Day 1: Hanoi - Mai Chau Valley (L, D)
After breakfast, your guide will meet and take you on 2,5 hours journey to Hoa Binh. Your first visit will be Giang Mo, the village of the Muong minority and stroll through the rice fields. You will also visit Muong Cultural Space nearby to have an overview of Muong people and its culture.
Continue driving to stunning valley of Mai Chau for lunch at a stilt-house, followed by a stroll around interesting surroundings and ethnic minority tribes of Pom Coong village.Then a short drive will take you to a remote village of the valley for approximately 3- hour trek passing by authentic villages and lush paddy fields. Spend the night in a Thai family in Mai Chau.
Day 2: Mai Chau – Moc Chau - Son La (B, L)
After breakfast at your homestay, embark on a scenic drive north to Son La, passing by fruit orchards, tea plantations along the route. There are plenty of opportunities to meet and interact with local tribe people of black Thai, White Thai, H’mong, Muong. You will also visit a tea plantation in Moc Chau plateau, one of the best Vietnam tea-growing region in Vietnam. Upon your arrival in Son La, visit Son La prison and the small museum next door dedicated to the dress, tools and lives of the ethnic minorities of Son La, mainly H'mong. Overnight in Son La.
Note: If today is Sunday, visit the weekly ethnic market en-route, some 40km from Mai Chau before driving to Moc Chau & Son La.
Day 3: Son La – Dien Bien (B, L)
Continue your drive on winding roads, passing longer passes with chances to see more colorful minority groups. After lunch, drive through the impressive Pha Din pass which will be the highlight of the day. Stop on the top of the pass, your guide will explain an interesting local legend about this pass.
Arriving in Dien Bien Phu in the early afternoon, enjoy a guided visit of the historical sites including Dien Bien Phu Museum, A 1 Hill, De Castries's bunker.
Dien Bien Phu is 35km from the Laos border, and is situated in the Muong Thanh Valley. For centuries it has been a major town on the transit route for traders between Myanmar, China and the north of Vietnam, but more recently in May of 1954 it became a place of special significance in the creation of a modern state of Vietnam. It was the site of a decisive battle that led to a 57 day siege of the French garrison and consequential end of the French colonial occupation.
The history of Dien Bien Phu is the main attraction here and now being the capital of Lai Chau province the once small town is growing considerably. On the site of the battle there now stands Dien Bien Phu Museum were old French tanks and artillery can be seen along with the re-building of the bunker headquarters of the French commander Colonel Christian de Castries. Stroll around the local market and the city centre before embarking on a another journey to Muong Lay passing the stunning gorges and the Nam Na River. You will stop en route to visit the authentic villages of H’mong and Dao people. Arriving in Lai Chau in early afternoon where you will have lunch and enjoy free time at leisure.
Day 4: Dien Bien – Lai Chau [now Muong Lay] (B, L)
Stroll around the local market and the city centre before embarking on a another journey to Muong Lay passing the stunning gorges and the Nam Na River. You will stop en route to visit the authentic villages of H’mong and Dao people. Arriving in Lai Chau in early afternoon where you will have lunch and enjoy free time at leisure.
A motor-boat trip can be arranged (at additional cost) to visit different villages along the Black River. You can make a stop to visit a village of Thai minority and learn about their daily life on the riverbank. A friendly atmosphere makes your trip more enjoyable. The boat takes you further downstream and you will be transferred back to the hotel in the late afternoon. Overnight in Muong Lay.
Day 5: Lai Chau [now Muong Lay] - Sapa (B, L)
Today the route takes you to Sapa on the side of Fansipan Mountain range. The road is a bit bumpy at times but the magnificent scenery of the surrounding fertile valley, pristine rivers and towering mountains compensates. You will stop en route at Heaven’s Gate to have bird-eyes view of the enormous picturesque Muong Hoa valley and Fansipan Mount. Visit Silver Waterfall before driving straight to Sapa town, arriving in the afternoon. Overnight in Sapa.
The Thursday and Sunday ethnic market in Tam Duong is very colorful, frequented by different ethnic minorities in the region.
Day 6: Sapa Full Day Hiking along Muong Hoa Valley - Lao Cai - Overnight train to Hanoi (B, L)
At 9h00, you will start the day with a walk through the town of Sapa and along a dirt trail through vegetable gardens and rice paddies. The spectacular scenery of Muong Hoa valley gradually appears. You will then reach the river running at the bottom of the valley and continue the walk on the bank of the river. Eventually you’ll arrive in Y Linh Ho village of Black H’mong minority. Enjoy a picnic lunch by the river.
After lunch, the hike from Y Linh Ho village to Lao Chai village of Black H’mong minority is almost on the hillsides. The view of the valley is more and more extending and stretching to the horizon. Stop at Lao Chai village to visit a local house before following the dirt path linking the village with Ta Van village, the only one in the valley inhabited by Giay minority. From Ta Van village you will be picked up by vehicle to Sapa, then to Lao Cai for overnight train to Hanoi.
Day 7: Arrival in Hanoi in the Early Morning
You will arrive in Hanoi in the early morning. Tour ends.