The Northwestern part of Vietnam is one of the most interesting and beautiful areas of South East Asia. Vietnam is home to 54 ethnic groups and the northwestern part of the country is an exciting place to see the lives, customs and cultures of some of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities. The travellers who do venture to Mai Chau, Son La and Dien Bien Phu often do so by way of a hired jeep and driver or do it by motorbike, while those striking straight north to Vietnam's hilltribe capital of Sapaavail themselves of the comfortable and efficient overnight train to Sapa. Whichever way you're headed, prepare yourself for stunning scenery as you pass through spectacular ravines and over breathtaking passes.
Visiting stilt houses of Thai people and enjoy the minority specialty dishes including rice cooked in bamboo and grilled meat
Visit some villages of Black Thai, Tuan Chau Market, Pha Din Pass and find out about some customary practices people
Visit many ethnic villages as: Lao Chai village of the H’mong, Ta Van village of the Dzay, Cat Cat village of the Black H’mong, Ta Phin Village.
Day 1: Hanoi - Mai Chau - Son La (-/L/D): Car
7.30-8.00 a.m: Tour guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer to Son La town (320km). Son La Province is located in North-western Vietnam on Highway 6, about 308 km away from Hanoi Capital. It borders on Yen Bai and Lao Cai Provinces in the North, Lai Chau Province in the West, Thanh Hoa and Hoa Binh Provinces in the Southeast and the country of Laos in the South.
With mountains and high lands, an abundant system of rivers and streams and rich water resource, for development of hydroelectric power industry, with favourable conditions for development of cow raising, mulberry-growing, silkworms-raising, coffee, tea and fruit-tree cultivation as well as the mining, agricultural and forestry product-processing industries.
11.00 a.m: Arrive Mai Chau, come in and visit stilt houses of Thai people, stilt houses border both sides of the roads. The houses are quite large with palm leaf roofs and polished bamboo-slat floors. The kitchen is located in the center of the house; the cooking as well as the making of the colorful tho cam, the material used by Thai minority to make their clothes, takes place in the kitchen. The windows are large and decorated with patterns. Each house also usually has a pond to breed fish.
12.00: Have lunch in local restaurant, especially enjoy the minority specialty dishes including rice cooked in bamboo and grilled meat.
1.00 p.m: Walking around the Lac village, and PomCoong village, the Ban Lac People have Thai ancestors that settled in the North-Western area of Vietnam. The two tribes, White Thai and black Thai, settled in the same area and make up the largest ethnic population of the region.
2.00 p.m: Take the bus keep moving to Son La. On the way to Son La, you can stop for taking photos, experiencing hill tribe’s lifestyle. Only three kilometres from Son La town, you can live in Thai’ ethnic tradition. Thai’ girls who have not gathered their hair in a high bun yet (it means isn’t married) will invite you to their traditional party with wine, bamboo-tube rice, “com khau”, “mang lay”, “ pinh top” etc. Son La also has Mong village which is a green tourism, cultural, and relaxing site in the Hua La commune. Mong village has a hot natural stream named Bo Nam Un. The water has got medical properties. 100 Thai families live in here.
5.30 p.m: Arrive Son La, check in hotel and overnight in Son La.
Day 2: Son La - Dien Bien - Muong Lay (B/L/D): Car
8.30 a.m: After breakfast in hotel, take 10 minutes by bus to visit French Prison, in the prison grounds is a peach tree that was planted by To Hieu, a former inmate, sometime in the 1940's. However, there are many minority villages on the way to explore.
The Son La Provincial Museum: was originally a penitentiary built by the French in 1908. At first, it was only a small provincial prison. But between 1930 and 1945, thousands of Vietnamese patriots were imprisoned here. Key individuals who later became main leaders of the Revolution for National Liberation were incarcerated in the Son La Prison. In 1962, it was classified by the Ministry of Culture as one of the numerous revolutionary heritage sites in the country.
9.30 a.m: Then transfer to Dien Bien (170km). On the way, stop for taking photos, visit some villages of Black Thai, and find out about some customary practices people here. Visit Tuan Chau Market, Pha Din Pass (1300m). To reach Dien Bien province from Hanoi, travelers have to pass Pha Din pass that is about 32 km long. In the local language, Pha Din means heaven and earth. According to a local legend, Pha Din Pass is the place where the sky meets the earth, so it is considered as the frontier between Heaven and Earth. Long time ago, there existed a deputation on the border between Lai Chau and Son La provinces. It was solved by a horse-racing. Two horses started from each side of the pass and the border was determined at the point where they met each other. The horse of Lai Chau province ran faster than the one of Son La province so the pass belonging to Lai Chau is longer than that of Son La.
1.00 p.m: Have lunch in Tuan Giao and continue to Muong Lay.
5.00 p.m: Arrive Muong Lay. Check in Lan Anh 2 hotel.
7.00 p.m: Have dinner and overnight in Muong Lay.
Day 3: Muong Lay - Tam Duong - Sapa (B/L/D): Car
8.00 a.m: After breakfast, take bus to Tam Duong, enjoy Thac Tinh Waterfall, have lunch in Tam Duong.
Tam Duong town lies in the center of Tam Duong District, Lai Chau province. Tam Duong is a cultural-diversified land with great potential for developing tourism as well as economy. The nature favors the land with charming tourist attractions such as Tien Son Cave, Thac Tinh Waterfall, ecological forest, etc., which have become friendly and safe destinations for both domestic and foreign tourists.
1.00 p.m: Transfer to Sapa. Stop to visiting Heaven Gate, the highest stretch of road in Vietnam as well as the provincial border of Lao Cai and Lai Chau provinces. Enjoy fantastic view over the valley with barbecue of local people. After that, visit The Silver Waterfall is located about a half hour from Sapa town which offers stunning views over surrounding mountains and lush forests belonging to Hoang Lien National Park. You are advised to stop by a farm for a cup of tea and talk with people to understand their local life.
6.00 p.m: Arrive Sa Pa, check in hotel and free time for walking around to discover Sapa town on your own, enjoy night market.
7.00 p.m: Have dinner and overnight in Sa Pa.
Day 4: Sa Pa - Catcat -Y Linh Ho - Lao Chai - Ta Van (10 Hours Trekking, 25 Km, 4 Villages) (B/L/D): Car
7.00 am: Have breakfast at your hotel.
9.00 a.m: Trek around 5 km to visit a village of the Black H'mong (CatCat). You will stop by a waterfall and a hydroelectric station for a while and enjoy traditional dances of ethnic minorities, before continuing the trek on a dirt trail through rice paddy terraces. You also will enjoy spectacular scenery while walking along a narrow river.
12.30: You eventually arrive in Y Linh Ho village of Black Hmong minority, where you can take a rest while you are served lunch nearby the river.
In the afternoon:
2.00 p.m: Start trekking downhill Y Linh Ho hamlet. The trek offers some stunning views of the rice terraces, gardens and Fan Si Pan mountain ranges. After going through a suspension bridge, we start walking up to Lao Chai San village.
There we are experiencing the richest traditional culture of Black H’Mong people in the region. The trekking route offers a breathtaking view of vegetable gardens and rice terraces with green mountains rising above. There will be time for visiting with local families and learning about their traditional fiber processing.
3.00 p.m: After this you continue to Ta Van village (1.200 m) to visit Zay people. Zay is a fairly small minority group of about 38.000 people who live mainly in the mountains in Northwest Vietnam. Ta Van is a small village set within a picturesque valley not far from the northern Vietnamese mountain resort of Sa Pa. The area is renowned for its colorful ethnic minorities, and Ta Van is home to two such groups.
5.00 p.m: Arrive in Ta Van. Dinner with local family.
Overnight at a Dzay family in this village.
Day 5: Sapa – Hanoi (B/L/-): Car
7.30 a.m: After breakfast, have time to visit Ta Van village, where most of local people here is red Zao.
12.00 p.m: After lunch, take car back to Hanoi.
5.00 p.m: Drop off at your hotel, tour finish.
Bring walking shoes, raincoat, jacket, extra clothes, torch, insect repellent and sunscreen...
Bring your passport to check in hotel
Beware of your luggage and money
Inform in advance if you are vegetarian.
All customers must obey the order of your tour guide for your safety.
Passengers are advised not to take along big luggage for convenience
- English speaking guide
- Entrance fees
What's Not Included
- Travel insurance
- Extra food and beverages
- Phone and laundry
- Tips and personal expenses