Trip Description & Day-by-day Itinerary
The 9-day Northern Vietnam trekking is customized for small groups and active, adventure travelers, those looking for a challenging, multi-day trek in the northern Vietnam. The adventure holiday begins with a car transfer from Hanoi to Mai Chau where you spend your first 4 days trekking through rice paddy fields and local Thai and H’mong hamlets. You are then transferred by car to Pu Luong nature reserve where you spend the other 5 day trekking through Thai and Muong villages. Spending all the nights at local home (homestay); eating local food and sharing the house with family at night offer a real life experience. This is a challenging trekking tour is only available during the dry season starting from October until April.
Northern Vietnam trekking Itinerary
Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau. Start trekking Mai Chau village (trek to Hang Kia village).
7:00 a.m you will be met up with Lotussia Travel team at your hotel in Hanoi and transferred to Mai Chau. This scenic drive takes about three hours. En routes, you pass fields of tapioca and sugar cane as well as rice paddies. After lunch in a traditional stilt house of the Thai people in Poom Coom village, you will enjoy one hour drive to Xa Linh village where you will begin 3 hrs trek through beautiful villages, the gravel tracks and small paths used by the locals. Dinner and overnight at a local home in Hang Kia village.
Day 2: Continue trekking Mai Chau villages (Trek to Van village).
After breakfast, you will get well and truly off the beaten track as you trek through tropical rain forest, using the local tracks and passing through corn fields as we descend in to Mai Chau Valley. The trek takes around 5 hours and is quite steep in places. Lunch will be provided at the local stall at the foot of the valley. From here, you will continue trekking and going through several ethnic minority villages, long spread out fields decorated with water wheels to make your way to Van village by late afternoon. Dinner and overnight in a local stilt house (homestay).
Day 3: Continue trekking Mai Chau valley (Trek to Xam Khoe village)
Today you will trek through several Thai hamlets. You walk on the valley floor and are surrounded by rice paddies and beautiful scenery. Picnic lunch will be provided en route. You will arrive in Xam Khoe village in the afternoon. Cook, then enjoy the dinner with the host. Spend another night homestay.
Day 4: Hiking Mai Chau village (Hike back to Poom Coom village)
Trek back to Mai Chau valley and Poom Coom village. You hike through beautiful rice terraces, inhale peaceful atmosphere in the morning. You will arrive back Poom Coong village around noon. Lunch will be served in a local stilt house.
After lunch, free time for you to stroll around the village in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in Poom Coom village.
Day 5: Trek Mai Chau onto Pu Luong Nature Reserve.
Leaving the Poom Coom village, you travel on the paved road to the Ma river. Get off the bus to unbeaten trek to Duom and Hang village for approximately 2.5 hrs through spectacular mountain scenery, rice paddies, water wheels, talk with lovely local people on the way. You will arrive in the homestay in the afternoon. Check into a local house for dinner and overnight.
Day 6: Continue hiking Pu Luong nature reserve (Hike to Eo Ken & Kho Muong villages)
It will be interesting for you to get up early and take part in their morning activities. Today you will be walking for a approximately 5 to 6 hour on a dirt road.The first hiking is hard with some steep climbs and yet more stream crossings, the next is really glorious with beautiful views of valley, rice terraces, rich rain forest. Picnic lunch on the way at Eo Ken village. Arrival in Hang village, the setting of the village is perhaps the most beautiful in Vietnam nestled between steep karst mountains and nice terraces in the afternoon. Spend our second night in a typical Thai stilt house in Kho Muong village.
Day 7: Continue trekking Pu Luong national park (Trek to Nua and Hin villages)
After breakfast, you will leave the homestay and continue trekking through the valley. There are some steep climbs and yet more stream crossings. Trek to an incredible cave, only recently discovered and now protected by the Forest rangers. The trekking becomes more remote yet one is never far from a villager tending fields, passing steep limestone mountain, rain forest inside the Pu Luong Nature Reserve to Nua village. Lunch will be provided en route. Relax from the heat of the day before continuing on to Hin – the village of Thai people in the afternoon. Have dinner and spend one more night at a local home.
Day 8: Continue trekking Pu Luong (Hike to Son village).
Leave Hin village, you will trek uphill. You will get in deeper inside the Pu luong Nature Reserve with wild and rich tropical forest. Lunch will be provided en route. After lunch, continue trekking through Ba beautiful village to Son village. Take a break and stretch your legs on the house on stilt of Thai people or strolling round this village and to be in contact with hospitable friendly local people here. Dinner and overnight in Son village.
Day 9: Trek to Ton village then drive back to Hanoi
Today you will have a nice and easier trek, just a bit up and down through rice paddies, jungle fever. After 2.5 hours we get to Ton village. You will be picked up by Lotussia Travel driver and transferred back to Hanoi.
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.
Our trekking tours can be classified into three levels
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…
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.
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.
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)
- Sightseeing entrance fees.
- Bottled water.
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
- Personal expenses
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.
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
Depending on the nature of the tour, journeys will be accompanied by an air-conditioned car/minibus cover the larger overland sections.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.