Escape the bustle of the big city and set out on an adventure through the North – West of Vietnam with its breath taking mountain landscapes and colourful hill tribes. This itinerary takes you off the beaten path on a tour through enchanting valleys and towering mountains, to remote hill tribe villages, cascading waterfalls and quaint colonial towns.
8:00 AM: Meet tour guide and driver at your hotel in Hanoi and transfer to Muong Lo via Thanh Son. Muong Lo is known as one of the four most important fertile valleys of the Northwest (Muong Thanh in Dien Bien Phu, Muong Tac in Phu Yen and Muong Than in Than Uyen) in which the Thai ethnic group predominates. The village consists of hundreds of houses on wooden stilts and Thai people cultivate the water rice. Drive to the national road number 32 along the black river (Da River) one of the most important rivers in the Northwest.
In Thanh Son, we will make a stop to visit the green tea plantation hill then walk through the stilt-house villages. It belongs to the Muong ethnic group, considered as Authentic Viet. The Muong ethnic group is one of few northern communities that is immune to Chinese influence.
Arrive in Nghia Lo, walk or bike around the Thai village to discover the beautiful rice field valleys and hamlets that still preserve the authentic houses on stilts and meet the friendly locals.
Enjoy breakfast then visit a local market in Nghia Lo then transfer to Mu Cang Chai via Tu Le. Mu Cang Chai is well known for its marvelous rice terrace widely considered as the most beautiful in the world. In 2007, Che Cu Nha, De Su Phinh and La Pan Tan were recognized as outdoor masterpieces on the list of national heritage.
At the exit of Nghia Lo, you will cross the hilly region populated by the Dao ethnic group on the hills and the Dzay in the valley. Stop for a chance to take photos and meet the local people on the way.
Arrive in Tu Le. It is possible to trek to the valley where Thai people live in houses on stilts and have some unusual encounters that allow you to immerse yourself into the authentic local life. In the afternoon, continue to Khau Pha pass which offers you a splendid panoramic view of the valley of rice terraces.
Then the car will take you to La Pan Tan which is a legendary route for photographers. You will admire the gorgeous rice terrace masterpieces created by the Hmong peasant artists from generation to generation. Enjoy the majestic landscape and follow the route from La Pan Tan to Mam Xoi. End of the day, check in your accommodation.
7:30 AM: Depart to Dien Bien Phu via Tuan Giao, a beautiful landscape of rice terraces and mountains that follow you along the way. From Than Uyen, we turn on to the quiet national road 279 to Tuan Giao. On arrival at Ban Chat reservoir, a large reservoir that will accompany you for 20km, stop for a short walk to enjoy the tranquility and spectacular landscape. Keep driving to Pa Uon Bridge in Quynh Nhai, crossing Da River, one of the most important rivers in the north. Stop again to take great photos and meet the local people. Arrive in Tuan Giao at noon and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Continue to Dien Bien Phu, crossing the region of Black Thai and White Thai ethnic groups. Dien Bien Phu is located strategically near the borders of three countries: Vietnam, Laos, and China. This is an 18km long, 6km wide valley surrounded by 1000m high mountains. The valley was the main battlefield between Viet Minh and the French expeditionary force in 1954.
Arrive in Dien Bien Phu at 15:30, then visit the War Museum, A1 hill which offers a panoramic view of the basin, De Castries' command post and the memorial to the soldiers of the French expeditionary force, built 1992, and a symbol of reconciliation between Vietnam and France. Check in to your hotel and relax.
Have breakfast then visit local market near historical Muong Thanh Bridge before depart to Lai Chau, 210 km from Dien Bien Phu and home to numerous ethnic groups including Kho Mu. Originally from Northern Laos, there are 60,000 Kho Mu people living on the hill slopes between the Hmong in the upper and Thai in the lower. You will find yourself in a land of colorful Hmong people. Crossing Muong Cha, Muong Lay meet the local women in their colorful traditional dresses, wearing silver or golden jewelry. Stop at the villages to meet the locals and discover their authentic lifestyle.
Arrive in Muong Lay – a relocation place for hundreds of Thai villagers. Previously, they lived in the valleys flooded by the reservoir for hydroelectricity Lai Chau – Son La. You can stop here if you would like a tea break. The journey is accompanied by the Nam Na River and the beautiful surrounding landscapes. Discover Thai and Hmong villages on the way before your arrival in Lai Chau City in the late afternoon. Check in your hotel and relax.
Depart to Sapa along the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. At the exit of Tam Duong , we will turn to visit Na Tam Village where the Laotian and Lu people live. This is a beautiful, tranquil landscape. Traditionally, the local women are distinguished by black teeth and indigo colored clothing encrusted with silver coins. Take a 2-hour hike through the river, villages, rice fields, and hills and meet the locals.
Meet our driver for a transfer to Sapa, crossing Hoang Lien Son pass (O Quy Ho pass). This is the longest and highest pass in Vietnam, 54km in length and 2047m in height. Stop to relax at the top of the pass and soak up the grandiose landscape. This is also a great place for photos.
In the afternoon, arrive in Sapa, a town discovered by the French in 1903, with a temperate climate, Sapa has become an attraction for holidaymakers because of its beautiful rice valley, and Black Hmong, Red Dao and the Dzay Ethnics.
8:00 AM: Meet tour guide and enjoy 5km scenic transfer to the west of town. We will start a full day of trekking from Y Linh Ho village. Follow the path downhill, interact with the friendly H’mong ladies and children who live in houses nestled in the valley. Enjoy a bit of relaxation at the cable-bridge with the harmony and beauty of the surrounding nature. If you are sportive and adventurous, follow the uphill trek along the buffalo path with breathtaking views and less tourists. For those looking for an easy trek, embark on a leisurely stroll along the Muong Hoa River.
Direct to Lao Chai village. Turn on a small path crossing the rice field to a small hamlet. Have a special visit to grandma who is the only craftsman left in the community, traditionally using beeswax for decoration to make the unique Hmong’s indigo clothing. It is also great chance to learn about their daily life and culture.
Continue to Ta Van village, the charming land of the Dzay people, well located on the hill with amazing views of river, rice terraces and Hoang Lien Son Mountain range. As you leisurely walk, meet villagers who will kindly invite you to visit their homes.
Have lunch at local restaurant then transfer back to Bac Ha via Thanh Kim, Thanh Phu, enjoy stunning views of mountain, river and hydropower lakes along the way. Located at an altitude of 1000m, Bac Ha is home to several ethnic groups such as the colorful Hmong, Phu La and Tay. Bac Ha region is well known for its weekly, colorful markets surrounded by wild and beautiful scenery. The markets are not only for the exchange of goods but also for the cultural exchange of the ethnic groups for centuries.
7:00 AM: Start to explore Bac Ha, it is possible to visit a colorful, ethnic market ( Bac Ha market is on Sunday. Otherwise we can visit Coc Ly market on Tuesday, Can Can market on Saturday instead). Enjoy the striking atmosphere with so many goods such as vegetables, poultry, horses and buffalos while capturing many minority groups in their best colorful clothing of the week. After visiting the market, take a walk through some idyllic ethnic villages, which is a typical Bac Ha landscape, interspersed with corn fields, cassava hills and clay houses, plum gardens adorned by H'Mong women and their colorful dresses will accompany you throughout the trip.
Come back to town for lunch before transfer to Hanoi. Check in hotel around 6:00 PM