Destinations: Hanoi - Duong Lam Ancient village - Nghia Lo - Tu Le - Mu Cang Chai - Than Uyen - Sapa - Hanoi
Highlights: Amazing rice terraced fields, beautiful landscape, ethnic minorities's life and culture.
Brief Mu Cang Chai and Sapa
Day 1: Hanoi - Drive to Mu Cang Chai
Day 2: Mu Cang Chai - Sapa
Day 3: Sapa - Topas Ecolodge
Day 4: Topas Ecolodge - Hanoi
Note: This is our suggested tour itinerary and it can be adjusted to meet your personal needs and budget.
If you are on a Vietnam photography tour or simply want to visit the most stunning rice terraced rice fields, this Mu Cang Chai and Sapa tour will be the best choice. Vivutravel's private tour brings you memorable experience in the less-visited, but beautiful places.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for booking and more information
After breakfast at your hotel, Vivutravel's private tour guide and driver pick you up for a beautiful drive to Mu Cang Chai. If we have time, have a quick visit to Duong Lam ancient village in Son Tay. Several stops on the way for breaks and photos. It is a long journey (300km), but as you reach Mu Cang Chai, it is like a step to the paradise of rice terraces.
On arrival, we start walking from the small village of H’mong which is named Hang Co Vua, then we walk on small trail , follow the terraces fields and conquer the pine forest. You will enjoy the fresh air cool in the middle of nature and mountains. When you go on a small road in the forest, you will have the opportunity to look at the forest orchid flowers, hear the birds singing and the occasional squirrel in a tree.
After 2 hours walk you will encounter villages where people Hua Khat ethnic minority Hmong live, where you'll discover extremely simple lives and many wild character. Yet indigenous people could not communicate with us because of the language barrier, but they are very friendly and open welcome when we visit home. Leaving the village of the Hmong people you will be completely surprised to see the valley of terraced fields, which is the mark of human impact on nature in a harmonious way. We can imagine as the space carved by the hands of the artists
Check in Mu Cang Chai Ecolodge then waiting for the dinner and enjoying local foods.
A wonderful morning starts with breakfast and a cup of tea or coffee in the paradise of rice terraces.
8h30: You depart to visit terraced fields are recorded as national heritage.
We will go about 12km to reach the point of walking. All the beautiful things of Mu Cang Chai are waiting for you at the top, after a 1 hour climb we go through the H'mong people where you will meet innocent children, met hardworking women , All will welcome you with a friendly smile, in this village you can visit the traditional home of the indigenous people and learn the customs. You continue on the trail until you see the whole terraced fields that have been recorded as national heritage. This beautiful place has been CNtraveler magazine rated as the theater of golden rice.
Around noon, drive to Sapa and visit the picturesque "Heaven Gate" and Silver Waterfall on the way. Check in on arrival. Overnight in Sapa.
Today we will visit Muong Hoa valley where you will see the most stunning rice terraced fields in Sapa. Driver drops you at Y Linh Ho village of the Black H'Mong minority, it is time to walk down and enjoy the spectacular scenery as well as to visit several ethnic villages on the way.
Picnic lunch on the way and the driver picks you up at Giang Ta Chai village then continue to Topas Ecolodge where you will stay at the most stunning mountain resort on earth. (National Geographic has listed Topas Ecolodge No 1 on its list of 21 places to stay)
Accommodation as indicated
Private car/mini van
All entrance fees
English speaking guide (Other languages on request)
Meals as per program
Visa approval letter to Vietnam (Except for $25 usd per person as stamping fee at the airport)
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 Sapa & the 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.
Vivutravel chooses the best hotels for your trip:
1. In Mu Cang Chai
Mu Cang Chai Ecologe
2. In Sapa
Amazing Sapa hotel or similar: Modern 4 star hotel
Unlike other popular tourisit destinations in Vietnam, tourism in those 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
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.
Return of a trip of 4 days to North Vietnam organized by Vivutravel, couple with guide and driver. Alternations hotels and homestay, mountain walks and visits of villages often away from the crowds. Our guide, Thong were extremely competent, very good knowledge of local ethnicities, customs and nature. Very cautious driver. Ready to go with them again.