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Monday, 8 September 2014

Never forget that little Sapa, the true nature of Vietnam. Our 13-days Travel Itinerary in Vietnam (Part 4)

Hello all! Over the past two years, friends and colleagues have asked questions related to my travels to Vietnam back in 2012, as in what to see and what to do in Vietnam, which I wanted to share here. 

And yes, we both (myself and Kah Boon) travelled to Vietnam and it's a country full of cultural expression. Our trip to Vietnam was quite an adventure. Entering this country was relatively hassle-free! Our journey started in Ho Chi Minh City in the southern part to the northern part of Vietnam, and lasted for nearly two weeks. There are so many things to shop, to eat, to snap and of course also to experience the epic massive traffic in Vietnam.

Our trip lasted for 13 days, 12 nights in Vietnam and here’s what we did for our entire journey (from 10 September 2012 – 22 September 2012), focusing on the best places to see in Vietnam based on our tight budget:  <Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) – Hanoi – Sapa – Halong Bay - Hanoi> 

Day 1: 10 September 2012 
Depart from Penang – Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) – Ho Chi Minh Son Nhut (Terminal 2) 

Day 2: 11 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – Free & Easy

Day 3: 12 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – Free & Easy

Day 4: 13 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee (Ho Chi Minh City
Hall) - Ben Thanh Market – Saigon Square - War Remnants Museums – Saigon Opera

Day 5: 14 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON) – Chu Chi Tunnel - Reunification Palace - Notre Dame
Cathedral – Old Saigon Post Office - Free & Easy 

Day 6: 15 September 2012 
HO CHI MINH (SAIGON)/ HANOI - Took 0810 hr flight via Jetstar Pacific from Ho Chi
Minh City Tan Son Nhat Airport to Noi Bai Airport (Domestic Terminal) – Free & Easy –
Took night train to Sapa approx. 9-10 hrs (4-person cabin with bed) 

Day 7: 16 September 2012 
SAPA - Y Linh Ho – Lao Cai – Ta Van 
Arrived Lao Cai at 6.00 a.m. and proceeded to Sapa by bus - Trekking (approx. 6km of
walking down to the South East of Sapa along the side of Muong Hoa valley to Y Linh Ho
Village of the Black H’mong – Trekking (approx. 2km to Lao Chai Village), through terraced
rice fields to Ta Van village of the Dzay minority people – Sapa Market / Town 

Day 8: 17 September 2012 
SAPA - Cat Cat - Sin Chai – Lao Cai-Hekou (Vietnam-China Border)
A walk down to the South-West of Sapa (approx. 4 km) to visit Cat Cat village of the Black
H’mong – Followed by a visit to waterfall and hydroelectric power station constructed by the
French - Sin Chai (approx. 6 km) to a village located at the foot of Fansipan Mountain, “the
Roof of Vietnam and Indo China” -  Lao Cai – Hekou (Vietnam-China Border) – Took
8.00p.m. train back to Hanoi 

Day 9: 18 September 2012 
HANOI / HALONG BAY (via Superior Dragon Cruise)
Hotel pick-up at 5.00a.m. –  Halong Bay (3hrs journey to Halong Harbor) – Board 
Superior Dragon Cruise around 12.00p.m. and enjoy the breathtaking view around the bay – Visit to: Sung Sot Cave - Titop Mountain / Area and  Luon Cave Area - Kayak / Swim in the bay’s emerald waters - Vietnamese dinner plus night entertainment on the boat – Overnight on Superior Dragon Cruise (Halong Bay) 

Day 10: 19 September 2012 
Leisure time on Superior Dragon Cruise (Halong Bay) – Sail along the bay – Stop by Gia
Luan Pier on Cat Ba Island - Halong Harbor – Hanoi (3hrs journey to Hanoi Old Quarter) –
Hanoi Guest House – Free & Easy 

Day 11: 20 September 2012 
Old Quarter - Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword) - Hang Gai Street (Street of
Hemp) - Temple of Literature - Perfumed Pagoda 

Day 12: 21 September 2012 
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - One Pillar Pagoda - Tam Coc - Thang Long Water Puppet Show 

Day 13: 22 September 2012 
Depart from Hanoi , Noi Bai Airport (International Terminal) via MH 753 – Kuala Lumpur–
The Red Dao women in Sapa

In the Centre of Sapa town
Mountains covered by mist in Sapa town
In the Centre of Sapa town
Main street in Sapa, Vietnam
Landscape of Sapa town
Sapa was our second stop after Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon. We booked our Sapa tour (inclusive of two-way soft sleeper 10 hour overnight train ride from Hanoi to Sapa, a night’s stay at Fansipan View Hotel, meals over 2 days and activities/tour guide fees) via Hanoi Guest House at 135USD/person. We slept on the train, in very restricted cabin for four, but complete with beds, blankets, and pillows. 

What a view to wake up to each day!
The breathtaking view in Sapa

The view is best viewed on foot
Villages are spread all over the mountains 
One of the mountaineous view in Sapa
Tien Sa Waterfall, Cat Cat Village
Amazing bridge in Sapa mountains in north Vietnam near to the border of China
The breathtaking scenery we witnessed around Sapa town included rice paddies, beautiful lush valleys and mountains, waterfalls and beautiful Vietnamese posing in front of every attraction. Lao Cai, the border town of Vietnam-China (which we enjoyed the splendid views on the way from Sapa town which took us only 1 hour by road) shares border with China, which was just a few kilometres away from the border. 
Border town of Vietnam-China
We did two days of trekking from Sapa  (our hotel) - Y Linh Ho – Lao Cai – Ta Van - Cat Cat - Sin Chai and visited some local villages along the way. Some parts of the walk were physically challenging (walking along narrow paths, across river and through woodland), requiring uphill climbs over rocks, so perhaps wouldn’t suit everyone. The cooler temperatures made it very pleasant to spend the days walking outdoors.
On the way uphill to Cat Cat village
The Black Hmong lady
The minority tribes in Sapa
During the walk from the hotel, the Red Dao women joined us. They tried to engage us in conversation but of course with hidden motives. And come it did, and we were presented with scarves, bags and purses and a lot of “buy from me” popped up at the end of the day. Well, they’re just trying to make a living. 
Harvest season in mid-September is the most important event of the year
The simple life in Sapa
This is called LIFE...
A source of protein for Cat Cat village residents
Water buffaloes resting in Sapa town
Getting a glimpse into life in Sapa and the nearby villages was an eye opener. The peaceful houses and simple & happy life of the ethnic people in Sapa, arranged together in attractive beauty cannot be found in any other places and the scenery we saw was truly breathtaking! The fresh, cool air of the mountains in Sapa provided much relief!

Air Itinerary Details: 
(i)Malaysia Airlines: Penang - Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) – Ho Chi Minh Son Nhut (Terminal 2)/ Hanoi Noibai - Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) - Penang
(ii) Jetstar Pacific: Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat Airport (Domestic Terminal) - Ha Noi - Noi Bai Airport (Domestic Terminal)   

(i)    Lan Lan Hotel (Ho Chi Minh City)
73 -75 Thu Khoa Huan st, Ward Ben Thanh, District 1
Telephone: +84.838236789
Fax: +84.838273838 


(ii)Hanoi Guest House (Hanoi)<**highly recommended>
 85 Ma May Street - Hoan Kiem - Hanoi - Vietnam
Tel/Fax : + 844 3 9352571 - 3  9352572
Email    : booking@hanoiguesthouse.com (Ms Huyen) 
Website : http://www.hanoiguesthouse.com
 (**We booked our accommodations via e-mails before we departed on our journey and
booked our trips to Sapa and Halong Bay from the Guesthouse in Hanoi) 

(iii)   Fansipan View Hotel (Sapa) 
Victoria hotel alley, Xuan Vien Street, Sapa town, Lao Cai, Vietnam
Tel:   (+84-203) 873 579 . Fax: (+84-203) 873 466 
Hotline:   (+84) 913 524 535
Website: www.fansipanview.com  
Train from Hanoi - Lao Cai : Quite comfortable cabins
Local Transportation:
(i)Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) – Hanoi via Jetstar Pacific 
How to get there:  Took domestic flight from Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat Airport -
Domestic Terminal via Jetstar Pacific to Hanoi - Noi Bai Airport - Domestic Terminal
Duration: 2 hour 10 minutes
Departure Ho Chi Minh - Hanoi: 15 September 2012 -  6:00 a.m. -  8:10 a.m. via BL790
(Jetstar Pacific)
Fares total: 74.87USD/for 1 way/person inclusive of tax/fee/charge
Click here for e-booking: http://www.jetstar.com/vn/en/home 

(ii)Hanoi – Halong Bay via Superior Dragon Cruise 
How to get there:  Hotel pick-up at 5.00a.m. (approx. 3hrs journey), board Superior Dragon
Cruise at 12.00p.m.
Duration: 3hrs journey by bus from Hanoi Old Quarter
Package / Fares: 73USD per pax for 2days/1night (all meals provided, on board
entertainment, tour guide fees paid)
Room type: Double bedroom with attached bathroom 
For more details: http://halongdragoncruise.com/Main.aspx?MNU=1298&Style=1    

And that’s the end of my 13days, 12nights trip in Vietnam. I would love to go back there

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries” 
- Aldous Huxley  

Welcome to Small World! This blog is not a travel agency, but rather a personal site which allows me to share my past travel experiences in a straightforward and far-reaching way. I often made great use of other peoples travel blogs and sites every time I plan for my travel itinerary as they often contained most updated information and invaluable resources from their past travel experiences.  I hope that you will find every piece of information & images contained within my blog handy and useful. Thank you very much for reading my post(s) and feel free to leave a comment/testimonial or click "Like/Share" if you love reading them all. xoxo
The writer is a passionate traveler who enjoys speaking to young keen travelers about the freedom to get cultured and to taste the fullness of life. Feel free to contact the writer if you need any travel advice, guidance or tips or if you have any burning questions with regards to your upcoming trip(s)/ journey 
Be inspired but more importantly be inspiring - 


  1. thank's your information

    1. Hi Dedi, thanks for dropping by. Do like our Facebook page if you find this blog helpful and worth a read. Thanks

  2. Thanks for sharing your journey in Sapa. Cant wait to see it for myself! We will be travelling in March hope we all can cope with the trek especially our 10yo son :)

  3. Glad to find and read your post, i go to Sapa very often recently and i haven't seen photos taken earlier! Thanks for sharing.

  4. What an interesting post with many impressive photos. I totally agree with you Sapa is an amazing place to visit. The scenery is stunning and people's life is so simple yet very pleasant.