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Vietnam Minority Market Expedition Week

7 days 8 nights

Introduction                                                                                                                                          Photo Gallery of this trip

Markets of the north are where minorities gather for buying, selling, gossip and getting the basics of life for the week.  We’ll visit 5 active markets with a variety of minorities along the border with China and explore some of the most dramatic scenery of northern Vietnam.   This is an excellent opportunity to purchase local handicrafts and gifts directly from the makers and contribute directly to the economy.  Our stay in the north covers the same roads from time to time and your guide will inform you of what roads we will backtrack on so you can take those photos you missed on the first time along the way!


Brief Itinerary

Day 1/Monday: Hanoi - Night Train to Lao Cai

Day 2/Tuesday: Lao Cai - Coc Ly Market - Boat cruise - Visit a Tay minority village -Sapa
Day 3/Wednesday: Daily market in Sapa -
Topas Eco-Lodge
Day 4/Thursday:
Ban Ho Valley Trek to Tay and Red Dao minority villages
Day 5/Friday:
Topas Eco - Sapa - Lao Cai - Bac Ha - Walk to Ban Pho Village of Flower Hmong and Tay minority
Day 6/
Saturday: Bac Ha - Can Cau Market - Xin Man - Hoang Su Phi
Day 7/Sunday:  Hoang Su Phi Market - Xin Man Market - Bac Ha - Lao Cai – Night train to Hanoi

Day 8/Monday: Arrive in Hanoi


Day to Day Itinerary


Day 1/Monday: Hanoi - Night Train to Lao Cai

Early evening in Hanoi, we transfer you to the Hanoi Railway Station for the overnight train to Lao Cai.  We travel in 4 berth soft sleepers with air-con and the train ride, while at night is the start of our journey!


Accommodation: Four berth cabin with soft sleeper on the train
Transit: 15 minutes to the train station/ 8 hours by train
Meal plan: none


Day 2/Tuesday: Lao Cai - Coc Ly Market - Boat cruise - Visit a Tay minority village – Sapa

We arrive in Lao Cai in the early morning and your guide will meet you at the station.  We’ll enjoy breakfast and drive to Coc Ly Market, a market only on Tuesday.The drive is easy and through rural areas and along the Chinese border.  The last 30 km are on a secondary road and by the time we arrive, the market will be full of traders, shoppers and few tourists.

The minorities are not concerned with foreigner’s presence and you will mix in with Flower Hmoung, Black Dao Tay and various minorities.  The market is located on the ChayRiver which flows from China.  This market is small but very charming and not over-run by tourists.

After visiting the market, you travel by boat down the ChayRiver. Along the ride, you can enjoy magnificent sight of the beautiful caves and life on the riverbank. You will have lunch on a beach or later in a village. The trip will also offers you a visit to Trung Dovillage of Tay minority, where you can stop by a traditional Tay house for a cup of tea. Further downstream we arrive at BaoNhaiBridge and transfer to our car for the drive to Sapa.


 Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 4.5 hours sealed road, a hour dirt road
Trekkingtime: limited
Roaddifficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 3/Wednesday: Daily market in Sapa - Topas Eco-Lodge

We have breakfast at the hotel and are off to see the daily market in Sapa.  We’ll then walk up to HamRongMountain for a bird’s eye view of Sapa and the MuongHoaValley.  The botanical gardens are also along the walk and we’ll make our way down for lunch in town. 

 After lunch we take a drive up to Tram Ton pass (Heaven’s Gate).  The pass is about 2000 metres above sea level and when clear offers some of the most amazing views in the northern Vietnam.  From here we go back through Sapa and continue to an isolated Eco-Lodge for the next two days.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 2.5 hours sealed road
Trekkingtime: limited
Roaddifficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 4/Thursday: Ban Ho Valley Trek to Tay and Red Dao minority villages

You will travel by car to Su Pan from where you will commence your walk downhill through the breathtaking scenery. On the way you will pass through the Ban Ho village where you will be able to see the stunning views of the valley and rice paddy terraces. You will have the opportunity to explore the Ban Ho village of Tay minority before crossing the suspension bridge over the river, where your guide will prepare a delicious lunch in a local house.

 
The walk then continues through the rice fields to the Red Dao village of Nam Toong, a Red Dao village, where you will enjoy a cup of tea before heading back to Ban Ho to take a nice swim in the river nearby. You will then take the walk uphill to Su Pan. Here you return to the lodges by car.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 30 minutes driving
Trekkingtime: 4 hours
Roaddifficulty: Moderate - difficult
Meal plan: B, L


Day 5/Friday: Topas Eco - Sapa - Lao Cai - Bac Ha - Walk to Ban Pho Village of Flower Hmong and Tay minority

We sleep in today and enjoy late breakfast.  The rest of the morning is for your relaxation. The lodges locate atop of a large hill side overlooking the valley and mountains. From your bungalow, you will enjoy breathtaking view over Ban Ho valley surrounded by stunning mountains. Relax, Enjoy.

Lunch will be at the Eco Lodge and we are then driving to Bac Ha.  There is time to stop and take pictures of scenic valleys and mountains.  We’ve travelled this road on the way up to Sapa so places you saw on the way up you’d like a memory of, we’ll stop!  On arrival in Bac Ha, we check in hotel and take a little time to stretch your legs with a short walk to BanPhoVillage of Flower Hmong and Tay minority for a look at village life.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 5 hours sealed road
Trekkingtime: limited
Roaddifficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 6/Saturday: Bac Ha - Can Cau Market - Xin Man - Hoang Su Phi

We leave Bac Ha for one of the most fascinating open air markets in the region which takes place only on Saturday in Can Cau.  Situated in the mountains in border area, 20 km from Bac Ha, Can Cau is a small, but very colorful market. It always delivers a very photogenic display of Flower Hmong, Nung, Phu La ethnic costumes. Chinese people also come for trading. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, we continue over the mountains and through the forests to Hoang Su Phi via Xin Man, a remote town in Ha Giang Province for the night.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 5 hours sealed road
Trekkingtime: Variable
Roaddifficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 7/Sunday:  Hoang Su Phi Market - Xin Man Market - Bac Ha - Lao Cai - Night train to Hanoi

Hoang Su Phi Market is one of the more isolated markets in the north and multiple minorities come for the Sunday Market.  We have breakfast and then walk to the market for an hour visit and then traverse back to get the tail end of the Xin Man Market. Both markets are still among the least visited markets in the region.

We have a simple lunch at the market and continue on back to Bac Ha. If time permits, we take a short visit to the Hmong KingPalace. We then begin our journey back to Lao Cai, arriving around early evening and stop at the FriendshipBridge entry point to China and visit the temple there.  We then check into a hotel in Lao Cai for showers before boarding the night train back to Hanoi.


 Accommodation: Four berth cabin with soft sleeper on the train
Transit: 4.5 hours sealed road, 1 hour secondary road
Trekkingtime: 2 hours
Roaddifficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L, D


 Day 8/Monday: Arrive in Hanoi

We arrive early morning in Hanoi and we take you to a hotel of your choice.


Accommodation: Hotel or Guesthouse from our list
Transit: 20 minutes


Our trip includes 

  • English speaking guide
  • Accommodation as indicated
  • Meals as indicated
  • One way train ticket
  • Transportation by car or minivan
  • Tour as indicated
  • Entrance fee


Our trip excludes

  • Domestic and international flights
  • Visa & visa arrangement
  • Meals not indicated
  • Drinking water, soft drink and alcohol
  • Tips & personal expenses

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