North East Vietnam Discovery
Type: Discovery Tour
Duration: 13 Days
Best Time to Travel: October – April
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North East Vietnam Discovery - Itinerary
Vietnam’s northeast is often referred to as the country’s last frontier and it does indeed have that feel about it – the roads are often poor and the accommodation can be basic – but the unspoilt scenery and genuine hospitality of the people here more than compensates for this. Ha Giang justifiably boasts some of Southeast Asia’s most dramatic panoramas – rugged mountain ranges, sweeping valleys and cascading waterfalls interspersed with hardly hill tribes. This really is a trip of a lifetime to a part of the world only now openly up to the rest of the world.
Arrive at Noi Bai International Airport where you will be met and welcomed by your Vietnamese guide. Transfer by road to your hotel for checking-in and briefing of the tour. The remainder of the day is free at leisure.
In the morning we depart the capital for the surrounding countryside. Arriving at the village of Van Giang we meet a local family who give us a cooking demonstration followed by lunch.
After lunch we embark on a cycling tour of the village and the local area where we can observe how rural Vietnam functions. This is a great opportunity to learn about the traditional professions and way of life in a typical North Vietnamese community. On our way back to Hanoi we stop at Bat Trang – a village renowned for its ceramic making, whose origins date back a thousand years.
Transfer to Ga Hanoi for the overnight train to Lao Cai on the Chinese border.
Lao Cai – Sapa
We arrive in Lao Cai in the early morning and transfer by road to Sapa, situated at an altitude of 1,600 meters. In the early 20th century the French took advantage of Sapa's cool climate, developing it into a summer retreat from the heat and humidity of Hanoi. Today, Sapa town still retains its European feel, largely due to the French architecture and gardens and today is a popular destination due to its beautiful scenery and colourful ethnic people. After breakfast at our hotel we have a short orientation tour of Sapa town.
We explore some Sapa’s neibouring hill tribe villages nestled in the Muong Hoa valley. Our first stop is at the Hmong hamlet of Lao Chai. From here we walk along local tracks and terraces to Ta Van, a Giay village before returning to Sapa by road.
Sapa – Bac Ha
Drive to Muong Khoung – a fascinating weekend market frequented by a variety of ethnic tribes people. Here local villagers come from miles around to buy and sell local produce and livestock. We spend the night in Bac Ha.
Bac Ha – Ha Giang
Today we venture in to one of the most remote parts of northern Vietnam. Ha Giang boasts an amazing landscape of limestone pinnacles and granite outcrops and has some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. In addition over 90% of the population belong to one of the various ethnic minority hill tribes.
Arrive in Ha Giang and check in to our hotel.
Ha Giang – Dong Van
There is the option for an early start to visit Noong Lake, located 20km from Ha Giang. In the dry season, when the water recedes, it reveals trees growing in the lake. Local fishermen come here to catch fish and shrimp. We can take a raft on to the lake before returning to the hotel.
We depart Ha Giang for Dong Van. We drive Quan Ba Valley – an area of stunning natural beauty with green hills and abundant limestone caves. We travel through Quan Ba Pass – known as Heaven’s Gate with its panoramic views of the terraced rice fields below.
Dong Van – Ha Giang
Today’s amazing scenic drive takes us through Dong Van and Meo Vac. The Dong Van Geopark is littered with an array of ancient karst formations and Meo Vac is a small town inhabited mainly by the Mong and Tay.
The highlight for today though is the drive through the breath-taking Ma Pi Leng Pass. The narrow road, originally constructed by the Hmong and later expanded to accommodate road transport is truly spectacular offering incredible views of the rugged mountainous terrain. We arrive in Ha Giang late afternoon.
Ha Giang – Cao Bang
We have a long drive today to Cao Bang but it will be broken up with numerous photo stops and more dramatic scenery.
An early start today as we pay a visit to Ban Gioc Waterfall. The falls, fed by the Quay Son River that marks the border with China, are an impressive sight and in a highly scenic location. At 30 metres high and 300 metres across Ban Gioc is the widest – but not the highest – waterfall in the country. From here we have a short walk to nearby Nguom Ngao Cave. This immense cave holds a series of majestic, jaw-dropping caverns, filled with delicate, intricate formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
Return to Cao Bang and free time at leisure.
Cao Bang – Ba Be Lake
We have an excursion to Pac Bo Cave driving through a scenic landscape of green rice paddies and water wheels. Pac Bo Cave is revered in Vietnam as the place where Ho Chi Minh stayed briefly upon his return from China in 1941. It was here that the Vietnamese Independence League or Viet Minh was established. Return to Cao Bang.
Depart Cao Bang for Ba Be Lake. Again the roads are bumpy but the views more than make up for this.
Ba Be Lake
We take a leisurely boat trip down the Nag River to Ba Be Lake. Ba Be is Vietnam’s largest natural lake and is now the centrepiece of an extensive National Park. The park and the surrounding area is limestone country, so lakes, waterfalls, caves and unusual rock formations abound. The whole area is richly forested and is home to many ethnic minority communities. Ba Be National Park has been recognized as a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
After a picnic lunch we visit a nearby Tay village where we can walk around and find out more about their way of life. We spend the night in the village in a homestay.
Ba Be Lake – Hanoi
After breakfast there is time for a stroll around the lake before we begin our drive back to Hanoi. En route we stop at the Museum of Ethnology in Thai Nguyen.
Arrive in Hanoi and check in to our hotel.
Free time at leisure until the transfer to Noi Bai International Airport for your onward flight.
- Room accommodation in twin share
- Private transportation by car/ minivan
- Overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai (King Express)
- Experienced English speaking Vietnamese guide
- Drinking water in car / minivan
- Daily breakfast and meals as mentioned in itinerary
- Entrance and sightseeing fees as mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport arrival and departure transfers
What's Not Included?
- International Flights
- Drinks during meals
- Optional tours
- Vietnam visa (not applicable if staying for less than 15 days)
- Any personal expenses such as laundry, hotel phone etc
- Tips and gratuities
- Hanoi – Gondola Hotel
- Sapa – Sapa Dragon Hotel
- Bac Ha – Sao Mai Hotel
- Ha Giang – Truong Xuan Resort
- Dong Van – Cao Nguyen Da Hotel
- Cao Bang – Thanh Loan Hotel
- Ba Be – Cong Quynh Hotel