Trip Description & Day-by-day Itinerary
Northern Vietnam trekking tour is operated in the non-touristy region where local hill-tribal peoples and life is not effected yet by modern commercial life and mass tourism. Hill-tribal peoples met along trekking are from four ethnic groups, they are White H’mong, Red Zao, Zay and Ha Nhi who maintain well traditional way of life and their strong and unique cultures. The northern Vietnam trekking trip is rated at medium level which offers opportunities to contact local peoples, to experience local life for deep understanding of interesting cultures, customs and ways of life.
Northern Vietnam trekking itinerary
Day 1: Hanoi – Lao Cai by public bus
Board the coach and leave the center of Hanoi at 7.00AM. The road trip from Hanoi along the new highway to Lao Cai takes 6 hours plus 2 breaks along the way. Arrive in Sapa town at about 13.00. Have lunch (own arrangement), then explore Sapa town by yourself. Free dinner. Overnight in Sapa at hotel**.
Day 2: Sapa trekking.
Transfer 25km along the motorway from Sa Pa to Ta Giang Phinh. Start trekking from the small hamlet of the Black H’mong in Ta Giang Phinh Valley(1,998m), follow the village path for an hour to get through the eastern edge of the stunning valley to Suoi Thau hamlet, then turn to a narrow dirt trail winding along the little stream. Keep hiking for half an hour before getting gradually uphill, through natural rain forest. Reach the top of the trail(1,276m) after about one hour. Then walk downhill to Khi Chu Phin Village of the Red Zao People(1,213m). Lunch break. After lunch there are about 20 minutes walking downhill. Make a stop to visit a small hamlet of the Ha Nhi(1,193m). Then trekking about 2 hours along another narrow track sneaking along a spring to get through the fascinating valley of Nam Pung. Arriving to Nam Pung Commune(995m) in mid afternoon. Check in home-stay. The rest time of the day is at leisure. Dinner served at home-stay with local dishes.
Day 3: Sapa hiking
Breakfast. Depart at 8.30am for full day trekking to explore the two beautiful Sapa valleys – Pieng Lao and Sang Ma Sao. From home-stay(995m), trek along the dirt trail sneaking uphill(1,042) to get through some small hamlets of the Red Zao in Phin Ho and Ta Le Villages(782m). Then the hike gets down to the bottom of the valley(656m). Cross the stream. Enjoy easy walk for an hour along large village path to explore Pieng Lao Valley of the Zay and H’mong peoples. Arriving to a hamlet of the Red Zao at noon(709m). Lunch break. Walking along paved path for an hour to explore the large village of Ki Quan San(812m). Turn to a narrow dirt trail to get downhill gradually. After about an hour walking on steep hill side amongst lush and green plantations you reach the bottom of Sang Ma Sao Valley(782). From here the trail runs along the stream, through impressive terraced fields. Check in home-stay. Dinner served at about 7.00pm at home-stay.
Day 4: Sapa trekking. Car transfer to Lao Cai. Overnight train back to Hanoi.
Leave the homestay at 8.30am. The trek gets around the beautiful Den Sang Valley. Follow the dirt path from home-stay. Trek uphill for two hours on high elevation of Khu Chu Phin Mountain(from 679m to 968m). The hike offers great panorama of Den Sang Valley. Then the trek goes downhill to Den Sang Stream(765m) which sneaks through the valley. Have picnic lunch by the stream. Trek along a narrow dirt trail for half an hour. Visit a hamlet of the Red Zao. The rest of the trek becomes easier as you walk along a large path which winds mostly downhill. Arrival at our base at about 4.30pm. Picked up and brought to Lao Cai City. Take the night train or public bus to Hanoi. End of tour.
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.