18 Days Northern Vietnam and Laos Tribal Journey Minorities Discovery Tour

Day 1 Hanoi
Temple of Literature, Hanoi West Lake, Hanoi Hanoi, Vietnam Your guide will meet you at airport arrivals and transfer you to your hotel. At leisure this evening – perhaps wander out into the vibrant Old Quarter and around Hoan Kiem Lake, which is beautifully lit up at night.

Day 2 Hanoi
Railway market, Hanoi Flower seller in Hanoi, Vietnam Presidential Palace, Hanoi This morning your guide and driver will pick you up from your hotel and bring you to the Museum of Ethnology, so that you can start learning about the origins, distribution, appearance and fascinating culture of the many ethnic minorities in Vietnam. In the afternoon an in-depth exploration into the delicious street food available on your doorstep, given by an expert in the field – a local food blogger.

Day 3 Ha Giang City
Dao Ao Dai women selling brooms Ha Giang City, Vietnam Ha Giang, Vietnam Today a full day’s driving from Hanoi city up to the mountains of Ha Giang. There is plenty to see along the way and you will have opportunities to observe and interact with locals, take photos of stunning scenery and stop for refreshments and comfort breaks. You stay in a pretty, family-run homestay in a village on the edge of Ha Giang, that is very pleasant to wander around,

Day 4 Meo Vac
Black Hmong at Meo Vac market Local market, Meo Vac, Vietnam View during trek from Auberge Meo Vac Today the driving from Ha Giang to Meo Vac takes about half the day, but as ever there are stops for refreshments and scenery. Your home for the night is a traditional Hmong, clay-walled building which is very characterful. You may like to do some walking in the local area – the Auberge can arrange a guide for you.

Day 5 Nam Dam Village
Trekking from Nam Dam Village Nam Dam trekking Dao guide during trek from Nam Dam Village Today drive to Nam Dam Village (a half day’s driving but the stops will probably make the journey take the best part of the day). A highlight of this journey will no doubt be the vertiginous scenery of the Mã Pí Lèng Pass. You will also visit the Hmong King’s Palace at Sa Phin, designed by a Chinese Feng Shui expert, and see a Hmong weaving village, with their intricate looms.

Day 6 Hoang Su Phi
Local village, Hoang Su Phi, Vietnam Local villager, Hoang Su Phi, Vietnam Local village, Hoang Su Phi, Vietnam This morning you may like to do some walking in the area, populated by the Red Dzao ethnic minority. There is some great scenery and walks between 2 and 6 hours. Later transfer by car to Hoang Su Phi, this should only take about 3 hours. It is a very scenic journey however, you will see some beautiful rice terraces – the last section is a fairly windy mountain road. Now for a stay at the lovely Pan Hou Village, a beautifully landscaped property with an excellent restaurant and spa house.

Day 7 Hoang Su Phi
Local traditional home, Hoang Su Phi, Vietnam Local hill tribe villager, Hoang Su Phi, Vietnam Hoang Su Phi, Vietnam A full day’s trekking out on the rice terraces with your private guide. Don’t forget your camera!

Day 8 Sapa
Views over the rice terraces of Sapa, Vietnam Hmong girl with Water buffalo, Coc Ly Market, Bac Ha Local Girl, Coc Ly Market, Bac Ha Another lovely drive today, to get to Sapa. Please be aware that some of the roads earlier on in the journey are untarmacked mountain roads. Some of the valleys you pass through are absolutely stunning. It’s a full day’s driving with stops. Tonight stay at the gorgeous Topas Ecolodge, with great views out to the mountains.

Day 9 Sapa
Young Red Dzao Child, Thanh Kim Valley, Vietnam Red Dzao Woman, Thanh Kim Valley, Sapa, Vietnam Stunning mountain views, Sapa Today your guide will take you out to visit minority villages in the area. In the afternoon you can take the cable car up to the top of Fan Si Pan, the tallest mountain in Indochina.

Day 10 Dien Bien Phu
Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam One hundred year-old woman, Sapa Valley, Vietnam Ladies in Sapa Today a full day’s driving (with stops, as usual) to get to Dien Bien Phu, the site of a very important battle between the French and the Vietnamese that led to the French moving out of Vietnam.

Day 11 Muang Khua
River travel from Muang La to Nong Khiaw River travel between Muang Khua and Nong Khiaw This morning you have touring of the museum and key sites on the battlefield. Afterwards you have a couple of hours’ driving to get to the little-used border with Laos. Meet your Laotian guide and driver and drive through pretty mountain scenery to Muang Khua, situated on the stunning Nam Ou River.

Day 12 Phongsali
Trekking towards an Akha Village, Phongsaly Village on a mountain top, Phongsaly Mountains of Phongsaly, Laos Today you have a combination of road and boat transfers to reach Phongsali in northern Laos. The boat journeys are incredible – very few tourists get up to this part of the Nam Ou, it feels quite wild and remote. The travelling will take most of the day, but as usual there will be stops along the way. Phongsali is one of the least visited parts of Laos, it is a mountainous area populated by many ethnic minorities (including the Akha) and where tea is grown. It is close to the border with China.

Day 13 Phongsali
Boat travel in northern Laos, Phongsaly View from Viphaphone Hotel View over Phongsali Today your private guide will help you explore Phongsali and surrounds, including tea plantations and processing plants. The procedure for “curing” the tea once picked is fascinating.

Day 14 Muang La
Local minority hill tribe village, Muang La, Laos Lady of the Akha tribe, Laos Laos tribal women From Phongsali you have a full day’s driving to get to Muang La – and a very special property indeed. Muang La Lodge is a luxury property, set up by a French couple, that is perfectly in harmony with its surroundings and the local community. All meals are included here and the food is really quite special. The lodge has an excellent spa and hot springs on site!

Day 15 Muang La
Local ladies in minority villages, Northern Laos River journeys are the lifeblood of Laos Colourful ethnic groups of northern Laos A full day to explore the local area and learn about the ethnic minorities here.

Day 16 Luang Prabang
Monk in temple grounds, Luang Prabang Novice Monk Luang Prabang Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang The last leg of your incredible overland journey takes you, over about half a day, to charming Luang Prabang. Enjoy the atmospheric night market.

Day 17 Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang,Laos Night market in Luang Prabang, Laos Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos Today you have about half the day to explore the attractions of Luang Prabang with your private guide. We strongly recommend visiting the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, a very well maintained museum dedicated to the tribal culture of Laos. This will help you process much of what you saw on your journey over from Vietnam.

Day 18 Return home
Children fishing in the Nam Ou Local fisherman on the Nam Ou Monks at Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang We will transfer you to the airport ahead of your international flight out.