The northwest Vietnam retains an air of adventure with rugged natural beauty and untouched culture. If you have time, make your Vietnam trip more worthwhile with this journey.
Day 01: Hanoi – Mai Chau (L, D)
Pick you at hotel in Hanoi at 08:00 am to Mai Chau (Hoa Binh province)- home to many hill tribes including the Dzao, Muong and Thai. It takes about 4 hours driving so you arrive in Mai Chau around noon, check in the house on stilts belong to Mr Cuong in Van village, a village of the ‘White Thai’, who predominantly inhabit in this area.
Lunch in local house. In the afternoon, take a short walk through the village of White Thai where you will be welcomed by the friendly local people, communicate and discover their lifestyles, learning how to weave silk by an old loom.
The rest of the time will be fullfilled by a list of activities such as : participating in the agricultural work with land preparation, planting, harvesting (depending on season) and cycling to the Nhot, Lac and Pom Koong villages where you can see beautiful scenery of rice fields backed by verdant mountains. On the way, drop by local home to meet with hilltribal people and discover their housing architecture, customs and traditions.
After dinner, enjoy a traditional dancing show at night and taste Ruou Can (Can wine), the local rice wine. Overnight in the house on stilts.
Day 02: Mai Chau – Son La (B, L, D)
After breakfast prepared by the host, we drive toward Son La– the fifth largest province in the country (190km), is located to the northwestern region of Vietnam.
Make a stop for a short hike to Pa Co village (30km form Mai Chau) where you can meet the Black H’mong ethnic group. Countinue driving passing the large tea plantation in Moc Chau. We reach Na Khan village – 80 km from Son La after crossing a bamboo bridge connect two 2 banks of a river. This is home to Black Thai ethnic group. Until now, in this village their house still kept its origin with the thatched roof is shaped like a tortoise carapace with decorations called “khau cut” at each of the ridge. Arrive at Son La in the late afternoon.
Overnight at the hotel in Son La
Day 03: Son La – Dien Bien Phu (B, L, D)
Today we travel to Dien Bien Phu (185km), crossing over the Pha Din Pass, known as the highest and longest pass in Viet Nam with an altitude of 1,500m.
At the middle of the pass, stop to visit a multi-ethnic primary school and a village of White H’mong hill tribe where children in colorful traditional clothing welcome us with warm smiles. We then drive to Dien Bien Phu, the site of decisive battle in Viet Nam’s struggle for independence from the French in 1954.
On arrival we visit famous sites of Indochina War, the Elliane Hill and the War museum which detail the events that took place. The relics from the battle including old French tanks and artillery pieces are displayed. Especially, the reconstruction of the bunker where the French commander, Colonel de Castries, surrendered to Viet Minh forces. We spend the night in Dien Bien Phu, which has developed into a fast-growing frontier town.
Overnight at the hotel in Dien Bien Phu .
Day 04: Dien Bien Phu – Tam Duong (B, L, D)
Today we drive 6 to 7 hours (210km) but the scenery of the Lai Chau valley is both breathtaking and dramatic. This valley will be disappeared soon due to a large hydroelectric dam. The road is sometimes steep and often rugged, hugging rice-terraced mountainsides and fording turbulent rivers.
In addition to the visual spectacle, you’ll have a chance to meet the some of the most beautiful and friendly hill tribe people in North Vietnam, such as the H’Mong, Black Thai, Black Dzao and Pazi. On the way stop at Chan Nua village-a village of Thai.
Overnight at the hotel in Tam Duong .
Day 05: Tam Duong trekking (B, L, D)
Tam Duong is a frontier town situated in a beautiful valley between limestone rocks. This place is the home of many hill tribes such as the H’Mong, Man Tien, Lu and Cu Chu people. Authentic in lifestyle and colorful in costumes, most of the tribes were emigrated from South China during the 17th – 18th century. A full day of trekking through their villages, hidden behind mountains and hills, enables us to learn how self-sufficient life is.
Overnight at hotel in Tam Duong.
Day 06: Tam Duong – Sapa – Ta Van (B, L, D)
Today, we will visit the most fascinating activities of hill tribe people in Tam Duong market (only held every Sunday).
The next destination is Sapa (90km), en route to Lao Cai, we make a little excursion to Ban Hon– a village of Lu ethnic group. There, you can see women with lacquered teeth wear clothing with metal jewelry. Arrive in Sapa, formely known as the the hilltop retreat during French colonial time. Check in the hotel. Free time to explore the little town with its market, colonial houses …etc.
Descent into the Muong Hoa valley to visit Lao Chai village home to Black H’Mong and Ta van village home to Dzay people. You can capture the beautiful scenery of terraced rice fields, stream weaving its way through the boulders, hills and mountains…
Overnight at homestay in Ta Van.
Day 07: Ta Van – Bac Ha (B, L, D)
Start hiking toward Giang Ta Chai and Taphin dominated by the Red Dao. During the hike you will have the opportunity to get to know the indigenous people with their unique customs and beliefs.
After lunch, we head to Bac Ha via Lao Cai (70km) where we can see the “Bridge of Beauty” – the border between Vietnam and China at the confluence of the Red River and the Nam Khe river . Arrive Bac Ha in the late afternoon.
Overnight at the hotel in Bac Ha.
Day 08: Bac Ha – Lao Cai – Hanoi (B, L, D)
In the morning, we visit Bac Ha Sunday Market – a trading centre and meeting place for couples, friends, and relatives every Sunday and also the biggest fair near the mountainous highlands and the Chinese border. It is a typical weekly activity for the H’Mong and other minority groups living in the locality.
At the fair, adventurous gastronomes can try “Thang Co blood porridge”, a popular dish of the H’Mong and other local people. Afterwards, we start a zigzag road along the mountain to visit Ban Pho village. Ban Pho is home to Flower Hmong people. It is a beautiful village on the mountain side. Leave Bac Ha town behind, we transfer to Lao Cai station for the night train back to Hanoi.
Overnight on board .
Day 09: Hanoi arrival
Arrive in Hanoi in the early morning around 05:30 am. Transfer to your hotel in Hanoi. End of our ” Great Northwest loop 9 days tour “.
– Transport by the air-conditioned private car
– The private English speaking guide
– Hotels as listed (based on 2 persons/room including breakfast) & overnight at homestay
– Meals as indicated in the program (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
– Train ticket: Lao Cai – Hanoi (soft sleeper of cabin of 4 berths)
– Entrance fees & bicycle
– Mineral water
– Tips and personal expenses such as: laundry, telephone, drinks..
– Visa to Vietnam
– Personal travel insurance
– Bank charge fees for payment
– Other services not mentioned in the “Inclusion”