Float along the lake, viewing magnificent waterfalls and wildlife in the Ba Be National Park. A traditional homestay is the perfect way to access remote parts of this region and to get a real glimpse of Vietnamese life.. Mrs Mai’s Responsible Tourism project in Dong Van is an eye-opening insight into the world of human trafficking. Learn about the amazing efforts made by an inspirational project to free their country of this crime.. Explore idyllic Yuangyang on a guided half-day walk, snapping photos of the spectacular rice terrace landscapes and learning a thing or two about their makers, the Hani people.. Discover the Ming and Qing marvels of Jianshui Ancient Town on a guided walk. Visit Zhu’s Family Garden, the Confucius temple and the amazingly preserved Tuanshan village
Discover the remote reaches of northwest Vietnam and southwest China on a 29-day adventure from Hanoi to Kunming. Leaving the graceful boulevards of Hanoi behind, travel to Sapa before traversing the bumpy mountain roads to Ha Giang and Dong Van, and cruising the waters of Ba Be Lake. Stay in a Hani village amid the colourful Yuanyang rice terraces, learn of Qing and Ming dynasties in Jianshui, hike one of Asia’s finest geological wonders – Tiger Leaping Gorge, break bread with a Bai family and mingle with Tibetan pilgrims in Ganden Sumtseling Monastery. This is the ultimate adventure through the mountains, farms and rice terraces of Asia’s highland havens.
Breakfast Included: 8 Lunches Included: 2 Dinner Included: 3
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Enjoy a free day in Hanoi to travel at your leisure. Keep in mind that there will be another group meeting at around 6 pm to welcome any new travellers on the next stage of your adventure.
Prepare for a long day of travelling today. After breakfast, set off for Lao Cai, near the border with China, on a private bus. Say goodbye to your Vietnamese leader and meet your Chinese leader at Hekou after border crossing. From there, take a taxi to the bus station and board your bus to Mengzi. Transfer to your hotel and settle in. Spend your free evening kicking back and relaxing – or perhaps head out for a taste of the famous Yunnan rice noodles which originated here.
As well as noodles, this town is known for its remnants French architecture - a rarity in today's China. Spot the simple, stately aesthetic of the European style buildings, with their soft yellow facades and tiled roofs which set them apart from the modern structures around them. Visit Bisezhai Station, the finest surviving station on the French-built Vietnam-Kunming railway. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you please. This is a town rarely visited by foreigners. The Nanhu Park area is great for a wander and meeting locals.