Among the many must-see destinations in Vietnam, the northern region of Sapa and nearby Lao Cai have enjoyed popularity with visitors for years. But, this four-day adventure is a journey of discovery through the areas’ lesser traveled treasures. Take the long and winding road through picturesque rice paddies with craggy mountains soaring up in the background. Visit charming, remote villages and meet their inhabitants, many of whom belong to tiny ethnic minorities unique to the small areas. Experience local customs and warm hospitality as you explore, discover and share in traditional village life. Take part in the hustle and bustle of a northern market and enjoy the colors, smells and sights as traders from miles around come together. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the real charms of Vietnam’s beautiful north.This itinerary is an example. It’s designed to inspire you and provide you with thoughtfully curated ideas. You can choose to do this exact itinerary or completely personalize it. All trips are 100% bespoke.
• Hill Tribes: The ethnic groups of Vietnam's northern highlands are colorful, diverse, and thriving. Discover the unique cultures and customs of communities such as Black Hmong, Red Dao, and Xa Po, among others.
• Scenery: Mountain roads winding through stepped rice paddies and dense jungle covered in morning mist make for incredible photo opportunities.
• Handicraft Markets: Locals meet in hillside villages to trade and eat, and it's here you'll be able to pick up handmade souvenirs and sample regional delicacies.
Embark upon your adventure starting from the bustling city of Hanoi where you will be picked up from your hotel bright and early at 8.30am. The brand new highway to Lao Cai runs through gorgeous scenery from the flat delta plains to the green hills and the journey will include plenty of comfort and photo breaks. After just over four hours, stop for lunch in a local restaurant in pretty Lao Cai before continuing for just one more hour to charming Sapa in the mountains. Check in at your hotel and acclimatize to your new surroundings with a stroll around town.
Head southwest to Thanh Phu by the mountain road on a journey of just under three hours, which affords amazing views of the valleys of below. Take a stroll through Muong Bo valley to visit the village of My Son, home to the Xa Pho - a small ethnic group found only in certain areas of Lao Cai. Later, take the road onward to Nam Sai, a larger village set on a mountain stream; here you will have lunch in the home of a Tay family. A leisurely drive back to Sapa will see you back at the Victoria Hotel with the evening to yourself.
Alternatively, depending on the weather, begin your day with a relaxing drive through the mountains with plenty of stop-offs to take pictures of the unrivalled scenery, including the famous Heaven’s Gate. Before lunch, visit either the village home of the Red Hmong people, or Ban Khoang where the Red Dao live, and enjoy the colors and sights of local life. Later you’ll have the chance to meet either the Lu and Thai tribes or head to Ta Giang Phihn to see the Black Hmong. After your day of exploring, enjoy the two-hour return journey to Sapa.
Enjoy breakfast in your hotel before checking out and driving off into the countryside. Your destination will depend on the day of the week. Sunday is market day in Muong Hum and your driver will take the ninety-minute scenic drive through Ban Khoang Commune and the Ta Giang Phinh Valley, with panoramas of soaring peaks and fields of rice. Amidst the mountains lies the village, home to the most colorful market in the province, attended by the people of the Black Hmong, Red Hmong, Black Dao, Red Zao, Day and Ha Nhi ethnic groups, all in their beautiful traditional dress. After lunch in the marketplace, it’s a short drive to Nam Pung where you can take a leisurely walk and explore Ha Nhi village.
Alternatively, on a Tuesday, take the two-hour drive from Sapa to Coc Ly, a bustling weekly market on the banks of the Chay river. Here the ethnic groups from the surrounding area gather together to trade, with attendees from the Flowery Hmong, Black Dao, Day and Tay tribes. Enjoy a picnic of local dishes on the riverbank, followed by a boat ride to Trung Do. Here you can visit one or two home villages of the Tay and Hmong people.
After your busy day, take the winding road trip back to Lao Cai and check in to your luxury hotel; we recommend the comfortable and international Sapaly Hotel.
After a delicious breakfast, check out of your hotel, bid farewell to Lao Cai and begin the leisurely journey back to Hanoi. Enjoy the scenery along the highway and take the time to make photo stops along the way. Once back in the city, check in to your hotel or enjoy your onward adventures.
Sapa is a verdant, mountainous town located in northern Vietnam known for its rich ecological and cultural diversity stemming from its proximity to the Chinese border. With picturesque rice terraces and forested hills surrounding the town — and the Fansipan, the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia, located nearby — a stay in Sapa will leave visitors feeling like they’ve escaped to an old-world settlement that dates back to the colonial era of French Indochina. The Hotel de la Coupole Sapa, a luxury hotel that fuses design elements of elegant French colonial style with the colorful touches of native hill tribes, stands as the only five-star international hotel in Sapa. The Hotel de la Coupole features 249 accommodations, an on-site shopping mall, and a selection of bars and restaurants. Other amenities include air conditioning and heating (more sought-after than one might think in a mountain climate famed for occasional “four-season days”), numerous meeting and banquet rooms, and a Spa and Fitness Center complete with a sauna and massage parlor. And for those wishing to venture out and explore the surrounding mountains, waterways, and lush slopes, local guides are easily hired, and transportation is conveniently arranged either through the hotel or by local means.
Conveniently located in the centre of the provincial capital of Lao Cai, the Sapaly Hotel offers international standards of service combined with traditional Eastern charm. The hotel features 116 superior and deluxe rooms, plus junior suites and the Presidential Suite. These are the best rooms available in the area. There are multiple dining options, including a cafe, a formal Vietnamese restaurant and a VIP private dining room. The lobby bar offers a range of international wines. There is also a basic fitness centre.
Experience the best of Vietnam on this 10-day journey that takes you from north to south, tracing the country's stunning coastline to its must-see destinations. You’ll take a walking tour of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, cruise the UNESCO-listed limestone karsts of Halong Bay aboard a private junk, and see the famous Cu Chi tunnels in Saigon.
Delve into the taste sensations of fresh Vietnamese cuisine on this sensually-stimulating 14-day trip. You’ll learn cooking secrets from a top chef, dine on freshly-caught seafood in Mui Ne, sample local favorites from fresh markets, and dine at some of Saigon’s top restaurants, while staying in Vietnam’s best hotels.
French-Asian fusion is a rare cultural find but comes to life in charming Dalat. Be a coffee connoisseur as you sample what has been named the world’s best coffee. This 8-day luxurious Vietnam vacation takes you through both historical fortresses and stunning natural sites such as the Dray Nur Waterfalls and Dray Sap.
Lap up the best of Vietnam and Cambodia on this 15-day luxury tour, taking you from Hanoi to Siem Reap. You’ll be mesmerized by Halong Bay’s limestone karsts, exchange cultural insights in the Black Tai villages, and step into the ancient Khmer Kingdom at Angkor Wat, while staying in some of the region’s best hotels.
Travel into the lush Vietnamese countryside and discover hilltribes with fascinating customs and traditions on this 6-day luxury trip. You’ll travel from Hanoi, where you’ll tour the city’s age-old landmarks, to high in the Sapa hills, where you’ll make friends with locals and learn about their unique way of life.
On this 12-day luxury private jet adventure, stroll the streets of emperors in Vietnam, visit old-word temples scattered across Southeast Asia, and try your hand at bargaining with the locals at different fresh markets. This trip hits all of Southeast Asia’s must-see destinations, traveling from Thailand to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. See isolated cities and towns not frequented by the average traveler, made accessible by a private jet.
Make your way from Vietnam’s Saigon to Cambodia’s Phnom Penh on this fascinating 5-day luxury voyage that takes you to historical sites, bustling markets, on languid cruises, and to your final destination by speedboat, while you bed down in some of the area’s most luxurious hotels by night.
Watch as two very different lifestyles are juxtaposed before your eyes, from the bustling city life of Saigon to the relaxed, serene lifestyle of the Mekong Delta on this 6-day luxury trip. You’ll check out Saigon’s must-see spots, then it’s onto a river cruise into the heart of the Delta, with a trip to Can Tho.
Not many are aware of Vietnam’s beautiful beaches and countryside. Come in on the secret as you make your way from Phu Quoc island, to Can Tho in the Mekong Delta, taking a scenic boat ride in Ben Tre, and making your way on a scenic bicycle ride back to Saigon, while staying at some of Vietnam’s best hotels.
Explore Vietnam’s northernmost province and experience the true local culture. Home to endless rocky plateaus and romantically-named mountains dotted with tiny villages, Ha Giang is a less-traveled land of beauty and adventure.
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.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
An Asia-focused magazine brought to you by Remote Lands – a platform for adventure, luxury, and authenticity from experts and explorers around the continent.
Travelogues speaks with the Nam Hai’s general manager Blaise Claude Montandon on the future of travel in Vietnam.
As Vietnam looks to resume international flights in the near future, Remote Lands features a few favorite journeys to get you started.
The history of Vietnam is complex, rich and at times very troubling. A country often divided and fighting for its independence, the Vietnam of today is making a name for itself as an “it” tourism destination, with its delicious food, gorgeous beaches, fascinating cities and welcoming people.
Here is a small selection of the kind words our guests have said about us, as well as features by journalists and travel writers.