North Vietnam Road Trip 10 Days is a combination of a challenging trek to Bac Ha and Ha Giang remote hill tribe villages with an overland tour to the less traveled places of the northern Vietnam including Thong Nguyen, Ha Giang, Quan Ba, Yen Minh, Dong Van, Meo Vac, Bao Lac, Cao Bang. The holiday adventure begins in Hanoi with an overnight train to Lao Cai. From Lao Cai, you travel to Bac Ha and then Ha Giang province. The tour can be extended with a tour to Cao Bang, Ba Be National park or Lai Chau, Dien Bien Phu.
Map of north Vietnam road trip
North Vietnam road trip itinerary
Night 1: Hanoi – Lao Cai.
You come to Hanoi train station and take the night train for Laocai. Train???. Departure at ???. Overnight on board train.
Day 1: Lao Cai – Bac Ha.
Arrive at Lao Cai Railway station early this morning at ??? (to be confirmed). You will be greeted by our local team and transferred to a local restaurant for early breakfast. After a short rest, travel to Bac Ha. If today falls into Sunday, you will have the opportunity to visit the Bac Ha market, the biggest market in the area. Every Sunday, different ethnic groups come to the market to sell their homemade products or buy something for the family. They are Hmong, Phu La, Back Dzao, Tay or Nung minorities. Some of these ethnic minorities can’t be met in any other areas. Lunch will be provided in a local restaurant in town. In the afternoon, enjoy a short easy walk to a H’mong village near Bac Ha town. Dinner and overnight in Bac Ha.
Day 2: Bac Ha – Xin Man.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Lung Phin commune where you will begin your Ha Giang trek along a narrow trail on steep hillsides. Keep trekking until you arrive Lu Suoi Tung village where you will make a stop to have lunch (lunch can be either picnicked or prepared on the spot in a local house). After lunch, continue trekking through the forest to the top of Ta Cu Ty mountain range (hard trek) and then downhill to a Red Dzao village. Dinner and homestay in a stilt house.
Day 3: Xin Man Trekking.
After breakfast, you will leaving the Ta Cu Ty village spending the whole morning trekking along a large path (medium trek). The trek offers great view over a Nung village. Lunch will be provided en route. After lunch, you will follow a narrow footpath trekking for about three more hours up and downhill through the thick forest (hard trek). Visit the rock-field with scripts carved by ancient peoples. Arrive the village around late afternoon. Dinner and homestay in a local house.
Day 4: Xin Man – Hoang Su Phi.
Breakfast and then leaving Nam Chien Village at 08.30am. Transfer along the paved road for 14 km over the Gio mountain pass through thick rain forest to the southern side. From here, enjoy a leisure walk for 3 hours through Nam Nhung and Khau Rom village of the Tay and Zao peoples along the narrow valley of the Nam Li River. Lunch break near a suspension bridge. Cross the Nam Li River to the southern bank, trekking uphill to Quang Thuong Village and then downhill to Nam Choong Village of the Zao peoples which is beautifully set on the southern bank of Nam Li River and endowed by nature with a mineral hot spring.
Day 5: Hoang Su Phi Trekking.
Today is probably the most interesting day of the whole trip for the superb scenery and wild nature which changes after every quarter trekking. But is also the greatest challenge so far. After enjoying easy walk the the Nam Ly Valley, the trail gets tougher uphill for over an hour to Cao Son Village of the Hmong and Zao. Then, leaving the large path for a narrow trail which winds through tea farm and later thick forest aprrox.1,5 hour. Great challenging amidst wild nature! Lunch break at the top of a mountain before getting downhill to Trung Son Village of the Nung. Afternoon trek become easier along a narrow valley for nearly 2 hour to Tan Minh village of the Red Zao, then onto the center of Ho Thau Commune. Take an easy walk in late afternoon for 20 minutes to home stay.
Day 6: Hoang Su Phi – Thong Nguyen.
It is an easy day today. Leaving home stay after breakfast and trekking for the whole morning along a narrow but rather good trail through Ho Thau Valley passing charming villages of the Zao and Nung ethnic peoples scattering on hill sides. Long lunch break near Nam Son Bridge with swimming possibility in the clear water of the Nam Dich River. Picked up and transfer by road to Panhou ecolodge at Thong Nguyen Commune. The rest of the afternoon is set at leisure for freshen up or walking to explore the surrounding of Panhou.
Day 7: Thong Nguyen – Bac Me, Cao Bang.
After breakfast, you continue your trip driving to the top of the mountain where you make a short stop for great view of the region. Then descend to the lowland. After about one hour drive, you will arrive Nam An, used to be a narrow and deep valley, built into a lake for water storage to run a hydraulic power plant and now has become spectacular lake with a peninsular for eco-tourist sport. Spend an hour walking around the lake visiting a local Red Zao village. Lunch will be provided in a local silt house. Continue your road trip to Ha Giang town, and then on to Bac Me. Arriving in Bac Me town around late afternoon, check into a local guesthouse for overnight.
Day 8: Bac Me – Meo Vac – Dong Van.
Check out hotel at 08.00 and depart for Meo Vac. The first portion of the road weaves its way along the the Gam river amongst high mountains and thick forests. Crossing the Gam river and following the newly built road, you will arrive Niem Son commune where we will spend almost an hour visiting the local market (if any) and a small village of the H’mong ethnic peoples. Drive uphill through the remote and deserted region to Meo Vac. Getting close to Meo Vac, there appeared some small hamlets of the H’mong built on the immense limestone hill sides. Stop for visiting one of these hamlets for the first impression of the very hard life on this mysterious limestone highland. Arriving in Meo Vac at noon, take a quick look at the market (if Sunday)and lunch break. After Lunch, visit a small village of the Lolo, an ethnic group with only about 4,700 peoples near the town before leaving Meo Vac . Then continue driving to Dong Van. Check into a local hotel for overnight.
Day 9: Dong Van – Yen Minh – Quan Ba.
Check out hotel at 08.00 and drive to Lung Cu. Visit a village of the H’mong ethnic and a village of the Red Lolo in Lung Cu then move on to the Vuong Family Palace once ruled over the H’mong in the region and popularly known as King of the H’mong. Then travel to Pho Bang ancient town. Walking for about an hour to explore this town which is featured with two storey wooden houses, clay walled, Yin and Yang tiled roofs and leisure atmosphere. Leaving Pho Bang, you travel downhill to Yen Minh town where your lunch will be provided in a local restaurant in town. After lunch, drive uphill of a long and high mountain pass. Take a break at the foot of the pass and visit a village of the La Chi, another small ethnic group with only over 3,000 individuals in Vietnam whose culture is really unique and strong. Arrive in Quan Ba around late afternoon. Check in hotel for freshen up and relax. Overnight in Quan Ba.
Day 10: Quan Ba – Ha Giang City – Hanoi.
Breakfast and check out hotel. Driving uphill to the top of Quan Ba mountain pass, stop for admiring the great view of Quan Ba valley. Then driving few kilometers further for visiting two more hill tribe villages – one village of the H’mong with traditional living style of the highlander ethnics and the other, a village of the Kinh peoples immigrated to the region in 1980s. Driving for another hour and take a coffee stop at Ha Giang town before continue your journey back to Hanoi. Lunch will be provided in a local restaurant en route. Arrive in Hanoi in late afternoon. End trip.
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 North Vietnam Road Trip 10 Days 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.