Explore Hill Tribe Villages of the Northern Mountains5 5 (1 reviews)
Hanoi – Ha Giang – Quan Ba – Yen Minh – Dong Van – Meo Vac – Ba Be National Park – Dau Dau & Ban Gioc Waterfall – Nguom Ngao Cave - Ha Long Bay
Ha Giang is the endmost province in the Northest of Vietnam, border with China. The Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark is located in the area with the total size of 2,345 km2 and was official 77th member of the Global Geopark Network in 2010. The park features many high rock mountains, stunning limestone formations, high passes and beautiful narrow springs. Ha Giang is also home to 17 colorful hill tribe groups who own rich tradition and culture. This special program will bring you throughout the Northeast loop of Vietnam in a circle starting from Hanoi, heading to Ha Giang, Dong Van, Meo Vac, Ba Be National Park, Ha Long Bay and back to Hanoi. We will check lunar calendar and suggest you the best dates that you to see many hill tribe markets and explore the most beautiful nature and culture of the region.
BEST TIME TO GO: October to April, especially October to December, the season of buckwheat blossom in this area. This program can also be extended to spend more time in the villages.
Upon arrival at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, you are welcomed by guide and transferred to downtown. Check in to your hotel and be free for refreshment after a long-haul flight. Overnight in Hanoi.
After breakfast, depart to Ha Giang through off track road (Son Duong – Tam Duong) by a four-wheel drive car, stopping at some small local markets on the way. Visit Cay Thong village in Tuyen Quang, a small village of Tay hill tribe with nearly 100 houses. All are wooden stilt houses with palm leaf roofs. It’s said by the old people in the village that wooden house-on-stilts are not sustainable and often destroyed by termites, so more and more modern houses have been built. You will see here a stilt house standing by a modern house, the mixture of the future and the past. Rest at a local house, enjoy Vietnamese green tea and chat with the host giving more information about this village and local daily life.
Lunch stop along the route at your own expense before continuing your journey to Ha Giang, where you will arrive in late afternoon. First visit Tha Village of Tay hill tribe. Tha is a small and peaceful village hiding itself between limestone mountains. People in the village still keep their traditions and lifestyle since hundreds of years. Most of the houses in the village are wooden stilt surrounded by rice fields and fish ponds. Overnight in Ha Giang.
After a simple breakfast with noodle soup or bread and omelette, you will leave Ha Giang to Quan Ba along winding road, between breathtaking formations of rock plateau. Stop at Quan Ba Heaven Gate. the gate, we can take a panorama view of Quan Ba town, its amazing valley, rice fields and Fairy mountains.
Lunch at your own expense in Quan Ba Town.
Next, you will visit Nam Dam Village of Red Dzao hill tribe, a small village with few houses and far away each other. These are rammed earth houses with two floors. Second floor is made wood, the same architecture as Chinese people in Ha Giang and affected by Chinese culture.
After the visit, keep driving to Yen Minh Town. Yen Minh town centre market opens on every Sunday and it is also a place for hill tribes to exchange their products and look for lovers. Visit Pho Bang, a 300 year old village of Chinese people in Ha Giang. Rammed earth houses queue along a small alley. People here use Chinese to communicate with each other and to maintain their culture. Some compare Pho Bang with Hoi An, we can find here some similarities between the two towns.
One more interesting stop is H’mong King House before reaching Dong Van. In the past, Dong Van is occupied by Chinese people. It has the same architecture to Pho Bang with rammed earth houses. Nowadays, it has two separate areas: old town and new town. New town is with modern houses and occupied by Vietnamese Kinh people or hill tribe people surrounding areas. Old town is of Chinese people. Chinese people still keep their language and culture. Take a walk to the old town of Dong Van and to the rice field.
In the evening, enjoy coffee at Café pho co (coffee at a traditional house). Overnight in Dong Van.
After a simple breakfast with noodle soup or local food, you will drive to Meo Vac with stop at Ma Pi Leng pass. the pass, look over the mountains and around, Nho Que river and the road far behind.
Upon arrival in Meo Vac, visit the village of Lo Lo people. This village has changed a lot. One thing is the public house where displayed some Lo Lo traditional customs. Overnight in Meo Vac.
If today is Tiger and Monkey days in our lunar calendar, enjoy in the biggest hill tribe market in Ha Giang area - Lung Phin market. This market is 15km Meo Vac town, opens 4am to 4p.m. It’s a chance for 16 minorities living in this area to meet, exchange their farm products and find lovers. Girls and boys in their best colorful clothes come to the market, gather in groups and give each other love eye contacts. Get your camera ready for the best photo shots! You can realize each hill tribe group through their costume, hat and how they decorate their hair.
After the market, we continue our off-road journey to the village of Bao Lac. Stop for lunch and to stretch your legs and then head through a gorgeous small road snaking through the mountains to the Tay village of Cho Ra and then down to the Tay village of Coc Toc in Ba Be NP. Be warmly welcomed by your host at a homestay. Dinner will be cooked by your host with local specialties. Overnight in Ba Be National Park.
Breakfast at your homestay and take a boat ride through the entire length of the 3 connected lakes (Ba Be = “3 bays”) and up the Nang River, to Puong Cave, an amazing tunnel at 30 metres high and 300 metres long flowing through the Lung Nham mountain.
Continue by motorboat down the river to the small village of Hua Tang where your lunch will be served at a local house along the river bank. After lunch, a short walk through the jungle takes you to the magical Dau Dang Waterfalls and amazing scenery of surrounding mountains.
Back to your homestay by boat and enjoy the 2nd night at your friendly homestay.
After breakfast, you will travel 210km up north to the border of Vietnam and China. Stop along the way to visit the Phuoc Sen village of Nung hill tribe who earn their living with the production of farming tools and cultivation on terrace rice paddies. Arrival at the border, take a bamboo raft on the base of the falls to admire the beauty of silver water cascades. Time for relaxing and enjoy a picnic lunch in cool fresh air.
Later, visit stunning Nguom Ngao - "Tiger Cave" - one-kilometer cave full of limestone formations in the shapes of sweeping boughs, tangled plants, spires, and canopies.
Return to Cao Bang town late afternoon and overnight at a local guesthouse.
Simple breakfast at your hotel and travel 300km (187 miles) – 7.5hrs Cao Bang to Ha Long city via Lang Son city. Stop on the way to visit Tan Thanh, the biggest border gate market, selling all kinds of Chinese products at very cheap prices. Do shopping at the market and have a lunch in Lang Son before continue driving to the sea, gone with the sea smell. Arrival in Ha Long city in the mid-afternoon, check in to your hotel overlooking the bay and be free for refreshment or cool down at poolside. Overnight in Ha Long City.
After breakfast, you will be free at your hotel or follow our guide to visit the seafood market in Ha Long City. Then check out your hotel and transfer to the pier. Start your 3 day – 2 night “junk” cruise to explore Ha Long Bay, a World Heritage Area of outstanding natural beauty. Upon arrival at the pier, you will board your cruise and enjoy a welcome drink before check-in to your cabin. The cruise starts right afterward with a delicious lunch served on board. The cruise passes by many karst rocks and islets in many unique and funny shapes. Again your dinner is served on board. In the evening, enjoy night fishing, drinks on the rooftop, watching an Indochina film, or massage, spa etc. Overnight on your boat, anchored in a quiet location.
Breakfast buffet will be served in the restaurant and you will be transferred to a day-boat, soon heading to Lan Ha Bay which is at the furthest side of Ha Long bay. This bay is famous for its tunnels, lagoons, crystal waters and secluded beaches. The highlight of this day will be kayaking through spectacular tunnels to reach secret lagoon (if tides permit). First kayak stroll of the day. Follow your tour guide in the maze of karst rocks.
Fresh seafood and traditional Vietnamese cuisine will be served aboard the Junk. She will be anchored close to a beautiful beach, where you will have time to swim and enjoy the beach after lunch.
Relax on the beach and practice more kayaking.
Late afternoon, back on your boat for optional spa and massage services, happy hour, scrumptious dinner and overnight stay, anchored in a peaceful bay.
In the morning, a Tai Chi class is available for "early birds", then enjoy tea/coffee before visiting a Cave naturally carved inside the karst formations. Breakfast/brunch will be served while the cruise is returning back to the pier. Disembark the pier and our guide will pick you up for a ride back to Hanoi. Overnight in Hanoi.
After breakfast, you will be free in Hanoi until meet our driver and proceed to the airport for your departure flight. Feel free to explore the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem lake which comes alive at night, or simply rest. We can recommend a little cafe, popular Northern Vietnamese cuisine or other regions if you prefer, and many night spots for your final night in Vietnam.
Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room
Full board at homestay and shared house (with different mattress on a same flat floor)
Travel in an appropriate private air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced safe driver
The services of experienced mountain guide from Hanoi
Where necessary, entry fees and boat fee all visits mentioned in the program
Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) in the best local restaurants, or picnics where no suitable restaurant is available
VAT and other taxes
International flight tickets and airport tax
Visa handling and stamp fee
Dinners, except as specified above
Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses
Camera fees (if any)
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