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zHill Tribes of China + Vietnam

11 days

A private journey for departure any day

Private Journey Discoveries for our World Travelers

+ Immerse in the magical landscapes of Yuanyang, where the Hani people hand-carved these terraced paddies more than a thousand years ago.
+ Authentic encounters with villagers and farmers in their kitchens and fields reveal the rich cultural diversity and enduring traditions of the region’s many hill tribes.
+ Comfortable 4x4 vehicles and guided hikes promise intimate people-to-people engagement and deep exploration of Sapa’s lush mountain scenery – for experiences you won’t find on other tours.
+ Venture into remote mountain valleys in northern Vietnam to experience their timeless ways of life… And then delight in the romance of rail travel on our overnight journey to Hanoi.
+ 1 UNESCO World Heritage Site  c

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Day
1

Welcome to Kunming, China

Upon arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted and chauffeured to the Green Lake Hotel in the heart of town just a few minutes walk from lovely Green Lake Park.

Day
2

Overland to historic Jianshui

Set out in your private 4x4 vehicle with our professional driver and guide for the overland journey to Jianshui. Upon arrival, check in to the Jian Shui Lin’an Hotel – wonderfully located close to the historic landmarks of Old Town. Tour the splendidly restored courtyard home and garden of an aristocratic Qing Dynasty family and visit Wen Miao Temple, the largest Confucius temple in the province.  Meals B+L

Day
3

Explore Jianshui + Travel to Yuanyang

With its defensive walls and gate towers, Jianshui retains the traditional style of a Ming Dynasty town. With your private guide this morning, you’ll walk along the ancient streets of Old Town to see the centuries-old buildings which have been so carefully preserved. Visit a local shop to see how tofu is made and then journey to Yuanyang, famed for the breathtaking vistas of its terraced rice fields. Check in to the Yuanyang Yunti Hotel for a 2-night stay.  Meals B+L+D

Day
4

The ancient rice terraces of Yuanyang c

Built 1,000 years ago by the Hani people, the famed rice paddies of Yuanyang turned a barren valley into a self-sustaining eco-system of terraced plots that now cover the slopes. Today’s specially planned exploration will showcase the region’s breathtaking beauty as it evolves with the shifting light of day.  You’ll explore up and down the valley beginning early in the morning as the sun rises and its first golden rays strike the terraced valley slopes. You’ll enjoy authentic encounters with village families and local farmers and have plenty of time to take in the awe-inspiring scenery.  Meals B+L

Day
5

From Yuanyang into Vietnam

Departing Yuanyang this morning, you’ll cross the border into northwest Vietnam to explore the forested valleys of Lao Cai province. Join your private guide for a hike through the fragrant pine forests to visit Suoi Ho, a village of the Black Hmong people that enjoys a commanding hilltop location with stunning views of the valley’s terraced rice paddies. Meet the residents, learn about their unique tribal traditions and witness everyday scenes of village life. Continue your hike to Ma Tra and relax with local villagers over a cup of green tea. Rejoin your private car and driver, and make your way to the deluxe Victoria Sapa Resort where you’ll check in for a 3-night stay.  Meals B+L

Day
6

The hill tribes of Sapa

After breakfast, you’ll journey into the spectacular Muong Hoa Valley to Ta Van, a small village inhabited by the Giay people.  A scenic guided walk offers plenty of time to admire and photograph the terraced rice paddies that cascade down the mountainside - one of Vietnam’s most breathtaking vistas. Along the way, you’ll stop in the home of a delightful woman named Ms. Moo; take in the scenery as she shares insight into the daily lives and cultural ways of her people, the Black Hmong. Those who wish can reinvigorate with an herbal foot bath, a tradition among the Hmong. Continue your trek to the village of Lao Chai where you’ll learn about the region’s beautifully painted batik fabrics. This hands-on experience is a fun way to gain deeper insight into a vanishing Black Hmong tradition; it also supports a sustainable tourism project that was developed to assist local families and to ensure the continuation of this indigenous art form. Walk with your guide back to the main road where your car and driver will be waiting. Return to the Victoria Sapa Resort for another night.  Meals B+L

Day
7

Hoan Lien National Park

Today’s private excursion begins with a visit to the beautiful Silver Waterfall, where you’ll have captivating views of the surrounding mountains and lush forests of Hoang Lien National Park. Continue to Chu Va, a mountain village where you’ll learn about the tribal ways of the Red Hmong. Stop in Binh Lu for lunch before a guided hike that will take you through picturesque rice fields and farming settlements to Pa Pe, a village inhabited by the Lu and Thai people. Return to Sapa for a relaxing evening at your deluxe resort.  Meals B+L

Day
8

Market and village visits + Overnight train to Hanoi

Depart Sapa after breakfast and journey overland to Lao Cai province where you’ll spend some time exploring the Muong Hum market. On Sundays especially, this market is bustling with a wide variety of tribal villagers who come from across the region to barter, sell and buy. This is a great opportunity to engage with a variety of indigenous groups including people from the Phu La, Tu Di, Black Dao, Red Hmong, Giay and Black Hmong. Sit down to lunch in a restaurant near the market and then journey to a Ha Nhi village where you’ll spend time with residents getting to know their ways. Return to Lao Cai to board the overnight train to Hanoi. There is a dining carriage where you can enjoy an evening meal. Then settle in to your comfortable berth and fall asleep to the gentle rocking of the rails.  Meals B+L

Day
9

Welcome to Hanoi

You’ll be greeted on arrival at the rail station and escorted to the landmark Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi’s finest 5-star hotel. Enjoy breakfast and time to refresh before a city tour beginning with the Temple of Literature, built in the 11th century and dedicated to Confucius. Then discover the city’s vibrant culinary scene with your personal guide. This is your chance to dive into the colorful streets, bustling with a variety of street vendors, and to sample delicious local fare including pho noodles and banh mi sandwiches. After lunch, a traditional Vietnamese cyclo is the best way to experience the rhythms and charms of Hanoi’s Old Town. Along the winding streets, ancient homes and temples are interspersed with a wide variety of shops selling everything from daily staples to souvenirs. This evening’s dinner is followed by a Water Puppet performance.  Meals B+D

Day
10

Out and about with your private guide

After breakfast, head to Ba Dinh Square where solemn sentries silently guard the imposing marble and granite mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh. Nearby, you’ll see the simple cottage where he lived. At the Ho Chi Minh Museum, you’ll gain further insight into the man and his life. Then marvel at the elegant French Colonial style of the Governor’s Palace and see the distinctive One Pillar Pagoda. This afternoon is yours to explore, enjoy or shop as you wish.  Meals B

Day
11

Depart Hanoi

Our private car and driver will take you to the airport today for your onward journey.  Meals B

Extend Your Trip

Travel on to Ha Long Bay and Southern Vietnam

7 Day Post-Tour Extension for $1,999

From the incredible landscapes of Ha Long Bay and historic Hoi An to the vibrant city of Saigon, our easy-to-add one week exploration of Central and Southern Vietnam is the perfect complement to this Small Group Journey.

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Day
1

From Hanoi to Ha Long Bay

A morning drive brings you to magnificent Ha Long Bay to board our Paradise Cruise vessel for an unforgettable overnight cruise. Inspired by traditional Vietnamese junks, this modern 5-star ship features just 17 outside staterooms, a stylish restaurant and bar, and plenty of windows and open deck space to enjoy the scenery. As you set sail from Tuan Chau Island, you’ll cruise across the Bay of the Descending Dragon into a mesmerizing landscape of fantastic rock formations rising up from emerald green waters and past pristine beaches, mysterious caves and timeless floating villages. During the afternoon, you can also attend a culinary demonstration with our skilled onboard chef and try your skills in the art of traditional Vietnamese cooking. Your cruise today includes lunch, dinner and an unforgettable voyage deep into this captivating tableau of mountains, sea and sky.  Meals L,D

Day
2

Journey Onward to Central Vietnam

Early risers can join a Tai Chi demonstration on deck as the sun casts its first golden rays across the unforgettable peaks and inlets of the Bay. After a leisurely breakfast onboard, you’ll have more time to enjoy the scenery before disembarking. Return to Hanoi for your included afternoon flight to Danang where you’ll be met and escorted to the luxurious Anantara Resort. The balance of this afternoon and evening are at leisure to enjoy as you wish.  Meals B

Day
3

Discover Hoi An

Known as Faifo to early western traders, the historic city of Hoi An was one of Southeast Asia’s most important ports during the 17th to 19th centuries, home to Japanese, Indian, Chinese and Portuguese merchants. Today, Hoi An is remarkable for its collection of original Chinese temples and glorious homes built by these wealthy merchants of earlier times. This morning’s guided excursion to Hoi An features a walking tour designed to showcase these former merchant homes, as well as the temples, art galleries and colorful local markets that make this city so delightful. As you explore the traffic-free cobblestone streets of this ancient port, it’s easy to imagine yourself a sailor of the 18th century when it was one of the busiest ports in all of Asia! Return to the Anantara Resort and enjoy the rest of your afternoon at leisure.  Meals B

Day
4

Fly to Saigon

After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the Danang Airport for your included flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Upon arrival, you’ll be met and escorted to the luxurious Park Hyatt. Ideally located on Lam Son Square, this striking city-center hotel is Saigon’s best, heralded for its attentive service. The remainder of this day is free to step out and explore at your own pace.  Meals B

Day
5

Saigon Sightseeing

If Hanoi and Hoi An reveal Vietnam’s long and colorful history, then Ho Chi Minh City is a look at the future. Situated on the edge of the Mekong Delta, the city is poised for growth – with lots of new construction, new technology, and new opportunities for its residents. Your extensive exploration of this bustling metropolis begins this morning with Notre Dame, a handsome neo-Romanesque cathedral which was closed by the Communist regime after the 1975 takeover, but is flourishing once again. Continue with the impressive Post Office and Reunification Palace. Formerly known as the Presidential Palace, it was toward this building that the first Communist tanks rolled on the morning of April 30, 1975, famously crashing through its gates.

In the afternoon, your sightseeing continues in the bustling Cholon district, the heart of the city’s Chinese community. You’ll also visit Cha Tam Church and Thien Hau Temple, dedicated to the Goddess of the Seas. Before returning to your hotel, you’ll explore the bustling Binh Tay Market and stop by the diminutive and charming Cai Dai temple.  Meals B

Day
6

Excursion to the Cu Chi Tunnels

After breakfast you’ll visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, the incredible underground network that once stretched for 210 miles. This tunnel complex was built by guerilla fighters beginning in 1940 and construction continued throughout the Vietnam War. Marvel at secret trapdoors, underground kitchens, living quarters, and even conference rooms. You’ll have ample opportunity to view the excavated areas from above. The more adventurous can choose to explore the deeper second and even third-level tunnels. Your guide will advise you on the length and level of difficulty of each tunnel before entering and some are easily accessed by stairs. Return to Saigon in the afternoon and enjoy the rest of this day at leisure.  Meals B

Day
7

Depart Saigon

Our Tour Extension ends this morning after breakfast.  Meals B

Private Tour Add-Ons

Bangkok

Explore the ancient Buddhist traditions of this thoroughly modern city on a private tour featuring its most significant temples including the Temple of the Golden Buddha and the Marble Temple.

Luang Prabang

Extensive private sightseeing here in the “Jewel of Indochina” features the National Museum, Vat Mai Temple with its dramatic 5-tiered roof, and an excursion on the Mekong River to the Pak Ou Caves.

Angkor Wat

Choose from the finest hotels, including the Raffles. Then join our expert guide for unhurried private sightseeing featuring Angkor’s best-known sites, its significant lesser-visited temples and Tonle Sap Lake.

MapSearch

Prices are per person, double occupancy, and may vary during holidays and trade shows. Additional surcharges and blackout dates may apply.

Family + Friends

Travel is one of  life's most rewarding experiences, perhaps even more so when it's shared with those you love! Combine our limited-time pay-in-full discount with our Family & Friends offers and save even more:
  • Save $50 more per person when 3 guests go
  • Save $100 more per person with 4 people
  • Save $150 more per person with 5 people
  • Save $200 more per person with 6 or more people!

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