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19

Northern Vietnam Off-the-beaten-track Adventure

“Northern Vietnam Off-the-beaten-track Adventure” is an exciting new tour which explores the very northernmost part of Vietnam. The tour brushes along the border with China, taking in the stunning views of the mountainous region. This area sees few tourists and is the perfect place to see undisturbed traditional villages and pristine countryside. Driving along winding mountain roads, you will stop to photograph the awe-inspiring vistas, hike stretches of beautiful land, take a river trip and meet plenty of local people.

 

Code: LT01

Type: Private Tour

Duration: 17 Days 16 Nights

Style: Off-the-beaten-track, Trekking, Nature, Homestay, Ethnic

Route: Hanoi – Nghia Lo – Mu Cang Chai – Sapa – Bac Ha – Hoang Su Phi – Ha Giang – Bac Lac – Cao Bang – Ba Be – Hanoi

Detailed Itinerary

Click on each day to see the details!

DAY 01:HANOI - NGHIA LO (L/D)

You will leave Hanoi from the Old Quarter and travel for about 2 hours to Duong Lam, an ancient village which has been recognized as a cultural and historical site in need of protection by UNESCO since 2006. The houses here date back 100-400 years and are surrounded by temples and gardens that were built in honour of two kings who became renowned national heroes by repelling a Chinese invasion roughly 1200 years ago. Here you will spend 2-4 hours exploring the village and taking in the sights before being served lunch at a local restaurant.

Continuing with your tour, you will be driven through the rural countryside, slowly moving from flat landscapes littered with rice paddies to giant karst formations surrounded by tea and maize plantations as you gain altitude. Eventually you will reach the village of Nghia Lo, where you will stay the night in a traditional White Thai homestay built on stilts.

– Includes a 2-4 hour flat walk in the ancient village.

DAY 02:NGHIA LO - MU CANG CHAI (B/L/D)

You will rise early and go on a bicycle ride amongst the paddy fields, basking in the peaceful morning ambience. The mornings begin early for the villagers who can be seen quietly working in the fields surrounded by ducks, chickens, pigs and buffalos.

Breakfast will then be served in the open air overlooking the fields before you check out and set off over the dramatic Khau Pha Mountain Pass. The rice fields of Tu Le along the way are spectacular and will fill you with wonder.

After lunch in a local restaurant, you will continue your drive to Nam Co Village where you will get to see the Flower H’mong ethnic minority wearing their colourful traditional costumes. If your trip falls on the correct day, we will also take you for a visit to the fascinating local market.

Finally, we will drive you to La Pan Tan and Mam Soi where you can enjoy a short walk up the hill and be rewarded with beautiful views of the surrounding rice fields before heading back down to Kim Noi village and overnighting at a local Thai Homestay run by the lovely Mrs. Chon.

– Includes a 5-7 km trek.

DAY 03:TREKKING MU CANG CHAI (B/L/D)

After breakfast in the homestay, a local guide will collect you for the longest trek of the tour, from Kim Noi Village to Hang Dang De then to Che Cu Nha. You will enjoy a picnic lunch on the rice terraces and then continue to La Pan Tan where you will be picked up and driven back for a second night at Mrs. Chon’s homestay.

– Includes a 15-17 km trek.

DAY 04:MU CANG CHAI - SAPA (B/L/D)

After breakfast, you will drive from Mu Cang Chai through Tan Uyen and then on to Sapa. The road is very dramatic with many winding hairpin bends each opening up a new vista of the mountains. You will cross the Sin Ho Pass before arriving in Sapa where you will have lunch and the chance to explore the town.

Then you will trek to Giang Ta Chai Village, where you will have dinner and stay overnight in a Dao ethnic house.

– Includes a 4-6 Km trek.

DAY 05:TREKKING SAPA (B/L/D)

You will begin the day with a 3km trek through the breath-taking landscape of Sapa to the village of Suoi Ho, home to a H’mong community. From here you can enjoy views over endless rice terraces, and as you walk through the homesteads, you will be surrounded by free-roaming piglets and chickens.

Continuing on to Ma Tra Village you will stop to look around the town and take some photos, before trekking to the village of Ta Phin, where you will be able to meet both Black Hmong and Red Dao minorities. The Red Dao are known for their expertise in herbal medicine, and your guide will be able to introduce you to some Red Dao women who can tell you more about their many remedies. A Red Dao herbal bath is a real treat after trekking and can be arranged at your request. You will have dinner and stay overnight in a homestay in Ta Phin.

– Includes 12-15 Km trek.

DAY 06:SAPA - LA PAN TAN (B/L/D)

After breakfast, you will drive from Sapa, passing through Lao Cai which is the main border crossing to China. You will follow the border for a little way, trailing the river which sits between the road and the mountain ranges of China, before heading north to Muong Khuong.

Along the way, you will see a number of dams under construction, and as you travel further along the twisting road, you will start to see the outcrops of black limestone and pine forests. After lunch in Muong Khuong Town, you will take an even more picturesque route south which rises high up through villages leaving the river Chay down below. You will take the high mountain pass to La Pan Tan where you will get a taste of local life with a stay in a basic homestay which has a certain rustic charm and the most beautiful views.

DAY 07:LA PAN TAN - COC LY - BAC HA (B/L/D)

After breakfast, you will drive from La Pan Tan to Coc Ly on another small and dramatic road which overlooks the Chay river. If you are here on a Tuesday, you may get the chance to see the Coc Ly market.

You will have time to relax as you take a boat trip on the Chai River (dependent on water levels). The boat will take you to Coc Dao where our driver will pick you up and drive you to Bac Ha. After lunch in a local restaurant, you will visit the palace of Hoang A Tuong which showcases a curious mixture of baroque and oriental architecture, built in 1920 with the aid of the French. You will have dinner and stay overnight in a homestay in Bac Ha.

DAY 08:BAC HA - COC PAI - PHUNG VILLAGE (B/L/D)

If it’s Sunday, we can visit the Bac Ha and Coc Pai markets, or if it’s Saturday, the Can Cau market. You will have lunch in Coc Pai before an adventurous trip along a narrow road full of hairpin bends leading towards the Ban May terraced rice fields. Each twist and turn will bring more gasps of amazement at the intricacy of the narrow, vertiginous rice terraces. Here you will see the La Chi people who are distinguishable by their traditional outfits. You will spend the night in a homestay in the village.

DAY 09:TREKKING HOANG SU PHI (B/L/D)

Today, you will trek from the village of Dong Loi to Suoi Thau via the terraced rice fields, meeting the La Chi ethnic communities and seeing how they live. Life for the La Chi can be very tough as often their houses can only be approached through the rice fields, so all food, equipment and building materials must be carried by hand.

You will stop for a picnic lunch in Thang Loi Village, and then visit the site of many ancient tombs, among them the tomb of Hoang Van Thung who was a national hero and king of the La Chi ethnic people. After a 20km trek, you will return to the homestay for dinner and a well earned rest.

– Includes 17-20 Km trek.

DAY 10:HOANG SU PHI - HA GIANG (B/L/D)

After breakfast, you will leave Phung village and drive down a steep winding road. As you descend through the rice terraced scenery, you will have plenty of stops for more photos, as well as taking in the beauty of the changing morning light on the rice paddies.

You will drive back through Hoang Su Phi to Ha Giang via the Tan Su Phin Pass and the Cong Troi pass. These are very dramatic passes, and this whole area is full of magnificent views. You will stay overnight in a Tay stilt house.

DAY 11:TREKKING HA GIANG - QUAN BA (B/L/D)

You will set off and trek to the village of Lung Vai, (6-8 hours) and may meet people from the Man and Dao ethnic minority communities who live in the region. You will have a picnic lunch and continue to the remote village of Khuoi My. En route, you will see farmers working in the fields, and there may even be the opportunity to try out some of the farming methods yourself.

You will continue to Ban Tha Village before being picked up by your driver and taken to Nam Dam. Dinner will be served by the host of the Dao house where you will stay overnight.

– Includes 15-17km trek.

DAY 12:QUAN BA - MEO VAC (B/L/D)

We set out in the morning for Dong Van, passing through Cong Troi Pass and then continuing on to Yen Minh. On the way we will also visit the King’s Palace in the H’mong village of Sa Phin, built in the early 20th century. The area is also notable for its many corn plantations, where the harvest is collected by hand.

As we pass reach Dong Van we disembark for a lunch break in the colourful old market. Here you can admire the Ancient houses and the local people in their traditional garments. After lunch we set off again and pass through the spectacular Ma Pi Leng Pass, on the way to Meo Vac. This road is justly considered one of the most beautiful in the country, and the views are appropriately stunning. Once we reach Meo Vac we settle in for an overnight stay in a H’mong home.

DAY 13:MEO VAC - BAO LAC - CAO BANG (B/L/D)

Meo Vac is a small town, home to the ethnic groups Tay, Dao, H’mong and Lo Lo. If we are here on a Sunday we will visit the market, another fantastic riot of colour. There is a lot of clothing and fabric sold here, and sometimes men making the men’s indigo dyed jackets on old sewing machines can be seen among the stalls. There is a livestock section which is a frenzy of squealing pigs, screeching birds as well as cows and horses.

We drive to Bao Lac for lunch with some stops in ethnic villages along the way. The road is again pretty mountainous with several passes. Then we visit the Nung ethnic village of Pac Rang, a traditional farming village which is known for its blacksmiths and their work in making farm tools. We’ll have dinner and overnight at a Nung house.

DAY 14:CAO BANG - BAN GIOC WATERFALLS - BA BE NATIONAL PARK (B/L/D)

After breakfast we continue from Cao Bang and journey to the Ban Gioc waterfalls, a photo of which must be in every hostel and tour agent’s office in Hanoi! The falls mark the border with China, so this is truly the frontier.

There will be time to appreciate the breath-taking sight of these falls before making our way to Nguom Ngao “Tiger Cave”, with its amazing limestone formations, and stalactites of various shapes and sizes. This is the most famous limestone grotto in the province of Cao Bang, and you will be awestruck by its sheer size! We then drive to Ba Be National Park and feel the peace and serenity of the lake, before dinner and an overnight stay at Hoa Son’s Homestay.

DAY 15:TREKKING BA BE NATIONAL PARK (B/L/D)

This is set to be a wonderful day of trekking! Your tour guide will take you to Coc Toc Village where you can meet the Tay community. They have become very skilled at fishing in the lake and live on a diet that is very much centred around fish. After you have seen the lovely stilt houses and seen this idyllic way of life, you will set out to cross the Pe Lu Stream, before hitting some rough, steep terrain that will give you a little bit of a workout.

As you gain height, though, you will be rewarded for your efforts with spectacular views of the verdant rolling countryside. Pressing on to the uplands we will stop for a picnic lunch in a H’mong ethnic village, and your guide may introduce you to some of the local H’mong people.

During the afternoon, your guide will take you through mountains and valleys and to see the stilt houses and school of the Dzao ethnic people, before moving on again to visit another H’mong ethnic village, where you will stay to have a tasty dinner in local homestay and spend the night at a gorgeous and comfortable Dzao house. But watch out, as they can be generous with their corn wine!

– Includes 15-17km trek.

DAY 16:BOAT TRIP IN BA BE LAKES (B/L/D)

You will have a tasty breakfast at the homestay, and the opportunity to try on some traditional Dzao ethnic clothing for some memorable photos before saying your farewells and setting out for another fulfilling day of trekking. You will take some slightly gentler trails compared to the previous day, visiting a black H’mông ethnic village before descending through the thick and beautiful forest with some spectacular views to visit Dau Dang Waterfall which lies on the border of the two provinces of Bac Kan and Tuyen Quang.

After viewing the waterfall, your guide will take you to have lunch with ‘Mr Pirate’ who was the main actor in “Ba Be Lake Pirate Movie”. After this, you will take a relaxing motorboat trip up the river to visit the breathtaking Puong Cave, a huge limestone structure that spans the river and is home to thousands of bats (of 18 different species) which flit between the many stalactites and stalagmites. You will then pass by and visit An Ma temple in the boat, before heading to Hoa Son’s Homestay for dinner and a restful night’s sleep.

DAY 17:BA BE LAKES - HANOI (B/L/-)

After having breakfast at the homestay, you will head back to Hanoi, but not without first paying a visit to Hua Ma cave on the way. The cave has only recently been made accessible, as few locals would enter due to ancient beliefs. Legend has it that it is the resting place of many soldiers from previous wars in the region, but their spirits have been set free from the cave. You can descend into the cave via an impressively built concrete staircase to view the thousands of stalactites and stalagmites – a very atmospheric experience. You can take the chance to rest on the drive back to Hanoi, stopping briefly for lunch at a local restaurant on the way. We arrive in Hanoi at about 17:30 where you will be let off at your hotel.

Accommodation List

Please note that the hotels mentioned in this list are for reference only. Depending on availability and your preference, they can be changed. If we are unable to book any hotel, it will be replaced by another hotel at least of equivalent standard and value.
DestinationAcommodationNights
Nghia LoMrs. Chinh's Homestay1
Mu Cang ChaiMrs. Chon Homestay2
Giang Ta Chai (Sapa)Mr. Cuong Homestay1
Ta Phin (Sapa)Mrs. Ngoc's Homestay1
La Pan TanMr. Dai's Homestay1
Phung VillageMr. Cuong's Homestay1
Hoang Su PhiMr. Thang's Homestay1
Ha GiangMr. Cay's Homestay1
Meo VacMr. Long's Homestay1
Cao BangMr. Hung's Homestay1
Ba Be National ParkHoa Son's Homestay2
Ba Be LakesMr. Hung's Homestay1

TOUR PRICE

This trip is organized for private group only. The tariff depends on the number of participants and the tourist season of the year. Please send us an enquiry to get the price of your group and your travel date.

 

Note: Please note that due to cost efficiency, we only organize tour for at least two people.

Inclusions

For your peace of mind, our tours are designed to include as much as possible in the price, but also to give you the freedom to find a special place to eat or to seek out an independent adventure that especially appeals to you.
    • Accommodation as mentioned in the itinerary.
    • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
    • Mineral water 2 bottles/person/day.
    • Travel on private, modern & comfortable air-conditioned vehicles with a caring driver for all transfers and ground transportation (except the break time or tour clearly mentioned “WITHOUT DRIVER”).
    • Boat trip as mentioned in the itinerary.
    • Entry fee for all mentioned sites for visit.
    • Qualified local tour guides during the whole trip (except the break time or tour clearly mentioned “WITHOUT GUIDE”).

Exclusions

    • Domestic & International flight tickets.
    • Transportation vehicles not listed in the itinerary.
    • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary.
    • Drink, telephone, laundry and all that is not clearly mentioned in the “INCLUSIONS”.
    • Tips and personal expenses.
    • Insurances.

Every booking with us will add 1$ US to our humanitarian project to help increase development capacity for ethnic groups in northern Vietnam. At the meantime, we are focusing on helping children in remote mountainous villages in Vietnam, major destinations of our tours.

As travelers, you can join us too. Donations of unwanted clothes, books and toys are welcome and warmly appreciated. You can also take part in our regular mission trips to these hill tribal communities.

Reviews

These reviews are objective opinions of our customers and we only publish those agreed by the customers. Please note that not all ready-made tours on our site are reviewed, as 95% of our customers requested a tailor made tour. For more information, please read our Testimonials Page.