Northen culture and adventure tour

  • icon-date17 DAYS
  • icon-date12 Meals

With Northern Culture and Adventure tour, you will explore the breathtaking landscapes and unique cultures of northern Vietnam fully. Starting in Hanoi with the Old Town and epic food, we make our way to Mai Chau and Mu Cang Chai which are the mountainous region, trek through rolling hills and immerse yourself in the stunning nature of Ha Giang, Ba Be, and Bac Son Valley. This journey covers all the must-see travel destinations in the North of Vietnam and also brings you to the hidden lands with hill tribe villages and spectacular unseen lands.


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    Explore your itinerary:

    Day 1: Hello Hanoi (D)

    Our guide and driver will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to your hotel for check-in and drop off your bags and get some rest. Relax after your long flight and enjoy a delicious welcome dinner. (Our first-day schedule could be created and modified to meet your time of arrival).

    Overnight in Hanoi.

    Day 2: Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Tràng An – Van Long Nature Reserve (B, L)

    Enjoy your breakfast at the hotel then the driver come and transfer you to Ninh Binh. Enjoy a boat ride in Trang An – the spectacular labyrinth of mirrored waters. On the 2.5 hours journey, you will experience numerous caves: Hang Toi, length of 320 meters, Hang Sang, 90 meters, and Hang Nau Ruou 250 meters… During the whole journey, you can get off your boat to relax and immerse yourself in a stunning landscape of fascinatingly

    shaped rock formations, water, and pagodas. Also, you have a chance to visit the famous film set of King Kong: Skull Island during the boat trip – the US blockbuster filmed in 2016 with many scenes in Ninh Binh landscapes such as Trang An, Van Long natural reserve, and Tam Coc.

    We depart to the Nature Reserve of Van Long. We board a bamboo rowboat and we arrive for 1-hour rowing along this beautiful wetland of Van Long, enjoying spectacular scenery surrounded by rice paddies and towering limestone mountain peaks. Alternatively, you might opt for a biking trip around the countryside of Van Long nature reserve.

    Day 3: Van Long Nature Reserve – Mai Châu (B, L)

    We begin our day with a 3.5-hour drive from Van Long to Mai Chau. The short journey offers many beautiful passes and some panoramic views down to the valley. Arrive at Mai Chau around midday and head to a traditional stilt house where your lunch is served by local people. In the afternoon, we will cycle around the town, and visit small stilt houses of the Thai minority to learn about their cultures, customs, and lifestyles. There will be a workshop at the local handicraft house for you to observe and make one for yourself. Dinner will be served with “Ruou Can” which is made of fermented glutinous rice mixed with several kinds of herbs from local forests. We don’t drink Ruou Can with a glass or cup, we use slim bamboo tubes.

    Day 4: Mai Chau – Nghĩa Lo – Tu Le (B, L)

    After breakfast, we depart to Tu Le in Yen Bai province. Tu Le is a valley located between three high peaks: Khau Pha, Khau Than, and Khau Song. Tu Le always captivates many tourists with the wild beauty of the mountains. Especially when stopping for the night at Tu Le Mu Cang Chai, you can see the beautiful scenery when on bright moon days the whole area is immersed in the fanciful moonlight creating a majestic and poetic scene.

    Day 5: Tu Le – Mu Cang Chai (B)

    After breakfast, we will then drive through Khau Pha Pass which is one of the greatest passes in the Northern part of Vietnam to get to Mu Cang Chai. These scenic roads offer loads of viewpoints and places for pictures while passing through different villages such as Lim Mong, Lim Thai, and especially La Pan Tan which is well-known for large and high rice terraces that his hand-built by H’Mong people over the past hundreds of years or the paragliding point on top of this pass.

    Overnight in Mu Cang Chai.

    Day 6: Mu Cang Chai – Sapa – Bac Ha (B)

    Once we make our way through the palace we will have plenty of free time to roam around the area and explore. Start with a short hike to “Horseshoe” or “Rasberry Hill” (Đồi Mâm Xôi In Vietnamese)- the most picturesque spot for rice terraces with round shapes of the rice fields. The land is 2,200 hectares and is shared by three villages – La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha, and De Xu Phinh. The profound beauty of the land has been pictured by many famous photographers and published in many magazines. After that, we will be off the road for Sapa and another hike to Love waterfall which is a part of Hoang Lien National Park.

    We continue our journey to Bac Ha, and attend the market that is known as the most colorful ethnic market of all Northwest Vietnam. It is a fusion of many different hill tribes inhabiting around Bac Ha mountain district and here you can easily distinguish them by their different colorful costume dressing.

    Overnight in Bac Ha.

    Day 7: Bac Ha – Xin Man. – Hoang Su Phi – Ban Luoc (B)

    After your breakfast in the hotel, we are going to Xin Man. This place is immense, up to 600 km2 wide, and is the living area of many ethnic minorities. Xin Man is bestowed by nature with a wonderfully beautiful picture, with all the typical scenery of the Northwest mountains and forests. Therefore, this mountainous district is gradually known and visited by many tourists. Coming to Xin Man, in addition to experiencing beautiful scenery, visitors can also discover the indigenous culture of the Tay, Nung, Hoa, H’mong ethnic groups, etc.

    Depart to Hoang Su Phi which is the paradise of rice terraces. Unlike other places in northern Vietnam, the rice terrace in Hoang Su Phi spreads stunningly through many villages and they are all topographically different from each other. Bản Phùng rice terraces are cultivated by the La Chí tribe and listed as the highest terraced fields in Vietnam whereas Hồ Thầu belongs to the Red Dao ethnic group and here, local farmers plant their rice fields on the same pieces of land as the forest to prevent flood and landslide. Thong Nguyen is ranked as the most beautiful rice terrace in Hoang Su Phi, and Nam Ty’s terraced fields are recognized as national monuments. The path not only covers the rice terrace but also carries us into the lush forest and majestic mountain slopes. Lunch will be served at any place you would like to. By the late afternoon, go to your homestay in Ban Luoc where you will have the rest of the day free.

    Day 8: Ban Luoc – Ho Thay – Thong Nguyen (B)

    After breakfast, we will hop on the car and drive through the mountainous terrain to Hoang Su Phi which is the home of many spectacular rice terraces and unique hill tribe villages and explore the culture of the Dzao Ethic in Ban Luoc village. Continue to Thong Nguyen is ranked as the most beautiful rice terrace in Hoang Su Phi, and Nam Ty’s terraced fields are recognized as national monuments. The path not only covers the rice terrace but also carries us into the lush forest and majestic mountain slope.

    Day 9: Thong Nguyen – Ha Giang – Quan Ba (B)

    After having your complimentary breakfast, say goodbye to our friendly host for a deep exploration of Ban Luoc Village. The days start with a nice adventurous trek up to the top of a mountain that offers us – more impressive captivation of multi-layered rice terraces, viewing more daily life of local Dzao, and contemplating a nice waterfall in the region. We continue driving on the trail to reach Quan Ba town. From there we will mark our first stop at a beautiful town offering magnificent views of the Heaven Gate and the Twin Mountains (Fairy Bosom).

    Day 10: Quan Ba – Lung Cu – Dong Van (B)

    Enjoy the morning light with the sounds of the mountainous region, check out, and prepare yourself as today we will reach the northernmost frontier of Vietnam. After breakfast and say goodbye to the host of our homestay and drive further north to Dong Van Karst Plateau, the perfect location to snap great photos. On the way, we will stop to visit Sung La valley with the old traditional clay house of the Hmong family & Vuong Palace which belonged to Vuong Trinh Duc, regarded as the H’Mong King who led 70 000 H’Mong ethnic people in this area during the French colonial.

    Back on the trail, continuing our loop to the final frontier and traveling through Ma Le, the ‘one-eyed ghost’ area. This road remains a secret, it can take you to the northernmost point of Vietnam: Lung Cu, home of the Lo Lo ethnic minority.

    Day 11: Dong Van – Meo Vac (B)

    If we are lucky to be in Dong Van on a Sunday morning, we cannot miss out on the tribe market which is only held once a week and gathers all the local ethnic minorities in the area. After that, escape the market & downtown Dong Van and start driving for about 30 mins to visit Ma Pi Leng Pass, one of the most beautiful passes in Vietnam. In between cliffs, you can see below the tranquil river Nho Que making its way into the land. Your journey takes you near the clouds as we will trek on a H’mong path along Ma Pi Leng Pass. After the trek, we will continue driving to Meo Vac for a boat trip on the Nho Que river, and witness the greatest canyon in northern Vietnam. Our motorbike riding will end in Meo Vac & check in a lovely clay house of a Hmong family in Meo Vac overnight.

    Day 12: Meo Vac – Ba Be (B)

    Take another day to travel from Meo Vac to Ba Be Lake in Bac Kan province. Let’s discover a national park! Today we will explore the beauties of Ba Be National Park for a boat ride along the Nang River, and immerse ourselves in the stunning Ba Be Lake, the caves of Puong Grotto – famous for its thousands of bats (yes, you read that right). Before having lunch, we will go down to the Nang River and see the Dau Dang Waterfall. Enjoy a superb dinner with the host and enjoy your peaceful evening there.

    Day 13: Ba Be – Cao Bang – Ban Gioc Waterfall (B)

    Take another day to travel from Ba Be to Cao Bang via Phia Oac-Phia Den national park. We will visit Kolia Organic Tea Farm on the way for a short break and enjoy a cup of tea grown locally. Then, make our way to Ban Gioc Waterfall. Earning the award of the fourth largest waterfall in the world and the largest waterfall in South East Asia, Ban Gioc Waterfall won’t disappoint you. It is likened to the fairy scene between the mountains and the forest with magnificent and poetic white-water layers. You will raft along the stream and get close-up photos of the fall. At the waterfall, you can take a bamboo boat to view the beautiful scenery of Ban Gioc waterfall – one of the largest and possibly the most impressive waterfalls in Vietnam.

    Day 14: Ban Gioc exploration (B)

    Not far from Ban Gioc Waterfall, Nguom Ngao Cave is located inside a spectacular mountain with a length of 2144m and 3 main gates. Once we get inside the cave, we will surely be overwhelmed by the mysterious and shimmering scenery with stalactites in various shapes and murmuring streams. The last activity of the day is visiting Phong Nam & Ngoc Con valley which is home to the Tay tribe who significantly contributed to the beauty of the town through their agricultural works a hundred years ago with rice terraces cultivated in the valley along the Quay Son River. Similar to the other parts of Northern Vietnam, the town will be in the most beautiful version of itself during the rice harvest season, in Autumn (August to early October) and it attracts visitors not only to the rice terraces but the wild beauty and peaceful rural lifestyles.

    Day 15: Ban Gioc – Bac Son Valley (B, L)

    Following a delightful breakfast at the hotel in Ban Gioc waterfall, embark on a scenic drive through mountainous villages and valleys, with photo stops along the way, to the Bac Son valley. It is known for its breathtaking landscapes, rolling hills, and pristine scenery. The valley is surrounded by towering mountains and dotted with rice paddies, bamboo forests, and small villages. It is also a popular destination for trekking and hiking, offering scenic views and opportunities to interact with local ethnic minority groups.

    On arrival, Quynh Son village, home to the Tay ethnic minority, enjoy a traditional stilt house lunch before strolling to learn about their daily life. Climb to the top of a mountain where a transmission tower stands for a breathtaking panoramic view of the valley. Amazing shots are guaranteed.

    Day 16: Bac Son – Thai Nguyen – Hanoi (B)

    After breakfast, we will make our way to Hanoi via Thai Nguyen en route to Thai Hai village of Tay community which is listed by the UNESCO cultural heritage village as preserving ecological houses on stilts. Lunch be served by the local family before heading to Hanoi.

    Day 17: Farewell Hanoi (B)

    You will have some free time to wander on your own or get stuck into some souvenir shopping until we take you to the airport and fly home with wonderful memories (not including late check-out for the hotel). The last-day activities can be modified to meet your departure date.

    Additional information:

    • Confirmation will be received at the time of booking
    • Infants must sit on laps
    • The itinerary can change due to the weather condition
    • Sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable shoes are recommended
    • We recommend bringing a hat, sunglasses, a raincoat or an umbrella

    Reviewed by

    Diep Van

    Phone: +84901166884


    Diep Van

    Founder & Photography Guide

    Specialties: Culture, landscape, portrait, hiking, active and adventurous tour

    Besides my unlimited passion for traveling, a professional tour guide for over a decade, I have been taking photographs since sitting at Hanoi of the University of Culture in the early 2000s. Photography started as a hobby but it was seriously taken due to my work relations and my significant passion for the beauty of our world, especially in Southeast Asian parts such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

    Within a few years of taking photographs, my works began to be recognized by many reliable international publications such as AFAR Travel, The Times, and The Daily Telegraph newspaper. In addition, I continuously add to my growing profile by winning numerous major awards: 3rd Position of The Independent Photographer 2018, 1st Position of Amateur Photographer of the year 2018, Grand Prize Winner of the AFAR Travel Photography 2019, and a Gold Award of San Francisco Bay International Photography 2020.

    I photograph a wide variety of subjects, from travel to landscapes to street scenes. I enjoy documenting the East’s rich cultural heritage and its land soaked in glorious sunrise or sunset light in remote and secluded spots. And, I am very happy to share my knowledge and experience with you. You can visit Luminousvietnamtour to explore tour!