This adventure package of Northern Vietnam Itinerary 16 Days from the northwest to the northeast takes you to every corner of the mountains in North Vietnam. The adventure tour introduces you variety of terrains, amazing landscapes, spectacular rock plateau, beautiful rice paddy fields, stunning valley and authentic cultures of colorful minority tribes. Many places are still unspoiled and less visited. Spend the last days of your trip on a leisure cruise on the UNESCO World Heritage site: Halong Bay. Tour price starts from 1,300 USD per person.
Tripadvisor reviewed from previous group: Pls Check it out here > 3 week guided tour of Northern Vietnam
- Breathtaking scenery along the way
- Learn about the culture of ethnic groups in Vietnam
- Conquer three of four Vietnam’s most challenging passes and admiring spectacular scenery
- Discover the mystery of Sapa town with the famous hiking routes
- Homestay experience
- Relax on a leisure cruise on Halong Bay.
Start city: Hanoi (Vietnam)
End city: Hanoi (Vietnam)
Duration: 16 Days 15 Nights
Departure: Daily, upon your request.
Cities to visit: Hanoi – Mai Chau – Moc Chau – Dien Bien Phu – Lai Chau – Sapa – Bac Ha – Ha Giang – Cao Bang – Bac Can – Halong Bay
– Extendable with optional tours from Hanoi (Vietnam)
ITINERARY Off track Northern Vietnam Itinerary 16 Days
- Day 1: Hanoi Arrival
- Day 2: Hanoi City Tour
- Day 3: Hanoi – Mai Chau
- Day 4: Mai Chau – Moc Chau – Homestay
- Day 5: Moc Chau – Dien Bien Phu
- Day 6: Dien Bien Phu City Tour
- Day 7: Dien Bien Phu – Tram Ton Pass – Sapa
- Day 8: Sapa Trekking Tour
- Day 9: Sapa – Hilltribe Market – Ha Giang
- Day 10: Ha Giang – Dong Van
- Day 11: Dong Van – Cao Bang
- Day 12: Cao Bang – Ban Gioc Waterfall
- Day 13: Cao Bang – Ba Be Lake – Homestay
- Day 14: Ba Be – Hanoi
- Day 15: Hanoi – Halong Bay
- Day 16: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Departure
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival
Welcome to Hanoi! Upon arrival, you will be greeted by our guide and escorted to the hotel in the city center. Check in and time for leisure.
Tonight, your tour guide will take you out to explore Hanoi’s nightlife in the Old Quarter, the heart of Hanoi. The city comes alive in the evening. First, find yourself among hundreds of locals and expats sitting on plastic stools with a pint of Bia Hoi in hand, cheering and shouting “bottoms-up!” at Bia Hoi Junction, the corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen streets in the Hanoi Old Quarter. Do it as locals do and enjoy the new city with all your senses.
Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi.
- Read more: 20 Best Things To Do In Hanoi
Day 2: Hanoi City Tour
Your city tour starts at Ho Chi Minh Complex containing the mausoleum of the nation’s founder Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace and the Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts. Close to this complex is the One Pillar Pagoda, whose origins date back to the foundation of city. Follow it with a visit to the Temple of Literature, which is well known as the first university of Vietnam.
This afternoon, join us on a half day tour to Hanoi vicinity which is carefully designed to create an enjoyable way to view daily life and familiarize yourself with the culture of the Vietnamese people who populate the region.
Take just a short drive away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi’s city center to the less visited Dao Thuc village, whose origins date back to the foundation of the art of water puppetry. This village still remains a very traditional village on the Red River Delta. During your exploration, you will have a chance to admire not only the charming rice fields, local houses, gardens, and friendly locals working in their farms… a beautiful village with poetic scenery, charming rivers… but also a water puppet show performed right where this art form originated!
Transfer back to Hanoi, where you will spend the rest of day at your leisure.
Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi.
- Check out: Street food tour
Day 3: Hanoi – Mai Chau
Saying goodbye to the bustling capital, you will be picked up at the hotel to journey South West through the rich farmland of the Red River Delta to Mai Chau, the beautiful gateway to the mountainous area of Northern Vietnam. The scenic drive offers an excellent opportunity to observe rural Vietnam up-close. The valley of Mai Chau is inhabited by a community of the Thai minority group while the upper lands of Mai Chau are inhabited by the H’mong minority group.
On arrival at Hang Kia village, challenge the dirt path used by the locals to the untouched Hmong community. After spending 1.5 hours hiking, you will reach Thung Mai village. On the way, you can find the opportunity to take many awesome photos of the breathtaking view as you trek up the hill. Since the area is much less visited, the local people look quite reserved and curious. They wait for your move so go ahead to master the ceremony! Pay a visit to a home to learn more about the way people live here then interact with kids at the local school before going further up to the point where you can enjoy the beautiful sunset. Transfer back to the homestay by a taxi motorbike.
This evening, enjoy the dinner with the host and stay overnight in the homestay.
Distance: 150 km or 95 miles.
- Road trip from Hanoi: Hanoi to Mai Chau Puluong transfer
Day 4: Mai Chau – Moc Chau – Homestay
Have breakfast at the homestay before embark on a beautiful drive north to Moc Chau. This good stretch of road is filled with stunning scenery; you will make frequent photo stops and visit to the minority villages.
Lunch is served at a local restaurant en-route. Upon arrival in Moc Chau, you will start the cycling tour to visit Thai and H’Mong Villages. From Chieng Di Hamlet, ride a bike through Moc Chau tea plantation hills as well as take visit to Moc Chau dairy farm and several hamlets with hundreds of fruits and flowers species on the way. Take rest for half an hour and jumped on the bikes again to discover the “Dai Yem” waterfalls. Dinner and stay overnight in Moc Chau.
Distance: 100 km or 63 miles.
Day 5: Moc Chau – Dien Bien Phu
Today you will travel Northwest on more winding & stunning roads, longer passes and see more colorful minority groups. Just as previous days, you may want to stop more often for pictures and visits the villagers to learn more about their rich culture.
The path from Moc Chau to Dien Bien Phu with typical stunning sceneries of Northwest Vietnam will surely leave you unforgettable experience. On the way, you will pass the expansive terraced fields of corn, bean or banana along with colorful souvenir booths of the locals along the road sides. Continue your way through the impressive Pha Din Pass at the height of 1,500m, admiring a fantastic panorama of the charming valley encompassed by the cloud all year round, and passing roads of colorful wild flowers, you finally reach Dien Bien – the land of rich history in the late afternoon. Upon arrival, check in your hotel and relax.
Distance: 210 km or 130 miles.
Accommodation: Hotel in Dien Bien.
Day 6: Dien Bien Phu City Tour
Nestled in a heart shaped basin near the border with Laos, lies Dien Bien Phu, the famous historical battleground, where the Vietnamese successfully defeated the French, marking the end of French colonial occupation.
Begin your day with breakfast at your hotel before exploring former battlefield sites scattered around the city with your guide. Discover where the French forces — after nearly 100 years of colonial rule and nine years of war — were defeated by forces under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh. Next, travel to the countryside of Muong Phang, an approximately 11-mile (17-km) drive from town. Visit the military headquarters of General Vo Nguyen Giap, used during the Dien Bien Phu campaign during the First Indochina War. At the re-created command center, learn about the network of tunnels and bunkers the troops used to advance toward victory.
Have lunch on your own account and back to your hotel for a short relax.
In the afternoon, take a walking tour around town. View wartime gravesites at Dien Bien Phu’s cemetery, located on the banks of the Ron River, and hear your guide discuss the 1954 defeat of the French by the Viet Minh. Then explore the Dien Bien Phu Victory Museum (aka Vietnam Military History Museum), which features an eclectic collection of photographs, war documents, weaponry and other items commemorating the 20th-century battle. Following a visit to a central market to browse among the vendors and conclude the day by enjoying dinner in a local restaurant.
Accommodation: Hotel in Dien Bien.
Day 7: Dien Bien Phu – Tram Ton Pass – Sapa
This morning, leave Phong Tho for Sapa. The road is a bit bumpy at times, but the rough route is quickly compensated by the magnificent scenery: yawning valleys, winding rivers, and canonical mountains – a photographer’s dream. The drive to Sapa takes you up Tram Ton – the highest pass in Vietnam – and views of the Fansipan Peak, known as “the roof of Indochina”. Stop en route to visit Heaven’s Gate and the Silver Waterfall. You arrive in Sapa in the afternoon. Nestled in a sweeping valley near the Chinese border, Sapa is Northwest Vietnam’s premier travel destination. Built in 1922 as a French colonial hill station, this quaint town is now a trekker’s paradise, offering hiking routes through terraced rice fields and enchanting hill tribe villages. Upon arrival, you will check-in the hotel and take a break. Then you’ll walk down streets for the orientation guided tour that endures one hour and the tour includes all the key sites such as the Old Church, local market and the dining & shopping streets.
Distance: 290 km or 180 miles.
Accommodation: Hotel in Sapa.
Day 8: Sapa Trekking Tour
Surrounded by plunging valleys, terraced paddy fields and towering mountains, Sapa is home to a lively central market where hill tribe people from outlying villages, resplendent in their traditional headdresses, gather to buy and sell their wares, meet with friends and catch up on the latest gossip.
Enjoy breakfast in the hotel while breathing fresh mountain air.
At 10:00 A.M, leave Sapa by car toward Lao Cai City, after a 3 km drive you will ascend a hill to a remote ethnic minority village of Sa Seng, where you will be able to see how the Black H’mong’s daily life is. This community has recently shifted from a migratory lifestyle. Notice the traces of past villages with stone wall foundations that would have been seasonally used. Enjoy lunch in Sa Seng before trekking uphill along the side of Den Thang Mt. Take in the breath taking view of the Muong Hoa Valley at Hang Da Village at the elevantion of 1,800m. The next 30 minutes are level walking before descending through Hau Chu Ngai village. Continue descending into Hong Den Hamlet, consisting of only a few homes scattered on a rocky point. Take a moment to enjoy some of the best scenery in the area. Keep trekking down the trail to Ta Van Bridge, where you will walk along the stream leisurely to your homestay in the village of Zay ethnic. Enjoy dinner with a local family in their long house.
Accommodation: Homestay in Ta Van.
Day 9: Sapa – Hilltribe Market – Ha Giang
Have early breakfast at the homestay. Farewell Sapa then drive to Bac Ha. Opened every Sunday at the center of Bac Ha Township, this is the biggest ethnic market in Lao Cai Province and probably among some most interesting ones in the northern mountains. Some thousands of people from ethnic groups including Black Zao, Tay, Phu La and Flower H’mong wear their best traditional clothes to attend the market and turn it into a kind of festival. Commodity sold at the market is varied from embroidered clothes, handicraft, farming produces, food… to poultry and cattle such as vegetable, spices, chili, chicken, cat, piggy, doggy… At the market place, after finishing their shopping, people gathered into groups at footstalls or restaurants enjoying “Thang Co” a kind of H’mong traditional specialty, drinking corn wine and talking cheerfully. Visit Hoang A Tuong Castle (another name – H’Mong King Palace) then take a long journey of 5 hours to Ha Giang, which is located at the highest latitude in Vietnam. Have your camera at the ready, because the road features a unique and beautiful landscape.
Distance: 310 km.
Accommodation: Hotel in Ha Giang.
- Read more: Bac Ha Market Guide on Sunday
Day 10: Ha Giang – Dong Van
Rise and shine for a few hours’ drive over an endless winding road to the most northern town of Vietnam, Dong Van. You’ll travel through many of the Heaven Gates such as Quan Ba, Yen Binh, and Dong Van. They are so called because one gets the feeling of touching the sky, the heaven gates. This is the best time and place to enjoy the wonderful sightseeing of the vast limestone mountain range and perpendicular rock walls which give a feeling of adventure while being lost in a magic land where we are surrounded by many rocks of all shapes and sizes. Then continue your trip to visit the infamous Palace of Vuong, a H’mong high-rank family during French colonial rule. This palace attracts keen interest from architecturally minded visitors due to its mixed style of European and Chinese architecture. The more you go north, the further “normal” Vietnam seems to vanish and most people you’ll see wear their traditional, extremely colorful clothes. But you won’t be the only one who is amazed, so are Ha Giang’s inhabitants who seldom see a foreigner.
Distance: 140 km or 90 miles.
Accommodation: Hotel in Dong Van.
- Read more: Hanoi to Ha Giang Things to Do
Day 11: Dong Van – Cao Bang
The trip from Dong Van to Meo Vac is one you’ll never forget: along a steep, hundreds of meters deep abyss the road will take you through a spectacular mountain area with on your left side China. Meo Vac is conquered by the Lo Lo and Pu Peo ethnic minority people. They still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognizably 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. Miles and miles before you’ll reach Cao Bang.
Distance: 210 km or 130 miles.
Accommodation: Hotel Cao Bang.
- Road trip Hanoi to Ha Giang: Ha Giang Loop Tour Perfect 5-day itinerary
Day 12: Cao Bang – Ban Gioc Waterfall
An eighty kilometers long road will take you to the Ban Gioc Waterfalls. Half way you’ll visit a village of the Nung minority. Close to the Chinese border you’ll make a short walk to the falls which are 300 meters wide and 50 meters high. In winter, the dry season, it’s possible to take a boat to the falls. On a short distance from the falls are the Nguom Ngao caves. The local guides will take you for a trip to underground rivers and lakes and sinter caves. Late in the afternoon you’ll return to Cao Bang.
Distance: 160 km.
Accommodation: Hotel Cao Bang.
- Read more: Things to do in Cao Bang Bang Gioc falls
Day 13: Cao Bang – Ba Be Lake – Homestay
An early morning start to drive through the rolling hills and the picturesque scenery to Ba Be. You will have a chance to meet the Hmong, Dao, Tay and Nung ethnic minorities who make for the main population of this region.
The legendary lake of Ba Be is just one continuous water body although the name means three lakes. Today embark on a boat cruising down the Nang River which is the main water source of the lake. This exciting river trip will give you a taste of the tranquil countryside and an enjoyable exploration of the Ba Be National Park. Traverse the Poong Grotto en route before stopping at some nearby hill tribe villages and getting off the beaten track to the scenic Dau Dang Waterfalls. In one of the desolated villages near the water you’ll spend the night in a traditional Tay house.
Distance: 140 km or 90 miles.
Accommodation: Homestay in Ba Be.
- Read more: Things to do in Ba Be Lake
- Road trip Hanoi to Ban Gioc falls: Hanoi to Ban Gioc Waterfall Car Hire
Day 14: Ba Be – Hanoi
After breakfast, visit Cho Ra market. Then head back to Hanoi, stopping for sightseeing and taking photographs and having lunch en-route. Rest of the day, relax at your hotel or enjoy spa treament to recover your energy.
Distance: 240 km or 150 miles.
Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi.
Day 15: Hanoi – Halong Bay
Note: The below itinerary is subject to change without prior notice, depends on specific cruise and weather condition.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, then set out on a 2.5 hour drive to the UNESCO World Heritage site: Halong Bay. Spend nearly 24 hours on a traditional junk cruise in the amazing bay: a natural wonderland composed of jutting limestone islands and sparkling turquoise waters. Arrive at the dock around noon and board your junk. Savor a gourmet lunch of fresh seafood onboard as we sail out into the mystical bay. In the afternoon, cruise around some of Halong’s many islands, including Dinh Huong and Ga Choi. Along the way visit one of the bay’s 3 largest caves (Thien Cung, Dau Go or Sung Sot). Stop at an island cove with a sheltered white-sand beach and take a dip in the warm waters of the Tonkin Gulf (weather permits). Pass the night on your junk, lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of calm waters.
Distance: 130 km or 80 miles.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Accommodation: on cruise.
Day 16: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Departure
Awake early and participate in Tai Chi on the top deck or simply relax and enjoy the sunrise over the bay’s towering islands. Enjoy a morning cup of coffee or tea, before setting out to explore nearby islands by rowboat. Return to the junk for breakfast then take advantage of the sundeck and admire the amazing rock formations of Bai Tu Long Bay as you navigate back to Halong City. Have brunch on board the boat before returning to Halong pier. Your driver will meet you at the dock and take you to Noi Bai Airport of Hanoi for your departure flight.
Goodbye & Safe travels!
- 3 star accommodations with daily breakfast
- Services of a private driver and air-conditioned vehicle
- Halong Bay cruise (2 days/ 1 night package)
- Entrance fees, performances, boat trips & excursions.
- International flights into and out Vietnam
- Meals other than those mentioned in the itinerary
- Early check-in and late check-out at hotel
- Personal expenses (such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.)
- Tips for tour guides and drivers
- Travel insurance
- Vietnam Visa fee.
PRICE: Off track Northern Vietnam Itinerary 16 Days
Prices are quoted in US Dollars per person, double occupancy.
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