This trip will take you to the isolated and beautiful locales of Northwest Vietnam. There, you can view stunning scenery and meet hospitable hill tribe people, whose colorful weekly markets you can visit on stops along your scenic drive from Sapa to Bac Ha. The Chay River will be your alternate route back to Lao Cai. The river cruise offers you another perspective of this ruggedly beautiful and majestic landscape of Vietnam's Northwest.
Tonight board the Victoria Express train from Hanoi to Lao Cai. Overnight on train. (B/D)
Arrive at Lao Cai early in the morning. Breakfast at hotel and early check-in. A pleasant trek this afternoon will take you along ancient buffalo paths and trails and through Cat Cat and Ta Van villages, home to the Black Hmong, and Dzay people. Discover the region’s striking landscape and meet friendly villagers along the way. Descend to the valley floor and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the valley walls covered with multi-layered terraced rice fields. Late afternoon, climb to Ham Rong Mountain for a panoramic view of Sapa at sunset. (B/L)
The 50-mile scenic mountain drive this morning will take you to Can Cau (via Bac Ha) in time for its weekly market. Set amidst mountains and green forests near the Chinese border, Can Cau market is smaller in scale but very colorful compared to other markets in Lao Cai Province. Here you’ll find mainly the Flower Hmong minority with their beautiful embroidered dress and head gear. Visit Can Cau and you will experience a typical, rural market of the hill tribes. Thanks to its remote location, the market is still largely untouched by tourism, preserving historic authenticity.
This morning you’ll visit the famed Bac Ha Sunday market, by far the largest and most colorful market in the Sapa Region. Here, you’ll see many minority groups from the neighboring villages and hamlets – the Flower Hmong, Dao, Giay, Han (Hoa), Xa Fang, Lachi, Nung, Phula, Thai and Thulao – gather on Sundays to trade, eat, drink and socialize. Their beautiful, distinctive dress in rich colors is a feast for your eyes (and camera). After lunch, travel back to Lao Cai by way of the Chay River. Enjoy this majestic landscape and occasional visits to some remote villages which can only be accessed by boat. Upon arrival at Lao Cai, board our night train back to Hanoi. Tonight you will dine on the train in le Tonkin Restaurant. (B/L/D)
Our train arrives in Hanoi early in the morning. Transfer to the hotel for breakfast and enjoy a half day use of the facility. Our hotel is located in the heart of the Old Quarter, so you can venture out on foot to explore the area at your own pace, sample local cuisine or catch up with last minute souvenir shopping. You will be assisted with transfer to the airport for your return flight to the US. (B) Bon voyage!