We've recieved many requests for just this tour and we've had many clients enjoy this journey around the remote reaches of northern Vietnam, armed with a good camera and loads of memory! The tour is a scheduled trip based on getting to the markets on certain days, alteration might result in missing one or two minority markets. We also will do the research on as some pop up markets happen only on the Vietnamese Lunar calender. Few tourist get to the Lung Phin market and it only occurs on the cycle of the Lunar calender - we'll have to check on the dates to insure you get to this truly remote and unique market day! Charge the batteries, load the memory and enjoy the sites and sensations of Vietnam's unique ethnic minority markets!
Day to Day Itinerary:
Day 1 (Saturday): Hanoi/Ha Giang/Pan Hou (L, D, G)
After breakfast, you’ll drive to Ha Giang, the northernmost province of Vietnam. You’ll stop en route at Tuyen Quang to visit the remains of the 15th century Mac Dynasty Citadel and a market nearby. After lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll continue driving on a winding single lane road through strikingly mountainous scenery. You’ll spend the night in the ‘base camp’ hotel called Pan Hou Village.
Pan Hou Village is a purpose-built ecotourism hotel which uses solar energy for lighting and heating. The village includes 14 rooms with bathrooms attached in 5 stilt-houses modelled on the traditional house of the Dzao ethnic people. It has one large lounge with a bar and a restaurant, serving Vietnamese and international dishes in separate buildings and all of the staff are employed from the local ethnic community.
Day 2 (Sunday): Pan Hou Village/Hoang Su Phi/Xin Man/Ha Giang (B, L, G)
This morning, you’ll devote to two of the most colorful ethnic markets in the northern Vietnam. You’ll start with a short drive to the small rural district of Hoang Su Phi to visit this weekly ethnic market. After about 2 hours, you’ll continue to Xin Man ethnic market. Please keep one eye while travelling a long the route today as you may take the great shots that you can only do in Vietnam.
After lunch in a local restaurant, you’ll drive back track to Hoang Su Phi thence to Ha Giang, arriving in the late afternoon. After checking into your hotel, you’ll have the rest of the day to relax or wander along the Lo River and the local town.
Day 3 (Monday): Ha Giang/Meo Vac (B, L, G)
After breakfast, you’ll visit the small communities of Quan Ba, Yen Minh and Dong Van, some of the most picturesque villages in the northern tip of Vietnam. The scenery is spectacular – a vast limestone mountain range and perpendicular walls of rock. There will be plenty of opportunities to take photos, but please be unobtrusive when photographing the local people – cameras and camcorders are rare in the area. You’ll call in at the infamous Vuong Palace, once the home of a high-ranking H'mong family during French colonial rule. The palace attracts architecturally minded visitors due to its unusual combination of European and Chinese styles. From there you drive to Dong Van town where your guide will show you its charming ‘Old Streets’ near the market. After lunch, a scenic route will take you to the Ma Pi Leng Pass from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Nho Que River – with luck you might see one of the northeast’s stunning sunsets. Finally, after your busy day, you’ll arrive at Meo Vac in the late afternoon where you’ll spend the night.
Day 4 (Tuesday): Meo Vac/Lung Phin Market-Tiger Day/Ha Giang (B, L, G)
After breakfast and a brief visit to Meo Vac local market, you’ll return to Yen Minh via a different scenic route. The breath-taking scenery makes today a real worthwhile challenge - you’ll travel along rough roads and tortuous bends to Lung Phin, another small town about 14km from Meo Vac where you’ll enjoy visiting one of the most colourful ethnic markets in the northern Vietnam. Your lunch will be arranged in a local restaurant in Quan Ba Town.
From there, you’ll travel back to Ha Giang, thence to Tha village [if time permits] for visiting and taking photos. You’ll then drive back to your hotel in the city centre. After checking into your accommodation, you might consider wandering around the city.
Most mountain markets in Vietnam happen at weekends, but Lung Phin is an exception. Its calendar is based on the dates of 12 animal designations - Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare/Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep/Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. The market looks like a huddle of thatched huts on a hillside and takes place every Monkey and Tiger day. The local people tether their animals to sell at the corner of the market. If you can arrange your travel in time to co-ordinate with the market days, you’ll experience an untouched culture that has experienced very little change in the last millennium.
Day 5 (Wednesday): Ha Giang/Sapa (B, L, G)
After breakfast, you’ll drive to Sapa via Viet Quang, a small town perched on the mountainside opposite Mt. Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest peak. Your route will take you through mountainous landscapes and striking scenery. You’ll have lunch in a local restaurant. You’ll arrive in Sapa in the late afternoon. After checking into your hotel, you’ll have the rest of the day to relax or explore the town by your own. You’ll spend the night in Sapa.
Day 6 (Thursday): Sapa/Ta Phin (B, L, G)
After breakfast at hotel, the guide will take you around Sapa town to see the daily life of local people and to visit the busy market at town in the morning.
After that, your journey will be mostly driving downhill towards Lao Cai before taking a left turn into a small paved road leading to Ta Phin village. Here you can experience the unmixed cultural life of Black H’mong and Red Dao minorities, the two largest ethnic groups in the area living happily together while still maintaining their own traditions. The two groups, who are both well-known for handicraft, are recognized by their dressing style. You will have a walk around the village and visit one of the local houses. You will then be transferred back to Sapa.
Day 7 (Friday): Sapa/Lao Chai/Ta Van/Giang Ta Chai/Lao Cai (Muong Hoa Valley) /Sapa or Lao Cai (B, L, G)
You will commence your journey by a drive from Sapa to Lao Chai, a Black H’mong ethnic minority village. You will then be able to walk from Lao Chai to Ta Van village where the Giay ethnic minority hill tribe lives. Here you will be able to rest and enjoy your lunch in a local house.
After lunch the walk continues on a hilly trail through a bamboo forest to Giang Ta Chai, a Red Dao ethnic minority village. On the way, you can make a stop at a waterfall for a rest and photographing. Once leaving the village, you will descend to a suspension bridge before ascending to the main road where your vehicle is awaited for your journey back to Sapa. You’ll continue to go to Lao Cai for overnight stay so that you would save one hour drive from Sapa to Lai Cai on the following morning.
Day 8 (Saturday): Lao Cai/Pha Long Market/ Lao Cai (L, G)
After breakfast, you will enjoy a scenic drive to visit the Pha Long (Saturday market) where you can meet ethnic groups that are only found in this particular district of Vietnam, mostly Hmong, Nung, Tou Zi, Pa Zi and Tou Lao. You’ll then drive to Cao Son for lunch at Cao Son Lodge.
After lunch, a short drive will take you to some nearby villages of Flower H’mong people including Ngai Phong Cho, Silaca village for visiting and taking photos. Here you can experience the unique customs and traditions of one of the oldest villages in the Cao Son area. Once you are in the later village, you can admire the panoramic view of a lush valley on the banks of the Chay River. From there, your vehicle will take you to Lao Cai for overnight accommodation.
Day 9 (Sunday, April 10): Lao Cai/Muong Hum Ethnic Market/Lao Cai/Hanoi (B, L, G
After having breakfast, you will travel by car to Muong Hum, which is 60 kms Northwest of Lao Cai. From Lao Cai, you turn onto a dirt and rough road running through mountainous area. Muong Hum is located 35km from Y Ty border. On Sunday, it is always packed with colorful ethnic minorities such as the Ha Nhi, Phu La, Tu Di, Black Dao, Giay, Red H’mong and Black H’mong. They come to buy and sell local products such as foods and materials for agriculture and fabric. After spending the whole morning exploring the market, you will have lunch in a local restaurant.
After lunch, you will be taken back to hotel in Lao Cai for refreshment before boarding overnight train back Hanoi.
Approx: 5 hours driving/ 0.5 hour walking
Muong Hum is a typical market of its kind. The trip offers you an opportunity to meet a large variety of ethnic minorities such as the Ha Nhi, Phu La, Tu Di, Black Dao, Giay, Red H’mong and Black H’mong. You will be able to visit Muong Vi Caves which are thousand meters long with beautiful stalagmite and stalactite formed in strange shape.
Day 10 (Monday): Arrival in Hanoi (GP)
Upon arrival in Hanoi Railway station in the early morning, your guide will be waiting for you to take you to your hotel.
*** End of Tour***
• Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.
• Pick-ups and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicle (7-seat car: Zace or Ford Everest) as specified in the itinerary above (Please note: pick-ups will be by a guide and driver or, where a guide is not necessary, a driver only. All unaccompanied drivers will be briefed in advance, and will carry a mobile phone to ensure smooth transfer)
• Travel in an appropriate private air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced safe driver.
• One train ticket: Hanoi – Lao Cai (air-con soft four berth cabin in good local standard in Fanxipan or Sapaly carriage – private cabin)
• The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary (please note: guides will be on hand from pick-up until guests’ return to their hotel or reaching their destination). Free days or part days will not include the services of a guide unless requested and included in the final itinerary.
• Where necessary, entry fees for all visits as mentioned in the programme.
• Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) in the best local restaurants
• VAT and other taxes
• International flight tickets and airport tax.
• Accommodation in Hanoi and early check-in on Day 10
• Dinners, except as specified above.
• Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.