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The Ultimate Tour of the Mountains of the North
(16 days)

Hanoi - Duong Lam - Nhgia Lo - Mu Can Chai – Sapa –Bac Ha - Ha Giang - Dong Van - Meo Vac - Bao Lac - Cao Bang - Ban Gioc Waterfalls – Babe Lake - Hanoi


This extraordinary tour takes you through all the most stunning regions of North Vietnam along side the Chinese border. It combines touristic sites such as Sapa and much less visited villages such as Dong Van and Bao Lac. We are the only tour operator to propose such a tour.

This tour should start a Wednesday, Sunday or Monday, to visit the Minority Market of Coc Ly (Tuesday morning), Can Cau (Saturday morning) or Bac Ha (Sunday morning). If you leave another day, the market is replaced by a beautiful excursion to the village of Coc Ly and the Quan Di Ngai.


 
Day 1 : HANOI – TAY PHUONG PAGODA - DUONG LAM (MONG PHU) – NGHIA LÔ

Departure in the morning to cross the northern part of the Red River Delta and arrive at the Tay Phuong Pagoda (Chua Tay Phuong), 3 parallel structures on top of a lime peak, the oldest dating from the XIIIth century. Magnificent polychrome wooden statues (XVIIth-XVIIIth) representing « The Human Conditions », and the statue of Quan Am, the thousand-arm Goddess. We then drive to the village of Muong Phu (district of Duong Lam), famous for its tri-centenary houses, some still inhabited by the same family.
 

 

We visit several of those houses and have lunch in one of them. We then take Road 32 and enter a scenery of higher and higher hills covered with tea plantations. Passage of the Khé Pass, and we arrive at the end of the day in the small Thai city of Nghia Lô, in the middle of a large rice-field plain surrounded by high mountains, the largest valley of North Vietnam after the Dien Bien Phu one. Diner and night in a beautiful Thai homestay.


 

 
Day 2: NGHIA LÔ – MU CANG CHAI

A first sumptuous day ! We enter the mountains to arrive to the h'mong village of Tu Lé, where we stop to visit the small Thai villages across the rice-field plain.

We then climb the Khau Pha Pass, surrounded by 2000-meter peaks and overlooking a large, stunning terraced rice-field plain, and arrive at the h'mong village of Nga Ba Khin.
 


7 km more of beautiful scenery and we reach the h'mong village of La Pa Tan, for which it is said that it has the most beautiful terraced rice-fields in Vietnam. We then go down to the valley of Mu Cang Chai and arrive in our Thai homestay, where we have lunch. After lunch, we visit the charming Thai village of Om Koum. Rest of the afternoon to relax, diner and night in the homestay.


 
Day 3: MU CANG CHAI – THAN UYEN - SAPA

We take Road 32 again, drive alongside the canyon of the Nam Kom Rive, and down to the small Thai town of Than Uyen. We then enter into the south of the enormous massif ending with the Fan Xi Pan summit, the highest one in Vietnam (3148 m). We climb two passes of hills covered with tea plantations, and then the Tram Lo Pass, 23 winding kilometers surrounded by high peaks, one of the most beautiful roads in Vietnam.

We arrive in the small town of Sapa (1400 m), the country's trekking center, where we check in a hotel offering a breathtaking view of the valley and the Fan Xi Pan Massif. Diner and night in Sapa.
   

 
 
Day 4: TREKKING : SAPA – MA TRA – TA PHIN (1 night chez l'habitant)

Departure around 9:00 to discover the region's rich Dao and h'mong culture. We walk up and down through terrace rice fields and small ethnic village, towards the Valley of Ma Tra.

We arrive at the dao homestay local house in the dao village of Ta Phin, on time for lunch. Relaxed stroll around the village after lunch. Diner and night at the dao homestay.
 



 
Day 5 : TREKKING : TA PHIN – XA XENG – GIANG TA CHAI – SAPA

After breakfast, departure for the village de Sa Seng. We climb a pass leading to the Valley of Muong Hoa and arrive at the village of Hau Thao, offering magnificent panoramic views of the valley, the most beautiful around Sapa. Picnic lunch in the rice fields, followed by more walking to discover the local life. Return to Sapa by car.

End of the afternoon free to visit the two markets of Sapa and do some shopping of h'mong and dao artifacts. Second diner and night in Sapa.
   


Day 6 : SAPA – MUONG KHUONG – SI MA CAI – CAN CAU - BAC HA

We leave early to make a breathtaking detour which no other tour operator proposes.

Departure from Sapa, descent of the Lao Cai Pass and we then take a beautiful road up to the h'mong village of Muong Khuong ; stroll in the small market, where you will see Flower hmong and lolo minority people.

From there, one of the most beautiful roads in Vietnam takes you up to the Chinese border, at the h'mong village of Pha Long and on top of a pass over the canyon of the Chay River. We cross the river and take a dirt road leading to the town of Si Ma Cai, where we have lunch. We then follow sweeping panaromas down to the Flower h'mong village of Can Cau and the regional capital of Bac Ha, where we have a delicious diner and spend the night in a beautiful Thai homestay.



Day 7 : MARKET ET ROUTE BAC HA – HA GIANG

  Another exceptional day, which starts with the visit of a Flower h'mong market, where you mingle with all the local minorities : Flower, Black and Red H'mong, Red Dao, Dao Tien Mien, Phu La, Thaï, etc. (Coc Ly on Tuesday, Can Cau on Saturday, Bac Ha on Sunday). One of the most colorful markets in Vietnam, which explains its celebrity. If there is no market, we take you to a beautiful easy trekking to the h’mong village of Ban Pho.

Lunch in Bac Ha and we then take the mountain road leading to the regional capital of Ha Giang, where we have diner and spend the night.
 
 


Day 8 : HA GIANG – DONG VAN

We take the first spectacular road, a succession of passes and valleys, to arrive at Quan Ba, « Paradise Gate », and its breathtaking view of the northern mountains. Lunch in the small mountain town of Tam Son. We then cross a landscape of pine forest and arrive at the cute King of the H'mong's Palace, a fortress built by a local chief allied with the French against the Vietminh, Vuong Chin Duc, and evacuated in 1950 (his descendants now live in France and Canada). Arrival in Dong Van around 18:00. Diner and night in Dong Van.



   
Day 9 : DONG VAN

An absolutely unforgettable day! It starts with the visit of the market of Dong Van, where the locals shop before returning to their eagle nest. We then climb a pass up to the French Fortress of Pu Lo, built in 1890 and evacuated in 1945, from which we enjoy a spectacular view of the entire region.

After lunch, we return to Sa Phin and take a small road offering breathtaking scenery, to the village of Lung Cu, the northernest point of Vietnam. We climb the stairs of the Belvedere to admire the entire region, including China. Return to Dong Van on another road as beautiful as the first one. Second diner and night in Dong Van.
 


 
Day 10 : DONG VAN - MA PI LENG PASS - MEO VAC – BAO LAC

This morning, we take the most astonishing road in Vietnam, which climbs on 15 km up to the top of the Ma Pi Leng Pass, through a gigantic maze of limestone peaks, "stone forests", and canyons unique in the world. We then go down into the valley of Meo Vac for lunch.
 


Day 11 : VISIT OF LOLO VILLAGES

A great day passed in the mountains north of Bao Lac, where we visit the villages of the lolo, a small minority which has carefully kept its tribal customs. Second diner and night in Bao Lac.



Day 12 : BAO LAC – CAO BANG

A very scenic road snaking from valley to valley, offering superb panoramas. In Thin Tuc, on top of a pass, you will see one the oldest tin mines in the world. You then descent to Cao Bang, nestled between mountains and the Ré Dao River. Visit of the War Memorial, from which we have a beautiful panorama of the city, or of the Central Market. Diner and night in Cao Bang.


 
Day 13 : CAO BANG - BAN GIOC WATERFALLS –
QUANG UYEN

One of the most scenic roads in Vietnam arrives at the magnificent arrives at the magnificent Ban Gioc Waterfalls, the closest you can come from the Chinese border: it passes through the middle of the falls and the river. Before arriving at the falls; we visit one of the most spectacular grottoes in Vietnam, the Nguom Ngao Grottoe, which counts several kilometers of galleries (access only to the first kilometer, superbly lit and including a huge over 100-m long cave).
 

Lunch in front of the waterfalls and return down to the Tay village of Quang Uyen, where we have diner and spend the night in a local stilted homestay house.



Day 14 : QUANG UYEN – BABE LAKE

We take another scenic road through the mountains, to arrive at the Thai village of Cho Ra. From there, descent down to the lake and Pac Ngoi, the White Thai village where you are welcomed by Mr. Duy Tho amazingly friendly Thai family in their traditional stilted house. If it's hot, do like the local kids, just jump in the river! Superb diner (Mrs Duy Tho is a true Cordon bleu) on the river terrace.



 
Day 15 : BABE LAKE AND NANG RIVER BY BOAT

A treat! Breakfast on the river terrace, then short drive to the house owner's boat, who takes you through the entire length of the 3 connected lakes (Ba Be - "3 bays") and up the Nang River, to an astonishing site: Dong Phuong, an enormous tunnel (300 m long by 30 m high) that the river has dug through a lime mountain. The boat then goes up river to the small village of Hua Tang. As simple and authentic as you have been dreaming of! Lunch in a local house cooked by "Pirate", an older woman famous in the entire region for her culinary skills.
 
 

After lunch, a short walk (20 mn) through the jungle takes you to the very scenic Thac Dau Dang Waterfalls, a series of spectacular cascades between sheer rock walls. You may continue the trail to arrive in a large river bend full of colorful local life, with a small "harbor" where the local unloads goods to then bypass the falls by motorbike and then reload them on boats to go through the lake. Return by boat for another delightful evening at your Tay house.


 
 
Day 16 : BABE LAKE - HANOI

Relax in Pac Ngoi and late morning departure on a beautiful mountain road going through the small towns of Bang Lung and Cho Chu. Lunch en route and we then join the main road Thai Nguyen-Hanoi, where we arrive around 16:00.
 


Rates per person in US dollars:

1 pers. 2 pers. 3 pers. 4 pers. 5 pers.
$3163 $1855 $1477 $1294 $1159







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