A Glimpse of North Vietnam: 5 Days Travelling Sapa - Halong Bay Itinerary

December 30, 2023 - 431 views

Five days is a perfect time for a package tour to Sapa and Halong Bay, where you can trek through interesting ethnic minority villages, interact with lovely local people in the mountainous area, or kayak and enjoy the beauty of the world’s ‘natural wonders, Halong Bay. See the detailed itinerary for 5 days tour in our article below.

North Vietnam Itinerary 5 days

Halong Bay and Sapa are the first choices for many tourists who think of traveling to the north of Vietnam. Sapa is famous for its verdant rice paddies, rolling hills, Vietnam’s highest mountain, and trails in overgrown valleys while Halong Bay is a spectacular area made up of almost 3,000 limestone islands jutting out of emerald waters. These 2 beautiful tourist attractions are truly magical landscapes that you should never miss when being in the North part of Vietnam.


Day 1: Train to Sapa

Hanoi is a travel base for most of the tours in the north of Vietnam. You can start 5 days to northern Vietnam from Hanoi to Sapa. The distance from Hanoi to Sapa is more than 300 km and takes around 5 hours by private car, 9 hours by train. Tourists often choose to travel by train to get Sapa from Hanoi as it is a cheap and safe way to travel. Payment for a night accommodation will be saved you will stay overnight on the train. The trains depart at around 21:00 at Hanoi railway station and arrive at Lao Cai railway station around 5:00 when there is a shuttle bus to transfer you from the train station to Sapa town.

Something to note that the Vietnam railway train is the cheapest option forget from Hanoi to Sapa, however, you will need to share the cabin with local people. The train is old and the restroom is at the end of the carriage. Alternatively, Victoria Express Train, Sapaly Express Train, and Chapa Express Train cost a little more money, but service quality is great.

Hanoi - Capital of Vietnam

Hanoi - Capital of Vietnam


Day 2: Y Linh Ho - Lao Chai - Ta Van

At around 5:00 am, the train arrives at Lao Cai railway station which is about 34 km from Sapa. You then get on a one-hour shuttle bus to get to Sapa town, the uphill road is beautiful and you will be surely impressed by the beautiful scenery at the first sight. The bus will drop you off at a hotel where you can take rest, have breakfast, and take shower.

At 9:30 the local tour guide will meet you to start trekking. There are many beautiful trekking routes in Sapa, and today's route: Y Dinh Ho – Lao Chai – Ta Van. You will be taking a 7 km trek down to the southeast of Sapa along Muong Hoa valley to Y Dinh Ho village where Black Hmong live. The village offers spectacular landscapes and cultural experiences. Then, you continue to walk down 3 km to Lao Chai village, which lies in the middle of rice and corn terraces, giving travelers the chance to trace along with narrow but magnificent paths on the fields to contemplate the whole zone. The morning trek ends with a 4 more km trek to Ta Van village to visit Zay people, a fairly small minority group of about 38.000 people who live mainly in the mountains in Northwest Vietnam.

You then have lunch with local people, spend time relaxing, enjoying the fresh air, admiring the local house architecture, and witness local daily lifestyles and exclusive customs.

At the end of the tour, you will be transferred to the hotel to get back to your hotel in Sapa town.

Trekking in Sapa

Trekking in Sapa


Day 3: Cat Cat - Sin Chai

Guess you have a great sleep yesterday after a long trekking day. Now it is time to check out and have to breakfast. Be ready at 9:00 as the tour guide will come to pick up you for 6 km trekking today.

The first stop is Cat Cat village which is 3 km from Sapa town. Cat Cat village is famous for its ancient beauty of houses in the village, stunning waterfall and the vestige of a hydroelectric power station, the special customs of local people, traditional handicrafts of making beautiful brocades, and so on. Coming here, tourists can not only enjoy the natural landscapes such as rice terraces… but also have a chance to visit peaceful and unspoiled villages and hamlets of this land.

After the visit to Cat Cat village, you will have a picnic lunch, then continue to trek 3 km to Sin Chai village which is home to about 1.400 Mong people. The Sapa tour ends in this village, you will be transferred to Sapa town by shuttle bus.

Around 15:00 the bus will pick up you at the hotel in Sapa town for a 9-hour transfer bus to Hanoi. Stay overnight in Hanoi.

Cat Cat Village

Cat Cat Village


Day 4: Halong Bay Overnight Cruise

Saying goodbye to the mountainous area, we now head to Halong Bay for relaxation. Halong Bay is listed by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage, and you will need 2.5 hours transfer by bus from Hanoi to Halong.

Shuttle bus or private car often picks up you around 8:00 after breakfast and check out at the hotel. You will be arriving around noon and check in on the Halong Bay cruise after that. When arriving on the cruise, you will check-in and have lunch on board when cruising towards the bay.

In the afternoon, you will be able to enjoy some activities onboard and water activities such as kayaking, swimming, exploring the cave…

At the end of the day, the boat will set anchor for the night, Dinner will be served on board. Depending on the cruise itinerary, there can be a cooking class, squid fishing, board game, karaoke… or you can enjoy a special drink on the bar, or massage at the spa.

Halong Bay overnight cruise

Halong Bay overnight cruise


Day 5: Back to Hanoi

Start your day with a morning Taichi, enjoy a cup of tea or coffee on board. Then it is time for breakfast while the vessels cruise slowly through the magnificent rock formations.

After breakfast, you can continue to explore Halong bay by visiting a cave, climbing the mountain, cycling to the local village, visiting the farm village… These activities vary from cruise to cruise. Therefore, you need to double-check with your travel consultant the information.

After some activities, lunch or brunch will be served while the cruise is on the way back to the port. The driver will be waiting for you to bring you back to Hanoi, and the tour ends in Hanoi.

For many reasons, Northern Vietnam has become the destination of a lifetime. In only 5 days, Northern Vietnam has many things to offer to you from mountain to the bay, from trekking to the remote villages, exploring Vietnamese local culture to relaxing at one of the most beautiful places on earth. The above 5-day itinerary has shown you the best things to do in these most beautiful places in the north of Vietnam: Sapa & Halong Bay. Do not hesitate to plan your trip to Vietnam and enjoy these amazing places.

Jenny Tran

Image source: Internet

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