Northwest Vietnam has a ruggedness and a primitive infrastructure which offers a real thrill for those who want to discover the unknown. Even Sapa, which has been brought to the fore in terms of tourism, is still a very beautiful place with hidden enclaves and a rich tapestry of peoples just outside the town itself. But beyond Sapa the voluptuous views continue, and there are many other options to come face to face with the bold landscapes and colourful inhabitants of this region Mai Chau, Dien Bien Phu and Lai Chau.
Although many of the roads in this region are surfaced, many are dangerous cliffhangers that are regularly wiped out by landslides in the wet season. The stretch from Lai Chau into Sapa offers some of the best mountain vistas in Southeast Asia, as the road climbs more than 1000m over the Tram Ton Pass.
Note: During monsoon season (July – September) the itinerary is subject to change based on the weather and road condition.
STUNNING NORTHWEST VIETNAM ITINERARY
DAY 1: HANOI – MAI CHAU (L, D)
Pick up at 08h00 from your hotel in Hanoi then depart for Mai Chau (3.5 hour drive). Just an hour out of Hanoi after Hoa Binh Town, the road will slowly weave itself through fertile valleys and traditional villages. Mai Chau is a beautiful valley which is the homeland of the Thai people, one of the largest ethnic minorities group in Vietnam.
Arrive in the picturesque Mai Chau Valley which is surrounded by karst rock formations and rice paddies – after a delicious lunch cooked by a local family, spend the afternoon exploring the idyllic natural surroundings. Walk or cycle (optional) on flat local roads around thePomcoong village and Lac village to discover the Thai ethnic minorities where here you will have time for handicraft shopping from the local artisans, or alternatively enjoy a coffee with the friendly villagers. This interesting walking tour will give you unforgettable memory especially when you stop at a village school (for those who want to give children pencils, books … – optional).
A fabulous dinner is served at early evening, accompanied by a traditional dance performance by the local Thai tribe.
Stay overnight at home-stay in Thai village.
DAY 2: MAI CHAU – SON LA – DIEN BIEN PHU (B, L, D)
Having breakfast served by Thai people at the home-stay then say good bye to the host family we travel to Son La passing Moc Chau with the admiration of fruit orchards, tea plantation lines along road that make spectacular sights. You have more chance to meet and see local tribe people with their daily work of black Thai, White Thai, H’mong, Muong, etc. Visit Prison Museum in Son La which has style since French then depart for Dien Bien Phu. After a windy and snaking pass (the spectacular famous Pha Din Pass known as the longest pass in Vietnam), the road forks and an hour later you arrive in the Dien Bien Phu Valley.
Dien Bien Phu is one of the most remote parts of Vietnam but not by any means the least well known. Established in 1841 to prevent raids on the Red River delta by bandits, Dien Bien Phu is more familiar to people as a famous battlefield.
Stay overnight at hotel in Dien Bien Phu.
DAY 3: DIEN BIEN PHU – PHONG THO, LAI CHAU (B, L, D)
Following breakfast enjoy a trip to Dien Bien Phu Museum which details the event in place. The museum dedicated to telling the incredible story of the 1954 battle of Dien Bien Phu is a disappointment. Nonetheless, it’s the only museum in town and shouldn’t be missed. Next visit will be the most important French position in the Dien Bien Phu valley, Hill A1 – known to the French as Eliane was considered impregnable.
In the afternoon continue your voyage to Lai Chau on off beaten track road and enjoy rice terrace fields, mountain sights as well as meet more of minority people of H’Mong, Black Thai, Black Dzao and Pazi. Lai Chau, is a small town nestled in the heart of a beautiful valley carved from spectacular mountains by the Da River. The town, no more than half a mile in length, initially had little to offer, but the area itself is a trekking goldmine.
Visit Lai Chau town with local market and villages (if time permits).
Stay overnight at hotel in Lai Chau.
DAY 4: LAI CHAU – SAPA (B, L, D)
Wake up early and enjoy the morning life at a peaceful town for more experience then depart for Sapa. This is perhaps the best days drive as the scenery is magnificent; the fertile valleys surrounded by huge mountains are a sight to behold. Set amidst spectacular, misty, mountains, Sapa is the centre of tourism in this uniquely beautiful region on Vietnam’s border with China. The town offers colorful of tribe people, villages for trekking to see beautiful sights and terrace fields. Trekking through the village and enjoy the real life of local people and satisfy with natural beauties.
Stay overnight at hotel in Sapa.
DAY 5: SAPA – LAO CAI – NIGHT TRAIN TO HANOI (B, L, D)
After breakfast your guide will be waiting for you in the lobby of the hotel to take you ‘Off the beaten track’ for a light trek to discover Sapa’s lesser-known areas. In the late afternoon transfer down hill to Lao Cai to catch the night train to Hanoi.
Stay overnight on the train in a comfortable soft sleeper compartment (4 berth, air-conditioned compartment).
* For those who want to spend this night in Sapa instead of taking overnight train can come back Hanoi by car on Day 6.
DAY 6: ARRIVE HANOI
Early morning arrival at Hanoi Rail Station (around 5h00).
TOUR PRICES: Available upon Request
Rates vary frequently. Please contact us to get the best possible price based upon your travel period and specific touring needs.
Our services include:
– Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle.
– Accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room.
– Train tickets Lao Cai – Hanoi in shared cabin (first class 4 berth shared cabin with air-conditioner, soft sleeper wooden cabin).
– Meals as mentioned in program (B = Breakfast, L= Lunch, D=Dinner).
– Local English speaking guide (for other languages and a national guide supplements apply).
– Entrance fees for mentioned visits.
– Mineral water and chilled tissue served on trip.
Our services do not include:
– Other meals than mentioned.
– Other services than mentioned.
– Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature.
– Travel insurance, Tips and emergency transfers.
– Drinks with meals.
– Early check-in and late check-out at hotels, if not mentioned in the program.
– Surcharge for New Year or Holiday seasons.
– Prices may vary according to your travel time and are higher in the high season, e.g. Christmas period (Dec 24-26), New Year period (Dec 31-Jan 02) and Public holidays of Vietnam.
– For additional hotel night cost to the packages, please contact us for the rates.
– This tour package can be fully customizable to fit your travel plan. You can also disregard full package tours and choose whatever travel items you need we can quote the tours you really want. Usually travel insurance is not covered in our quotations.
– Keep your luggage and money by yourself.
– Inform in advance if you are vegetarian.
– Take original passports, good and comfortable trekking shoes, insect repellent, torches, sun scream, towels, rain gear and extra warm clothes. All customers must obey the order of your guide for your safety.
– Child definition: from age of 3 to 9 years (usually enjoying 10%-20% discount. Contact us for the actual discount for your case). 10 years old and above will be charged as Adult Price.
– All tours & transfers are all based in English Speaking local guides. For other languages, please contact us for new quotations.
– Itinerary Change to the confirmed itinerary may happen because of traffic, weather, or any other conditions not under our control such as war, strike, fire, acts of government, riot, etc. We will do our best to make sure that all the travel will be similar. Go Viet Travel can substitute the itinerary upon your agreement.
– Transportation and Restaurants: The cars, vans or coaches for the land transportation should be in good shape with air conditioner. All restaurants should be tidy and clean.