- Active Adventure
- Culture & Heritage
- Home Stay
- Learning Discovery
- Nature & Landscapes
- Off The Beaten Path
- Tours for Couples
- Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi
- Day 2: Hanoi – Countryside Tour
- Day 3: Hanoi – Transfer to Bac Ha
- Day 4: Bac Ha Sunday Market – Transfer to Ha Giang
- Day 5: Ha Giang – Quan Ba – Yen Ninh
- Day 6: Yen Minh – Lung Cu – Dong Van
- Day 7: Dong Van – Meo Vac
- Day 8: Meo Vac – Cao Bang
- Day 9: Cao Bang – Ban Gioc Waterfall
- Day 10: Cao Bang – Ba Be Lake
- Day 11: Ba Be Lake Discovery – Hanoi
- Day 12: Hanoi – Departure
The “Discover Ha Giang & The Far North” tour is designed to show you the most majestic landscapes in 13 days! Drive from Hanoi to Van Giang village and Bat Trang village to experience rural life in Vietnam. Hike along local tracks and terraces in hill tribe villages and spend time exploring the colourful Bac Ha Sunday market. Travel through Ha Giang – a stunning but lesser-known region in the north with limestone pinnacles and granite outcrops. Discover the areas of Quan Ba, Yen Ninh, Lung Cu, Dong Van, Meo Vac, and learn about the distinctive traditions of the hill tribes. Explore the wonderful nature of Cao Bang and Ban Gioc waterfall – the magnificent waterfall lies at the Vietnam / China border. Breathe in the clean fresh air when venturing through Ba Be National Park – a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site with fantastic lakes, waterfalls and caves.
Arrival in HanoiDay 1
Xin Chao! Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam.
Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport, your private guide and driver are waiting to meet you, holding up a welcome signboard with your names on it and take you directly to your hotel in the Old Quarter.
After checking-in, you will have time to relax and adjust to the pace of Hanoi. There will be a short tour briefing this evening with your guide followed by a welcome dinner at KOTO restaurant, a social enterprise that trains and employs underprivileged youth to provide a step up in life.
Please note: Your travel documents contain a Visa-on-Arrival letter (unless otherwise arranged). Please ensure to pack this in your carry-on luggage. Your Visa-on-Arrival letter must be presented to Customs upon entry into the country.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – Countryside TourDay 2
After breakfast, leave the busy capital behind and venture off into the countryside for a fabulous half-day excursion.
A scenic hour drive through the lush Red River Delta will bring you to the charming village of Hung Yen. Come to Mr. An and Mrs. Mien’s home where you can admire their three-hundred-year-old wooden house. You’ll enjoy a cup of green tea as get acquainted with the hosts and hear the village’s history. After that Mr. An will take you on a small cycling excursion around the village and visiting home families who do their traditional jobs. You will also stop at the local market where you can mingle with the locals, visit their shops and perhaps do some shopping.
Spend the rest of your morning learning with Mrs. Mien to cook a few traditional Vietnamese dishes, before sitting down to enjoy the delicious meal you’ve prepared with your new family.
Bid a fond farewell to the family, you will wind our way back to Hanoi. En route, you will stop at Bat Trang ceramic village to learn about this 1000 years old village with their stunning traditional works.
Return to Hanoi in the late afternoon where the balance of the day is at your leisure. You may take a stroll around the Old Quater of Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – Transfer to Bac HaDay 3
After breakfast and check out of the hotel your private guide and driver will pick you up and transfer you for 6 hours to the remote town of Bac Ha. Nestled deep in the mountains, Bac Ha is a quiet backwater Monday to Saturday, but by Sunday crowds of locals from thousands of surrounding villages descend on the town for the colourful Sunday market. Here you will have a chance to meet some of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups.
En route, you will take a riverboat ride on the Chay River. During the ride of 6km upstream, you will have the opportunity to visit Fairy Cave – closely connected with a legend about 3 fairies who hid there. You also stop to visit Bao Nhai and Ta Trung Do village where local people built a sacred temple called Ba Co (Three Girls). Enjoy a home-hosted lunch in the village before continuing your road drive.
Arrive in Bac Ha and check into a local home where you will enjoy an authentic Vietnam homestay. Clean linens and fresh towels are standard, and mattresses and pillows are comfortable. Every bed has a mosquito net and curtains that you can pull across for extra privacy.
After a short rest and getting to know your family hosts, your guide and driver will transfer you to visit Ban Pho village where you can take a short walk around the village where Flower Hmong, Tay and Nung minorities live.
Continue to visit the Hmong King Palace. Completed in 1921 the Palace is the former home of a wealthy landowner from the Tay ethnic group named Hoang Yen Chao. Supported by the French colonial government the Hoang family owned the majority of the areas fertile land and had trade monopolies on virtually everything.
Return to the homestay for your leisure time. Enjoy a nice and hot shower and get ready for dinner with the family.
Overnight in Hac Ha
Sapa – Bac HaDay 4
After an early breakfast at the homestay, your guide will take you to Bac Ha Sunday Market in time (to avoid the crowds) to discover this lively market. The market itself is a kaleidoscope of color, noise, and culture, where locals in an array of traditional dress barter for cows and show off delicately embroidered and embellished designs. Wander, camera in hand, and soak in the lively atmosphere while fending off the persistent sellers. The scent of fresh herbs and fragrant, strong tobacco wafts among the tented stalls and the overpowering smell of animals drifts down from the live market above.
Depart the Market you will embark on a three-hour driver to Ha Giang, one of the most remote parts of northern Vietnam. Ha Giang boasts an amazing landscape of limestone pinnacles and granite outcrops and has some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.
After having lunch at Xin Man town continue your road journey to Ha Giang. Along the way, you will have the chance to see beautiful rice terraces, waterfalls, and various ethnic minorities.
Later, you will arrive in Ha Giang and check into Truong Xuan ecolodge. Take your time to relax and chill out or explore a Tay Hill Tribe village, beautifully set in a stunning valley close to town.
Overnight in Ha Giang
Ha Giang – Quan Ba – Yen NinhDay 5
After breakfast, you will depart Ha Giang for Quan Ba Valley – an area of stunning natural beauty with green hills and abundant limestone caves. Travel through Quan Ba Pass – known as Heaven’s Gate with its panoramic views of the terraced rice fields below.
Following lunch at a local restaurant in Quan Ba, you will visit Lung Tam where you will learn about Hmong handicraft. The craftswomen will demonstrate the techniques of hemp weaving and other traditional handicraft.
After this educational segment, you will continue your scenic drive towards Yen Minh town. Arrive and check in to your mini-hotel. The rest of the afternoon and evening will at your leisure.
Overnight in Yen Ninh
Yen Minh – Lung Cu – Dong VanDay 6
After breakfast, you will leave Yen Ninh for Lung Cu. Along the way, you will get to visit the local market if it is the day of the week it is open. Alternatively, you can admire the scenery of the Landscape and the cornfields. You will also visit the small remote village where you can mingle with the Hoa people.
Continue to drive until you reach Dong Van town, a Geopark littered with an array of ancient karst formations. In Dong Van you will visit the former residence of the Vuong family, still called “Palace of Hmong King”. Then check in to the hotel and spend the rest of the day at your leisure.
Overnight in Dong Van
Dong Van – Meo VacDay 7
After breakfast, you will embark on a moderate hike to the rocky mountains on backroads which leads you to some hill tribe villages which is situated in between the grey rocks. After the morning hike, you’ll get back to Dong Van town for lunch.
You will leave Dong Van and drive over the massive Ma Pi Leng Pass to Meo Vac town. Have a break on the pass to admire the panorama over the huge abyss which is bottomed by the Nho Que River.
Arrive at Meo Vac town in the late afternoon and check into the Auberge de Meo Vac Mountain Lodge. The rest of the day will be at your leisure.
Overnight in Meo Vac
Meo Vac – Cao BangDay 8
You’ll have a long drive today to Cao Bang but it will be broken up with numerous photo stops and more dramatic scenery. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant on the way.
In the late afternoon, you will arrive in Cao Bang and check in to a mini-hotel in the City centre.
Overnight in Cao Bang
Cao Bang – Ban Gioc WaterfallDay 9
An early start today as you’ll pay a visit to Ban Gioc Waterfall. The falls, fed by the Quay Son River that marks the border with China, is an impressive sight and in a highly scenic location. At 30 metres high and 300 metres across Ban Gioc is the widest – but not the highest – waterfall in the country. From here you’ll have a short walk to nearby Nguom Ngao Cave. This immense cave holds a series of majestic, jaw-dropping caverns, filled with delicate, intricate formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
After having lunch at a local restaurant, you will return to Cao Bang where the balance of the day is at your leisure.
Overnight in Cao Bang
Cao Bang – Ba Be LakeDay 10
You will have an excursion to Pac Bo Cave driving through a scenic landscape of green rice paddies and water wheels. Pac Bo Cave is revered in Vietnam as the place where Ho Chi Minh stayed briefly upon his return from China in 1941. It was here that the Vietnamese Independence League or Viet Minh was established.
After lunch in Cam Bang, you will depart for Ba Be Lake. Again the roads are bumpy but the views are enough to make up for this.
In the late afternoon, you will arrive at Cho Ra Town, from here you will be transferred to the Center of the National Park. Tonight you will spend the night in the village of Tay People in a homestay.
Overnight at a local homestay
Ba Be Lake Discovery – HanoiDay 11
After breakfast, you will take a boat trip down the Nang River to discover Ba Be Lake, Vietnam’s largest natural lake and the centrepiece of an extensive National Park. The park and the surrounding area is limestone country, so lakes, waterfalls, caves and unusual rock formations abound. The whole area is richly forested and is home to many ethnic minority communities.
After the two-hour boat trip and the visits to Dau Dang Waterfall and Puong Cave, you will get back to the homestay for lunch and then check out.
Depart Ba Be Lake you will drive back to Hanoi. En route, you will stop at the Museum of Ethnology in Thai Nguyen.
Arrive in Hanoi and check in to your hotel. Enjoy your last night in Hanoi before going home.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – DepartureDay 12
Your private transfer greets you at the hotel after breakfast and escorts you to Hanoi International Airport where you board your flight home or travel on to more adventures, we will help you with the planning.
Inquire this trip
This tour is built upon our firsthand knowledge & experience, offering you the best choices available. The price of this trip varies depending on the number of people in your party, dates of departure, and availability of ground services. Please click on REQUEST A FREE QUOTE (above) and supply the required information, enabling us to send you your personalized quote within 24 hours!
Note: Amendments CAN be made to this tour to suit your requirements.
- Visit the charming village of Hung Yen to experience the traditional life and authentic culture in the countryside of Vietnam
- Discover the Hill tribe villages and lively local market of ethnic minority groups
- Explore incredible mountainous Ha Giang and admire the scenery of the landscape with panorama views
- Pay a visit to Ban Gioc Waterfall, an impressive sight in a highly scenic location
- Discovery Ba Be Lake, the biggest natural lake in Vietnam is surrounded by limestone cliffs and covered by primary forests.
- 11 hotel buffet breakfasts.
- 3 dinners and 6 lunches at well-selected restaurants
- Your own private guide and driver for in-depth cultural touring based on your interests
- Firsthand, sophisticated destination knowledge and recommendations from our locally-born travel specialists
- Itineraries that are customized according to your interests and preferences
- A seamless travel experience, including all logistics, hand-picked hotels and restaurants, private airport transfers, internal transportation, entry visa assistance…etc
- Around-the-clock support from your travel designer and concierge before, during, and after your trip
Private English-speaking guide, accommodation, private tours and transfer, A/C vehicles, some main meals, all entrance fees, tax, and service charge.
What’s Not Included?
Your international flights from and to Vietnam, the entry visa to Vietnam, personal expenses, tips to guide and driver.
How to Plan a successful Trip to Vietnam, Step-by-Step
Why to visit Vietnam
Where to Go
When to Go
Obtain a Vietnam Visa
How to Book a Tour
Packing and Luggage Allowance
Why to visit Vietnam
Vietnam, the S-shaped country, also commonly likened to the shape of a dragon, is located to the west of the South China Sea. The perfect combination of colonial elegance and rustic charm, it guarantees to satisfy all types of travelers with its rich experiences made all the more special by its charming people.
With cities to explore, temples to admire, and green countrysides to roam, there is plenty to see and do in Vietnam. Known as a colorful and diverse country from the wild mountainous north, with its myriad of ethnic communities, to the sleepless city of Ho Chi Minh City (previously known as Saigon) on the edge of the Mekong Delta, it is difficult to pick just one region to visit when coming to Vietnam.
The charming capital of Hanoi is a fascinating mix of fading colonial buildings and national monuments; the scenery of Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is bound to leave you speechless; Hue, home to the old Kings of Vietnam, appears to have been frozen in time for several hundred years with its ancient atmosphere and architecture.
With a 3260km coastline, Vietnam is home to many top-tier beaches; the country’s most unsung beauties. My Khe beach – “one of the most attractive beaches on the planet” as described by Forbes – offers blue skies, smooth white sand, clear & warm water year-round. Phu Quoc island, boasting several luxury resorts, is also a favorite escape for the rich and famous. The abundance of mountains, rainforests, and natural lakes also makes Vietnam a great destination for trekking, hiking, mountain biking, sea and river kayaking, and classic overland tours.
Where to Go
Most popular sites of Vietnam
• Sapa & Mai Chau – visit the hill tribe villages and plantations
• Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam
• Halong Bay – a UNESCO World Heritage site
• Hue – the ancient capital of Vietnam
• Hoi An – the kitchen of Vietnam and paradise on Earth
• Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon) – the economic heart of Vietnam
• The Cu Chi Tunnels – walk through the history of the Vietnam War
• Mekong Delta – see the floating markets
When to Go
Even though Vietnam lies entirely in the tropic zone, its climate varies surprisingly from region to region. Therefore this charming land is well-known as an “all-year-around” available destination for travelers.
In the north, from Sapa to Hanoi, there are 4 seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
In the central region, from Nha Trang to Hue, sunshine lasts throughout the year, except for the months of November and December when heavy rainfalls occur. Dalat, at an altitude of 1500m, is cooler than the coastal area, particularly from November to March. Da Nang and Hue both experience typhoon activity from mid-October to mid-December when the climate becomes cooler, more overcast and wet.
In the south, from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet, there are two main seasons: wet and dry. The wet season falls between April and September, with sudden heavy showers that don’t last very long. The dry season spans the months of October to March, with higher temperatures and long days of sunshine, followed by cooler nights.
Obtain a Vietnam Visa
Almost all visitors to Vietnam need a visa to enter the country, although some exemptions apply for citizens of countries with reciprocal agreements with Vietnam. Depending upon the nationality and passport of the applicant, a tourist visa can be obtained at the Vietnamese diplomatic office or consulates in foreign countries. Visas can also be obtained with the help of a licensed Vietnamese Travel Company, known as a “Visa on Arrival”. Visas may be either single-entry or multiple-entry, as requested at the time of application.
Visa on Arrival (VOA)
The easiest way is to get your visa through a licensed Vietnamese Travel Company, such as Indochina Pioneer. We can quickly and efficiently organize your pre-arranged VOA if you wish. Our visa processing fee is a reasonable rate of USD$10 / person only. Except for American citizens who are required to pay a stamping fee of USD$135 to get a 1-year, multiple-entry tourist visa, other nationalities need to pay just USD$25 / person for a single entry and USD$50 / person for multiple entries.
- To apply for your VOA please email us the following information:
- Arrival and departure dates
- Full passport details:
- Passport number
- Issuing date
- Expiry date
Note: your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your travel date, and there must be several blank pages left on your passport.
- Once we have received your information, we will secure a Visa Approval Letter for you. This usually takes about 2 – 4 working days (ie. excluding weekends). We will then send you the letter via email or fax. You must present this letter upon boarding your flight. Also, you will need to prepare two photos (6 cm high x 4 cm wide – white background, no glasses, no smiling).
- On arrival at the airport (in Hanoi, Da Nang or Ho Chi Minh City) please find the Visa on Arrival window/counter where you will hand over your passport and photos, and be given a simple form to fill out. Pay the stamping fee of USD$25 for the single entry and USD$50 for multiple entries. The staff at the airport will shortly return your passport with your visa, after which you will be allowed to exit the airport.
The citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter Vietnam for a certain amount of time:
- Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia (maximum stay of up to 30 days)
- Philippines (maximum stay of up to 21 days)
- Japan, South Korea (maximum stay of up to 15 days)
- Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and United Kingdom (maximum stay of up to 15 days)
Unfortunately, citizens of the following countries are ineligible for a VOA and will have to apply at their nearest Vietnamese embassy/consulate :
South Asia – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Africa – Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa
Starting from February 1st, 2017, the Vietnamese government officially launched the electronic visa plan for foreign tourists of certain countries visiting Vietnam. To apply for an e-visa, please visit http://www.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn or http://www.immigration.gov.vn. For the list of
countries whose citizens are eligible to apply for an e-visa to Vietnam, click here.
How to Book a Tour
Booking your holiday with Indochina Pioneer cannot be easier! Follow our 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Browse our website www.indochinapioneer.com for tours, cruises and other destination information.
Should you find something that matches your interest, fill in the REQUEST A FREE QUOTE forms. Can’t find something that fits your needs? Then fill the BUILD YOUR OWN TRIP or CONTACT US form and click SUBMIT.
Then sit back! One of our travel experts will get back to you shortly with our customized package and most favorable offer!
In a hurry? Don’t like filling forms? Then call +84 982 116 630 (MR. LAM) or +84 983 145 799 (MR. Quyen). We’re available 24/7 and would be more than happy to talk! Certainly, your request will be carefully noted and a nicely crafted package with a pleasant price will follow!
Step 2: Reviewing/ Customizing our offer!
It’s your holiday so everything should be exactly what you want! We encourage your careful review of what we offer, letting us know what changes you would like to make. We’ll be more than happy to fine-tune the tour to fit best your interests, budget and time! This step may require several emails/call exchanges until perfect!
Step 3: Confirming/Paying/ Packing for the trip!
Once you’re satisfied with the customized tour, please let us know and Indochina Pioneer will need a few working hours to place reservations for all of the tour services. As soon as the availability and reservations of the services are confirmed, we will request a deposit. Please refer our Payment Guide for more details.
Once your deposit is received by Indochina Pioneer, we will send you the service voucher which confirms all the services of the tour and provides ground contact details and a guide for the final payment schedule.
And then you start counting down the day for your most fabulous trip!
Booking Amendment & Cancellations:
Booking Amendment: Flexibility is our strongest point. You can amend your booking even after it is made. Just contact your salesperson or contact us at [email protected] with your booking number. Our reservations team is glad to amend your booking with your preferable alternatives. Please kindly note that you will be responsible for any change of the final price caused by your amendment requests.
Travel smart with Indochina Pioneer!
Packing and Luggage Allowance
Packing Checklist – Be sure to check them all 😉
- Travel documents (passport, visas, travel insurance certificate, air tickets, tour voucher)
- Money (cash, credit card, debit card, traveler’s cheques and money pouch)
- Day pack for your personal needs during the day
- Camera and extra memory cards and batteries
- Cell phone and cell phone charger
- Laptop charger (if you are bringing your laptop)
- Travel plug/international adapter
- Medication (including a doctor’s letter if you are carrying a large amount of medication)
- Prescription glasses / contacts and if necessary, contact lens solution
Best to bring along
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Refillable water bottle with filter
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Comfortable clothing, either light or heavy options, depending on the season you are travelling
- Clothes suitable for visiting temples (long pants / skirts, long sleeved tops)
- Waterproof jacket / raincoat / umbrella
- Hat & sunglasses
- Bathing suit
- Ear plugs & eye mask
- Sleep sheet for home stays / trains
- Lightweight travel towel
- Local language phrasebook
Reviews on Our Service
We are committed to giving our customers unforgettable experiences in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and beyond, not just something staged for tourists. Read reviews written by our customers about their experiences in Indochina after they have returned home. These include the ratings and comments on attractions, guides, activities, hotels and food.
We had a wonderful 7-day trip last July; Kata was awesome to work with. So professional, reliable and helpful!
"Lifetime of Memories"
Lam did an amazing job putting together an itinerary based on phone/text conversations. We told him the where and what and he did the rest. The accommodations were beyond expectation, the guides were unbelievably friendly, and the places we were taken were spectacular. Having guides and drivers is worth every penny. So much time and money would have been wasted had we tried to accomplish this ourselves.
We got to experience so much more because of our guides local knowledge. Lastly, how great it was not to worry about how we were getting to the next adventure. Had we not used Indochina Pioneer I truly believe I wouldn’t have as many astonishing memories.
"Amazing 30 Day Journey with Indochina Pioneer"
If you are looking for a private tour of SE Asia, look no further than Indochina Pioneer. I recently returned from a 30-day private tour of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand all arranged by Indochina Pioneer and could not have been happier with everything they arranged for me. They are top-notch from working directly with you on planning your trip, arranging visas, having individuals at the airports to meet and walk you through everything when entering the countries, having amazing tour guides and drivers as well as organizing everything for you on the ground and being there to help you all along the way if you have any questions or problems. My tour was amazing with not only the normal tourist sights, but many off the beaten track sights and with your own guides, you learn so much more from these individuals who actually live in the places you will visit. I can’t recommend this tour agency enough. If you are looking to travel to any of the locations Indochina Pioneer has tours, you must book through them, you will not be disappointed.
"Excellent from the very beginning"
We had 21 days on a private tour and every detail was perfectly arranged. Perhaps, the Spanish speaking skills of guides can ve improved, but overall they were very helpful and committed with their job. I want to highlight the performance of Juan (Hanoi), Miguel (Hoi An), Chao (Ho Chi Minh City) and La (Luang Prabang, Laos).
Hotels were as we asked and the timing for the visits was very good.
I recommend this travel agency!