Destinations: Hanoi – Hoa Binh Lake - Pu Luong Nature Reserve - Nghia Lo - Mu Cang Chai - Than Uyen - Sapa - Bac Ha - Hanoi
Highlights: Pu Luong Nature Reserve with light trekking to waterwheels and bamboo rafting, Beautiful trekking tours in Sapa, Mu Cang Chai magificient terraced rice fields, Bac Ha Ethnic Sunday Market, discover different minorities in the North Vietnam.
Brief Sapa & Northwest Loop Tour
Day 1: Hanoi - Hoa Binh Boat Trip - Pu Luong Retreat (160Km - 4 Hours)
Day 2: Pu Luong trekking to Waterwheel & bamboo rafting
Day 3: Pu Luong - Nghia Lo (240Km - 6 Hours)
Day 4: Nghia Lo - Mu Cang Chai (100Km - 3 Hours)
Day 5: Mu Cang Chai - Than Uyen - Sapa (140Km - 4 Hours)
Day 6: Sapa trekking tour
Day 7: Sapa - Bac Ha (120Km - 3 Hours)
Day 8: Bac Ha - Hà Nội (300Km - 5 Hours)
Description: An amazing combination of Sapa and the beautiful northwest of Vietnam that will definitely be a lifetime adventure tour to explore the remote and little visited parts of the country. Your first stop in the Northwest is Pu Luong Nature Reserve - an area of outstanding beauty, culture interest and high biodiversity value where is blessed with rich forest, limestone panoramas, magnificent rice terraces and breathtaking scenery. From there, you will pass one of the most famous terraced rice field areas through Tu Le Valley, Nghia Lo & Mu Cang Chai. There, the rice fields are so beautiful in September in golden colour, like an endless yellow silk strip reach to the heaven. Finally, Sapa - a must-see destination while traveling in Vietnam as well as in the Northwest as it offers beautiful views of terraced rice fields, diversified culture of local ethnic minorities and amazing trekking routes. And you will end with a fun & fantastic visit to Bac Ha Ethnic Sunday market where many local ethnic people gather to sell and buy local agricultural products, poultry & cattle.
NOTE: The above tour prices are estimated per person & applied for group of 2 persons! Depending on your favorite hotels, traveling dates & group sizes, the tour prices will be updated! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information!
08:00 Pick up at your hotel and transfer to visit one of the most beautiful place in the North – Mau Chau Valley.
On the way, we make a first stop at Hoa Binh Hydropower Plant which was built from 1979 to 1994. It is not only an important industrial construction but also an attractive sightseeing for visitors. Many valuable items such as: Ho Chi Minh statue on Tuong hill with 18 meters height, the traditional area keeping letters, memorial Vietnamese and Soviet experts sacrifice to built hydropower projects.
From there, we take a short driver to reach to one of the most beautiful roads in Vietnam which is steep mountains in one side and amazing Hoa Binh Lake in the other side and called Halong bay on land with thousands of islands dotted on the lake. If you are lucky, you can see the fishermen working on the lake to catch fish, shrimp… Especially, we will stop at a stilt-house located on the bank of the lake for having a picnic lunch which will be prepared by our tour guide. Then take a short boat trip (1 hours) on the beautiful lake and immerge yourself in the pure nature of fresh.
Arrive at Pu Luong Retreat in the late afternoon. Overnight in Pu Luong Retreat.
AM: Start early to descend into the beautiful valley facing the Retreat where you walk around tumbling rice terraces. Trek through small paths shrouded in vegetation to slowly reveal a picturesque village sitting at the base of a towering mountain. Your camera will not be able to sit still!
Continuing to the base of the valley, you weave between roads and farmland, villages and wild fields, ponds and rivers, mountains and open land. Savour the ever-changing scenery as you trek to a beautiful spot to enjoy a simple picnic lunch.
PM: You will be transferred to a suspension bridge over the Cham River, where you begin your walk in search of stunning water wheels. Get up close to each wheel and discover how water is moved from river to handmade bamboo aqueducts via simple constructions of all sizes.
Arriving at a local fisherman’s house, you have a short rest to gear up for the bamboo river rafting with Dinh and his team. Float along the calm river and enjoy the views, in between learning how to paddle and steer your handcrafted rafts.
Overnight at Pu Luong Retreat.
Leave Pu Luong for Nghia Lo and this journey passes through stunning mountainous landscape, featuring with fertile hilly area covered with green tea plantations, the mountains get higher and higher. Along the way, you can see thick forests cover high mountains. Here, the Thai occupy the low land almost at bottom of valleys, near river or streams from which they build up water wheels for transfer water to rice paddies on which they farm wet rice intensively. The H’mong settle at the highest elevation, grow corn and dry rice on the burn-over land and the Zao live in the middle practice both methods of farming and it is easy to realize that they learn a lot of farming technique from the Thai.
Arriving in Nghia Lo, a pretty mountainous town, we spend the remaining hours of the day wandering the town including the market area, we will check in the homestay. Have dinner and overnight in Nghia Lo.
Breakfast at hotel.
After breakfast, we transfer from Nghia Lo to Tu Le. The road ride today takes only 2 hours so we have a lot of time exploring the area for real mountainous life of the local ethnic minority people. Fancy a four hour trekking along a trail which connect villages to villages, meeting different tribal people such as White Thai, Black Zao, Red H’mong…who seem very surprise, staring at you for the first moment and turn out very friendly and inviting you to their homes in which you will be hosted with tea or homemade wine. On the way, you will also make a nice stop at Khau Pha pass. Next to Mu Cang Chai, we enjoy another home staying in a large Thai village, which offers fantastic hours for your culture discovery. On arrival Mu Cang Chai town, check-in your bungalow.
In the afternoon, we start a wonderful drive & very short trek to view the majestic landscapes of rice terraces, local villages of Black H’mong and mountains in Han Xung village of the Hmong people. You will immerse in the majestic natural landscape, the unique terraced fields in this area…
From there, the journey move to La Pan Tan commune. Along the community’s paths, you have chance to see the view daily life of local tribes and to interact with friendly people; then along buffalo trails to captivate the most impressive terraced rice fields in La Pan Tan commune.
Back to the lodge for overnight in Mu Cang Chai.
Breakfast at the lodge.
09:00 We leave Mu Cang Chai for road transfer to Tam Duong via Than Uyen. It is a long day along the road. This portion of the road runs along the northwest side of Hoang Lien Mountain Range and offers magnificent landscapes which is a combination of highest mountains, marvelous valleys, waterfalls and beautiful streams.
Takes many stops and short walks along the way for taking photos of landscapes and local ethnic peoples.
From Tam Duong we will drive uphill the Tam Ton Pass to get over the Hoang Lien Son mountain range to the east side. This portion offers probably the most stunning and magnificent scenery of the mountainous region in Vietnam. On the way, we will also stop to see the Heaven Gate where you can see the overview of the whole valleys & mountains in the areas.
On your arrival in Sapa, if time permits, take a walk around Ta Giang Phing village for 2 hours. Ta Giang Phinh village is located on the foot of majestic Ngu Chi Son mountain (also known as Buddha’s fingers mountain), 28km far from Sapa town. On the way, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of thick rained forest on high mountains, dotted with rolling valleys & local villages. The village is down on the valley of terraced rice fields, surrounded by high mountains and including scattered local hamlets setting along peaceful stream. Most of local tribes living here are white Hmong with their unique dresses and house styles.
17:00 Get on car and drive for 1 hour back to Sapa Town.
18:00 Check-in your hotel and take a rest.
19:30 Have dinner at local restaurant with Sapa’s famous Salmon Hotpot or Sturgeon Hotpot.
Sapa, in the terraced hills and mountains of this area, the monotony of the expansive green landscape is enlivened by the colours of its hill tribe population. It is here you will find hands stained with colour from fabric dyes and shades of blue, red and green intricately embroidered and stitched into jackets, waistcoats, pants, skirts, caps, purses and leggings.
At 9h00: The local tour guide will come to meet you at your hotel, she will intruduce about the trip via the map and then we start doing one day trek to Hang Da, Hau Thao, Sa Seng and Giang Ta Chai villages will give a special atmosphere of peaceful villages in the mountain, those are visited by fewer tourists than the other villages.
The walk from Sapa center will lead you to the new road and start walking up hill and now it is along the mountain side that appears the amazing scenery of the Chapa valley with its river, rice terraces and villages located close together.
Keep trekking up you will get to Hang Da village visit some houses along your unsoiled trek, Keep descending to Xa Xeng village you will see amazing rice paddy terraced. Picnic lunch will be served at a beautiful port or Local house. After lunch and short rest you will continue your trek to Hau Thao and Giang Ta Chai villages where you swimming in river in hot day. Later on we take the van back to a luxury homestay named Chapa Ecolodge.
OPTIONAL: You can visit Fansipan Peak by cable car that is such an amazing experience. However, please be aware that the panoramic view from the peak is good on clear days!!!
09:00 Leave Sapa for Bac Ha Town that takes around 120Km – 3 hours.
On the way, you will also stop at the border gate between Vietnam & China with a sacred temple.
Have lunch in Lao Cai city, then, continue driving to Bac Ha.
Upon your arrival in Bac Ha, check-in your hotel. Then, we take a short walk to visit Ban Pho Village – owned by Flower H’mong people. It’s where the beauty of the highlands is most captivating, and paired with the serene village backdrop makes a lasting impression. Especially, you will learn how to make corn wine – a specialty of Flower H’mong people.
Just a short distance from Ban Pho Village, visit to H’Mong King Palace. The castle of the "king" was restored and painted in yellow. It was built in 1914 and completed in 1921.
Overnight in Bac Ha.
The markets in the Northern Vietnam are always the colorful meeting places for the hill tribes, spotlight for any Sapa Tours and of course, your unique Vietnam Tours experience. Minority people come down from the mountains to sell their products, or just for catching up on the latest news, gossip, drinking away troubles or seeking for lover. In the morning, drive to visit one of the areas weekly markets;
Can Cau Market - Saturdays
Bac Ha Market or Muong Hum Market or Muong Khuong Market - Sundays
Cao Son Market - Wednesdays
Lung Khau Nhin Market - Thursdays
Coc Ly Market - Tuesdays
In the afternoon, drive back to Hanoi for overnight.
* What about Cancellation policy?
In case of cancellation, we will not impose any charges if we are not being charged and possible to get refund from our suppliers but if our suppliers apply charges for cancellation, you will have to pay those charges that apply. Cancellation policies vary, depending upon the type of service, the time of year, and the reason for cancellation. We will pass on to you all details of any cancellation policy with our transparent reply upon demand.
General cancellation charges that applied by travel services in Vietnam and Indochina.
- Domestic flights: 25% of the fares
- 3 star hotels, no charge if you cancel 5 -7 days before your arrival. (FIT)
- 4 star hotels, no charge if you cancel 10 - 15 days before your arrival (FIT)
- 5 stars hotels, no charge if you cancel 15 - 20 days before your arrival (FIT)
However, in peak season, we may have to pay the hotels one month before your arrival to secure the booking, and in this case, the cancellation policy will be based on the hotels' cancellation plolicies.
* Can we get refund?
For the unused services, Vivutravel will refund you the money.
Question 1: Best time for Northeast and Northwest Vietnam tour
The Northwest are very famous for their endless beautiful rice fields that look really like a picturesque landscape. And you can fully enjoy that beauty while traveling to those areas from May to Sep. In May & June, it is called the water falling season by the local people as it is the time they fill in the terraced rice fields with water. Everywhere is like a giant mirror reflecting the natural beauty and the sunlight. In Jul & Aug, the rice fields are being colored green and arising as a charming green picture. The most beautiful time to enjoy terraced rice fields in Sapa and the Northwest is at the end of August and in the beginning of September when they turns yellow – a perfect color of a masterpiece created by nature and human.
How about the other months? In fact, the other months are also a good time to travel to those areas as you can see many other amazing things like peach and plum trees & flowers in Spring time from January to March or snow sometimes covering everywhere in Winter time from December to February.
Just be aware that many days in Winter can be sunk deep in fog and frost with short views and make your trip out of our expectation. However, discovering the daily life of local people during Winter gives you memorable experience, for sure, as their hard conditions are really shown on those days.
Northeast region includes mountainous provinces in the far North of Vietnam where the weather is cool/cold all year round. It will be severely cold from December to February with average temperature of 8 degree C and cool in the rest of year with average temperature of 25 degree C.
Be aware that it will be wet and foggy in cold season and you can't enjoy the spectacular and beautiful sceneries. However, there will be drizzly weather during cold season only, not typhoon. Furthermore, visiting local ethnic people during cold days will be different experiences as you can see and entirely understand their life of deprivation and misery.
Rainiest months in those areas are July and August, however, those 2 months are also best time for traveling to the Northeast as you can enjoy yellow rice fields in other areas in general and in Bac Son Valley in particular. Ban Gioc Waterfall is also more beautiful during rainy season.
Question 2: Trekking routes and trekking distances
Trekking is a must-do activity while traveling in those remote areas, then it plays an important role in that trip, of course. So you should clear all information with your travel consultant or tour guide about your trekking tours as some of them are very hard and dangerous that are just suitable for young and energetic people only. A suitable trekking distance will help you fully enjoy the trip, the culture, the local people as well as the nature, otherwise, tiredness of a hard and long trekking distance will surely make you have many negative thoughts.
The trekking routes are also important as it should really be arranged based on your traveling time. In beautiful time, it is advised to do popular trekking routes even though they can be crowded with tourists as those routes pass amazing terraced rice fields that you have never seen. However, when the harvest season is over, you should consider the trekking routes that are not crowded and passing remote villages.
Question 3: What should be prepared for Vietnam Northeast Loop Tour
Clothes: Traveling in cool season, you should prepare summer clothes with some light jackets as it will be pretty cold in the early morning and evening. Whereas warm coats are highly recommended for traveling in cold season as it can be even dropped to 5 degrees under zero.
Rain gear: Weather in the Northeast is not stable that can be changed continuously. It can be rain in the early morning but sunny at noon and rain again in the late afternoon. Then rain gear should be well prepared.
Personal drugs: The far north is really lack of medical infrastructure as well as pharmacy. Then it is advised to bring your personal drugs as well as popular medicines like paracetamol, thermometer, anti-itching lotion, oral rehydration preparation and bandaids.
Mosquito and insect repellent: Those stuff are necessary as you may trek through the wet jungle or stay at local houses near the forest.
Question 4: Traveling to the Northeast in cold season
Hotel with heat: It is better to stay at a hotel with heater (of course, air-conditioner with heat is not available in those areas) if you are planning to travel to the Northeast in cold season. Homestay is not a good idea during that period as you can’t sleep well for sure due to low temperature and privation of warming facilities.
Question 5: Traveling in rainy season
You should consider traveling to those areas in rainy season as it can be dangerous sometimes. When it rains a lot in those areas for many days, erosion is pretty popular and may much affect to your trip.
Question 6: Traveling to the Northeast and Northwest with kids
Traveling to the Northeast with infants and small kids under 6 yrs old is not advised because of the simple life condition and poor infrastructure in those areas, but older kids and teenagers are really fine as they can bear a pretty hard trip and more important, a lot of life-time experiences are waiting for them.
Question 7: Is it safe for traveling to untouched areas
It is safe, for sure, while traveling to the Northwest Mountains or even border regions as those areas are highly controlled and protected by local government. That’s why you have to apply for permission before visiting to the border regions and it will be arranged by your local travel agent. The local ethnic groups are also friendly and hospitality even they can’t speak both Vietnamese and English.
Question 8: Interact with local people
Local people are not familiar with tourists but you are surely warmly welcomed by them as Vietnamese in general and ethnic people in particular are very open and kind and so love to see you as well as to help you in case you need. Then, you should show your good attitudes all the time if you want to visit their houses as well as make a short chat with them. Remember to ask for acceptance when you wish to take their photos.
Question 9: Road condition
Road condition is not a big problem when traveling in the Northeast and Northwest as they are mostly big and smooth roads
Question 10: Donation
Donation is highly recommended and it can be money or not. Normally, you can bring along warm clothes for both adults and kids as it is cold there all year round. Quilted Blanket is another great idea. Or at least, you should prepare some small gifts for local kids like cakes, notebooks, pencils, etc.
Thanks to the investment of local government, hotel accommodations during your trip in Sapa and the the Northwest are quiet pleasant. You have different choices of both choosing homestay to really experience the daily life of local ethnic monirities and staying at nice hotels and resorts.
In each city, you can easily find beautiful hotels & resorts and your best hotel options are as below:
1/ Amazing Sapa Hotel: Modern 4 star hotel
2/ U Sapa Hotel: Boutique 4 star hotel
3/ Victoria Sapa Resort: Charming and boutique 5 star resort
In Lai Chau:
Muong Thanh Lai Chau Hotel: Modern 4 star hotel
In Dien Bien:
Muong Thanh Dien Bien Hotel: Modern 4 star hotel
In Mai Chau:
1/ Mai Chau Ecolodge: Charming and beautiful 4 star resort
2/ Mai Chau Lodge: Boutique 3 star hotel with traditional architecture
In Son La, just basic hotels are available. And in case you love spending your nights at local homestays, it is not a bad idea as homestays in those areas are acceptable with basic facilities such as mattress, pillow, mosquito net, hot shower and Western toilet. As below, we provide you with general introduction of simple accommodation in those areas:
Guest-house & mini-hotel: They are quiet similar in architecture and facilities. All guest-houses & mini-hotels are small building less than 5 storeys with basic facilities of bed, mattress, pillow, mosquito-net, private bath room, hot shower, western toilet and air-conditioner mostly.
Homestay: As revealed through its name, Homestay means that you will stay at local houses with local ethnic minorities that are mostly stilt-houses. Private rooms are not available and you will have a small mattress with a pillow and a mosquito-net. The bathroom is sharing with hot shower and western toilet available.
And below is a list of accommodation's images in the Northeast areas:
Room at a mini-hotel
Room at a guest-house
Toilet at a mini-hotel/guest-house
Sleeping space at homestay
Tolet at homestay
Tour guide and driver are Vivutravel's representatives and your travel companions during your travel in Sapa & Northwest Loop Tour who take care of our travel services and make your holiday a memorable time. Understanding this, Vivutravel always selects the best tour guides and drivers for such amazing trips to the far North.
We do understand that a good tour guide will make your holiday a beautiful time and tour guides who work with us are well-paid, experienced with a university background, eager to exchange our culture, lifestyle, knowledge...with travelers, and have a great passion for their country and understand the personal touch.
Then we always use experienced tour guides who are expert in guiding trips to those Northeast areas and will show you the most beautiful view-points, introduce to you unique cultures and lifestyles of local ethnic people as well as guide you to amazing trekking routes.
Vivutravel guarantees to offer the best means of transport during your Sapa & Northwest Loop tour. The safety, comfort and security of our customers come first. Furthermore, as all tourist sites are mostly far from towns and city centers, vehicle must be the latest modern one or it will be very difficult to manage in case it is broken on the way. Furthermore, checking the vehicle carefully before the trip is a must-do procedure in order that it will work well and stays away from all rising troubles. Our drivers must be very experienced and careful too as it is not easy to go around those untouched areas. They are all full time workers, government licensed in the tourism industry with at least 5 years driving experience.
Luxury restaurants are not available in the far North of Vietnam. Standard restaurants can hardly find. Then our meals are mostly at basic local restaurants with simple dishes. It is not expensive for having lunch/dinner there and it costs around 5-7 usd per meal only. Breakfasts are mostly not included at hotel and you will have breakfasts outside with Vietnamese popular dishes like noodle soup, sticky rice, bread, etc.
NOTE: Acceptable restaurants are all located at towns which are sometimes far away from our visiting destinations. So lunch can be arranged quite late at around 1pm or 2pm.
We have traveled twice with Vivutravel and were always very satisfied. The choice of hotel and guides/ drivers was very good. If you go back to Vietnam, it will be certain with Vivutravel. We can only recommend it.