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Discover Rural North Vietnam

16 days from £3390 per person

Following the Annamite range which marks the border with neighbouring Laos, this journey not only offers spectacular scenery but also a unique extended opportunity to interact with the local indigenous groups that make up the vast majority of the population. Walk though remote villages, rice paddies and past the thatched-roof homes of the fascinating and colourful hill tribes, discovering Sapa, with its French colonial past, on the way. Highlights include the charming Moon Garden Homestay in Ky Son, the battlefields of Dien Bien Phu and the beautiful surrounds of Ninh Binh.

Route: Hanoi – Ky Son – Hanoi – Sapa – Lai Chau – Dien Bien Phu – Son La – Mai Chau – Ninh Binh – Hanoi

Itinerary Highlights

Located high in the Hoang Lien Son range of mountains, Sapa, in North Vietnam’s Lao Cai Province, is the region’s main market town and home to several different minority groups.

Set in an idyllic valley surrounded by bright green rice fields, Mai Chau is known for its unique bamboo stilt houses and ethnic Ban Lac people descended from Thai ancestors.

With the same limestone karsts that created Ha Long Bay’s landscape, this time erupting from lush paddy fields, Ninh Binh, in the Red River delta, has particularly attractive scenery.

Itinerary: Discover Rural North Vietnam

Today depart the UK on the Thai Airways flight to Bangkok. (N)
Arrive into Bangkok and connect onto a Thai Airways flight to Hanoi where you will be met and transferred to your hotel for a two night stay. A handsome city of tree-lined boulevards, temples, lakes, parks and a frenetic, vibrant old colonial centre, Hanoi’s charm lies in the preservation of a distinct North Vietnamese culture and way of life distinct to that of the south of the country. (B)
Accommodation in Hanoi: Silk Path Hotel
Upgrade option: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel
Today explore Hanoi with your guide starting at Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum before continuing to his house, in the compound of the former Presidential Palace, and nearby One Pillar Pagoda which was originally built during the 11th century AD. From here continue on foot to the wonderful Temple of Literature – the largest temple complex in the city. Nearly 1,000 years old, the temple was dedicated to Confucius and the cult of literacy and education. End the day exploring the narrow lanes and historic buildings of the atmospheric old quarter. (B)
Accommodation in Hanoi: Silk Path Hotel
Upgrade option: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel
After breakfast leave Hanoi and drive to the small village of Ky Son for an overnight stay at the charming Moon Garden Homestay. On arrival explore the village on foot then take part in a cookery class eating the results for lunch! In the afternoon take a guided cycling tour to discover the Ky Son, Tam Son, Van Minh and Cham farming communities as well as the ancient village of Duong Lam and Ngo Quyen tomb and temple – and unique and special opportunity to experience rural Vietnamese life. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Ky Son: Moon Garden Homestay
Today you are at leisure before returning by road to Hanoi where a day room will be available for use at a local hotel. In the early evening transfer to the railway station and board the Victoria Express Train for the overnight journey to Lao Cai. Offering elegant accommodation, the Victoria Express transports passengers in two luxurious sleeping carriages between the Vietnamese capital and the country’s far north-west. (B)
Accommodation: overnight on train
Arrive into Lao Cai and transfer to Sapa where you will stay overnight. Developed as a hill station by the French during the 1930s, who left their stamp on the architecture of the town, Sapa was historically home to numerous minority groups including the Hmong and Dao. Today visit the Muong Hoa valley which has the largest concentration of rice terraces in the area and the Black Hmong village of Lao Chai. (B/L)
Accommodation in Sapa: Topas Ecolodge
Alternative accommodation: Cha Pa Garden Boutique Hotel
Upgrade option: Victoria Sapa Resort and Spa
This morning spend time in Sapa exploring the town and visiting the church. Later leave for Lai Chau which occupies a stunning setting in a wide forested valley and where you will stay overnight. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Lai Chau: Muong Thanh Lai Chau
Leave Lai Chau and drive south towards Dien Bien Phu on the Lao border stopping on the way to visit the minority villages of Hoang Ho and Ta Phin which are home to White Hmong, Thai, Lu and Red Zao. Continue to Dien Bien Phu where you will stay for two nights. Site of the decisive battle in 1954, it was the defeat of the French forces here in Dien Bien Phu which heralded the end the French occupation of Vietnam. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Dien Bien Phu: Muong Thanh Dien Bien
Today explore Dien Bien Phu and the places associated with the battle which commenced in March 1954 and ended with a decisive Viet Minh victory two months later. Visit museum, memorial cemetery, and command bunker of General Christian de Castries ending on ‘A1 Hill’ which saw some of the fiercest fighting. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Dien Bien Phu: Muong Thanh Dien Bien
Passing Red and White Hmong villages on the way, follow the road out of Dien Bien Phu through spectacular scenery to cross the Pha Din Pass. Negotiating hairpins that hug the mountain-side, the descent is a breathtaking ride through an emerald landscape of bamboo forest and rice terraces to arrive at the colourful minority town of Thuan Chau. Resume your journey with an afternoon arrival in Son La which is home to Black Thai, Hmong, Muong and White Thai and where you will stay overnight. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Son La: Sao Xanh 3 Hotel
This morning leave Son La and continue on to Mai Chau for a two night stay. Sitting in the heart of the spectacular Mai Chau Valley, this is an area of towering limestone karst formations and lush rice paddies framed, in the distance, by the Annamite Mountains. Mai Chau and the surrounding villages are also home to numerous different ethnic groups and remains an excellent place to experience Vietnamese hill tribe culture. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Mai Chau: Mai Chau Lodge
Today explore Mai Chau and the surrounding environs. Guided day walks can be arranged as can a cycling tour that explores the rural side of the Mai Chau Valley. The area surrounding Mai Chau is also predominantly home to the White and Black Thai and visits can be made to a number of villages and small farming communities. Alternatively, simply relax in the hotel and relish its remote location. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Mai Chau: Mai Chau Lodge
After breakfast drive towards Ninh Binh. En-route stop to visit Cuc Phuong National Park – a forested reserve home to nearly two thousand species of flora and numerous rare mammals including the clouded leopard, langur and Asian black bear. From here continue to Ninh Binh where you will stay for two nights. Later, time permitting, visit nearby Hoa Lu and the Temple of Dinh Tien Hoang which was the capital of Vietnam between 968 and 1010 AD. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Ninh Binh: Emeralda Resort and Spa
In essence an 'inland' Ha Long Bay, the watery landscape and limestone scenery of Ninh Binh is considered one of the most picturesque in the country. The best way to experience Ninh Binh is by boat and today board a traditional sampan travelling the narrow waterways that snake through lush fields of rice, past imposing karst outcrops and small farming villages. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Ninh Binh: Emeralda Resort and Spa
This morning leave the hotel and drive north towards Hanoi stopping en-route to visit the beautiful Perfume Pagoda. One of a number of shrines built amongst a series of caves set on a hillside, this popular pilgrimage site is reached by a steep climb. Leaving the pagoda, continue on to Hanoi where you will stay overnight. (B/L)
Accommodation in Hanoi: Silk Path Hotel
Upgrade option: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel
Today transfer to Hanoi Airport for the onward flight to Bangkok. Here connect onto the Thai Airways flight non-stop to the UK. (B)
**KEY: N = No meals, B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

What To Do Next?

We design unique, tailor-made holiday itineraries to suit you, by combining your ideas with our knowledge and experience. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, or if you require some advice, please call us or complete the enquiry form online for a quotation.

What's included

  • International flights from the UK
  • Private car and driver
  • Sightseeing with local English speaking guides
  • Sightseeing with an accompanying English speaking guide
  • Hotel accommodation and taxes

What's not included

  • Cost of visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of a personal nature

Guide to Price

The above price is based on two people travelling together and sharing accommodation in low season. The price is only a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and date of travel. If you wish to travel with your family, friends or on your own we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements.

Experts in Tailor-Made Holidays

For over 30 years, Pettitts Travel have led the way in creating authentic, tailor-made holidays. Our knowledgeable team have first-hand knowledge of our destinations and no two itineraries we prepare are the same.

Please call us for more information or complete the online enquiry form to request a quotation.

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