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Ultimate Road Trip and Trekking in Northern Vietnam

Ultimate Road Trip and Trekking in Northern Vietnam is one of our 11 day tour we arrange in the far north Vietnam. Start the trip from Lao Cai, you travel to Bac Ha, Ha Giang. Enjoy beautiful scenery along the road. You then hike in Ha Giang. Keep traveling by car to Dong Van, Meo Vac for visiting the geo karst plateau, colorful hill tribe market before returning back to Quan Ba. Enjoy another hike, then travel back to Hanoi.

Trip Description & Day-by-day Itinerary

Ultimate Road Trip and Trekking in Northern Vietnam is one of our 11 day tour we arrange in the far north Vietnam. Start the trip from Lao Cai, you travel to Bac Ha, Ha Giang. Enjoy beautiful scenery along the road. You then hike in Ha Giang. Keep traveling by car to Dong Van, Meo Vac for visiting the geo karst plateau, colorful hill tribe market before returning back to Quan Ba. Enjoy another hike, then travel back to Hanoi.

Day 1: Arrive Hanoi. Take night train to Lao Cai

Arrive Hanoi. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Old Quarter. Located on an area of 100 ha, the Old Quarter is home to more than 1,000 traditional houses and has 36 streets named after specific merchants’ crafts and trade. Overnight on board the train to Lao Cai.

Day 2: Lao Cai – Bac Ha

Drive through the famous market town of Bac Ha and beyond over one of Vietnam’s highest road passes. This is a full day in the vehicle, though there’s no time to get bored as the scenery is truly breathtaking.

Day 3: Bac Ha – Hoang Su Phi – Ha Giang

Upon leaving Bac Ha we set off on a full day journey through Sin Man and Hoang Su Phi to  Ha Giang Town. The rough but scenic route traverses a dense jungle before crossing over a pass and dropping down to Sin Man. This day is a real challenge for our driver as we travel by winding roads with many uphill and down hill drives. Along the way we may encounter the Nung Ing, Tay, Red Dao, Dao Ao Dai, La Chi and Co Lao, just some of the many hill tribe groups who have settled there. O/N in Ha Giang.

Day 4: Ha Giang Trekking

You have the opportunity to participate a guided tour in the Ha Giang museum followed by an early lunch. 12.30 am. The guides pick you up at the hotel and you travel by Transfer to the commune Centre in Quyet Tien. There from you will walk about 3 hours to Khau Lan village, passing green paddy fields, little villages and beautiful forests. In Khau Lan – the Dao people, you meet the village leader and your host families. Arround 6.30 pm. All the tour members will have dinner at one family and split later to spend the night in three or four different host families.

Day 5: Trekking Ha Giang

Khau Lan is a small village of the Dao people. You have the unique opportunity to share the daily life of your host family, which might include working in the fields, fetching wood, cutting grass for the livestock and cooking meals. Depending on the activity, you have lunch on different spots, outside the village. After another local meal for dinner, you might spend the evening sitting together around a fire, discussing and laughing with the local people then you will spend another night at your host family’s house.

Day 6: Ha Giang Hiking

After breakfast and farewell with the hosts, you take another trail back to Quyet Tien commune center, passing beautiful caves, streams and forests. The Transfer bring you to Quan Ba District town, where you have about 2 hours time to take a shower and relax in the district guesthouse or take a walk through the small town. Around 2 pm. Your guides will pick you up to travel by Transfer to Thanh Van Commune. After a short walk (30 minutes) you will arrive in Lang Tan village. Lang Tan is a small village of Hmong people. The village is placed in rugged mountains which makes planting rice difficult. In order to increase their income, the villagers developed a special maize wine production. After you have met the village leader and your second host family, then there is plenty of time is available to walk around in the pretty village and meet the people. In the evening the group will enjoy a local dinner and sleep in Hmong style houses.

Day 7: Hiking Ha Giang. Travel to Dong Van.

Includes a 5-6 hours trek in so far uncharted territory. Together with a guide and a local pathfinder you walk over hills and through forests, villages of Hmong and Dao people to Can Ty Commune where the Transfer is waiting for you. The car takes you through beautifully landscape to Dong Van Town, visiting the vestige of Hmong kingdom on route. Around 6.30 pm. All the members of the tour check-in a small hotel in Dong Van and take dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 8: Travel to Meo Vac – Quan Ba

The Transfer take you through a beautiful landscape of rolling and imposing mountains and steep valleys leading from Dong Van to Meo Vac District. This is the most remote corner of Vietnam, where the traditional life of ethnic minority people is the most vivid and colorful. After lunch in Yen Minh town, the cars take you to Hop Tien village. In Hop Tien you can visit a hemp cooperative, where local people explain and demonstrate the traditional hemp production (including dyeing with natural colors, weaving and decorating). Around 5.30pm. You will travel back to Quan Ba town, where you check in the comfortable district guesthouse. At 6.30 pm you go out for dinner in a local restaurant before you spend the night in the guesthouse.

Day 9: Quan Ba Trekking

After a local breakfast you will have time to visit the very colorful market in Quan Ba town. On this market you will see people from different ethnic minority groups, which walk all the way from their mountain villages to Quan Ba town, in order to trade items and meet other people. 12.00 am. You will have dinner in a local restaurant in Quan Ba town. 6.30 pm Dinner in a local restaurant in Quan Ba town and overnight in the district guesthouse.

Day 10: Quan Ba – Hanoi

In Quan Ba visit an incredible local market. Different minority people descend from their mountain villages to trade items and meet other people. Begin the drive back to Hanoi.

Day 11: Hanoi – Departure

Today we have free time to explore city by your own until transfer to airport for your departure.

Trip Summary Information

Depart from

Hanoi

End at

Hanoi

Departure

Upon request

Difficulty

Moderate

Places to visit

Bac Ha, Dong Van, Ha Giang, Hoang Su Phi, Meo Vac, Quan Ba, Xin Man

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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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