The 9 Day Northwest Vietnam Itinerary is arranged in the northern, north-western Vietnam where the ethnic culture is rich, the scenery, nature is wild and beautiful. Start the tour by taking the overnight train to Sapa where you will enjoy a full day hike through local hill-tribe villages, terraced rice fields. The trek can be extended one more day offering you the opportunity to spend one night at local home-stay. The multi activity tour continues with a 4-day biking through Lai Chau, Paso, Muong Lay to Dien Bien Phu. This is a mountain bike with may up and downhill rides. After visiting Dien Bien Phu, you fly back to hanoi and then travel to Halong bay where you will enjoy the overnight cruise tour with kayaking activity. Optional scuba diving, spa, cooking are also available on board junk.
Day 1: Hanoi – Lao Cai by train.
In the evening, transfer to Hanoi railways station for the night train to Laocai. Departure at 21h00 (TBA). Overnight on the train.
Day 2: Arrival in Laocai. Travel to Sapa. Trekking Sapa hilltribe villages.
Arrive in Lao Cai Railway Station at around 6h30AM. Welcome by Hiking Vietnam team local guide and driver and starting going uphill to Sapa. After breakfast in town, we start our trekking day by walking downhill through the breathtaking scenery. We will trek through rice paddy fields until we reach Ban Ho village. We will have a short visit of local houses before passing a suspension bridge. Your lunch will be provided on the spot. After lunch, we continue our walk to a Red Dao village of Nam Toong. Stop by a nice house to taste a cup of tea before heading back to Ban Ho, then uphill to Su Pan village where our vehicle is waiting for us for the journey back to Sapa. Overnight in Sapa.
Day 3: Biking Sapa – Lai Chau.
After breakfast, we leave Sapa town and travel by car uphill toward Tram Ton pass where we can take a short walk to the Silver Waterfall. Then head to Heaven Gate, where you will be amazed by breathtaking view to surrounding mountains including Fansipan, the highest peak of Indochina. Start our ride downhill towards Binh Lu. Stop by Chu Va Black Hmong village for a short break before arriving in Binh Lu. Your lunch will be provided in a local restaurant. After lunch, we will continue cycling uphill. This biking route part requires lots of effort. But our support car will be always there for any assistance we may need. We will arrive in Laichau around late afternoon. Overnight in Laichau.
Day 4: Biking Lai Chau – Paso.
After breakfast, we start cycling again uphill along picturesque tributary of the Nam Na River. We will cycle through many beautiful and remote villages of Thai people spreading along the way before reaching the small town of Pa So. Your lunch will be provided in a local restaurant en route. After lunch, we will continue our ride on a flat road towards Sin Ho. The journey offers a wonderful scenery and authentic local life activities of Hmong and Dao ethnic minorities. We will arrive in Paso around late afternoon. Enjoying some fresh local beer by the hotel riverside restaurant will be a great experience! Overnight in Paso.
Day 5: Biking Paso – Muong Lay.
Today’s ride will be mostly downhill. We will have more time to enjoy beautiful scenery as well as stop by a village of Thai minority, the largest ethnic minority group in this area. Just keep following the road, which goes along the Na River until we arrive in Muonglay. We will check in a hotel and have a late lunch. After a rest, the car will drive us to the pier where we will take a boat ride downstream in the Black River. Stop and visit a village of Thai people and hear about their daily life on the riverbank. A friendly atmosphere makes the trip more enjoyable. Overnight in Muonglay.
Day 6: Biking Muong Lay – Dien Bien Phu.
After breakfast, we will start cycling on a good road, which makes our ride very comfortable. You will have either lunch in a local restaurant or picnic lunch prepared by the hotel. After lunch, we will continue our ride which is even more enjoyable in a beautiful nature. The ride will be downhill and then flat upon your arrival in Dien Bien Phu. Mountains and huge rice fields surround the busy town. Overnight in Dienbien.
Day 7: Continue cycling Dien Bien Phu. Fly to Hanoi.
After having breakfast, we will have an interesting bicycle trip around the town to visit the most famous historical sites of Dienbien including the Dien Bien Phu Museum, Glory Statue, A1 Hill and De Cattery Tunnel. Your lunch will be provided in a local restaurant in town. In the afternoon, our car will take us to Dienbien airport for a flight to Ha Noi. Welcome in Hanoi airport by another bus and transfer to your hotel in town. In the late afternoon, enjoy one hour Vietnamese traditional foot massage which is really enjoyable and fun after a long cycling journey. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 8: Hanoi – Halong bay. Boat cruise with kayaking tour.
Enjoy the journey through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta and the scenery of rice fields, water buffalo and everyday Vietnamese village life. Arrive in Halong and board the Bai Tho traditional sailing junk (or similar junk). Whilst cruising the exquisite waters sample the regions fresh seafood. Visit the recently discovered Surprise Grotto with its great views, and on the next island see the yawning mouth of Bo Nau Cave. Alternatively journey to Dau Go Cave and nearby see the famous stalagmites and stalactites of Thien Cung Cave. Enjoy a swim in the emerald waters of Halong Bay at any spot that you wish to visit or take a kayaking trip to explore the Bay. There are many beautiful places in Halong Bay which can by visited only with kayak. Watch the sun set over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner. Overnight on board junk.
Day 9: Halong bay – Hanoi.
Wake up to fresh coffee and a wholesome breakfast before cruising back to Halong City. En route the junk weaves through strange-shaped rock formations that invite comparisons from fighting cocks to dragons. After another wonderful fresh seafood early lunch on board disembark at the dock at Halong City. Transfer back to Hanoi.
Hiking Vietnam specializes in tailor-making private guided trekking hiking tours in Vietnam. This 9 Day Northwest Vietnam Itinerary is only a sample itinerary that can be further customized to better fit your personal requirements. Just follow this trip or contact us for designing your own itinerary.
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.