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Southern Yunnan Northern Vietnam Tour - 15 Days

Destination: Southern Yunnan, Northern Vietnam
Duration: Fifteen Day
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Transportation: Vehicle
Best Travel Time:All year
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An inspiring overland journey from Yunnan to northern Vietnam
From Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan Province in Southwest China we first travel to Jianshui. During the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) Jianshui (Lin An) became an important military outpost which resulted in the development of the contemporary town. The surrounding hills are home of the Dai, Hui and Yi ethnic groups. The magnificent Zhu Mansion, the lovely Confucius temple and the village of Tuanshan as a few of highlights of Jianshui.

Jianshui and the Yuanyang Rice Terraces
From Jianshui we continue to the famous Rice Terraces of Yuanyang. The rice terraces of Yuanyang are located in the southeast of the Yunnan Province and where painstakingly hacked out  of the Ailao mountains by the resident Hani and Yi ethnic minorities. In September 2013 the rice terraces of Yuanyang where added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. The colorful sunrise over the Yuanyang rice terraces is one of the highlights of this Yunnan - Vietnam tour and should not be missed at any cost.

From the Yuanyang Rice terraces in Yunnan across the border to Sapa in VietnamFrom the Yuanyang rice terraces at 1*800m above sea level we travel mainly along the Red River towards Hekou. The border town of Hekou is located just about 100m sea level at the shores of the Red River. The Red River (in Chinese: Yuan Jiang) marks the border between the Yunnan Province and Vietnam.

After the border formalities you travel with your Vietnam Guide through the impressive mountain scenery of northern Vietnam to Sapa. You explore the fantastic mountain region around Sapa on foot, by bicycle and partly by car and, by doing that,  meet the resident ethnic minorities and learn more about their culture, traditions and beliefs.

Travel from Sapa through the mountains of northern Vietnam to Dien Bien Fu
Away from the usual tourist paths we travel through the remote mountain areas of northern Vietnam to Dien Bien Fu, located in the far northeastern corner of Vietnam only 35 km away from the border to Laos. 1954 Dien Bien Fu was the scene of a brutal battle between the former colonial power France and the troops of the Vietnamese independence movement Vieth Minh under the command of General Giap. The defeat at Dien Bien Fu ultimately led to the withdrawal of the French from Vietnam and ended the French presence as a colonial power in Southeast Asia.

Overland Tour from Hanoi via Son La, Mai Chau to Hanoi and the Halong Bay
From the rather grim past of Dien Bien Fu we continue our journey through the wonderful landscape of North-Vietnam, still following in the footsteps of the French colonial past.  Over the Pha Din Pass we reach the town of Son La where we visit the infamous prison of Son La. The notorious prison of Son La was built by the French in 1908. Behind Son La the landscape changes dramatically: from the rugged mountain landscape we now travel towards the green highland plains of North Vietnam. Dotted with lovely hills the area this around Moc Chau is known for the production of high quality Vietnamese tea.
We reach Mai Chau in the evening. The town of Mai Chau is home to the ethnic groups of White Thai, said to be distantly related to tribes in Thailand, Laos and southwest China. We spend the night in Mai Chau in a lovely boutique lodge.

Travel from Mai Chau to Hanoi and the Halong Bay
Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and also one of the oldest and most exciting cities in Southeast Asia. Our city tour through the bustling and on first sight seemingly chaotic capital of Vietnam is an unforgettable experience. The once proud, magnificent, ocher yellow colonial buildings and the broad, tree-lined avenues give the old quarter of Hanoi a unique, almost southern charm, which delights every visitor to Hanoi.

From Hanoi to the Junks cruise in the Halong Bay
Another highlight of our Yunnan - Vietnam tour is a cruise aboard our tradtional junk around the famous Halong Bay. With over 3000 karst islands that protrude from the emerald waters, Halong Bay is one of the largest and best known natural wonders of Vietnam. On board a comfortable junk you dive into this magical world of bizarrely shaped rock pinnacles, cone-shaped mountain and numerous limestone islands. The junk trip in the Halong Bay is filled with a variety of kayak tours and exciting shore excursions.

The popularity of the Halong Bay has increased significantly in recent years. To escape the hustle and bustle of the countless day-cruise-boat tours we recommend a tour that includes 2 overnight accommodations on board. The Halong Bay cruise is definitely a worthy end to an inspiring overland journey from the Yunnan Province in southwest China through the remote corners of northern Vietnam to Hanoi and the Halong Bay!

Full price of this tour (per person in US$):
Price Price Instruction
US$3500/persons 3500USD/Person


Upon arrival, met & and transfer to Jin Quan Hotel or similar. Long eulogized as &the city of eternal spring' due to its year round pleasant climate, Kunming is arguably the most opened and relaxed of China's provincial capitals. This afternoon, we take you to roam the endless number of stalls which make up the Bird & Flower Market and a visit to the 1200-year-old Yuantong Temple.


Drive to Jianshui. On the way stop a Xingmeng, a village inhabited by a Mongol minority left behind by Khengis Khans army over 700 years ago. Continue to Tonghai where we visit Mount Xiushan with an array of traditional Temples and Pavilions in various styles of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism some of which are from the late Jin Dynasty (265-420).
Upon arrival in Jianshui visit the recently renovated Confucius Temple „Wen Miao※. Continue to the ※East gate§ and we also pay a visit to former residence of the once wealthy an influential Zhu family.


Drive to the traditional Zhuang-Village of Tuanshan with its unique and well preserved architecture. On the way you also visit the "Twin Dragon Bridge", an ancient stone bridge from the Qing Dynasty. After lunch we leave Jianshui towards the Swallow's Cavern, a magnificent cave that has been dug out by the Lu River. During spring and summer hundreds of thousands of Swallows can be seen flying around inside and outside the cave. Continue through magnificent scenery towards Xinjie, the gateway to the stunning and spectacular rice terraces of Yuanyang.  The Yuanyang rice terraces have been carved out of the Ailao Mountains over hundreds of years by Hani farmers living in the area.


We leave the Hotel early (around 6 am) to witness a magnificent sunrise over the rice terraces. (Depending on weather condition; In winter the Rice terraces are often engulfed in fog). After that if possible we will visit one of the bustling weekly local markets in the area where we can observe the local people from various ethnic groups (Hani, Yi, Zhuang, some Miao) doing their weekly shopping. Many of them still wear their traditional costumes.
In the afternoon we make a hike (about 2.5 hours) through the magnificent rice terraces of Yuanyang to a nearby Hani village.


After breakfast we leave Yuanyang towards Hekou. For most of the way, the road follows the luscious, fertile valley of the Red River (Hong He), which flows in an almost straight line through deep canyons and picturesque valley in a south-eastern direction across the border into Vietnam. After completing the border formalities meet your guide in Vietnam and continue travelling towards Sapa. We leave the red river valley and travel into the rugged mountain area that covers most of Northern Vietnam. The road to Sapa offers stunning views over surrounding mountains and lush forests belonging to Hoang Lien National Park. We travel across the the§ Heavens Gate§, the highest stretch of road in Vietnam as well as the provincial border of Lao Cai and Lai Chau provinces.


Day 6:   SAPA (B)
Today you will take a bike ride through the beautiful surroundings of Sapa. The brilliant green terraced rice fields stand in a vast contrast to the rugged mountain slopes and the often snow-capped peaks surrounding the valley.
A mostly downhill ride along a winding road brings us to the village of Su Pan, an idyllic village that is mainly inhabited by the Black Hmong. It is believed that the Black Hmong (Huong) may have migrated from Persia or Babylonia via Siberia and China to the north of present-day Vietnam.
Continue to the village of Ban Ho where we have lunch. Time at leisure. If you feel like it you can take a swim together with the locals in the nearby river. The extremely friendly Ta form one of the largest ethnic groups in Vietnam and migrated here from  southern China. On foot we explore the nearby village of Nam Bong which is inhabited by the Red Dao. We visit one of their traditional houses built on stilts. Walk back to Ban Ho from where we take the car back to Sapa. (Bike: 25km mostly downhill = easy)


Day 7:   SAPA 每 DIEN BIEN FU (B)
Away from the usual tourist paths we travel through the remote mountain areas of northern Vietnam to Dien Bien Fu. Along the way there is the possibility to visit some more villages of the Hmong or the Dzao ethnic minority. The Dzao ethnic minority can be found in southern China as well as in Laos and northern Vietnam. The Dzao are known for their elaborate and colorful traditional dresses.
With a bit of luck we come across one of the colorful local markets where you can witness the people of the nearby hill tribes socializing and making their weekly purchases. Lunch along the way at a local restaurant. We reach Dien Bien Fu in the afternoon. Overnight accommodation is in Dien Bien Fu.


Day 8:   DIEN BIEN FU 每 SON LA (B)
Only 35km separate Dien Bien Fu from the border to Laos. 1954 Dien Bien Fu was the scene of a brutal and decisive battle between the former colonial power France and the troops of the Vietnamese independence movement Vieth Minh under the command of General Giap. In the evening of May 7, 1954 the French commander of Dien Bien Fu, Colonel de Castries, hoisted the white flag over his command bunker. A battle that lasted for 55 days was over. The defeat at Dien Bien Fu ultimately led to the withdrawal of the French from Vietnam and ended the French presence as a colonial power in Southeast Asia.
We visit the interesting war museum and the command bunker of Colonel de Castries.
In the afternoon, drive along the recently upgraded road No. 6 through spectacular scenery to Son La. On the way we travel across the Pha Din Pass. According to a local legend, Pha Din Pass is the place where the sky meets the earth, so it is considered as the ※connecting point§ where Heaven and Earth meet. Overnight in Son La.


Day 9:   SON LA 每 MAI CHAU  (B)
If possible we visit the bustling morning market of Son La. Son La was once the site of a French penal colony where anti-colonial revolutionaries where  imprisoned and ※re-educated§. Many of these prisoners died of illnesses like Malaria or Typhus. The Son La prison was built in 1908 but later partially destroyed by American bomb raids. We take a tour through the Son La prison and the attached Museum.
We continue our journey through one of  Vietnams major teas growing areas to Moc Chau. We visit a tea plantation and learn more abut the cultivation of tea in that area. The scenic drive to Mai Chau offers many photo opportunities along the way. The surrounding villages are mainly inhabited by the Black Thai and the Hmong ethnic minorities. We reach Mai Chau in the late afternoon. Overnight stay is at a tastefully furnished boutique lodge in Mai Chau.


Day 10:  MAI CHAU 每 HANOI (B)
After breakfast we travel to Hanoi. En route we stop at a village which is inhabited by the Muong ethnic group and we also take a short boat tour on the Hoa Binh Lake. We reach Hanoi in early afternoon. Hanoi is the capital and the second largest city in Vietnam. In the year 1010 King Ly Thai To chose Hanoi for the first time as capital city of Vietnam under the name of Thang Long (Soaring Dragon). It stayed the capital of Vietnam until 1802, when Emperor Gia Long, the founder of the Nguyen Dynasty, decided to move the capital to Hue.

The city was named Hanoi by (The city in a bend of the river)by Emperor Tu Duc in 1831. From 1902 to 1953 Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina. During this time, the French set up south of the old town a modern administrative city with wide, tree-lined paralleled avenues with opera, churches and numerous luxury villas, which nowadays provide Hanoi with a very peculiar charm.


Full day city tour of Hanoi, the oldest city and definitely the most charming capital in Asia. We visit the Ngoc Son Temple which is located on a small island of Hoan Kiem Lake. The temple is dedicated to the war hero Tran Hung Dao, who is said to have beaten an army of Kublai Khan in the 14th century.
Then we will visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Museum of Ethnology. Opened in 1997 by the Vietnam government, the Museum of Ethnology provides fascinating insights into the complex cultures, traditions and ways of life of the 54 ethnic groups who are native to Vietnam.
In the afternoon we visit the "One Pillar Pagoda", a unique wooden structure which was built in 1049 by Emperor Ly Thai Tong. The present structure is a replica as the original structure was destroyed by the French in 1954. Continuing on our way through Hanoi, we will pass the Temple of Literature. The temple of literature was built in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Thong who dedicated it to Confucius in order to honor scholars and men of literary accomplishment.
Afterwards we visit the charming old town of Hanoi with its countless colonial style houses and take a tour with a traditional Vietnamese "rickshaw". Overnight in Hanoi.


Day 12:   HANOI 每 HALONG BAY (B/L)
Drive to the Halong Bay where we check into our cabins aboard our comfortable Junk. Halong Bay is one of the most breathtaking scenic spots in all of Vietnam and was designated as a World Natural Heritage in 1994. It is a picturesque bay with some 1969 islets rising from the clear emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The limestone basin has been carved into stalactite caves, crescent beaches and odd-shaped formations. It is also famous for its varied ecological system with thousands of kinds of fish, hundreds of sorts of coral and other sea creatures.
The fantastic cruise of the Halong Bay brings us to some of the most prominent and impressive features in the Ha Long Bay area. At a leisurely pace the „Marguerite※ sails past rock formations with romantic names such as ※Burn of incense§, ※Dog§ or ※fighting cock§. During our first stop you visit the magical and beautiful Sung Sot cave (surprise cave). 144 steps lead up to the entrance of the cave from where you'll enjoy a magnificent view over the Halong Bay. We continue to the Titov Island where we make a short walk with, once again, breathtaking views of the entire Halong Bay. There is also time to explore the island by kayak or for a swim in the emerald blue water. Dinner and overnight on board in front of the magnificent scenery of Halong Bay.


Today we explore some of the remoter parts of the Halong Bay. By our dinghy or by Kayak you explore hidden caves and tunnels that have been artfully created by erosion over million of years. Lunch on board the Junk. After lunch you can relax on the sundeck, take a swim or take one of the Kayaks and explore the area together on your own or together with your tour guide. We sail further out into the Halong Bay.  We paddle with our Kayaks to the fishing village of Van Gia. We take a walking tour around the village before returning to the Junk. After dinner you can try your luck in fishing or simply relax on the sundeck. Overnight on board.


While you enjoy an extensive breakfast the captain steers the Junk back towards Bai Chai. en route we drip anchor at the fishing village of Ba Hang. We take time to explore the village before heading back to the boat for lunch. In the afternoon we say good by to the crew and head by our dinghy back to the mainland where our driver is waiting for us. Drive back (ca 1.5 hrs) to Hanoi. Check-in at the hotel. In the evening we visit a performance of the traditional art of water puppetry. The art of water puppetry dates back to the Ly Dynasty (1004-1224). The stage is in form of a square tank of waist-deep water where the puppeteers, while standing in the water, operate their puppets with considerable skills. Overnight accommodation in Hanoi.


Transfer to the airport.

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