DAY 1: HANOI - MAI CHAU
7.00AM : Pick up at hotel. Overland drive to MaiChau by 4 WD jeep with several stops on the way for pictures. 150 km. Lunch en route. PM: Walk around villages in the valley. Dinner and over night on stilt house in the Thai's village. [L,D] .
DAY 2: MAI CHAU - SON LA
Leave MaiChau for SonLa . 170 km. Lunch. PM: Visit the former SonLa Prison. Dinner and over night in SonLa's guest house. [B]
DAY 3: SON LA - DIEN BIEN PHU
The provincial museum and the nearby old prison are some of this hill town's major sights. We have a chance to visit these before we leave for our next destination. The winding roads cross over the Pha Din Pass before reaching Dien Bien Phu, the site of the decisive battle in Vietnam's struggle for independence in 1954. After checking into our central located hotel we enjoy a walk around to see this fast growing town. Our main stop is Dien Bien Phu’s Museum which details the event in place. We also pay a visit to the old battle field where the lush vegetation grows behind many war relics including old French tanks and artillery pieces. O/N in Dien Bien Phu .(B) .
DAY 4: DIEN BIEN PHU - LAI CHAU
Overland drive 120 km to LaiChau. 100 km. PM: Walk around the villages of the Thai ethnic minorities. Dinner and over night in Guest house. [ B]
DAY 5: LAI CHAU - SA PA
Overland drive to SaPa, passing the highest in Vietnam mountain pass. Lunch en route. 180 km. Dinner and sleep over night at hotel in SaPa. [B] .
DAY 6: SAPA TRAKKING
The range of Phan Si Pan boasts Vietnam's highest mountain and lends an alpine feel to the area surrounding this hill station. Today we have enough time to visit the bustling Sa Pa Market where the Red Dao, Black Hmong, Tay and Xa Pho ethnic minorities converge from the nearby mountainsides and valleys to trade their goods and buy provisions. We then get well off the beaten track as we embark on a walk to explore this beautiful mountain region. Along the way we traverse several rustic villages and see many mountaineers doing their daily works such as logging, herding buffalo and tilling the field. The blend of verdant mountain backdrop and colourful population makes for an unimaginable view. O/N in Sa Pa[ B].
DAY 7: SAPA - MUONG KHUONG - BAC HA
After breakfast we continue venturing into northern Vietnam, travelling through the Chinese border town of Lao Cai to the colourful Sunday Market at Muong Khuong. This market also attracts a wide variety of ethnic minority groups including the Variegated Hmong, Dao, Phu La, La Chi, Tay who still retain their age old cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. The experience of this congregation is unique. Upon leaving Muong Khuong, we drive to Bac Ha. As option , we can embark a walk this afternoon, visiting the Hmong King's former residence and Ban Pho where the villagers make the potent local maize wine . O/N in Bac Ha. (B)
DAY 8: BAC HA - TUYEN QUANG - BAC KAN
TBacHa - TuyenQuang - Thai Nguyen - BacKan. 250 km. Over night in BacKan's Hotel
DAY 9: BA BE - CAO BANG
Overland drive to Ba Be Lakes. 50km. Boat trip in Ba Be Lakes. Visit three lakes, Angel Pond, DauDang Water Falls and the Tay's ethnic minority village. Lunch. PM: Transfer to CaoBang. 130 km. Lunch en route. Check in hotel. At leisure. (B)
DAY 10: CAO BANG - LANG SON
Drive on to LangSon with several stops on the way for pictures and visiting the hill tribal villages. 80 km. Dinner and over night in LangSon's mini hotel. [ B]
DAY 11: LANG SON - HA LONG BAY
Overland drive for 230 km to HaLong Bay. Lunch en route. Over night in HaLong City.[B]
DAY 12: HA LONG BAY - HANOI
AM: Boat cruise on famous HaLong Bay with seafood lunch aboard on boat. PM: Drive back to Hanoi. Tour ends in Hanoi around 4 PM [B,L]