North West
Wild North West of Vietnam

North West

The North-West of Vietnam is characterized by high mountains and colorful ethnic minorities. The region includes the provinces of Hoa Binh, Son La, Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai.

Thanks to the geographical terrain and the ethnic population, The North West of Vietnam is perfect for the adventurous travellers. Except for Sapa, other areas of the North West are still relatively poor.

Rice terraces in the North West of Vietnam
Rice terraces in the North West of Vietnam

Tourist Attractions of the North West of Vietnam
Hoa Binh Town is the capital town of Hoa Binh Province. The town is 76km southwest of Ha Noi with very good conditions. The town is dissected by the Da River, or Black River (a tributary of the Red River). The highlights of Hoa Binh includes a walking tour to visit the Muong and the Zao Villages; and a cruise on the Da River to visit the ethnic communities inhabiting on the river banks and on the mountain slopes. From Ha Noi, Private Vietnam Tours offers half day or full day tour to Hoa Binh Town.

Mai Chau Valley and Hang Kia Valley both belong to Hoa Binh Province and offer stunning nature beauty as well as exotic ethnic culture. Private Vietnam Tours offers relaxing sightseeing tours as well as trekking adventure tours to these two valleys. The tour can range from 2 - 5 days.

Son La Town is the capital town of Son La Province which is 340km from Ha Noi. The town has a hotspring and a former French prison for the Vietnamese patriots. Son La Town can be visited for half a day and a good transit stop for the tour to Dien Bien Phu where the French lost the battle to the Vietnamese in 1954.

Dien Bien Phu Town is the capital town of Dien Bien Phu province which is 500km from Ha Noi. It's a border town between Vietnam and Laos. The town is actually the biggest valley in the North West of Vietnam.

Dien Bien Phu is a famous site thanks to its history. In 1954 16,000 French troops were besieged for 57 days and nights before they surrendered to the Vietnamese. Also after the military failure at Dien Bien Phu, the French declared to withraw their troops out of Vietnam.

In Dien Bien Phu, you still can visit the former battle fields such as A1 hills, the Commander Post, Muong Thanh Bridge, Nam Rom River, Gabrielle Hills, Beatrice Hill, Anne Marie Hills...

Muong Phang and Ba Khoang Lake is 30km from Dien Bien Phu. This was the commander post of the Vietnamese where the legendary general Vo Nguyen Giap conducted the battles of Dien Bien Phu.

Lai Chau is a little town flanked by high mountain peaks and fresh river. The town is 110 km from Dien Bien Phu.

Pa Tang, Pa So with a hotspring and the various ethnic minorities inhabiting only a few minutes of walk away is recently turned into a destination for the adventure travellers. Pa Tang and Pa So is about 80km from Lai Chau.

Muong Te offers wild nature settings and colorful ethnic culture. The area is 40km from Pa So

Sin Ho is off the tourist track and offers stunning mountains and valleys. Sin Ho is 50 km from Pa So

Phong Tho is a little valley 270 km from Dien Bien Phu and 80km from Sa Pa Town. Phong Tho is surrounded by mountains and inhabited by different ethnic groups such as the H'Mong, the Phu La, the Zao...The surrounding villages can be explored in a day or two. Trekking with overnight stay at a local ethnic family is available at Private Vietnam Tours.

Sa Pa: Please refer to our Sa Pa section for more information.


Rice terraces of Sapa
Rice terraces at Sa Pa

Bac Ha is 100 km from Sa Pa and the ethnic Sunday market has been famous to our travellers. Some travellers have joined us on a trekking tours exploring different H'Mong and Phu La ethnic villages around Bac Ha. In Bac Ha there's still a house of the H'Mong King.

Coc Ly is 130 km from Sa Pa and on every Tuesday there's a colorful ethnic market just by the Chay River. Visiting Coc Ly you can not only  join in the bartering of goods with the ethnic, but also visit their villages and have a nice cruise on the Chay River.

Can Cau is 130km from Sa Pa and there's a weekend market at Cat Cau every Saturday morning.

Nung Khau Nhi is 100km from Sapa, there's an ethnic market every Thursday.

Muong Khuong is 100km from Sapa, there's an ethnic market every Thursday.

Tam Duong is 100km from Sapa, there's an ethnic market every Thursday.

Travel and Tours
The North West of Vietnam is ideal for sightseeing relaxing tours, nature tours, cuture tours, adventure tours such as trekking, hiking, mountain biking or white-water rafting...

From Ha Noi, you can join Private Vietnam Tours on a relaxing tour, discovery tour or adventure tour of the North West of Vietnam for 8-16 days.

There are many hotels of basic facilities in different towns of the North West of Vietnam. This is not the case for Sa Pa Town.

Staying with an ethnic family in their simple house is an option. Conditions are limited, but the experience is just exceptional cozy. Exchanging culture talk with our local tour guide with the host family who is ethnic has been highlights of the tour in Vietnam for many of Private Vietnam Tours' travellers.

Getting there and away
From Ha Noi to Yen Bai, Lao Cai you can travel either by road or by train. The trains are fairly good with soft seats or soft sleepers and with air-conditioning.

For other areas in the North West of Vietnam, the only choice for the travelers is by road. You can hire your own car or van for exploring this region completely in 4-5 days. Otherwise you can hop onto many local buses from My Dinh Bus Station which is 20km from Ha Noi.

Getting around
On foot: Trekking the mountains of the North West of Vietnam is quite an experience. Private Vietnam Tours offers upto 8-10 day trekking through different hill tribe villages of this area.

By Motorbike: You can hire a motorbike for the adventure in the North East of Vietnam or join Private Vietnam Tours for the unbeaten roads in this area. Some parts of the tour involve staying at local ethnic homes with very poor conditions