Mai Chau is the heart of a beautiful valley that is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. The modern village is an unappealing sprawl, but as you emerge on the rice fields and rural living it is transformed into a real paradise. It’s a stunning area.
Son La has prospered on the back of its location as a natural transit point between Hanoi and Dien Bien Phu. It may not be one of Vietnam’s must-see destinations, but the surrounding scenery is impressive and there are enough diversions to occupy half a day. The area is populated predominantly by Montagnards, notably the Black Thai, Meo, Muong and White Thai.
Dien Bien Phu
A road journey from Dien Bien Phu to Sapa will take through some of the best scenery in Vietnam. Rough roads, very basic hotels and few amenities deter the tourists and leave the forests, waterfalls, terraces and the many minority villages in a pristine state waiting for the serious traveller.
The Queen of the Mountains, Sapa sits regally overlooking a beautiful valley, lofty mountains towering over the town on all sides. Welcome to the destination in northwest Vietnam, gateway to another world of mysterious minority cultures and luscious landscapes. The spectacular scenery that surrounds Sapa includes cascading rice terraces that spill down the mountains like a patchwork quilt. The mountains are often shrouded in mist that rolls back and forth along the peaks, offering tantalising glimpses of what lies in wait on a clear day. The valleys and villages around Sapa are home to a host of hill-tribe people
Bac Ha Market
Bac Ha has one of the most interesting ethnic markets in Vietnam and possibly everywhere in South East Asia: "Sunday is market day in Bac Ha, which is the occasion for the various local ethnies to gather in huge crowds to exchange the last news, gossip, shop, and eat a copious lunch. It was visibly a festive event. I was surrounded in a sea of color, and had the feeling to be on a movie set.
Thac Ba Lake
This artificial lake has an area of 23,400 ha and 1,331 islands and hills with diverse ecological environments. The water in the lake is blue and clear, and imprinted with the reflections of the surrounding ancient forest.
Northwest Vietnam - 11 days / 10 nights in brief
Day 1: Hanoi - Arrival
Day 2: Hanoi - Mai Chau
Day 3: Mai Chau - Son La
Day 4: Son La - Dien Bien Phu
Day 5: Dien Bien Phu - Lai Chau
Day 6: Lai Chau - Sapa
Day 7: Sapa - Lao Chai - Ta Van - Sapa
Day 8: Sapa - Can Cau Market - Bac Ha
Day 9: Bac Ha - Vu Linh
Day 10: Vu Linh - Hanoi
Day 11: Hanoi - Departure
Upon arrival, our private Vietnam Tour guide and driver will welcome your Vietnam Holiday, pick up and transfer to the hotel for check in. Hanoi, a city where the exotic chic of old Asia blends with the dynamic face of new Asia. Where the medieval and modern co-exist. A city with a blend of Parisian grace and Asian pace, an architectural museum piece evolving in harmony with its history, rather than bulldozing through like many of the region’s capitals. Hanoi is where imagination becomes reality. Free at leisure.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Mai Chau is the heart of a beautiful valley that is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. The modern village is an unappealing sprawl, but as you emerge on the rice fields and rural living it is transformed into a real paradise. It’s a stunning area, and most people here are ethnic White Thai who stay in hatched-roof stilted houses on split bamboo floors and will be wonderful experience for your Vietnam Holiday.
8h00 pick up at your hotel in Ha Noi we will be driving our own way through villages, valleys of Hoa Binh province. Lunch break in Hoa Binh town, Visit Hoa Binh Hydro power, the biggest one in Vietnam, then continue the road up hills to Kun pass that offering spectacular views over the valleys and mountains. Arrive in Lac village of the Thai people in Mai Chau. Check in a stilt house then take a short walk around. After dinner, join the traditional dance and music show of the White Thai people, taste Ruou Can - the special wine of the local made from rice and a kind of tree leaves.
Overnight in Thai’s house on stilts.
Drive to DBP. Visit very primitive village of the Black Thai village on the way that you can see the very basic conditions of life. Continue to biggest daily hilltribe market in Thuan Chau, see different ethnic groups, local fruits, food, but it will be much more beautiful experience when reaching amazing Pha Din Pass, time for photos. Continue our drive to Dien Bien.
Overnight in Hotel
Morning visit of the museum and sites of Dien Bien Phu. Drive to Lai Chau, Visit a village of the Black Dao People, if lucky, you will see an art of hair make-up of the old ladies on the way. Tonight, we stay in Muong Lay, a very lovely town by “Black River”.
Overnight Lan Anh Hotel.
Drive to Sa Pa, during your way, you will see many different ethnic villages of the Lao, Lu, Black Dao, Tien Dao, Day, Red H’mong before driving up to the highest pass in Vietnam - Hoang Lien Son. Stop over at “Heaven Gate” for a wonderful view down to amazing valley and Fanxipang - the highest mount in Vietnam (Roof of Vietnam). You also visit “Silver Waterfall” - the nicest one in the area before getting to your hotel in Sapa.
Overnight in Sapa.
Sapa is the Queen of the Mountains, overlooking a beautiful valley, lofty mountains towering over the town on all sides. Sapa Tour is gateway to another world of mysterious minority cultures and luscious landscapes and great choice for Vietnam Tours maker to arrange Vietnam Culture Tours, Vietnam Trekking Tours, Vietnam Homestay Tours... After breakfast, we will do one of the most beautiful Sapa Tours by driving to visit Lao Chai and Ta Van village of the Black H'mong and the Day people where you can enjoy fresh air, amazing scenery of the imposing mountain range, trek down world's most beautiful terraced rice fields, visit some local family on the way and learn unique culture and life of these ethnic groups. Back to Sapa by private car, free at leisure for the rest of the day.
Overnight in Sapa.
Start early in the morning at 6am, driving to Can Cau market, which passing Bac Ha Town. The road between Bac Ha and Can Cau is hilly but very beautiful. The products at the market are interesting, and many different groups of ethic minority people represent make the market an unforgettable experience. Back to Bac Ha for lunch. Check-in at a hotel in Bac Ha. After a rest, trekking about 5 km of mountain path to Ban Pho Village - home of Flower H'Mong people, get in touch and witness their traditional life style, habit and customs.
Overnight in Bac Ha
After breakfast, stay goodbye to the family and drive toward Hanoi. Check in upon your arrival.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Free time at leisure for you to wrap up your memorial Vietnam Holiday until our private guide will see you off at the airport with the sincere thanks for traveling with us. We hope that you have enjoyed your Vietnam Tours with us and look forward to organizing your coming Vietnam Tours. Indochinavalue says goodbye and see you again!!!
END OF SERVICE
• All transfers and transportation in private air-conditioned vehicle with driver
• Accommodation in twin/double sharing (triple room, extra bed, interconnecting room... are on request)
• Meals as indicated in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
• English speaking guide (French, Spanish, Russian, Italian Speaking tour guides are available and on request)
• Entrance fees to indicated sights and activities as stated
• Boat trips & train tickets (if mentioned)
• Bottled mineral water during touring days
• International FLIGHTS
• Other meals
• Personal expenses
• Expenses for any optional tours or activities during free time
Tour guides who work with us are well-paid, experienced with a university background, eager to exchange our cultures and lifestyles ... with travelers, and have a great passion for their country and understand the personal touch. In some parts such as Sapa, we may use local tour guides who come from the ethnic hilltribes like H'Mong or Red Dao as they know about their land much better than anyone else and this is also the way that Indochinavalue helps the local people a better life.
Tour guide is one of the most important factors to a successful holiday. Indochinavalue understands that a good tour guide needs not only good knowledge on history, culture, good English, French... but also needs to have general requirements and follow our guidelines as below:
1 - Licensed at least for 4 years with work experience.
2 - Guiding does require more than just hanging out in the sun. Guides must be friendly and good with people, organized enough to keep groups or people on schedule, quick on their feet and ready for the inevitable snafus that arises.
3 - Must be an honest broker of their services and able to take criticism.
4 - Should be qualified at some level in health, health care or first aid.
5 - Able to relate to people from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds.
6 - Clear speech and good hearing.
7 - Must not be a alcoholic or No-alcohol during working time or anytime when on tour.
8 - Tour guide is a nurse to take care of visitors, a boss to keep the right itinerary, a teacher to give information, an ambassador to introduce our country, an entertainer because Indochinavalue's clients want to be entertained in extend, a friend...
9 - Must be on time every time. Being late or delay is unacceptable.
10 - Check flight tickets, train tickets, meals, weather... to make sure things are in order and inform local office if any changes that might effect the tour.
11 - Solve problems with care when there is dissatisfy. Argument should be averted by courtesy.
Kind of vehicle (offered on tour) depends on the size of your group size or your requirements. To ensure your comfort, all cars feature air conditioning and enough room inside. Drivers are local, with years of experience, taking you to your destination quickly and safely.
1 - Our drivers are professional and reliable with at least 5 years of experience, driving safely.
2 - Our drivers are not allowed to hear cell-phone or smoke, chat, drink when driving.
3 - Our drivers must be friendly, helpful with good behavior and attitude.
4 - Our drivers are not allowed to take you to shops unless you ask for.
2 Stars from: US$35 -> US$40
The 2 star hotels are good for budget travelers and sometimes, we have no choice but stay in a guesthouse, mini hotel, 2 star hotel in the remote and mountainous areas. Basically, 2 star hotels will offer good size and clean guest rooms with AC, TV, hot water, shower and private bathrooms
3 Stars from: US$40 -> US$80
The 3 star hotels are good for many travelers because they offer basic needs for a comfortable stay, good size and clean guest rooms with Free access high speed Internet, Welcome baskets and drinking water, Telephone with international dialing, Electronic safe box in room, Hairdryer, Coffee and Tea, Wake-up service, AC, TV, hot water, shower and private bathrooms. On-site restaurants with breakfast included and lunch or dinner at your own pick up. A small fitness center, spa and swimming pool can be expected.
4 Stars from: US$80 -> US$130
Offering a wide range of comfortable boutique hotels are available with shopping, dining and entertainment facilities nearby. Featuring quality service, fully furnished rooms, restaurants, fitness center with spa (and swimming pool in most cases), the hotels are expected to offer an above-average accommodation experience.
5 Stars from: US$130 -> US$200 –> US$ 300
Offering an extensive range of facilities for an excellent experience. Multiple restaurants on site and a wide range of choice for buffet breakfast, good size of swimming pool, fitness center and concierge service round out the experience.
The restaurants we will take you for lunch or dinner are all designated tourist restaurants approved by local tourist administration bureau. They have very good sanitary conditions and the food is prepared fresh and clean.
Note: If you have any special dietary needs, just let your travel consultant know when booking.
Breakfast is included at all hotels and is buffet breakfast with Asian and Western food.
Lunches (if included) are usually set menu at handpicked local restaurant with comfortable dining environment where you can rest assure to taste the local flavor. All restaurants are carefully selected and highly recommended.
Dinners are only included if you stay overnight in a homestay with a local family, on cruise in Halong Bay, Mekong Delta or at some special occasions such as welcome dinner, farewell dinner or on requested. So dinners are at your own choice and arrangement, but our tour guides will always give you good suggestions based on your preferences.
If allergic to some food
We suggest you to list any food or ingredients that you are allergic to and let our travel consultant know. Then your travel consultant will mark them in the guide’s itinerary, so that our guides in different cities can make some preparations and arrangements in advance.
Do our guide and driver join the meal with us?
The tour guides and driver will be at the same restaurants with you, but they will only join the meal when you invite. Sometimes the drivers are shy to join as they usually eat fast and could not understand English talk around the table, so the guide will be with you more often.
Street food tour:
Street foods in Vietnam are very delicious and should you want to taste the specialities of each Vietnam holiday destination, we can arrange a street food tour for you. Please contact us at email@example.com for a detailed tour itinerary and quotation.
How to request a tour package?
To request for a free tour itinerary and quotation, you can just fill out the tour inquiry form at www.indochinavalue.com or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org then give us as much information as possible. One of our experienced travel consultants will get back to you shortly. All changes will be made (free of charge) until the your tour package meets your needs and personal interests.
How to book a tour package?
As soon as you agree on our proposal, please send us your full name, international flight information (if you have) and your special requirements. We will make reservations and arrange everything then confirm back to you when all done.
- Deposit is a "must". We request 30% of the tour cost. You can pay by wire transfer, credit cards, western union, onepay (online)
- Balance can be made before your arrival or on arrival in cash or by credit cards.
Changes are possible at the last minutes. However, if changes caused extra costs, you will have to pay for. (For examples, hotels, flights, cruises...)
In case of cancellation, we will not apply any charge if we are not charged by the third parties such as hotels, cruises, flights, trains...We will recalculate the costs and resend you the money as soon as possible.
Thanks you Tipping is not mandatory but it is expected in many circumstances for service. You can tip your driver/tour guide more or less or nothing. All depends on the services you receive.
- US$10 – US$ 15 per day for tour guide
- US$7 – US$ 10 per day for driver
- US$1 – US$ 3 per meal for waiter or waitress
- US$2 – US$ 5 for short boat trips/ cyclo/ tuktuk (1 – 2) hours
Note: Please check with your travel consultant before coming and your tour guide if you are to tip someone on tour.
What you get when booking a private tour with Indochinavalue?
1. Private guide, driver and vehicle are for your exclusive use; no matter you are individually, or in a family or friends group. The tour is run exclusively for you without strangers.
2. Every itinerary can be customized to meet your specific interests/ wishes, that is, you can choose your favored hotels, sightseeing spots, the tour length, means of transportation, budget, etc. All are free of charge.
3. Start the tour on any date you want.
4. Escort you from start to finish. All private transfers during the tour are offered, including airport/ train station transfer, hotel-attractions round trip transfer.
5. The sightseeing during the tour could be based on your own timetable and pace. Flexible to change at your short notice.
6. Considerate care and assistance, such as the old, the disabled or families with small kids and children.
7. You can save time and money when traveling with us or your wants meet you budget.
How do I get a visa?
Vietnam Visa On Arrival is available for help. It is legitimated and supported by the Vietnamese Immigration Department. We recommend that you choose visa upon arrival, as picking up visa at the Vietnam int'l airport/ border is quite simple, easy, no additional charges and no fail.
Please provide the following information for us to apply for your visa:
2) Passport number
3) Date of birth
5) Date of arrival
6) Date of issue
7) Date of expire
8) Please make sure that your passport is still valid for 6 months.
Can I use credit cards in Vietnam?
Major credit cards such as Master Card, Visa, Diner's Card, American Express and JCB can be used to purchase goods in large shopping malls and stores in the big and medium cities, to pay for hotel rooms and for meals in some of the fancier restaurants, and to buy plane tickets with them.
- You can use US dollar, Euro in all big cities or at major tourist sites, airports.
- If you are to travel to those small cities or even remote rural areas, only cash in Dong can be used.
Do I need to bring my medical record with me?
Yes, we suggest you take your medical record with you in case that you need it in the event ofan emergency, and please also take with you your doctor's name, address and phone number, emergency contact name and phone number, and your insurance company's name, address and phone number.
Note: You can buy medicines everywhere in Vietnam so do not need to bring medicines from home.
When I finish my tour in Vietnam, if I still have some local money, what can I do?
Upon leaving Vietnam, if you still have some local money, you can change them back to foreign currency with your passport and the exchange memos given by the banks or money exchange counters. So please keep those exchange memos well whenever you change money.
What should we bring along on our trip to Vietnam?
It is best to travel light in Vietnam. One medium sized bag and a day pack will provide more than enough room to carry everything you'll need, and enough space for the things you'll buy in Vietnam.
There are lots of consumer goods in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, so do not worry about running out of something. If you do forget something you can easily find it here. Before you leave home complete the following checklist:
- Lightweight and quick dry clothing is most appropriate for the summer months, and warmer clothing for the winter months. As well, sun hat, swim suit, ultra lightweight rain jacket.
- Travel Documents: Passport, Visa, Travel Insurance, Air Tickets (you should scan them and email them to yourself in case you loose them).
- Health requirements, medications, and travel insurance arranged.
- Flashlight, alarm clock, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, small personal first aid kit, personal toiletries.
- Money: US dollars or travelers cheques and/ or credit card(s).
- Raincoat or umbrella, good hiking shoes are needed for all Footprint trekking trips.
- Camera with charger, extra batteries, and memory cards.
Are there any restrictions on the type of luggage that we bring? Domestic airlines have their weight restrictions. On most domestic and low-cost airlines You may only have one suitcase or backpack, with a maximum weight of 20kg, and one piece of hand luggage, with a maximum weight of (5 – 7)kg. An extra charge for overweight is applied.
There is no actual limit on our trips, but we would suggest you travel light with one suitcase or backpack and one small daypack or small bag which you can access during the day and carry items like your camera, drinking water, toilet paper, hat, sunscreen, etc.
It is essential that you have a lock for each piece of luggage. Without one, railway and airline staff and some hotels may refuse to handle it.
What is the best type of clothing we should bring?
Here is a short checklist of best type of clothing you should bring:
- Shorts and comfortable pants;
- Shirts, t-shirts and maybe some long sleeves shirts (for regions with mosquitos like the Mekong delta);
- Swim suits (for the beaches and Halong Bay);
- Good sandles as well as good shoes if trekking.
Nevertheless, it will really depend on where you travel to, when you plan on travelling, and what you plan on doing. Please note that the weather can be very cold during the winter in the Northern Vietnam (Nov to Mar) and quite cool in the central highlands (Dalat). You will need to bring a good jacket along for this time of the year, the avarage temperature is about 15 oC, but can get as cold as 3 oC.
Tip: Do not worry if you do not pack enough clothes or forget something because you can buy in Vietnam.
Shopping in Vietnam
Shopping in Vietnam: Many tourists can’t help but throw themselves head-first into shopping while in Vietnam. Why? Probably the variety of quality goods and the tempting prices have a lot to do with it. Many low-budget travelers considered Vietnam a heavenly place because in many shopping situations they can bargain the prices down to as much as a third of the original cost.
The list of Vietnamese bargains is seemingly endless and features bespoke tailoring and the national dress, the 'ao dai' from high-quality silk and many other types of material and textiles while many shoppers cannot get enough of the local handicraft, art and jewelry.
How to bargain?
Bargain is not common in some countries, but in Vietnam it really is. In Vietnam, bargaining is always worthwhile. Yet, it is not always due to the fact that the local have a great deal of time and very little money. Bargaining is part of Vietnamese culture as through bargaining people communicate with others, create and build up their relationship, not to mention a form of entertainment.
Rule - 1: It's like the monster ride at the amusement park. If you're not having fun, get off.
Rule - 2: Don't bargain with the first person who approaches you (i.e., when looking for a taxi at the airport.) In general the further you go from the center of action, the cheaper the price.
Rule - 3: Don't be afraid to use walking away as a bargaining tool. You can always come back.
Rule - 4: Don't let pride get in the way of coming back (or Rule #3 is useless).
Rule - 5: If you really want something and the price isn't coming down, give in gracefully. (It's that pride thing again.)
Rule - 6: Don't always assume you're getting ripped off just because you're in a third-world country. Sometimes the price they're asking is the real one.
Rule - 7: Bargaining is a time/ money tradeoff. If you're in a hurry, be prepared to pay for it.
Rule - 8: Ask (Vietnamese) fellow shoppers the price of an item before you begin bargaining.
Rule - 9: Always carry small bills. Otherwise all that work is likely to be for nothing.
Rule - 10: Always bargain in native currency. Conventional wisdom says anyone who has dollars can afford to spend them.
Rule - 11: If possible, keep going back to the same person until you've gotten to know him/ her. Most third world countries have a name for this kind of relationship. The deal is that you offer your business on a regular basis and the seller responds by saving you their best tomatoes
Rule - 12: No matter what your parents told you, when you're bargaining it's perfectly okay to lie