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Mountains, Tribes & National Parks of Northern Vietnam: Ba Be, Dong Van & Ha Giang

A memorable journey around the highlights of Vietnam’s highlands, this tour will enchant and beguile even those who have previously visited Vietnam’s north. Prepare to be whisked away from the buzz and bustle of colonial Hanoi - from speeding along the new highway to gliding serenely on the lake at Ba Be national park. Explore tiny traditional villages nestled in the hills and enjoy the rare chance to meet the unique ethnic groups that live there; share their distinct culture and food and soak up the action in the market place. Take winding road trips and pleasant hikes right into the northern heartland to truly experience the unrivalled scenery before heading completing the journey back in charming Hanoi.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Enjoy the beautiful historic architecture of Hanoi
  • Explore the caves and waterfalls at Ba Be national park
  • Meet the diverse, colorful and friendly inhabitants of the northern highlands
  • Gaze on the stunning scenery, from mountain tops to rice paddies and tea fields
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Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1
Ba Be National Park

Wake up bright and early to be whisked out of Hanoi by your driver. Enjoy the journey on the new highway to Thai Nguyen and the stunning scenery from there onwards, with evergreen forests, mountainside tea terraces and valleys filled with rice fields. Stop off for photo opportunities along the way, and after your leisurely four-hour drive you’ll be ready for a delicious local lunch in Bac Can. After an hour’s drive deeper into the country, you’ll arrive at the pier in Cho Ra to board a traditional motor sampan and glide along the river Nang. During your relaxing four-hour cruise, explore Puong Cave, Dau Dang Waterfall and sail to your destination, the emerald lake in Ba Be National Park. Head to your basic but comfortable guesthouse and relax for the evening, surrounded by nature.

Day 2
Bao Lac

After an early breakfast, embark upon the adventurous drive into the mountains, the winding road offering more gorgeous scenic views at every sharp bend. From Phia Den, take a walk down into the village home of the Flowery Hmong, a colorful ethnic group distinct to this area. After communing with the locals, enjoy a Vietnamese coffee in Tinh Tuc. Then it’s off to Bao Lac where you’ll check in to your comfortable hotel - we recommend Thuy Dong - and stop for a delicious lunch in the hotel’s pleasant restaurant. In the afternoon it’s just a short drive into the Khuoi Khun village, home to the Black Lo Lo ethnic group. Before the day fades, head back to the hotel, after a long day exploring, and a total of five hours traveling, you’ll be ready for a relaxing evening.

Day 3
Dong Van

Bao Vac is the meeting and trading center for many tribal groups who gather to shop and socialize. In the morning, experience the bustle and mix of the Red Hmong, Black Zao, San Chay and Black Lo Lo. Then it’s off to Meo Vac on the winding two-hour journey through villages of the Hmong, Nung and Dao groups. During lunch in Meo Vac, take the rare opportunity to snap a picture of the Black Lo Lo in their traditional dress. Continue on to Dong Van through Ma Pi Leng Pass and finally check in to your room at Lam Tung hotel. Explore Dong Van this evening with dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 4

After a hearty breakfast of Vietnamese noodle soup, head to the market in Dong Van or in nearby Xa Phin to experience a taste of local life. Next, visit the beautiful Vuong Palace of the Hmong King, a combination of French and oriental-style architecture. Just 30 minutes’ drive from here is Sung La Valley and Lung Cam Tren Village, home of the Hmong, where you may see traditional Khen music and dance. Enjoy a traditional lunch in Yen Minh town before a stunning hour and a half’s drive over Yen Minh Pass. Stop off in Lung Tam and Nam Dam villages and meet the smiling locals in their colorful dress, before continuing the road trip through Quan Ba Pass and up to the amazing panoramas at Co Tien Mountain, also known as Fairy Mountain. Finish the day with the journey of just over an hour into Ha Giang where you’ll check in to Lam Truong Xuan eco-lodge on the banks of the Mien River.

Day 5

Check out and say goodbye to Ha Giang as you embark on your long but beautiful journey back to Hanoi. Stop off along the way for photos of the scenery and a delicious lunch in Tuyen Quang ot Doan Hung. Check back into your comfortable Hanoi hotel around 5pm and enjoy the evening in the city.


Suggested Accommodations

Lam Tung hotel

Lam Tung hotel

In the perfect spot between the old market and the new market in the small and charming town of Dong Van, the Lam Tung is the ideal place to make a pit stop. While perhaps not opulent or luxurious, the hotel is new and clean with good quality fittings and appliances, and guests are made to feel very welcome. The rooms are spacious, and feature individual water heaters for the private bathrooms as well as flat screen televisions. What’s more, those with windows boast stunning views of the surrounding area in all its glory. 

Cao Nguyen Hotel

Cao Nguyen Hotel

Ideally located near the center of the pretty city of Hà Giang, on the banks of the River Lo, Hotel Cao Nguyen, otherwise known as Rocky Plateau Hotel, is one of the newer hotels in the town. Surrounded by the bustle of the town and stalls selling steaming bowls of Pho, the hotel - while not a luxury outfit - is clean, welcoming and well-equipped. Twin and double rooms are spacious with flat-screen televisions and free WiFi, while the private bathrooms with running hot water are better than most, though the smell of smoke is a tad off-putting. After a day exploring the stunning scenery around the area, guests will look forward to a hearty meal. The hotel restaurant serves up traditional Vietnamese fare that should hit the spot before weary travelers bed down for the night, to prepare to continue the adventure the following day.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

This richly historic 364-room French colonial masterpiece built in 1901 is one of Vietnam's finest hotels, with luxuriously appointed rooms, attentive staff and gracious service. It is ideally located in central Hanoi and houses a beautiful interior garden. Excellent French cuisine is served at Le Beaulieu, and Hanoi specialties are offered at Spices Garden. The hotel has a well-equipped fitness center with cardio machines and weights, as well as a swimming pool and spa offering massage treatments. All of the guest rooms have broadband Internet access and are decorated in an opulent, neo-classical style.

Meet An Asia Expert
From Travelogues
Our General Manager Victoria Hilley lived in Hanoi for a year, where she enjoyed motorbiking through the villages & rice terraces of Vietnam's mountainous north.
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