Day 1: Saturday, Hanoi - Mai Chau (D)
Our tour guide picks you up at your hotel in Hanoi and drives you to Mai Chau. During the trip we enter the dramatic northern mountainous area where you will be overwhelmed by sublime beauty and serenity. In Hoa Binh we will make a stop to make an interesting boat trip on the Da River where we visit the Muong and the Dzao minorities.
We will continue our way up to Mai Chau, passing some magnificent viewpoints, which offer you a panoramic view of the valley. In the afternoon we arrive in Pom Koong, a village of the White Thai people who inhabited the major part of the area. During the evening, we are going to enjoy a traditional dance and drink Ruou Can, a local rice wine.
We have dinner and spend the night in the houses of the native people, which will be without a doubt an experience for life. Be prepared that the living conditions are different from the ones you are accustomed to at home. However, mattresses, blankets and mosquito-nets are present for you.
Day 2: Sunday, Mai Chau - Son La (B)
Waken up by the chickens and roasters of the village in the early morning. After a by our host prepared breakfast we are going to walk around town to experience the true essence of daily life of the local people. Later this morning we will continue our trip by car and drive towards Son La. We plan to make a stop at the tea plantation of Moc Chau and have a tea break with the H'mong tribe. During our way we also visit some Black Thai villages and make a little promenade over the amazing by hand-made bridges.
After arrival in Son La Town we visit the impressive Colonial Prison. We spend the night in a hotel.
Day 3: Monday, Son La - Dien Bien Phu - Lai Chau (B)
The road we follow today is spectacular as we climb the Pha Din Pass , known as the second highest and longest pass of Vietnam with an altitude of 1,500 m. The view is breathtaking and magnificent. At the middle pass, we visit a multi-ethnic primary school and a village of the White H'mong hill tribe where children in colorful traditional clothing welcome us with warm smiles. In Dien Bien Phu , we visit famous sites of the Indochina War led by the French in 1954, such as De Castrie PC, the War museum and Elliane Hill. After lunch in a local restaurant we continue our way to Lai Chau and notice the Red H'mong girls with big hair on the side of the road. Lai Chau is our overnight stop for today. It will not take long before this town will be completely disappeared. A large dam is planned to be open between now and some years.
Day 4: Tuesday, Lai Chau - Tam Duong (B)
The picturesque road from Lai Chau to Tam Duong goes along the Chinese Border and the Nam Na River. We visit some Black Thai villages, which are famous because of their wooden houses on piles. During the way we cross a footbridge leading us to Kh'Mu Village, an important hill-tribe similar to the Lao people in terms of language and traditions. Before arrival in Tam Duong, a stop at Man Tien Village is scheduled. We spend the night in a guest-house in Tam Duong.
Day 5: Wednesday, Tam Duong trekking (B)
Tam Duong is a frontier town situated in a beautiful valley between limestone rocks. This place is the home of many hill tribes such as the H'Mong, Man Tien, Lu and Cu Chu people. Authentic in lifestyle and colorful in costumes, most of the tribes were emigrated from South China during the 17th - 18th century. A full day of trekking through their villages, hidden behind mountains and hills, enables us to learn how self-sufficient life is. A picnic is prepared for lunch. We will continue our trip with visiting a home-run tea factory as the area is famous for its tea plantation. Also this night is spent in the Tam Duong guest-house.
Day 6: Thursday, Tam Duong - Sapa (B)
This morning we are going to visit the Tam Duong Multi-Ethnic Market, an ideal place to meet local people. Ethnic groups from every part of the region come here to exchange their agricultural and handicraft products. After this interesting experience of interacting with the local people, we make a promenade to Pa Pe, a village of the Lu minority. The people here are famous because of their black teeth. When girls have the age of 10 they have to chew a certain type of plant (growing in the woods) which causes black moisture upon the teeth. Having black teeth is considered as a symbol of beauty in this tribe. After this amazing visit we continue our way to Sapa. Stop at Tram Ton Pass -the highest pass in Vietnam , 1900m, view the heaven gate and large valley and nice Silver Waterfall. We come higher and higher in altitude as we reach Sapa where we spend the night in a hotel.
Day 7: Friday, Trekking in Sapa (B)
Sapa is not only an ideal place for retreat with its moderate climate, it is also a place of cultural value and breathtaking mountainous scenery. The town of Sapa is inhabited by colorful hill tribes, which are based on the foot of Fan Xi Pan Mount and other surrounding valleys. Here we spend our whole day trekking around the river of Sapa Valley, crossing suspension bridges and witnessing green rice terraces. During our trek we will again be exposed to local life and the daily activities. We trek up and down and through bamboo forest, see three different ethnic minorities until we stop at a nice waterfall in GiangTaChai Village of the Red-Dzao to spend the night in the house of a local family.
Day 8: Saturday, Sapa - Bac Ha (B)
We continue our walk to the village of SuPan where we will be picked up by our driver who brings us to Bac Ha. During this ride we pass the Chinese border (Lao Cai) where you can get a glimpse of the Chinese town of Hekou , and visit a nice temple there, located just at the other side of the Red River . Bac Ha is situated in the highlands and is mostly populated by the beautifully dressed Flower H'mong minority (famous for its multi-ethnic market). The environment is paved with plum trees. If you visit the town in spring you will be overwhelmed by the beauty of the white plum blossom. We spend the night in a hotel in Bac Ha.
Day 9: Sunday, Bac Ha - Thac Ba Lake (B, L, D)
From the early morning, thousands of people of different minorities from every corner of the area flock out to Bac Ha for their weekly most important activity, Bac Ha Sunday Market. Living in the high and remote mountains, these people consider the Sunday Market as a good chance to go out, meet people, drink alcohol and exchange their handy-made products. We will see a lot of hill tribes in colorful dressing participating in this colorful melting point.
We continue our drive to Thac Ba Lake . This night we stay with our friendly host in his beautifully constructed stilts house at the lake side.
Day 10: Monday, Thac Ba Lake - Hanoi (B)
Thac Ba is the biggest man-made lake in Vietnam and captivates travelers with its incredible authentic beauty and more than 300 islets under lush vegetation. We participate on a boat trip and visit some Dzao and Tay villages. After lunch in a local restaurant we will return to Hanoi .