Day 1: Hanoi Arrival/Hanoi local family dinner (D, GP)
Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met by your tour guide and driven to your hotel to check-in.
In the late afternoon, at 17.30 you’ll be transferred to the home of a local family where you’ll spend the evening. On arrival, your host will welcome you, and usually introduce a bit about the family and the history of the house, particularly the ancestral altar and the worship room. As the family finishes the food preparation and arranging the setting for dinner; you can join in the cooking process or simply observe as your host makes and serves dinner.
During dinner, your hosts will be happy to introduce the dishes on the menu, typically including traditional Vietnamese foods such as stir-fried vegetables, noodles & fresh vegetables, spring rolls, and soup with vegetables and pork or beef. After enjoying the meal, continue your conversation in the living room over traditional tea and sweets. Your hosts are usually happy to talk about Vietnamese culture and family traditions, and show you the family photo album, while you can also share your own story with them. At 21.00, bid your hosts farewell and transfer back to your hotel for overnight accommodation.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you enjoy visiting with your Hanoi host family. Make a point to be respectful; your hosts will very much appreciate your interest in understanding Vietnamese behavioural etiquette. Be social and curious; ask about your host’s work, lifestyle, health, and anything that peaks your interest about the house, furniture, family mementos, and, especially, Vietnamese cuisine. Try to learn some basic Vietnamese vocabulary, teach your host children some English or play a game with the family. Make the effort to communicate with your host, sharing about your life and your experiences in Vietnamese culture. Avoid touching personal belongings, complaining about the food, or discussions about sensitive topics such as politics or divorce. Do your best to try all the Vietnamese dishes your host has prepared. You’re welcome to bring a small gift to thank your host.
Day 2: Hanoi city tour by motorbike and afternoon street food/Overnight bus to Sapa (B, L, G)
You’ll have the whole day to explore Vietnam’s capital city on the back of a motorbike. Your guide will take you to the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century, and The Women’s Museum – small, but a fascinating narrative of the role of women in Vietnam, particularly during the war.
After lunch, you’ll call in at the serene Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest in Hanoi, on the banks of Hanoi’s Ho Tay (West) Lake. The centre of Hanoi, including Hoan Kiem Lake, the Ngoc Son temple and the bustling Old Quarter, is a magnet for visitors – it’s noisy and hectic, but definitely a ‘must-see’ attraction. The Old Quarter is a maze of shopping streets and restaurants with a hotchpotch of architecture – traditional tube houses, religious buildings, artisans’ workshops and cottages, colonial houses and modern concrete edifices.
Late afternoon also includes a ‘Street Life’ experience, also on the back of a motorbike or on foot. You’ll spend a couple of hours wandering around the back streets in and nearby the Old Quarter. A street food brunch is included – take your pick from traditional Hanoi Pho (beef noodle soup), Nom (green papaya salad with seasoned beef), Banh Goi (pillow-shaped rice pastry with minced pork and mushroom), Banh Cuon (hot rice paper with pork and fried onion) or Bun Cha (fresh noodle with grilled pork). If you’re hungry, try two or three varieties – they’re snacks rather than a meal.
You will have room for late check-out till 20.00 in the evening, when your guide and driver arrives to take you to the bus office to board the evening overnight sleeper bus to Sapa.
Day 3: Lao Cai/Ethnic market/Sapa (B, L, G)
You’ll arrive in the early morning, where you’ll be met and taken by car to visit a market frequented by ethnic minority peoples. After a picnic lunch, you’ll return to Lao Cai and continue your journey into the mountains to Sapa, a small town perched on the mountainside opposite Mt. Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest peak. You’ll arrive with time to relax and stroll around the town. You’ll spend the night in a Sapa hotel with good mountain views.
Although it’s quite a long drive, the landscape is attractive, and the ethnic markets are a fascinating experience. Unlike those in the tourist areas, the markets that we choose are for not only for buying and selling, but are also meeting places for ethnic minority people to meet and exchange news. There will be plenty of colour and authentic costumes, but very little to buy as souvenirs unless you want to barter for a water buffalo or a sack of fertiliser!
The trips to ethnic minority markets can be arranged on Monday (Ban Phiet or Phong Hai Market), Tuesday (Coc Ly or Ban Cam Market), Wednesday (Cao Son or Sin Cheng Market), Thursday (Lung Khau Nhin or Binh Lu Market), Friday (Chau or Phong Hai Market), Saturday (Can Cau, Pha Long or Tam Duong Market) or Sunday (Bac Ha, Muong Hum or Muong Khuong Market).
Day 4: Sapa/Sa Seng/Hau Thao/Sapa (B, L, G)
The trip today will begin with a 15 minute drive to the start of your one hour hike up a long dirt trail to the Sa Seng village. As soon as you arrive, you’ll be able to have a great view of the Ma Tra and Ta Phin village, home to the Black H’mong people. Another one hour ‘rolling hill’ before downwards hike towards Ta Van and Hau Thao village will enable you to have a panoramic view over the Fansipan Mountain. After plenty of photo opportunities, you’ll stop for a picnic lunch.
In the afternoon, you will continue your 2 hour walk through rice paddy fields and spectacular views over a valley in the Lao Chai village. When you meet the main road, your vehicle will be waiting to take you to Sapa for your overnight accommodation.
Approx: Grade 2 of 5/ 30 minute driving/1 hour for lunch/ 4 hour hiking.
Day 5: Sapa/Fansipan Mount/Hanoi (B, G)
After breakfast, you will have return Muong Hoa train, cable car and mountain train tickets to Fansipan mountain. The cable car in Sapa is the world’s longest and highest cable car, running up from sleepy Sapa Town in Lao Cai Province to the peak of 3,143-meter Fansipan Mountain, known as Indochina’s rooftop. Enjoy the view from the highest point of this incredible mountain. The lush green and subtropical vegetation makes this mountain really very beautiful. Take some pictures for unforgettable experience from the top. You will spend time on the mountain, visit the Temple of Heaven and return Sapa by cable car in time for lunch.
You will take the bus at 1.30PM back to Hanoi along the new highway. You should arrive in Hanoi at 7.30PM and will spend the night in Hanoi, or in time to go to the airport for the departure evening flight home.
Hanoi: La Siesta Premium Hotel ****
Sapa: Silk Path Sapa Resort ****
Our price includes:
- Pick-ups and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles specified in the itinerary above (Please note: pick-ups will be by a guide and driver or, where a guide is not necessary, a driver only. All unaccompanied drivers will be briefed in advance, and will carry a mobile phone to ensure smooth transfer arrangements). Travel in an appropriate private air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced safe driver.
- The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary (please note: guides will be on hand from pick-up until guests’ return to their hotel or reaching their destination). Free days or part days will not include the services of a guide unless requested and included in the final itinerary.
- Where necessary, entry fees for all visits as mentioned in the programme.
- Meals as specified in the itinerary
Our price does not include:
- Dinners, except as specified above.
- Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
- International flight tickets and all taxes concerned except mentioned above
- Camera fees (if any)
- VAT and other taxes (10%)
- Visa stamping fees for Vietnam
- Late checkout after 12:00pm or early check in before 14:00
- Other services not mentioned above
- Gratuities, Tips to Guides or Drivers. Unlike other travel agencies, we pay the guides and drivers a base salary. The tipping is not mandatory however the guides and drivers, as in many other countries, will usually expect a tip. Those customers wishing to tip often ask us what they should give. Our suggestion would be for your group size: US$ 3-5 /pax/day for Guide and US$ 1-2/pax/day for Driver. Of course, only tip if the service has truly satisfied you. It is not required to tip in restaurants, unless you wish to.
Hanoi Head Office: 5 Ly Nam De, Hang Ma ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City Branch Office: 5th floor, Halo Building, 3-5 Road 3-2, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Singapore Marketing Office: 547 Jurong West Street 42 #08-141, S640547
Hotline: +84 989345302 (phone/whatsapp/zalo)
Mail: [email protected]