakfast, you'll get ready for today's moderate walk, beginning with a transfer further into Hoang Lien National Park and to your starting point near Sin Chai village. Enjoy gorgeous views of high mountains, waterfalls, and deep valleys as you follow a route that leads you to another Red Dao village, Nam Nhiu. Here you can meet the villagers, visit their homes, and continue to discover their unique customs.
Leaving Nam Nhiu behind, you'll turn onto a dirt trail that opens up to sweeping views of tiered rice fields dotted with bamboo huts (overnight lodgings for farmers during harvest). From here, you'll hike through the Nam Cang Valley, with its rice terraces flanked by mountains, to Topas Riverside Lodge for lunch with a view of the jungle and river. Spend a little time exploring the nearby Nam Cang village, and if you're up for it, you might consider taking a dip in the river. In the mid-afternoon, you'll be picked up from Nam Cang and brought back to your lodgings.
Enjoy a quiet evening at your own pace, where you might want to treat yourself to a traditional Red Dao herbal bath at the lodge's spa.
The walk takes about 3.5 hours to complete.
Day 4: Return to Hanoi
Enjoy a leisurely morning at the Topas Ecolodge. You'll have until the mid-afternoon to either relax at the lodge or choose from a variety of activities, including exploring the surrounding hills by mountain bike, taking the shuttle into Sapa, or scheduling a half-day tour to ride the cable car up to the highest peak in Vietnam, Mt. Fansipan (10,311 feet/ 3,143 m). When it's time, you'll catch the Topas Ecolodge Express for your return to your accommodation in Hanoi, arriving around 9:00 pm.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Hanoi to Hạ Long Bay
Today you'll set out for Hạ Long Bay and arrive at the port around noon where you'll be shown to your private cabin aboard an iconic junk boat before being briefed on the trip. Enjoy a lunch of fresh local seafood while cruising to the captivating Bai Tu Long Bay. The fascinating rock formations rising out of Hạ Long Bay are incredible and seem to go on forever. You'll have the chance to go for a dip or explore the area by kayak, returning to the boat in time to watch the setting sun from the top deck, followed by a fresh-caught seafood dinner.
Day 6: Explore Hạ Long Bay, Fly to Da Nang, Onward to Hoi An
Wake early to enjoy the sunrise and the breathtaking beauty of Hạ Long Bay and its landscape of forested limestone rocks emerging from the sea. You'll enjoy a ride in a rowboat before it's time for lunch aboard the junk boat and heading back to the pier for your transfer to the Hai Phong airport and your flight to Da Nang. Upon your arrival, you'll meet your driver and make your way to your accommodation in charming Hoi An.
Day 7: Countryside Tour, Explore Hoi An
This morning you'll be taken to the boat docks where you'll relocate to a small wooden boat and cruise to a fishing village. Here you'll have the opportunity to see and experience the daily practices of the local fishing communities. Hop in a basket boat for a short (and fun) row around the village, and then enjoy a delicious local lunch.
Afterward, cycle along country roads through fields of rice, coconut, and corn, and head back to Hoi An. In the afternoon, tour the famous cultural sites around Hoi An, like the picturesque Japanese Bridge, numerous temples, and beautiful canary-yellow merchant townhouses.
Day 8: Hoi An Cooking Class
Start the day with a welcome drink at Hai Café in Hoi An's historic Old Town and then make the 10-minute drive to Tra Que Vegetable Village. Wander through the market gardens and note the farmers that work in nearby fields using centuries-old practices. You'll pick fresh saw-tooth coriander and Vietnamese mint, key ingredients for your afternoon cooking class, plus sample a special herbal drink.
With your shopping list in hand, find your way to the local market to select a range of ingredients, like star anise, cardamom, sesame rice paper, water spinach, and banana flower. From here, you'll head to the Red Bridge Restaurant and Cooking School to freshen up and begin your culinary lesson. Together with the chef, you'll learn the traditional methods for preparing and cooking Vietnamese food resulting in four popular dishes, including phở, the national dish.
At the end of the experience, you'll sit down with your host and enjoy the fruits of your labor, and if you're up for it, go for a swim in the school's pool. You'll return to central Hoi An by way of a leisurely cruise along the Hoi An river.
Day 9: Free Day in Hoi An
Hoi An is renowned as a culinary center of Vietnam, and on this free day, you can sample its delights. Sip an egg coffee, or try banh mi, a baguette loaded with pate, veggies, egg, and herbs, or shrimp stuffed white rose dumplings. Better yet, join a street food tour and bike your way in and around the historic core—a great way to indulge in the food scene and soak up the city's charm. Alternatively, grab your towel and get yourself to one of Hoi An's beaches, like An Bang or Cua Dai beaches. And in the evening, take a stroll along the Riverside district for some of the prettiest buildings.
Day 10: Hoi An to Da Nang, Depart
Depending on your flight details, you may have time to complete a little gift and souvenir shopping or have one last banh mi before making your onward journey.
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