Ha Giang Adventure Tours

Northwest Loop

Duration: 6 days
Price: 790 usd/person  

highlights:
- Breathtaking scenery along the way
- Colourful hill-tribes
- Mountain's cool climate
- Great trekking amongst ethnic hill-tribe villages
- Homestay experience

Despite the rough roads the Northwest Loop tour has become a bit of a classic. This is on account of the overwhelming scenery and the popular hill resort town of Sapa, an old hill station (elevation 1600 meters) close to the Chinese border. The region is home to numerous colourful ethnic minority groups. The trip also includes a visit to the historic battlefield of Dien Bien Phu. Also on this northern loop tour, you have the chance to stay in a traditional long house on stilts, get closer to daily life of Thai ethnic minority people at Mai Chau, Hoa Binh and encounter a number of hill tribes, picturesque landscape & the wildlife of Tay Bac (North West). You will discover the undiscovered part of Vietnam.

Day 1 Ha Noi - Mai Chau
Morning drive from Hanoi to Mai Chau, a beautiful valley in Hoa Binh province. As soon as you get out of Hanoi , the limestone mountain ranges rush up and give the scenery an imposing view. Arrive in Mai Chau late noon, have lunch in Mai Chau and hike around the villages full of house-on-stilts and textile products of local people to learn about the routine life of Thai tribal people. Among the villages you will pass by during this trip, Mai Chau is the closest place where you can meet the hill tribal people, though, due to the ease to reach the nearest town of Hoa Binh , the village is gradually losing its primitive characters. Still, it is the most convenient 1st stop on the long route of the Northwest Loop . The village is inhabited by Thai people, who are believed to be homogenous with the Thai people in Thailand and Southern China . Amongst the 53 ethnic groups of Vietnam, they are considered one of the most civilized for the delicate dress, for beauty and elegance of women, and for nice, wide, spacious houses-on-stilts, and above all, for hospitality

Overnight: Thai village homestay
Meals included: none


ETHNIC MINORITIES OF VIETNAM
There is nothing better than walking amongst the rice paddy patchwork that makes up the mountains of northwest Vietnam . To awake and wander off from the village among the clouds and watch as the mist rises from the mountaintops is unforgettable. Vietnam is home to 54 ethnic minorities and a number of these have made the mountainous region of the north their base. During our time here we’ll meet many of these fascinating people and have the privilege of staying as guests in their villages. As we wander through the mountains we're constantly met by the delighted squeals and smiles of children and we'll see many members of the ethnic groups who still wear their traditional dress. We'll meet people dressed in exquisite hand-embroidered clothes,and others weaving fabrics, embroidering ancient patterns, dying cloth with indigo and using beeswax to create a batik design. The ethnic groups are well adapted to the harsh life on hillsides, and you will see many terraces built into the slopes where rice and vegetables are grown.


Day 2 Mai Chau - Son La – Dien Bien Phu
It’s a long day today since the mountain roads do not allow the car’s highest speed exceed 45km per hour. Upon leaving Mai Chau the roads begins to deteriorate, however many villages dot the hillsides and undulating terrain make for an interesting journey, you are crossing the most magnificent part of the Hoang Lien Son - the Tonkinese Alps, the home of most colourful-dressed Montagnards who still maintain lots of their long-term culture and traditions. We travel to Son La across the Moc Chau Plateau, where located hundreds of immense farms of dairy cattle and where produce the best tea of Vietnam , catch a glimpse of the many tea plantations and see the Black Thai hill tribe people. We keep driving on the winding roads, cross over the Pha Din Pass before heading to Dien Bien via Tuan Giao. The most picturesque scenery is that of Pha Din Pass , which is well-known as a istorical site during the French War in 1954, a high and dangerous pass at an elevation of 1300m, and a breathtaking view. We spend the night in Dien Bien city

Overnight: Muong Thanh hotel or similar
Meals included: breakfast


Day 3 Dien Bien – Lai Chau
In the morning we enjoy a walk around to see this fast growing town. Dien Bien is only 35km from the border with Laos . Being the last battlefield of the French during their war with the Vietnamese, which ended with the fall of the French colonial control in Indochina and the replacement of the US Army not so long, Dien Bien Phu now returned to be a green valley inhabited by dozens of the ethnic groups. Visiting the historical sites in Dien Bien will also make your trip more memorable. To name a few, they are Dien Bien Museum, A1 Hill, the shelter of the French general De Castries and the cemetery and memorial of the Vietnamese and French soldiers died during the fierce fight in 1954

The journey north continues on to Lai Chau Town . You should known that soon before 2010, the nice valley of Lai Chau will be underwater in a construction plan of the biggest hydropower station in Southeast Asia . Along the way we see very few other travellers, mostly rural dwellers who are just as interested in finding out about our lives as we are of theirs. The communication with the people from tribal groups living surrounding Lai Chau like Black Thai, White Thai, Muong and Dzao people will sweep away your tiredness of the long trip. After checking into hotel, you have the option of embarking 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 in close up.

Overnight: Lan Anh hotel or similar
Meals included: breakfast


Day 4 Lai Chau – Sin Ho - Phong Tho - Sapa
Today we head South to Sapa via Phong Tho, the old chief town of Lai Chau province before Dien Bien took over this role in 1993. First stop on the way is 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 Phong Tho. This timeless town is surrounded by stunning mountain backdrops and lush tea plantations. After lunch in Phong Tho we keep driving on another one of Northern Vietnam 's most spectacular roads on the way to Sapa. This bumpy road links to many hill towns and villages. At an elevation of 1,600 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

Overnight: Royal hotel or similar
Meals included: breakfast


Day 5 Sa Pa
In the morning we take a short trek to Catcat village, the village of H'mong tribe in the valley, which remains very generally uncorrupted outside forces. Excellent views of the valley, the magnificent limestone and paddy fields of H'mong village. Enjoy some visits to local families and reach their customs. After the village down into the valley, the Cat Cat waterfall will be visible. A "White curtain" cascade appears, surrounded by flowery valley and deep-green pines. The rocks near the river and waterfall provide a marvelous place for picturesque photos and sunbathing during good weather…

In the afternoon our vehicle will take us to TaPhin valley, around 15kms from Sapa. Here you will see the ruins of the old French Colonial Church by the left-hand side of this dirt road where we stop to get entrance fees to enter the village. Leave your jeep at the end of the dirt road then walk into the village to visit the rich culture and friendly tribes here, we visit the villages of the Red Dzao and Black Hmong minority people, enjoy the view of the valley and visit the caves in the village's outskirts. Our guide will assist you communicating with the locals while visiting around the village. Take a ride back to Sapa for around 30 minutes and you must stop some times on the way to take photos of the fabulous valley. Many "Kodak moments" are awaiting for you a long the way back to Sapa

Overnight: Royal hotel or similar
Meals included: breakfast


Day 6 Sapa - Ha Noi
We drive back to Hanoi (350km) via Lao Cai, taking a brief look at Ha Khau border gate, viewing wonderful landscape and scenery along the way, lunch en route, back to the hotel in Ha Noi for dinner and a toast to the completion of one of Vietnam's most spectacular loops

Meals included: breakfast
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Tour includes:
• Accommodation with daily breakfasts
• Extra meals as per the itinerary
• Private transfer round trip by 7 seater
• Tours and excursions as described in the program
• Entrance fees and permits where applicable during guided time

Tour excludes:
• Pre & post trip arrangements
• Transfers beyond the itinerary
• Local English speaking tour guide (30 usd/day)
• Entrance fees and permits during free time
• Travel insurance (compulsory)
• Food & drinks not mentioned within the itinerary
• Tips and gratuities
• Expenses of a personal nature such as bar bills, laundry and telephone charges
• Other services not clearly described in the program

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