NORTH WEST VIETNAM TOUR

Length

12 DAYS

Type of tour

NATURE

Type of service

PRIVATE

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TRIP OVERVIEW

  Northwest Vietnam Tour is an exciting experiential journey carefully designed to learn about the local culture and appreciate the stunning landscapes of the North Vietnamese regions. A unique opportunity for nature photography enthusiasts, as well as for those seeking a less conventional travel experience off the beaten track. (May to September is the best season for this itinerary).

Explore the charming and vibrant capital city Hanoi by bike to soak up the local lifestyle by visiting the hidden corners that best describe the authentic Vietnamese spirit.

Admire the splendour of Hong Ha Flower Village and stroll through the stalls to taste the famous street food.

Sail into the incredible Halong Bay, known for its majestic karst mountains, thousands of small limestone islands, fantastic caves, remarkable biodiversity and a marine biosystem with a wide variety of flora and fauna.

Enjoy the amazing landscapes of the north and visit local villages inhabited by mountain ethnic groups in full harmony with the picturesque landscapes of rice terraces and lush vegetation.

This suggested itinerary can be customised according to your travel needs as well as combined with other routes.

North West Vietnam tour map © In Asia Travel

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Length : 12D 11N
From : HANOI
To : HANOI
Destinations  : Hanoi, Mai Chau, Mai Hich, Nghia Lo, Tu Le, La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha, Mu Cang Chai, Than Uyen, Tram Ton, Sapa, Lao Chai, Ta Van, Halong Bay

ITINERARY

01. ARRIVE IN HANOI

Arrival in Hanoi, the charming capital of Vietnam.
Welcome meeting by our staff at the airport and transfer to the hotel.

Included : Tour guide, private transportation and hotel 

02. HANOI

Hoan Kiem lake - HanoiHoan Kiem lake – Hanoi

We start this wonderful journey by exploring the thousand-year-old capital Hanoi in a completely non-touristy way to discover the most hidden corners that best describe the authentic Vietnamese spirit.

We cycle through the narrow alleys to immerse ourselves in the local reality. It’s a unique opportunity to meet the inhabitants in their daily activities. Afterwards we continue to the colourful Hong Ha Flower Village.

We proceed to West Lake, the largest natural reservoir covering 4 square kilometres, and take a short break at a local café, with its typical low tables by the roadside, where we taste the famous Vietnamese coffee and its delicious variations with yoghurt and egg yolk.

In the afternoon we carry on with a special culinary experience, the street food for which Hanoi is renowned throughout Southeast Asia. As we enter the Old Quarter, “Old Hanoi“, we stroll through the 36 main streets, which intersect in the old town and are named after the type of goods sold, to taste the 5 most popular dishes in Hanoi.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, bicycle and private transportation 

03. MAI CHAU - MAI HICH

Best private tailor made tours in Southeast Asia and Central Asia - In Asia TravelLandscape north Vietnam

After breakfast we travel to Hoa Binh, one of the oldest areas in Vietnam inhabited by seven ethnic minorities, dominated by high mountains, green rice terraces, tea plantations and primitive forests with rich flora.

We continue to the Mai Chau Valley, known for its incredible and picturesque landscapes. We visit some local dwellings inhabited by the local ethnic groups, particularly Thai, who are extremely friendly and always ready to prepare a meal to welcome passing visitors. Indeed, we will have lunch in a typical tribal house to taste characteristic local food. According to local tradition, lunch is served on the floor. An authentic cultural experience to get a taste of the local lifestyle.

We then head to Mai Hich village. Few tourists visit this village, making it one of the most exclusive off-the-beaten-track destinations in the area. The authenticity of the place gives us an insight into local traditions and the lifestyle of the tribal communities.

In the afternoon we visit the surrounding area to admire the incredible rice fields. If you wish, you can try the experience of sailing on a traditional bamboo raft on the Xia stream.

Afterwards, we reach the local Mai Hich house, an authentic wooden house on stilts where we have dinner and spend the night. (The accommodation is very basic, with a large, shared room with floor mats and mosquito netting, and shared bathrooms outside). 

In the evening we relax with a traditional dance show with local performers in traditional costumes.

Included : Homestay, breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour guide, private transportation

04. NGHIA LO – PHU YEN – TU LE

Tea plantation at Moc ChauTea plantation at Moc Chau

In the morning we visit the villages Poom Cong and Ban Lac. The communities are still home to authentic minorities who are proud to show their ancient traditions. We reach Moc Chau, the rural district in Son La Province. Located at an altitude of about 1050 metres, the plateau is known for its idyllic scenery, tea plantations, orchids, mountains, waterfalls and a multitude of ethnic groups including Thai, Hmong, Dao, Kho Mu, La Ha Tay. On the way we stop to visit some of them.

We cross the Pa Uon Bridge over the Da River, the highest bridge in Southeast Asia, built on 100-metre-high pillars, and reach Phu Yen, an unspoilt location at 1000 metres above sea level, a masterpiece of nature.

In the afternoon we continue to Nghia Lo, the vibrant town in the Muang Lo Valley, once one of the largest commercial crossroads in the North Vietnamese regions, and in the 1950s the battlefield between the Vietnamese and French armies during the First Indochina War.

Next, we reach Tu Le, the charming mountain village with typical wooden dwellings inhabited by ethnic groups wearing colourful traditional costumes. We spend the night in a basic but original local house that enriches the whole experience of the trip.

Included : Homestay, breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour guide and private transportation 

05. KHAU PHA PASS – LOCAL VILLAGES

Tu Le - VietnamTu Le

We spend the day in Tu Le to learn more about the local lifestyle. It is a great opportunity to slow down the pace of this long journey and gain valuable cultural experience.

At dawn we drive up the Khau Pha Pass, in Mu Cang Chai district, also known as “The Horn of Heaven“, to admire the wonderful Tu Le valley from above. The pass crosses the mountains for about 30km and reaches an altitude of 1500m above sea level, framed by beautiful scenery, rice fields, forests and mountains that seem to stretch into infinity.

On the way, we reach the village of Lim Mong, which has been inhabited by the Hmong and White Thai ethnic groups for centuries. The view is just incredible: the colourful rice terraces are an outstanding spectacle of nature.

In the afternoon, to enrich the cultural experience of the trip, we return to the Khau Pha Pass in time to meet the H’mong farmers returning to their villages after a long day of hard work in the rice fields.

Included : Homestay, breakfast, lunch, dinner tour guide and private transportation 

06. LA PAN TAN – CHE CU NHA – MU CANG CHAI

Rice terrace north VietnamRice terrace north Vietnam

After breakfast we continue to La Pan Tan, the mountain village inhabited by the H’mong ethnic group. This area was used to grow opium until the 1990s when the local authorities decided to convert it into rice fields. Today, it is one of the most beautiful places in North Vietnam to admire and photograph rice terraces.

In the afternoon we travel to Che Cu Nha, another remarkable panoramic spot recognised as National Heritage by the Vietnamese Ministry of Tourism and Culture. 

We stop at Che Cu Nha village and the Cau Ba Nha bridge before driving for 2 more hours to the top of the mountain to enjoy a memorable view. 

Afterwards we drive to Mu Cang Chai, in Yen Bai province, where we spend the night in a local Thai minority house.

Included : Homestay, breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour guide and private transportation

07. THAN UYEN – TRAM TON – SA PA

Rice terrace north VietnamRice terrace north Vietnam

We start the day with an exciting visit to Tram Ton Pass, the highest pass in Vietnam. At an altitude of 1900m, it is often referred to as ‘the gateway to Heaven‘. The stretch connects Mu Cang Chai to Sa Pa and countless photo spots are available along the way. We stop to admire and photograph rice paddies and tea plantations.

We stop at Than Uyen for lunch, at the foot of the famous Fansipan Mountain inhabited by the Thai, Dao, H’mong and Khmu ethnic groups.

From the top of the Tram Ton pass, the views of the mountains and lush forests are quite stunning. Given the altitude, the pass also acts as a dividing line between two major climatic zones, the cool temperatures of Sa Pa and the milder of Lai Chau.

On arrival in Sa Pa, check-in at the hotel.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, lunch, tour guide and private transportation 

08. Y LINH HO – LAO CHAI – TA VAN

Muong ValleyMuong Valley

In the morning we head to the Muong Valley towards the Muong Hoa River, one of the most scenic places in this region. Along the way we pass through the photogenic Y Linh Ho village. A few local houses are worth visiting to witness the authentic lifestyle of the tribes and appreciate their hospitality. Next, we reach Lao Chai, inhabited by the Black H’Mong minority.

From here we walk along an easy path to H’Mong and Zday villages. We visit Ta Van, the picturesque village of about 1,000 inhabitants from different ethnic groups including Zday and Red Dao. The whole village is surrounded by green rice fields and cornfields.

In the afternoon we reach the Muong Hoa Valley where we can meet the inhabitants of different ethnic groups who can be distinguished from each other by the colours of their traditional costumes.

After that we spend the night in a local house in Ta Van.

Included : Homestay, breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour guide and private transportation 

09. BAC HA TRIBAL MARKET– HANOI

Bac Ha market - Vietnam © Gabriele Stoia - In Asia TravelBac Ha market

After breakfast we go to Bac Ha, the small town in the Northeast of Vietnam particularly famous for its tribal market “Bac Ha Sunday Market” which only takes place on Sunday morning.

The bazaar is undoubtedly the most exciting visit of the trip as it enables us to dip into the colourful traditions of the Nung, Mong Flower and Black Dzao ethnic minorities, as they meet at the market to barter for goods.

In the afternoon, we enjoy a boat trip on the scenic Chay River surrounded by sheer mountain scenery. 

We continue with a short trek to Ban Pho village to admire the amazing rice terraces from above and to meet the friendly H’Mong tribe.

Transfer to Hanoi.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

10. HALONG BAY CRUISE

Halong Bay © Gabriele StoiaHalong Bay

Early morning transfer to Ha Long port (approx. 4h). Upon arrival board the junk for an unforgettable cruise in Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994 and considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World since 2008.

Stretching over an area of more than 1500 square kilometres, it is home to thousands of small monolithic limestone islands, fantastic caves and a marine biodiversity and biosystem with a wide variety of flora and fauna.

During the navigation in the beautiful naturalistic scenery of the bay you can practice some activities foreseen by the program established by the navigation company such as swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, visiting a limestone cave and a fishing village, or simply relax surrounded by the extraordinary landscape.

Both lunch and dinner are served on board and include a tasting of seafood. Overnight stay in an air-conditioned private cabin.

Included : Junk in Halong, breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour guide 

11. HALONG BAY CRUISE - HANOI

Halong Bay - Vietnam © Gabriele StoiaHalong Bay

The cruise offers the privilege of watching the spectacular sunrise over Halong Bay. If you wish, you can take part in a Tai Chi class on the deck of the junk at 6am.

After breakfast, further activities are planned on board, depending on the cruise programme.

On the way back to Ha Long port, lunch will be served on board to conclude this unique experience.

Pick up at the port and transfer to your hotel in Hanoi.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, lunch, tour guide and private transportation 

12. HANOI - DEPARTURE

Transfer to Hanoi airport in time for your departure flight.

Included : Breakfast and private transfer to the airport

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