Vietnam: Beyond the Ordinary

Our Vietnam: Beyond the Ordinary holiday will take you off the well-trodden path and into Vietnam's remote, mountainous north, which most visitors never get to see. Spend time among local hill tribes whose way of life hasn’t changed for centuries, and discover a new angle on key northern highlights.

At a glance
  • Contrast ancient and modern in Hanoi
  • Explore like a local, on the back of a Vespa
  • Trek mountain rice terraces and undisturbed forest
  • Spend time with remote tribal communities
  • Browse the colourful markets of Ha Giang
  • Cycle tranquil hidden trails through the foothills
Itinerary
Price & Hotels

Hanoi - 2 nights

Hanoi’s ever-changing profile is infused with centuries of history which give depth to its surface charm. As the country’s modern capital, Hanoi has flourished into a vibrant hub of Vietnamese culture. Jump in the deep end with an evening tour of artisan bars and street food joints, sampling the region’s signature dishes, and delve into local life as you meander through the Old Town's maze of alleyways with your guide.

Day 1 - Arrive Hanoi

On arrival in Vietnam, you'll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your hotel.

Welcome to Selective Asia! This level of personal service (such as private transfers, private tours etc) is what you can expect throughout your trip. A few services (eg boat cruises) will be shared, but we'll always make sure you're aware of these.

Touch down in the heart of northern Vietnam, get chatting with your guide and start to orientate yourself with the landscape. The rest of your day will be at leisure.

Day 2 - Railway Tracks Walk & City Tour

Includes:

Enjoy a full day exploring Hanoi. During the morning your guide will lead you through the maze of alleyways and back streets of Hanoi where you’ll get a real sense of local life. After time to freshen up, your afternoon will be dedicated to visiting Hanoi’s classic sites.

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Mu Cang Chai - 2 nights

Mu Cang Chai is an area of Vietnam that’s relatively untouched by tourism, and foreign visitors are still a novelty. This is a very different Vietnam from the urban vivacity of Hanoi: life here, in the country’s agricultural landscape, moves through the shifting seasons at a more measured pace. Walk through beautiful, rice terraced valleys dotted with H’mong villages, where you can spend time with the ethnic minority communities who have made this rural region their home, and learn about a way of life that has gone on relatively unchanged - give or take a smartphone or two - for centuries.

Day 3 - Drive to Mu Cang Chai

Includes:

Head north west from Hanoi, past the villages of the Red River Delta, into the hazy mountains of Yen Bai province. The drive will take most of the day, taking you through captivating scenery which makes the journey pretty special. Stop to stretch your legs and enjoy lunch with a humdinger of a view. Upon arrival in the late afternoon, check in to Mu Cang Chai Eco Lodge, a sustainable and community-focused hotel perched high in the rice paddies.

Day 4 - Village & rice paddy walks

Includes:

Set out into the countryside on foot, walking through the rice terrace to several H’mong villages, getting a sense of the hard graft of daily life in the region, especially during rice harvest season. In the afternoon, trek from Lang Sang junction to the village of Ngoc Chien, home to the Thai minority tribe who are renowned for their beautifully woven garments. Meet with the villagers and learn more about their traditional way of life, with your guide as interpreter, and take a few photos of the stunning panoramic views. Take the opportunity to soak tired muscles in the village’s hot springs before returning to Mu Cang Chai Eco Lodge for a hearty post-trek dinner.

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Sapa Region - 3 nights

Nicknamed the ‘Tonkinese Alps’ by the French (this region Vietnam was known then as Tonkin), Sapa’s mountains are outstandingly beautiful. Within reach of both the Hoang Lien Son mountain range and Fan Si Pan - Vietnam's highest peak, at 10,312 ft – Sapa is popular with climbers and hill trekkers, and fully set up to cater to the intrepid. Five different hill tribes still live in the region, and some of the more remote villages remain largely untroubled by the trappings of modern life, compelling visitors to embrace being ‘off grid’ for a while.

Day 5 - Pung Luong walk, drive to Sapa

Includes:

Pung Luong, a short journey from the eco lodge, is the starting point for a last walk through Mu Cang Chai. After a 2.5 hour trek along rice terraces and through small H’mong villages, meeting the locals working on the land as you walk, your driver will collect you and take you on towards Sapa. Stretch your legs at Than Uyen Town, then continue along the ruggedly beautiful Hoang Lien Son Pass. At an altitude of 5,250 ft, this winding pass connecting the Lai Chau and Lao Cai provinces, via the Hoang Lien Son Mountains (which boasts Fan Si Pan among its peaks) offers some truly exceptional views. Though you’ll be absorbed in the moment, remember to take a few photos to relive the region’s beauty once you get home too. After check into your hotel, the rest of your day is at leisure.

Day 6 - Hoang Lien National Park trek & tribal village visits

Includes:

Trek along the well-made paths of Hoang Lien National Park, meeting members of the Black H’mong community who live within the park and have expert knowledge of its landscape and ecosystems. Learn about local tribal history and traditional customs before crossing the Muong Bo River into Thanh Phu village, home to the Tay tribe, and on to the remote village of My Son, home to the Xa Pho community - the smallest ethnic minority in Sapa. Meet the villagers and learn about the distinctive traditional clothing unique to each tribe. Spend the night at Nam Cang Riverside Lodge at the far eastern end of Sapa valley, as guests of a Red Dao family whose forebears have lived in the region for generations. The remainder of your day is at leisure to relax by the river or potter around the village, before enjoying dinner cooked over an open fire.

Day 7 - Nam Cang trek

Includes:

The Red Dao community are known for their skills in herbal medicine, weaving, embroidery, and bamboo paper-making, which you will see as you explore the village. Watch as local silversmiths create exquisite jewellery, and have a fishing lesson with the villagers as they catch their evening meal in the river. Drive on for about 30 minutes to Topas Ecolodge, which boasts speech-stopping views over Sapa valley and takes you further from the town. Your afternoon is at leisure, and you’re superbly placed for walking and mountain biking if you wish to explore your surroundings a bit more: one particular two-hour trail takes you to visit a hidden village deeper in the valley, passing through rice paddy terraces and walking along the rushing river. Alternatively, take a break to appreciate the panoramic views from the resort terrace.

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Ha Giang Region - 4 nights

Nestled close to the Chinese border, remote Ha Giang was, until recently, considered out of bounds to all but the most resourceful travellers. Tradition remains strong and tourism has made little impact, making it a perfect vignette of Vietnam's cultural and ethnic diversity. Further east, Ba Be National Park is one of Vietnam's most spectacular areas of natural beauty, and home to minority villages of Tay, Nung, Dao and Mong communities, as well as over 1200 species of flora and fauna, a huge freshwater lake, steep peaks and enticing caves.

Day 8 - Ethnic minority village visit, drive to Ha Giang

Includes:

Depart for Ha Giang, stopping en route at the Pa Then minority villages at Tan Trinh. In Pa Then culture, half of a couple’s children take the father’s family name and half the mother’s, and the community preserves their traditions through legends, folk songs, lullabies, and dance. Arriving at Ha Giang in the late afternoon, the remainder of your day is at leisure.

Day 9 - Quan Ba to Nam Dam village trek

Includes:

Today, you won't want to put your camera away as you can be sure of some spectacular scenery from start to finish. Drive to Quan Ba, making stops at Heaven’s Gate and Fairy Mountain. Once at Quan Ba begin a scenic trek to the Dao village of Nam Dam, where you will be spending the night. An afternoon stroll around the village offers an insight into day-to-day life and traditional culture that has barely changed over the generations.

Day 10 - Quyet Tien market & tribal village visits

Includes:

Bid farewell to your hosts and visit the colourful minority market at Quyet Tien. Pause to observe flax weaving at a White H’mong village, and the long, traditional costumes of the Zao Ao Dai. You'll also see the 100 year old Lo Lo house at Sung La, visit the ancient H'mong King Palace, before ending up in Dong Van town.

Day 11 - Dong Van & Meo Vac markets, return to Ha Giang

Includes:

The Sunday morning Dong Van market is one of the most colourful markets in Vietnam. Dressed in traditional clothing, local traders from tribal communities from all over the area come to the market to sell everything from livestock to embroidery. You'll have time to barter and enjoy the ambience before being driven up the winding pass to the peak of Ma Pi Leng. One of the most dramatic stretch of roads in Asia, the winding Ma Pi Leng Pass clings to the edge of the limestone mountains, offering spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding range, and the rivers and paddy-field terraces far below; the photo opportunities are endless. Pause to observe Meo Vac’s cattle market as you continue your journey to Ha Giang, where the remainder of your day will be at leisure.

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Hanoi - 2 nights

Hanoi, Vietnam’s first and current capital, ranks among the most photogenic cities in the world. Abundant greenery winds between grand buildings, spacious parks, museums, markets and shops, unifying the town’s many different elements. Elegant pagodas rise above the infamously chaotic traffic below, exemplifying two extremes of Hanoi’s character. Soak up the city’s hip atmosphere, cycle around the peaceful lake, and sip something cool in the shade of an ancient temple.

Day 12 - Drive to Hanoi

Includes:

After a leisurely breakfast depart for Hanoi, enjoying the changing mountain scenery en-route.

Day 13 - Evening Vespa Tour

Includes:

Enjoy a day at leisure until 6pm, when you’ll start an evening tour with a difference. Riding pillion on a Vespa, you’ll discover delicious Vietnamese street food specialities, and hang out where the locals do. Sip a cold beer at a vintage bike themed cafe, sample some of the city’s best Pho Cuon spring rolls on the shores of West Lake, drive along one of the most romantic and picturesque streets in the city, and fill up on Cha Ca, a signature dish of Hanoi. After eating, head to Ba Dinh square to watch the ceremonial changing of the guard at Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, before finishing the evening on a lighter note with a drink and some live music at a hip bar.

Day 14 - Depart Hanoi

Includes:

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 persons 3 - 4 5 - 6
1st Class £1,860US$2,436 £1,587US$2,079 £1,298US$1,701

La Siesta Classic Ma May

La Siesta Classic Ma May is a welcoming boutique property just a short stroll from Hoan Kiem Lake, within very easy reach of the many temptations of Old Quarter, and offers great facilities for a central Hanoi hotel...

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Mu Cang Chai Eco Lodge

Sustainable tourism is at the heart of the Eco Lodge, perched high in the rice paddies of the Mu Cang Chai province. The area is mostly inhabited by the Hmong people, who also work at the lodge, providing a welcome injection of sustainable income to this rural community... See more

BB Hotel Sapa

Situated on the edge of Sapa town, the BB Hotel (formerly U Sapa) is reliable and highly convenient for exploring the markets, villages and excellent trekking available in Sapa Valley... See more

Topas Riverside Lodge

A very remote, rural lodge situated by a rocky river deep in Hoang Lien mountain range, just over 22 miles from Sapa town. Owned and run by a Red H’mong couple, the lodge offers comfortable rooms... See more

Topas Eco Lodge

The Lodge is deep in the Sapa Valley, atop two cone-shaped hills - it doesn't get much more removed from the hustle and... See more

Royal Hotel Ha Giang

The Royal Hotel is a simple property offering spacious rooms in an excellent location in the centre of Ha Giang city... See more

Hoa Cuong Dong Van Hotel

Home to the UNESCO credited Dong Van Stone Plateau, in the mountainous Ha Giang region of northern Vietnam; the Hoa Cuong Hotel is conveniently located in the historic old town of Dong Van... See more
Superior £1,938US$2,539 £1,666US$2,182 £1,378US$1,805

Movenpick Hanoi

Previously known as the Gouman Hotel, the Movenpick Hanoi is not only the seriously new-and-improved version - it has undergone the most outstanding transformation... See more

Mu Cang Chai Eco Lodge

Sustainable tourism is at the heart of the Eco Lodge, perched high in the rice paddies of the Mu Cang Chai province. The area is mostly inhabited by the Hmong people, who also work at the lodge, providing a welcome injection of sustainable income to this rural community... See more

Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa

Originally built as a traditional mountain chalet, the Victoria Sapa Resort blends in perfectly with the natural surrounds… See more

Topas Riverside Lodge

A very remote, rural lodge situated by a rocky river deep in Hoang Lien mountain range, just over 22 miles from Sapa town. Owned and run by a Red H’mong couple, the lodge offers comfortable rooms... See more

Topas Eco Lodge

The Lodge is deep in the Sapa Valley, atop two cone-shaped hills - it doesn't get much more removed from the hustle and... See more

Royal Hotel Ha Giang

The Royal Hotel is a simple property offering spacious rooms in an excellent location in the centre of Ha Giang city... See more

Hoa Cuong Dong Van Hotel

Home to the UNESCO credited Dong Van Stone Plateau, in the mountainous Ha Giang region of northern Vietnam; the Hoa Cuong Hotel is conveniently located in the historic old town of Dong Van... See more
Deluxe £2,460US$3,223 £2,188US$2,866 £1,900US$2,489

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Opened in 1901 and once host to a roll-call of iconic 20th century guests, the Metropole Hanoi exudes historic charm like no other property in the city... See more

Mu Cang Chai Eco Lodge

Sustainable tourism is at the heart of the Eco Lodge, perched high in the rice paddies of the Mu Cang Chai province. The area is mostly inhabited by the Hmong people, who also work at the lodge, providing a welcome injection of sustainable income to this rural community... See more

Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa

Originally built as a traditional mountain chalet, the Victoria Sapa Resort blends in perfectly with the natural surrounds… See more

Topas Riverside Lodge

A very remote, rural lodge situated by a rocky river deep in Hoang Lien mountain range, just over 22 miles from Sapa town. Owned and run by a Red H’mong couple, the lodge offers comfortable rooms... See more

Topas Eco Lodge

The Lodge is deep in the Sapa Valley, atop two cone-shaped hills - it doesn't get much more removed from the hustle and... See more

Royal Hotel Ha Giang

The Royal Hotel is a simple property offering spacious rooms in an excellent location in the centre of Ha Giang city... See more

Hoa Cuong Dong Van Hotel

Home to the UNESCO credited Dong Van Stone Plateau, in the mountainous Ha Giang region of northern Vietnam; the Hoa Cuong Hotel is conveniently located in the historic old town of Dong Van... See more

Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions

  • After all that activity you’d be forgiven for wanting (or needing!) a few days on the beach before returning home, ensuring you return fully recharged! There are several great options in the south including the island of Phu Quoc and the up-and-coming resort of Long Hai, just a 2.5 hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City. Alternatively, it's easy to add on a domestic flight from Hanoi to Danang, in central Vietnam, where there's a variety of beach front hotels to choose from. Each option has more favourable seasons and your Selective Asia consultant will be happy to talk you through the options.
At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.

 

Whilst many clients are happy with one of our recommended itineraries in its current form (and at the price quoted), there are those who wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination, or even starting from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region, they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

The important stuff

Please note: During high season periods (such as Christmas and New Year) hotels often levy a surcharge and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.

Inclusive:

  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed
  • International flight reconfirmation.

Exclusive:

  • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
  • Entry visas
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in 'inclusive'

Please note

All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.

 

Extras

Flights

We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.

Visa

You may require a visa to enter Vietnam. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.

Passport

Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.

Insurance

You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

Booking Procedure

Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

Travelling Responsibly

We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Scott – Vietnam tailor-made specialist

'An itinerary for the more adventurous who are happy to compromise on comfort and luxury for a truly memorable experience'

ScottVietnam tailor-made specialist

Speak to Scott on 01273 670 001

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

Your own private guides & drivers

You'll typically have your own private guides & drivers throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.