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The Wild North West Loop 7 days

The Wild North West Loop 7 days: Hanoi - Sapa - Son La - Dien Bien Phu - Son La - Mai Chau - Hoa Binh - Hanoi

Despite the rough roads the Northern Loop tour has become a bit of a classic. This is on account of the overwhelming scenery and the popular hill town of Sapa, an old hill station (elevation 1,700 meters) close to the Chinese border. The region is also home to numerous colourful ethnic minority groups. The trip also includes a visit to the historic battlefield of Dien Bien Phu.

 

 

Today, most visitors who reach this outpost come for the history. But along with the old army headquarters, a museum and monuments, Dien Bien Phu offers pristine mountain scenery and fascinating minority cultures. Those, who go overland, will travel through some of Vietnam's most rugged and spectacular mountains.

This northern loop, you have chance to stay in the traditional long house on stilts, take part in performance of folk songs and dance and drink sweet rice wine of the Thai ethnic minority people at Mai Chau, Hoa Binh. You will discover the undiscovered part of Vietnam and definitively enjoy the folk life of the people.

Day 1: Hanoi – Sapa (L,D)

Our adventure begins with the drive to the mountain town of Sapa. The journey to Sapa will take the best part of the day. The drive is, however, worthwhile as the scenery that unfolds as we travel north and into the highlands is both dramatic and breathtaking. Arriving in Sapa late in the afternoon, we check into our hotel and use the remaining daylight to stretch our legs with a short walk around town. This evening we will dine at one of the local restaurants.

Day 2: Sapa (B,L)

Today we start by getting some exercise with a five to six hour trek to the hill tribe villages of Cat Cat, Ta Van and Cau May. Cat Cat is home to the H'mong people who originated from China, where they emigrated from about 300 years ago. The H'mong people are also easily recognizable due to their dark clothing, usually blue or black. The dye is fashioned from the indigo or hemp plant that is native to the area. H'mong women wear long aprons with embroidered waistcoats and have their hair rolled up into a turban-like hat, whilst the men wear a black skullcap, long waistcoat and loose trousers. Ta Van is home to the Zay people. They have become very adept at rice cultivation and, in marked contrast to the H'mong, they have a higher living standard as a result. As we walk through these villages nestled in the valleys below Sapa, we will meet some of the local ethnic minority people on their way to and from Sapa. These minority people, including the Red Dao, H'mong and Tay people, walk to Sapa to trade at the markets. Tonight we spend a second night in our hotel at Sapa town.

Day 3: Sapa - Lai Chau (B,L)

We drive from Sapa to Lai Chau valley, where the Thai ethnic minority people have lived for centuries. We stop on the way to visit Phong Tho (Possible Phong Tho Market on Thu). We arrive Lai Chau at midday. Check in LAN ANH HOTEL and enjoy free time in the Thai hill tribe villages.

Day 4: Lai Chau - Dien Bien Phu (B,L)

After breakfast at our hotel we board our vehicle for the drive to Dien Bien Phu. It is a 6-hour journey on rough roads, but the dramatic scenery is worthwhile. By midday, we arrive in Dien Bien town and check into our guesthouse for the night. The name Dien Bien Phu will always be linked with a historical battle, for it was here that Viet Minh soldiers overran a French garrison on May 7, 1954 and ended French colonialism in Indochina. To achieve this legendary victory, Vietnamese forces under the command of General Vo Nguyen Giap dismantled heavy anti-aircraft guns, lugged them up the sleep slopes overlooking the town of Dien Bien Phu and reassembled them. Encircled by artillery, the French could not receive supplies or reinforcements. Today, most visitors who reach this outpost come for the history. But along with the old army headquarters, a museum and monuments, Dien Bien Phu offers pristine mountain scenery and fascinating minority cultures. Those, who go overland will travel through some of Vietnam's most rugged and spectacular mountains. Overnight in Dien Bien

Day 5: Dien Bien Phu - Son La (B,L)

After breakfast we will set out on our drive to Son La. This is in quite a remote area, and as a result some of the roads will be fairly rough and uneven. Yet this is to our advantage as there will be fewer tourists along the way to spoil our views of the beautiful and dramatic scenery that we will encounter along the way. Once we reach Son La, we check into our hotel and have the remainder of the day to visit the former French prison and enjoy a dip in the local hot springs.

Day 6: Son La – Mai Chau (B,L,D)

We make our way to Mai Chau valley after a 5-hour drive along a scenic route. We stop at Moc Chau plateau for a cup of tea and visit green tea fields. We have lunch in Pom cong village and enjoy free time to explore several villages of Thai hill tribes in the afternoon. We will enjoy a performance of dance and traditional songs of the Thai people, and stay overnight in their traditional stilt long house.

Day 7: Mai Chau – Hoa Binh – Hanoi (B,L)

Wake up to the sounds of the village: roosters, morning vendors and people's voices. We have an early breakfast this morning before bidding farewell to Mai Chau and its friendly people. Our destination for today is Hanoi. It is an 5-hour journey back to the nation's capital with a visit to the Muong ethnic minority. End of services. Cam on va chao tam biet!

Tour price includes:

·       All transportation and transfers in air conditioned vehicles;

·       English speaking guide;

·       All accommodation based on twin share basis with daily breakfast;

·       Additional meals as indicated in the itinerary;

·       Relevant permits and entrance fee

·       Services charges and government taxes

Tour price exclude:

·       All flights

·       Visas and Visa fees

·       Personal expenses such as shopping; telephone, laundry and bar bills etc.

·       Tips and Gratuities

·       Pre and post accommodation in Hanoi

·       Personal travel insurance

 
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