Night 1: Hanoi – Overnight train to Lao Cai
You will depart from Hanoi in the evening by night train to Lao Cai near the Chinese border. Overnight on the train.
Day 1: Full Day Hiking to Homestay (B, L, D)
Arrive early in the morning in Lao Cai where your guide and driver will collect you. Enjoy breakfast at a local restaurant and freshen up for 2 days adventure. Your experienced tour guide will introduce you to the program and you will have a chance to pack all items you want for upcoming trip. Your other luggage will be safely transferred to Topas Ecolodge.
Start your trip with a transfer of around one hour from Lao Cai to Ta Thang village. From Ta Thang village, start your walk on an undulating dirt path running uphill and continue on a trail with the Muong Bo River flowing in the contrary direction beneath you. The heights of this trail afford extensive views over the green valley and seemingly endless mountains. You pass through Nam Ket village, which is inhabited by the Red Dao minority people, and make a short visit to local houses or to a local school if it’s a school day when you visit. Probably the highlight of the day is the trek from Nam Ket village to Nam Phang which includes a walk through bamboo forest and a dense, almost jungle-like area of trees before you arrive at a local school for enjoying a picnic lunch.
After lunch, continue your trek among rice terraces along a hillside trail descending to a small stream where you may take a short rest. The last part of today’s trek needs extra effort as the trail from the stream rises steeply uphill for around an hour until it reaches Sin Chai village, the last destination of the day. Enjoy dinner and overnight in a house of the local Red Dao ethnic minority.
Grade: Moderate to hard
Duration: Approximately 1 hour driving, 7 hours walking and 1 hour lunch.
Day 2: Full day walk – Topas Ecolodge (B, L)
After a local breakfast in a peaceful village atmosphere, start the trek with an easy walk to another Red Dao village, Nam Nhiu Before descending to My Son village where you will lunch in a local house or on the riverbank. My Son village is inhabited by the Xa Pho ethnic minority – one of the smallest minority groups in Vietnam and who make up just 2% of the population of Sapa.
After lunch, trek on a small uphill trail to Nam Toong village which affords spectacular views of the large valley through which the Muong Bo River runs.
A soft descent in mid-afternoon brings you to Ban Ho village. Ban Ho is the area’s largest village, spread along the banks of Muong Bo River, where the Tay minority still live as their ancestors lived in traditional stilt houses. You will be collected at Ban Ho village and transported to Topas Ecolodge, where you will overnight.
Duration: Approximately 30 minutes driving, 6 hours hiking and 1 hour lunch.
Day 3: Topas Ecolodge – Sapa – Lao Cai (B)
Start the day with breakfast at the lodge. You may spend the day relaxing, join an excursion or explore Sapa town by taking the free scheduled shuttle bus which runs throughout the day. Depart Sapa town at 17h30, by shuttle bus to Lao Cai for the night train back to Hanoi. Overnight on the train.
Day 4: Hanoi - Halong Bay Kayaking (B, L, D)
Arrival at Hanoi Railway station in the early morning, drive to Halong Bay with breakfast and comfort stop en-route. Upon arrival, aboard Halong Phoenix Cruiser, fresh seafood lunch (vegetarian menu available) would be served while the boat is gliding out. Afternoon, a short tender ride from the middle of the bay to an island for the famous Sung Sot Cave. As the sun sets over the bay, you are free to swim from your boat or just relax on sundeck with your favorite drink. Dinner is served with typically local seafood and overnight on boat.
Day 5: Halong Bay Kayaking (B, L, D)
Rise up for a breathtaking on the sundeck, and prepare your camera ready for a stunning vista in the serene bay. After breakfast, a kayaking support boat will take you further to the Southern end of Halong bay to anchor in the tranquil beauty of Lan Ha, away from the overcrowded water area. Learn some basic paddling techniques, then make your own strokes and private beaches hopping.
Lunch (BBQ lunch on beach is at tidal permission) and swim at a private beach. More kayaking for more deserted lagoons and exploring quiet floating village. Then goes a perfect time to take in the views in the cool of the afternoon as the last rays of the sun cast reflections over this beautiful area. Return to the Phoenix Cruiser at the end of the afternoon.
Day 6: Halong Bay - Hanoi (B, L)
After breakfast, visit an island (Titop) and relax on its beach; optional walk up to the top for panoramic view of the Bay. Then learn the recipes and techniques that go into the most popular dish of the Vietnamese food. Lunch would be served when cruising back to the harbor where you will be picked up to Hanoi, arriving in the late afternoon. End of services.