The mountainous North West provides the perfect terrain for trekking routes. The roads wind precariously across the mountain ranges, capturing the intensely varied lifestyles of the Vietnamese people. During this cultural expedition, you will enjoy the best of North West Vietnam in the areas of Mai Chau, Son La, Dien Bien Phu, Lai Chau and Sapa.
Staying in local ethnic villages – learning the local life
Soaking in amazing landscape of the unique rocky plateau
Meeting ethnic peoples such as Thai, Muong, Hmong, Red Dzao,…
Mingling with traditionally dressed locals in ethnic minority villages
Driving over Khau Pha pass, the most stunning terrace field view in Vietnam
Trekking through the beautiful valleys and peaceful villages
- Carefully selected accommodation with breakfast
- Other meals listed in the itinerary
- Expert English-speaking local guide
- Tours as mentioned and air-conditioned transfers
- Sightseeing and permit fees during guided times
- Service charges and government VAT tax
ITINERARY BY DAY
Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau
Leaving Hanoi around 8am, we head west to Mai Chau. Enjoy picturesque views of the scenic landscape, sewn with pagodas and rural villages. Stop along the way to visit the Muong tribe and then at Thung Khe Pass for a spectacular view of Mai Chau Valley. Arriving at about midday we check into the White Thai ethnic minority village. Spend your afternoon trekking off the typical tour.urist track, along the Song Ma River. Trek through terraced rice paddies and small villages, discovering the natural beauty of the valley and encountering the culture of the White Thai people, living in the region. Dinner and overnight stay in the stilt house with enjoying folk songs and dancing together and drinking from the bamboo tube.
Day 2: Mai Chau – Son La
Get up early in the morning to enjoy the fresh air of the valley. After breakfast, we say farewell to our village friends and hit the road for Son La. Arriving in the mid afternoon we check into our hotel and have free time to relax or to take a stroll around the town.
Son La is the site of an old French penal colony were the colonial revolutionaries were jailed. Although much of it was destroyed by the US warplanes offloading their unused ammunition during the Vietnam US war, it has been partially restored and along with the little museum makes for interesting viewing. The surrounding area of Son La is home to several Montagnards (Mountain people). The White Thai, Meo, Muong, and Black Thai people. A small display of their handcrafted wares can be seen in the local town market.
Day 3: Son La -Dien Bien Phu
Start the day with a simple breakfast with your host family, after which you will drive to Son La. You will stop en route to visit the villages of various tribes including the H’mong, Thai, Muong and Dzao and an orchard and tea plantation in Moc Chau Plateau – Vietnam’s premier tea-growing region, before reaching Son La (200km from Mai Chau) for a late lunch.
In the afternoon, you will continue along winding mountain roads through North Vietnam’s stunning countryside. The most picturesque scenery here is Pha Din Pass, well-known as a historical site during the 1st Indochina War. It is a charming but dangerous pass at an elevation of 1,300m with breathtaking views of the valleys below. According to local legend, “Pha Din” means the connection between Heaven and Earth. On arrival, you will check-in to your hotel and spend the rest of the day at your leisure.
Day 4: Dien Bien Phu – Lai Chau
Nestled in a heart shaped basin near the border with Laos, lies Dien Bien Phu, the famous historical battleground where the Vietnamese successfully defeated the French, marking the end of French colonial occupation. Start the day early with a visit to the local market where you will meet charming Thai tribes in their traditional costume.
Next, you will visit Dien Bien Phu Museum and A1 hill and then Dien Bien Phu Cemetery to observe a minute’s silence in memory of the heroes who devoted their lives to the victory of the Dien Bien Phu Campaign. You will also visit General De Castries’s Bunker, Old Muong Thanh Bridge and Nam Rom River.
After the lunch, proceed to Lai Chau along a bumpy road, passing a series of ethnic villages of Kho Mu (Xa), Huoi Chan, and Bung Giat. Taking the scenic roads, you will continue to Phong Tho, crossing the junctions of the Da and Ma rivers by way of the Chinese-built Hang Tom suspension bridge. From here, the road weaves its way northwards through the picturesque and steadily more spectacular Na River Valley, past more ethnic villages of White Thai, Kho Mu and later Red and White H’mong minorities. When you arrive in Phong Tho you will be free to spend rest of the day exploring the village by bicycle.
Day 5: Lai Chau – Sapa
This morning, you will leave Phong Tho for Sapa. The road is a bit bumpy at times, but the rough route is quickly compensated by the magnificent scenery: yawning valleys, winding rivers, and towering mountains – a photographer’s dream. The drive to Sapa takes you up Tram Son – the highest pass in Vietnam – and offers amazing views of the Fansipan Peak, known as “the roof of Indochina”. You will stop en route to visit Heaven’s Gate and the Silver Waterfall. You will arrive in Sapa in the afternoon. Nestled in a sweeping valley near the Chinese border, Sapa is Northwest Vietnam’s premier travel destination. Built in 1922 as a French colonial hill station, this quaint town is now a trekker’s paradise, offering hiking routes through terraced rice fields and enchanting hill tribe villages. Enjoy a free afternoon to explore the colorful town on your own. You will have dinner and stay overnight in Sapa.
Day 6: Sapa – Visit surrounding villages
Breakfast is served at hotel, we take whole day trip Trek through the Sapa valley visiting some of the villages of the colorful Dao hill tribe’s people and returning to the town in the late afternoon. Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 7: Sapa – Hanoi
After breakfast at 8:30, we then check out hotel and heading back to Hanoi, lunch on the way at a local restaurant in Yen Bai. Stops along the road for taking pictures. We reach Hanoi in the late afternoon at 4:30 pm. Drop you to your hotel in Hanoi.