Day 1 Departure from London for Hanoi via Bangkok.
Day 2 Arrival in Hanoi and check-in to a downtown hotel. Afternoon free to relax or explore the city before an evening performance of the highly original water-puppets.
Day 3 Day tour of some of the city’s sites, including Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, the 11th century University, Hoan Kiem Lake and a walking tour of the narrow streets of Hanoi’s bustling old commercial quarter. Evening departure by sleeper train for Lao Cai in the far north.
Day 4 Morning arrival and drive to nearby Bac Ha to visit the colourful local market. After lunch we’ll continue to Sapa; a picturesque old French hill-station overlooking a spectacular valley, lying in the shadow of the mist shrouded Fansipan Mountain, at over 9,500 ft the highest summit in mainland Southeast Asia.
Day 5 Morning at leisure to explore the town or roam the town’s bustling market, with an afternoon hike through the area’s incredible scenery, known to the French as the Tonkinese Alps, including Hmong and Dzao minority villages, picturesque rice terraces, bamboo forest and towering peaks.
Day 6 Crossing the Chinese border into Yunnan Province at the town of Hekou, we’ll follow the scenic Red River Valley northwest into the Ailao Ranges and the small mountain top town of Yuanyang. Afternoon visit to the region’s famous, and now UNESCO World Heritage, rice terraces - carved out of the mountain sides over thousands of years by the local Hani and Yi minorities - a truly spectacular site.
Day 7 Early drive to catch some morning vistas of the fabulous landscapes before returning to town for a visit to Yuanyang’s lively market, a trading centre for the myriad local minority peoples. Afternoon drive to historic Jianshui and a visit to some of the Town’s famous sites including, time permitting, the 14th Century Chaoyang Tower and Confucian Temple, the second largest in China, and the amazing ‘Zhu Family Garden’ mansion, a complex of 42 courtyards and 250 rooms. Overnight in a small, family run hotel in the heart of the old town.
Day 8 Morning visit to the fascinating village of Tuanshan, one of the very few remaining fortified villages in Southwest China. This village, originally founded during the Ming Dynasty, receives very few visitors despite being recently added to the UNESCO Protected List. Leaving Jianshui district we’ll continue north, via the picturesque Fuxian Lake, to the Province’s capital, Kunming.
Day 9 Morning trip to the spectacular karst formations known as the Stone Forest – another site added to Yunnan’s UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2006, with an afternoon at leisure in Kunming to discover some of the city’s pagodas, perhaps the lively flea market or just a walk in the fascinating Green Lake Park?
Day 10 Morning drive along the route of the old Burma Road, to Weishan Town – one of the oldest and best preserved towns in Yunnan yet one of the least visited – before arriving at our day’s destination, Dali.
Day 11 Day at leisure to explore this scenic old walled town, former capital of the powerful Nanzhao Kingdom, now centre for the ethnic Bai people and beautifully situated between the slopes of the Azure Mountains and the shores of Lake Erhai. Explore the old streets, check-out the market or handicraft stores, walk along the city walls or take the cable car for a stroll through the nearby mountain park?
Day 12 Early departure to catch the bustling morning market in the lakeside, Bai village of Xizhou, before continuing north to Lijiang by way of the superb temple grottoes of sacred Shibao Mountain.
Day 13 Discover the ancient centre of the Naxi Culture and now World Heritage Site Lijiang: - wander the beautifully preserved cobbled streets that line the streams running through the picturesque old town – dramatically situated beneath the towering peaks of the 5,500m Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and visit the picturesque Black Dragon Pool Park.
Day 14 Morning visit to one of the outlying villages to discover more of the unique Naxi culture before heading north towards the spectacular Tiger Leaping Gorge via the famous ‘First Bend in the Yangtze’. Our overnight stay will be at friendly, family-run and stunningly situated Sean’s Guesthouse in the village of Walnut Grove in the centre of the Gorge itself.
Day 15 Day in Tiger leaping Gorge: options, depending upon ability and inclination, include a day hike along the gorge, pony trekking, a walk around the scenic village and surroundings or merely relaxing on the guesthouse terrace taking in the superb views.
Day 16 Morning drive, along the scenic route and the Baishui limestone terraces, up to the Tibetan Plateau itself and the town of Zhongdian – now officially renamed Shangri La by the Chinese Government. Lunch at a Tibetan family’s house followed by a visit to the spectacular Tibetan monastery, (Ganden Suntseling), with a short hike through the surrounding hills to check out the scenery and the local Tibetan style villages!
Day 17 Free morning and afternoon flight to Kunming and connection to London.
Day 18 Morning arrival in London.
Notes: this tour is offered inclusive of return flights from London. Those persons not wishing to take up the flight option would join the tour in Hanoi on day 2 and finish in Kunming on day 17.
Visa requirements: Vietnam – Visas are no longer required for citizens of some countries, including Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the UK for single-entry visits of up to 15 days. A visa MUST be obtained in advance for longer visits or for citizens of some countries. They are available from your nearest Vietnamese embassy at a cost of about £40 (c. $60). Further information, as well as e-visas on arrival are available on the internet, for example www.vietnam-visa.com or www.vietnam-immigration.org
China - A visa must be obtained before arrival in China. Your entry point in Hekou on day 6 of the itinerary. You will be arriving by road from Vietnam. Your address in China is c/o China Kunming Overseas Tours Co Ltd, Kunming. As the visa cannot be applied for by post, we have used www.visatochina.co.uk who we have found to be very efficient. They are an independent company and we do not accept any responsibility for the service they provide.
for those with time make it a round trip and connect to our new Chiang Mai to Hanoi overland tour?
Please note these are photos of sample hotels and resorts; accommodation options may vary and are subject to availability
Not sure about the name but the hotel’s great and its location in the heart of Hanoi’s bustling and picturesque old town is perfect. Convenient for exploring or just sitting in their street-side cafe/bar watching the action go by.
Hmong chic at our favourite Sapa hotel, the Sunny Mountain. Friendly staff, comfy rooms and great views make this an excellent spot to spend a couple of nights in the old French hill-station of Sapa.
The superb Lin An Hotel in Jianshui. Beautifully decorated, huge well appointed rooms and extremely friendly service make this a favourite for exploring the rarely visited yet picturesque old town.
Freshly renovated rooms at the Jinhua International Hotel, Kunming with a view over the City’s modern skyline.
The Landscape Hotel – newly built but decorated in traditional style is our choice for World Heritage Site Dali.
Superb situation overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town makes the Castle Hotel a clear fave in Yunnan’s Lijiang.
Simple but comfortable with vertiginous views across Tiger Leaping Gorge the family run Sean’s Guesthouse is so good we had to add an extra night there! (Worth going all that way just to meet Sean and his wonderful family, and try their awesome cooking!)
Not a bad view from the terrace of Sean’s for breakfast or an end of the day beer?
"Many thanks for another great ALL POINTS EAST trip – this time to N. Vietnam and Yunnan. I thoroughly enjoyed the holiday – Mark was an excellent tour leader – his enthusiasm for photography meant that we photographic addicts were well catered for. I have no hesitation in continuing to promote APE in my forthcoming photo talks.
The extension to Halong Bay trip was excellent – the boat, food and accommodation were unbelievably good. For the main tour local guides were excellent without exception. Food was terrific, and we had a great very varied itinerary."
Colin (April 2015)
Please find below a list of suggested extensions for this tour. For reservations please use the tour booking form on the same page
A fantastic cruise of Vietnam’s UNESCO World Natural Heritage site of Halong Bay including an overnight stay on board a traditional style junk. You’ll visit more..