Trek Northwest Vietnam 5 Days is a mixture of a car trip and easy hike, offering you the opportunity to discover the North West region of Vietnam. There are about 2-3 hours to walk each day to visit local hill tribe villages in Nghia Lo, Tu Le, Mu Cang Chai, and Sapa. If you look for an off-the-beaten path trip in Vietnam, ethnic culture, homestay, terraced fields, landscape then this trip will be for you.
Trek Northwest Vietnam Map
Trek Northwest Vietnam Itinerary
Day 1: Hanoi – Nghia Lo
On the first day of this trek northwest Vietnam we depart by car to the North Vietnam Mountains via the tea region. National road 32 takes us to the provinces of Phu Tho and Yen Bai. Lunch at a local restaurant in Thu Cuc, a village known for its tea culture, and meeting with a family who works in the cultivation and processing of this drink. We then take the road to go to a beekeeper, where we can taste an excellent lemon honey tea. Transfer to Muong Lo – the second rice granary in the North West Vietnam and the capital of the Thai. Here, for 700 years, locals have cultivated rice using a clever irrigation system. Villagers build their traditional houses out of ironwood (iroko wood) and bamboo. Arrival at Chao Ha village in the late afternoon. The warm welcome from Mr. Binh and his family will make us forget the fatigue of the transfer. It is possible to participate in the preparation of dinner with his wife and his mother in order to discover the local gastronomy.
Day 2: Nghia Lo – Tu Le
After breakfast, short transfer to the small town of Tu Le, known for its sticky rice and authentic houses. From the village, we set off on foot for our first hike in the mountains of North Vietnam. We cross many villages where we discover the daily life of the H’mong and Thai ethnic groups. The path then rises on the hillsides to reach the village of Tong, nestled in the middle of a small chestnut forest and surrounded by cultivated fields. The lunch break is taken in the form of a picnic prepared by our hosts the day before. In the afternoon, we resume our walk to a pass from where the view of the villages and rice terraces is simply magnificent. The minibus picks us up further and drives us to a local inn in Tu Le for the night.
Day 3: Tu Le – Mu Cang Chai
After breakfast, we make a short transfer to the region of La Pan Tan, with its incredible terraced fields, the pride of the H’mong ethnic group. Residing on these lands for a hundred years, the Hmong are very attached to their culture. Dressed in traditional clothes, speaking their own dialect, they acquired a know-how allowing them to live in perfect autonomy. These people produce everything they need, such as corn, rice or flax used to sew clothes. A magnificent balcony path leads through this maze of rice fields to meet the villagers who work there. The landscapes are exceptionally beautiful and the encounters colorful! After the picnic, a small track leads us to Cau Ba Nha, where the bus awaits us to take us to Mu Cang Chai for the night.
Day 4: Mu Cang Chai – Sapa
After an early wake up, we hike from Mu Cang Chai to Che Cu Nha, the capital of the rice terraces of the country. We never tire of these typical landscapes: cultivated valleys, hillsides sculpted by rice fields, and meetings with the villagers in traditional clothes. We then take the road to discover another mountainous region via the hill resort of Sapa. This pretty mountain road leads to the Tram Ton pass, the highest in the country (2047 m). Fabulous landscapes and superb views of the Hoang Lien National Park where Mount Fanxipan is located: the country’s highest point at 3,143 meters, it is the roof of Indochina. The mountain landscapes we cross are among the most beautiful in the region, and life is everywhere. At the end of the afternoon, we arrive at our hosts’ place to spend the night.
Day 5: Sapa – Hanoi
After breakfast, we set off to explore Hoang Lien National Park. A magnificent hike gives us access to traditional villages little frequented by travelers. Our lunch break will be picnic or in a local eatery. In the afternoon, we cross an even wilder place, with pretty hamlets of the Hmong ethnic group and magnificent rice terraces. At the end of the afternoon, it’s time to join our minibus and Lao Cai train station. There we take a shower and dinner at a small local restaurant before taking the night train to Hanoi. Trek Northwest Vietnam 5 Days is completed.
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 climb, 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 Trek Northwest Vietnam 5 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.