North west Vietnam off the beaten path trekking

North west Vietnam off the beaten path trekking takes place in the remote Eastern and Western parts of Vietnam. This area of Vietnam is home to a number of different ethnic minority groups and therefore mountains rice paddy fields and ethnic minority villages dominate the landscape.

Trip Description & Day-by-day Itinerary

North west Vietnam off the beaten path trekking takes place in the remote Eastern and Western parts of Vietnam. This area of Vietnam is home to a number of different ethnic minority groups and therefore mountains rice paddy fields and ethnic minority villages dominate the landscape. Throughout the trip our local Vietnamese, English speaking guides will lead you through this fascinating area of Vietnam, the guides will travel at your pace and therefore the speed of the trip is set by you. There is a number of stunning photographic opportunities, which you can choose to either observe or indulge in.

North west Vietnam map

North west Vietnam map

Day 1: Lao cai – Muong Khuong Market – Sapa (L, D)

After having breakfast, you will travel by car from Lao Cai Railway Station. You will enjoy beautiful scenery along the ride until you arrive in Muong Khuong. The market locates inside a small border town, which is frequented by Flower Hmong, Tu Di, Tay and Giay ethnic minorities. They come to buy and sell local products such as food and material for agriculture and fabric. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, you will have lunch in a local restaurant. You will then visit a village of Tay people, where you have opportunity to explore their daily life. You can make a stop nearby a waterfall before you get on the car heading back to Sapa.

Day 2: Sapa – Y Linh Ho – Lao Chai – Ta Van – Sapa (L, D)

You first sneak through the Sapa market and leave the busy town behind. After a couple of minutes, you follow a road going downhill to Cat Cat village. You will stop by a waterfall and a hydroelectric station for a while before continuing the trek on a dirt trail through rice paddy terraces. You also will enjoy spectacular scenery while walking along a narrow river. You eventually arrive in Y Linh Ho village of Black Hmong minority, where you can take a rest while you are served lunch nearby the river. After lunch, you head toward Muong Hoa valley. You will pass through Lao Chai village of Black Hmong minority and then Tavan village of Giay minority by following a very popular trekking route. You will return Sapa from Tavan by car.

Day 3: Sapa- Tram Ton – Sin Chai (L, D)

You travel by car toward the Silver Waterfall where you will be able to take a short walk to the waterfall. You will then drive further to Heaven Gate, the highest peak of roads in Vietnam. From there you can see Fansipan, the highest peak of Indochina mountains as well as enjoy stunning views. We start descending nearby the waterfall. The trail takes you all the way downhill through bamboo forest, which belongs to Hoang Lien National Park. Your lunch will be served at a nice spot nearby a river. After lunch, you continue the trek to Sin Chai village of Black Hmong minority, where Community Based Tourism in Sapa takes place. You will have opportunity to explore daily life of one of the largest group ethnic minorities in Sapa area. Here you spend the night in local house.

Day 4: Sin Chai – Sapa – Phong Tho (New Lai chau) (B, L, D)

You first travel by car uphill toward Tram Ton. On the way, you can take a short walk to Silver Waterfall and then head to Heaven Gate, where you will be amazed by breathtaking view to mountain surrounding included Fansipan, the highest peak of Indochina. We will be mostly downhill toward Binh Lu. You will stop by Chu Va village of Flower Hmong for a break before you arrive in Binh Lu. Here you will have lunch in a local restaurant. After lunch, you trek in a dirt road to the villages, which are set in a beautiful valley of rice paddy terraces and mountain surrounded. You will have time to see Pa Pen village of Lu minority. Here you can take a walk around the village as well as visit a local school. You will then get on the car to transfer to Phong Tho.

Day 5: Phong Tho – Sin Ho (B, L, D)

Today we continue venturing in to northern Vietnam with the 58ksm remainder of the historical Highway 6. The road is rough, but the scenery is unbelievably beautiful and magnificent with the 7 tall passes cutting though steep mountain along the Da River flowing around the foot of the passes, which can be found nowhere else in the Northwest route. Moreover, part of the pleasure transfer in this region is the simple joy of the friendly smiles and greetings of the local people, which make the hardship all worthwhile. Along the way, we stop to visit the Black Thai, Kho Mu, Lu, Black H’mong, Green H’mong and White H’mong, just some of the many hill tribe groups and discover their simple lifestyles and colorful cultures. Get to Sin Ho at 16:00 PM check-in Guest-House.

Day 6: SinHo – Old Lai Chau (New Muong Lay) (B, L, D)

In the morning enjoying the weekly cultural Market that only held on Sunday with very colorful of many minority groups such as: Meo, Man, have lunch in a Local restaurant. And then transfer down hill to the Nam Na River and route 12C to Lai Chau check – in Lan Anh Hotel at 16:00 PM.

Day 7: Lai chau trekking and Boat trip Dien Bien Phu (B, L, -)

You will be transferred by Lotussia Travel team to the river, where you take a boat ride downstream in the Black River. You can make a stop to visit a village of Thai minority and hear about their daily life on the riverbank. A friendly atmosphere makes your trip more enjoyable. The boat takes you further downstream. You will be transferred back to the hotel for lunch. After having lunch, you will transfer 104km to Dien Bien Phu, trip around the town to visit famous historical sites such as Dien Bien Phu Museum, Glory Statue, A1 Hill and De Cattery Tunnel. In the afternoon, you will be transferred to the airport for a flight to Ha Noi. End of Lotussia Travel service.

Lotussia Travel is specialized in tailor-made trips and the above itinerary is only one suggestion. That can be flexible and subject to weather conditions and other circumstances. Customize this trip to better fit your needs or contact us for more north west Vietnam tours, north west Vietnam loop, north west highlands Vietnam, north west of Vietnam. Thank you for visiting my site and see you soon!

Trip Summary Information

Depart from

Lao Cai

End at

Dien Bien

Difficulty

Moderate

Places to visit

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Itinerary disclaimer

Occasionally our tour itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travelers’ comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the service proposal. It’s very important that you print and review a final copy of your itinerary a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact us. We are here to help you!

Please note that while we operate successful trips in Vietnam throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

Difficulty levels

Our trekking tours can be classified into three levels

Easy

There are about 8 – 10K to walk on flat roads. No previous experience is necessary. Anyone in good health and fit enough to perform an occasional hike can take an easy level trek. Vietnam easy walks are provided in Hanoi, Bac Giang, Mai Chau, Ngoc Son Ngo Luong…

Moderate

There are about 10 – 15K to hike on flat and hilly roads. At this point too, no special background is required. Hikers accustomed to trekking in hilly areas of Mai Chau, Pu Luong or Lai Chau, Yen Bai successfully accomplish our treks “moderate”, provided they are in good health and to have a correct fit. These treks are moderate or easy hikes with an average duration or shorter but more difficult steps.

Difficult

There are about 16 – 23K to trek on uphill/downhill dirty, rocky trails. Physical fitness is very important for these treks and you may have to lead you home before the trek. Most treks in this level are comparable with long rides in the Fansipan mountain or the the mountainous region of Ha Giang, Cao Bang, sometimes higher altitudes. The climate and isolation can also participate in difficulty. Prior trek experience is preferable but not vital if you have confidence in your fitness.

Inclusions

Our trip cost usually includes the following services. Please bear in mind Lotussia Travel is specialized in tailor-made trips. Trip cost vary depending on group size and other details.

  • Car transfers
  • Local tour guide. The English-Speaking guide is provided by default. Other language may be available upon request (with extra charge).
  • Local porter(s)
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Sightseeing entrance fees.
  • Bottled water.

Exclusions

Unless required most of the following services are usually not included in our tour price.

  • Visa (required)
  • Flight/Train tickets.
  • Accommodation pre/post trip.
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips
  • Personal expenses

Tour Guide

Our tour guides speak English or French. They hold a university degree in tourism and national license as a guide. If you wish to send a tour leader along with any group, he or she can fully rely on the knowledge and experience of our local guides.

Remote treks are always accompanied by a local representative to deal with permits and authorities and manage the porter team. They speak the local dialects, know the cultural traditions and give tips on suggested behavior in fragile ecological areas and tribal communities. For some itineraries, the role of tour leader and representative is combined.

When to hike

The north Vietnam experiences two distinct seasons; winter and summer. Winter is cool, dry and lasts from November to April. Temperatures range between 15 to 25°C during the day and 0 to 10°C during the night. With little rain, the winter season offers the most pleasant weather conditions for trekking in Vietnam. Read more about Vietnam weather.

Porter

During all trekking tours we may use local porters to carry your luggage as well as our trekking equipment, where required. To generate local income we employ local villagers for this task. Participants will have their own porter, carrying trekking equipment and luggage to a maximum of 15 kg per client. Travelers only have to carry their day packs. Read more how to pack

Vehicle

Depending on the nature of the tour, journeys will be accompanied by an air-conditioned car/minibus cover the larger overland sections.

Accommodation

Campsites and lodges are not common in Vietnam, instead we make use of homestays; staying the night in tribal villages along the way. Facilities are clean, but very basic. Travelers share a bamboo-slat floor, separated by curtains. Animals usually sleep under the house and restrooms and showers are often absent. Water sources are available outside. Mattresses, blankets and mosquito nets are taken care of.

Over the years Lotussia Travel has established a number of projects to upgrade home stay accommodation into a bit more comfort. Basic facilities aside, spending the night in a tribal village and enjoying a meal with the locals brings travellers unforgettable cross-cultural experiences. In the past 15 years of organizing trekking by this way, we never received a complaint.

Food

During all treks meals will be arranged on the spot, in local restaurants and at home in local villages along the way. The meals are prepared by our cooks, the local guide or by the local host. Our cooks are well trained to prepare and serve food hygienically and they cook a variety of local delicacies. Sometimes this may include the slaughter of a chicken, duck or pig. We sometimes have the chance to bring western food, and snacks from Hanoi for breakfast and picnics along the way, and coffee and tea are available in abundance. Our cooks make a special effort to provide as much variety as possible. The porters give necessary assistance on the spot.

Drinking water

There are many shops and villages that have bottled water for sale. On remote trekking tours, we buy a sufficient supply of water for the next couple of days. We recommend bringing some water purifying tablets.

Packing

Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for travelling in Vietnam. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat is a good idea in the rainy season. During the winter months warm clothing is needed for visiting the north of Vietnam. Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting religious buildings such as pagoda, temple, communal house and shoes should be removed before entering a private home.

What you take will naturally depend upon where you are travelling and the style of journey you are undertaking, and it can often be difficult to decide what to pack. Nevertheless, the following should act as a useful checklist of essential items worth thinking about taking.

  • 1 medium-sized backpack.
  • Comfortable walking shoes with good grip
  • 1 long (easy to dry) pants and 1 long sleeved shirt to wear during the trek (easy to dry).
  • 1 pair of flip flop (sandals).
  • 1 pair of shorts and T-shirt to wear at camp site (2 if you do 4-day trek).
  • 1 medium-sized towel.
  • 1 medium-sized dry bag.
  • Hiking poles/walking sticks
  • GPS

Responsible Tourism

We strongly believe that Responsible Tourism can support to local communities: proving incomes,positive cultural exchanges and an incentive to protect natural environment. We recognize that there is always space for improvement. We continually strive to narrow the gap between principle and practice.

Environment

We have been turning environmentally responsible tourism into practices to minimize tourist impact upon the local habitat. From biodegradable soaps to re – usable water containers, we provide clients with the best information and mean to help them identify and implement effective ways to positive protect local nature and communities. It is a vital criteria that can be passed on and abided by all, long after the trip ended.

Community

Prior to our tours, we contact and work with local community leaders to make sure we are welcome and in a manner that minimizes negative social and cultural impacts. We visit local development and community projects specific to the region, encouraging customers to donate and assist such a projects in appropriate and sustainable manner.

Where make sure that where and whenever possible our tours positively benefit the local community. We stayed at locally owned accommodation and visit cottage industries for local handicraft souvenir, generating income for local business. We often employ, hire support team such as local guide, motor-taxi drivers, cook assistants on all trips to ensure that the local community benefit not only short term but with increased employment opportunities for the future.

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