Tour code:
14 days 13 nights
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Places to visit
Hanoi - Lao Cai - Sapa - Bac Ha - Ha Giang - Dong Van - Meo Vac - Bao Lac - Cao Bang - Lang Son - Ha Long - Hanoi
Hanoi, Vietnam Hanoi, Vietnam


This carefully crafted journey is tailored for adventurous souls who yearn to venture beyond the well-trodden tourist trails. Immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the northern hilltribe regions as we hike and trek through these remote areas. Embark on an unforgettable Best of Northern Vietnam itinerary 2 weeks as we navigate through the enchanting waters of Bai Tu Long Bay, exploring its hidden gems by boat and kayak. This expedition promises an extraordinary experience, brimming with thrilling moments and unforgettable memories.

  • Witness the lively metropolis of Hanoi, overflowing with historical and cultural treasures.
  • Embark on an unforgettable expedition through the UNESCO World Heritage site, Ha Long Bay.
  • Explore the mist-shrouded city of Sapa with its diverse ethnic communities.
  • Explore the highlight destinations in Ha Giang.
  • Visit the idyllic Ban Gioc Waterfall, Southeast Asia's biggest falls

Itinerary Expand All

Day 1: Hanoi - Arrival (No Meals)
Upon your arrival, you will be greeted by the guide and driver, who will take you directly to the downtown massage salon. You can indulge in an oriental oil massage, which will rejuvenate you and eliminate fatigue after a long flight.
Dinner is at your leisure. Overnight stay at the hotel in Hanoi.
Note: Generally, the check-in time is 2:00 PM.
Day 2: Hanoi - City Tour - Night Train To Lao Cai (Breakfast, Lunch)
Car Walking Train
After breakfast, your day kicks off with a visit to the square in front of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, honoring the nation's founder. Your guide will narrate the country's independence history before you capture memories in photos.
Next, head to the Defense Pagoda by West Lake, ending your morning with an insightful trip to the Hanoi Ethnography Museum, showcasing Vietnam's diverse ethnic cultures.
Lunch awaits at a local eatery.
In the afternoon, a fascinating stroll through the Hanoi Old Quarter awaits you. Start with the Long Bien Bridge - Paul Doumer Bridge (Trần Nhật Duật Street side) and continue to Cao Thắng Street, famous for its traditional spices. Then, explore the Đồng Xuân Market, the largest market in Hanoi, and soak in the lively atmosphere of Hàng Mã Street, known for its decorative items, Chinese toys, and colorful lanterns.
Continue your exploration through Lương Văn Can, Lãn Ông, and Hang Buồm streets, taking the time to visit the Bạch Mã Temple (76 Hang Buồm Street), the oldest temple in Hanoi. Take a well-deserved break at Café Market (Hanoi Coffee Station, 44 Hang Bè Street or another café boutique) to enjoy a complimentary coffee.
Capture the vibrant atmosphere by Hoan Kiem Lake.
Around 8:00 PM, your guide will welcome you and transfer you by taxi to Hanoi Railway Station for the overnight train to Lao Cai.
Accommodation type: Overnight train in a shared cabin with 4 soft berths.
Day 3: Lao Cai - Sapa - Cat Cat - Y Linh Ho (Breakfast, Lunch)
Car Hiking Trekking
Arriving at Lao Cai railway station around 5:30 AM, we will have breakfast and take a shower at a hotel near the train station before heading by car to Sa Pa. Sa Pa is an old colonial hill station established in the early 20th century and is now renowned for its scenic treks through the beautiful valley, passing by various ethnic villages.
We will reach an altitude of 1650 meters after a 45-minute climb and then embark on a hike from Cat Cat to Y Linh Ho, passing through small hamlets of the Black Hmong ethnic group. This remote locality can only be accessed on foot, making it less crowded and preserving the tranquility. The approximately 5-hour trek will provide an opportunity to witness the breathtaking terraced rice fields that have made Sapa famous and to interact with the local population as they go about their daily activities. We'll enjoy a picnic lunch in the valley during the hike.
On our way back, we'll pass through Lao Chai and Ta Van, the most well-known Hmong and Zay villages in the Muong Hoa valley. Our car will be waiting for us there to take us back up to Sapa.
We'll check-in and spend the night at the hotel.
Day 4: Sapa - Ma Tra - Ta Phin - Bac Ha (Breakfast, Dinner)
After a hearty breakfast, we set off for a 2 to 3-hour walk between the H'mong village of Matra and the Red Dao ethnic village of Ta Phin. The women of Ta Phin are easily recognizable by their red headscarves and shaved eyebrows. The terraced rice fields in this area are more extensive due to the gentler slopes, creating fascinating wave-like landscapes. Along the way, we'll encounter families practicing indigo dyeing, and the women's union has organized a small cooperative where we can learn about the art of Batik.
Leaving Sa Pa and the Hoang Lien mountain range behind, we head towards the Bac Ha region, which is still mountainous and close to the Chinese border. We continue the walk through the H'mong villages of Ban Pho 1 and Ban Pho 2, where a delicious corn alcohol is distilled.
Tonight, we will stay with a Tay family in their traditional stilt house to get a closer look at the culture of the ethnic groups living in the region. We'll enjoy dinner in a warm atmosphere and have the chance to taste homemade rice wine.
We'll spend the night in the stilt house, immersing ourselves in the authentic local experience.
Day 5: Bac Ha - Weekly Ethnic Market - Bac Ha (Breakfast, Dinner)
In the morning, we will visit a vibrant weekly market in the Bac Ha region. The market's location depends on the day of the week: Coc Ly market on Tuesdays, Sin Cheng market on Wednesdays, Cao Son or Can Cau market on Saturdays, and Bac Ha market on Sundays.
This market is a colorful gathering where you'll have the opportunity to meet various local ethnic groups, including the Flower H'mong, Dao, Tay, Phu La, Nung, and more. The locals come to the market not only for shopping but also to socialize. The market is divided into different sections, offering a variety of goods such as food, fabrics, poultry, and livestock. It has become a bustling commercial fair for the inhabitants.
Around noon, you can enjoy a free lunch at a restaurant in Bac Ha.
In the early afternoon, we'll transfer by vehicle to Ngai Phu Cho, located 6 km from Bac Ha, and inhabited by the Phu La ethnic group. From there, we'll embark on a leisurely two-hour walk in the valley, where you'll be treated to panoramic views of the terraced rice fields.
Afterward, we'll return to Bac Ha for the night, where you can relax and rest.
Day 6: Bac Ha – Tha Village (Ha Giang) (Breakfast, Dinner)

After breakfast, there will be a short visit to the Hoang A Tuong Palace before departing from the town of Bac Ha.

Then, we'll head towards Ha Giang. Along the way, you will be captivated by the natural landscapes, lush green rice terraces, palm-covered hills, and charming villages.

We will reach Tha village, home to the Tay ethnic group. A short walk on foot will allow you to discover the daily life of the local farmers.

Tonight, we will stay with a local family in a homestay equipped with showers and hot water.

Day 7: Tha Village – Dong Van (Breakfast, Lunch)
The day is filled with several interesting visits:
We start the day by ascending a high mountain pass to reach the "Gate of Heaven", the first entrance to the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark, a part of the global karst park network. After crossing the pass, we climb stairs to reach the panoramic view of Nui Doi (Breasts of Fairy) in Tam Son, where we can admire the stunning karst rock landscapes.
Next, we take a short detour to visit the Lung Tam weaving village. Here, we have the chance to meet Vang Thi Mai, a remarkable woman from the H'Mong community who has created employment opportunities for around a hundred women in the village.
We continue our journey along the Mien River, crossing from one valley to another. After crossing two small mountain passes, we descend into the small town of Yen Minh, where we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Following lunch, we face a steep climb to the stone plateau, which drastically changes the scenery. The landscape is dominated by black limestone fields, and we now enter the land of the Mong ethnic group. About twenty kilometers from Dong Van town, we make a stop at the small town of Sung La, inhabited by two colorful minority ethnic groups: the H'mong and Lo Lo. We visit an old typical house made of wood and clay, famous for its appearance in the movie "The Story of Pao", which won the Golden Kite Award in 2006. We take a leisurely walk through the Mong village, passing rose and vegetable fields until we reach the bariolated Lo Lo hamlet.
A must-see later is the Palace of King Mong Vuong Chi Sinh, a unique stone palace in the rock plateau, hidden at the bottom of the Sa Phin valley.
Not far from Dong Van town, we make several stops along the way to admire the magnificent sugar loaf mountains.
Upon arriving in Dong Van, we take a short stroll through the old quarter of Dong Van before spending the night at a hotel in Dong Van.
Overnight in Dong Van.
Day 8: Dong Van - Meo Vac - Bao Lac (Breakfast)
The morning is dedicated to the "Happiness Road", which connects Dong Van and Meo Vac (a distance of 25 km). We'll have lunch in Meo Vac and then head towards Bao Lac. If time permits, we'll take a detour to visit the Black Lo Lo village of Khuoi Khon, where "France 2" filmed the documentary "RDV en terre inconnue" (Meeting in Unknown Land) with the famous rugby player Michalak as a guest.
We'll return to Bao Lac for an overnight stay.
Note: Since the Dong Van Market takes place on Sundays, it would be beneficial to plan the itinerary accordingly.
Day 9: Bao Lac - Cao Bang (Breakfast)
Just in front of the Kim Cuc Bridge, located approximately 12km from Bao Lac, we will embark on a 6km round trip walk to visit a village of the San Chi ethnic group. This minority group is closely related to the Dao and traditionally wears black hemp clothing. The village is small, with around 30 thatched roofs, and its inhabitants lead a very simple way of life. You'll still see many animals tied up under their stilt houses. We'll spend about an hour exploring this village and experiencing their way of life.
In the afternoon, we'll transfer to Cao Bang via a beautiful mountain road, passing through the Ngan Son Pass. Cao Bang is a province in the Northern highlands, bordering China, and is inhabited by several ethnic minorities, including the Tay, Nung, Dao, and Hmong.
We will arrive in Cao Bang by late afternoon and spend the night at a hotel to rest and prepare for more adventures the next day.
Day 10: Cao Bang - Ban Gioc Waterfalls - Cao Bang (Breakfast)
After breakfast, you will hit the road towards Quang Uyen. On the way, there will be a stop to visit the village of Phuc Sen, known for preserving the traditional forging techniques of the Tay and Nung ethnic minorities.
Next, we will head to the famous Ban Gioc Waterfalls, considered the most beautiful in Northern Vietnam, and they face China, with the border running through the largest waterfall. You'll have the morning to explore the falls, and there will be an opportunity for a free lunch at a local restaurant.
In the early afternoon, we'll make a stop a few kilometers away from the falls on the way back to Cao Bang to explore the mysterious Nguom Ngao Cave. This cave, carved by nature in a limestone mountain range, is considered one of the most beautiful caves in Vietnam.
We will arrive back in Cao Bang by the end of the day. Dinner will be at your leisure.
Overnight in Cao Bang.
Day 11: Cao Bang - Dong Khe (Colonial Route 4) - Lang Son (Breakfast)
Depart for Dong Khe, which is located 43 km from Cao Bang and 88 km northwest of Lang Son. Mr. Lam, a retired lieutenant colonel, will be our guide during the hike and will narrate the story of the infamous battle that took place there in October 1950, known as the "Battle of Colonial Route 4 (RC4)."
After a few kilometers on the rough track, the vehicle will drop us off at the beginning of the famous Quang Liet Valley. We'll hike on its western edge for about an hour and a half, following the river that runs through it and passing through some hamlets. Our route will lead us to the Coc Xa hamlet, where a small pass lies at the foot of the fateful cliff.
Returning to Dong Khe, we will visit a Vietnamese commemorative monument while ascending to the top of the hill overlooking the town where the citadel once stood.
Lunch will be at your leisure before continuing the journey to Lang Son, a border town with China.
Upon arrival in Lang Son, you can visit the Tam Thanh Cave, located close to the city center, on the side of a small karstic rock next to To Thi Mountain. Alternatively, you can choose to explore the Ky Lua Central Market, where you'll find various goods, mostly "Made in China."
We will spend the night at a hotel in Lang Son, where you can rest and relax after a day filled with historical and scenic experiences.
Day 12: Lang Son - Bai Tu Long Bay (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Car Cruise
Depart for Bai Tu Long Bay, which is part of the famous Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Around noon, you will embark on the boat. The crew will brief you about the cruise and assist you in settling into your room.
Enjoy a delicious lunch while Oriental Sails continues its cruise around the limestone islands of Bai Tu Long Bay, heading towards the fishing village of Vung Vieng - one of the largest fishing villages in Halong Bay. Here, you can observe the daily life of the locals. You have the option to take a bamboo boat trip around the Vung Vieng fishing village or go kayaking with the assistance and guidance of the village's tourist guide.
Around 5:30 PM, return to Oriental Sails and take a refreshing swim before relaxing and enjoying the sunset. You can also take advantage of the happy hour at the bar and savor a cocktail before the cooking class begins.
Dinner will be served onboard. You can either rest or engage in conversations with fellow travelers. Additionally, you can try your hand at squid fishing at night or simply relax and unwind.
You'll spend the night on board near Cong Do, surrounded by the serene beauty of Bai Tu Long Bay.
Day 13: Bai Tu Long – Hanoi (Breakfast, Lunch)
Car Cruise
Around 6:30 AM, start the day with a tai chi class on the deck before enjoying your breakfast. Admire the tranquil morning seascape while sipping your tea or coffee. Breakfast will be served as the cruise heads towards Thien Canh Son Cave, a hidden gem spared from mass tourism.
Around 9:30 AM, check-out from the cabins and enjoy lunch onboard before disembarking at noon.
Upon arrival at the pier, you'll be welcomed by the driver who will transfer you directly to your hotel in Hanoi.
In the evening, enjoy a traditional water puppet show, a unique and captivating theatrical performance.
Dinner will be at your leisure.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 14: Hanoi - Departure (Breakfast)
This day is free for you to rest, explore, or do some shopping in the city center of Hanoi.
Please note that the hotel's check-out time is at 12:00 PM.
When it's time to depart, we will arrange a transfer to Hanoi's airport for your return flight.
End of Best of Northern Vietnam Travel itinerary 2 weeks !
  • What’s Inclusion

    • Accommodation in a double or twin room with daily breakfast.
    • Overnight cruise on board a shared good-quality boat in Halong Bay (private boat upon request).
    • Private air-conditioned vehicle during all tours and transfers.
    • English-speaking guide during all tours.
    • Entrance fees for all visits as mentioned in the itinerary
    • Lunch or dinner as specified in the itinerary
    • Water & cool towels
    • Government taxes & service charge.
  • What’s Excluded

    • International airfare and departure taxes.
    • Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone, drinks, tips… etc.
    • Personal travel insurance.
    • Vietnam Visa (If you are not exempt from the visa).
    • All other services not specified in the itinerary.
  • Notes

    • Surcharged for Gala dinner on 24th and 31st December if any
    • Surcharged for Public holidays (30/4-1/5, Lunar New Year)
    • The timing of check-in and check-out at the hotels: Check-in at 14:00, check-out at 12:00. (Early check-in/late check-out is upon your request).
    • A single supplement is required if you are traveling alone.
    • The triple room is possible upon your request.

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  • Simon H

    Simon H

    Mar 18, 2024
    5.0 Excellent

    This outstanding trip deserves to be shared with many others

    Over the span of a month, I've embarked on the Best of Northern Vietnam Travel itinerary for 2 weeks with Tran, and the experience has been exceptional. Tran served as a knowledgeable, friendly, and informative guide throughout the journey. Engaging in discussions about various options was effortless due to Tran's responsiveness. With plans to return next year, I look forward to leveraging Tran's insider knowledge and expertise to craft another remarkable trip. This outstanding trip deserves to be shared with many others.


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