Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.