Ha Giang landscape

Vietnam's Northern Soul

Trip code

If you want to experience a different side of Vietnam, deep in the rural backcountry and far from the tourist trail, this itinerary is for you.

Stretching down through China from the snowy Tibetan Plateau, Vietnam’s northern mountains are vast, remote, and populated primarily by ethnic minority groups. This route eschews the classic destinations in favor of a deep-dove into that mountain world.


Price based on 3* accommodation
Let us help plan your vacation and make it perfect for you

Key facts

11 days / 10 nights
Get an introduction to Vietnamese cuisine on a food tour of Hanoi
Go on a full-day trek through the Red Dao minority villages, rice terraces and tea plantations of Hoang Su Phi
Spend four days traveling through the north, stopping in minority villages, hiking in the mountains, and taking in the magnificent scenery
Enjoy a boat cruise on the lakes of Ba Be National Park
Go on a two-night cruise in the spectacular scenery of Lan Ha Bay

Transport in detail

All transfers will be by private car.

What's great

This itinerary will take you well away from the tourist trail, introducing a different side of Vietnam

This is the ultimate road trip, introducing you to the dramatic scenery of the mountainous north

This trip covers some of Vietnam’s most beautiful landscapes, including rice terraces, dramatic mountain passes and limestone karsts

Things to consider

This is a remote region of Vietnam, so accommodation is quite basic in some locations

Northern Vietnam gets very cold in the winter, so this trip is best taken from spring to autumn

This is an active itinerary, so it’s not suitable for those with mobility issues

Remote destinations mean lots of long journeys, so think carefully if you don’t like spending time on the road!

The experience

This trip is about exploring one region of Vietnam in detail, but we can easily extend it to include other areas of the country. Let us know what you want to do and see, and we’ll design the perfect route for you.

Day 1-2


Before you head into the remote north, it’s time to hit the city — and in our book, there are few cities more exciting than Hanoi. For us, the best way to get beneath the skin of the capital is via its food culture, so we’ve included a half-day culinary tour to get you acquainted with the ins and outs of Vietnamese cuisine. Start at a local wet market, then head out into the streets to sample spring rolls and crispy pancakes for breakfast, before rounding it all off with a sweet iced coffee in the Old Quarter. The rest of your time in the city is yours to spend as you choose — and we’ll have plenty of suggestions to keep you busy.

Street vendors in Hanoi's Old Quarter


Spend the morning sampling street food in Hanoi’s Old Quarter

Use your leisure time to explore Hanoi’s historic sites, including the Temple of Literature and Ho Chi Minh’s former home

If history’s not your thing, wander the French Quarter or head to West Lake for a different perspective on the capital

Hanoi's West Lake

Day 3

Ba Be

It’s time to leave the capital behind and head into the north, stopping for some background on Vietnam’s minority cultures at the Museum of Ethnology. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll arrive in Ba Be: a rainforested national park known for its beautiful lakes. This is the heartland of the Tay, Dzao and Hmong ethnic minorities, and the best way to explore it is by boat — cruising on the lakes and stopping to explore quiet temples, hidden caves, and some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Southeast Asia.

Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi


Visit the Thai Nguyen Museum of Ethnology, packed full of information about Vietnam’s 53 minorities

Go cruising on the beautiful lakes of Ba Be National Park

Ba Be lake

The finer detail

  • Breakfast every day
  • Three lunches: one at a Red Dao village in Hoang Su Phi district; two on the Lan Ha Bay cruise
  • Four dinners: two at Panhou Retreat; two on the Lan Ha Bay cruise
  • Five full-day experiences: one visiting a museum, traveling to and exploring Ba Be National Park; one traveling between Ba Be and Meo Vac; one traveling between Meo Vac and Quan Ba; one traveling between Quan Ba and Hoang Su Phi; one trekking in Hoang Su Phi
  • One half-day experience: food tour in Hanoi
  • Two-night cruise on Lan Ha Bay with activities
  • All accommodation
  • All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
  • All domestic transfers and transport

Day 1:
Car transfer from Hanoi airport to hotel (30 minutes)

Day 3:
Car transfer from Hanoi to Ba Be (5 hours + sightseeing)

Day 4:
Car transfer from Ba Be to Meo Vac (6 hours + sightseeing)

Day 5:
Car transfer from Meo Vac to Quan Ba (3.5 hours + sightseeing)

Day 6:
Car transfer from Quan Ba to Hoang Su Phi (4 hours + sightseeing)

Day 8:

Car transfer from Hoang Su Phi to Hanoi (7 hours + sightseeing)

Day 9:
Car transfer from Hanoi to Lan Ha Bay (2.5 hours)

  • International flights
  • Any necessary visas
  • Any lunches or dinners unless stated
  • Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
  • Tipping and personal expenses