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Vietnam Adventure Travel: 19-Day The Mysterious Northeast Mountains

Head to the hills for a challenging, yet rewarding, trekking adventure. In the far northeast of Vietnam discover a land of immense beauty and intriguing hilltribe villages. Spend the days hiking up mountains and through rice paddies and the evenings in homestays, getting a true taste of traditional local life.


Various activities on sites

  • Exploring the city of Hanoi visiting some most popular sites
  • Trekking the northern part of Vietnam passing some of the most breathtaking sites
  • Cruising the sampan along the lake of Ba Be
  • Experience the cuisine and share the homestay with the tribe people.

Unforgettable moments

  • Walking through the small streets of Hanoi whilst the sea of motorbike running around
  • Admiring the calm view on Ba Be Lake and surrounding area
  • Admiring the panoramic view of the mountainous northern Vietnam during the trek
  • Seeing the amazing Ban Gioc Waterfalls

Nature exploration

  • The evergreen nature of mountainous northeastern of Vietnam
  • The calm nature of Ba Be Lake and the surrounding area
  • The amazing Ban Gioc waterfall and Nguom Ngao Cave
  • The pure nature of Ha Long Bay & Lan Ha Bay

Culture experience

  • The never-fading culture of Hanoi emerging with the new way of life of a big city
  • The culture of various ethnic tribe people in northern Vietnam


Detailed schedule

Day 1 - Welcome to Hanoi

Upon arrival at Noi Bai International Airport, Sonasia’s guide & driver will pick you up and transfer directly to the hotel in the old quarter of Hanoi.

Vietnam's capital races to make up for time lost to the ravages of war and a government that as recently as the 1990s kept the outside world at bay. Its streets surge with scooters vying for right of way amid the din of constantly blaring horns, and all-around layers of history reveal periods of French and Chinese occupation – offering a glimpse into the resilience of ambitious, proud Hanoians.


Check out the Hanoi travel guide

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Day 2 - Hanoi - Exploration

The first day sets out around 8:30 AM for a visit to the Temple of Literature. Constructed in 1070, this was Vietnam’s first university and is one of the country's most significant historic sites, with relics recognized by UNESCO. The university was established within a temple to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins, and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years; its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past.

Next pay a visit to the landmark One Pillar Pagoda, founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049. Close by is the mausoleum where the historic figure and father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, lies in state. Nearby is the former president’s house on stilts, where “Uncle Ho” lived from 1958 to 1969. Visit this home, which illustrates the modesty of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary.

Continue to the picturesque West Lake and the sixth century Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda.

Lunch will be held in one of the city’s finest restaurants.

In the afternoon, visit the fascinating Ethnology Museum (closed on Mondays), dedicated to the different ethnic groups of Vietnam. As an alternative to the Ethnology Museum, it is also possible to visit the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum (closed on Mondays). Displays highlight Vietnam’s vast cultural diversity and educate visitors on the significant role Vietnamese women play in Vietnamese society. Learn historic and modern-day traditions centered on births, weddings, motherhood and spirituality.

We finish the day with an iconic Water Puppet show.

Overnight in Hanoi.

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Day 3 - Hanoi - Ba Be National Park

Departing from Hanoi, you will embark on a route up into the mountainous areas north of Hanoi. 

On the way, you will pay a visit to the Thai Nguyen Minority and Culture Museum where we can learn about the history and cultural traditions of some of the people you will meet on your trekking tour. 

You will have lunch at a local restaurant and before finishing the journey to Ba Be National Park. 

This is one of the largest natural lakes in Vietnam, the landscape dominated by scenic valleys, towering rocky outcrops, underground river tributaries, and a gigantic cave. It is also home to a huge variety of flora and fauna and several local ethnic minorities, including the Tay, Red Dzao and Hmong. 

Following an exploration of a spectacular cave, you will hike around small villages and along the riverfront. The night will be spent with a local Tay family in the traditional wooden stilt house.

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Day 4 - Trekking the Jungle of Ba Be

The first stop on your trek will be at the village of Coc Toc. Here the locals make living from farming and fishing, you may see them out on the lake in the traditional wooden boats.  

From here, you will cross into some more challenging terrain. This, however, will not last long, and the trek will once again become a little easier. It is well worth the effort too, as you will be treated to intoxicating views of the fantastic scenery. 

Stopping a little later in the day at an H'mong ethnic village, you will have a picnic lunch, and during the afternoon the guide will take you through mountains and valleys past lovely stilt houses and the Dzao school. 

Then the trek will press on along the winding track to visit Dau Dang Waterfall on the border of the two provinces of Bac Kan and Tuyen Quang. You will then have dinner at the restaurant of a man who acquired the nickname 'Mr Pirate' following his appearance in “Ba Be Lake Pirate Movie” before spending the night at his homestay.

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Day 5 - Trekking to the Remote Dzao Ethnic Village

After breakfast at the home stay. You will stroll along the bank of the Nang River to see local people fishing before entering a Tay village for a simple picnic lunch. 
In the afternoon, you will enjoy a 3-hour trek to the Red Dao village on a track accessible only to walkers and horses, through the beautiful unspoilt scenery. 

Before reaching the village, you can stop at a primary school to meet the children who will be curious to meet you. You will have dinner and stay overnight with a local family.

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Day 6 - Boat Trip on Ba Be Lake

After breakfast at the homestay, you will continue your trek (2 hours walk) to a Tay village. 

The trekking route today is largely downhill and shorter than the previous day's trek. 

From here, you will take a boat trip to discover Puong Cave and the pure beauty of the Nang River. The cruise will take you through some spectacular scenery and the stunning limestone cliffs that frame the lake and then continue into the center of Ba Be Lake, the largest and highest natural lake in Vietnam. 

Disembarking from the boat, you will trek to Pac Ngoi Village, a Tay village which showcases the traditional wooden stilt houses. You will have dinner and stay overnight in a local house.

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Day 7 - Ba Be - Cao Bang - Phia Thap

You have ample time in the morning to relax and enjoy the view or stroll around to explore the surrounding area.

In the afternoon, transfer by car from Ba Be - Cao Bang. Reach Phia Thắp community-based tourism village – the famous incense making the village. The village is surrounded by limestone pinnacles which make for spectacular scenery. Every household in this village makes incense, so you can easily see and explore the process of making incense and talk with friendly and hospitable locals here. Have dinner at local restaurant and overnight at 2-star hotel.

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Day 8 - Phia Thap - Ban Gioc - Cao Bang

7:30: Car transfer from Phia Thắp to Trùng Khánh district, canoeing for 2 hours on Quây Sơn river.

Take a boat trip and take photos here. Glide through the jade-blue waters of Quay Son river along a spectacular scenery of limestone mountains and green rice terraces. It will be an awe-inspiring and relaxing activity.

After canoeing, we will transfer to Ban Gioc waterfall and have a simple picnic here. You can take beautiful pictures of 2 huge waterfalls in Vietnam, take the boat trip close the bottom of the waterfall and see the other side of the Chinese border.

In the afternoon, visit Nguom Ngao Cave, one of the most spectacular caves in North Vietnam with beautiful stalactites of various shapes. 

Go to Cao Bang City at night.

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Day 9 - Cao Bang - Meo Vac - Dong Van

Breakfast at your hotel. Depart to Dong Van via Meo Vac, that is located along the Chinese border, some of the most picturesque villages in the northern tip of Vietnam. 

Arrive in Bao Lac, visit Khuoi Khon village, mostly inhabited by Black Lo Lo ethnic group who is well-known with their bronze drum and their attire.  

Lo Lo women weave fabrics with which they make skirts. Lo Lo men, when searching for their future wives, often carefully evaluate their girlfriends through their ability to make clothing. 

Lo Lo people depend mainly on maize and rice as forms of income generation. 

After lunch, transfer to Dong Van, via one of the four most beautiful passes of Vietnam, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Nho Que River. 

You might see one of the northeast’s stunning sunsets. Stop for a while to see a river like a silky fillet looming in fog which brings tourists a pleasant sensation of a naturally romantic masterpiece. Arrive in Dong Van, check in hotel and free time for relaxing. 

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Day 10 - Dong Van - Quan Ba

If it is Sunday, you can have a chance to enjoy the unique and special local market in Meo Vac. It only happens on Sunday and therefore is known as the “Sunday Market”. 

There are very colorful fabrics and various cultures of ethnic minorities. We believe it will be a special experience for you. You will stop for lunch then take a 3.5-hour trek on karst mountains for breathtaking panoramic views. You will also have the chance to visit tribal villages in this incredible, untouched frontier region. You can explore and experience their life’s work, such as farming. We will try their local meals, drink corn wine, etc… 

In the afternoon, visit the infamous Vuong Palace, Vuong Family was considered the King of the Hmong People in Dong Van, Ha Giang. Their residence was built in the scenic valley of Sa Phin with Chinese architecture. You will explore the history of Hmong people in Dong Van in the French colonic period – the special frontier area.

Then transfer to Nam Dam village – the inhabited by Dao ethnic people (long dress Dao group).  The local still keep their traditional customs, habits & culture from ancient times. 

You will have a chance to see the local traditional house made of compacted soil which protects people from the extreme weather in the high mountain. 

You are welcomed to visit the houses whose owners are very friendly and hospitable. Enjoy dinner and sleep in a homestay.

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Day 11 - Quan Ba - Ha Giang - Quang Binh

After a local breakfast you will have time to visit the very colorful market in Quan Ba town. On this market you will see people from different ethnic minority groups, which walk all the way from their mountain villages to Quan Ba town, in order to trade items and meet other people. 

After that, we will drive directly to Quang Binh district via the town of Ha Giang.

Depending on traffic conditions, arrive to the guest house around 5-6pm and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight in Quang Binh

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Day 12 - Quang Binh - Tan Nam

After breakfast, take a 15-minute transfer to the starting point of the trekking trail. It is an easy walk through valleys and terraced rice paddies for about 2 hours to the village of Pa Then ethnic people. Spend some time exploring the village, with a chance to discover more about the daily life of the local people.

In the afternoon, continue the trek for around 4 hours through rolling hills, plantations, rice paddies, and the palm forest of the Tan Nam Communes. Enjoy the peaceful ambiance while passing through hamlets of the hospitable Black Zao and Nung ethnic peoples.

Arrive to the center of Tan Nam at end of the afternoon.

Dinner & overnight at a homestay of the Nung people


Transfer: 15 minutes Trekking: 6hrs Difficulty: Medium

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Day 13 - Tan Nam - Phieng Lang

Departing around 8:30 AM, the trek heads along a wide path connecting many villages from Dzao Ao Dai to Tay and Nung ethnic villages, all lying along the beautiful Nam Ly River. As villagers are very hospitable in this region, there will be ample opportunity to visit many local homes along the way.

The trek in the afternoon goes uphill slightly to Phieng Lang. This region is inhabited mostly by the Dzao Ao Dai people and several Flower Hmong who traditionally (and practically) build their homes on hill tops. Arrive to Phieng Lang in the mid afternoon and take a leisurely walk to explore the surrounding countryside.

Dinner & overnight at homestay of Dzao people


Trekking: 6 hrs Difficulty: Medium

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Day 14 - Phieng Lang - Pa Duc - Quang Thuong - Nam Choong

Enjoy another day trekking along the beautiful Nam Ly Valley. The morning runs along an interesting trail, which gradually winds uphill via Pa Duc village to Quang Thuong (home to the Hmong and Dzao Ao Dai people.)

These two minorities differ in the fact that they occupy higher lands and build houses on hill-tops. This part of the trek offers some of the most beautiful views in the far north.

Break for lunch and then descend along a narrow trail passing through tea farms and steep terraced paddies for 2 hours to Nam Chong Village, home of the Zao Ao Dai.

Explore the village and settle down in a local home near hot springs for dinner and an overnight stay.

Overnight at homestay in Nam Choong


Trekking: 5 hrs Difficulty: Medium

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Day 15 - Nam Choong - Quang Nguyen - Coc Cang - Coc Dong

Begin the day by hiking on a narrow trail along the river for an hour to the centre of Quang Nguyen Commune. Pass more villages and rice terraces whilst continuing to enjoy the magnificent views.

The most challenging aspect of the trek awaits this afternoon, traversing the Nhin Co San Mountain. The uphill trail is very tough at stages, running through thick rainforest and bamboo forests to Coc Cang Village of the Che La Commune. Though difficult, the end of the journey is highly rewarding.

Throughout the afternoon, pass a number of hamlets of the White Hmong and Nung people.

Dinner and overnight at the homestay with the White Hmong tribe


Trekking: 6 -7 hrs Difficulty: Hard

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Day 16 - Coc Dong - Coc Re - Coc Pai

Begin the day departing for Coc Dong on an uphill trek along a high mountain trail, passing along more hamlets of the Flower Hmong. Arrive to Coc Re at noon and enjoy a lunch break in a local restaurant.  There will also be a brief opportunity to wander around the Coc Re market

The entire afternoon consists of a descent, passing through narrow valleys with terraced paddies and a newly planted forest; eventually arrive at Coc Pai in the Xin Man District.

Check in to Gia Long Hotel and enjoy some free time to explore the town before dinner.

Overnight in Coc Pai.


Trekking: 6 hrs Difficulty: Hard

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Day 17 - Coc Pai - Bac Ha

After breakfast, enjoy a leisurely walk around Coc Pai to observe busy morning life before transferring by road for 2-3 hours to Bac Ha Town. Arriving around noon, check-in to the Sao Mai Hotel followed by lunch.

The highlight of the afternoon is the 2-hour walk exploring the famous Ban Pho Valley, home to the Flower Hmong and Tay ethnic minorities. Visit local homes and enjoy learning how they make the local fire water (alcohol) from corn. There may also be a chance to catch a traditional dance accompanied by a Khen - a traditional musical instrument composed by 6 bamboo pipes.

Overnight in Bac Ha


Transfer: 2 hrs Trekking: 2 hrs Difficulty: Easy

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Day 18 - Bac Ha - Chay River - Lao Cai - Hanoi (Sleeper Train)

Today is the last day in the mountains and is much easier on the legs!

Begin with a transfer of 9kms to Nam Mon Commune and trek along an uphill trail for 30 minutes, before coming down to the valley’s bottom. Continue with a trek running parallel to a stream until reaching Trung Do village (home of the Tay people), which consists of about 40 houses built on stilts on the bank of the Chay River.

Enjoy a leisurely walk to explore the village before having lunch in a local home.

Depart Trung Do and walk along the Chay River for over an hour to visit some of the hamlets of the Black Zao and Hmong of the Cac Cop Village. Afterwards, take a boat trip downstream to Bao Nhai Commune.

The final transfer is to Lao Cai, where there will be a chance to freshen up and have dinner before boarding the night train to Hanoi.


Trekking: 4-5 hours Difficulty: Medium

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Day 19 - Hanoi - Departure

Arrive in Hanoi early in the morning. Our driver will be waiting to provide pickup and transport to the mini hotel for a refresher before being brought out to Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport for the departing flight.

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We believe you have the right to arm yourselves with as much information as possible before making any decision.

Check below our detailed tips & guide for every places to visit in Vietnam, recommendation regarding the inclusion in each theme you prefer, and what you can do based on the time frame you have.

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Ha Long Bay
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Easy excursions combined with unique experience making the long-lasting romantic memories

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Easy excursion combined with week-long beach break

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The combination of some must-see experience and the cruise tour along the mighty rivers

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The combination of fun and educational activities

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Reveal off-the-beatentrack routes, least explored destinations, and unknown tribe groups

Cycling & Biking
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Explore every corners of the destination on two wheels

Trek & Hike
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Explore the least visited destinations and unknown experience on foot

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Below we list 13 major differences between the two countries, to give you a quick overview and help you decide which to visit first. These are based on our own travel experiences, investigations, and partnerships with local operators.


How long to spend in Vietnam may seem like a ridiculous question to address, but if you have plenty of time and aren’t sure how much to dedicate, this blog will definitely help you out.

You can find here and there that you should spend 10 days, 2 weeks, 20 days, or 1 month to best explore Vietnam. So what is the best Vietnam tour duration for you?

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Stay tuned! We are going to sort all these things out including the step-by-step guide to create the best itinerary in Vietnam.


Vietnam would scrap the Covid-19 testing requirement for all arrivals starting Sunday, May 15th 2022, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has directed.

In a document issued Friday, the Prime Minister requested the Ministry of Health to closely follow the coronavirus situation and provide proper guidance. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should direct Vietnamese authorities outside the country to inform people who wish to enter Vietnam to follow appropriate disease prevention measures, he said.

The latest decision has been made as the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths drops both in Vietnam and around the world. Several countries have been taking steps to relax coronavirus restrictions, including scrapping testing before entry.

Current policies issued by the health ministry require entrants to have negative results from PCR tests done within the previous 72 hours, or a negative result from a rapid test done within the last 24 hours.

Those who don’t have a negative test result must refrain from making contact with others during the first 24 hours after entry. They will be able to move freely once they test negative after arrival.

Children under two don’t need to be tested.

Vietnam stopped requiring medical declarations from those arriving from abroad starting April 27, and for domestic travel starting April 30.


The “Colorful Hanoi” hot air balloon festival is one of the attractive activities within the framework of the program “Hanoi tourism welcomes 2022” taking place from March 25-27, 2022.

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Friendly and food-obsessed, hedonistic and historic, cultured and curious, Thailand tempts visitors with a smile as golden as the country's glittering temples and tropical beaches.
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There's a magic about this charming yet confounding kingdom that casts a spell on visitors. In Cambodia, ancient and modern worlds collide to create an authentic adventure.
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It's a new era for this extraordinary and complex land, where the landscape is scattered with gilded pagodas and the traditional ways of Asia endure.
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