This morning we enjoy a half day city tour starting with the HO CHI MINH Complex. This famous site contains the mausoleum of the nation’s founder Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace , the Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts and the ONE PILLAR PAGODA. The following sights are the TEMPLE OF LITERATURE and the peaceful lake of HOAN KIEM with its sacred temple.
We also make stop at the impressive ETHNOLOGY MUSEUM, dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities, some of which we will see on our forthcoming days. Heading out of the town, we travel by road to Mai Chau, an idyllic valley populated by the many White Thai people. There are some opportunities en route to visit the Dao Son Dau and the Muong hill tribe groups.
O/N in Mai Chau
One Pillar Pagoda – Hanoi
Upon leaving MAI CHAU the roads begins to deteriorate; however many villages dot the hillsides and undulating terrain make for an interesting journey.
Along the way we stop in XA LINH for a two hour trek past many timeless hill villages which are home of the Hmong hill tribe people. Travelling across the MOC CHAU Plateau we catch a glimpse of the many tea plantations and see the Black Thai hill tribe people.
They belong to the same Thai ethnic group, but are different from the White Thai in Mai Chau by their tradition and habits.
O/N in SON LA.
A Corner Of Mai Chau
The provincial museum and the nearby old prison are some of this hill town’s major sights. We have a chance to visit these before we leave for our next destination. The winding roads cross over the PHA DIN Pass before reaching DIEN BIEN PHU, the site of the decisive battle in Vietnam’s struggle for independence in 1954.
After checking into our central located hotel we enjoy a walk around to see this fast growing town. Our main stop is DIEN BIEN PHU’s MUSEUM which details the event in place. We also pay a visit to the old battle field where the lush vegetation grows behind many war relics including old French tanks and artillery pieces.
O/N in DIEN BIEN PHU.
Dien Bien Phu Museum
The journey north continues on to LAI CHAU Town, our base for exploring the surrounding areas These back roads are a great way to explore the real Vietnam. We see very few other travelers, mostly rural dwellers who are just as interested in finding out about our lives as we are of theirs.
After checking into hotel, we embark on a boat for a two hour trip along the DA River, passing through the stunning mountain landscapes. The pace is very relaxed, a perfect way to observe the local lifestyle close up.
O/N in LAI CHAU.
Lai Chau Town
Today we continue venturing into northern Vietnam with the next stop being SIN HO which is home land of the Red Hmong, Kho Mu, Mang and Dao ethnic minorities. They are settled there longtime ago and still retain their traditional culture and habits.
The trip to SIN HO is occasionally suspended due to the restriction of the local authority. Departing Sin Ho we make our way past the hilly region to TAM DUONG. This timeless town is surrounded by stunning mountain backdrops and lush tea plantations.
O/N in TAM DUONG.
Tam Duong Village
The scenery of the north is unequaled although the conditions are very simple.
After breakfast we drive following the main artery of trade in northwestern region. This bumpy road links to many hill towns and villages. At an elevation of 1,500 meters, Sapa was founded in the early years of the last century as a hill resort for French administrators when the heat on the plain became unbearable.
After checking into hotel we can soak up the fresh climate as much as we want by spending our time wandering around this charming town and some legacies of the French period.
O/N in SA PA.
Sapa From Above
The huge range of FANSIPAN boasts Vietnam’s highest mountain and lends an alpine feel to the area surrounding this hill station.
Today we have enough time to visit the bustling SA PA Market where the Red Dao, Black Hmong, Tay and Xa Pho ethnic minorities converge from the nearby mountainsides and valleys to trade their goods and buy provisions.
We get well off the beaten track as we embark on a walk to discover this beautiful mountain region. Along the way we traverse several rustic villages and see many mountaineers doing their daily works such as logging, herding buffalo and tilling the field.
O/N in SA PA
Sapa Rice Terrace
Heading out of town, we make our way through the breathtaking mountain landscape to BAT XAT. The weather in this region is cool due to the high altitude. On arrival, we embark on a short walk, passing through several villages which is populated by the Phu La, Dao and Giay ethnic minorities.
They are very poor, but have an interesting local culture and a colorful history. A part of the pleasure of travelling in this region is the simple joy of seeing hill tribe people. We continue our trip to LAO CAI border town, our final destination.
O/N in LAO CAI.
Bat Xat Village
The weekend market of MUONG KHUONG also attracts a wide variety of ethnic minority groups such as Hmong, Dao, Thu Lao, Pa Di, Tu Di and Phu La. After breakfast, we embark on a two hour drive delivering to MUONG KHUONG Town. There is a wonderful experience to wander around this colorful congregation. In the early afternoon, we travel by roads to BAC HA.
This is basically an overnight stop to break our long journey. After checking into hotel we can enjoy walk to visit the Hmong King’s former residence and BAN PHO where villagers make the potent local maize alcohol.
O/N in BAC HA
Muong Khuong From Above
Upon leaving Bac Ha we set off on a full day journey through SIN MAN and HOANG SU PHI to HA GIANG Town. The rough but scenic route traverse a dense jungle before crossing over a pass and dropping down to SIN MAN. This day is a real challenge for our driver as we travel by winding roads with many uphill and down hill drives.
Along the way we may encounter the Nung Ing, Tay, Red Dao, Dao Ao Dai, La Chi and Co Lao, just some of the many hill tribe groups who have settled there.
O/N in HA GIANG.
Hoang Su Phi
The remote region of DONG VAN and MEO VAC is a land of rugged mountains and beautiful hill villages which are unchanged for centuries. Today we head north west out of HA GIANG Town towards this northernmost tip of Vietnam.
The former H’mong royal house at SA PHIN is a primary attraction of the region but the blend of hill tribe people’s colorful costumes and the majestic mountainous scenery make this long and bumpy trip an unforgettable experience.
O/N in DONG VAN.
Dong Van – Ha Giang
The ethnic minority people are frequently seen in this hill town and small vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicraft. We have time to visit DONG VAN Town before continuing to MEO VAC which is conquered by the Lo Lo and Pu Peo ethnic minority people.
They still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognizable distinct from each other by their dress.
The remoteness and the simple lifestyle of local people are a highlight of MEO VAC although conditions are very basic. We return to HA GIANG via YEN MINH, using a shortcut way.
O/N in HA GIANG.
Meo Vac – Ha Giang
An early morning start to drive through the rolling hills and the picturesque scenery to BA BE National Park. The roads are very bumpy and zigzagging however we will have a chance to meet the Hmong, Dao, Tay and Nung ethnic minorities who make for the main population of this region.
We are sure to attract their attention as this part of the country receive very few visitors. Depending on road and traffic conditions we arrive in BA BE by late afternoon or early evening, but it is till an interesting day.
O/N in CHO RA
Ba Be Lake
The legendary lake of BA BE is just one continuous water body although the name means” three lakes”. Today we embark on a boat cruising down the Nang River which is the main water source of the lake. This exciting river trip will give us a taste of the tranquil countryside and an enjoyable exploration of the BA BE NATIONAL PARK.
We traverse en route the Poong Grotto before stopping at some nearby hill tribe villages and getting off the beaten track to the scenic DAU DANG Waterfalls
O/N in CHO RA.
Ba Be Lake
Enjoy a full day drive from Ba Be lakes to HA NOI.