Vietnam tailor made vacation, North to South

“A tailor made tour of Vietnam from north to south, including overnights on sleeper trains and a junk boat tour of Halong bay.”


Hanoi | Mai Chau Valley | sleeper train to Lao Cai | Sapa | Halong Bay | night on board a junk boat in Halong Bay | Hue | Hoi An | bike tour of countryside near Hoi An | Chu Chi Tunnels | Ho Chi Minh City

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Departure information

This trip can be tailormade throughout the year and can be adapted to suit your interests, budget and requirements
Vacation type
We offer a complete tailor made service allowing you to decide when you go, where to stay and what to do, to create a unique vacation for your individual requirements by our travel experts. We would be happy to telephone you to discuss your requirements and options. Our staff have intimate knowledge of this destination, so do please include your telephone number when you complete the inquiry form.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your vacation will help support conservation and local people.

On this tour you will stay in a range of accommodation, including the Mai Chau Lodge, just outside Hanoi, who are committed to sustainable tourism and can boast staff made up of 100% local villagers. The Lodge is involved in training and education of the staff in both hospitality and various trades, providing them with transferrable skills. They also support charity and building projects in the nearby villages of Xo, Van and Panh. The Lodge purchases local products wherever possible and understands the need for sustainability of the region’s resources. To this end, they also engage in a programme of planting native trees in and around Mai Chau.

The Lodge employs local people as trades-people and hospitality staff. Due to the remote location of the Lodge, the management decided to employ locals with a specific trade, ie carpentry, farming etc as full time staff and also train them up as front of house staff and guides. This means that not only have the staff learnt an extra skill in the hospitality industry which they can take into other jobs but the Lodge has full time craftsmen on hand in case anything goes wrong, avoiding the need for them to travel from Sapa.

Any food the Lodge does not grow themselves in their small on-site garden, they source from the local region (this goes for other essentials too), thereby reducing the need for the transportation of goods over great distances and keeps the money in the local economy, which is very important to the poorer hill tribes. Topas Ecolodge works very closely with the local Red Dzao tribe women, and they are currently setting up a small retail unit from which they can sell their handcrafted artefacts safely.

Topas Ecolodge complies with GreenGlobe 21, an environmental certification program, which has legislation requiring environmental and social policy to be reviewed every year. On this itinerary we have deliberately left your time in Sapa ‘at leisure’ to allow you to utilise and pay the local Topas Ecolodge guides directly. Transport to and from Sapa and from Hanoi to Hue is by local train. This not only offers a more authentic Vietnamese experience but also avoids the need for extra road or flight transportation and thus pollution.

The Pilgrimage Village just outside Hue is a small, boutique hotel which, while offering guests a luxurious stay, also offers the chance to get involved in the skills of the local Vietnamese craftsmen and women. The hotel has a dedicated ‘handicraft house’ where guests can create a unique piece for themselves and also buy those made by the on-site artisans, thereby benefitting the locals financially and providing you with a fascinating insight into the artistic traditions of the country and an often unique piece of art.

Our Vietnamese ground agents only employ local guides and drivers to accompany our clients thus keeping the money in the community. As a company they have also committed to moving forward with green initiatives with regards their office administration. This includes little things like going paperless throughout (including the use of e-books and the launch of a staff intranet containing all relevant information to avoid the need for reference guides), using text messages to send instructions to guides to avoid them having to come into the office and the cancelling of brochure production.

Our ground agent also supports 2 charities, Right to Play and the local Vietnamese charity KOTO. KOTO is a not-for-profit restaurant and vocational training program based in Hanoi that is changing the lives of street and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam. KOTO has grown from a small sandwich shop in Hanoi to a 120-seat restaurant and internationally accredited hospitality program that gives young people the start in life that everyone deserves. KOTO graduates complete the program as confident and capable young adults who are able to take control of their own lives. They are highly valued by the hospitality industry in Vietnam and many now work in top hotels and restaurants in Hanoi. Our ground agent supports the charity by providing services and financial support.

They also support the international charity Right to Play, established in the early 1990’s which helps give children a chance to become constructive participants in society, regardless of gender, disability, ethnicity, social background or religion. Through games and sports, they help create social change in communities affected by war, poverty and disease.

2 Reviews of Vietnam tailor made vacation, North to South

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 04 Jan 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Experiencing the culture and customs of the Vietnamese people. We both thoroughly enjoyed the cooking class as this gave us the opportunity to walk around a farm, market and cook Vietnamese food under the expert eye of a local chef who explained the rationale behind food etc.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

You don't need to take many clothes as laundry services are cheap and easily accessible, making luggage lighter. There is good wifi available ensuring you keep in touch.good pair of walking shoes, a lightweight rain coat would be helpful in the north. If traveling north and south, think about the types of clothes needed for the different weather conditions.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We feel that using local guides ensured that local people benefitted from our visit.
Unfortunately, we did not realise that an elephant ride was involved (yes, we know that we should have read the itinerary more thoroughly and we did after the second day) as we felt uncomfortable with the metal cage that was used to carry us.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

8 out of 10. The government run hotel at Buon Ma Thuot, Cao Nguyen Hotel was poorly kept, unclean when there were other options available in the town. The first train trip from Hue to Hanoi we were unprepared for the unclean sheets, although it was identified as an 'experience.' We learnt from this and bought sleeping bag liners for the next journeys although the trains from / to Hanoi / Sapa were much better (clean etc).

Following our visit to the war museum we were taken to shops that had items made by those affected by agent orange etc, and were felt pressured into buying items.

Although the above comments are negative our overall experience was amazing! We loved the people and the variety of Vietnamese countryside. We feel that this trip was a quick tour of the country and would love to return to visit areas we
did not have time to visit (e.g. the national parks) and revisit areas for longer (e.g. a home stay and trek in Sapa).

Read the operator's response here:

We are always deeply saddened and disappointed to hear of any situation where an animal maybe in discomfort or distress for the sake of tourism or exploitation. We no longer offer this tour in our programme for the North to South Itinerary in Vietnam and all of our itineraries are being reviewed or changed in the case of where animals are being used for the entertainment or transportation of clients.

Reviewed on 04 Feb 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Trip to Halong bay

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

When arriving collect your Visa BEFORE going to the passport control.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I think it benefited local people as it brought employment and foreign currency to the country.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Exceptional in some places, hotels in the city could be better.

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