Explore Northern Vietnam, visiting Sapa, Ha Giang, Dong Van and Ba Be Lake.

The remote mountains of northwest Vietnam are home to some of South-East Asia’s most rugged terrain, beautiful scenery and colourful hill tribes. Leaving the graceful boulevards of Hanoi behind, travel to Sapa before traversing the bumpy mountain roads to Ha Giang, Dong Van and cruising the waters of Ba Be Lake. Experience breathtaking mountain views and meet friendly locals along the way. If you want to get a taste of remote Vietnam, this is the trip for you.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Hanoi, Vietnam
Finish
Hanoi, Vietnam
Country
Vietnam
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer, Walking & Trekking
Code
TVSA
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Hanoi is a progressive city that's packed full of timely reminders of a bygone era. Contrast the ornamental pagodas and pristine gardens that are connected by streets full of commercial ventures and traffic

  • Meet a community of hill-tribe people who have been in Vietnam for over three centuries. Having emigrated from China, the H'mong settled in Cat Cat Village and invite you to learn about their rich culture

  • An overnight sleeper train through northern Vietnam is a unique experience. This is a great way to rub shoulders with the locals and to squeeze a bit of local knowledge out of them

  • As the dramatic mountains of Heaven’s Gate soar above the green forests and rice paddies of Ha Giang, a deep appreciation of this region's landscape will be understood as you journey through it

  • Mrs Mai’s Responsible Tourism project in Dong Van is an eye-opening insight into the world of human trafficking. Learn about the amazing efforts made by an inspirational project to free their country of this crime

  • Float along the lake, viewing magnificent waterfalls and wildlife in the Ba Be National Park. A traditional homestay is the perfect way to access remote parts of this region and to get a real glimpse of Vietnamese life

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip includes a number of long journeys on windy and sometimes bumpy roads in a private mini-bus. This is the only way to access some of these locations, but we promise you that the views for most of the journey are impressive enough to make it all worthwhile.

  • This trip involves an overnight train, which can be tiresome. This is all part of the adventure, with comfortable beds, food vendors and conversations with the locals making the overnight train journey an enjoyable experience. For your own security, take a lock for your hand luggage on the sleeper train journey.

  • This trip includes one night in simple homestay accommodation, and there a few ways to better understand a country and its people. You will sleep on mattresses on the floor in a mixed-gender dormitory style, and bathrooms will be shared.

  • This trip includes a moderate level of hiking in the hills on day 7 for approximately 4 hours. Terrain can be uneven, muddy or loose underfoot. Although this hiking is possible for most travellers, a good level of fitness and comfortable pair of shoes will help increase your enjoyment of this experience.

Itinerary

Xin chao. Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. The meeting is generally followed by an optional group meal out at one of Hanoi's fantastic eating spots. If you have time before the meeting, head out and discover Hanoi. It's a good idea to take a hotel business card so you can find your way back.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi Urban Adventure - Citadels, Karsts & Cycle - USD88
  • Hanoi Urban Adventure - Village Discovery by Bike - USD33
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
You may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend the group meeting and have time to explore Hanoi. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
If you're expecting to be late for your welcome meeting, please inform the hotel reception or your booking agent in advance.
In the morning, take a half-day tour of Hanoi and its tree-lined streets. Visit the major sights including the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda and visit the former residence of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. Pass by the Hoan Kiem Lake and visit the historic Old Quarter, before moving onto the gatehouse museum of Hoa Lo Prison. Head for lunch at KOTO cafe, which is a project aimed at providing vocational training to underprivileged young people. In the evening, board an overnight train to Sapa (approximately 9 hours).
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
  • Hanoi - Koto Restaurant lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Overnight trains are usually made up of four berth compartments, with sheets and blankets provided. Some travellers prefer to bring their own sheets. There's a chance that you'll be sharing your berth with people of different sexes and, on occasion, with people outside of your travel group. There's also a simple dining cart on the train, but it's wise to stock up on food such as bread and fruit.
Arriving in Lao Cai in the morning, transfer by road to Sapa. Once there, walk around the foothills and cross an array of rice terraces. Along the way, meet some of the hill-tribe people. Head out on a walking tour of Sapa town and also visit the town’s market. This is where you can indulge in some local goods, such as dyed fabrics, hemp plants and handmade textiles. From the market, venture out on a short trek (approximately 2.5 hours) to visit a hill-tribe village called Cat Cat. This is home to the H’mong people, who emigrated from China 300 years ago. In the evening, settle into your hotel in Sapa for the night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sapa - Cat Cat village walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a lot more relaxed than yesterday. After breakfast, use your free time exploring Cat Cat and then transfer to the village of Ta Phin in the afternoon. This is a remote village within Sapa where you'll be able to wander around, chat with the locals and learn about their lifestyle. You are likely to encounter local H’mong traders in the Sapa region, who are often described persistent in their sales techniques. Please respect that this approach is usually the result of the competitive nature of business, and only purchase items if you wish too.
In the evening, head back to the hotel and perhaps have some dinner with the group.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sapa - Taphin Village walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, embark on a long bus journey (approximately 7 hours) to the province of Ha Giang. This is a highland region of forests and terraced rice paddies, with the mountains of Heaven’s Gate (Quan Ba pass) soaring in the background. The Ha Giang province also shares a border with southern China, and is known as Vietnam's final frontier. After relaxing and getting to know your surrounds, visit the local markets and shop fronts, which are relics of a bygone era. Afterwards venture to the the local museum and explore Cuom Village, witnessing the colourful traditional dress of the local people. The evening is then free to do as you please.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, leave for the first of many scenic mountain drives throughout Ha Giang province. Stop to browse Minh Tao Market before wandering through the village of Nam Luong. A visit to Mrs Mai’s Responsible Tourism project will be a highlight of the day. Learn about the stories of human trafficking and how the victims/witnesses of this crime found the opportunity of a life free from exploitation here. Afterwards pass through Lung Tam textile village and the Vuong Family Palace in Sa Phin commune, before continuing to Dong Van where you'll spend the night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast visit the local market, before setting off on a trekking loop that starts and finishes in Dong Van. The trek (approximately 4 hours in total) is surprisingly moderate and suitable for those with an average fitness level. Wind your way through the spectacular landscape, where you can expect to witness glorious views and capture some amazing pictures of lush valleys and rice paddies. The evening is then free to relax or explore more of Dong Van.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive past terraced rice farms on the road to Bao Lac (approximately 4 hours), a small town in the mountainous region of northern Vietnam. The area is home to the Black Lo Lo ethnic group, who are well known for their colourful attire and finesse in making bronze drums. The bronze drums hold a special place in Lo Lo customs, being used at funerals and important family events. In Lo Lo culture, only the sound of the drums can help the souls of the dead find their way to the birthplace of their ancestors. Stay overnight in Bao Lac and perhaps explore the local marketplace and learn more about this fascinating culture. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Travel on to Ba Be Lake early in the morning (approximately 4 hours). Once there, head down the river by boat on an exploration of Ba Be National Park, visiting the largest natural lake in Vietnam. Disembark for some light walks along the way, visiting the impressive waterfalls that feed the lake and observing the natural flora and fauna. Return to land in the afternoon and head to a local home where you will be sleeping tonight. The family you’re staying with will prepare lunch and the rest of the day is then free to explore. In the evening sit down for a delicious dinner with your hosts. This is a great opportunity to gain an insight into their lives and culture.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ba Be - Waterfall
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Head back to Hanoi after breakfast, which should take between four and five hours. Use your free time exploring the boulevards and colonial buildings of the city. If you have time, visit the Hanoi Military Museum or take a look inside the city's spectacular Opera House. For your final evening in Hanoi, perhaps share a final dinner with the group.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Your Northern Vietnam Adventure comes to an end after breakfast, as there are no more activities planned for today. You're free to depart the accommodation at any time.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

9 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 2 dinners

Transport

Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (8 nts), Homestay (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)

Included activities

  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
  • Hanoi - Koto Restaurant lunch
  • Sapa - Cat Cat village walk
  • Sapa - Taphin Village walk
  • Ba Be - Waterfall

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Please provide your full name as per passport (including middle names on your passport), and passport number at time of booking. These details are required for the internal train tickets. Please check your booking information exactly matches your passport. Ticketing fees may apply for amendments within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing a new ticket.
2. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip and excludes nights 2 (Overnight Train) and 9 (Homestay) where you will be in shared accommodation.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our Northern Vietnam Adventure trips score an average of 4.75 out of 5 based on 24 reviews in the last year.

Northern Vietnam Adventure, May 2017

Celia Price

Northern Vietnam Adventure, April 2017

Mirinda Reed