This 12 day trekking north Vietnam Sapa, Bac Ha, Ha Giang is one of longest trekking tours are arranged in Vietnam, taking you to Sapa hill tribe villages, and non-touristy Bac Ha, Ha Giang villages. Most of nights are spent at local home – homestay, offering the chance to experience the local life. Accommodation facilities are simple, limited. But the landscapes and the ethnic culture are worth the journey.
NIGHT 1: HANOI -> LAO CAI
Take the overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai. Train??? Departure at 20.30. Overnight on board train.
DAY 1: LAO CAI -> SAPA -> SIN CHAI VILLAGE
Arrive Lao Cai train station early this morning, at about 5AM. Picked up by our local driver and brought to Sapa. Sa Pa is a quiet mountain town and home to a great diversity of ethnic minority peoples. The geographical location of the area makes it a truly unique place for many interesting plants and animals, allowing it to support many inhabitants. Breakfast will be served in a local restaurant in town. At 9.00 am, transfer to Tram Ton Pass. Short top might be made on the way to see the Silver Waterfall. Start trekking from Heaven Gate, hike through the thick rain forest of the Hoang Lien Nature Reserve for about 2 hours. The trail is narrow, tough steep downhill from 1,847m to 1,541m. Lunch break here on the top of a hill named Sour & Acrid. After lunch, continue trekking downhill for nearly an hour to the stream crossing at 1,414m. The trail of this portion gets through corn fields and some terraced paddies including some tough but short descending. Once getting to other bank, the trail becomes wider and less tough. Hike along the upstream part of Muong Hoa river for about 2 hours towards Sin Chai village of the Black Hmong. Arrive at home stay at about 5.00 pm. Dinner and home stay in this village.
DAY 2: SIN CHAI -> Y LINH HO VILLAGE
Breakfast and leave home stay at 08.30 to 09.00 am. Take an easy walk along Muong Hoa river for nearly an hour to Cat Cat waterfall, short break by this wonder of nature. Cross the river by suspension bridge to other sides, follow the steps uphill to the southern edge of Cat Cat village and from here the follow a good path for another hour softly downhill(1,212m to 1,188m). Cross the Vang stream to other bank and then lunch break. After lunch, the trail winds up steep hills to 1,227m for two hours through rice paddies, corn fields and later rain forest before gradually descending for another 2 hours to wards Y Linh Ho village(at 1,018m), another village of the Black Hmong with lot traces of slash and burn agriculture along the way. The rest hour of the afternoon is at leisure or for free walk to explore this charming village.
DAY 3: Y LINH HO -> SEO MI TY VILLAGE
Breakfast and leave Y Linh Ho at 09.00am, enjoy an easy trekking with just some soft descends and ascends for nearly an hour to Lao Chai San 2 village (1,058m), where the influence of other cultures and religion can be seen evidently. Then the trail gets narrower and tougher uphill for about another hour from to Lao Hang Chai 1 (1,146m). This portion of the trek includes a long and steep ascend but offers great view of Muong Hoa Valley. Paying visit to several local homes in Lao Hang Chai village before lunch break. Leave Lao Chai San 1 after lunch and trek along the narrow trail for half an hour between farm land and bamboo forest with not too much up and down before challenging the steep path for about 1,5 hour, through thick rain forest to 1,785m high. Taking a long break here for recovery and enjoying the marvelous panorama of Muong Hoa Valley. The last portion of the trek today takes about 1 hour gradually downhill to Seo Mi Ty village of the Hmong which sits near the bottom of a stunning valley(1,548m). The rest hours of the afternoon is for relaxing by the stream near the newly built hydraulic power station.
DAY 4: SEO MI TY -> TA CHUNG HO VILLAGE
Leave Seo Mi Ty at 09.00 after breakfast. Take an easy walk along a large path for 20 minutes downhill, passing through a small hamlet. And then the trek gets harder for 2 hours along a tougher which is a combination of lose rocks, steep dirt track and stream crossings, through re-grown forest to Den Thang village(from 1,548m to 1,294m). Walking to explore this isolated village for half an hour before lunch break. Afternoon trek is also downhill for most of the way about 2 hours from Den Thang to Ta Chung Ho suspension bridge (at 872m). The trail is tough plus two stream crossings which makes this part harder. Enjoy a short rest here before challenging 3 km uphill to home stay at a small Red Zao hamlet(at 984m).
DAY 5: TA TRUNG HO -> BAN SAI VILLAGE
Breakfast and trekking from home stay at 08.30. Morning trek is a real challenge along a narrow dirt trail which sneaks on steep hill sides from the height of 950m up to nearly 1,632m. Lunch break at the top of the mountain in the thick rain forest. Continue trekking after lunch along the same trail downhill for 1,5 hour through the rain forest of Hoang Lien National Park to Nam Ngan Village of the Red Zao(952m). Enjoy an easy walk to explore this quiet and charming village. Then following a larger dirt path for nearly 1 hour downhill to Nam Sang Village of the Xa Pho peoples(a sub group of Phu La group), whose population is only about 6,500 individuals and well maintained their traditional way of living. The last portion of the trail getting across the fairly flat bottom of Nam Sai valley to Ban Sai village of the Tay ethnic peoples(at 570m). Dinner and home stay in this village.
DAY 6: BAN SAI -> SIN CHAI VILLAGE
Breakfast and leave Ban Sai at about 09.00 am. Trekking along a large & rocky path uphill to Nam Nhiu village of the Red Zao(870m) and then continue along a dirt path for 1,5 hour to Nam Than Village of the Red Zao and Black Hmong(865m). This portion of the trek offers stunning view of Nam Sai and Nam Cang Valleys as well as chances to understand life of tribal peoples in remotest region of Sapa. Leaving Nam Than for an hour through wild land dotting with terraced fields amongst mountain and rain forest…Lunch break. Continue trekking for 2, 5 hours in the afternoon along the same trail passing through the cultivated hilly land of Suoi Thau Commune to Sin Chai B Village of the Red Zao(733m). Check in home-stay, having a short rest and easy walk to explore this small and quiet village.
DAY 7: SIN CHAI -> LAO CAI
The trek today is long and hard including 2 descends and one long and steep ascend. Departure from home stay for a sharp descending in half an hour to the bottom of the valley( from 733m to 452m) and gradually uphill for nearly 2 hours to Nam Lang B(676m) and onto Nam Lang B(899m), the 2 village of the Red Zao. Paying visiting to some local homes before lunch break. Afternoon trek is much better along a large and rocky road on high elevation for ½ hour, slightly uphill to Ban Pho village of the Hmong, then gradually getting downhill to Nam Ket Village(532m) of the Red Zao and the Tay. From here the trek is much easier for nearly 2 hours to Ta Thang village. This portion offers wide view of the Red River valley which runs through the Bao Yen District. Trek ends at about 4.30pm at Ta Thang village, picked up and transfer by road nearly an hour to Lao Cai. Check into a local hotel.
DAY 8: LAO CAI -> BAC HA TOWN
Have early breakfast. Then depart for Bac Ha. The road is relatively flat from Lao Cai to Bao Nhai bridge. After crossing the bridge, you begin your journey uphill offering beautiful views over the valleys. Arrive to the market place at about 09.30am, right at the most crowded hours (today must be on Sunday). Spend two hours joining the local tribal peoples including Flower H’mong, Black Zao, Phu La and Tay for the market activities and festive atmosphere. All peoples in their best traditional costume gather every Sunday for shopping, but socializing is of great importance. The cattle and clothing sections are the most interesting until 11.00 and then comes the food section where peoples meet, talk, enjoy food and especially drink a kind of locally made corn-wine. Lunch will be provided in a local restaurant. In the afternoon, enjoy an easy short walk to a H’mong village near Bac Ha town. The walk starts right from the town, and takes approximately three hours. Dinner and overnight in Bac Ha.
DAY 9: BAC HA TOWN -> TA CU TY VILLAGE
After breakfast, you will leave Bac Ha town travelling by car to Lung Phin where you will begin your trek. Hike along a narrow trail on steep hillsides to Lu Suoi Tung village. Lunch will be provided in a local village (picnic). After lunch, continue trekking through the forest to the top of Ta Cu Ty mountain range (hard trek) and then downhill to a Red Dzao village. Dinner and overnight in a local stilt house (homestay).
DAY 10: TA CU TY -> NAM DAN VILLAGE
Leaving Ta Cu Ty village, you will spend the whole morning trekking along a large path that offers great view over a Nung village. You will make a stop en route for lunch, provided in a local hill tribe village (picnic). After lunch, you will follow a narrow footpath trekking for about 3 hours (hard trek). You hike up and downhill through the thick forest. Visit the rock-field with scripts carved by ancient peoples. Arrive in the village around late afternoon. Dinner and overnight in a local house (homestay).
DAY 11: NAM DAN -> NAM CHONG VILLAGE
After breakfast, you will be transferred along a paved road to the southern side of the mountain. Then enjoy 3 hours easy trekking through Tay and Dzao villages along the narrow valley of the Nam Ty River. Lunch will be provided in a local house (picnic). After lunch, continue your trek crossing the river to the southern bank, then hike uphill, downhill to a Dzao village, set on the bank of Nam Ty river, endowed with a mineral hot spring. Dinner and overnight in a house on stilt.
DAY 12: NAM CHONG -> LAO CAI -> HANOI
Continue hiking until you arrive the main road. Picked up again by your car and brought back to Lao Cai. Take the overnight train to get back to Hanoi. Trip ends.