Northwest Dicovery Off The Beaten Track
Hanoi - Mai Chau - Son La - Dien Bien - Sapa - Hanoi
07 Days - 06 Nights
Day 1: Ha Noi - Mai Chau (160 km)
In our jeep, we start from your hotel and hit the road through the infamous traffic of Hanoi. As soon we get out of town (a mere 10 km), we will quickly find ourselves in the country life of Vietnam. Heading towards Hoa Binh province, we pass through a region of spectacular limestone mountains, passes, and valleys, then wind our way downhill to Mai Chau valley of the Thai people.
We will spend the afternoon to walk around the two connecting villages, learn more about the ethnic Thai people, and finally experience their hospitality with a stay in their home on stilts. Enjoy dinner followed by traditional dances and a taste of the local rice wine, an experience in itself. Sleep well in preparation for tomorrow. (L,D).
Day 2: Mai Chau – Moc Chau - Son La (160 km)
Today, we will drive about the same distance as we made in our trip to Mai Chau. The road to Son La is lined with orchards, tea plantations, towering mountains and chances to meet and talk to the ethnic black Thai, white Thai, Hmong and Muong hill tribe people. Many will be on their way to work or heading to one of the many local markets. In the afternoon, we visit the Prison Museum in Son La, which remains as a poignant reminder of the inequities of the former French colonial rule. Dinner and sleep at the Cong Doan Hotel. (B,L)
Day 3: Son La - Dien Bien Phu (170 km)
The further we drive the more impressive the mountain scenery becomes, so we will wake up in anticipation for another great day on the road. We will visit small villages and meet more tribal people along our journey to Dien Bien Phu city.
Stop for lunch in Tuan Giao then continue on to Dien Bien. Be utterly amazed by the scenery at Pha Din pass. Afternoon in Dien Bien Phu - the last base of the French power in Indochina. Here we will visit monuments, the museum, war relics and the preserved bunkers all telling the story of the final and victorious liberating battle of 1954. Dinner and free time to explore the night-life in this remote mountain city. Overnight in the Muong Thanh Hotel. (B,L)
Day 4: Dien Bien Phu - Muong Lay - Lai Chau (200 km)
With about 6 – 7 hours of adventurous driving today, our journey is steep and often rugged. The road through the Lai Chau valley is both breathtaking and dramatic, hugging rice terraced mountainsides and fording turbulent rivers. On this day you'll have a chance to see the most beautiful hill tribes in Northern Vietnam such as Hmong, Black Thai, Black Dao, and Pazi. Dinner and overnight in the colorful town of Tam Duong. (B,L).
Day 5: Lai Chau - Sapa (90km)
A morning walk around this peaceful town and take some time to explore the market before hitting the road. Its all uphill, as we wind upwards and through Tram Ton pass, the highest mountain pass in Vietnam. We are rewarded with magnificent views of these Northern mountain ranges, the highest in Southeast Asia.
We will then experience a dramatic change in climate as we approach the town of Sapa – an old French hill station and busy market town for the regional minority groups. The town is bordered by towering peaks, often shrouded in cloud. The air is cool, crisp and refreshing. Check in at a hotel with comfort then free to explore joining in the spirit of this famous little town. (B,L)
Day 6: Sapa - Ta Phin, trek and homestay (4 hours)
Take short ride from Sapa to our trekking base where we start our trek through terraced rice fields and Hmong villages. Chances to meet and talk with locals working in the fields are plentiful. We will break for a picnic lunch en route then continue trekking to Ta Phin village of the Dao people (4 hours). Your Dao host family will warmly welcome you to their traditional home where we will share in an ethnic style dinner and stay the night. (L,D).
Day 7: Ta Phin - Sapa, trek (4 hours), night train to Hanoi
At the first of gleam of daylight, you will see and hear the sounds of morning village life. After breakfast, we will complete our trek on a valley route to the main road (4 hours). Alternatively, for this long trek, you can choose to take a short morning wander around the village for about 1 hour, resulting in more time spent with the host family. For both options, you will be supported by our car / van back to Sapa (30 minutes).
When we arrive back in Sapa you will have the afternoon for some free time to discover the secrets of this colorful town. At 5:30 pm your driver will bring you to the train station in Lao Cai. We depart at 8:50 pm on an AC soft sleeper class to Hanoi – a safe train journey will bring you back to Hanoi at 5:00 am. Your adventure ends here.
Tour guide, Japanese Jeep, hotels/guesthouses/home stays, meal as specified: B for Breakfast; L for Lunch; D for Dinner, permits, entrance’s fees, local dances and purified water.
Budget for 1 star hotel, Standard is 2-3 stars, Superior is from 3-4 stars, Deluxe is at 4-5 stars hotels.
Insurance, drinks, other personal expenses. Tips are welcome!
What to Bring: Passport, rain gear (even a rain coat for your bags), sunglasses, hat, sun screen, good shoes for walking, flash light, a camera with lots of film and extra batteries for, a sense of adventure, other personal needs and monies for drinks/food.
Accommodation: Homestay is basic, Hotels: Standard
Best Time to Do: all year round, best from September to April of next year.
For an alternative but similar adventure in the North West
Please Travel Responsibly: The small things you do will make a big difference!
Booking Terms & Conditions: Tour itinerary and tour prices are subject to change without notice.
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