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Northern Vietnam & China

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(Tour code: VYG18)

Uncover two ancient cultures over 14 days of exploration and adventure

Uncover two ancient cultures over 14 days of exploration and adventure as you travel through southern Chinese provinces and see the northern wonders of Vietnam. By air, rail and sail, you'll slowly uncover the delights of this lesser-known corner of Asia.

  • Kunming
  • Bird & Flower Market, Stone Forest and Bamboo Temple
  • Lijiang
  • Black Dragon Pool
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Sapa
  • Cat Cat village
  • Free time in Hanoi
  • Cruise through Halong Bay
What’s Included
  • 1 night on the sleeper train to Hanoi
  • 9 Nights' Hotel Accommodation
  • 1 night on board a luxury junk ship on Halong Bay

Northern Vietnam & China 2018Tour Details

Print Itinerary
Days 1-2 Kunming

London to Kunming

From London we fly firstly to Hong Kong, continuing on a direct flight to Kunming. Arriving on Day 2, we begin our explorations of this large and vibrant place, affectionately known as the 'Spring City'.

Serving as the capital of the Yunnan Province, this excellent area is a lovely combination of old and new, boasting of traditional wooden buildings and narrow streets in the Old Town, and the steel and glass train station. We begin by visiting the Bird and Flower Market, a wonderful explosion of colour and sound that is a delight to discover. After a guided visit here, we continue on to the Yunnan Military Academy Museum, before a stroll through Green Lake Park, an oasis of verdant calm in the city. This evening, we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 3 Black Dragon Pool
Black Dragon Pool

To Lijiang

We transfer to the airport this morning for our flight to Lijiang, meeting our guide for a visit to Jade Spring Park, the tranquil setting for the clear and calm Black Dragon Pool, a famous pond surrounded by small temples and pavillions, including The Moon Embracing Pavillion, which was built during the Ming Dynasty.

We also learn about the heritage of the Naxi people, an ancient people and one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognised by China, with their own culture, music, and dress, at the Dongba Culture Museum and Mu Fu Mansion.

After lunch at a local restaurant, we call at Vancomycin Floor for panoramic views over the Old Town and beyond and visit Shuhe Old Town, a picturesque example of traditional Chinese life situated at the base of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and one of the oldest settlements of the Naxi people. Following some free time this afternoon, our evening continues with a Chinese meal and traditional Xuanke music performance.

Day 4 Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

We ascend Jade Dragon Snow Mountain by cable-car today, named because of its resemblance to a jade dragon in the clouds on foggy days. The mountain is a haven for fl ora and fauna, with a quarter of all plant life in China being found here.

Later, we discover the Baisha village fresco as well as the story of the Austrian-American explorer and botanist Joseph Rock on a visit to his former house in the remote village of Xuesong. Joseph Rock wrote extensive papers and books on the history of the Naxi people, and as such, became an authority on their culture in the Western world.

Day 5 Shigu Town
Shigu Town

Shigu Town

Today brings us to Shigu Town, the very first bend on the fertile banks of the Yangtze River, and Tiger Leaping Gorge. A phenomenal sight, and one of the deepest gorges in the world, going down around 3,790 meters from its tallest to its lowest point. It is, unsurprisingly, a UNESCO-listed site thanks to the incredible beauty of the mountain ranges that surround it, and the Jonsho River that flows through it.

Day 6 The Stone Forest
The Stone Forest

The Stone Forest

We fly back to Kunming this morning, seeing more of South China's Yunnan Province with a visit to the Stone Forest of Shilin Yi. Truly a sight to behold, these incredible stone pillars were formed around 270 million years ago, and as you wander through a sea of looming limestone, it is easy to see more in these petrified figures than just rock.

Days 7-8 Sapa

To Sapa

Today takes us to the station where we board the service to Hekou. From here we travel to the Vietnamese border, arriving at our hotel in Sapa for dinner.

After a leisurely morning on Day 8, we enjoy lunch together followed by a trip to Cat Cat village, an ethnic village nestled in a verdant valley that retains many of its old practices. Following some time here, we take a walking tour around the city's market, a hubbub of colour and sound, where villagers from the surrounding countryside travel to sell their hand made wares.

Days 9-10 Halong Bay
Halong Bay

Halong Bay

We leave Sapa today and head to Ta Phin, where we visit the ethnic villages of Red Dao and Black Hmong. After time here, we continue to Ma Tra. Dinner is in a local restaurant before we take the sleeper train to Hanoi, arriving early on Day 10. We continue by coach and rail to Halong Bay after breakfast.

This incredible area of outstanding natural beauty includes around 3,000 islands of incredibly picturesque karst rock formations, that all rise dramatically from the emerald waters beneath, created, according to legend, when the gods sent a family of dragons to protect the Vietnamese from invaders. We spend tonight on a Bhaya junk ship, watching the sun set over the water.

Days 11-12 Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum


After disembarking this morning, the rest of the day is free to explore Hanoi before we take a guided tour on Day 12. Our tour includes Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing marble edifice which houses the remains of the former leader. We take in the One Pillar Pagoda, where Ho Chi Minh once resided, before discovering the Temple of Literature, built in 1070AD, later playing host to Vietnam's first national university, the Imperial Academy which was established in 1076 and taught subjects such as law, maths, and even archery, before closing down in 1905. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant then transfer back to our hotel, where you may enjoy an afternoon at leisure or enjoy an optional trip to the Water Puppet Theatre to enjoy a performance of this traditional Vietnamese entertainment.

Days 13-14 Return Home
Return Home

Return Home

After breakfast, we enjoy a small amount of free time before transferring to Hanoi airport. From here, we fly back to London Heathrow via. Hong Kong, arriving on Day 14.

Departure Times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

What’s included
What's Included

An escorted experience and all travel arrangements

  • The services of a professional UK Tour Manager from start to finish
  • Flight from London to Kunming via Hong Kong, internal, return flights from Kunming to Lijiang and flight from Hanoi to London
  • Overnight rail journey from Sapa to Hanoi
  • All rail and coach travel throughout your tour

Comfortable accommodation in your destination

  • 9 nights' hotel accommodation
  • 1 night on board the sleeper train to Hanoi
  • 1 night on board a luxury junk ship on Halong Bay

Delicious meals included

  • 29 meals including 11 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 9 dinners

Exciting excursions and free time to explore

  • Sightseeing in and around Kunming including the bird & flower market, Stone Forest and Bamboo Temple
  • Discover Lijiang, including Black Dragon Pool and Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Tour of Sapa including the market and Cat Cat village
  • Free time in Hanoi (or optional excursions) and cruise through Halong Bay
Not Included
  • Supplement for single occupancy throughout: £775

This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.

Helen Laverack
Kathryn Cambridge
Lynne Broadley
Julie Pacalon
Northern Vietnam & China

Uncover two ancient cultures over 14 days of exploration and adventure


Worldwide Holidays by Rail 2018/19

Long haul rail holidays to North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Australasia.

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