North West Vietnam Adventure Tour in 9 Days
During this tour, you will see huge chunks of northwestern Vietnam. You can witness historic landmarks, like the town of Dien Bien Phu, the Muong Thanh airfield, and the intense, well-known traffic of Hanoi, the capital city. Explore many various parts of the country: the rice terraces in Sapa, the Son La hydroelectric dam, the Prison Museum in Son La, the trails that lead from Sapa into Ban Ho, and the valleys and passes that surround the path from Hanoi to Mai Chau village. At the villages, you can spend time with the ethnic Tay and Dzao minorities: have dinner and watch traditional activities with them, then sleep in their houses at night. You will hike and walk a lot during this trip, but you'll also be driven around by Jeep a lot of the time. This allows you to travel in comfort, and to make lasting friendships while you're zipping through the Vietnamese countryside.
On the first day, a guide will take you from the Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, and you'll take a tour of this capital city. Day 2 is when you'll pass from Hanoi to Mai Chau village, passing by beautiful mountainous scenery along the way. Visit the local connected villages, where you can spend time with the Thai minorities who live there. On the third day, visit the Prison Museum of Son La, then have dinner at the Cong Doan Hotel. The following day, visit the market of Thuan Chau and the Phadin Pass; it's in the second location that you'll spend time with the blue Hmong people. In Dien Bien Phu, you can explore this historically important village, where the Vietnamese thwarted the French. The next day is when you'll visit the war-related tourist destinations of Dien Bien Phu, including A1 and the C1 Hill. A tour guide will tell you everything you need to know about these famous structures. On Day 6, after you've headed to Myong Lay, you'll visit the hydroelectric plant in Son La, then spend the night at a hotel in Muong Lay. The seventh day is when you will head from Sapa and its lovely rice terraces all the way to the village inhabited by the native Dzao people. Picnic beside the stream, and hike over to Ban Ho. At Ban Ho, you will get acquainted with the local Tay people, and sleep with one of these families. During Day 8, you will explore Sapa, which is one of the busiest cities in northwest Vietnam. Return to Hanoi by bus. Then, on the ninth day, have breakfast at a hotel in the capital city. You have time to shop a bit, and then you will be brought back to the airport.
Day 1: Arrival - Hanoi
When you arrive in Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport, you will be greeted by our guide. The tour of the city that we will then arrange for you will be different, depending on what time your flight was. You may end up seeing a water puppet show, or embarking on a cycling tour into the part of the city that used to be full of trading establishments. After the tour, you'll sleep overnight at the hotel. Highlight: On your first night, you will spend time touring around Hanoi. You might see a water puppet show, or bike around the city’s old trading quarter, depending on what time your flight ended.
Day 2: Hanoi - Mai Chau Village (B, L, D)
After you wake up in the hotel the following morning, set off in a Jeep with the other crew members. The Jeep will weave through Hanoi’s legendary traffic of Hanoi in the direction of the province of Hoa Binh. On the way, the Jeep will move through valleys and passes, then start descending toward the Mai Chau valley. It's at the point that you get off, and you're free to explore the two attached villages in this area. Not only can you learn about the ethnic Thai minorities of Vietnam, but you can also eat dinner with them. After you eat, watch traditional dances (and have a taste of rice wine). You will be given a room to sleep in with the locals; prepare yourself for tomorrow’s journey before you go to sleep. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. Highlight: You will spend many hours with the ethnic minorities of the Mai Chau valley area. Have dinner with them, drink some rice wine, watch traditional Vietnamese dances with them, and cap it all off by sleeping in their home at night.
Day 3: Mai Chau - Moc Chau - Son La (B, L, D)
For this trip of this day, you will be in the car for about the same amount of distance as on the second day. During the afternoon, a visit to Son La’s Prison Museum will remind you of the inequalities imposed by France’s colonial rule of Vietnam–and it will chill your blood, as some of these imbalances still exist today. Afterward, partake in dinner at the Cong Doan Hotel, which is also where you turn in for the night. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. Highlight: Visit the Prison Museum in Son La, where you can learn about all the horrors imposed on Vietnam by French colonial rule.
Day 4: Son La - Dien Bien Phu (B, L, D)
On the fourth day, you are taken to the market of Thuan Chau. After visiting the market, the tour group will go to Phadin Pass, where they will visit the blue Hmong people who live in the area. The next stop is Tuan Giao, where it's time for lunch. After lunch, head on over to Dien Bien Phu; this is where the French settlers wanted to lead the Viet Minh—who, at the time, were led by Ho Chi Minh–into the valley. To do this, the French intended to send General Giap in as a lure; instead, the general was able to place artillery on the ridges around the area, which had the effect of defending the area. Once you're done visiting Dien Bien Phu, you'll spend the night in the Muong Thanh Hotel. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. Highlight: Visit Dien Bien Phu, a city where the local Vietnamese thwarted the French colonial forces in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, during the first Indochina War.
Day 5: Dien Bien Phu - Muong Lay (B, L, D)
During the morning of the fifth day, you'll visit landmark areas related to war, like A1, C1 Hill, the Muong Thanh airfield, and De Castres’s bookee. During this part of the trip, the tour guide will tell you all sorts of information about Vietnam’s campaign against the French people, which took place in 1054. Following the tour, you'll return to the hotel, where you'll check out, eat lunch, and then leave so you can go visit Muong Lay. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. Highlight: Visit war-related landmarks in Dien Bien Phu, such as the C1 Hill and the Muong Thanh airfield. You are accompanied by a tour guide.
Day 6: Muong Lay - Lai Chau - Sapa (B, L, D)
The trip to Muong Lay takes three and a half hours. Once you get there, visit the Bottom of Son La Hydro Electric Plant. The next step is to stop at the Lan Anh hotel. At this hotel, you'll be able to take pictures and have dinner. You'll spend the night in a hotel in Muong Lay. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. Highlight: This day is dedicated to visiting the Bottom of Son La Dam, which has been called “the project of the century.”
Day 7: Sapa - Ban Ho (B, L, D)
You will travel along the rice terraces of Sapa on your way to the village where the Dzao live; the Dzao are a hill-based tribe. Lunch is eaten by the side of an energetic stream, and followed by some hiking, which takes place along the trails and dirt roads that lead into Ban Ho. At Ban Ho, you will spend the night with a Tay host family. As for sleeping, the family will let you spend the night in one of their beds; the mattress will be comfortable, and (yet more enjoyable, perhaps) the bed will have convenient mosquito netting. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. Highlight: The highlight of the seventh day is when you get to travel on the trails and roads that take you to Ban Ho; once you get to the town, you'll meet and greet with the local Tay people.
Day 8: Ban Ho - Sapa - Hanoi by Bus (B, L)
After you've woken up, a Jeep driver will take you back to Sapa. You can spend an afternoon exploring this town, as nothing specific is scheduled at this time. Then, after you're done exploring, a bus will take you back to Hanoi; there are two comfort breaks during this trip. Once you arrive at the capital city, you will sleep in a hotel in the city. Breakfast and lunch are included. Highlight: Explore the town of Sapa, which is a great place for tourists to spend time in: it has shops, restaurants, and everything else.
Day 9: Hanoi - Airport transfer (B)
In the morning, you can eat breakfast at the hotel. You have time to shop a bit following breakfast; this is the last leg of the journey. The next step is to check out, and from there to transfer to the airport. Your trip ends in Hanoi. Breakfast is included. Highlight: Sleep in at the hotel, catch a nice breakfast, and have fun shopping.
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