Highlight: Hanoi - Lao Cai - Bac Ha - Hiking - Quan Hoa – Lu Suoi Tung Village – Ta Cu Ty Village – Sung Ngam Village – Nam Dan commune – Nam Nhung Village – Nam Choong Village – Quang Nguyen – Cao Son – Trung Son – Tan Minh – Ho Thau – Ho Xan – Nam Son – Panhouse - codeT7DN
Hiking and Trekking in Vietnam
Despite the huge variety of facilities and methods of transport available to the modern day traveller, in the end, there is nothing to beat the oldest travel method of all - walking!
Whether that means strolling around the old Quarter in Hanoi or reaching some hill tribe village after trekking through dense rainforest and crossing mountain paths, there is a great satisfaction to having done it under your own steam. And there are some places that can only be reached on foot.
Vietnam offers innumerable opportunities for hiking and trekking, whether it be in the highlands of the north, the fertile plateau of the Central Highlands, or the flat wetlands of the Mekong Delta in the south.
The highlands of north-west Vietnam are real hiking territory. You can get out among the hill tribe villages and meet the various ethnic minorities. The Mai Chau valley is one good starting point. From here you can trek to H'mong minority villages such as Sa Linh, then on through tropical rain forest, using the local tracks to reach the Thai area where you can spend the night in a typical Thai stilt house. Next, you can walk on towards Mai Chau town which is surrounded by picturesque Thai villages.
The more energetic, may choose to tackle Phan Xi Pang or Mount Fansipan, Vietnam's highest mountain, dubbed "the Roof of Indochina". The trek begins in the town of Sapa from where you walk among the hill villages, home to the H'mong people. The mountain here is covered in forest and most treks climb to 1,650 metres before pitching tents and enjoying a meal around the camp fire.
The next day is the most strenuous as you continue to the summit. A lunch break at 2,220m allows you the chance to look back at the breathtaking views of the Sapa valley before climbing to 2,900m and another overnight stop. The third day takes you through bamboo forest to the Pahan Si Pan Summit at 3,143m. It is a strenuous climb, but worth the effort to find yourself standing on the roof of IndoChina.
In the Central Highlands, the Ba Na region around Kon Tum offers ideal hiking. You can pass through cassava and sugar plantations and have dinner in a communal village house, known as a Rong. You can the nearby Lak Lake and perhaps give your legs a rest by taking a short elephant ride then spend the night in a traditional longhouse.
The Mekong Delta, too is full of minority villages and waterways, but the land here is much more flat, allowing for more sedate hiking. You can visit the many floating markets, ethnic villages, farm lands etc.
Around Ho Chi Minh City are many reminders of the Vietnam War, most of which can be reached by foot for those interested in this period of history. One memorable site is the 75-mile long complex of tunnels at Củ Chi which has been preserved and turned into a war memorial park.
The most popular trekking, hiking package tours in Vietnam are jungle trekking, mountain hiking, countryside hitch-hiking, walking, rambling adventures; The most wanted destinations for trekking, hiking are located in the North Vietnam such as Sapa, Mai Chau, Hoa Binh, Lai Chau, Cao Bang, Lang Son, Ha Giang. The central highland including Dalat, Kon Tum, Pleiku, Dak Lak can also be good places for short trekking, hiking tour.
Althrough the non-stop growth of our business, our mission remains unchanged - to customize high quality jungle trekking, mountain hiking, countryside hitch-hiking, walking, rambling tours at low cost for those who like discovering the real and authentic Vietnam.
Here we have only given a few suggestions for hiking and trekking in Vietnam. The possibilities are limitless.
The northern highlands.
On a chilly winter day in December, we were climbing all morning, up and over rocky slopes in Dong Van Highlands that seemed to stretch for an eternity. When we finally made it to the top, we were rewarded with a literally breath-taking view of the valleys below.
Dong Van highland lies over 100km north-east of Ha Giang Town in Ha Giang Province, in northern Vietnam, which is more than 300 kilometres from Hanoi. It has an average height of 1,000 – 1,600m above sea level and is home to many ethnic groups such as the Tay, Nung, Mong and Hoa.
The highlands cover four districts; Dong Van, Meo Vac, Yen Minh and Quan Ba. Not only are they they the highest land in Ha Giang, Dong Van Highland is also the most popular site-seeing place in this mountainous province. Well-known for the stunning natural scenery and rich culture, the highland is also one of the most difficult destinations to reach in Vietnam due to its geographical location. This adds only more inspiration for adventure-lovers to visit. Thousands of visitors are attracted to this highland year-round.
There are six “heritage” sites that should be seen here. One of these is Vuong’s House in Sa Phin Commune, Dong Van District; a national heritage featuring unique architecture. The remaining five sites are Lung Cu Flag Tower, Dong Van Ancient Street (in Dong Van District), Ma Pi Leng Historical Relic, Khau Vai Love Market (in Meo Vac District) and Nui Doi (in Quan Ba District).
Dong Van highland is also known as the Sa Pa of Ha Giang because of its cool climate. Indeed, it has to be one of the few places in Vietnam where you can walk during midday in the middle of the summer sunshine comfortably! However, we came here to experience the winter which is freezing to the bone. I thought of the terrible winter three years ago when thousands of cows and buffalos in this region were reported to have died because of the cold snap. A local guide told us that this winter was much more pleasant. He also advised us to return here in the spring or summer to see a different Ha Giang. “Spring is really a joy, with all the tri-coloured peach blossoms,” he described, “And in summer, the highlands are full of different colours of green cabbage and golden terraced rice fields nestling under the mountains."
More or less, we can also imagine that scene. It is untainted by modern life.
Along with the natural sites, local people also play a big part in the popularity of this area among tourists. We were lucky to get the chance to see a Sunday market in Dong Van. The markets are the perfect place to people-watch.
Carrying heavy vegetable baskets on their backs, young girls and old women in their best and brightest dresses flock to the market to sell their goods and socialize. They contrast sharply with the men who only wear black or dark-coloured clothes.
To get to the market on time, many sellers have to start their journey at midnight. However, there were no sign of tiredness on the cheerful faces. We could only see the long dresses soaked through with dew.
“I rarely miss any market gathering because it is a chance for me to meet my friends,” a young Mong girl told us.
The girl went with her father who sold wine made from corn. She said he liked eating Thang co (a kind of soup cooked from horse meat). Life looks easy for Mong men at the stalls, who are most often seen getting drunk and lying on road sides while their wives take care of them until they can walk home.
Leaving the market, we drove to Lung Cu Flag Tower, the northernmost point in Vietnam. On the only road winding through the mountains to the tower, we were able to admire the scenery and touch the clouds. There are 286 steps to the foot of the tower and then another climb the top. It’s a long hike but worth the pain in your calves to see the view.
To preserve the natural beauty and develop tourism in this region, the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism has held an international conference on building Dong Van Highland into a global geological park. So, just like our journey, it’s onwards and upwards for Ha Giang Province.
* GTT Vietnam Hiking & Trekking Tour Package * Every tour below is open to be customized for your personal needs.
Traditional tribal market & Explore Miraculous Land - codeT7DN
Itinerary in brief
Day 1: Hanoi - Lao Cai
The first night, guide and car pick you up from your hotel in Hanoi , transfer to Hanoi Station for LC5 Train, soft sleeper, AC. Overnight on train
Day 2: Lao Cai – Regional Market of ethnic minority – Bac Ha (B;L;-)
- Arrive at Lao Cai station early in the morning. Welcomed by tour guide, freshen up and breakfast.
- Transfer by road to one of the famous regional markets: Coc Ly or Ban Cam on Tuesday; Cao Son on Wednesday; Lung Khau Nhin on Thursday; Can Cau on Saturday; Bac Ha on Sunday.
- Spend about 3 hours joining local ethnic peoples at the market place where tribal peoples in their best traditional costumes come not only for shopping but also for socializing.
- Transfer to Bac Ha Town Let, check in the Sao Mai hotel for a short rest.
- The rest of the afternoon is set for a leisure walk around the stunning Ban Pho Valley.
* Depending on different market, transfer may takes from 2,5 hours to 4 hours. 1,5 hour easy walk.
* Accommodation: Sao Mai hotel (standard)
Day 3: Bac Ha – Quan Hoa – Lu Suoi Tung Village – Ta Cu Ty Village(B;L;D)
- Transfer for ½ hour from Bac Ha Town to Lung Phin Commune with several photo stops along the way.
- Trekking for 2,5 along a narrow trail on steep hillsides through Quan Hoa hamlet to Lu Suoi Tung village of the Flower H’mong.
- Lunch break
- Trekking uphill for 1,5 hour through the forest to the top of Ta Cu Ty Mountain range(hard trek) and then downhill for 2 hours to Ta Cu Ty village of the Zao and Tay ethnic peoples.
* 30 minutes transfer. 6 hours trekking(1/3 hard trek and 2/3 medium trek).
* Paying visit to homes of the Flower H’mong, Zao and Tay ethnic peoples.
* Accommodation: Home stay in stilt house of the Tay peoples.
Day 4: Ta Cu Ty – Sung Ngam Village – Nam Dan commune (B;L;D)
- Leaving Ta Cu Ty for a medium trek the whole morning along a large path with great view of the Ban Gia valley to Sung Ngam village of the Nung ethnic peoples.
- Lunch break
- Following a narrow footpath with challenging for about 3 hours(hard trek) up and downhill the Nam Dan mountain through the thick forest.
- Suddenly the panorama view of the Nam Chien valley open wide in the sight as the trail process downhill to Nam Dan village of the Nung ethnic peoples. Paying visiting to the famous rock-field with scripts carved by ancient peoples.
* 7 hours trekking(1/2 hard trek and 1/2 medium trek).
* Paying visit to homes of the Zao and Nung ethnic peoples.
* Accommodation: Three options for choices:
1 - Home stay in stilt house of the Nung peoples.
2 - Gia Long hotel in Xin Man Town let.
3 – At an eco site set amongst thick forest near the top of Gio mountain pass.
Day 5: Nam Dan – Nam Nhung Village – Nam Choong Village (B;L;D)
- Transfer along a paved road over the Gio mountain pass to the southern side of the mountain.
- 3 hours easy trekking through Nam Nhung village of the Tay and Zao peoples along the narrow valley of the Nam Ty River.
- Lunch break
- Cross the river by suspension bridge to the southern bank, uphill to Quang Thuong Village and then downhill to Nam Choong village of the Zao peoples which is beautifully set on the bank of Nam Ty river, endowed with a mineral hot spring.
* 6 hours trekking(1/2 easy trek and 1/2 medium trek).
* Paying visit to homes of the Tay and Zao ethnic peoples.
* Accommodation: Stay overnight in a house on stilt built near the mineral hot spring.
* Tip of the day: bathing in the warm mineral water.
Day 6: Nam Choong Village – Quang Nguyen – Cao Son – Trung Son – Tan Minh (B;L;D)
- Today is the most interesting day of the whole trip for the superb natural scenery which changes after every quarter trekking but is also the greatest challenge so far.
- Trekking for almost the whole day uphill the Chieu Lung Thi mountain range from Nam Ly valley to Cao Son Village of the H’mong and Zao, continuing through the thick forest to Trung Son Village of the Nung peoples and then to Tan Minh village of the Zao peoples.
- Picnic lunch along the way
* 6 to 7 hours trekking(3/4 hard trek up and down hill and 1/4 medium trek).
* Paying visit to homes of the H’mong, Zao and Nung ethnic peoples.
* Accommodation: Home stay at Tan Minh Village in the home of the Red Zao peoples.
Day 7: Tan Minh – Ho Thau – Ho Xan – Nam Son – Panhouse (B,L;D)
- It is an easy day today. The trail gets mostly downhill which offer marvelous view of the Ho Thau Valley.
- 3 hours trekking from Tan Minh Village to the center of Ho Thau commune and then continuing to Ho Xan, Xin Chai village of the Zao and Nung peoples.
- Picnic lunch break by the Nam Dich River.
- Crossing the river, take a leisure walk along the southern bank of the river and then along a stunning valley through the Doan Ket village of Nam Son Commune for nearly 3 hour.
- Picked up and then transfer to Thong Nguyen commune (Panhouse eco site)
* 5 to 6 hours trekking(3/4 easy trek up and down hill and 1/4 medium trek). Transfer from ½ to 1 hour.
* Paying visit to homes of the Zao, Nung and Tay ethnic peoples.
* Accommodation: At the Panhouse eco site or Nam An eco-site.
Day 8: Panhouse – Ha Noi (B;L;-)
- Full day transfer for 280 km along national road 2 to Ha Noi with photo stops along the way.
Note on client safety
- We reserve the right to deviate from this itinerary for any reasons, including road and weather conditions, frequency of visits to a village, or for any other factor which may influence client safety.
- The price above is included US$.10 from each clients to be donated to the project for practicing sustainable tourism in Ha Giang Province and Green Trail Tours will represent all our clients in right usage of these donation.
This is a sample itinerary so the cost really depends on your hotel choice, number of people in your group and time of travel. Please contact us to customize this itinerary and price to meet your needs and budget.
We act responsibility by contributing to local communities, ensuring we work with reliable suppliers and paying our staff and guides a fair wage, so that you, the traveler, can sit back and enjoy your holiday in the knowledge that you have booked through a well established, professional, reputable and responsible tour operator. For more information about us please click here.
• English or French speaking guide
• Porters (to carry food and luggage)
• Train ticket ( soft sleeper cabin for 4 passengers)
• Cook (from group sizes of 6 pax)
• All needed transport
• All indicated meals, plus snacks (B as breakfast; L as lunch; D as dinner)
• Water on the whole trip
• Sleeping bag and mattresses
• Waterproof bluebag for luggage
• Mosquito net
• All entrance fees and permit
• Overnight in local house or tent
• Personal Pocket Money
• Soft drink (beer, coca cola…)
• All other services not indicated above
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Optimize itinerary according to your needs
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Bellows are all up to you.
1. private service.
2. personalized travel schedule.
3. Tailor-made destinations & itinerary.
4. Visit some places in a certain city per your request.
5. Experience something special.
6. When and where to start your trave.
7. When and where to end your travel.
8. The length of your tour.
9. Accommodations in which you wish to stay.
10. Transport you like.
11. Ramble by yourself or have a local tour guide.
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1. GTT's careful and full-of-surprise service.
2. International flights booking.
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Green Trail Tours - Traveller Tips for Vietnam
GEOGRAPHY: Vietnam stretches over 1600 km.along the eastern coast of the Indochina Peninsula. The S-shaped country is broad in the north and south and very narrow in the centre. Almost 80% of Vietnam consists of mountains and hills. The TruongSonMountains extend almost the length of Vietnam along the borders with Laos and Cambodia.
VISAS: All visitors are required to have a valid visa to enter Vietnam. A one-month tourist visa is usually sufficient for most visitors though it is possible to arrange 3-month and 6-month multiple entry visas for regular visitors. All visitors must obtain visa approval from the Vietnamese Immigration Department before a visa is issued.
MONEY: The currency issued by the Vietnam State Bank is the dong (abbreviated "d" or VND) which is used informally throughout the country. Bank notes in denominations of 200d to 100,000d are presently in circulation. The exchange rate is approximately 18,000d = US$1. Australia Dollars are accepted in many hotels, restaurants. Banks are open Monday to Friday and some are open Saturday morning. Traveller's cheques can be exchanged at banks, some international hotel and some exchange bureaux but can be difficult to change outside of the major cities. Visa Card and MasterCard are now accepted in many hotels, restaurants and shops.
ELECTRICITY: Electric current in Vietnam is 220 volts and will operate all Australian appliances. Always carry a torch with fresh batteries. Recharge photographic batteries regularly.
CLOTHING: Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for travelling in Vietnam. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat is a good idea in the rainy season. During the winter months warm clothing is needed for visiting the north of Vietnam. Visitors to Buddhist countries should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting religious buildings and shoes should be removed before entering a private home
CLIMATE / WEATHER: Vietnam’s weather conditions are pleasant for visitors throughout the year. The WINTER monsoon comes from the northeast between October and March with wet chilly conditions in the north, but dry warm temperatures to the south. From April to October the southwest monsoons bring warm, humid weather to the whole country.
LANGUAGE: Because Vietnamese has six different tones, it is a difficult language for most foreigners to speak despite the fact that the Roman alphabet is used in modern Vietnamese. The same word can have six different meanings depending on the tone used to pronounce it. In the cities and larger towns English is becoming popular and is now spoken by many younger people while some of the older generation still speak fluent French. Russian and Chinese are also spoken by some people
ACCOMMODATION: All group tour hotels have been especially selected. All have private western bathroom facilities. Laundry service can launder clothing within 24 hours. It is not customary for all hotels to have refrigerator and tea/coffee facilities.
FOOD / DRINK: The cuisine of Vietnam comes as a pleasant surprise to many visitors and is definitely a part of the Vietnam experience not to be missed. One of the characteristics of Vietnamese food is that it is always fresh being bought the same morning straight from the market. Food is usually prepared with a minimum of oil and served with the ubiquitous fish sauce called nuoc mam. Typical Vietnamese dishes you can expect to try include pho, a type of rice noodle soup eaten for breakfast, cha gio, deep-fried spring rolls and goi ngo sen, a delicious salad made with lotus stems, shrimps and peanuts. Due to the strong Buddhist influence in Vietnam, vegetarian food is widely available.
SHOPPING: Souvenirs to look out for in Vietnam include lacquerware, silk, conical hats, woodcarvings, hill tribe fabrics and handicrafts, embroidery, marble, ceramics, silver jewellery, antique watches and paintings. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have the best choice when it comes to shopping but Hoi An in the centre of Vietnam is also a very good place to hunt for bargains.
TOILETS: Public toilets can sometimes be difficult to find. Take every opportunity you can to use clean toilets in hotels and restaurants. Make this a habit on your stay.
HEALTH: Consult your medico or visit the Traveller Medical and Vaccination Centre for professional medical advice well in advance of your departure, Wash hands before and after eating. Carry ‘wet-ones’,anti bacterial handwash, insect repellant, band aids and emergency medicines eg. Diarrhoea. Drink plenty of water and have adequate rest. Seek medical care, if needed. Don’t take risks with health and personal hygiene.
SAFETY / SECURITY: Always maintain a high level of personal security. Cash or wallets in pockets, obvious jewellery and open bags attract unwanted attention. Beware of pickpockets in crowded places. Lock your case, Carry a hotel card so that taxis know where to take you.
LUGGAGE: All passengers are limited to TWO items of luggage each. One case with maximum weight weight of 20 kg. and maximum size of 70 litres. It is essential to lock this case. One piece of hand luggage with maximum weight of 5 kg. It is advisable that hand luggage consist of a ‘daypack’ to carry camera, water, toilet paper, umbrella, hat etc.
TIPPING: Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in these developing nations. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped.TRAVEL INSURANCE: All group tour passengers must have comprehensive travel insurance. You can complete this with Asian Trail Tours if you wish. Check your Travel Insurance Policy for an Emergency number and details of services to be provided, Carry these details with you.