Stray off the beaten track on this adventurous 14-day Vietnam tour. Touch down in Hanoi and head north to trek through Sapa's towering rice terraces and visit remote villages where you'll meet Vietnam's diverse ethnic communities. Continue with an overnight cruise of UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay and a trip to the lush Mekong Delta, where floating markets and peaceful river life awaits.

Highlights

  • Visit the locals on a Ba Vi countryside tour
  • Trek through Sapa's UNESCO-listed rice terraces
  • Meet northern Vietnam's diverse ethnic communities
  • Sail the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay
  • Visit the Mekong Delta's iconic floating markets

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi Hanoi
Day 2 Ba Vi Countryside Eco-Tour Hanoi
Day 3 Transfer to Sapa Sapa
Day 4 Sapa Trekking & Sightseeing Sapa
Day 5 Explore Sapa's Remote Villages Sapa
Day 6 Transfer to Bac Ha & Trekking Bac Ha
Day 7 Transfer to Hoang Su Phi & Trek to Nam Nghi Village Hoang Su Phi
Day 8 Full-Day Trek in Hoang Su Phi Hoang Su Phi
Day 9 Visit Local Markets, Transfer to Hanoi Hanoi
Day 10 Cruise & Kayak in Ha Long Bay Ha Long Bay
Day 11 Disembark Cruise, Fly to Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City
Day 12 Transfer to Can Tho & Discover the Mekong Delta Can Tho
Day 13 Cai Rang Floating Markert & Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City
Day 14 Depart Ho Chi Minh City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi

Free Day in Hanoi
Experience the bright lights of Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam's high-energy capital and cultural heart. A private driver will take you to your hotel in the center of the city, where you can settle in before heading out to explore. Spend the rest of the day exploring the labyrinthine streets of the Old Quarter by foot or on a traditional three-wheeled cyclo, passing a mix of temples, French colonial buildings, and Vietnamese tubular houses.

For lunch, head to Bun Cha Huong Lien to try the beloved Hanoian dish bun cha (noodle soup with grilled pork). This restaurant's interpretation of the dish is so famous that it's served guests like Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain. Sip cocktails on the Pan Pacific Hotel's rooftop bar and enjoy spectacular sunset views over Tay Ho (West Lake) to wrap up your evening in style.

Day 2: Ba Vi Countryside Eco-Tour

Explore the Vietnamese Countryside on a Ba Vi Eco Tour
Explore the countryside on a Ba Vi Eco-Tour

Head out of the city this morning for a guided tour of the beautiful Ba Vi countryside. Your first stop is Ri village, where you'll have welcome drinks and snacks with Mr. Duoc, a Vietnam War veteran and tea plantation owner. Listen to Mr. Duoc's stories about life during the war and visit his workshop and tea plantation, where you'll learn how to pick the best leaves.

Next, you'll take a short drive to Moc village, where Mrs. Chin will teach you how to cook Vietnamese dishes, which you'll enjoy for lunch in her tropical garden. Join Mrs. Chin for a walk around the village to visit local families and learn how to make tofu, conical hats, and other regional products. Finish with a gentle cycle through Vietnam's signature rice paddies, followed by a Muong herbal foot bath, before returning to Hanoi.

Day 3: Transfer to Sapa

Wander Sapa's alpine streets

The day starts with a six-hour drive north to the mountain retreat of Sapa. This former French colonial hill station is loved for its cool, alpine-scented air and surrounding rice terraces, which spiral toward the clouds. Wander the town's steep streets, visit Sapa's stone Catholic church, and shop for handicrafts sold by local Hmong women dressed in brightly-colored traditional clothes.

You can also tour the Sapa museum to learn about the history and culture of this remote region, which is nestled near the Chinese border. Take some time to settle in a café for a cup of Vietnamese coffee overlooking Sapa's valleys and terraces where farmers work. You can also ride the cable car to Vietnam's highest peak, Fansipan, for panoramic views of the area's UNESCO-listed landscape.

Day 4: Sapa Trekking & Sightseeing

Red Dzao people
Meet the Red Dao community during your trek

Today is devoted to a 4-mile (6 km) hike through the Sapa valley, visiting villages home to Vietnam's ethnic communities along the way. Watch the sun burn through the morning mist as you set off, revealing jagged mountain peaks in the distance. Follow a small track and cross the Muong Hoa River, surrounded by epic rice terraces, on your way to the Black Hmong village of Lao Chai.

Your journey continues to Ta Van Giay village and along the sparkling Muong Hoa River, where you'll cross a suspension bridge and discover fascinating rock engravings. Have lunch in a local home and then continue trekking through a bamboo forest to the Red Dao village of Giang Ta Chai. There's time to rest near a waterfall before your transfer back to Sapa for a relaxed evening.

Day 5: Explore Sapa's Remote Villages

Visit isolated villages surrounding Sapa

Spend the day visiting some of the isolated villages surrounding Sapa. Start with a drive to the O Quy Ho Mountain Pass in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, where you'll make several stops to admire sweeping views of Mount Fansipan and the Sin Chai Valley. From there, you'll pass forests and waterfalls as you make your way to Ban Khoang Commune, which is home to the Black Hmong and Red Dao people.

Take a guided village walk to learn about rural life and then drive to the Ta Giang Phinh Valley, where the Black Hmong people live in riverside hamlets. Enjoy lunch by the water and a two-hour walk through wild scenery. You'll spot locals plowing the fields, harvesting crops, and selling handicrafts in village markets. Your driver will take you back to Sapa mid-afternoon.

Plan your trip to Vietnam
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Transfer to Bac Ha & Trekking

Farmers near Bắc Hà
Pass through fertile farming valleys

Venture farther north this morning to Bac Ha, a popular base for trekking adventures. Check into your hotel and then get your blood pumping with an easy two-hour hike into the countryside. Follow the trail from Thai Giang Pho, which passes through a fertile valley peppered with vegetable gardens, cornfields, and rice terraces. After the hike, you'll return to Bac Ha.

If you happen to visit the village on a Sunday, you'll also experience the Bac Market, where various ethnic groups from northern Vietnam gather to buy and sell their goods. These include the Flower Hmong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay, and Nung minorities, who trade everything from hand-embroidered skirts to all manner of four-legged animals.

Day 7: Transfer to Hoang Su Phi & Trek to Nam Nghi Village

Stay in the remote Ha Giang region

Start the day with another journey north to Hoang Su Phi in the far-flung Ha Giang region, which native tribes have ruled for centuries. Here, rivers carve through deep canyons, and limestone and granite mountains dot the landscape. Check into Hoang Su Phi Lodge, which will be your base for trekking expeditions in this isolated area.

After settling in, head off on a guided hike to the village of Nam Nghi, where you'll meet the Red Dao community and learn about their daily life and traditions. From here, the trail leads through a thick forest to the top of the valley, which boasts never-ending views of rolling mountains and green-and-yellow rice terraces. Below, you can make out buffalo plowing the fields and farmers tending their crops.

Day 8: Full-Day Trek in Hoang Su Phi

Full-Day Trek in Hoang Su Phi
Spend the day trekking among Hoang Su Phi's rice terraces
Embark upon a full-day trek from Nam Hong to Khoa Thuong village, which is home to the Dao Ao Dai community. The walk takes you through rice terraces, forests, waterfalls, and tiny villages. You'll stop for a Vietnamese lunch at a local home before returning via a different route to Hoang Su Phi Lodge. The evening ends with dinner and a Red Dao music performance.

Day 9: Visit Local Markets, Transfer to Hanoi

Visit Local Markets
Visit local markets
Spend your final morning in Hoang Su Phi relaxing before you head south to Hanoi. If your visit falls on a Sunday, be sure to browse the Thong Nguyen Market. Ethnic groups from northern Vietnam's isolated regions gather to buy and sell meat, produce, clothes, and handicrafts. Afterward, relax on the seven-hour private transfer back to Hanoi.

Day 10: Cruise & Kayak in Ha Long Bay

Cruising & Kayaking in Ha Long Bay
Marvel at the views in Ha Long Bay

Today starts with a four-hour drive to Ha Long Bay Harbor, where you'll board a ship for your overnight cruise of this UNESCO-listed landmark. Sail across the paper-flat waters, taking in views of more than 2,000 limestone karsts steeped in Vietnamese legend. A delicious seafood lunch onboard awaits, followed by plenty of time to sit on the sundeck as you sail to the most remote corners of Ha Long Bay.

In the afternoon, you'll stop at a secret cove where you can go swimming and kayaking to explore hidden beaches and grottoes. The ship's expert chef will lead a cooking masterclass, teaching you how to make specialties such as nem (Vietnamese fried spring rolls) for dinner. You can spend the evening relaxing or join the locals for a spot of night fishing.

Day 11: Disembark Cruise, Fly to Ho Chi Minh City

Cruising Ha Long Bay
Cruise Ha Long Bay

Wake early for breakfast on the ship's deck, watching the sun rise over the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay, deemed one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. The morning is yours to simply absorb the view or join in with a tai chi class. You'll stop to visit a limestone cave full of stalagmites and stalactites before enjoying brunch on board while you sail back to the harbor.

Back on land, your driver will be waiting to take you to the airport, where you'll board a flight to Ho Chi Minh City. When you arrive in Vietnam's largest metropolis, you'll be transferred straight to your hotel to settle in.

Day 12: Transfer to Can Tho & Discover the Mekong Delta

Watch fishermen at work

Leave the city's bright lights behind today, transferring south to the lush Mekong Delta. Known as Vietnam's rice bowl, this region is full of water-logged paddies, mangroves, and sugar cane plantations. Board a boat from Ben Tre to cruise along the Ham Luong River, a tributary to the Mekong, watching locals drift past on traditional sampans.

Stop to visit workshops along the riverbank where Mekong residents produce goods such as coconut candy, activated charcoal, and coconut husk brooms. You'll also get to explore a village by Xe Loi, a motorized rickshaw used by locals, and kayak along winding canals to appreciate the Mekong's beauty up close.

Have lunch at a local restaurant before continuing your Mekong Delta tour. You'll cycle along serene village roads and have time to relax on the riverbank, watching villagers fish and cook. In the late afternoon, you'll transfer back to your hotel in Can Tho.

Day 13: Cai Rang Floating Market & Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City

Can Tho - Cai Rang - Ho Chi Minh City
Learn to barter at the Cai Rang Floating Market

This morning, take a leisurely boat trip on the Mekong's peaceful lower tributaries on the way to Cai Rang Floating Market, which is one of the largest and liveliest in the region. Make your way through the throng of tiny wooden boats piled high with flowers, coconuts, and colorful produce. Learn how to barter with barefoot traders and soak up the mayhem of market life.

Don't miss the opportunity to taste Vietnamese vermicelli soup, cooked and served straight from a floating vendor. Afterward, there's time to visit a village on the riverbank, where you'll cross a typical Mekong monkey bridge, built with just a single bamboo stem. The tour finishes with a visit to a local orchard and a riverside lunch. Afterward, your driver will be waiting to take you back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 14: Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Leave Ho Chi Minh City today

Today your Vietnam adventure comes to end. Spend a few hours shopping for souvenirs in Ho Chi Minh City's markets before your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map

Map of Vietnam Off-the-Beaten-Track Adventure – 14 Days
Map of Vietnam Off-the-Beaten-Track Adventure – 14 Days