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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.
Day 1: Hanoi
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive early into the capital of Hanoi, there’s plenty to see and do. Consider booking the Hanoi Highlights Urban Adventure with an expert local guide to introduce you to the city. Start by visiting the Temple of Literature, drop into a traditional tea house, and learn the stories of the Hoa Lo Prison museum. This tour concludes at Hoan Kiem Lake, surrounded by modern office buildings and ancient Buddhist temples. Or take it at your own pace and wander the Old Quarter and admire the city’s French-colonial architecture, relax in a park, or enjoy some street food.
Day 2: Sapa Homestay
In the morning, travel by private minibus from Hanoi towards Lao Chai in the Sapa region. The drive will take approximately 5 hours, which makes for the perfect opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers. Press on along the winding road before taking your first glimpse of Lao Chai village, sitting comfortably in a valley with cleared hillsides and rustic farmland. Stretch your legs as you walk off the bus, then begin a trek to your homestay in Ta Van (approximately 10 km/6 mi), enjoying a picnic lunch stop on the way. Your homestay is comfy, quaint and surrounded by pristine farmland.
Day 3: Sapa
After breakfast at your homestay, trek to Giang Ta Chai – home to the Red Dzao hill people. Push on through terraced farmland and bamboo scrub for excellent views of emerald valleys and rushing waterfalls as you stroll on by (approximately 5km/3mi. Rest your legs on the bus ride back to Sapa. If you still have some energy once you arrive in Sapa perhaps visit the local market. This is a great place to pick up locally dyed fabrics, hemp plants and handmade textiles. In the evening, settle into your hotel in Sapa for the night.
Day 4: Ha Giang
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 shopfronts, 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 free to spend as you wish.
Day 5: Dong Van
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.
Day 6: Dong Van
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 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.
Day 7: Bao Lac
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.
Day 8: Ba Be Lake
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 family-owned guesthouse where you will be spending the night. 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.
Day 9: Hanoi
Head back to Hanoi after breakfast (approximately 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 at the KOTO restaurant, a project aimed at providing vocational training to disadvantaged young people.
Day 10: Hanoi
There are no activities included and you’re free to depart your accommodation at any time. If you would like to spend some more time in Hanoi, we’re happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
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Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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