Northern Vietnam Trip 9 Days, tailor-made small groups, family travel, holidays with kids and active adventure travelers seeking an active holidays to Vietnam. The tour includes such activities as mountain biking, jungle trekking, boat, junk cruising, sea kayaking, rock climbing. You will travel through both remote hill tribe villages in the less traveled places and popular tourist destinations in northern Vietnam – Bac Ha, Sapa, Hanoi, Halong bay, Cat Ba island. You also have the opportunity to visit a highland market and to spend a night at local home on the hike (homestay)…
Map of northern Vietnam trip
Northern Vietnam trip itinerary
Day 1: Hanoi – Lao Cai.
Transfer to Hanoi Railways Station for overnight train to Lao Cai. Overnight on board/train.
Day 2: Lao Cai – Bac Ha.
Arrive Lao Cai early in the morning. You will be greeted by our local team & transferred to a local restaurant in town for early breakfast. Travel by car or cycle from Lao Cai town to Coc Ly. The ride is relatively flat from Lao Cai. It will take you through rural area. The road is rougher for the last 16 km. Upon arrval in Coc Ly, take a boat cruise downstream Chay River. Along the ride, you can enjoy magnificent sight of the beautiful caves and life on the riverbank. Lunch will be provided in a Tay village. After lunch, you first cycle on the dirt trail through the village and cross a narrow stream. Your ride will be then on a good road, which goes uphill towards Bac Ha town. Diner in a local restaurant & overnight in Bac Ha.
Day 3: Bac Ha Market – Sapa.
After breakfast, take a short walk to visit the old castle of the former H’Mong King. From there you can have a view over the town. You will then visit this huge market with its colorful array of ethnic minority people such as Flower Hmong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay, Nung who gather to buy and sell. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, your lunch will be served in a local restaurant. After lunch you will be able to take a nice ride around nearby beautiful Ban Pho village of Flower Hmong and Nung minorities. After visit Ban Pho village your start heading back towards Lao Cai by cycle (or by car). The ride will be mostly downhill and flat through rural area, which is home to Phu La, Nung and Tay minorities. Before you arrive in Lao Cai, you will be able to stop by china – Vietnamese border, where the Red River flows into Viet Nam territory. Then travel uphill to Sapa. Free dinner & overnight in Sapa.
Day 4: Sapa Trekking.
After breakfast, travel by car toward Muong Hoa valley. Your trek will begin from Tavan village of Giay minority. The first day trek will be mostly uphill. Whenever you stop for a rest, you will be able to enjoy valley view. Before noon, you stop again at a nice spot for lunch. The Sapa village trek will be softer in the afternoon. But the scenery becomes even more beautiful. You pass by Seomity village of Black Hmong minority before you arrive in a campsite, which locates nearby a river outside the village. While porters put up tents and cook dinner, you can take a walk to stretch the legs.
Day 5: Sapa Trekking.
The trek today takes you through beautiful rice paddies and over old suspension bridges. You will trek on small trail sneaking through rain forest. You arrive in Den Thang village of Black Hmong by noon. Here you stop for lunch either nearby a river or in a local school according to the weather. After lunch, the trek wills becomes tough on tinny footpath going up and down, which requires some concentration. You will reach to Ta Trung Ho village of Red Dao minority where you spend the night in local house. Both the valley and the village have just received foreign visitors. The night will be even more interesting when you are in the wonderful hospitable atmosphere of the Red Dao.
Day 6: Sapa – Lao Cai – Hanoi.
You are now at the fringe of the rain forest by the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina with its 3143 m, is located in this mountain range. You will start the trek today by ascending to Nam Toong village of Red Dao minority. Here your lunch will be prepared in a local school. In the afternoon, before descending to Ban Ho, you can make a stop by a waterfall to refresh. On the last hours you can enjoy the valley one final time whilst trekking up to Su Pan, where your car takes you on the journey back to Sapa. After a short rest in a local guesthouse/hotel (for shower), transfer to Lao Cai Railways station for the night train back to Hanoi.
Day 7: Hanoi – Halong Bay.
Arrive in Hanoi early this morning, you will be greeted by our guide, driver and transferred to a local restaurant in town for early breakfast. Then enjoy one-hour massage in one of finest spa salon in Hanoi – A full body massage both invigorating and relaxing. This massage helps to reduce tension, soothe sore muscles and increase circulation. Travel to Halong bay, enjoying 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 a wooden sailing junk (Bai Tho, Hai Au or similar). 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 two-hour kayak paddling. Watch the sun set over the bay whilst enjoying a delicious dinner. Overnight on board junk.
Day 8: Halong Bay Diving – Cat Ba Island.
Breakfast on board. At 9h00, will will be picked up at the boat/junk by our Diving Team and transferred by another wooden boat to the first divesite – Chim Island. Enjoy 01 dive before having lunch on board. In the afternoon, we will move to another divesite – Me Cung Island. There we will enjoy one more hour diving before being dropped off in a simple eco-resort for overnight. Dinner and overnight by the beach.
Day 9: Cat Ba National Park Rock Climbing – Hanoi.
Climbing in Cat Ba Island is one of the most personally rewarding and exhilarating activities. Meet up with our team and transfer to the small farming village of Lien Minh. Our expert will give Basic instruction and introduction to Rock Climbing. Then start your adventure experience in Butterfly Valley for about three hours before enjoying lunch on a bee farm with fresh local foods. Return to Cat Ba Town and take speed boat to Haiphong. Join our vehicle again and drive 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 Northern Vietnam Trip 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.