Northern Vietnam and Yunnan holiday

“A unique tour through northern Vietnam into Yunnan, China, to discover little visited towns and extraordinary landscapes.”


Vietnam: Hanoi | Sleeper train to Lao Cai | Sapa | Hill tribe market | Day hike in Tonkinese Alps | Hmong and Dzao minority villages | China: Yunnan Province | Ailao Ranges | Yuanyang | rIce terraces | Jianshui | Tuanshan medieval village | Kunming | Stone Forest karst landscape | Weishan Town | Dali | Xizhou market | Lijiang | Day hike in Tiger Leaping Gorge | Tibetan Plateau | Zhongdian aka Shangri La

Description of Northern Vietnam and Yunnan holiday

This 18 day small group holiday explores remote and beautiful Northern Vietnam and Yunnan Province in China. Travel north from Hanoi to the beautiful Vietnamese hill stations of Bac Ha and Sapa and cross into China, following the Red River northwest. Here, discover the ancient mountainside rice terraces of Yuanyang before continuing your journey all the way to the Tibetan Plateau.

One of the most beautiful and fascinating regions of China, Yunnan owes its name to a Yunnanese Prince describing his kingdom as ‘south of the clouds’ while on a visit to the imperial Chinese court. The Mandarin translation – Yunnan – has remained to this day. This remote province borders Burma, Laos and Vietnam and its terrain ranges from tropical jungle in the south to snowy mountains where yaks roam in the Tibetan Plateau of the north. More than 25 ethnic minorities live in Yunnan, and their culture is alive in the medieval villages and busy markets that we’ll visit.

This unique tour begins in Hanoi, where you can explore the city’s colonial architecture, cafes, pagodas and museums. From here, travel through the beautiful mountain scenery of northern Vietnam, staying in the hill station of Sapa and hiking in the Tonkinese Alps to hill tribe villages. Follow the course of the spectacular Red River valley to the incredible but rarely visited rice terraces of Yuanyang and visit many traditional minority villages in the mountainous Vietnamese/Chinese border.

In Yunnan, stroll through little visited and historic towns including Jianshui and UNESCO World Heritage Lijiang, and explore the dramatic countryside, too, with a hike through the Stone Forest, a weird landscape of limestone towers, and a trek down to the Tiger Leaping Gorge. The tour ends on the Tibetan Plateau, a place of Himalayan landscapes, monasteries, yaks and delicious yak’s milk cheese, and your last destination is Zhongdian, now officially renamed Shangri La.

Enjoy a fascinating blend of well known sites and best kept secrets, with lots of time to explore at your own pace, browsing local markets, soaking up street life and meeting the friendly local people – Yunnan has to be the friendliest province in China.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Check dates, prices & availability

11 Oct 2020
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 11 Oct 2020 departure
Holiday type

Small group holiday

This is a 'small group adventure' - you will be sharing your experiences with like minded people. Group sizes are limited to a maximum of 12 persons, a genuinely small group. Experience has taught us that smaller groups are less intrusive to local cultures and environments whilst allowing more interaction with local people. Furthermore it means greater flexibility on a day to day basis and on a social level it proves to be fun. Whether you are travelling alone or with friends/family its good value, and a great way to meet new people! The intention is to travel as a group of friends rather than a typical tour group, so don't expect stick-on name badges or any following the umbrella.

Responsible tourism

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

As a tour operator, we are committed to responsible tourism as follows:

Information: Providing suitable, relevant information for our customers; to help them to gain a wider understanding of our style of tourism that focuses on learning, genuine interaction with the local communities, reciprocity and cultural exchange processes. To be aware of the potential impact of tourism on the local society, culture and environment, and to behave and dress appropriately with a respect and appreciation for local customs, mores and traditions and a respect for the ecology of areas visited. Our guides and leaders thus facilitate communication of our values to both travellers and local communities, educating them in sustainable tourism practices

Group sizes: By limiting groups to small sizes we aim to reduce the impact on both local communities and the environment whilst allowing for greater genuine interaction with said communities. It also results in a higher guide/customer ratio thus greater facility for supervision and individual assistance and allows us to use smaller hotels and restaurants and employ the services of more genuinely ‘local’ operators perhaps not otherwise well equipped for larger groups.

Destinations: We combine the well known tourist sites with many off-the-beaten-track, rarely visited destinations thus diverting tourist revenue and contact with responsible tourism into areas not usually benefiting as well as providing a more authentic view of the region visited.

The Impacts of this Trip

Local products: As much as possible we aim to employ local personnel, (guides, drivers, agents etc), use local restaurants and smaller privately owned accommodation. Customers are also encouraged to buy and use local products and services as much as possible in order to support and stimulate the local economy.

Local awareness: By explaining our methods and the reasons behind them local agents, guides and hotels are encouraged by us to adopt further responsible tourism practices themselves and guides and drivers are provided with additional training in this respect.


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