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REGISTRATION & PAYMENT REQUIRED: Once you've reviewed the event details, and decided you'd like to join us, you MUST sign up at the bottom of this page. This is a paid event with payment managed by the trip leader(s) and NOT the AOC. Please read the event description carefully for payment details and instructions.

Vietnam - Visit Hanoi, Halong Bay Tour and 7 day trek to Mt Fansipan & Topas Eco Lodge

The Basics:
Event Type:Adventure
Event Location: Vietnam   Adventure: Vietnam - Visit Hanoi, Halong Bay Tour and 7 day trek to Mt Fansipan & Topas Eco Lodge  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Tue, Mar 28 2017  12:00 pm >> Mon, Apr 10 2017 12:00 pm
Registration Opens: Mon, Nov 28 2016 7:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Mon, Nov 28 2016 7:00 pm
Event Duration:13 Days
Difficulty Rating:D6: Advanced (Exploratory)
Trip Leader(s):
Chris L
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Member Cost:$945.00/Person (See Detailed Cost Info Below)

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:10
Minimum Group Size:6
Number Registered So Far: 6 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No

Note: This is an "EXPLORATORY" trip. This means that there are parts of this trip, or perhaps the whole trip, that is new to your Trip Leader(s). However, they are confident that this will not be an issue.
This note is here so that you can make an informed decision. When a Trip Leader isn't personally familiar with a trip, there is an increased chance of things not going as planned and you need to be prepared. The Trip Leader may have additional details in the itinerary.


Vietnam - Hanoi - Halong Bay - Sapa - Mt Fansipan


Join me for an exciting adventure in northern Vietnam. Vietnam is a country of natural beauty, friendly people and yummy food. Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with limestone pillars rising out of the bay. Fansipan Mountain, the highest peak in Vietnam and Indochina, is in the Sapa region known for the beautiful rice terraces. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and its streets are bustling with cars, motor bikes and pedestrians all vying to make their way through intersections that rarely have traffic lights.    Accommodations at the hotel in the city of Hanoi will be modern and comfortable. Once outside of the city services become more rustic. The trek will be challenging but the rewards of the views will be well worth every step. 

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi

Arrive in Hanoi and check into to our hotel. Most flights arrive in the late afternoon to late evening. Our hotel is a 3 star hotel in the Old Quarter. 


  • Arrival Hanoi Noibai airport
  • Accommodation:  Hotel in Hanoi – check in after 1:00pm
  • Activity:Free at leisure
  • Meals:None Guide: no 


Day 2: Hanoi

This is a day for adjusting to the 12 hour time difference and for touring Hanoi. There are many things to see and do in Hanoi, to name a few, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo (Hilton Hanoi), Hoan Keim Lake, Ngoc Son Temple and street food and coffee shops on every corner. 


  • Accommodation:  Hotel in Hanoi
  • Activity:    Free at leisure
  • Meals:    Breakfast


Day 3: Hanoi – Halong Bay Tour – Hanoi

We will be picked up from our hotel in a private van for the 3.5 hour drive to Halong Bay. The tour will include Taun Chau Harbor, Three Cave and Theign Cung Grotto. We will be transported back to our hotel in Hanio by private van.


  • Hanoi -Halong Bay -Hanoi
  • Accommodation:  Hotel in Hanoi
  • Activity:    Halong Bay tour
  • Meals:    Breakfast, Lunch
  • Guide: yes – private guide

Halong Bay tour  

Day 4:  Hanoi – Night train to Lao Cai

After breakfast we will have half a day to continue exploring Hanoi. Before heading out for the day, we will check out of our rooms and store luggage not needed for our trek in lockers at the hotel. We will meet back at the hotel in the late afternoon. We will be pick up from our hotel for our transfer to the Hanoi Railway Station. We will take the overnight train to Lao Cai. Our cabins are air-conditioning, sharing, 4 berth soft sleeper cabins. 


  • Activity: Day Free at leisure
  • Transfer: hotel – railway station:  AC vehicle 
  • Accommodation:   Soft sleeper in AC cabin
  • Guide: No
  • Meals:    Breakfast


Day 5:  Lao Cai – Sapa Town ~ no trekking

We will arrive in Lao Cai Railway Station at around 6.20 am. Our guide and driver will pick us up at the Station. After a brief greeting, we will take a 1 hour drive uphill to the beautiful town of Sapa. The road continuously twists and turns along mountains with glimpses of the stunning vistas and impressive rice terraces. Upon arrival in Sapa Town, we will have a hot breakfast in a local restaurant. We will spend the day enjoying the town. We will stay overnight at a 3 star hotel in Sapa.


  • Transfer Lao Cai – Sapa: 1 hr
  • Accommodation:  Hotel in Sapa – check in after 2pm
  • Activity:    Free at leisure
  • Meals:    Breakfast


Day 6: Sapa – Heavens Gate – Mt Fansipan trek up to 2800m 

In the morning, we travel by car for about 30 minutes toward the Silver Waterfall. We may stop there for photos of the sparkling-silver color stream pouring down from mountains after heavy rains. In dry days, we will skip this stop.  We will then drive further to Heaven Gate, the highest road in Vietnam. From here, in clear weather, we can see Mt. Fansipan, the highest peak of Indochina mountains as well as enjoy stunning views of the Binh Lu valley. We start climbing here. The trek will be relatively moderate until lunchtime. We will cross some streams with cold, clear water. Water-proof boots are strongly recommended. After 2,5 hours hiking on rocky, dirt trails, we arrive the resting stop at 2200m. We will have a picnic lunch. After lunch the trail starts the real mountain hike with climbing up and up for next 3,5 hours, then finally descending towards the campsite . The trek is truly breath-taking with magnificent views and beautiful landscapes of Lai Chau province. We will arrive at the Mt Fansipan's lodge at 2800m ASL in afternoon around 4pm. We will relax and enjoy a well prepared dinner by our support crew. 


  • Trekking:   6 hrs/ascend 2,800 m from 1,900 m
  • Accommodation:  in basic lodge
  • Meals:    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Guide: yes – private guide


Day 7 - 2800m – trek up Mt. Fansipan 3143m – down to 2200m

After having breakfast, we climb to Fansipan's peak at 3143m, where we can celebrate our accomplishment. You can touch the stone marker, this is the highest place of Vietnam and Indochina. We will spend about 30 minutes at the summit before we start our descent. We stop on the way down at a nice spot for lunch. In the afternoon, we start the hard hiking for the day, which is downhill through the rain forest. This part of our mountain conquering tour requires a great deal of concentration as the trail is steep until we arrive at the campsite at 2200m ASL. Here we spend another night in a basic lodge.


  • Trekking: 6 hrs/ascend 3,143 m and descend to 2,200m
  • Accommodation: in basic lodge
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Guide: yes – private guide


Day 8: 2200m – trek down to Y Linh Ho Village ~ 8hrs hiking

We wake up and enjoy breakfast before we start another tough trekking day while we keep hiking down the slopes. We descend through well protected forest and after a couple of hours of hiking, we stop for lunch. We will then continue our walk descending toward the valley. Along the way we will be able to enjoy valley views and beautiful surroundings. We arrive in Y Linh Ho village of the Black Hmong minority in the late afternoon. Here we spend the night at a local house. 


  • Trekking: 8 hrs/descend to 1,600m
  • Accommodation: homestay
  • Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Guide: yes – private guide


Day 9: Y linh Ho village - Giang Ta Chai Village

Have breakfast at homestay. Keep your feet walking from Lao Chai to Tavan village where the Giay hill tribe lives. Hiking right through a bamboo forest, after our picnic lunch, to Giang Ta Chai, a Red Dao ethnic minority village where we will have a authentic homestay experience among hill tribe people. Dinner and overnight in a local house. 


  • Trekking:        5-hr trek/dirt paths/downhill 
  • Accommodation:      Homestay
  • Meals:         Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Guide: yes – private guide


Day 10: Giang Ta Chai Village - Su Pan - Thanh Kim Village - Thanh Phu Village

Enjoy breakfast with our host before we start our trekking day. Hiking through the rice terraces to the village of the Su Pan people. We may stop for a break while our guide briefs us on the unique features of this ethnic people. Moving on to Thanh Kim for a picnic lunch. After lunch , we spend another 2 hours walking downhill along a narrow valley to the Ngoi Bo River, then uphill for one more hour to Muong Bo Village. We arrive at the center of Thanh Phu – a commune of Tay minority. We have dinner and stay overnight in a wooden Tay stilt house. 


  • Trekking:       7-hr trek/dirt paths/downhill
  • Accommodation:     Homestay
  • Meals:        Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Guide: yes – private guide


Day 11: Thanh Phu Village - Topas Eco Lodge

Today we reach the highlight of our trek tour – Topas Ecolodge. Leaving Thanh Phu village, we will walk on a good condition trail for about 3 km to meet the transfer vehicle. 

There is a short ride to Topas Eco Lodge. Upon arrival, check in our bungalows (after 1:00pm). Immediately getting overwhelmed by breathtaking views of mountain peaks, picturesque clouds and pure air while sitting on private balconirs. Nothing could be more relaxing. Overnight in Topas Eco lodge.  


  • Trek:   40 mins – Moderate grade
  • Meals:   Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Topas Eco Lodge
  • Guide: yes – private guide


Day 12: Topas Eco lodge - Sapa - Night train back to Hanoi

Enjoy breakfast and services at Topas. If the weather is clear, you be able to see the Fan Si Pan peak emerging from an ocean of cloud.  Check out and leave Topas by shuttle bus transfer at 09.30 am to Sapa Town. We will leave our packs at the tour company office in town, then we will be free to explore the town, relaxing in local cafes or shops around the market. In the late afternoon we will take a bus ride to Lao Cai for the night train back to Hanoi


  • Transfer eco lodge – Sapa:  30 mins,  Sapa – railway station:  1-hr by AC vehicle 
  • Meal:     Breakfast
  • Accommodation:   Overnight train with AC, soft sleeper cabin
  • Guide: yes – private guide


Day 13: Arrive in Hanoi.

Arrive in Hanoi around 5:20 am. We will transfer back to our hotel in Hanoi. We will collected our stored luggage and check into our rooms for our day and last night in Hanoi. 


  • Meal:     not available
  • Accommodation:   Hotel in Hanoi
  • Activity: At your leisure


Day 14: Depart Hanoi – Fly to Atlanta

Meal: Breakfast


This trek is considered challenging by the tour company. They suggest that participants are able to do 1 hour of cardio 4 to 5 times a week. Participants need to be able to complete regular D4 and D5 hikes before this event. 

The weight of your pack for this trip will be light. The trek is divided into two sections. The first section is the climb of Mt Fansipan. This section of the tour is fully supported with a guide, cook and porters. The tour company provides all of our food and sleeping gear. The porters will not carry any personal gear so your pack will have your extra clothes and toiletries. We will not have access to showers on this portion of the tour. The tour company recommends that you keep your pack at a maximum of 5 KG (11 pounds). The only extras I am planning to carry in my pack is my ultralight air mattress and a few of snacks. The tour company provides a yoga type mat for sleeping. While researching the trek, several reviews mentioned that the yoga matts are thin. On the morning we climb to the summit of Mt Fansipan, we will be allowed to leave our personal items with the porters at the lodge. This will lighten the load for the climb.

The second section of the trek we will be staying at homestays. They are similar to hostels.

From the tour description:

“Our homestay is a real local house by ethnic minorities in remote villages of Sapa. The houses are all very basic conditions with the hosts and his/her family living in and carrying their daily lives of farming and raising cattle. The bedding area is shared for several sleepers. You will be provided a private mattress, mosquito net, pillow, warm blanket. We suggest you should carry your own light sleeping bag for more comfort. The toilet is often western style (water flushing) and there is hot water running from shower. The toilet and bathroom are not ensuite, and often few steps away from the main house.“ 

We will be allowed to bring a separate bag with addition gear that we will leave at the tour office while we climb Mt Fansipan. Our extra bag will be delivered to our first homestay. From that point on, our bag will be transported for us to the next homestay. We will only have to carry our day pack.

All registrants will initially be put on the wait list. If I have not hiked with you in the past, I will contact trip leaders you have hiked with to make sure you are a good fit for this event in both fitness ability and your ability to get along well with others and not create drama on the trip. 

Once you are moved from the wait list to the event I will give you my address to mail a check for the $200.00 deposit. The deposit must be received within 5 days or you will be moved back to the wait list. I will contact you with payment instructions as soon as you are moved onto the event. The balance of $745.00 will be due by January 15th.



The Trip Leader for this event has elected either to personally collect the funds that event participants are required to pay, or to require participants to pay funds directly to a third party. No funds will be paid to the Atlanta Outdoor Club for this event. Therefore, by registering for this event, you acknowledge and agree to the following: (1) the monies paid by registrants will not be monitored, managed, or otherwise accounted for by the Atlanta Outdoor Club; (2) that the Atlanta Outdoor Club bears no financial responsibility for this event; and (3) you waive any and all claims against the Atlanta Outdoor Club, and hold the Atlanta Outdoor Club harmless for the loss of any monies you paid for this event.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, any paying registrant may request directly from the Trip Leader, prior to the event, a breakdown of funds collected, estimated expenses, and deposits made in anticipation of the event. Following the event, the Trip Leader must complete his or her financial accounting for the event, with supporting documentation, within 30 days of the completion of the event, and a paid registrant may request a breakdown of funds collected, money spent and supporting documentation after that time. If you are unable to obtain requested documentation, please contact the Director of Paid Events.

Required Items to Bring:

A list of required items will be provided by the trip leader at a pre-trip get together.

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.



Breakfast at our hotel in Hanoi will be a breakfast buffet with eggs, bread, fruit. 

The information from the tour company for the trek states that the meals they provide are mainly seafood.



To purchase your Visa before you travel, the Visa fee is $150. You must complete the application and mail your Passport, $150 money order, application and a pre-paid return envelope to the Vietnam embassy. Your passport will be returned by mail with your visa.

For Vietnam Visa On Arrival: On arrival at Vietnam airport, you need 2 passport-sized photos, the copy of visa approval letter, original passport and 65 USD/person. I will facilitate acquiring the letter from the hotel or tour company.

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Member Cost:$945.00/Person
Cost Includes:
The cost of this trip includes:
  • Accommodations for 13 nights in a shared room, in either a hotel, train, lodge or homestay.
  • Meals as listed in the itinerary.
  • A nonrefundable $25.00 AOC user fee.
  • All transportation and ticket fees including tips for the Halong bay tour.
  • All transportation, tour cost, park entrance fees and tips for the trek in Sapa.

Sapa Trek inclusions:

  • Returned tickets on A/C sleeper cabin on train
  • Twin shared room in Sapa  
  • Shared room in the lodge at Resting site or Camping tents if the lodge is overbooked at Fansipan
  • Homestay and permissions
  • Road transfer  two ways in Lao Cai - Sapa  
  • Road transfer one way in Hanoi  
  • Professional trekking English speaking guide  
  • Porters & Cook  
  • First-aid kit  
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary  
  • Water & Snacks  
  • Entrance & sightseeing fees
  • Fansipan climbing permissions
  • Service charges and taxes 

Cost does NOT include anything not explicitly mentioned above, in particular:

  • Meals not listed in the itinerary.
  • Airfare to and from the Vietnam and local transportation to and from the airport. Our hotel offers to prearrange transportation to and from the airport. The cost will depend on the number of people using the service.
  • Cost of Visa required to enter Vitnam.
  • Travel Insurance - All participants will be required to purchase Travel Insurance


Payment Instructions: Once you are moved from the wait list to the event I will give you my address to mail a check for the  $200.00 deposit. The deposit must be received within 5 days or you will be moved back to the wait list. I will contact you with payment instructions as soon as you are moved onto the event. The balance of $745.00 will be due by January 15th.

Make a Payment:Although there is a cost for this event, you do not pay through the AOC. Please review the event details carefully for information about how/where to make your payment.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.

Please note that once you have signed up for this trip and paid your $200.00 deposit by the deadline, you are committed to going and your deposit is non-refundable.

Full payment of the balance is required by January 15, 2017. You may pay earlier if you wish.

Should you withdraw from the trip for any reason after January 15, 2017 you will either need to ensure that there is someone on the wait list who can and will take your place, or you will be held responsible for the full amount of the trip. Please note that this trip price is based on 10 participants with double occupancy. Therefore, we have to have at least 10 participants in order to make the trip work. Any less than 10 participants and the price increases to $1,100 per person.

If the trip is cancelled, the initial deposits of $200 are non-refundable but any additional payments will be fully refundable. This is because the initial deposit is used to book the trek and is non-refundable.