International Tour Operator License No: 22-053/2014/TCDL-GPLHQT - Issued by Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT)
While Southeast Asia is slowly becoming one of the world’s more popular travel destinations, there is still much to be seen and experienced off the beaten path. Our Trailblazing tours have been organized to offer travelers off-piste experiences that enable them to see what life is truly like in our wonderful countries. Trailblazing Vietnam is the perfect example of discovering just how much more there is to experience beyond the usual tourist-friendly stops… and a great deal of the mystery can be found in the far north! One of Vietnam’s most rewarding areas to visit, the far north of the country is rich in history, tradition, culture and spectacular landscapes. While most travelers make it as far as Hanoi and Sapa, not many reach the regions of Mu Cang Chai and Ha Giang. This itinerary has been molded to hit these lesser known mountain regions as well as the highlight destinations of Hanoi, Sapa, Ninh Binh and other northern favorites. Something you want to make sure you don’t miss? Speak with our My Way Travel team and they will gladly add in whatever stops you want to see as part of the 16-day itinerary.
|Day 1||Arrival Hanoi||Arrival Hanoi, Street Food Tour||D|
|Day 2||Hanoi||Today you will visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature & Hil...||B & L|
|Day 3||Mu Cang Chai||Today you will drive through the Red River Delta||B, L & D|
|Day 4||Mu Cang Chai||Mu Cang Chai, Village and Rice Paddy walks||B, L & D|
|Day 5||Sapa||Mu Cang Chai, Pung Luong walk, Than Uyen, Sapa||B, L & D|
|Day 6||Sapa||Sapa, Trekking in Hoang Lien National Park, Nam Cang||B, L & D|
|Day 7||NamCang||Nam Cang, Trek, Topas Ecolodge||B, L & D|
|Day 8||Sapa||Sapa, Pa Then minority villages, Ha Giang||B, L & D|
|Day 9||Ha Giang, Dong Van||Ha Giang, Quyet Tien Market, Minority Tribe Villages, H'Mong King Pala...|
|Day 10||Dong Van, Meo Vac, Ba Be National Park||Dong Van, Meo Vac, Ba Be National Park||B, L & D|
|Day 11||Ba Be National Park, Hanoi||Ba Be National Park, Boat Cruise, Hanoi||B, L & D|
|Day 12||Hanoi, Ninh Binh||Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Vuon Thi Village||B, L & D|
|Day 13||Ninh Binh, Dong Hoi||Ninh Binh, Dinh Le Temple, But Cave, Overnight train to Dong Hoi||B, L|
|Day 14||Dong Hoi||Dong Hoi, Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Phong Nha Cave (wet & dry c...||B, L|
|Day 15||Phong Nha||Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Paradise Cave, Dark Cave||B, L|
|Day 16||Dong Hoi, Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City||Dong Hoi, Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City||B|
Arrival Hanoi, Street Food Tour
Upon arrival in Hanoi you'll be met by your guide who will transfer you to your hotel. In the evening, you will enjoy street food with our tour guide.
Breakfast & Lunch
Today you will visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature & Hilton Prison
Today you will discover some of Hanoi’s classic visits and hidden gems during a full-day tour of the capital. Start the morning off with a visit to one of Hanoi’s most iconic destinations: the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. This grand, monumental structure houses the remains of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s first president and revered leader who liberated the country from colonialism. If there is time, pay a visit to the president’s former home before visiting another of Hanoi’s most classic attractions, the Temple of Literature. The country’s first university, the Temple of Literature is known for its striking courtyards, ancient architecture and deep historical roots dating back over 1,000 years. After the visit, enjoy a delicious local meal at one of our favorite nearby restaurants, serving up classic Hanoi delicacies. After lunch, continue to the iconic Old Quarter of Hanoi. Known for its maze of alleyways and lanes, this section of the city is divided into 36 streets, each which historically sold their own unique products and specialties. Alongside our local expert, discover just what makes this part of Hanoi so unique and charming. Reenergize with a delicious Vietnamese coffee at a local cafe which overlooks the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake. After sipping the famously strong brew, head to Ngoc Son Temple at the lake’s heart, a must-see site for anyone touring Hanoi. Top off the day with one of northern Vietnam’s most classic forms of entertainment: a water puppet show. Transport will be provided back to the hotel after the performance.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Today you will drive through the Red River Delta
After breakfast at the hotel, depart Hanoi for the northwest drive to the Yen Bai Province. Cruise through the Red River Delta region for some spectacular scenery and enjoy a brief stop for lunch and countryside explorations. The final destination will be Mu Cang Chai, a region where few tourists reach. Enjoy intermingling with the ethnic minority people that call this region home and, alongside the help of your guide, chat with the locals to see what life in this region of Vietnam is like. Accommodation tonight will be in the Mu Cang Chai Eco Lodge, which offers an overnight experience as unique as the destination itself. Enjoy a comfortable and picturesque stay with some fantastic local cuisine served on site.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Mu Cang Chai, Village and Rice Paddy walks
After breakfast at the lodge, head into the countryside on foot for some memorable explorations. Enjoy a nature walk through terraced rice fields lined with authentic Hmong Villages. There will be ample opportunity to chat and interact with the locals, as well as plenty of photo ops along the way. The most picturesque time to visit is during the rice harvest, so chat with our specialists to see if your visit will coincide with the harvest. After an hour and a half, our driver will provide transport back to the Lodge in time for lunch. After eating at the lodge, head towards Lang Sang junction which will be the trailhead for the afternoon’s trek. Enjoy an hour and a half walk through the local village which is home to the Thai minority people, who are known for their stilted houses and striking textiles. Enjoy a unique opportunity to communicate with the locals (with the help of your guide) and soak up the amazing scenery that acts as the village’s backdrop. There is also a nearby hot spring if you’re keen on a soak after the day’s trek! Transport will be provided afterwards back to the Lodge.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Mu Cang Chai, Pung Luong walk, Than Uyen, Sapa
After breakfast at the Lodge, depart Mu Cang Chai for the ride to Pung Luong, where the morning’s hike will begin. Enjoy a scenic stroll through more terraced rice fields and ethnic minority villages, offering another chance to capture some amazing photos. The walk will last around 2.5 hours, after which our drive will be waiting to provide transport to Sapa. Before reaching Sapa, there will be a stop made in the rural district of Than Uyen, which is a picturesque countryside location and a great place to stretch the legs. The journey continues on through the Hoang Lien Son Pass, which reaches an altitude of 1,600 meters and provides some more breathtaking vistas. The final stop is Sapa which will be reached in the late afternoon. Transport will bring you right to the hotel and the rest of the day will be spent at your leisure. Enjoy wandering the quaint mountain town, indulging in the cafes, boutiques, markets and other more ‘modern’ amenities that can be found in the town.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Sapa, Trekking in Hoang Lien National Park, Nam Cang
After breakfast at the hotel in Sapa, our driver will be waiting to provide transport to the first stop of the day: Hoang Lien National Park. This National Park houses and protects hundreds of endemic Vietnamese flora and fauna species and is also home to a number of nearby ethnic groups. Upon arrival, you will have the chance to meet some Black Hmong locals who call this region home. You will be able to distinguish them by their indigo-colored textiles and their large black, elaborately decorated hats. Upon entering the park, begin a morning walk along the designated paths, learning all about the animal and plant life that call the area home. There will also be a chance to learn about the local ethnic cultures and their history and customs in the area. After the walk, head back to the car to drive on towards another village, (Thanh Phu), crossing over the Muong Bo River. This village is home to the Tay people, who are distinguishable by their lighter dress, silk & cotton attire and colorful scarves. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before heading onwards to the next village. Arrive to My Son, housing the Xa Pho people, who are one of Sapa’s smaller minority groups. Their clothing is largely different from other tribes, with dark blues covered in red bands and hand-embroidered designs. Meander the village on foot, meeting the locals and getting the chance to interact through the help of our local guide. Drive further to the remote village of Nam Cang, where the evening’s accommodation can be found. Tonight you will stay in a lodge run by a couple from the Red Dao tribe, who are distinguishable by their bright red headdresses and elaborately embroidered jackets. Enjoy some time exploring the village area before retiring to the lodge and enjoying the peace and quiet of the bucolic setting. Spend the night relaxing at the lodge and soaking in the sounds of nature and the nearby river. Dinner this evening will be a locally-influenced meal which is cooked over an open fire and served family-style around a long wooden table.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Nam Cang, Trek, Topas Ecolodge
After breakfast at the lodge, head out for a complete village tour alongside our local specialist. The Red Dao are locally famous for a number of their crafts and skills, including herbal medicine, paper production, embroidery and more. You will undoubtedly come across a number of these specialties during your trek… so feel free to ask your guide any questions that pop up! Also in the village are resident silversmiths who produce some truly striking pieces. There may be an opportunity for a quick lesson by the masters. Head to the nearby river where villagers wait patiently to catch the night’s meal. Chat with some locals or try your hand at fishing in the river. After exploring the area, head onwards to the night’s accommodation, the Topas Eco Lodge. This stunning, sustainable accommodation choice sits 1,000 meters above sea level and is surrounded by some of the area’s most beautiful views. After checking in, enjoy a traditional Vietnamese lunch at the lodge which is held in a traditionally fashioned Tay-style stilt home. The afternoon can be spent at leisure exploring the surrounding areas. It is possible to hike or mountain bike directly from the lodge, which sits about 30 minutes outside of Sapa town. The remote location offers a truly unique experience of living in the countryside and reveals what like is like for locals in this northern tribal region. An optional two-hour guided trek to nearby villages is also available, which highlights nearby terraced rice fields and other stunning panoramic vistas.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Sapa, Pa Then minority villages, Ha Giang
After breakfast at Topas Eco Lodge, depart for the ride to Ha Giang. During the drive out, a stop will be made at the Pa Then minority villages located in Tan Trinh. You will be able to distinguish Pa Then men from the rest of the minority groups with their colorful shirts, indigo pants and long scarves. Pa Then women don their long hair in a colorful turban. The Pa Then tribe is unique in the area in the fact that it is a largely matriarchal society, in which the males of the group move in with the wive’s family. Learn all about this unique culture during the visit and explore what makes this region so unique compared to the rest. Continue driving onwards to Ha Giang with a lunch break made a little later in the journey. Arrival will be in the late afternoon. Situated near the Chinese border, Ha Giang is one of northern Vietnam’s most picturesque and least-visited ethnic regions. Due to its more remote location, many tourists opt to visit the Sapa region during their northern travels, making this a much quieter and more authentic visit for those willing to make the trek out. Furthermore, this region was closed off to visitors until recently, making for a truly unique and genuine visit. Travelers interested in learning more about Vietnamese ethnic minorities will find this area fascinating.
Ha Giang, Quyet Tien Market, Minority Tribe Villages, H'Mong King Palace, Dong Van
After breakfast, embark on an exciting day of climbing and descending with altitudes spanning from 700 to over 1,400 meters. The first stop of the day will be the Quyet Tien Market, which is a vibrant ethnic market where a number of the surrounding ethnic minorities (White Hmong, Nung, Dao, and others) gather to buy, sell, trade and socialize. Photography lovers will find this market absolutely ideal, as photo ops are literally around every corner. Drive onwards from the market to reach destinations such as Fairy Mountain and Heaven’s Gate before reaching a White Hmong village known for their incredible handicrafts. The village visit is truly spectacular and the drive out is equally as mesmerizing- the photo ops only continue! Another visit will be made to a village that is known for its traditional Ao Dai dress. Lunch today will be held in a local restaurant serving up some unique northern specialties before the drive continues to the day’s highest point. Take note of the changes in landscape and attire (of the ethnic minority groups) as the altitudes and settings change throughout the drive. Arrive in mid-afternoon to Sung La, home to one of Vietnam’s smallest minority groups, the LoLo people. Found only in this region and nowhere else in the country, the LoLo have a unique form of architecture that you’ll only see here. Before moving on, make another stop at an ancient Hmong King Palace before arriving to Dong Van Town, which is the last stop for the day. Check into the accommodation and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Dong Van, Meo Vac, Ba Be National Park
After breakfast, head into Dong Van where the vibrant Sunday market will be taking place. A wonderful site to watch all different groups converge, this bustling market is one of the most beautiful in the entire country. Meander the stalls and check out some of the amazing items on offer, utilizing your local guide’s language and knowledge to help bargain down those amazing keepsakes. After exploring the market, head onwards for the drive up to Ma Pi Leng where some of the most breathtaking panoramic vistas await. Enjoy views of the winding rivers, terraced rice fields and distant villages below. Don’t forget your camera for this portion of the journey! The ride continues on to Meo Vac, a town made famous for its bustling cattle market. After a visit, proceed on to Ba Be National Park, making a quick stop for lunch. For those keen on visiting more minority villages, stops can be arranged to any number of the towns along the way. You will reach the National Park around late afternoon, which will provide just enough time to get situated in your accommodation. The Park itself is home to over 1,200 species of endemic flora and fauna and also houses the Tay, Nung, Dao and Mong people. There are a number of natural marvels in the park, many of which will be able to be explored the following day. Check in to the homestay for the night and enjoy a local dinner on site.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Ba Be National Park, Boat Cruise, Hanoi
After an early breakfast, depart into the park to enjoy its wide range of offerings. Embark on a boat cruise along the Nang River to witness the beauty of Ba Be from a quieter perspective. Visit the Puong Grotto, explore the Dau Dang Waterfall and visit a handful of ethnic minority villages illustrating the riverfront. Lunch today will be held in a local restaurant. After a day of exploring the beauty of Ba Be National Park, transport will be provided back to Hanoi. Enjoy the picturesque drive out and arrive into Hanoi in the late afternoon. The remainder of the day is at leisure in Hanoi.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Vuon Thi Village
After an early breakfast at the hotel, depart Hanoi for the drive southeast to Ninh Binh. Ninh Binh is the ideal home base to explore a number of the surrounding natural attractions, which win this region the nickname of ‘Halong on Land’ due to the striking karst formations. After arriving to Ninh Binh, leave the vehicle behind and hop on two wheels for a bicycle ride through the countryside. From paddy fields to pagodas, this cycle will prove to be a great introduction to the attractions that Ninh Binh region is famous for. Make a visit to a local morning market and cruise through local villages, waving to the smiling children along the way. Make a stop at the village of Vuon Thi where a local family will host you for the day. After meeting the family and getting acquainted, enjoy a typical local lunch (your assistance may be needed in the kitchen!) and sample some local delicacies. After lunch, enjoy an interactive day of gardening, fishing, farming and more, learning traditional techniques from the host family. Discover what everyday life is like for those in the Ninh Binh region. Hop back on the bicycles after the day’s interaction and head towards the hotel or continue riding through the countryside— the choice is yours! For those keen on a relaxing river cruise, there’s an option to paddle along the picturesque river running along the rice fields and towering limestone structures.
Ninh Binh, Dinh Le Temple, But Cave, Overnight train to Dong Hoi
After breakfast, spend some time this morning getting acquainted with Ninh Binh’s cultural side. Head towards the temples of Kings Dinh and Le, both found within the nearby ancient citadel. Continue onwards to visit the Phat Diem stone church and enjoy a walk through the Kim Son market, known for its bamboo products and rattan mats. After exploring the cultural sites, head out for a drive to Ben Dang River where an afternoon cruise awaits. Board a traditional sampan and cruise through the tranquil scenery, rivaling that of nearby Tam Coc… but with a fraction of the crowds! Make a stop during the cruise to the Thien Ha Cave (which you can explore on foot) and switch boats to traverse some of the smaller passageways within the cave system. Head back to the sampan and cruise to the But Cave complex before ending up in Thung Nham. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure before being transferred to the railway station for the overnight train to Dong Hoi.
Dong Hoi, Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Phong Nha Cave (wet & dry caves )
After taking the overnight train, our guide will be waiting for your arrival to provide transport to the hotel where an early check in has been prearranged. Enjoy some down time to relax and freshen up, and the rest of the morning is at leisure. In addition to the cave visits, Dong Hoi also has a long strip of pristine coastline, which can be enjoyed by those seeking a bit of R&R before (or after) their cave explorations. In the afternoon, our guide will take you out for a visit to the Khe Gat runway before boarding a local boat for a cruise to the Phong Nha caves. Both wet and dry caves await within this grand cave system, making for a truly fascinating visit. After the cave cruise, head back to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.
Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Paradise Cave, Dark Cave
After breakfast at the hotel, embark on a morning drive along a former part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, with a visit made to a nearby memorial temple. The temple was constructed in honor of the north Vietnamese who lost their lives maintaining this section of the HCM Trail during the American/Vietnam War. After the drive, head to the entrance of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, which is home to the world’s largest and longest caves and karst formations. Sitting along the border of Laos, this National Park houses over 300 caves and grottoes, many of which have never been explored! Open only to the public since 2011, this UNESCO-protected region is one the most enticing and exciting new visits in all of Vietnam. Head into the park to visit the largest and most impressive of the national park’s offerings, Hang Thieng Duong (Paradise Cave). This cave has raised wooden walkways that lead visitors through the complex, illuminating impressive stalagmites and stalactites along the way. Move on to the nearby Suoi Nuoc Mooc (spring) where you’ll have the chance to swim in the emerald waters that run from nearby caves. A break will be made for lunch and you will then head into the ‘Dark Cave’, which was discovered in the early 90s and opened to tourists in 2011. No electricity or lighting is set up in this cave, which provides spelunkers the appropriate training for embarking into the grand Son Doong Cave. Visitors don headlamps and necessary caving equipment before kayaking for 15 minutes to the cave’s entrance. Hopping out of the kayaks, continue on foot wading through sand, water and muddy sections, with 45 minutes set aside to meander in the dark. Exiting the cave, hop back in the kayaks and paddle through the clear waters of the Chay River, enjoying the stunning scenery as light pours back in. A special barbecue dinner awaits this evening at a local riverside restaurant. Transport will be provided after dinner back to the hotel.
Dong Hoi, Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City
Your day is at leisure until your transfer to Airport for your flight to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to connect with your onward flight.
Meals13 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 1 dinner
TransportCar, Walking, Plane, Train
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