Northern Vietnam Trekking 8 Day Itinerary covers most of off the beaten path places in north Vietnam. Begin by Hanoi, you travel north east to discover Ha Giang, Bac Ha, then Sapa, Lai Chau. Finish the trip in Dien Bien Phu, then cross to Laos.
Map of northern Vietnam trekking
Northern Vietnam trekking itinerary
Day 1: Hanoi – Viet Quang, Ha Giang.
8:00: You will be met up with Hiking Vietnam team at your hotel in Hanoi. Enjoy a full day transfer from Hanoi to Viet Quang town, Ha Giang Province. We may make several breaks along the way for resting and sightseeing. Lunch will be provided in a local restaurant in Tuyen Quang. We will arrive Viet Quang in mid afternoon. The rest hours is set free to relax and have preparation for 3 days trekking afterwards.
Day 2: Viet Quang – Cao Thang.
We will leave Viet Quang at 08.00 for a 1.5 hour drive to Vi Xuyen Town. Upon our arrival in the town, we will turn left taking a narrow paved road running to Trung Son. This portion of the road trip offers stunning landscapes. The trek begins from here(1,110ft) for about 6 hours along a stream which running between 2 high mountain ranges, through Trung Son, passing small villages of the Tay peoples scattering on the low land of the narrow valley and Zao peoples on the higher hilly land gradually uphill to Cao Thang where mainly inhabited by the Zao ao dai(Zao with long dress) ethnic peoples. Settle down at a local homes, freshen up and relax
Day 3: Cao Thang – Hop Thang.
Breakfast and leave Cao Thang Village at 08.30. The trail winds its way uphill for about 4 hours via several small villages of the Zao peoples to the top of the pass(Heaven Gate) at the height of 3975ft. As the trails gets higher, the stunning view of the region opens wider and the population gets thinner. The clients will enjoy magnificent landscapes of the terraced fields below the trails and thick forest covering the higher land and mountains. Long lunch break at the Heaven Gate and from here great view of the two side of the Tay Con Linh opens as wide as one’s sight. The way down is about 6 km and little bit steep and narrow for the first 2 km and then getting easier as the trails comes down to the lower-land, passing a small hamlet of the Co Lao ethnic peoples before arriving to Hop Thang. Walking around this village of the Zao peoples which sits on a earthen hill and over looking down a stunning valley.
Day 4: Hop Thang – Hoang Su Phi – Bac Ha.
Leaving Hop Thang Village at 08.30 and follow a narrow trails downhill for about 4 hours through Hop Thang village to the center of Trung Thang Commune and then continue to Thanh Village, home to the Nung, Tay, Han and Hoa ethnic peoples. Walking around the village and paying visiting to local homes before picked up and transfer to Hoang Su Phi Town Let for Lunch. Transfer by road to Bac Ha via Xin Man Town Let. Clients will enjoy many photo stops and paying quick visit to some small hamlets of the Flower H’mong along the way and arrive in Bac Ha at about 17.00.
Day 5: Bac Ha – Sapa – Su Pan.
Breakfast and leaving Bac Ha along road 155 downhill to Lao Cai(72 km) with stops along the way to visit a small hamlet of the Phu La ethnic peoples, taking a short walk uphill to see tea plantation before Lao Cai. Enjoy a coffee break at Lao Cai City before drving uphill for an hour to Sapa. Arriving in Sapa at noon, lunch break in a restaurant and then spend half an hour walking around this charming town. Leaving Sapa town at 13.30 and drive southwards for 12 km to Ta Van Village. Start trekking from Ta Van to Giang Ta Chai Village of the Red Zao(1,5 hours) through terraced rice paddies and bamboo forest. After visiting local homes at Giang Ta Chai, the group will cross Muong Hoa River and then trekking uphill to Su Pan village of the H’mong and down to the motor way. Pick up and transfer for half an hour to Topas ecolodge, check in and relax.
Day 6: Su Pan – Binh Lu – Lai Chau.
Breakfast and check out Topas Ecolodge at 08.00. Picked up and transfer 32 km via to Sapa and Tram Ton Pass. Enjoy a short break at the Silver Waterfall for a miring this nature wonder and then 20 minutes at Tram Ton Pass(Heaven Gate) for stunning scenery of Fasipan Mount and Sapa Valley as well as great view of the west side of Hoang Lien range. Continue driving 27 km downhill to Chung Vat village of the Red H’mong. Walk for an hour to visit this village which beautifully sits near the food of the pass by the side of a river before continue 8 km to Binh Lu Town let, lunch break here. After lunch, take a short drive 2 km through the lush Binh Lu Valley to Pa Pe village of the Lu ethnic peoples who where beautiful traditional costumes and still dye their teeth black. Walk for half an hour to visit this village before continue the road trip to Lai Chau Town(Old Tam Duong). Arriving in Tam Duong at about 16.00, check in hotel. The rest of the afternoon is for exploring villages of the tribal peoples in the country side including the Black Zao and Zao Tien(Zao with coins) and enjoy a peaceful walk to see tea farm in the suburb of Lai Chau.
Day 7: Lai Chau – Muong Lay – Dien Bien Phu.
Leaving Lai Chau at 08.00 for a drive through the beautiful region along the back road for nearly 3 hours to Muong Lay(Old Lai Chau Town) via Sin Ho district. The road trip offers stunning landscapes of large valley, fabulous forest and the group will take some short stops along the way to pay visit to villages of the Red H’mong and Thai peoples before arriving to Muong Lay town let. Spend half an hour walking around Muong Lay valley before having lunch. Arriving in Dien Bien Phu at about 15.00 and spend the rest hours in the afternoon for historical sightseeing around Dien Bien Phu former battle fields famous for the last campaign of the Viet Minh( Vietnamese communist forces) against the French colonial army. The sights for visiting include the A1 hill, Dien Bien Phu Museum, the head quarter of the French army and the beautiful Muong Thanh valley.
Day 8: Dien Bien Phu – Laos or Hanoi.
Break first, check out hotel and transfer 42 km to Tay Trang border gate for the next portion of the trip for Laos. The alternative option is taking a short flight to Hanoi.
Private-guided walking holidays
Hiking Vietnam specializes in tailor-making trekking and hiking vacations in Vietnam. We offer the widest selection of day walks, jungle trekking, mountain hiking, trekking home-stay, camping and wild life discovery in the northern 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 Northern Vietnam Trekking 8 Day 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.