8 Days Northern Vietnam Itinerary takes you to the off-the-beaten path destinations in the north-western Vietnam including Dien Bien Phu, Lai Chau, Tam Duong. You will enjoy trekking in Tam Duong, Phong Tho, Lai Chau province and in Sapa as well. You also have the opportunity to visit either Tam Duong market or Bac Ha market which are open only on Sunday morning. The weekly highland market is not only the place where people come to buy or to sell something. But this is also the place where lots of ethnic groups come to exchange their home-made crafts, to socialize, to make friends…The tour is concluded with an extension overnight cruise to Halong bay where you can either do some other adventures or just stay free at leisure on board junk.
Map of 8 days northern Vietnam
8 days northern Vietnam itinerary
Day 1: Fly from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu. Travel to Lai Chau
8h00: A Hiking Vietnam team guide & driver will meet you at your hotel in Dien Bien Phu and drive then to Lai Chau. Stop en route to visit local hill tribe villages or taking beautiful photographs. Arrival in Laichau town around noon. After lunch (at your own account), start a soft trek to a local village around Lai Chau. Free dinner and overnight in Laichau.
Day 2: Lai Chau – Tam Duong.
The picturesque road from Lai Chau to Tam Duong goes along the Chinese Border and the Nam Na River. We visit some Black Thai villages, which are famous by their on-stilts wooden houses. During the way we cross a footbridge leading us to Kh’Mu Village, an important hill-tribe similar to the Laos people in terms of language and traditions. Before arrival in Tam Duong, a stop at Man Tien Village is scheduled. We spend the night in a guest-house in Tam Duong.
Day 3: Tam Duong trekking.
Tam Duong is a frontier town situated in a beautiful valley between limestone rocks. This place is the home of many hill tribes such as the H’Mong, Man Tien, Lu and Cu Chu people. Authentic in lifestyle and colorful in costumes, most of the tribes were emigrated from South China during the 17th – 18th century. A full day of trekking through their villages, hidden behind mountains and hills, enables us to learn how self-sufficient life is. A picnic is prepared for lunch. We will continue our trip with visiting a home-run tea factory as the area is famous for its tea plantation. Also this night is spent in the Tam Duong guest-house.
Day 4: Tam Duong – Sapa.
This morning we are going to visit the Tam Duong Ethnic Market, an ideal place to meet local people. Ethnic groups from every part of the region come here to exchange their agricultural and handicraft products. After this interesting experience of interacting with the local people, we make a promenade to Pa Pe, a village of the Lu minority. The people here are famous because of their black teeth. When girls have the age of 10 they have to chew a certain type of plant (growing in the woods) which causes black moisture upon the teeth. Having black teeth is considered as a symbol of beauty in this tribe. After this amazing visit we continue our way to Sapa. Stop at Tram Ton Pass -the highest pass in Vietnam, 1900m, view the heaven gate and large valley and nice Silver Waterfall. We come higher and higher in altitude as we reach Sapa where we spend the night in a hotel.
Day 5: Trekking Sapa.
Sapa is not only an ideal place for retreat with its moderate climate, it is also a place of cultural value and breathtaking mountainous scenery. The town of Sapa is inhabited by colorful hill tribes, which are based on the foot of Fan Xi Pan Mount and other surrounding valleys. Here we spend our whole day trekking around the river of Sapa Valley, crossing suspension bridges and witnessing green rice terraces. During our trek we will again be exposed to local life and the daily activities. We trek through bamboo forest, see three different ethnic minorities until we stop at a nice waterfall in Giang Ta Chai Village of the Red-Dzao to spend the night in the house of a local family.
Day 6: Sapa – Bac Ha – Lao Cai – Hanoi.
Have breakfast and then drive to Bac Ha. During this ride we pass the Chinese border (Lao Cai) where you can get a glimpse of the Chinese town of Hekou, and visit a nice temple there, located just at the other side of the Red River. Bac Ha is situated in the highlands and is mostly populated by the beautifully dressed Flower H’mong minority (famous for its multi-ethnic market). The environment is paved with plum trees. Visit the Sunday market and have lunch in town (at your own account). After lunch, transfer to Coc Ly to take a boat trip on Chay River. After the boat trip, our car and guide drive you back to Laocai station where you will catch the night train to Hanoi. Overnight on train.
Day 7: Hanoi – Ha Long bay. Boat cruise with canoeing tour.
Heading out of town we make our way towards Halong Bay, truly one of Vietnam’s most scenic impressive sights. On arrival in Halong we embark on a boat for an exploration of the legendary Halong Bay. Along the trip we learn some kayak orientation and instruction in paddling technique. We begin our first kayaking experience to discover the limestone karst formations which are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves, and visit one of the many hidden grottoes beneath towering cliffs. At the end of afternoon we return to our escorted boat for relaxation and dinner. The night paddle is available for kayaking fervor. O/N on board
Day 8: Ha Long Bay – Hanoi.
The views of sailing junks navigating past over 3,000 limestone islands and outcrops jutting out of the clear and emerald water of the bay are nothing short of spectacular. After breakfast on board we continue cruising and make stop for second paddle. We circumnavigate the island, observing some secluded lagoons and enjoying last swimming opportunity. In late morning we regroup at our escorted boat for two hour cruise to Halong Pier. Have a delicious lunch on board before disembarking and return to Hanoi. Upon arrival in Hanoi, transfer to your hotel in town. End of our services.
Hiking Vietnam specializes in tailor-making trekking and hiking vacations in Vietnam. With a dedicated team of senior travel consultants, hiking tour specialists, experienced English-speaking tour leaders, local H’mong, Thai, Tay guides, cooks, porters we can design any trekking, hiking, walking option for any age and budget. This 8 Days Northern Vietnam Itinerary is only a sample that can be further customized to better fit your personal requirements. Just follow this itinerary or contact us for designing your own adventure.
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.