Tu Le rice terraces in Yen Bai

North West

The North-West of Vietnam is characterized by high mountains and colorful ethnic minorities. The North-West of Vietnam 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 fields at Nghia Lo, Muong Lo
Rice fields at Nghia Lo, Muong Lo

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 road in good  condition. The town is dissected by the Da River, or Black River (a tributary of the Red River). The highlights of Hoa Binh include 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, Paradissa Travel offers half day or full day tour to Hoa Binh Town.

Hoa Binh Vietnam
Hoa Binh Town from above

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

The scenic mountain town of Mai Chau Hoa Binh Vietnam
The scenic mountain town of Mai Chau in Hoa Binh Province, Vietnam
 

Son La Town is the capital town of Son La Province which is 304km 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.

A Thai village near the hotspring in Son La
A Thai village near the hotspring in Son La

Dien Bien Phu City is the capital of Dien Bien Phu province which is 430km from Ha Noi. It's right on the border between Vietnam and Laos. The city is actually the biggest valley in the North West of Vietnam.

Commander bunker of Dien Bien Phu Battle
French Commander bunker of Dien Bien Phu Battle

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 Viet Minh. Also after the military failure at Dien Bien Phu, the French declared to withdraw their troops out of Vietnam.

In Dien Bien Phu, you still can visit the former battlefields 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 legendary general Vo Nguyen Giap conducted the battles of Dien Bien Phu.

Lai Chau City is surrounded by high mountain peaks and green tea plantations. The town is 200 km from Dien Bien Phu City.

The road leading into Lai Chau City
The road leading into Lai Chau City

Phong Tho is a little valley 180 km from Dien Bien Phu and 100km 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 Paradissa Travel.

Mountains outside of Phong Tho TownMountains outside of Phong Tho Town

Sin Ho is a plateau of 1,500m above sea level. The district with stunning mountains and valleys is off the tourist track. Sin Ho is 60 km from Lai Chau City.

Red Zao in Sapa Vietnam
Red Zao brocade in Sapa Vietnam

Tam Duong is 40km from Sapa, there's an ethnic market every Thursday.

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.

Mountains at Bac Ha, Lao Cai
Mountains at Bac Ha, Lao Cai

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.

Can Cau MarketCan Cau Market

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.

Mu Cang Chai (300km from Hanoi) & Tu Le (250km from Hanoi) in Yen Bai Province are well known for the jaw-dropping rice terraces.


Rice terraces at De Xu Phinh, Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai
Rice terraces at De Xu Phinh, Mu Cang Chai, Yen Bai

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 Paradissa Travel on a relaxing tour, discovery tour or adventure tour of the North West of Vietnam for 8-16 days.

Accommodation
There are many hotels of basic facilities in different towns of the North West of Vietnam. There is a wide range of hotels, luxury mountain resorts and ecolodges in Sa Pa Town.

Staying with an ethnic family in their simple house is an option. The conditions are limited, but the experience is just exceptionally cozy. Exchanging culture talk with our local tour guide and with the host family who is of ethnic origin has been highlights of the tour in Vietnam for many of Paradissa' travellers.

Moc Chau tea plantations
Tea plantations at Moc Chau, Son La

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 a private 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. Paradissa Travel offers upto 8-10 day trekking through different hill tribe villages of this area.

By Motorbike: You can hire a motorbike for an adventure in the North West of Vietnam or join Paradissa Travel for an off-the-beaten track adventure through this area. Some parts of the tour involve staying at local ethnic homes with very poor conditions.