North Vietnam Tour 9 Days offers the chance to visit the northern Vietnam’s major travel highlights including Can Cau market, Bac Ha town, Sapa, Lao Cai, Than Uyen, Than Thuoc, Lai Chau, yen Bai and Halong bay. The highlights of the multi-sport trip are the Can Cau Saturday market, a day walking tour in Sapa, Sapa mountain biking tour, Halong bay junk cruise, sea kayaking and a culture day tour of Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. The best time for taking this trip is the dry season starting from October until May.
Map of north Vietnam tour
North Vietnam tour itinerary
Day 1: Hanoi – Lao Cai.
In the evening, transfer to Hanoi Railway Station for overnight train to Laocai. Overnight on board train.
Day 2: Lao Cai – Bac Ha – Can Cau Market – Sapa.
Upon your arrival at Laocai Railways Station, you will be greeted by our local team and transferred to a local restaurant for breakfast. Then start our drive to Can Cau market. The road is relatively flat from Lao Cai to Bao Nhai bridge. After crossing the bridge, we begin our journey uphill offering beautiful views over the valleys. Situated 20 km from Bac Ha, Can Cau is a small, but very colorful market. Opening only on Saturdays, it always delivers a very photogenic display of Flower Hmong, Black Zao, Phu La ethnic costumes. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, you will leave the market for Bac Ha town for lunch (included). In the afternoon, we drive downhill towards Lao Cai for about half an hour. We stop on the way (before reaching Lao Cai) to take a short walk to Trung Do village inhabited by Tay people. Stop by a traditional Tay house for a cup of tea before taking a boat cruise upstream the Chay River. The scenery is very beautiful on both sides of the river. The boat trip will end at Coc Ly where your vehicle will be waiting for you for the journey to Sapa. Free dinner. Overnight in Sapa.
Day 3: Sapa Trekking.
You first sneak through the Sapa market and leave the busy town behind. After a couple of minutes, you follow a road going downhill to Cat Cat village. You will stop by a waterfall and a hydroelectric station for a while before continuing the trek on a dirt trail through rice paddy terraces. You also will enjoy spectacular scenery while walking along a narrow river. You eventually arrive in Y Linh Ho village of Black Hmong minority, where you can take a rest while you are served lunch nearby the river. After lunch, you head toward Muong Hoa valley. You will pass through Lao Chai village of Black Hmong minority and then Tavan village of Giay minority by following a very popular trekking route. You will return Sapa from Tavan by car. Free dinner. Overnight in Sapa.
Day 4: Sapa – Than Thuoc.
Drive uphill towards Tram Ton. It’s a tough climb out of Sa Pa to Heaven’s gate, so your support vehicle will transfer you out to a starting point at the ‘Silver Waterfall’. Then it’s a 3Km climb up the highest mountain pass in Indochina where you’ll stop to marvel at the spectacular view of Hoang Lien mountains before free-wheeling down 26km to Binh Lu Junction. Heading off the main road, its 20kms of sometimes rocky road to Than Thuoc, a charming little tea town where you’ll spend the night in a local stilt house.
Day 5: Than Thuoc – Than Uyen.
After breakfast, your support vehicle will transfer you up a steep mountain pass to the starting point where you’ll glide down 20kms to Than Uyen through valleys where the old growth forest, tea plantations and verdant rice paddies surround you during your ride. After lunch in Than Uyen, you’ll have a wonderful afternoon as you explore some single track trails to visit local minority villages, including the interesting Lu people with their distinctively black teeth. Arrive back in Than Uyen for dinner and overnight in the local guesthouse.
Day 6: Than Uyen – Lao Cai – Hanoi.
After breakfast, ride 40kms around the other side of the stunning Muong Kim valley with time for lots of stops to take pictures of the local hill tribe people and the stunning scenery there. Arrive in Van Ban for a late lunch then hop on the minivan to drive back to Lao Cai. Overnight on board train.
Day 7: Hanoi – Halong Bay Cruise.
Upon your arrival at Hanoi Railways Station, you will be greeted again by our team (private car & guide) and transferred to a local restaurant for breakfast and a short rest. At 8:00: you will be picked up by our sharing shuttle bus (no guide). Depart for Halong bay. Enjoy the journey through the scenery of rice fields, water buffalo and everyday Vietnamese village life. Arrive in Halong bay around noon and board the Bai Tho traditional sailing junk (or similar junk). Whilst cruising the exquisite waters sample the regions fresh seafood. Round over Thien Cung cave (palace of heaven), Dau Go ( grotto of wood ), Tuan Chau island, Dog island, Dinh Huong, Ga Choi (fighting cock mountain), Turtle island. Visit Sung Sot cave and enjoy one-hour kayaking trip or have a swim at Titop beach or Soi Sim beach. Watch the sun set over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner. Overnight on board junk.
Day 8: Halong Bay Cruise – Halong Bay Kayaking.
Breakfast on board junk. Continue visiting, cruising, kayaking Halong bay while the boat cruise through Man’s head island, Tortoise island. Visit Luon cave by a small bamboo rowing boat. Lunch will be provided on board. In the afternoon, visiting Ba Ham lake, fishery village,Cua Van, swimming at Ba Trai Dao beach. Having dinner and overnight on the junk.
Day 9: Halong Bay – Hanoi.
Breakfast on board. Then we continue our cruise while the boat is going back to shore. Arrive at Ha long wharf about 11h00 and join our vehicle again for journey back to Hanoi.
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 Tour 9 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.