HANOI – SAPA – HOANG SU PHI – QUAN BA – DONG VAN – CAO BANG – BAN GIOC – LANG SON
This journey showcases the mountain destinations in Northern Vietnam through their cultural diversities, especially the ethnic minority culture which sounds the same from the northwest to the northeast but it isn’t. Each and every places has been carefully selected so that you will be able to mingle with the local people and culture. Furthermore, the Northern mountainous of Vietnam is home to breathtaking landscapes of limestone mountains, rice terraces, wild rivers, waterfalls, caves, winding mountain paths that link zigzagging passes to reach colorfully-dressed minority groups, some of whom have never featured in any guidebook.
Upon arrival at Noi Bai airport, Hanoi Capital city, greeted by our local guide and transfer to hotel. Enjoy the remainder of day at leisure for a well-earned rest after our long flight.
Overnight in Hanoi.
This morning, meet with your guide and transfer by private vehicle to Sapa. Notice the changes of landscapes along the way from plat plains to mountainous jungle.
Arrive into Sapa town at the lunch time. Check-into your hotel and spend the rest of the day free at leisure to explore the town on your own. This former French hill station is becoming more and more popular with tourists not only because of its spectacular scenery but also by the beauty and diversity of ethnic minority culture. Wanderer around the town with the stop at Sapa market, Sapa Stone Church or choose to enjoy a cup of Vietnamese coffee at a local café offering magnificent views of mountains and hill tribe villages.
Overnight in Sapa.
Note: Travel distance Hanoi – Sapa: ~320km, pleasant road (~5hours drive)
Today, transfer by your private vehicle to Y Linh Ho village. From the main road, hike to the village of Black H’mong people and notice their traditional clothing made from hemp cloth dyed a deep indigo blue and decorated with batik flowers. Have a friendly chat with local people to understand how they preserve their traditional customs and way of life before the hurried development of society.
Follow a dirt trail to Muong Hoa valley while enjoying the spectacular scenery of terraced fields, vegetable patches, and verdant hills. This is also home to the largest terraced rice filed of Sapa. Traveling between July and September which is planting and harvesting time, you will have a great opportunity to see the local farmers in action.
Make a stop at a local H’mong family in Lao Chai Village to have a chat with family members to understand their traditional lifestyle and custom. Notice how their houses are typically built without windows due to the cold weather in the winter. Be ready for a hands-on experience making traditional colorful sticky rice by following the enthusiastic guidance of the host. The wholes process of making traditional colorful sticky rice is also the opportunity for the family to come together. Learn how to extract colors from the natural material (flowers, leaves…), dye the rice, and cook it. Savor the lunch with your own creation in a relaxing atmosphere, surrounded by mountain and terraced fields.
Continue your exploration to Ta Van village, set within picturesque Muong Hoa valley and also home to the Zay people, originally from China and well-known for their unique cultural costumes, being simple than other ethnic groups, less embroidered and only brightly colored bands around the neck and lapels.
Have your camera ready to capture the magnificent view of terraced fields dotted with local houses or the portrait of friendly villagers. Return to Sapa town by your private vehicle after the exploration.
Overnight in Sapa.
This morning, meet with your guide and set out towards Hoang Su Phi, passing by countless tea plantations, mountains, and ethnic minority villages. Notice the ever-changing landscapes along the way from plat plains to mountainous jungle.
Overnight at homestay in Hoang Su Phi.
Check-into your homestay on arrival. Take advantage of this homestay experience by conversing with your friendly, welcoming hosts about local life and traditions. Make a stroll around the village to view the valleys filled by terraced fields and get your camera ready to capture stunning landscape here.
Note: Travel distance Sapa – Hoang Su Phi: ~180km, curvy mountain road (~5.5hours drive)
Get ready for an exciting trekking day. Start hiking along the dirt trails that lead through the vast green Shan Tuyet Tea plain. Learn from your guide some mysterious stories about this legendary plant and how the locals turn it into a precious drink. Take a quick rest before hiking through the dreamlike scenery of the bamboo forest and make your way to the majestic rice terraces.
At the viewpoint, you can capture the best view of the whole area like an oil painting with forested mountains, deep valley, and endless rice terraces.
After delicious lunch at a local homestay, you will discover the secret uses of bamboo in Dzao culture on the beautiful rice field surroundings. Meet with local people and learn the uses and importance of bamboo products that have been used for centuries. Next, take part in a simple knitting class to create your products.
Overnight at homestay in Hoang Su Phi.
Be awaken by the sounds of nature and rural life, feel peaceful, breathe in the fresh air, and breathe out the stress of city life.
After breakfast, we head out to the Northeast of Ha Giang province. Stop along the way to visit a hidden village of Tay people, famed for the traditional stilt houses made from wood, bamboo, and palm-thatched roof. Wander around the village, chat with friendly locals to get an insight into their tradition, lifestyle.
Continue your ascend drive with winding Quan Ba pass until reaching Quan Ba Heaven Gate for a panoramic view of the area. Your journey will be highlighted by dramatic scenery, ethnic minority villages, and lush farmland. Another captivating view on the drive is the occasional encounter of ethnic people walking on the side of the roads carrying goods from one village to another.
On arrival, walk with your guide to visit an H’mong family-run workshop to get a better understanding of the traditional dying methods that have been handed down for generations. Get involved with their daily works including dying with indigo and weaving. Then, you will have also a chance to observe the Maturity ceremony, one of the oldest and most unique customs of the Red Dao ethnic minority. The Dao people believe that if a man has not undergone the Maturity ceremony, he would still be considered as a child, regardless how old he is. And so, people at any age who passed this ceremony will be considered as adults and will be allowed participate the important affairs in their villages. Nowadays, the Maturity ceremony is still maintained and very well preserved as an important culture of the Red Dao people.
Overnight at homestay in Quan Ba.
Note: Travel distance Hoang Su Phi – Quan Ba: ~160km, curvy mountain road (~6hours drive)
Today, get ready to visit most of the highlights of Ha Giang. Enjoy amazing landscape while winding on mountain passes through beautiful lush valleys. Stop sometimes for photo hunting or short visits to local villages. Keep driving toward Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark. Designated by UNESCO as one of 77 global sites with important geological and cultural heritage and recognized as the second Geopark in Southeast Asia., Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark contains several geological heritage sites of particular significance and also home to 17 ethnic groups that create the unique and rich cultural heritage of this area.
En-route, we stop to visit Sung La town to visit a beautiful house, featuring traditional customs and culture of H’mong people. Visit a unique century-old mansion, considered a national relic, belonging to the Vuong royal family who once ruled a vast area of the border region. Built in the 1900s, this palace was designed in the style of ancient Chinese architecture dating to the Qing era, and it was made from materials such as solid stone blocks, wood, and terracotta tiles.
We also stop to visit around the 100-year-old Dong Van Old Quarter, the highest old quarter in Vietnam with the typical Chinese architecture on a dramatic backdrop of sheer mountains and green rice fields. Inhabited by Hmong, Tay, Dzao, and Chinese ethnic people, the quarter is home to more than 40 old houses that feature simple, unadorned wood pillars and thick clay walls.
Overnight in Dong Van.
Note: Travel distance Quan Ba – Dong Van: ~90km, curvy mountain road (~3hours drive)
This morning, head out to Lung Cu Flag Pole, known as the Northern Peak of Vietnam. Nearby is Lo Lo Chai village where the traditional custom and lifestyle remain before the hurried development of modern society. Climb up and feast your eyes with panoramic paintings of nature composed by walled-up mountains, narrow streams, and waterfalls.
Later today, transfer to a hillside village where you will start a memorable hiking trip to Ma Pi Leng Pass, classified in 2009 as a regional heritage for its unique geological landscape. The pass is an impressive 15km of winding roads carved into the mountains that are nearly 2,000 meters above sea level. Following, enjoy a leisure boat trip on jade-green river of Nho Que, winding like a green thread shimmering from heaven. The river is begun flowing towards Vietnam from China. Immersing yourself in the nature while admire the picturesque scenery along the boat trip.
Overnight in Dong Van.
Today, we set off for a long transfer along the border with China to Cao Bang, home to some ethnic groups. This province was heavy damaged during the war with China and still be one of the poorest regions of Vietnam nowadays. the second UNESCO recognized Global Geopark in Vietnam after Dong Van Karst Plateau. Cao Bang is the home to breathtaking landscapes of limestone mountains, rice terraces, wild rivers, waterfalls, caves, and colorful minority groups of Tay, Nung, H’Mong, Kinh, Dzao, San Chay…
Checking into your hotel in Cao Bang city upon arrival. Leisure and overnight in Cao Bang.
Note: Travel distance Dong Van – Cao Bang: ~220km, curvy mountain road (~7hours drive)
This morning, head out toward the Lan Duoi village to view how the bamboo baskets are made by local skillful artisans. The basket is an important item in the household of ethnic minority people in the region. Try creating your basket under the guidance of one of the artisans and bring it home as a souvenir.
Visit Lung Ri village to understand how the locals produce impressive Yin and Yang tiles tile, a key material in building houses on stilts of the Tay and Nung people. Get your hands dirty and try making your own Yin and Yang tile. Learn more about how locals traditionally produce tiles and take this chance to experience how skillful this craft is required.
Follow hidden trails connecting Lung Ri village to Pac Rang village, specialized in the crafting of blacksmith products. Get your camera ready to capture karst mountainous scenes, peaceful villages, and friendly locals along the way. Pac Rang village is home to around 2,000 Nung people and some of them practice the blacksmith craft as knives and agricultural tools. Observe their daily activity and have friendly chat with local people for an overview of this traditional craft which has been handed down by generations.
After the visit, take a scenic drive to Ban Gioc waterfall where you will check-into your homestay.
This morning, transfer to the spectacular Ban Gioc Waterfall and admire the breathtaking scenery of the cascading water flowing into the beautiful jade-blue body of water. Capture a wonderful picture of Ban Gioc waterfalls surrounded by limestone mountains and valleys. Option to visit Truc Lam Ban Gioc pagoda where you will have a chance to capture a stunning panoramic view over Ban Gioc waterfalls and its surroundings, Continue your visit Nguom Ngao cave, one of the most spectacular cave systems in Vietnam. Created by an underground river, Nguom Ngao has amazing stalactites of various uniqueness and size.
Overnight in Lang Son. In the evening, choose to explore the lively Ky Lua night market, considered to be one of the best night markets in Vietnam. Six times a month, the market comes to life as ethnic people from different provinces meet to trade goods and products while the youth treat the day as a social event meeting up with friends and seeking marriage prospects.
Note: Travel distance Cao Bang – Lang Son: ~180km, mix of mountain and pleasant road (~4hours drive)
Free at leisure to explore this China border-town. Option to visit to two picturesque grottoes, Tam Thanh and Nhi Thanh or local markets before returning to Ha Noi, ending this incredible journey throughout the mountainous areas in the northern Vietnam. Believe or not, this is really a big mark as there aren’t many travelers, even the local people could make such a great trip become true.
Note: Travel distance Cao Bang – Lang Son: ~160km, pleasant road (~2h40 drive)----------- End of service ----------