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Northwest Loop Tour from Hanoi - 9 days / 8 nights

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Tour: Northwest Tours
Duration: 9 Days
Descriptions: Hanoi - Mai Chau - Son La - Dien Bien Phu - Sapa - Bac Ha - Hanoi

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Day 1
Hanoi – Mai Chau (L, D) (G)
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Day 2
Mai Chau – Son La (B, L, D) (G)
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Day 3
Son La – Dien Bien Phu (B, L, D) (G)
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Day 4
Dien Bien Phu – Tam Duong (B, L, D) (G)
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Day 5
Tam Duong trekking (B, L, D) (G)
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Day 6
Tam Duong – Sapa – Ta Van (B, L, D) (G)
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Day 7
Ta Van – Bac Ha (B, L, D) (G)
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Day 8
Bac Ha – Lao Cai – Hanoi (B, L, D) (G)
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Day 9
Hanoi arrival (G)
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TOUR ITINERARY

Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau (L, D) (G)
Pick you at hotel in Hanoi at 08:00 am to Mai Chau (Hoa Binh province)- home to many hill tribes including the Dzao, Muong and Thai. It takes about 4 hours driving so you arrive in Mai Chau around noon, check in the house on stilts belong to Mr Cuong in Van village, a village of the ‘White Thai’, who predominantly inhabit in this area. Lunch in local house. In the afternoon, take a short walk through  the village of White Thai where you will be welcomed by the friendly local people, communicate and discover their lifestyles, learning how to weave silk by an old loom. The rest of the time will be fullfilled by a list of activities such as : participating in the agricultural work with land preparation, planting, harvesting (depending on season) and cycling to the Nhot, Lac and Pom Koong villages where you can see beautiful scenery of rice fields backed by verdant mountains. On the way, drop by local home to meet with hilltribal people and discover their housing architecture, customs and traditions.
After dinner, enjoy a traditional dancing show at night and taste Ruou Can (Can wine), the local rice wine. Overnight in the house on stilts.

Day 2: Mai Chau – Son La (B, L, D) (G)
After breakfast prepared by the host, we drive toward Son La- the fifth largest province in the country (190km), is located to the northwestern region of Vietnam. Make a stop for a short hike to Pa Co village (30km form Mai Chau) where you can meet the Black H’mong ethnic group. Countinue driving passing the large tea plantation in Moc Chau. We reach Na Khan village – 80 km from Son La after crossing a bamboo bridge connect two 2 banks of a river. This is home to Black Thai ethnic group. Until now, in this village their house still kept its origin with the thatched roof is shaped like a tortoise carapace with decorations called “khau cut” at each of the ridge. Arrive at Son La in the late afternoon. Overnight at the hotel in Son La

Day 3: Son La – Dien Bien Phu  (B, L, D) (G)
Today we travel to Dien Bien Phu (185km), crossing over the Pha Din Pass, known as the highest and longest pass in Viet Nam with an altitude of 1,500m. At the middle of the pass, stop to  visit a multi-ethnic primary school and a village of White H’mong hill tribe where children in colorful traditional clothing welcome us with warm smiles. We then drive to Dien Bien Phu, the site of decisive battle in Viet Nam’s struggle for independence from the French in 1954. On arrival we visit famous sites of Indochina War, the Ellianne Hill and the War museum which detail the events that took place. The relics from the battle including old French tanks and artillery pieces are displayed. Especially, the reconstruction of the bunker where the French commander, Colonel de Castries, surrendered to Viet Minh forces. We spend the night in Dien Bien Phu, which has developed into a fast-growing frontier town. Overnight at the hotel in Dien Bien Phu.

Day 4: Dien Bien Phu – Tam Duong (B, L, D) (G)
Today we drive 6 to 7 hours (210km) but the scenery of the Lai Chau valley is both breathtaking and dramatic. This valley will be disappeared soon due to a large hydroelectric dam. The road is sometimes steep and often rugged, hugging rice-terraced mountainsides and fording turbulent rivers. In addition to the visual spectacle, you'll have a chance to meet the some of the most beautiful and friendly hill tribe people in North Vietnam, such as the H'Mong, Black Thai, Black Dzao and Pazi. On the way stop at Chan Nua village-a village of Thai. Overnight at the hotel in Tam Duong.

Day 5: Tam Duong trekking (B, L, D) (G)
Tam Duong is a frontier town situated in a beautiful valley between limestone rocks. This place is the home of many hill tribes such as the H'Mong, Man Tien, Lu and Cu Chu people. Authentic in lifestyle and colorful in costumes, most of the tribes were emigrated from South China during the 17th - 18th century. A full day of trekking through their villages, hidden behind mountains and hills, enables us to learn how self-sufficient life is. Overnight at hotel in Tam Duong.

Day 6: Tam Duong – Sapa – Ta Van (B, L, D) (G)
Today, we will visit the most fascinating activities of hill tribe people in Tam Duong market (only held every Sunday). The next destination is Sapa (90km), en route to Lao Cai, we make a little excursion to Ban Hon- a village of Lu ethnic group. There, you can see women with lacquered teeth wear clothing with metal jewelry. Arrive in Sapa, formely known as the the hilltop retreat during French colonial time. Check in the hotel. Free time to explore the little town with its market, colonial houses …etc. Descent into the Muong Hoa valley to visit Lao Chai village home to Black H’Mong and Ta van village home to Dzay people. You can capture the beautiful scenery of terraced rice fields, stream weaving its way through the boulders, hills and mountains…Overnight at homestay in Ta Van village.

Day 7: Ta Van – Bac Ha (B, L, D) (G)
Start hiking toward Giang Ta Chai and Taphin dominated by the Red Dao. During the hike you will have the opportunity to get to know the indigenous people with their unique customs and beliefs. After lunch, we head to Bac Ha via Lao Cai (70km) where we can see the "Bridge of Beauty" - the border between Vietnam and China at the confluence of the Red River and the Nam River Khe. Arrive Bac Ha in the late afternoon. Overnight at the hotel in Bac Ha.

Day 8: Bac Ha – Lao Cai – Hanoi (B, L, D) (G)
In the morning, we visit Bac Ha Sunday Market - a trading centre and meeting place for couples, friends, and relatives every Sunday and also the biggest fair near the mountainous highlands and the Chinese border. It is a typical weekly activity for the H’Mong and other minority groups living in the locality. Local products for sale or barter are carried on horseback. At the fair, adventurous gastronomes can try “Thang Co blood porridge”, a popular dish of the H’Mong and other local people.
Afterwards, we start a zigzag road along the mountain to visit Ban Pho village. Ban Pho is home to Flower Hmong people. It is a beautiful village on the mountain side. Leave Bac Ha town behind, we transfer to Lao Cai station for the night train back to Hanoi. Overnight on board.

Day 9: Hanoi arrival (G)
Upon your arrival at the train station, our tour guide and car pick you up for the morning sunrise tour to witness the flag saluting ceremony in front of the President Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square then continue to Hoan Kiem lake to experience Hanoi through the local’s eye, let join tai chi exercises and try Pho noodles from a street-side stall. After that we drop you off at your hotel or continue the tour to the next Vietnam holiday destination.

Note: If you book Halong tour with us, we will depart for Halong bay this morning at 08:00 AM.

END OF SERVICE

Inclusion:
•    All transfers and transportation in private air-conditioned vehicle with driver
•    Accommodation as indicated
•    English speaking guide (Other luaguages on request)
•    Train tickets: Lao Cai - Hanoi
•    Entrance fees to indicated sights and activities as indicated
•    Meals as indicated in the itinerary
•    Bottled mineral water during touring days

Exclusion:
•    Drinks
•    Other meals
•    Insurance
•    Personal expenses
•    Expenses for any optional tours or activities during free time

If you do not know how to plan your Vietnam tour and Indochina holiday, please read our FAQ's below to get some information or send us an email at info@holidaytoindochina.com and one of our experienced travel consultants will be ready and happy to answer your questions as well as organise your amazing holiday in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and combination.

How to plan my Vietnam tour/Indochina holiday with you?
1. Send us an inquiry by submiting one of our online forms (Click). Tell us as much information as possible. For example;

  • Please tell us how many people will be traveling with you, date of birth, if you have children, please tell us how old is/are the kid(s).
  • Please tell us your preferred hotels, level of hotel (3, 4 or 5 stars), type of hotel, type of room...
  • Please tell us your type of travel, length of travel and activities that you are interested in. For example; Family with kids, Couple's vacation, Honeymoon, Friends, Shopping, Sightseeing, Leisure and Relaxing, Cuisine & Cooking, Kayaking, Caves & Grottoes, Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Minority, Adventure & Discovery...
  • Please tell us where and what you want to visit, if you do not know much about Vietnam, just give us your travel plan and ideas.
  • Most of our tour guide are English speaking tour guides, but if you want another language like French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese... we can always arrange. Please tell us what you do you expect from your guides, for example; you want a guide with sense of humor? Good knowledge in history & culture? Male/Female guide? Talkative/Untalkative? Young/Old guide?
  • Please advise if you want breakfast included only or also Lunch and Dinner, and please let us know if you are a Vegetarian, the food you can eat or cant not, if you want local food in local restautants or western food in tourist restantant...?
  • Actually, you do not have to send us all information, but the more we know, the better we plan your Vietnam tour.

2. After we receive your enquiry, one of our professional Vietnam travel consultants will reply and send you the suggested tour itinerary with price as soon as possible.

3. If you accept the suggested tour itinerary (you may modify it till you are satisfied with), we will calculate the tour cost and send you the tour price. If you accept it, please confirm that you would like to book it.

How to proceed to book Vietnam tour/Indochina holiday with you?

  • When you decide to book your Vietnam tour/Indochina holiday with us, please send us your full name (name on passport) for hotel and domestic flight reservations, and your international flight details (in and out) for airport transfers.

How to pay the deposit and the balance?

  • Deposit: When the booking is completely confirmed, we will send you confirmation details including confirmed itinerary, invoice, voucher. Then you are required to send the deposit which is about 30% of the total tour cost (can be less). You can pay by credit cards (via onepay gateway, pay online), wire/bank transfer, western union. The deposit is used to pay the flight tickets, hotels, train tickets in advance.
  • Balance: You can pay the outstanding balance 2 weeks before your arrival, or you can pay us on your arrival in Vietnam by credit cards, cash (AUD, USD, EUROS, VND...)
  • More about credit card payment via OnePay: ONEPAY - ONLINE PAYMENT GATEWAY (VISA, MASTERCARD, AMEX & JCB ACCEPTED)
    Like PayPal, OnePAY is a payment gateway but specialized in Vietnam where the PayPal has not yet reached. This is a perfect and the first payment processor which gains reputation among clients about its efficiency and timely friendly support.

    OnePAY in cooperation with biggest bank in Vietnam - Vietcombank which has been implemented this service among many tour operators in Vietnam.

    OnePAY is approved by MasterCard for this payment collection on the behalf of us. OnePAY uses SSL Verisign® over internet transaction under 3D-Secure program by respective creditcard companies so you are free from worries your card information disclosed. OnePAY payment portal also meets standards of international financial system such as PCI DSS of PCI Security Standards Council, 3D-Secure of Visa, MasterCard and JCB.

Note: Before coming, please make sure you have all travel documents such as; confirmed tour, invoice, flight tickets..., especially the visa to Vietnam and Indochina is done.

What about tipping?

  • The tour guides and drivers expect tips, but it is not mandatory. You can tip more or less, or nothing that depends on the serviced provided. We recommend that you trip the tour guides; US$ 10 - 15  per day anddrivers: US$ 7-10 per day. Tipping at restaurants, tuk tuk, cyclo, taxi..., our tour guides will give you the advice.

Do you offer any discounts?
Yes, we offer discounts for;

  •  Family with kids and children < 12 years old
  •  Disable people
  •  People of old ages (> 65 years old)
  •  Repeated clients who have the second trip with us
  •  Travel in big group of friends, families (the more people, the cheaper the price is)
  •  We offer big discounts in low season (May - September)

Is there any charge if i change my travel dates, tour itinerary, hotels...?

  • We are happy to work on your requests, and will not charge you any money for all extra work. However, if it is too urgent and the date is too close, the hotels or airlines may charge you some money, in this case we will let you know.

What is the latest time that I can make my reservation?

  • We suggest you make reservations at least one month before the departure date. If you decide to travel to Vietnam/Indochina from October to April which is peak season, we recommend that you make the reservations two months (at least one) before your departure date. Late reservations can not be guaranteed for the availability of domestic flights, hotel rooms, etc. However, we can accept urgent booking, just 1-2 days before arrival. Things are possible at Holiday to Indochina.

What about Cancellation policy?

  • In case of cancellation, we will not impose any charges if we are not being charged and possible to get refund from our suppliers but if our suppliers apply charges for cancellation, you will have to pay those charges that apply. Cancellation policies vary, depending upon the type of service, the time of year, and the reason for cancellation. We will pass on to you all details of any cancellation policy with our transparent reply upon demand.

General cancellation charges that applied by travel services in Vietnam and Indochina.

  • Domestic flights: 25% of the fares
  • 3 star hotels, train tickets, no charge if you cancel 3-5 days before your arrival. (FIT)
  • 4 star hotels, 7 - 10 days before your arrival (FIT)
  • 5 stars hotels, 10 - 15 days before your arrival (FIT)

However, in peak season, we may have to pay the hotels one month before your arrival to secure the booking, and in this case, the cancellation policy will be based on the hotels' cancellation plolicies.

Can we get refund?

  • For the unused services, Holiday to Indochina will refund you.

How do I get a visa?

  • Vietnam Visa - For those who would like to avoid the perhaps lengthening visa procedures with their local Vietnam's Embassies, the service of  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.

Steps to obtain Visa on arrival
a) Please provide the following information for us to apply for your visa.

  • 1) Full name on passport (male/female)
  • 2) Passport number
  • 3) Date of birth
  • 4) Nationality
  • 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

b) How long does it take?

  • It will take 2-3 days (Normal process), 01 day (Urgent process) to get the “Visa Approval Letter” which we will send you via mail. What you need is to print it out and take it along to get the stamp at airports/borders

c) Get the stamp

  • Upon arrival, you will need to fill in a certain form with your personal information, get the stamp and visa will be done. For this process, you will need to prepare 02 photos (4*6) and $45 USD each in cash which is stamping fee.

Do our tour guides and drivers have meals with us?

  • The guide and the driver in each destination will dine at the same restaurant as yours. But, they will not join you unless you invite them.

Where can I change our money into Vietnam currency?

  • We advise you to stop in any Vietnamese bank during the tour (Our tour guides will take you to the bank), you can exchange money at your hotel, but the exchange rate is a bit lower than the bank's exchange rate.

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.

Note: 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 of an 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.

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.

Private Guide & Transfer
Holiday to Indochina offers private tour packages across Vietnam and Indochina; During the tour, you will have a private tour guide, private driver, and an air-conditioned vehicle escorting you at every destination you travel across Indochina. This will provide you with maximized personal care, security, and flexibility.

Tour Guide:
Holiday to Indochina does understand that a good tour guide will make your Indochina holiday a beautiful time and tour guides who work with us are well-paid, experienced with a university background, eager to exchange our culture, lifestyle, knowledge...with travelers, and have a great passion for their country and understand the personal touch. At every departure, you’ll be escorted & assisted until you have checked in and passed through the security checkpoint. All of our tour guides in Vietnam and other Indochina area are locals. Knowing the area well, they are good at guiding you around and telling background stories of the tour sites, as well as showing you the secret spots for best photos. If any change of itinerary is needed for unexpected reasons, your private tour guides will be more than accommodating in suggesting alternatives to ensure that you always have a wonderful experience

Note: In Sapa or some mountainous areas, we may use local tour guides who come from the ethnic groups like H'Mong, or Red Dao as they know better than anyone else about their land, culture, customs and habits...

Holiday to Indochina's requirements for a good tour guide:

  •  5 years of experience working as a tour guide
  •  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.
  •  Must be an honest broker of their services and able to take criticism.
  • Should be qualified at some level in health, health care or first aid.
  •  Able to relate to people from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds.
  • Clear speech and good hearing.
  • Must not be a alcoholic or No-alcohol during working time or anytime when on tour.
  • 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
  • Must be on time every time. Being late or delay is unacceptable.
  • 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.
  • Solve problems with care when there is dissatisfy. Argument should be averted by courtesy.
  • If any change of itinerary is needed for unexpected reasons, your private tour guides will be more than accommodating in suggesting alternatives to ensure that you always have a wonderful experience.

Transportation:
Holiday to Indochina guarantees to offer the best means of transport during your holiday in Vietnam and Indochina. The safety, comfort and security of our customers come first. We use only the latest modern cars, vans, coaches and all our drivers are full time workers, government licensed in the tourism industry with at least 5 years driving experience. We are fully in control of our quality and service as we own our vehicles.

Holiday to Indochina's requirements for a driver:

  • Our drivers must have good driving skills with at least 5 years of experience
  • Our drivers must keep the vehicles clean,
  • Our drivers are not allowed to hear cell-phone or smoke, chat, drink when driving.
  • Our drivers must be friendly, helpful.
  • Our drivers are not allowed to take you to shops unless you ask for.
  • Your vehicle in each destination is air conditioned, insured, clean, and regularly maintained.

 

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