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The remote North Vietnam 9 days 8 nights

This tour is for those who are adventurous but who maybe are not up to long treks. It explores the remote far north of Vietnam, often close to the Chinese border. This is the land of the ethnic minorities, and it is one of the few places left in this global world where one's family and locality can be identified by dress alone. Prepare yourself for a riot of colour, from the ethnic clothes to the rice paddies. You will have a chance to interrelate with the locals by staying in Homestays, in a variety of villages and mountainous regions.
The remote North Vietnam 9 days 8 nights
Tour code: NA12D
Duration: 9 days 8 nights
Route: Hanoi – Nghia Lo – Mu Cang Chai – Sapa – Hoang Su Phi – Ha Giang - Cao Bang - Ba Be  – Hanoi

  • Day 1: Hanoi – Duong Lam Ancient village – Nghia Lo (L/ D)
    • We leave Hanoi Old Quarter and travel for about 2 hours to Duong Lam, which is an ancient village with Unesco protection as from 2006. The houses dating back 100-400 years, temples and gardens are edged with laterite walls. This is an important historical site having temples in honour of two kings, national heroes, who defended the land against the Chinese about 1200 years ago. We can have lunch in a local house here. We continue to drive through rural countryside, flat paddy fields first, then, as we gain height we see tea plantations, and then corn or maize amongst the karst limestone outcrops. We will overnight with a delightful White Thai family in a traditional stilt house in Nghia Lo.
  • Day 2: Nghia Lo – Mu Cang Chai (B/ L/ D)
    • We will rise early and take an early morning bike ride around the paddy fields and corn fields, enjoying the peaceful sight of ducks, chickens, pigs and buffalos, and observing the quiet manual labour of the villagers. Breakfast is taken in the open air, looking over the fields, before we check out and set out over dramatic Khau Pha mountain pass. The rice fields of Tu Le are spectacular and we stop at a local restaurant for lunch. We continue to drive to Nam Co village where we'll see the flower H'mong ethnic minority in their lovely traditional costume, and the local market, if on the right day. We drive to La Pan Tan and Mam Soi terraced rice fields and take a short walk up the hill to a viewpoint, then dinner and overnight at Mrs Chon's Homestay in Kim Noi village. This is again a White Thai family.
  • Day 3: Mu Cang Chai – Sapa. (B/L/D)
    • After breakfast we will drive from Mu Cang Chai through Tan Uyen and then to Sapa. The road is very dramatic with many hairpins, each opening up a new vista of the mountains, and crossing the Sin Ho pass. You will have lunch in Sapa and have a chance to look around. Then you will trek to Giang Ta Chai village, where you will have dinner and overnight in a Dao ethnic house.
  • Day 4: Sapa. - Bac Ha- Hoang Su Phi (B/L/D)
    • We set off early and drive to Bac Ha. If it is a Sunday we will make for the market, one of the most colourful markets in the north, You can become expert in spotting the different ethnic costumes, and enjoy the antics of the livestock market. There are marvellous photo opportunities at these markets.After lunch in a local restaurant, we will visit the palace of Hoang A Tuong, a curious mixture of baroque and oriental, built in 1920 with the aid of the French. Then we will drive up a small mountain road with views of the most amazing rice terraces, with villages dotted here and there. We reach the Ban Phung village and have a chance to see the La Chi ethnic people, the ladies in black knee length skirts and jackets, with a little delicate coloured embroidery, their heads wrapped in a strip of cloth knotted about their hair. They have a truly hard life up in these mountains often carrying a heavy load in a bag from a band on their heads. We will descend to Hoang SunPhi for dinner and overnight at a hotel.
  • Day 5 Hoang Su Phi
    • Hoang Su Phi is also a very famous area for rice terraces which curl around the hills like contour lines. There are also beautiful tea plantations, some of which have been there for one hundred years. We continue via the Tan Su Phin pass and the Cong Troi pass. These are most dramatic passes and this whole area is full of magnificent views with plenty of photo opportunities. We will have lunch on the way at a local restaurant, then continue north again to Ha Giang. We will overnight at a stilt house of the Tay people.
  • Day 6: Ha Giang – Dong Van – Meo Vac (B/ L/ D)
    • From Ha Giang we drive to Dong Van via Cong Troi pass then Yen Minh. We visit the King's palace in the H’mong ethnic village of Sa Phin, which is a lovely palace, built in the early 20th century, interesting architecturally and historically important to the local H'mong people,. The Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark is a fascinating area, and most notable are the black limestone craggy peaks, where the H'mong people manage to plant corn in any square inch of soil they can find. Harvesting is done by hand and the bundles taken back down the mountain side on the back of a motor bike. We continue to Dong Van, which also has a few ancient houses around the old market area and have lunch there. In this area, in addition to the women wearing their bright swinging pleated skirts, embroidered and beaded tops and bright chequered headscarves, the men and boys look so cool in their black jackets with stand up collar with a black beret, a relic from the French occupation. The Ma Pi Leng pass between Dong Van and Meo Vac is justly considered one of the most beautiful roads in the country and we will actually trek through the pass. The views are stunning, looking down over the river valley and across towards the mountainous frontier with China. We overnight in Meo Vac.
  • Day 7: Meo Vac – Bao Lac – Cao Bang (B/ L/ D)
    • Meo Vac is a small town, home to the ethnic groups of Tay, Dao, H'Mong and Lo Lo. If we are there on a Sunday we can go to the market, again a fantastic riot of colour. There is a lot of clothing sold here, and fabric, and sometimes men making the men's indigo dyed jackets on old sewing machines. There is a livestock section which is a chaos of squealing pigs and screeching birds as well as pigs, cows and horses. We drive to Bao Lac for lunch with some stops in ethnic villages. The road is again pretty mountainous with several passes. We visit the Nung ethnic village in Pac Rang, a traditional farming village which is known for its blacksmiths and their work in making farm tools. We have dinner and overnight at a Nung house.
  • Day 8: Cao Bang – Ban Gioc – Ba Be ((B/ L/ D)
    • After breakfast we continue from the Cao Bang and journey to the Ban Gioc waterfalls, the photo of which must be in every hostel and tour agent's office in Hanoi! The falls mark the border of China and Vietnam so this is definitely the high spot of the frontier (although not so untouched!). They are truly spectacular! There will be time to appreciate the breathtaking sight of these falls before making our way to Nguom Ngao "Tiger Cave" with is amazing limestone formations, and stalactites of various shapes. This is the most famous limestone grotto in the northern mountain province of Cao Bang, and you will be impressed by its size! We then drive to Ba Be and feel the peace of the National park and those lake, for dinner and overnight at Mr Linh's Homestay.
  • Day 9: Ba Be – Hanoi (B/ L)
    • After a breakfast on the terrace, we will walk the short distance between the rice fields, through the village of Bo Lu to the boat station to embark on a 3 hour boat trip, through the lakes of Ba Be. If you need to cool down, it's great to jump into this lovely lake. The boat takes you along a river with time to gaze up at the dramatic karst limestone outcrops which have become so familiar to you in the last days. The park is home to many flora and fauna so you will surely catch sight of birds and butterflies. You'll definitely be aware of the thousands of bats in one way or another in the Puong Cave which tunnels its way through the mountain and through which the river flows. There are many dramatic stalactites and stalagmites. We return by boat to Bolu and then you will have a chance to relax on the drive back to Hanoi, stopping on the way for lunch. We should arrive back in Hanoi about 5.30 and you will be ped off at your hotel.
ACCOMMODATION LIST

Please note that the hotels mentioned in this list are for reference only. Depending on availability and your preference, they can be changed. If we are unable to book any hotel, it will be replaced by another hotel at least of equivalent standard and value.

Destination Accommodation Star Night
Nghia Lo
Homestay
1
Mu Cang Chai
Homestay 1
Sapa Homestay
1
Hoang Su Phi
Hotel 1
Ha Giang
Homestay 1
Meo Vac
Hotel 1
Cao Bang
Homestay 1
Ba Be Homestay 1

Tour price includes:

•    Private door-to-door pick-up & -off services
•    All private transfer and transportation
•    Hotels & homestay
•    Experienced English or French speaking guide
•    Meals as stated in the itinerary
•    All sightseeing tickets
•    Support 24/24h
•    No extra charge after confirmation.    

Tour price excludes:

•    All airfare (international and domestic) and airport tax
•    Early check-in, late check-out surcharge
•    Personal expenses (phone call, laundry, tipping etc.)
•    Any services not mentioned in the program.
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