Byways to the Tonkin Alps

5 days
VIETNAM, HA GIANG, PAYSAGE//Vietnam, Ha Giang, Landscapes

Five days on the less traveled roads to experience local hospitality in various community-based accommodation schemes. Load of activities everywhere, a huge lake, some high mountain, a boat ride in the gorges of the Chay River and the locals, an omnipresent friendliness all along. Get ready for unforgettable memories.

Experiences

  •  Meet the Dao apprentices of Lavievulinh and venture on the lake they call home
  •  Trek on various grounds: forest, steep mountainside, valleys and their terraced rice fields
  •  Take a boat ride in the gorges of the Chay River
  • Stay overnight at local homes

Day 1. Hanoi – Duong Lam – Lavievulinh
Meals: Lunch, dinner | Accommodation: Community-run ecolodge

Depart from your hotel, we head Northwest and quickly get to our first destination, Duong Lam. It is an ancient village of the Red River delta featuring the traditional social organization and architecture. It was amazingly preserved throughout the centuries. We stroll around, visit a temple and a pagoda, it feels like we jumped to a past era. We have the opportunities to meet a family or two and to enjoy a homemade lunch.

We then hit the road again and arrive at Ngoi Tu village in the afternoon. We take a short walk on small paths bordered by palm trees and bamboo forests to reach the banks of the Thac Ba lake. A warm welcome awaits us from our hosts at the Lavievulinh ecolodge. Lavievulinh is a development project co-initiated by the Dao community living around. You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about it during your stay there.

End of the afternoon at leisure. The sun sets over the lake and the dinner is served. Overnight in a private studio or in the traditional house on stilts.

Day 2. Lavievulinh, forest trekking
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner | Accommodation: Community-run ecolodge

We leave the lodge after breakfast. We have a full day of exciting exploration ahead. We trek across the village and through the forest. Our local guide is a plants and herbs expert, she will explain all along the way the potential culinary or medicinal use of leaves, fruits, and woods. The lunch is prepared by an apprentice of the project who came along: Jungle lunch, Dao style!

We keep hiking in the afternoon, some wild parts and some cultivated ones. We may have the chance to meet some farmers up there who travel a long way from home to cultivate a piece of land. We then walk down to a small village near by the road. We can sit in a local pub and enjoy a refreshing bath in the waterfall running next to it.

We are back at the lodge in the late afternoon, time for shower before dinner on the terrace.

Day 3. Lavievulinh – Nghia Do
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner | Accommodation: Homestay

Easy pace in the morning, we’re not in a rush and may even take the time for a last swim in the lake. We walk back to our vehicle and drive on a small winding road along the lake and its foothills. We arrive at the Northern edge of it about noon, time for lunch. We visit a Tay family living nearby for a homemade meal.
After lunch, we hit the road again, heading North and getting closer to the southern part of Ha Giang province. The mountains start showing up as we arrive in Nghia Do. We settle at the house of our hosts in a scenic spot. We have time to take a leisure walk around in the afternoon before coming back home for dinner.

Day 4. Nghia Do – Bac Ha
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner | Accommodation: Homestay

We leave our hosts in the morning and keep heading North toward Chinese border. We enter the Sino Vietnamese mountain ranges of Lao Cai. We will arrive in Bac Ha town for lunch (we may try to get there earlier if we are on a market day).
The afternoon is dedicated to hiking, on small trails and paths, across valleys and villages. We enjoy any opportunity to exchange with the locals. We are on lands of dense ethnicity; the dwellers wear colorful clothes and are always happy to have guests for a cup of tea.
We end the day in a small charming village. Another evening, another host but the warm hospitality remains. Dinner and overnight in a wooden house on stilts (it is getting usual).

Day 5. Bac Ha – Lao Cai
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner | Accommodation: Night train to Hanoi

After breakfast, we take a drive for about 20km to reach the spot where our hike starts. We walk for about 2 hours on an easy little path and arrive in a village lying near by the Chay River. We wander a while around the village and stop in a local home for lunch.
After lunch, we head to the pier and board a small boat for a nice ride through the gorges of the Chay River.
We finally get back in our vehicle to drive to Lao Cai. We will arrive in the late afternoon. Time for shower and for dinner before we hop on the night train to Hanoi.
In Hanoi, your guide will help you catch a taxi to transfer to your hotel.

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Five days on the less traveled roads to experience local hospitality in various community-based accommodation schemes. Get ready for unforgettable memories.

Prices and conditions

Prices from 490 US Dollrs per person

Included:

  • Accommodation during the tour
  • Meals as indicated in the program
  • Transfers in private, air-conditioned vehicle
  • Night train from Lao Cai to Hanoi
  • English speaking tour guide
  • All mentioned activities
  • All tickets and entry fees
  • VAT

Not included:

  • Beverages
  • Gratuities and donations
  • Personal expenses and individual insurance
  • All services not mentioned above in the “included” list