7-Day Tour of Northern Vietnam

Private Groups

Magical Northern Highlands

Off The Beaten Track

Venture off the well-trodden tourist track and experience the otherworldly magic of the Northern Highlands. Meet locals from small ethnic groups unique to the area and learn about their history, traditions, and beautiful textile skills. Finish your adventure with a peaceful cruise in breathtaking Halong Bay, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.

Highlights

Explore Vietnam’s Capital City

See Centuries-Old Architecture

Get off the Tourist Trail and Experience the Highlands

Cruise Through Tranquil Halong Bay

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Tour Details
Price

4-star accommodation:

  • 1 person $1,528
  • 2-3 people $958 per person
  • 4-5 people $828 per person
  • 6-7 people $768 per person
  • 8-9 people $748 per person
  • 10+ people $718 per person

If you want to stay in 5-star accommodations please get in touch for further details.


Season

We operate all year round, except for Vietnamese New Year, which runs from February 11th-14th, 2021


Trip specifications

This tour only operates as a private tour meaning it is fully customisable. All group sizes and ages can be accommodated.


Pick-up & drop-off

Pickup and drop-off at Hanoi Airport.


Included
  • All Entrance Fees
  • All Transport
  • All Taxes
  • English-Speaking Guide
  • Bottled Water
  • All Breakfasts
  • 3 Lunches
  • 1 Brunch
  • 1 Evening Meal
  • Overnight Train Ticket From Hanoi to Lao Cai
  • 1 Overnight Boat Stay
  • 4 Hotel Nights.
Click here to find out more about hotel options.

The price you see includes 4-star accommodation along the way. We would be more than happy to plan the trip with 5-star options if you would prefer, please get in touch to discuss your requirements.

Remember: This tour is 100% customisable so if you have something else in mind just let us know.


Not included
  • Gratuities for Your Guides & Drivers
  • Travel Insurance
  • Additional Meals

What to bring
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Insect Repellent
  • Light Jacket
  • Raincoat or Poncho

What to wear

Please be sensitive to the local customs and ensure you dress respectfully

Click here for more information.

Loose, free-flowing clothing is preferred given we will be visiting local communities. Knees and shoulders should be covered at all times.

Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival to Hanoi & Food Walking Tour

woman with conical hat pushing full trolley

Today's Highlights

Hanoi Old Quarter

Kim Ngan Temple

Long Bien Bridge

The Old House

O Chuong Gate

Dong Xuan Market

Xin Chao: Welcome to Vietnam!

Today you will be met by your private Maika Tour Guide who will be ready and waiting for you at the airport with a welcome sign. We’ll help you with your bags and show you to your private, air-conditioned transport and whisk you off to your accommodation. Check-in time is 2 pm, though early check-ins can be accommodated.

We’ll leave you to rest and recover from your flight and then meet again later for a fantastic food walking tour of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, which dates back more than 2000 years. Throughout the tour, your guide will share interesting facts and stories about the rich and colourful history of this ancient port town and introduce you to a few hidden gems along the way.

Our first stop will be to a small coffee shop to sample and learn about a local speciality: egg coffee! Made with fresh egg yolks, condensed milk, and robusta coffee, it’s a delicious sweet treat and the perfect way to energise ourselves for our tour.
Back out on the street, we’ll walk alongside Hanoi’s bustling market where we can learn some local bargaining tips. This is also a great place for photos, with many locals buying and selling traditional items.

Next, we will visit one of the tour’s hidden gems: Kim Ngan Temple. Located just off the main street, be careful not to miss it! Despite being more than 700 years old, its decor has been beautifully maintained and the space still offers calming energy and a tranquil spot for reflection. After the temple, we’ll walk over to Ma May street; where one of the oldest traditional homes in Hanoi still stands. Entering the house is like travelling back in time – everything has been perfectly preserved including the furniture, decor, and old-style architecture.

Refreshment time! How does a cool pitcher of Hanoi’s most popular beer sound? Simply pull up a classic red stool and enjoy a crisp, cool glass of ‘Bia Hoi Hanoi’ and take in the street views. When we’ve had our fill, we’ll stroll over to see O Chuong Gate; the lone survivor of 21 gates built in 1749 that used to guard the ancient Thang Long Citadel, a great photo spot whose history your trusty guide can tell you all about.
Our next stop will be off the tourist trail, through hidden back streets and narrow passageways, leading us to Long Bien Bridge built by the French in 1902 in a similar style to that of the iconic Eiffel Tower. Enjoy the awesome views here as your tour guide shares with you the bridge’s interesting history.

Our final part of today’s tour takes us to Dong Xuan Market, a French colonial building which houses the biggest wholesales market in Hanoi. Feel free to simply walk around and snap awesome photos of locals doing their thing or take advantage and do some shopping. Everything and anything can be found here, from bags to fabric, shoes, food, exotic spices, clothes, jewellery, and ornaments… the list is endless!

Tired feet? No worries, we’re heading back to your accommodation in true Vietnamese cyclostyle. So sit back, relax, and take in the street views as we cruise back to your hotel in time for dinner.

Overnight stay in Hanoi.

Today You’ll Travel By: Private Car/Van • Cyclo • Walking.

Today’s Inclusions: 1 Night’s Accommodation With Breakfast • Private Transport • Bottled Water • Walking Tour • Tour Guide.

Day 2: Hanoi City Tour & Night Train to Lao Cai

large pagoda reflected on water

Today's Highlights

Ho Chi Minh Complex

B 52 Lake

Temple of Literature

Speciality Restaurant

Hoa Lo Prison

Museum of Ethnology

Explore Hanoi’s Culture

Like the rest of our private tours, this entire day is flexible to meet the needs of your group; your tour guide will be more than happy to customise it in any way to ensure your group gets exactly what they want out of the day!

After breakfast, we’ll pick you up and head to the magnificent Ho Chi Minh Complex; the final resting place of the Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh. We’ll visit the Mausoleum, the Presidential Residence, and the One Pillar Pagoda – one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples.

Our next stop will be Huu Tiep Lake where a B52 bomber was famously shot down and is still partially visible to this day. We’ll then continue our journey of discovery by visiting the Temple of Literature; one of the oldest (built in 1070) and most important monuments in Hanoi. It hosts the Imperial Academy, the first university of Vietnam, and is dedicated to Chinese philosopher Confucius who famously said, “wherever you go, go with all your heart” and so we shall, for lunch! No doubt we’ll have built up a good appetite after our busy morning, so we’ll head to a local restaurant specialising in Hanoi cuisine to rest and refuel.

Our afternoon will start off with a trip to Hoa Lo Prison Museum, originally built by the French for political prisoners and later used to hold American POWs, earning its famous “Hanoi Hilton” nickname. Here, we’ll get a glimpse into how grim prison life would have been, but thankfully we can walk out the door at the end of the tour!
As our day of culture draws to a close, we’ll finish things off with a visit to the Museum of Ethnology where delightful and informative exhibits illustrate Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities.

All aboard! Come evening, we’ll board the luxurious Victoria Express train to our next destination, Lao Cai. Stylishly inspired by Indochina and oriental elegance, this wonderful overnight train will ensure we have a restful 8-hour journey and arrive refreshed and ready for the day ahead.

Today You’ll Travel By: Private Car/Van • Walking • Luxury Overnight Train.

Today’s Inclusions: 1 Night’s Accommodation (on the train!) With Breakfast • Tour Guide • Bottled Water • City Tour • Entrance Fees • Lunch • Train Tickets.

Day 3: Arrival To Sapa, Trek to Cat Cat Village, & Cable Car Experience

3 figures walking along tiered field

Today's Highlights

Quiet Mountain Town of Sapa

Hill Tribes and Ethnic Groups

Hillside Cable Car

Local Crafts

Getting to Know Sapa

We’ll greet the dawn as we pull into Lao Cai train station refreshed and ready for our first day in this beautiful province. Your private transport will be ready and waiting for you at the station. Together with your guide, we’ll take you to your accommodation in Sapa town where you can securely store your bags until check-in, enjoy a hearty breakfast (on us), and prepare for the day.

We’ll start the day by exploring the quiet mountain town of Sapa and the surrounding area by taking a short but beautiful trek to Cat Cat village. Together we’ll walk through terraced rice fields laced with morning mist towards the village, nestled deep within the Muong Hoa Valley. This stunning area is home to several hill tribes and ethnic groups, who we’ll have plenty of chances to meet and learn about their unique, age-old customs. Keep an eye out for beautiful textiles and fabrics with bright colours and intricate patterns – the women here are famous for their weaving skills!

When we are ready to leave the village and head back to Sapa town, you’ll have the choice to either zoom downhill on a fun motorcycle ride or take things easy and stroll back through the rice fields to your accommodation where you can get checked in and enjoy a well-deserved rest.

Our afternoon outing will be to Sapa’s cable car station where we’ll enjoy a 20-minute ascent up Fansipan, the highest mountain in the Indochinese Peninsula. Watch from inside your cable car as we climb over treetops, glide through clouds, and ascend towards the heavens. The whole experience is other-worldly, and the views from the top are truly once-in-a-lifetime! When you come back down to earth, your guide will take you back to your accommodation where you can rest and then head out for dinner in the evening.

Overnight stay in Sapa.

Today You’ll Travel By: Private Car/Van • Walking • Motorbike (optional!).

Today’s Inclusions: 1 Night’s Accommodation With Breakfast • Tour Guides • Cable Car Admission.

Day 4: Trek to Ta Phin Valley & Ma Tra Village

3 women knitting colourful garments

Today's Highlights

Ma Tra Village

French Colonial Church

Ta Phin Village

Local People

Experience Sapa’s Local Charm

Your guide will meet you after breakfast and start off the day with a beautifully scenic trek through layered rice fields and misty hills towards Ma Tra Village, where stunning panoramic views of the valley await us.

After taking in the views of the valley, we’ll trek towards the ruins of an old French colonial church where we can explore and learn about this once grand structure. Here we can pick a shady spot and rest for a picnic lunch, enclosed by the old walls of the church and surrounding greenery, feel free to relax and maybe even drift off for a moment or two!

Suitably refreshed and ready for the afternoon, we’ll further ascend mountain roads towards Ta Phin village, located about 1500 meters above sea level, well and truly off the tourist trail! This village is home to the Black Hmong and Red Dao people. Thanks to their remote location they have maintained their rich culture and ancient ways, meaning a truly authentic and educational visit for a few lucky visitors like ourselves. Women here are famous for their incredible hand-sewing skills, especially with brocade fabrics which are highly sought after in Vietnam’s bigger cities. Look out for the distinctive bright colours and mesmerising patterns of handmade bags, scarves, coats, and purses!

Our private transport will meet us at the village to take our tired legs back to Sapa town where we can get showered and changed before heading back to Hanoi, arriving at about 9 pm.

Overnight stay in Hanoi.

Today You’ll Travel By: Private Car/Van • Trekking.

Today’s Inclusions: 1 Night’s Accommodation With Breakfast • Private Transport • Picnic Lunch • Tour Guide.

Day 5: Road Trip to Halong Bay & Overnight Cruise

deck on boat with reclining chairs

Today's Highlights

Halong Bay

Squid Fishing

Sung Sot Cave

Tien Ong Cave

Overnight Cruise

Picturesque Karst

Cruise Through Stunning Halong Bay

The wonderful and experienced team from Bhaya Classic Cruises will be taking excellent care of you today. Starting with a morning pick up, you’ll embark on a comfortable, scenic drive through the Red River Delta to Halong Bay which takes about 3.5 hours. Of course, we’ll make a refreshment stop along the way in a traditional little town called Sao Do.

We’ll arrive at the passenger port at about midday and, once aboard, have a safety and itinerary briefing. Then, with a welcome drink in hand, wave goodbye to the shore for the next 24 hours as we set sail for Halong Bay; a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature!

Lunch will be served on deck as we cruise towards the southwest of the bay, allowing you to gaze up in awe at the mysterious and ancient limestone islands jutting out from the emerald green water surrounding you. Our afternoon will include a visit to the fascinating Tien Ong Cave where we’ll descend into a mysterious underground world full of stalactites, caverns, grottos, and vast limestone formations – all delicately lit with safe walkways to make sure you get the best views while protecting this unique environment. As we make our way back up towards the daylight, what better activity than a dip and a swim in the emerald green waters of Halong Bay!

When you’re finished swimming, freshen up for the evening, and join us for Sunset Happy Hour at the bar where you can enjoy some drinks, mix and mingle with other guests, and even win some fun prizes in the ‘Masterchef Competition’!

As our boat anchors for the night, a delicious set menu dinner will be carefully chosen, prepared, and served to cater to all tastes. Relax and enjoy your meal as you unwind after a busy day of exploring and adventuring.

In the evening feel free to either retire to your cabin and catch some z’s or join us on deck to catch some squid! A fun night fishing activity.

Overnight stay in Halong Bay.

Today You’ll Travel By: Comfortable Shuttle Bus • Bhaya Classic Cruise Boat • Walking.

Today’s Inclusions: Overnight Stay on Cruise Boat • Lunch & Dinner • Entrance Fees.

Day 6: Halong Bay Cruise & Return To Hanoi

turquoise water with boats and mountains

Today's Highlights

Cua Van Floating Village

Dong Trieu Ceramics Village

Kayaking or Row Boat Excursion

Hanoi

Experience The Magic of Cua Van

Ease yourself into the day with a sunrise tai chi lesson that comes with complimentary tea and coffee; a fantastic way to rejuvenate body and mind while greeting golden dawn in the bay.

Afterwards, a light breakfast will be served while we weigh anchor and set sail for Cua Van Floating Village – proudly featured in the Huffington Post’s ‘11 Insanely Beautiful Small Towns Around the World’. From here we can either kayak or take a traditional rowing boat and head out to discover local life on the water.

You’ll probably have built up quite an appetite after all that rowing so we’ll also be serving a tasty brunch and a chance to rest before we check out and head back to dry land where we disembark at Tuan Chau International Passenger Port.

The final leg of today’s adventure takes us back to Hanoi in a comfortable shuttle bus. Don’t worry, we’ll make a refreshment stop at Dong Trieu Ceramics Village before dropping you off at your next accommodation!

Overnight stay in Hanoi.

Today You’ll Travel By: Comfortable Shuttle Bus • Bhaya Classic Cruise Boat.

Today’s Inclusions: Kayaking or Row Boat Excursion • Breakfast & Brunch • Transport Back to Hanoi • Hotel Drop-off.

Day 7: Departure Day From Hanoi

5 people smiling with raised thumbs

Departure Day

Tạm biệt! Goodbye! Sadly today is departure day. After checking out of your hotel, your trusty guide will be there to help you with your bags and make sure you arrive at the airport in good time. Whether you’re heading home or onto the next leg of your adventure, we’ll wish you the best of luck and have no doubt that you’ll be leaving with great memories thanks to your fantastic Maika Tour!

Today You’ll Travel By: Private Car/Van.

Trip Inclusions: Private Guide • Private Airport Transfers.

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