This off the beaten path trekking Vietnam tour is a private package, and operated in the non-touristy region where local hill tribe peoples and life is not effected yet by modern commercial life and mass tourism. The Muong Hum Sunday market is the most colorful and interesting ethnic market in Lao Cai Province. There are the H’mong, Zao, Zay, Ha Nhi who always wear their best traditional costumes to go to the market. The off the beaten path trekking Vietnam tour is rated at medium level which is designed for almost visitors with average mobi-ability and offers the opportunity to experience local life.
NIGHT 1: HANOI -> LAO CAI
Take the night train for Lao Cai. Departure at about 20.30 at Hanoi Railway Station, Le Duan street, Tran Quy Cap street. There are 4 berths per cabin – Soft sleepers. Overnight on board train.
DAY 1: LAO CAI -> MUONG HUM
Meet local tour guide upon arrival in Lao Cai train station at about 6.00am. Have breakfast in a local restaurant before taking 1 hour road transfer to Muong Hum. Lunch is provided in a local restaurant. Depart at 1.30pm for the afternoon trek to explore Den Sang Valley. Follow the paved path from home-stay, cross the stream(567m) and then hike uphill for half an hour to the area of Den Thang. Keep trekking along an earthen path which winds up and down on high elevation(769m) for an hour. Enjoy great view of Den Sang and Sang Ma Sao Valleys before paying visit to local homes of the Zao peoples. Then follow the narrow trail which goes downhill to the bottom of Den Sang Valley (668m). Cross the stream in mid-afternoon to the northern bank and follow a narrow dirt trail uphill for half an hour to a small hamlet of the H’mong (795m). Walking downhill to Lang Moi Village is situated near the bottom of Sang Ma Sao Valley(679m). Check in home-stay at about 5.00pm. Dinner at 7.00pm.
DAY 2: MUONG HUM TREKKING
Breakfast. Depart at 8.30am for 7 hours medium trekking. From home-stay(679m), the dirt trail sneaks among terraced paddies. Hike along the stream for nearly 2 hours, then go through Sang Ma Sao Valley, passing by several hamlets of the White H’mong. Enjoy beautiful scenery as well as pay visiting to some H’mong homes along the way. Reaching to the large hamlet of the H’mong Ki Quan San Village(936m) which is situated at the northern edge of the valley. Walk around the village, pay visiting to the village school, kindergarten before trekking up for an hour to an isolated hamlet on the top of Ma Mu Su mountain(1,014m). Have lunch break here.
Continue trekking after lunch for 2 hours along the large path getting through Ki Quan San Village. Pay visiting to houses of the Red Zao people for understanding culture and living way of the Zao which is quite different from that of the H’mong. Leaving the Zao Hamlet of Ki Quan San Village in mid afternoon, the trek becomes easy as you get along large path, going downhill to Pieng Lao Village of the Zay(589m). Cross the stream by a suspension bridge and you arrive to our base. Check in home-stay. Dinner served at about 7.00pm.
DAY 3: MUONG HUM -> LAO CAI -> HANOI
It is Sunday, the important day to locals. Living on high mountain side, in remote valleys… hill-tribal peoples from H’mong, Zay, Zao, Ha Nhi… go to the market for shopping, of course, but more important than that, they go to the market for meeting each others, for socializing, and for family re-union! Dressing in best colorful traditional costumes of their tribe, peoples add colors to market place and turn it into a kind of local festival.
Some members of the group may wish to wake up early, have a cup of tea and go out at about 6.00 to see peoples along the way to the market at some sections of the trails nearby the market place. Group gather at 07.30 to have breakfast at home-stay and spend the whole morning attending locals at the market place. Local tour guide will lead the group around the market place and then leave the group free to explore the market, meet peoples, talking, taking photo…
Back to home-stay at 12.00 for lunch.
After lunch, depart at 1.30pm for 3 hours trekking to Sin Chai Village of the Ha Nhi Village whose population is only some 16,000 individuals living in Vietnam(583m to 774m). Back to our base at 4.30pm, take shower and pack up and transfer to Lao Cai train station. Enjoy dinner in a local restaurant before boarding the night train 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.