Sapa Mountain Retreat
Visit the beautiful northern region of Sapa with its ethnic hill tribes and stunning terraced landscapes. The spectacular mountains tower above, often surrounded by mist, adding to the magic of Sapa. Even when the dramatic scenery is covered, it's still a stunning sight as the local hill tribes fill the town with colour.
On this journey take a comfortable overnight train, with all modern amenities, to Lao Cai, the gateway to the picturesque Sapa mountains. At Sapa, you can explore this town and its local markets, a place quite unlike anywhere else in Vietnam! Take a gentle trek past scenic rice terraces, meet colourful hill tribes, explore the markets and stay with a local family or at the lovely Topas Ecolodge.
The Topas Ecolodge is a small hotel situated on a beautiful hilltop deep in the mountains of Hoang Lien National Park. From your beautiful bungalow you can enjoy the magnificent view of the towering peaks and endless valleys dotted with ethnic minorities' villages. A perfect place for touring the surrounding area or just relax away from the hustle and bustle.
Day 1: Hanoi > Lao Cai By Night Train Transfer with a guide from your hotel in Hanoi to Hanoi railway station where you will board the train for a 10 hour overnight ride to Lao Cai province. Sapa is a frontier town in northwest Vietnam, 350km northwest of Hanoi, close to the border with China. The Hoang Lien Son mountain range dominates the landscape, which is actually the far eastern edge of the Himalayas. Sapa is famed for its terraced fields, diverse mix of hill tribes and magnificent landscape. With an annual average temperature of just over 15°C, Sapa is a remarkably cool place so it is advised to bring warm clothes as nights can be chilly in this part of Vietnam. The area is also home to a large number of ethnic hill tribes. Spend the night on board where you may purchase food and other essentials although it may be advised to bring your own.
Overnight on board train: Chapa Express Train - 4 berth cabin for 1 or 2 people
Day 2: Lao Cai > Sapa (B,L) On arrival in the border town of Lao Cai transfer to the former hill station of Sapa. Breakfast at local restaurant. In the terraced hills and mountains of this area, the monotony of the expansive green landscape is enlivened by the colors of its hill tribe population - flashes of shining silver jewellery from the necks and wrists of indigo-clad H'mong and the scarlet hues of the turbans worn by the Red Dao can be seen. It is here you will find hands stained with color from fabric dyes and shades of blue, red and green intricately embroidered and stitched into jackets, waistcoats, pants, skirts, caps, purses and leggings.
Take a morning walking tour of Sapa for a visit to the busy market where Red Dao, Black H'Mong, Tay and other ethnic minority people converge from the surrounding countryside to sell their silverware and handicrafts, and to buy provisions. Following take a light trek to discover Sapa's quaint hill tribe villages set against the stunning Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range and Indochina's highest peak, Mt. Fansipan, a picnic lunch will be had en-route. Rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure. Appropriate footwear must be worn on treks in Sapa. Note that if conditions are wet, programs may be diverted.
Note: Sapa is becoming more and more popular with tourists. Many local people have limited income, therefore selling souvenir items can often be seen as another way to earn money. Expect hilltribe vendors to follow you and to be persistent in persuading you to buy their handicrafts. If you're not interested, just say 'no' and ask your guide to walk you away.
3 1/2 star: Chau Long Sapa 2 Hotel - Run of House Room 4 star: U Sapa Hotel - Superior Room 5 star: Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa - Superior Room
Day 3: Sapa (B,L,D) Following breakfast journey outside of Sapa Town to a traditional hill tribe village / area where you will spend the night. This is a unique and charming experience and a great chance to interact with the local people of the region. Travel down into the Muong Hoa Vally to Su Pan where you will commence your walk downhill through breathtaking scenery. From here start to trek downhill along rice paddy terraces until the Tay village of Ban Ho. The Tay, who also include the Thai group are one of the largest ethnic groups in Vietnam and number 1.5 million. Take a short visit of the village before having lunch. Following cross a suspension bridge to the Red Dao Village of Nam Toong. Along the way pass 'la vie' waterfall. Swimming is possible depending on the weather and conditions. The Dao (pronounced Zao) are the 9th largest ethnic group in Vietnam with a population of just under 500,000. They belong to the Hmong Dao language group and are believed to have started migrating from China in the 13th century. After your visit to the village return to Ban Ho Village (The home stay accommodation consists of comfortable curtained off sleeping areas in one long room, all bedding and mosquito nets are provided) or drive up the valley to Topas Eco Lodge. Appropriate footwear must be worn on treks. Note that if conditions are wet, programmess may be diverted.
3 1/2 star: Homestay in Sapa (This is not considered 3 1/2 star and is a basic homestay with locals, but is for price differential only). 4 star: Topas Ecolodge Hotel - Deluxe Bungalow
Day 4: Sapa > Lao Cai > Hanoi By Night Train (B,D) Have breakfast before driving to visit a local market (Coc Ly on Tuesday/Lung Khau Nhin on Thursday / Can Cau on Saturday/Bac Ha on Sunday. Note: The market may be visited on your arrival day depending on the market day). Here you will see mostly Flower Hmong, however Phu La, Black Dao, Tay, Nung hill tribe groups also gather here. The market offers a variety of local products which could not be found in others areas such as pot-bellied pigs, cows and buffalo's. Then continue your way to Lao Cai railway station. Freshen up and have dinner at the local Thien Hai Hotel nearby (day use) before boarding our overnight sleeper train back to Hanoi.
Thien Hai Hotel/Deluxe (day use)
Overnight on board train: Chapa Express Train - 4 berth cabin for 1 or 2 people
Day 5: Arrive Hanoi Arrive in Hanoi in the early morning. Transfer to your hotel or departure flight.
• Tailor-made journey with local English speaking guides • 2 nights in a 4 berth cabin for 1 or 2 people, soft berth sleeper aboard Express train between Hanoi and Lao Cai and back to Hanoi • 2 nights in your selected category of accommodation • Transfers & transportation • Sightseeing & entrance fees • 3 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Pricing (per person) $NZD
Booking conditions • Surcharges apply during TET Vietnamese New Year 27 Jan - 1 Feb 2017
• Surcharges also apply for 24, 31 Dec 2016 and 1 - 5, 29 Jan; 1 - 2 Feb; 29 - 30 Apr; 1 - 3 May; 2 - 3 Sep 2017
• Surcharges apply In Hoi An 20 Dec 2016 - 10 Jan 2017; 2 - 7, 24 - 27 Mar 2017, 13, 30 Apr - 01 May 2017 as these are 'high demand' public holidays in Vietnam
• Compulsory Gala Dinner 24, 31 Dec 2016 TET, the Vietnamese New Year. Travelers who are visiting larger cities like Saigon or Hanoi during the holidays may encounter empty streets and deserted parks as Vietnamese people return to their home town to celebrate the New Year with their families. Most businesses are closed during this period.
• Surcharges apply during TET Vietnamese New Year 27 Jan - 1 Feb 2017 • Surcharges also apply for 24, 31 Dec 2016 and 1 - 5, 29 Jan; 1 - 2 Feb; 29 - 30 Apr; 1 - 3 May; 2 - 3 Sep 2017 • Surcharges apply In Hoi An 20 Dec 2016 - 10 Jan 2017; 2 - 7, 24 - 27 Mar 2017, 13, 30 Apr - 01 May 2017 as these are 'high demand' public holidays in Vietnam • Compulsory Gala Dinner 24, 31 Dec 2016
TET, the Vietnamese New Year. Travelers who are visiting larger cities like Saigon or Hanoi during the holidays may encounter empty streets and deserted parks as Vietnamese people return to their home town to celebrate the New Year with their families. Most businesses are closed during this period.
Not included Vietnam Visa