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Vietnam is home to many ethnic minority groups that live in scenically beautiful locations across the country. Especially, isolated regions of the far north of Vietnam that retained a wild beauty and rugged charm are most appealing to natural lovers.
Travellers when come to northern part of Vietnam can not only get the chance to meet up with these most warm hosts and get to know indigenous cultures; but also be able to immerse ones in the stunning beauty of rice terraces or enjoy all-level trekking through peaceful villages and forests.
Here are the most fascinating and chosen destinations recommended that bring you the utmost experience of Vietnam and will surely please your passion toward the nature exploration.
The highlights of this trip:
Departing for Mai Hich, a small village located in South West of Mai Chau district. Along the way, you can find several street markets held by the minorities people, and you will have pleasant time admiring the spectacular scenery of the North West forest while passing by Thung Khe mountain pass.
Around noon, arrive at Mai Hich and enjoy lunch prepared by local host.
In the afternoon, take a fun and exciting ride on bamboo raft along the Xia River crossing rice and cornfields. Continue with a short trek about 2.5 hours around the peaceful villages of Mai Hich, Na Sun, Xam Khoe and Buoc… to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding nature and observe rural activities of the White Thai people. Take part in some of the daily farming routines of local farmers. Check out a traditional weaving cooperative and have a chance to buy some hand-made souvenirs for your loved ones.
Installation at traditional stilt house or bungalow and have dinner.
After breakfast, start your full day trek through the picturesque landscapes of rice fields and mountains, passing by the villages from Na Phon, Na Meo until the villages of Te and Kha – on the shores of Kha Lake. Picnic lunch on the way. You can also choose to enjoy another scenic trek through the Cha Long and Chieng Sai villages, with a stop at Sam Pa village around noon time for lunch.
Coming to Mai Chau valley at different time of the year, you will be able to immerse yourself to the beauty of nature and rice paddies, changing from lush green field through February until August, to golden field during harvest season from May – October.
In the evening, enjoy Thai traditional dinner follow by dance performances and folk music by Thai young people. It will be a good chance for you to try bamboo dance with friendly farmers and taste “Can” pipe-wine (a traditional alcoholic beverage of ethnic minority groups in Vietnam is made from the fermentation of rice starch and various forest fruits in pottery jars).
After breakfast, leave Mai Chau for Moc Chau plateau.
On the way, stop at Pa Co for a short trek about 1 hour down along the sloping hill through villages, until you reach Pa Co market (held every Sunday). The market reflects the breath of life along with unique cultural features of each ethnic group and is considered the "living museum" on the cultural life of the community. A wide range of commodities are sold in Pa Co market, mostly brocade products. With the upland ethnic minorities, going to the fair is an indispensable activity in the life of the families. They gather at the market with many different purposes like exchange, purchase or simply meet each other after days of hard work. Hmong boys and girls can also make an appointment at the market to express their feelings... Pa Co market thus brings the characteristics of customs and habits of Hmong ethnic people to our witness.
Continue the road to Moc Chau plateau and visit green tea plantation, along the way, you will see various colorful flowers at each season of the year. During spring, the area is covered in pink and white colors of peach flowers (hoa dao) and plum blossom (hoa man) from January to February, later on from March until April is the season of mountain ebony flower (hoa ban)
From April to August, peach and plums begin appearing on the trees, it’s the best time to taste these fresh, delicious and juicy fruits from the garden. Toward the end of the year, Moc Chau is still colorful with white mustard flower (hoa cai trang) and wild sunflower (hoa da quy) from October to December.
Overnight and dinner in Moc Chau.
After breakfast, depart for Nghia Lo. On the way visit Dai Yem waterfall and Moc Chau heart-shaped green tea hill.
You will be passing through the tribal lands of the Thai, Hmong and Dao before arriving Nghia Lo in late afternoon. Welcome by your local host, enjoy dinner and overnight at homestay in Nghia Lo.
Bid farewell to your local host and start driving into one the most beautiful region of Northwest Vietnam where you can admire the terraced landscape and mountainous life of local ethnic minority.
Through the Hoang Lien Son mountain range where has the highest mountain of Indochina. Stop at the valley of Tu Le to begin a short trek. You will cross rice terraces and suspension bridges to reach villages of the Thai and Mong. In traditional clothes, they will welcome you with enthusiasm. Have lunch at Tu Le.
Reaching to Mu Cang Chai, you will pass through Khau Pha pass which is often covered by cloud at the elevation of 1,200 meters above sea level. The road is rugged, winding, squeezing through the rolling mountains or pristine jungle, and especially the picturesque terraced fields of Che Cu Nha, La Pan Tan and De Xu Phinh embraced by three mountains Khau Pha, Khau Sung and Khau Than.
Spend around 4 hours trek and hike along a trail which connect villages to villages, meeting different tribal people such as White Thai, Black Zao, Red H’mong… The journey is absolutely a paradise of rice terraces.
Transfer to local host and spend the night at Mu Cang Chai.
Travel to Sapa via Than Uyen, a beautiful region that is famous for its peaceful atmosphere, green rice terraces and grandiose mountains. Be impressed with the culture and the colorful traditional costumes of the local ethnic people.
Cross by the entrance Hoang Lien National Park, you will set foot on O Quy Ho mountain pass in altitude of nearly 2000m above sea. The mountain pass lies immense between the face of the earth and sky and is wrapped by clouds. Thi is one of the 4 most daunting passes in Vietnam's northwestern region, including Ma Pi Leng in Ha Giang, Khau Pha in Yen Bai, and Pha Din between Son La and Dien Bien province.
Continue the road and stop for a quick visit at silver fall before reaching Sapa for lunch.
After lunch, start a short journey by 15 minutes driving south toward Muong Hoa valley, one of the most beautiful valley, which is the largest terraced rice paddy in the Sapa area. (if you visit the valley sometime in between May and October, chance to observe and experience how the locals plant and harvest). The walk takes you from Lao Chai village of the Black H’mong minority to Ta Van village of the Giay minority. Opportunity to see the difference in tradition and costumes of the 2 ethnic groups.
Overnight night and dinner at local homestay.
After breakfast, start a hard trekking from Giang Ta Chai village where home to the Red Dzao who wear plain black trousers and a long black tunic with embroidered cuffs and lapels. You will be trekking through terraced rice paddies, bamboo forest and stunning waterfalls until Ta Van.
After lunch, transfer to Suoi Ho home to Hmong minority, where you will start an easy and pleasant walk to until reaching Ma Tra village. The trails will lead you through rice fields and offer a breathtaking landscape of endless terraces,
Transfer back to your homestay.
Take an early depature to Bac Ha, about 108km toward north east from Sapa. Bac Ha is one of towns in Lao Cai which has almost H’mong Hoa ethnic group here.
From Bac Ha, we will drive 20km more toward the north with breathtaking views along the valley to visit Can Cau market which is held weekly on Saturday. The market spills down a hillside with basic food stalls on one level and livestock at the bottom of the valley, especially its location offers a magnificent view of tree-covered mountains and villages as a backdrop. You will meet not only the H’mong Hoa people (flower H’mong), but also the Blue H’mong while visiting this market.
In the afternoon, take a short trekking to visit Ban Pho village where live the Black H’Mong and Flower H’Mong. Located near the town of Bac Ha district, commune Ban Pho village is located on a mountain cliff.
At the end of the day, head back to your homestay in Na Hoi village. The local here are renowned for their corn liquer and their extreme hospitality. You will have chance to try their wine and specialties during dinner time.
Wake up in the breezing peaceful environment, enjoy your breakfast and spend sometimes exploring the village of Na Hoi before saying goodbye to your host family.
Depart for Bac Ha market which held every Sunday. You will see the local people and people from different ethnic groups from other places come here to exchange their goods, make a lively colorful market in an unique way. Continue to visit the ancient edifice of the Meo King - Hoang A Tuong.
Head the road about 1h30 to Ta Cu Ty where you will find four minorities in the area, including Dao, Tay, Nung and H’mong.
After lunch at local homestay, start a haft day trek and hike along narrow trail on steep hillsides, through the forest to the top of Ta Cu Ty mountain range and downhill to Red Dzao village. The journey will take you to the most rural yet offer a breath-taking view of the rice terraces that stretch from mountains to mountains.
Return to homestay at the end of the day, have simple dinner with your local host and spend the night to enjoy the tranquility of nature.
After breakfast at local homestay, start trekking as long as you can toward Xin Man and enjoy the beautiful terraced landscape neighboring.
Have lunch at the middle way. Afternoon, drive to Hoang Su Phi and explore its fascinating terraced rice fields through the off beaten track. The area is exceptionally amazing during the harvest season (often falls from September to October), the natural fields are carpeted yellow on the extensive areas, which appeal to nature lovers and people who look for remarkable photo shoots.
Transfer to local homestay and overnight at Hoang Su Phi.
In the morning, start your day with a trekking at Nam Hong village. This is a small hamlet in the mountainside by Man Ta Pan. You meet local Red Dao ethnic minority group. Nam Hong offer an amazing scenery of primeval mountains and majestic terraced fields. While exploring the village, you will witness indigenous cultural activities of the Dao people, such as: Growing wet rice, planting forest trees... and you will even cross the stream along the trails, take photo besides an amazing waterfall in the region.
Lunch on the way, before reaching Hon village of Tay people. The village seems to be hidden to the world as you go through the narrow street to village, the beautiful and rustic scenes slowly appear in front of your eye with stilt house, palm trees and endless rice fields.
Arrival at your homestay, welcome by the warmest hospitality of Tay host, and free time to explore and admire the scenic landscape on foot or bicycle.
Overnight at homestay in Nghia Do. Dinner with your local host.
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