Ethnic Trails of Vietnam
13 day private tour
An independent photography discovery tour of North-West Vietnam
An independent photography discovery tour of North-West Vietnam
This unique private touring option takes you off the tourist trails of Vietnam and into the remote and beautiful mountains of North-West Vietnam. With stops at remote villages and colourful ethnic markets this tour gives you the opportunity to see Vietnam's colourful ethnic minority groups, where each village has a unique culture, every season offers a different scenery perspective and harvest cycle and each minority group presents you with a distinct and vibrant traditional dress.
This tour offers you the unique opportunity to travel far from the beaten tourist trail – without the need for roughing it or spending long days hiking. Travelling with your own personal guide and driver, you’ll have the chance to stop whenever and wherever you like. This is not a trekking tour so your equipment is always safe. Transport is by comfortable air-conditioned private vehicles and accommodation is in modern hotels with free Wi-Fi and plenty of facilities to recharge your equipment every night.
Travelling without a group offers you the opportunity for spontaneous encounters with the locals and whether it be blending into the crowds at the local markets or wandering through local villages and towns, you’ll never feel like an intruder and always get that special shot that no one else has.
Each tour is a ‘serendipitous’ experience with no two tours ever the same. Just some of the ethnic minority groups you will see include several different clans of the colourful Flower, Red, Black and White Hmong; a number of different clans of the Black and Red Dao with their amazing head dresses and other smaller groups such as the HaNhi, PhuLa, PaDi, TuDi, Nung, Lu and White Tai.
Day 1 - Hanoi arrival
Your day is free to explore Hanoi’s 1000 year old shopping precinct the ‘Old Quarter’. Your hotel located in a quiet laneway in the centre of the Old Quarter, provides a great base for capturing the vibrant street life of the city.
DAY 2 - HANOI TO LAO CAI
There’s an early morning start today as you head out to capture the morning markets and street life as the city awakens. You visit the Ethnology Museum before leaving Hanoi for the city of Lao Cai on the Chinese/Vietnam border.
day 3 lao cai - can cau markets - sapa
This morning you travel along the border area to the remote mountain market of Can Cau. This large Saturday market sees a gathering of colourful Flower Hmong, Giay and Nung traders. Here you will be able to capture some amazing shots of the colourful costumes and market life as the hill tribes come to trade. After exploring the market you travel down the Chay River stopping at a Tay village before driving on to the mountain resort of Sapa.
DAY 4 - sapa - muong hum market
This morning you travel to the remote ethnic market in Muong Hum. The road to Muong Hum offers spectacular scenery with lots of rice terraces and mountain passes. The busy Sunday market sees a colourful gathering of Ha Nhi, Red Dao, Blue Hmong and Giay. You spend the day exploring the markets and local villages.
DAY 5 - SAPA MARKET - TAPHIN VALLEY
Your first stop this morning is to the local market to capture the amazing fresh produce as the locals come to town to trade. You spend the day in the picturesque valley of Taphin, exploring the daily lives of the Red Dao.
DAY 6 - LAO CHAU VALLEY
This morning you visit the village of Lao Chai to learn about Black Hmong culture and spend the morning wandering through the valley capturing daily life and the spectacular mountain terraces for which Sapa is renowned.
DAY 7 - SAPA - SINHO
You head further into the mountains today descending through the spectacular Tram Ton Pass and onto the remote mountain township of SinHo. Along the way you will meet the “antenna’ Dao, the Lu, and the “sewing” Dao, White, Flower and Red Hmong working in the fields and trading in local markets.
DAY 8 - SINHO - MUONG TE
You start your day with the locals at the SinHo market where you will encounter different clans of the Black, Red and White Dao along with some Black Thai and Giay. Again the road offers some fantastic scenery and opportunity to meet several different groups including Red and White Hmong, Si La and HaNhi before arriving in remote Muong Te town.
DAY 9 - MUONG TE - LAI CHAU
After a visit to the local market it’s another day of stunning mountain scenery as you follow the Black River down to the city of Lai Chau. Today there is the opportunity to meet some different HaNhi, Black Dao and White Thai.
day 10 - lai chau - lao cai
An early start to the day to catch all the traders at the Saturday morning market in Tam Duong. This small market see Lu, Black Dao, along with Red, Black and White Hmong trading goods. You then head back up the Fanxipan mountain range and cross the Tram Ton Pass and onto the city of Lao Cai city.
day 11 - lao cai - muong khong market - bac ha
This morning you travel to the remote market of Muong Khuong where minority groups including colourful Flower Hmong, Black Dao, Nung, PhuLa, PaDi and TuDi come to town to trade. The area offers magnificent scenery along with lots of opportunities to get shots of the minority groups working in the fields.
day 12 - bac ha - hanoi
You leave the remote mountains this morning for the drive to Lao Cai city along the way you will stop in to visit some Phu La families before travelling down the new freeway to Hanoi.
day 13 - tour finishes hanoI
Your tour finishes today after breakfast.
Group of 2 or 3 - from $3874 pp twin share
Group of 4 people – from $3500 pp twin share
Tours depart Hanoi on a Thursday at any time of the year, you pick your time of travel.
You should be aware that some months of the year will not provide you with as many photographic opportunities. The recommended times to travel are:
• Jan/Feb: A great time to capture all the ethnic groups celebrating in their finest clothes and taking part in spring and New Year’s festivals and celebrations. Weather at this time of the year can be very foggy so is not great for landscape photography. (Note local public holidays surcharge applies for travel over this period).
• April/May: This is one of the best times for landscape photography as days are usually clear but starting to get quiet warm. The rice terraces and crops are lush and green in most parts of the country. You will also encounter lots of the ethnic minority groups working in the fields.
• August/September: When the rice terraces are a golden yellow and everyone is out in the fields taking part in the harvest. A great time for both landscape photography and encountering the ethnic minority groups working in the fields.
Is this tour for me?
This tour DOES NOT provide photographic tutoring but is perfect for photographers of all levels - wanting to explore and capture unique and diverse cultures and landscapes at their own pace with expert local knowledge at hand.
This tour travels to remote locations and involves lengthy drives on some days. Accommodation in the more remote locations is not western standard - but provides air-con, private bathrooms & free Wi-Fi.