Expat Holidays Thailand

Northern Vietnam Highlights

This 9 day Northern Vietnam itinerary has been our most popular one for Vietnam. It offers a great mix of city and history experience in Hanoi, a visit to Halong Bay – a must-see sight in Vietnam, adventure of traveling on overnight trains and trekking through some of the most stunning scenery in Sapa Mountains.


Day 1 / Hanoi Arrival
Arrival and welcome at the Hanoi Airport. Transfer to hotel. The room is at your disposal at 2.00pm. In the afternoon, free at your leisure to explore Hanoi city.
Day 2 / Hanoi city tour (B)
Full-day tour of Vietnam’s capital city, including Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (closed on every Monday and Friday), his traditional stilt house, the One-Pillar Pagoda, and the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature also known as the First University of Vietnam. In the afternoon, visit the Ethnology Museum (closed on every Monday) where you can learn about the costumes, customers and daily life of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups. In the evening, enjoy a traditional water puppet show.
Day 3 / Hanoi - Halong Bay - Cruise (B,L,D)
n the morning leave Hanoi for Halong Bay, arriving around noon. Board a private traditional wooden junk. Enjoy fresh seafood lunch and the view of one of Southeast Asia’s premier tourist destinations. You will then arrive at a beautiful, secluded beach where your guides will teach padding techniques for your kayak adventure. Practice what you’ve learned for an hour before heading back to the junk for dinner and overnight on boat.
Day 4 / Halong Bay cruise (B, L, D)
Spend the whole day exploring further parts of Halong Bay by kayak. Meals and overnight on the junk.
Day 5 / Halong Bay - Hanoi - Night train to Lao Cai (B)
After breakfast, we continue kayaking for 2 hours to visit another beautiful isolated beach and a floating village. Then meet up with the junk again for cruising back to the harbour. Transfer directly to Hanoi Railway Station for the overnight train to Lao Cai. Meals on your own. Overnight on the train in an air-conditioned cabin with sleeper berth (4 persons per cabin).
day 6 / Lao Cai - Bac Ha Market - Sapa (B,L)
You will arrive at Lao Cai at around 6.00 am and enjoy breakfast in a local restaurant. Afterwards you will take the beautiful and winding mountain road to Bac Ha (3 hours driving). Here you will visit Bac Ha Market. This wonderful market is a great place for photos and shopping. You will have chance to meet different groups of ethnic people at the market. After visiting the market take a walk on small paths through the surrounding nearby villages and then drive to Sapa for overnight. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel. Remark: Bac Ha Market is held only on Sundays. Other markets are held in the region on some other days of the week: Can Cau Market is every Saturday morning and the Coc Ly Market every Tuesday. Your exact itinerary does depend on the day of the week you arrive.
day 7 / Sapa - Y Linh Ho - Lao Chai - Ta Van - Hau Thao (B,L)
Built in the early 1920s as a French hill station, Sapa village has rested peacefully in isolation since the end of World War II, and was opened up to foreign travelers just a few years ago. The French nicknamed the Sapa region the “Tonkinese Alps,” and its rugged and exotic beauty is still a draw. The district is peopled by eight different ethnic groups that originated in China and other countries surrounding Vietnam, and the majority of them are subsistence farmers, with rice being the most important crop. Enjoy a beautiful trekking tour though the villages of Hmong and Black Daos, and rice terraces. Transfer from your hotel to Y Linh Ho Village, where you will begin your trek via a small path to the village of Lao Chai. You will then start your descending walk into the valley, which is the largest paddy terrace in Sapa area. The guide can provide you interesting information about rice and rice growing. In a specific time of the year (Jul-Aug), you will be able to experience how the local do planting and harvesting, one of the most important activities in their daily life. The walk takes you from Lao Chai village of Black H’mong minority to Ta Van village of Giay minority, including a visit to one of the local schools. After visiting Ta Van, enjoy lunch at a local family before starting your afternoon activities. Being transferred by private vehicle to highly perched Hau Thao village of Black H’Mong where not many tourists could find it. After a leisure walking around the village, meet up with lovely children and hospitable locals. If lucky enough, you can witness locals practice singing in the communal house for thier church service. Return to Sapa town for a free evening. Dinner on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
day 8 / Sapa - Sin Chai - Lao Cai - Night train to Hanoi (B)
This morning you will leave Sapa town behind, take a short transfer to the small village of Sin Chai, inhabited by Black H’mong people. Sin Chai is located at the foot of Fansipa n Mountain in an area covered by rain forest and under the protection of Hoang Lien National Park. Upon arrival at the village, you start the walk around and experience the daily life of the villagers who still maintain their ancestor’s way of life. You continue the walk out of the village, following a dirt trail running through rice paddy and corn hill along a narrow river, enjoying the spectacular scenery surrounding. After a short walk you will reach a suspension bridge where you also can visit a local house of the few Black H’mong families living here. You will then return to the village centre, where you get on the vehicle and have a drive back to Sapa. In the afternoon, free to walk around Sapa town or go shopping at local market until driveback to Lao Cai Station for the night train to Hanoi. Meals on your own. Overnight on the train in an air-conditioned cabins with soft sleeper berth (4 persons per cabin).
day 9 / Arrive Hanoi - departure
Arrive back at Hanoi railway station at around 5.00 am. Pick up at the train station. If your flight departs Hanoi early -- transfer to airport. For later flights, we will arrange day use hotel with breakfast for you to freshen up until it's time for transfer to the airport. End of holiday.

Hotel options for this holiday

These are popular hotels that we have used for this holiday.  If you already have other hotels in mind, or would like more options, let us know.

Location Economy hotels/cruise/train Premium hotels/cruise/train Luxury hotels/cruise/train
Hanoi Quoc Hoa Hotel (Deluxe) Sunway Ha Noi (Superior) Sofitel Legend Hanoi (deluxe room)
Halong Bay Aphrodite Junk Indochina Sails Violet Junk
Train Fanxipan Express  (4 berth cabins) Fanxipan Express  (4 berth cabins) Victoria Express Luxury Train (4 berth cabins)
Sapa Bamboo Sapa *** (ROH) Bamboo Sapa *** (ROH) Victoria Sapa (superior room)

Holiday includes

  • Accommodation as mentioned in the program, or similar
  • All transfers mentioned in the program by private vehicles with A/X
  • Meals as mentioned in the program (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All sightseeing with local English speaking guides as mentioned in the program
  • Train tickets Hanoi - Lao Cai - Hanoi

Holiday does not include

  • Flights (can be quoted separately)
  • Any meals not mentioned in the program
  • Any personal expenses such as tips, laundry etc.
  • Travel insurance


About our holidays

Tailor – made

All of our suggested itineraries are based on holidays that have been very popular with our clients.  However we strongly believe that each holiday should be unique to the traveler.  Absolutely anything in our itineraries can be tailored to suit your requirements, travel style and budget.  Simply contact us and let us design your custom holiday!


We never mix groups during holidays.  All the holidays are arranged for your group only so you can travel at your own pace.


Prices can vary often due to things such as travel period, best accommodation rates during that period, number of persons traveling, etc.  Please send us your holiday requirements and an approximate budget (if you have one in mind) and we will get back to you with a detailed quotation right away.

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  • My husband and I have been living in SE Asia for 3.5 years and have used Lenny’s services on many occasions! From a night in Bangkok, to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, to arranging everything for a trip for my in-laws, he’s been able to manage it all quickly and efficiently! He is very thorough and provides clear details that ensure you have a magnificent experience. I tell everyone I know about Lenny and his services! I highly recommend getting in touch with him to plan your next SE Asia trip!

    Laurie Ranz, expats based in Bangladesh
  • Thank you Lenny and team for making our trip to Thailand so memorable! All the transfers and tours were exactly as described and we felt at ease the whole trip knowing your team were working away making sure we enjoyed it. Thanks for all the recommendations and especially the elephant tour, definite highlight! We’ve already passed your details to others because we know our friends and family will be in good hands when booking their trips through you. Thank you again for taking such good care of us!

    Reena Mandora from UK – Bangkok and North Thailand tour
  • Lenny, I just wanted to pass along some words of thanks. You have done a fantastic job assisting us with our retirement vacation that you tailored to our needs. 6 weeks in Asia was was ambitious but was made stress free through your help. Our hotels were gems, in great locations, with a staff that were more than helpful. Transfers to and from the airport were perfect. It was nice to see a smiling face there for us in each new location that we visited. I would highly recommend this service to anyone looking to book. Your communication to us was amazing (I couldn’t imagine how it could be any better). We always knew what was happening in the next few days. It was nice to have the safety net of being able to get in touch with the owner of Expat Holidays knowing that we would have a response to our inquiry in a short period of time. Our guides were knowledgeable and were easily able to communicate with us. Special thanks to our guide, Mr. Sophy, from Siem Reap. He went above and beyond. Finally, even though we made a few last minute changes, they always went off without a hitch from your end.
    We will be recommending Expat to our friends and family (our daughter is already talking about coming back to this part of the world) when we get home.

    Rob Kruse from Canada – Thailand & Indochina tour in 2016
  • We were a group of 8 touring from South Africa. We contacted Lenny and from day 1 everything he advised us on turned out perfectly. He accommodated our every need and structured our trip according to what we wanted. Lenny even made the effort to meet us at our hotel in Bangkok, for a meet and greet. It is always good meeting the person behind all the arrangements. Everything was well arranged and on time, from our day trips to our transfers to either hotel, airport or train station. The accommodation was also top class. I would highly recommend Lenny and Expat Holidays Thailand, to anyone considering traveling to this beautiful country and its very friendly people. We certainly will be back in the future and will make use of Lenny’s services again. Thank you Lenny, for a great experience.

    Ingrid Bailey from South Africa – Thailand family tour in 2016
  • This company is absolutely amazing. Our tour was organized perfectly from the first minute to the last. The itinerary, the varieties of sightseeing, the service deserve the top prize. Our guide Peter and our driver were very attentive. Peter is knowledgeable, with a sense of humor, and very cheerful. Our accommodation was excellent. I am dreaming now about going back to Thailand and explore more with Expat Holidays Thailand. They are the best!

    Elena Yzgur from USA – 2 day tour of Bangkok and Ayutthaya from a cruise ship