Frequently Asked Questions – Sapa and Halong Bay

Would it be possible to book a cruise for 2 days/1 night during Tet Holiday?

During these holidays such as Christmas, New Year and Tet, cruise space can fill out very quickly. We suggest you to book a cruise as far in advance as possible if you plan to travel during this time of the year.
The following cruises often organize exciting activities for Tet so you may want to check them out: Glory Cruise, Indochina Sails,V’Spirit, Halong Legacy…

What is the promotion rate?

Promotion rate is offered as the shown rate on each service, which was already taken away the percentage of being promottional .

Does the cruise price include transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay?

It depends on which cruise you are looking at. All luxury cruises exclude the price of transfer service in their price: most, however, offer shuttle bus that picks you up and drop you off at your hotel for very reasonable cost. Some deluxe cruises and superior already include transfer in their price such as Glory Cruise, Legacy Cruise, Majestic Cruise or Phoenix Cruise.

Any cruise offers spa service

Spa is an exclusive service and not offered by all cruise due to its luxury nature and limited space on board of most junk. Up to date there are 2 cruises that offer spa service on board: Au Co Cruise and Paradise Peak Cruise, Greyline Cruise.

I am a vegetarian. Can I request for vegetarian meals on board?

Most cruises accept vegetarian meal request. Please notify us of your dietary requirement 48 hours in advance, or ideally at the time of making your reservation.

How long in advance should I make the reservation?

Most cruises posted on our site are filling out fast, for the quality of service and low price offered. We suggest you to make the reservation as soon as possible, especially if you are planning to travel in high season months from September to December. Planning your trip ahead will save you time and hassle.

What if I want to cancel my booking?

When you decide that you need to cancel your booking, please notify us immediately by email. We do not accept cancellation notice by phone or any other means for verification reason.

What does the listed price include?

  • Unless otherwise noted, all prices listed on our site already INCLUDE meals, entrance and sightseeing fees, guide on board and government taxes (10%).
  • The listed price does not include New Year and Christmas surcharge, personal expense and tips.
  • Note: If payment is made by credit cards, it will be subject to a credit card processing fee of 3%.

How to reserve for a cruise trip on Halongsapapackages.com?

You can reserve for your cruise trip or tour to Halong on our website in three simple steps:
1. Search for your desired cruise using our search tool, located on the left hand side of the web page, or by clicking on one of the cruise category: Luxury Cruise, Deluxe Cruise or Superior Cruise.
2. Select the cruise that catches your attention. Each cruise is listed with details about price, itineraries and photo gallery, making it easy for you to compare and contrast.
3. Click on “Book Now” button and be transferred to the Booking Request Form. We will check the availability of your request and respond in 4 hours (office hours) and 12 hours (non-office hours).

When is the best time to visit Sapa?

The best time to visit is from April to September. Although, each season has its own special qualities and surprises.
During this period the temperature is ranging from 15 – 25 Degree Celsius, it is not a raining season in Sapa so the trekking routes are dry and bear great opportunity to do longer treks and to conquer Mount Fansipan. During the winter months, the temperature is much cooler and it is advised to bring a some warm clothing (hat, sweater, wool socks) for after you days fo trekking. Also, during the winter months there are periods of light rain, which brings in the fog. This puts Sapa in the clouds and allows for some fantastic photo opportunities.

Before our night train to Sapa, do you have a place where we can leave luggage?

It is recommended that you extend your stay / check-out time at the hotel that you are staying at so that you can get a little added rest, shower, and change of clothes before boarding the train. Then, you can also leave your bags there during the day.
If this option is unavailable or you don’t have a hotel, you can leave your luggage at one of our offices. We will happily store it for you while you are on you trip for free.
Tip: If you are to Sapa for trekking, we suggest you travel light for an enjoyable time.

Is there a sleeper train to Sapa? What is it like?

There is a night train to Sapa. There are a range of seating types but we only use the air-conditioned soft sleepers for our guests. There are four berths in each cabin, two lower and two upper. The beds are soft, clean and come with a blanket and pillow. The beds are sometimes a bit small for some Westerners.
Each cabin locks on the inside for security and has a fair amount of room for luggage storage under the beds and above the door.
If you would like to splurge and go first class, the Royal Victoria Train is available. Please ask our travel consultant for more details.
The train itself does not go fast and takes about 10 hours from Hanoi to Lao Cai (about 350 km). In comparison to other trains it is not too noisy, although some people bring earplugs, especially if they are in the hard –sleeper class. Toilets are available on each coach. It is advised to bring your own toilet paper.
About half the time there is a dining car on the train. Just recently we have noticed that they have replaced the dining car with another passenger coach. Thus, it is advised to bring water, snacks, or anything else you may want to eat before boarding.

Is there a day train to Lao Cai (Sapa)?

There is one train that journey from Hanoi to Lao Cai and vise-versa in the day, but there is no sleeper train during the day. It only has seats and no air-conditioning. We recommend you not take this train.
Tip: We highly recommend taking the night train to save you time, visit more places in Sapa.

Any other means of travel to Sapa except train?

The best mean of transport to Lao Cai and Sapa is still the train, however, car or van or sleeping bus can be also good to reach to this beautiful mountain town.
It will take about 10 hours (not including possible traffic jams) in a distance of 400 km from Hanoi. And there is plenty of sightseeing we can make en route.
We recommend to travel by train, but for some reasons, you would wish to travel there by car, please check with one of our travel consultants to see the road conditions since it sometimes has construction and will make your journey to Sapa even longer than 10 hours.

How far is that from Lao Cai to Sapa and means of transport?

It is 38 km from Lao Cai to Sapa, the road is constantly zigzag with steep up hills. As we approach will gain about 1000 meters in elevation and reach Sapa town at 1600 meters. The views are spectacular.
It is comfortable by AC can or car, our driver will bring you to Sapa in about one hour.
Your guide and/or driver will be waiting outside the train station to pick you up. Look for a sign with your name on it.

Is your local guide waiting for us at the train station of Lao Cai?

Yes, your guide will be waiting outside the train station with a sign and with your name. Together with your driver they will take you safely to Sapa. The guide that we use is a local guide from the Sapa area.
We provide telephone numbers of our local guides and tour operators in advance, just in case.
Tip: There are so many passengers outside at Lao Cai train station when you get out, please make sure you look for the board with your full name on it and our local guide welcoming you.

Is there anywhere in Sapa or Lao Cai, that we can get changed, have a shower, and leave luggage before our trekking?

Yes, for your comfort, we have arranged a clean place at a Sapa hotel for you to shower (not for sleep). Breakfast is at the restaurant in the same place. For your convenience you may also store your bags at the hotel.
There is also a good place in Lao Cai for shower and breakfast in case that your itinerary is not to travel to Sapa that day. (e.g. travel to Bac Ha Sunday market)
Tip: The place for shower and changed is not for sleeping the whole day, it’s just for a short rest and shower before you start your trek.

How do you define: easy trekking, intermediate & hard trekking?

(How hard is the trek with your Sapa tours? About the condition of the Sapa trails. Are they dry or wet, steep or flat?)
Trekking: Is a category of adventure travel, typically involving visits to remote areas, with overnight lodging in tents or other minimal accommodation. It is less strenuous than hiking but more strenuous then walking.
In comparison to trekking in Nepal or India, the trekking in Sapa is easy. But, because of the rapid weather changes, and the severe ups and downs on some of the trails; we have to classify the trekking as moderate. Please be aware of the time it takes to reach each destination so that you can confirm that it will suit your abilities.
Easy trekking: Harder than walking, trekking trail is not steep, has some ups and downs, often in a short time.
Moderate trekking: Trekking trail has ups and downs, but not so steep. Trail will become more difficult in poor weather.
Intermediate to Hard trekking: Trekking route has a steep incline and often is off road in remote areas, very difficult during periods of rain.
Every situation depends on weather, especially in Sapa.
Tip: We can always tailor the trek to adapt to the weather changes, sometimes you would like to hire the support jeep / vehicle to bring you from point to point, and this is possible at a reasonable extra.

What kind of shoes should we use for trekking in Sapa?

There are different types of trekking in Sapa and its surrounding mountains, so when booking Sapa tours or Vietnam tours including Sapa, you will need to check with our travel consultants to see which kind of shoes will work best.
For the light or easy trek, we recommend using good sandals or walking shoes, but for intermediate and hard trekking trips, we have to use really good shoes or sport shoes which must have really strong grips for hiking up and down. Many of our past clients use their expert hiking boots which often become very muddy in rainy weather. The best footwear during periods of rain are definitely the local rubber boots bought at the local market for about 60 000 VND or $4 USD. They grip in mud and do not cause blisters. Although, these boots do not breath at all.

What do you mean by CBT homestay?

As we continue to promote responsible travel, we strive to do our best in supporting CBT (Community Based Tourism) Products. A CBT Homestay is an overnight in the home of one of the local ethnic minorities. They have been set up in a way that the community benefits from the added tourism income and not just a single entity.

What is the homestay condition, are there mosquito nets and sleeping bags provided at homestay?

We try not to bring our influences to the local host. CBT means that the locals will make all the arrangements of bedding like: cushions, mattress, blankets, pillows, mosquito-net, with their own materials. Authentic and simple but clean and safe.
Please bring your own sleeping bags to the homestay if you feel the need and it is also recommended for some of the visitors with sensitive skin.
For meals, our host will help with cooking and dining, our local guide might have to bring food from Sapa (if they are far away from the market). They have their traditional ways of preparing food and they are all well educated about hygiene, food safety, and cleanliness.
Simple as it is, a toilet is placed a few steps from their house, there is a bucket of water for use…please do bring your own toilet paper. Minimizing as many environmental impacts as possible has already been an issue raised and dealt with.

Are we sleeping with the family at the village in the same house? Do we eat with the locals at the homestay?

Yes we will stay with the family in the same house providing we are a group of less less than 4. If we are more than four we will divide into smaller groups and stay with multiple neighbouring families with homestays.
We will normally enjoy dinner and sleep with one family, but sometimes, the neighbours want to share the tourism benefits equally, then cooking and eating is at one house but sleeping is at another.

What types of activities should we expect to be participating in at the homestay?

There is a wide range of activities that we have participated in. Some of our guests have gone out in the fields and actually got into the mud and planted rice. Others, have befriended one of the young women and was taken to her house to have tea. Sometimes the guest are up for some more trekking and we go for a short walk in the mountains. And, others prefer to just sit and relax. Helping out with the cooking and some of the chores is encouraged so that you can get a better understanding of local life.
The people at the homestay are quite shy. Especially with their English. They can speak a little English and actually it is enough to have a conversation. Although, they do need some encouragement. We ask you to be active in communicating with the family, asking them questions about their lives. They are always happy to answer, often showing you and getting you involved in order for you to better understand.

What kind of food will we eat at the homestay?

There will be a range of food at the homestay. For dinner there will be a mix of traditional Dao and Vietnamese. We bring a lot of food in from Sapa to share with the family and everyone gets a chance to share in the cooking. For breakfast, pancakes and bananas have become very popular amongst the trekkers and homestays, although if you wish to have a traditional Dao breakfast that can be arranged. It is usually rice, and an egg and some vegetables.

How do I prepare before going to the homestay?

First off, you should go for a few walks before going trekking as it will help you get your legs back.
For the homestay, there is not much preparation. Making sure that you have packed everything you need to make your stay more conformable is most important. Bring a small bag with the clothes change of clothes. You should bring something warm, as the nights will cool off, sometimes dropping as mush as ten degrees. Other things you might want to bring with you are a mirror, toilet paper, your favourite tea or snack, flash light, and a book.
Further preparations to make your stay even more special would include learning a short song to sing after dinner. It is a cultural tradition to sing after dinner, and if you start off by saying you would like to sing a song, then all the better. You can bring gifts for the homestay owner, things like pens, pencils, and books. Other great things to bring with you to the homestay, and all over Asia, are pictures of your home, you and your family. The pictures always become a great conversation piece.

How does sleeping work in the homestays?

Most of the family goes to bed early although one will stay up until everyone goes to bed. Having your flash light close to your bed is a good a idea as the light switches are sometimes in odd place, Expect roosters to begin the day at about five o’clcok in the morning. By 5:30 a fire has already been lit to boil water
For other questions not here, please contact us via email: [email protected]

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