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Hilltribes & Rice Terraces: Hanoi to Sapa

Starting in the capital, you'll see some of the city's most intriguing historic landmarks, including a trip to the charming Old Quarter. You'll experience the romance of overland travel with a sleeper train journey aboard the luxurious Victoria Express to Sapa. In Sapa, you'll trek through rice paddies to the region's most picturesque hill tribe villages. Enjoy fresh mountain air and the simplicity of rural life before returning via sleeper train to cosmopolitan Hanoi.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Browse the markets of the Old Quarter in Vietnam
  • Stay in luxurious French colonial-style properties
  • Enjoy an overnight trip on the elegant Victoria Express sleeper train
  • Visit ethnic Hmong and Dao tribes living in the picturesque mountains around Sapa 
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

The capital of Vietnam is an ancient city with more than 1,000 years of history. On your first day here, you'll get a feel for the city in the Old Quarter, with its narrow tree-lined streets and tightly packed shop-fronts. Next, relax by scenic Hoan Kiem Lake, with its 17th-century Turtle Tower on an island in the middle. In the evening, settle into your luxury Hanoi hotel – we recommend the Sofitel Legend Metropole, a turn of the century mansion located close to the Old Quarter.

Day 2

For some insight into local history, today you'll visit the striking Temple of Literature, an 11th-century temple of Confucius comprising five courtyards, various halls and pavilions and altars to Confucius. This fascinating place was Vietnam's first university. Next, it's over to Hoa Lo Prison Museum for a look at the place famously dubbed the "Hanoi Hilton" by US POWs. After a visit to the iconic One Pillar Pagoda, you'll hop aboard the elegant Victoria Express Train for an overnight trip to Sapa.

Day 3

This morning you arrive in the high-altitude town of Sapa, famous for its picturesque rural scenery and ethnic diversity. After settling into your  room at the Victoria Sapa Resort and Spa, you'll make the leisurely trek to Cat Cat Village, a Hmong township surrounded by lush green mountains and terraced rice paddies. Here, you can buy local handicrafts and glimpse day-to-day rural life in the highlands.

Day 4

Today you will trek to the village of Ta Phin, thirty minutes from Sapa. Ta Phin is inhabited by ethnic Kinh, Red Dao and Black Hmong, and here you can experience rich cultural exchange through home visits, guided village tours, mountain walks, observing field work and interacting with locals. Ta Phin has a wealth of traditional craftspeople and here you can pick up intricately embroidered clothing or locally-made silver jewelry.

Day 5

Another of Sapa's beautiful must-see sites is Heaven's Gate, Vietnam's highest stretch of road, located on the provincial border. From this vantage point you'll enjoy spectacular valley and mountain views. Tonight, board the Victoria Express sleeper train for the 10-hour journey back to Hanoi. On the way, enjoy a gourmet dinner accompanied by fine wines, then wake up back in the capital.

Day 6

This morning, the train arrives in Hanoi where you can stay to enjoy the sights of the capital for a little longer, or continue your onward journey. Hanoi offers all manner of cultural activities, shopping and fine dining included – or you might decide to follow up this northern itinerary with a trip to the stunning limestone karsts of Halong Bay.


Suggested Accommodations

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

This richly historic 364-room French colonial masterpiece built in 1901 is one of Vietnam's finest hotels, with luxuriously appointed rooms, attentive staff and gracious service. It is ideally located in central Hanoi and houses a beautiful interior garden. Excellent French cuisine is served at Le Beaulieu, and Hanoi specialties are offered at Spices Garden. The hotel has a well-equipped fitness center with cardio machines and weights, as well as a swimming pool and spa offering massage treatments. All of the guest rooms have broadband Internet access and are decorated in an opulent, neo-classical style.

Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa

Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa

The four-star Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa, the only luxury hotel in the region, was built in traditional chalet style with wooden décor. The Resort overhangs the village, blending in perfectly with its natural surroundings. Its 77 rooms and suites feature private terraces with views over the Sapa village, the resort’s lush gardens or Mount Fansipan, and the property comes with all the modern amenities one would expect from a four-star hotel. The resort's Ta Van restaurant combines French and Vietnamese cuisine around a cozy central fireplace, as well as traditional dance performances every Saturday. Guests can travel between Hanoi and the resort on the luxurious Victoria Express sleeping train.

Meet An Asia Expert
From Travelogues
Our co-founder Jay Tindall enjoys visiting the hilltribes of Sapa, the spectacular scenery of Halong Bay, and the laidback Mekong Delta.
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