Destintions: Hanoi - Sapa - Bac Ha - Xin Man - Hoang Su Phi - Ha Giang - Dong Van - Meo Vac - Cao Bang - Ban Gioc - Ba Be - Hanoi
1/ Sapa town and trekking routes to surrounding hill tribe villages: Sapa is a beautiful mountainous town discovered and interested by French thanks to its fresh and cool atmosphere as well as dozens of ethnic groups who live here and create a special culture combined from diversity and distinctness. Sapa is a great option for trekking to nearby hill tribe villages as you can easily make friends with local people, enjoy the beautiful scenery and learn about new cultural features.
2/ Bac Ha Ethnic Market: Bac Ha market is a trading centre and meeting place where many different ethnic groups such as Flower H'mong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay and Nung minorities gather to buy and sell local products that cannot be found elsewhere. The market was very crowded, local products for sale or barter are carried on horseback.
3/ Xin Man & Hoang Su Phi: The second half of this drive is much easier but one will have to be careful not to get lost in the dense woods. We drive via Xin Man and the area's tortuous roadways.
4/ Dong Van & Meo Vac: Ha Giang is the final frontier in Northern Vietnam with spectacular landscapes of limestone pinnacles and granite outcrops, especially the driving between Dong Van and Meo Vac acrossing Ma Pi Leng Pass. You will be surprised by the snaking roads hidden on the slopes of mountains, the stilt-houses on nearly top of the mountains, corn-fields on rock mountains...
5/ Ban Gioc Waterfall: Ban Gioc is the largest waterfall in Vitenam near Sino-Vietnamese border. It is seperated into three falls by rocks and trees and the thundering effect of the water hitting the cliffs. From the high of thirty meter, it fall down on the stones and a large river at the food creating an amazing landscape.
6/ Nguom Ngao Cave: Nguom Ngao is an astonishing cave with stalactites of various shapes which is the most famous limestone grotto in the northern mountain. Its wild beauty makes it too much different from Thien Cung Cave or Sung Sot Cave in Halong bay. Getting inside the cave, you can feel the fresh, cool air from the natural mist inside. Nature has endowed the cave with stone formations that look like human beings, trees, plants and mythical animals.
7/ Ba Be Lake: Ba Be Lake is the biggest natural water lake in Vietnam, covering an area of 500ha and spreading over 8Km. It situated in Cho Ra - Ba Be - Cho Don carste terrain pertaining to low-lying lands of Vietnam North raising mass which was formed from the destruction of South East Asia continental mass at the end of Cambri era, around 200 million years ago. Visiting to Ba Ba Lake, you have chance to stay at stilt-house of Tay ethnic minority and discover their daily life. Especially, 5-hour boat trip on Ba Ba Lake will give you memorable experience with visiting to Dau Dang Fall, Puong Cave and Tien Pond.
Brief Sapa and Northeast Loop Tour
Day 1: Hanoi - Drive to Sapa - Lao Chai & Ta Van hill tribe villages
Day 2: Sapa trekking tour to untouched hill tribe villages
Day 3: Sapa - Bac Ha
Day 4: Bac Ha - Xin Man - Hoang Su Phi - Ha Giang
Day 5: Ha Giang - Dong Van
Day 6: Dong Van - Meo Vac - Cao Bang
Day 7: Cao Bang - Ban Gioc Waterfall - Cao Bang
Day 8: Cao Bang - Ba Be - Boat trip
Day 9: Ba Be trekking tour
Day 10: Ba Be - Hanoi
An unforgettable Vietnam adventure tour to discover the hidden beauty of Sapa and the untouched mountainous areas in the Northeast. Start your trip in Hanoi and take a long but beautiful drive to Sapa where you will see a lot of colorful ethnic people showing their unique culture and distinctive lifestyles. Sapa is now pretty touristic but still well preserves its traditional and cultural features. Your next stop is Bac Ha ethnic market - the biggest and most interesting one in Sapa and the surrounding areas providing a busy trading scene where is not only for business but also for making friends. Leave Bac Ha, we step into a totally different part of the trip as those areas of Ha Giang, Dong Van, Meo Vac, Cao Bang, Ba Be are intact and unaffected by tourism impacts as well as modern society. The daily life activities of local people are so easy basing on nature. Their houses are just charming and simple but mostly situated on the top of mountains or at least on the mountain slopes. Especially, they are like a living museum providing with many traditional customs that are mysterious are interesting.
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08:30 Pick up at your hotel and take a smooth drive on new national highway to Sapa, passing beautiful sceneries on both sides of the road including countryside areas, rice fields and mountains.
14:30 Arrive at your hotel in Sapa, check-in your hotel and take a short rest.
16:00 Take a glimpse of Sapa town and you will have chance to see Sapa Stone Church and old streets.
Have dinner at a local restaurant (on your own) and overnight in Sapa.
From Sapa, we trek via Y Linh Ho through beautiful scenery to the Black H’mong Village of Lao Chai where we spend time looking around the village and learning about life in the village. We enjoy our picnic lunch in Lao Chai or at an appropriate spot. After lunch, we walk through rice terraces and on local paths to the Zay village of Ta Van. This is the only village in the Sa Pa area where the Dzay people live. We spend time looking around the village.
Then continue trekking to meeting point where our car is waiting for driving back to Sapa.
Overnight in Sapa.
Hightlight of all Sapa tours, Bac Ha market is a trading centre and meeting place where many different ethnic groups such as Flower H'mong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay and Nung minorities gather to buy and sell local products that cannot be found elsewhere.
The market was very crowded, local products for sale or barter are carried on horseback. You will have 2 - 3 hours to explore the markets before having lunch in a local restaurant.
After lunch, have a quick visit to the palace of the H'Mong King then drive to Thac Ba Lake, a beautiful artificial lake with its surrounding region home to variety of ethnic minorities like White Dao, Red Dao, Tay, Nung and Hmong. Among them, the White Dao with their white pants are the most beautifully dressed.
Upon arrival, check in the homestay where you will stay overnight. Start a light trek around the village to enjoy the fresh air and experience local untouched nature. Back to the homestay for dinner. You may join hands to prepare dinner with the host. Time for sharing and chatting. Overnight in the homestay.
This morning, we drive to Ha Giang mountainous province which the Vietnam-China border extends more than 275Km long. During the way, there are many grandiose mountains with unique formation of peaky rocks. Ha Giang is the location of 4 major ethnic minorities with Hmong, Tay, Dao & Nung that make the ethnical diversity and nowhere we can see more fusing traditions than Ha Giang. Especially, we will drive through Xin Man & Hoang Su Phi which is the best route to discover through dense woods.
Upon your arrival at Ha Giang city, check-in your hotel and overnight in Ha Giang.
After breakfast, we head toward the most remote part of the north. Northern Ha Giang Province has some of the most picturesque and varied scenery. Our drive will take us over high passes and we can view deep valleys along the entire journey. We’ll stop along the way at Pho Bang old town, Lung Cam culture village, the Vuong Palace, the beauty of Chinese-style architecture. This was the seat of government for the Hmong during the first Indochina war.
Overnight in Dong Van and take a walk around the town to the old streets.
After having breakfast, we continue on to the town of Meo Vac, a small outpost, but won’t be disappointing as it the starting point to a wildly scenic road, one of the top 5 of Vietnam. Below, the Nho Que river flows and above, the towering cliff rises to the clouds, a truly beautiful gorge below is completes one of the most spectacular natural sights in the country. Take your time and soak it up, as this is one journey to savor!
Then we drive on one of the most remote roads in Vietnam from Meo Vac to Bao. You may encounter various minorities along the ride. Besides stunning mountain scenery, the minorities dressed in colorful and unique costumes make the trip more interesting. Our simple lunch will be served along the road and we continue drive to Cao Bang town for overnight.
Have dinner at a local restaurant and overnight in Cao Bang.
Today, we drive to Ban Gioc Waterfall, a very scenic spot directly on the border with China. Half the pleasure of the visit to Vietnam’s largest waterfall is walking across rice paddy fields to reach the base of the falls. On the way back, we may have time to stop at several giant irrigation water - wheels that lies along the road overlooking villages. We also visit to Nguom Ngao Cave and Phia Thap incense making village (Nung minority) .
We return Cao Bang for overnight.
Have dinner at and overnight in Cao Bang.
Starting from hotel in Cao Bang for transferring to Ba Be Lake, famous for its immense crystal water.
Arrive at Ba Be Lake. The atmosphere here was something magical and fantastic, perfect retreat for the soul.
We spend the whole afternoon exploring the lake. This is a spectacular boat trip on the lake. We stroll along the riverfront, visit some lovely villages and hike the upper reaches of the lake, in an area marked by massive limestone cliffs and mountains.
Have diner and overnight at homestay in Ba Be.
After breakfast at the homestay, we set off for a full day’s hard trekking. We walk uphill gradually on an easy path taking in more and more views of the rice paddies and the karst mountain formations and pass through Tày ethnic villages, pretty Tay villages. In an idyllic setting we discover Dao ethnic village, an attractive village of the Dao people and can admire their well ordered vegetable cultivation. Further on, the washing lines and the village ladies burst into colour as we enter the village of the Flower Hmong people. This is such a privilege to see an ethnic group going about their daily tasks in their wonderful traditional dress. Now it is time for serious hiking as we enter the karst mountains covered by thick jungle. We follow tiny trails, sometimes just buffalo trails, surrounded by the tall trees and lush vegetation. The way is rocky, slippery and steep, so not for the faint hearted. However, when we finally emerge we are rewarded by a spectacular view of the little villages and rice paddies below. We make our way down to the valley and we finish the day by walking to the Silk Waterfall where we can wash off the day’s work in the cool water. As a reward, the car will collect us to take us back to Coc Toc village for hot showers, a delicious meal and a well earned rest.
After breakfast, we take a drive back to Hanoi passing through the undulating terrain of tea plantation. On the way, we will make a break and visit at the museum of Ethnology in Thai Nguyen town; then we keep moving through many other timeless villages near the road.
Arrive in Hanoi, check-in your hotel and overnight in Hanoi.
Question 1: Best time for Sapa, Ha Giang & Ba Be Lake tour
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.
Sapa is very famous for its endless beautiful rice fields that looks 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.
Question 2: Traveling to Sapa & the Northeast areas 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 3: What should be prepared for tour to Sapa & the Northeast
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 Sapa and the Northeast of Vietnam with kids
Traveling to Sapa & the Northeast with infants and small kids under 6 yrs old is not advised because of the simple life condition and poor infrastructure in the Northeast 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. In fact, Sapa is really fine for kids, however, the Northeast is not.
Question 5: Is it safe for traveling to untouched areas
It is safe, for sure, while traveling to the Northeast 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 6: 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 7: Road condition
Roads in those mountainous areas are narrow, zigzag and rugged but keeping speed slowly by the driver will surely help you be comfortable and not too tired. However, you must be careful while standing on the road and taking pictures as the other drivers can’t see you due to zigzag roads.
Question 8: 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.
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- Mosquito and insect repellent: Those stuff are necessary as you may trek through the wet jungle or stay at local houses near the forest.
Accommodation in Sapa
Thanks to the investment of local government, hotel accommodations during your trip in Sapa 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. And your best hotel options in Sapa 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
Accommodation in the Northeast
Unlike other popular tourisit destinations in Vietnam, tourism in the Northeast areas haven't been developed and so luxury and modern hotels are not available there. The available accommodation in those provinces are homestay, guest-house and mini-hotel with basic facilities. As below, we provide you with all necessary information of hotel accommodation in our Vietnam Northeast Loop Tour:
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
Toilet at homestay
Tour guide and driver are Vivutravel's representatives and your travel companions during your travel in Sapa & the Northeast of Vietnam 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 tour to Sapa & the Northeast. 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.
10 days in Northern Vietnam My mum and I spent 10 days in Northern Vietnam, organised by Vivu. They were a delight to deal with from start to finish, making everything easy and relaxed. Kim was exceptionally responsive and accommodating in organising the trip (and reorganising mid-trip following cancellation of our Halong Bay trip due to weather!), and our guide - Nam - was absolutely brilliant. He was knowledgeable, friendly, had perfect English and really added to our experience. Vivu were also great value for money and I would highly recommend them.
What we liked most in the north of Vietnam was the cultural tours, historical sites, stunning scenery and friendliness of the local people What we like least? Nothing i can think of. Vivutravel have been excellent. We have only seen a small part of Vietnam and will return to see the central and south.
For my second experience with Vivutravel, I can only congratulate this agency and especially the team that welcomed us in Hanoi. The organization was perfect and the people we met showed extraordinary professionalism and kindness (guides, drivers, agency). The choice of visit and the stay at homestay were perfect. We have had great encounters, discovered a thousand facets of gastronomy and learned so much about the rich history of these countries. We highly recommend Vivutravel for all your tour in Indochina