Vietnam Sapa Trekking head
Home Southeast Asia Tours Vietnam Tours 16 Days Northern Vietnam Hidden Hilltribes Tour

Tour Overview

This 16-day Vietnam hill tribes tour is a truly unique adventure, perfect for travelers seeking an intrepid and authentic experience. We will take you into the remote areas of northern Vietnam to meet the many ethnic groups. Enjoy spectacular rocky plateaus along off-the-beaten paths and breathtaking valleys. Trek to unspoiled villages to experience the colorful culture of ethnic minorities. Be prepared to embrace a rustic way of life, eating basic local foods and staying overnight in simple homestays. You will gain a distinctive insight into hill tribe life and special memories on this adventure.

Highlights of this tour:

  • Discover the hidden hill tribes and their unique cultural practices.
  • Immerse yourself in the endless terraces and take in the magnificent views of the surrounding valleys.
  • Explore the alpine town of Sapa on foot to experience the most primitive ethnic customs.
  • Capture the serene countryside on the exciting Ba Be River tour and trek through rainforests in Ba Be National Park.
  • Venture into the sintered caves of Ban Gioc Waterfall and explore the underground rivers and lakes.
  • Hop aboard a traditional junk boat for leisure voyages on shimmering seas along Halong Bay.

Day-by-day Itinerary

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  1. When you land at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, the local driver and the guide will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. Check in and enjoy the time at your leisure.

    In the evening, follow your guide to explore Hanoi's nightlife. Walk through the mixed crowd of locals and foreigners, head to a local store to taste local beer and do as the locals do.

    Meal: Dinner

    Accommodation: Hanoi

  2. Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum will be your first stop, then head to Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House. After that, your guide will lead you to the One Pillar Pagoda, to learn about the legendary stories behind it. End your morning visit to the Temple of Literature, a quintessentially Chinese building dedicated to Confucius.

    Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum
    Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum

    After lunch, drive to Dao Thuc Village - the birthplace of Vietnamese water puppets, where you will learn more about the cultural and historical background of the water puppet. Enjoy the picturesque rice fields, and rustic local houses, and visit the local villagers working on their farms as you explore... Take a walk along the charming river and breathe in the fresh air of nature.

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: Hanoi

  3. After breakfast, depart southwest through the fertile farmlands of the Red River Delta to reach Mai Chau, an ideal escape for nature lovers. Upon arrival at Hang Kia village, we will take a 1.5-hour trek with spectacular views of the rice fields along the way, culminating in Thung Mai Village.

    Vietnam Mai Chau Valley
    Mai Chau Valley

    Take a guided tour of a local home to learn about the way of life of the people here. Then continue your adventure to the best place to enjoy the sunset and photograph the beautiful scenery. Finally, return by motorcycle to your homestay for an overnight stay.

    Distance: 150 km

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

    Accommodation: Hanoi

  4. In the morning, you will be picked up by your driver in the hotel lobby and transferred to Moc Chau, an area with many beautiful hill tribe villages. On the way, we will stop frequently for you to take pictures of the amazing scenery and visit some of the ethnic villages.

    Lunch is served at a local traditional restaurant. Upon arrival in Moc Chau, take a leisurely bike tour of the Thai and H'Mong Villages, through the tea plantation hills, visiting dairy farms and several villages where hundreds of fruits and flowers are grown. After a short break there, board your bike again for a trip to Dai Yem Waterfall, a famous historical sight.

    Vietnam Dai Yem Waterfall
    Dai Yem Waterfall

    The Dai Yem Waterfall is most spectacular during the rainy season from April to September each year when a 70-meter wide waterfall magnificently plunges down the slope.

    After the visit, enjoy your dinner and stay overnight at Moc Chau.

    Distance: 100 km

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

    Accommodation: Moc Chau

  5. Today you will start your northwest adventure to Dien Bien Phu with more winding roads along the way, but you will be rewarded with vast corn or banana terraces and colorful souvenir stalls.

    Dien Bien Phu Museum
    Dien Bien Phu Museum

    Travel ahead to reach the 1,500-meter-high Pha Din Pass, where you'll enjoy views of the cloud-draped valley. Continue driving through roads lined with wildflowers to eventually reach Dien Bien Phu, a land rich in history.

    Upon arrival, proceed to your hotel for check-in with the help of your guide.

    Distance: 210 km

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

    Accommodation: Dien Bien Phu

  6. Dien Bien Phu, the famous historical battlefield where Vietnam successfully defeated France and marked the end of French colonial occupation.

    Take a guided tour to explore the ruins of former battlefields scattered throughout the city and learn how the French army was defeated. Later, visit General Vo Nguyen Giap's military headquarters in Muong Phang.

    In the afternoon, visit Dien Bien Phu's Cemetery and Victory Museum where you will see a variety of war photos, documents, and weapons. This is followed by a tour of the Central Market, then find a local restaurant that interests you for dinner.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

    Accommodation: Dien Bien Phu

  7. After breakfast, proceed to Sapa, a famous trekking destination in Vietnam, located on the edge of a plateau surrounded by dark blue peaks draped by clouds.

    Although the trail is rugged, the magnificent natural scenery along the way is a great reward for you. On the way to Sapa, drive to Tram Ton, the highest mountain pass in Vietnam, and enjoy the spectacular Fansipan Peak. Stop en route to visit Heaven's Gate and the Silver Waterfall.

    Silver Waterfall Sapa
    Silver Waterfall

    We will arrive in Sapa in the afternoon. Upon arrival, you will check into your hotel and have a short rest. Later, you will have a brief one-hour tour along the streets, including some must-see attractions such as Old Church and the local market.

    Distance: 290km

    Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

    Accommodation: Sapa

  8. Leave Sapa for Lao Cai City at around 10:00 a.m. After driving 3km, climb a hill to Sa Seng, a remote ethnic village where you will learn about the daily habits and unique culture of the H'mong.

    After lunch, hike up the side of Mount Den Thang to enjoy the magnificent view of the valley at Hang Da Village, 1800m above sea level. Then a 30-minute level hike is followed by a downward hike to Hong Den Hamlet, with only a few families scattered in a rocky area. Continue along the trail past Ta Van Bridge to the village of Zay minority where you will have dinner with the local hosts.

    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

    Accommodation: Sapa

  9. After breakfast at the homestay, we depart for Bac Ha, the largest ethnic market in the area. Every morning, people from various ethnic groups gather here in their fine costumes to sell a variety of goods including snacks, handicrafts, clothes, vegetables, etc.

    Sapa Bac Ha Market
    Sapa Bac Ha Market

    After visiting Hoang A Tuong Castle, take a 5-hour long journey to Ha Giang, a border province with one of the most rugged and magnificent landscapes in Vietnam. Upon arrival, check in at the local hotel.

    Distance: 310km

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: Ha Giang

  10. The sun rises slowly as you drive for a few hours along winding roads to Dong Van, the northernmost town in Vietnam. Experience an exciting adventure to the many Heaven Gates, where you will admire the vast limestone mountains and vertical stone walls.

    Vietnam Dong Van Plateau
    Dong Van Plateau

    Then you will visit an ancient villa located high in the middle of a tortoise-shaped valley surrounded by curved mountains - the Palace of Vuong, built of green stone, pine wood, peat, and terracotta clay. Continue your journey north to immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery and atmosphere of remote towns and ethnic villages.

    Distance: 140km

    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

    Accommodation: Dong Van

  11. Passing through a spectacular small valley along the edge of an abyss hundreds of meters deep, where we will enter a predominantly karstic village - Meo Vac. It is not only a charming land, but also an ideal destination for adventurers.

    Learn about their ancient, unique ethnic cultural traditions through an in-depth guided tour of their simple houses. After that, drive to Cao Bang for the night.

    Distance: 210km

    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

    Accommodation: Cao Bang

  12. Today, we will spend the day at Ban Gioc Waterfall to escape the hustle and bustle and immerse ourselves in the breathtaking scenery. After breakfast, drive 80 km to our destination, along the way we will stop to visit a village of the Nung minority.

    Vietnam Ban Gioc Waterfall
    Ban Gioc Waterfall

    Close to the Chinese border, a short walk will take you to one of the 4 largest transboundary waterfalls in the world, Ban Gioc Waterfall. In winter (dry season), you can approach the waterfall by boat. A local guide will take you to underground rivers and lakes, and sintered caves.

    Distance: 160km

    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

    Accommodation: Cao Bang

  13. Drive early in the morning through rolling hills and picturesque landscapes to Ba Be, where you will meet several of the region's major ethnic groups, the Hmong, Dao, Tay and Nung ethnic minorities.

    Ba Be Lake, one of the 20 largest natural freshwater lakes that need to be protected in the world, is the home of flora, fauna and ethnic minorities. You will capture the serene countryside on this exciting river tour and trek through rainforests and verdant terraces in Ba Be National Park. Cross Poong Grotto and stop at some hill tribe villages to capture the scenery before advancing to Dau Dang Waterfall, a 2-meter waterfall that blends in with the pristine forest landscape. Stay overnight in a waterside village.

    Distance: 140km

    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

    Accommodation: Ba Be

    Vietnam Ba Be Lake
    Ba Be Lake

  14. In the morning, visit Cho Ra Market, where you will find local vendors with straw hats selling a wide variety of fresh vegetables. Then take the ride back to Hanoi, stopping for lunch, sightseeing, and photo opportunities on your way. Upon arrival at the hotel, rest or enjoy a relaxing spa treatment.

    Distance: 240km

    Meal: Breakfast

    Accommodation: Hanoi

  15. After breakfast, your guide will pick you up at your hotel and then drive 2.5 hours to the pier to embark on a cruise to Halong Bay, which is a World Heritage Site with an incredible natural landscape.

    At noon, delicious fresh seafood will be served for your lunch. Cruising on Halong Bay, you will feast your eye on the endless emerald sea with oddly-shaped limestone peaks that are scattered with lush bushes and trees. Enjoy sun-lit voyages on shimmering seas to explore mysterious islets (Dinh Huong & Ga Choi) and one of Halong Bay's 3 largest caves (Sung Sot, Thien Cung, or Dau Go). Make a stop at an islet and enjoy a good time on its white-sand beaches and nearby.

    Halong Bay Sung Sot Cave
    Sung Sot Cave

    We will arrange for you to spend a wonderful evening on a junk boat.

    Note: This Halong Bay itinerary is just a sample, and the success of the activities depends on the weather. Besides, you can choose different classes of cruise ships with different comfort.

    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

    Accommodation: On Board

  16. Get up early to take photos of the amazing sunrise over the sea from the top deck and learn how to practice Tai Chi. After a cup of coffee or tea, explore the nearby islands in a rowboat. Then return to the junk boat for breakfast and enjoy the astonishing rock formations of Bai Tu Long Bay. Your Halong Bay cruise comes to an end after a bumper brunch.

    Halong Bay Sunrise View
    Sunrise over Halong Bay

    Your private driver has already waiting for you at the dock and then escorts you to Hanoi airport for the flight home.

    Meal: Brunch

    Accommodation: N/A

Price Includes

  • Private vehicles with good air conditions;
  • Excellent English-speaking guides & experienced drivers;
  • Hotels & meals mentioned in the itinerary;
  • Halong Bay Package;
  • Water Puppet Performance;
  • Entrance tickets to the scenic spots and boat trip as mentioned;
  • 1 bottle of mineral water for each person per day.

Price Excludes

  • Flights to Hanoi or off Ho Chi Minh City;
  • Meals not mentioned throughout the itinerary;
  • Any optional activities;
  • Any item not mentioned in the itinerary;
  • Travel insurance;
  • Personal expenses (such as phone cards, drinks);
  • All kinds of gratuities for guides, drivers & others.

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