Hidden Vietnam: Sapa & Beyond

13 days
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4.7/5 Excellent
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Small Group Tour
Get to know the real Vietnam on this 13-day journey through the landscapes and cultures most tourists whizz straight past. Starting in the absorbing capital Hanoi, we head out of the city to meet and stay with families in the hill village of Ta Phin and enjoy a leisurely bike ride through the rural landscapes around Hoi An. We also trek through the rice field...
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Trip type
Small Group Tour
Lodging level
Standard - 3 star
Physical level


    • Stay overnight at a hill village and hike through Sapa's terraced rice fields
    • Stay at an ecolodge on Cat Ba Island
    • Kayak secluded Lan Ha Bay
    • Discover underground rivers and caves at Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
    • Visit the historic trading town of Hoi An and explore on a leisurely bike ride
    • Enjoy a cyclo adventure through the streets and markets of Ho Chi Minh City

What's this trip about?

    Get to know the real Vietnam on this 13-day journey through the landscapes and cultures most tourists whizz straight past. Starting in the absorbing capital Hanoi, we head out of the city to meet and stay with families in the hill village of Ta Phin and enjoy a leisurely bike ride through the rural landscapes around Hoi An. We also trek through the rice fields of Sapa, cruise the secluded Lan Ha Bay – a less touristy (but no less beautiful) alternative to the ever-popular Halong Bay – and experience the spectacular caves of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. By the end, we will have experienced the full spectrum of life in Vietnam – a fascinating, rewarding adventure.Break away from the backpackers’ trail for an immersive adventure from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City


Itinerary focusClassic Highlights
Group sizeSmall Group - max of 16 people
Age range16 years and up
Flights and transportN/A
Start CityHanoi
End CityHo Chi Minh City

Travel Themes

  • Cultural
  • High Adventure
  • Nature & Wildlife
  • Rafting, Kayaking, Canoeing


  • Asia
  • Vietnam


  • Hanoi
  • Hoi An


  • Canoeing
  • Culture
  • Kayaking
  • Nature

Trip includes

    • 11 breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners
    • All accommodation
    • All transport and listed activities
    • Tour leader throughout
    • Free arrival and departure transfers for everyone


Day 1 Start Hanoi

The adventure starts in the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi. If you have time after your flight, familiarise yourself with the city by wandering the tree-lined avenues. There will be a welcome meeting this evening with your leader, followed by an optional group dinner. Accommodation: Hoa Binh Hotel (or similar)

Day 2 Early departure to Sapa; free time to explore the market

We depart Hanoi early this morning and drive north (approximately six hours) through scenic countryside and mountainous terrain to the remote town of Sapa in northwest Vietnam. It overlooks a beautiful valley and is known for its cool mountain atmosphere, while the s...

Day 3 Trek among lush forests and terraced rice fields to Ta Phin village; overnight homestay

After breakfast, we hike to the traditional hillside village of Ta Phin. Accompanied by a local guide, we follow a scenic route through lush forests and terraced rice fields, stopping en route for a picnic lunch. The hike takes four to six hours and will be adjusted b...

Day 4 Return to Hanoi; free time to explore

This morning, we bid farewell to our hosts and drive back to Hanoi (approximately six hours). After checking into our hotel, we have the rest of the day free to explore Hanoi, the fascinating capital of Vietnam. You may wish to wander through the Old Quarter, where t...

Day 5 To Cat Ba Island; boat cruise and kayak Lan Ha Bay; dinner and overnight at an ecolodge

We rise early and transfer to Cat Ba Island by road and a short ferry transfer (approximately four hours in total). After arrival, we board our boat and spend the afternoon cruising Lan Ha Bay, where incredible karst islands and limestone outcrops mirror those at the...

Day 6 Transfer to Hanoi; overnight train to Dong Hoi

We leave Cat Ba Island after breakfast and head back to Hanoi (approximately four hours). There will be a bit of free time in the afternoon and early evening in the capital. You might like to join the local people by pulling up a plastic stool and sampling one of the ...

Day 7 Arrival in Dong Hoi; transfer to Phong Nha; option to kayak on lake or relax

Arriving early in Dong Hoi, we stretch our legs and stop for breakfast in town before we take a transfer (approximately one hour) to Phong Nha where we spend the next two nights at an eco-resort. Phong Nha is located in the Quang Binh province, a true beauty and relat...

Day 8 Journey to underground rivers, karst mountains and verdant jungle of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

Following a relaxed breakfast, we start our day of adventure with a short transfer to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Designated a Unesco World Heritage site in 2003, the national park contains the oldest karst mountains in Asia. Home to hundreds of cave systems and ...

Day 9 Take a scenic transfer to Hoi An

Departing after breakfast, we transfer south to Hoi An. Although the journey will take approximately six hours, our drive passes a wide range of scenery along the way. The route between Phong Nha and Hoi An is among the most scenic in Vietnam, encompassing majestic mo...

Day 10 Half-day cycle around Hoi An countryside; free afternoon

Following breakfast, we have a leisurely half-day bike trip through the Hoi An countryside including a stop at Can Kim Island. Upon arrival at Cam Kim Island, we receive a warm welcome into a local family's home and learn the secrets behind my quang. This traditional...

Day 11 Fly to Ho Chi Minh City; afternoon orientation walk

This morning, we transfer to Da Nang Airport for the flight (approximately 1hr 25min) to Ho Chi Minh City (formally Saigon). This is an exciting, absorbing metropolis where scooters pack the streets and temples stand alongside modern developments. Devastated by the Vi...

Day 12 Morning cyclo tour of Ho Chi Minh City; free afternoon

After breakfast, we jump into a cyclo (a three-wheeled bicycle-taxi) for a two-hour tour, a unique, immersive experience through the markets and streets of Ho Chi Minh City. Our first stop will be the energetic Hoa Ho Thi Ky market, where we stroll around and get a f...

Day 13 End Ho Chi Minh City

Our Vietnam tour ends this morning after breakfast. However, if you’re not ready for the adventure to end, speak to your sales representative about joining our four-day post-trip excursion to Angkor in Cambodia, the standout archaeological site in Southeast Asia.

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Dates & Availability

Price From $2,775
Price per day$213
Last Updated: 3/1/2024
Start Date
Finish Date
Double Standard
17 Mar 2024
29 Mar 2024
1 spots left
06 Oct 2024
18 Oct 2024
8 spots left
10 Nov 2024
22 Nov 2024
8 spots left
15 Dec 2024
27 Dec 2024
8 spots left
19 Jan 2025
31 Jan 2025
8 spots left
16 Feb 2025
28 Feb 2025
8 spots left
16 Mar 2025
28 Mar 2025
8 spots left
13 Apr 2025
25 Apr 2025
8 spots left
14 Sep 2025
26 Sep 2025
8 spots left
05 Oct 2025
17 Oct 2025
8 spots left

Check Current Availability, prices, specials with Exodus Travels.

The total tour cost includes the tour price (regular or promotional) and the compulsory local payment. The promotional price is subject to change. Check directly with the operator for the latest price offer. The tour operator requires you to pay only the tour price to purchase your travel. The compulsory local payment will be paid when you join the trip. All prices are based on double, twin or triple share occupancy. Solo passengers will be accommodated in a double, twin or triple room according to availability with a passenger(s) of the same gender. Single supplement only needs to be paid if the passenger does not want to share and requests their own room. Discounts can only be applied at the time of booking and cannot be added at a later date, regardless of any changes made to the original booking.

Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.

Exodus Travels Reviews & Ratings

4.7/5  Excellent
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Tour Operator

Exodus Travels

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It is all about adventure. That is what Exodus was founded upon and what the company is still all about. Discovering countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles; exploring this amazing planet we all live on.

At Exodus, we know what makes you tick when it comes to holidays. It’s a desire shared by so many others. A yearning to visit new places and come home with a real sense of what they’re all about. This means delving into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to its unique identity. At the same time, we always remember that we are only guests. So we travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise our impact, to ensure that every Exodus holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved.

This is a philosophy we take with us around the world, helping you reach some incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across over 90 separate countries. We also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as we possibly can, making it simple for you to experience a very different holiday.

Exodus started life on 4 February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments.

All our office staff have a passion for travel and adventure, and between us we’ve notched up experience that spans 171 different countries. That’s not all. In their former lives, our team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus – so no-one is better placed to create tours that appeal to a wide range of specialist interests.

Their care in putting all the details in place really shines through too. Extensive planning, research, fact-finding and training are a sign of our commitment to providing a holiday where your enjoyment, value for money and safety come first. It’s a telling reason why we remain one of the leading worldwide adventure tour companies. It is no exaggeration to say that our tour leaders can make a world of difference to the enjoyment of your holiday – so we choose them carefully. The result is that, in 2013, 93% of our clients stated that their leader exceeded their expectations. Where possible, we train and employ local leaders because they can provide invaluable insights that enrich the trip. What’s more, this investment in local staff really helps us benefit both them and their community.

Why we love this operator
With a huge range of trip styles and themes, they cater to basically every type of traveler out there- even those with super specific interests.
What they’re known for
Global trips to both classic and exotic destinations with a focus on themed adventures, exciting physical activities and discovery of local culture.

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What's excluded

    • Travel insurance
    • Single accommodation (available on request)
    • Visas or vaccinations


,The accommodation on this trip provides an adventurous variety of places to stay. We spend seven nights in comfortable hotels, two nights at a lake resort, one night at a lodge on Cat Ba Island. We also spend one night in a homestay in the hillside village of Ta Phin near Sapa. Finally, we have one night on the Reunification Express, a sleeper train that takes us from Hanoi to Dong Hoi. The normal accommodations used on this trip can be found on the day-to-day itinerary; however, below are some of the notable places we stay. Ta Phin: Homestay (night 3) During our time in the village of Ta Phin, we are looked after by local ethnic communities. The rooms are relatively basic; bedding and a small towel are provided, while there are shared bathroom facilities with a shower. The real highlight though is the hospitality of our hosts and being able to experience an authentic home-cooked dinner made from local produce. Cat Ba island: Cat Ba Ecolodge (night 5) We overnight at the Cat Ba Ecolodge, ideally situated in the heart of Cat Ba island. Surrounded by nature, it sits in a secluded setting featuring lush gardens, a swimming pool, and a restaurant offering a variety of locally grown Vietnamese meals. Reunification Express: (night 6) Our sleeper train takes us from Hanoi to Dong Hoi – a classic journey in this part of the world. It’s an essential part of the tour, linking two special destinations without resorting to flying or a lengthy coach trip. However, trains in Vietnam are not luxurious and it’s best to come prepared to maximise your experience – we’ve found extra warm layers to combat the air conditioning and ear plugs can provide a little more comfort! We stay in soft-bed berths, usually four passengers per berth. The trains here are safe but, as with any trip, we recommend you keep valuables with you. Snacks are normally offered on board and most trains have Western-style facilities, but some are equipped with squat toilets. Phong Nha: Phong Nha Lakehouse (nights 7-8) This resort is located by the tranquil Dong Suon Lake and only a 10-minute drive from the UNESCO-listed Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. The Lakehouse is a multi-functional resort with facilities catering for relaxation and fun, including an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant and bar, and the option to kayak on the lake. All rooms are equipped with air conditioning and mosquito nets. Worth knowing Single supplements are available (on request) but only for 10 nights of the trip (hotel nights). Please advise your sales representative at the time of booking if you would like to request a single supplement. Private bathroom facilities are not available at the homestay in Ta Phin village or the overnight sleeper train. The accommodation listed in each location on the day-to-day itinerary are the standard hotels used. However, there may be some departures where groups stay at similar hotels of the same standard and quality.
Cancellation policy

The cancellation policies of this trip when booked through Travelstride are determined by the stated policies of the tour operator - Exodus Travels.

If you or any other member of your party decides to cancel a confirmed booking you must notify Travelstride in writing. Your notice of cancellation will only take effect when it is received in writing by Travelstride and will be effective from the date on which we receive it.

If You Cancel Your Holiday
You, or any member of your party, may cancel your travel arrangements at any time. Written notification from the lead name or your travel agent must be received at our offices. 

Since we incur costs in canceling your travel arrangements, you will have to pay cancellation charges as follows (see also the exceptions below): 

  • More than 42 days - No cancellation fee. Deposit can be transferred to a new booking departing within 2 years of date of travel of original booking. Any remaining balance will be refundedThis excludes all non-refundable costs as set out in clause 4 above (for example international and domestic flights and local services).
  • Between 41 and 21 days (inclusive) - No cancellation fee. Balance and deposit can be transferred to a new booking departing within 2 years of date of travel of original bookingThis excludes all non-refundable costs as further explained in clause 4 above (for example international and domestic flights and local services).
  • Between 20 and 15 days (inclusive) - 80% of the holiday cost
  • 14 days or less; or failure to join the holiday (inclusive) - 100% of the holiday cost

Certain trips may involve different cancellation charges; you will be advised if this is applicable to your holiday during the booking process.For Polar holidays, the following cancellation charges will be made for all Polar holidays. Period before departure in which you notify us: 

Cancelation charge

  • More than 133 days - Deposit only
  • 133 days or less (or failure to join the holiday) (inclusive) - 100% of the holiday cost

Notes (i) Your deposit is non-refundable, even if the cancellation charge calculated is lower than the deposit amount paid; (ii) If the reason for your cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy, you may be able to reclaim these charges; (iii) certain travel arrangements may be subject to higher cancellation charges and could incur a cancellation charge of up to 100% of that part of the arrangements from the moment the booking is confirmed.

If You Change Your Booking

If, after our Booking Confirmation has been issued, you wish to change your travel arrangements in any way, for example your chosen departure date or accommodation, we will do our utmost to make these changes but it may not always be possible. Any request for changes to be made must be in writing from the lead name or your travel agent. You will be asked to pay an administration charge of $60, and any further cost we incur in making this alteration (including those charged by third party suppliers who provide the component parts of your booking).  You should be aware that these costs could increase the closer to the departure date that changes are made and you should contact us as soon as possible. Note: Certain travel arrangements may not be changeable after a reservation has been made and any alteration request could incur a cancellation charge of up to 100% of that part of the arrangements.

You can transfer your booking to another person, who satisfies all the conditions that apply to this booking, by giving us notice in writing at least 7 days before departure provided that the new lead passenger accepts the transfer and these Terms and Conditions. Both you and the new traveler are responsible for paying all costs we incur in making the transfer. Please bear in mind that certain airlines and other transport providers treat changes as a cancellation and charge accordingly, up to 100% of the cost for that part of the arrangement. Where applicable these charges will be passed on to you.

If We Cancel Your Booking

Exodus reserves the right to cancel an itinerary before departure for any reason whatsoever, including too few participants ,logistical problems, a Force Majeure Event (as defined in Section 8), or any other circumstances that may make operation of the trip inadvisable. All trip payments received will be promptly refunded, and this refund will be the limit of Exodus’s liability without any further obligation on Exodus’s part. Exodus is not responsible for any expenses incurred by trip members in preparing for the trip, including non-refundable or penalty-carrying airline tickets, special clothing, visa or passport fees, or other trip-related expenses.

If We Change Your Booking

  1. Changes to the price. We can change your holiday price after you’ve booked, only in certain circumstances. Changes in the price of the carriage of passengers resulting from changes to the cost of fuel or other power sources, the level of taxes or fees imposed by third parties including tourist taxes, landing taxes or embarkation or disembarkation fees at ports and airports, or exchange rates mean that the price of your travel arrangements may change after you have booked.

  2. Changes other than the price. It is a term of your booking that we are able to make changes to any aspect of your booking. If the change is insignificant, we will ensure that you are notified about it. Examples of insignificant changes include alteration of your accommodation to another of the same or higher standard. If we are forced by circumstances beyond our control to alter significantly any of the main characteristics of the travel services that make up your package you will have the rights set out below.

    2.1 - We will contact you and you will have the choice of accepting the change or having a refund of all monies paid. You can also accept an alternative holiday, where we offer one (we will refund any price difference if the alternative is of a lower value). We will tell you the procedure for making your choice. Please read any notification of changes carefully and respond promptly as if you do not respond to us within the timescale given your booking may be canceled.

    2.2 - If you choose to accept a refund then that is the only liability we have and we will not be liable for any further sums, compensation or otherwise and you are advised to adequately insure yourselves against cancellation for any reason

Please note that insurance premiums and amendments charges are not refundable in any circumstances. 

Once you have put down a deposit for a tour, you are unable to cancel and re-book within a promotional period and we reserve the right to amend the pricing on any new booking you make within that time. If you cancel a tour and book the same tour under a promotional code, we reserve the right to decline the booking.

Important Note: Certain arrangements may not be amended after they have been confirmed and any alteration or cancellation could incur a cancellation charge of up to 100% of that part of the arrangements in addition to the charge above.

If the reason for your cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy, you may be able to reclaim these charges.

Where possible, we will deduct the cancellation charge(s) from any monies you have already paid to us.

For more additional details, see the booking conditions of TruTravels at the following web address: https://www.exodustravels.com/us/about-exodus/exodus-booking-conditions.

Travel Insurance
We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance alongside your travel package to safeguard against unforeseen circumstances such as medical expenses, trip cancellations, and other contingencies. It offers you peace of mind and ensures you are prepared for unexpected events that may occur before or during your journey
Visa requirements
Visa requirements vary depending on your country of origin and your country of destination. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the relevant requirements. For a handy tool that can help you quickly find the requirements, please visit this link .
Meals Included
There are 11 breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners included. Thanks to the tropical climate, the long coast and the gigantic range of mountains, Vietnam is blessed with numerous varieties of culinary offerings and consequently maintains a reputation as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world that still packs a punch. Vietnamese food relies on fresh fish, vegetables, rice and a myriad of verdant herbs and spices; lemongrass, ginger, basil and lime all play an important role in the cuisine. The Chinese and French influence is felt throughout the country, where you are just as likely to be offered a banh mi (stuffed baguette) as you are pho (noodle soup). Also be sure to seek out the national drinks. Vietnamese coffee is served iced and sweet with condensed milk, and beer hoi (local beer, brewed daily) is served on most street corners in the north out of large plastic jugs that are perfect for sharing. Food is cheap in Vietnam, and you can generally avoid the spicier food if you wish. Western food is readily available almost everywhere, except at the homestay in northern Vietnam. Vegetarian food is widely available; however, the offering will be fairly similar in most places. Please advise at time of booking if you have any dietary requirements.
Age Requirements
16 years and up
Additional Information
Seven nights in comfortable hotels, two nights at lake resort and one night at an ecolodge One night in a hill village homestay to experience local hospitality One day boat trip on Lan Ha Bay with lunch and kayaking One night on a sleeper train with soft-bed berths Travel by private air-conditioned bus, boat, sleeper train and internal flight Reasonable fitness required Remote and city locations visited Group normally 4 to 16, plus local leader Angkor Wat Extension (trip code: XOF) from Ho Chi Minh City available to book post tour
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