The Hill Tribes Of South East Asia
September 2022, 19 Days through Laos and Vietnam, HoueiSay to Hanoi
In a rapidly modernizing world the last vestiges of Tribal and Village Cultures are swiftly dispersing as the new world encroaches on the old, and traditional values and ways of life begin to vanish. Join us on our Hill Tribes Tour of South East Asia, where despite the encroaching modern world numerous regional tribes and peoples keep alive a way of life that they have lived for centuries!
Visits: HoueiSay, Pakbeng, Luang Prabang, Pak-Ou, Kuang-Si, Vientiane, Xienkhouang, Plain Of Jars, Hanoi, Lao Cai, Sapa, Ha Giang, Dong Van, Meo Vac, Cao Bang, Ban Gioc, Mai Chau, Pubin Spice Hills and Ninh Binh
The Hmong, Yao, Khmu, Thai Dam and White Thai are amongst over 40 regional Ethnic Tribal Communities whom live in the areas we are passing through and whose lives you may be more that lucky to get a glimpse into!
Day 1. Arrival – HoueiSay: On arrival at the Lao border checkpoint at HoueiSay pier, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Today you are free at your leisure to explore this town, visiting the local market and villages nearby. The surrounding areas of HoueiSay are home to 34 ethnic minority groups, the second most ethnically diverse province in Laos. Overnight in HoueiSay
Day 2. HoueiSay Cruise – Pakbeng (B/L/D): After breakfast, you board your traditional slow boat for the cruise downriver to the river town of Pakbeng. The scenery along this part of the Mekong is arguably at its most beautiful. As your journey downriver you will stop at some Hmong, Yao and Khmu ethnic minority villages and have the opportunity to observe their traditional lifestyle. Lunch is served on deck as we enjoy the slow-paced cruise. Arriving at Pakbeng late afternoon you will check in to your bungalow and enjoy a few drinks watching the sunset over the mountains and the Mekong. Overnight in Pakbeng
Day 3. Pakbeng – Luang Prabang (B/L/-): This morning we continue downstream pass areas of un-spoilt forest with little villages along the riverbanks and perhaps the odd elephant or two with his mahout. You will visit a Hmong village and have the opportunity to explore the village. Lunch is served on deck as we enjoy the slow-paced cruise. We will pull over for a visit to Pak-Ou Caves, an ancient pilgrimage site and containing thousands of gold lacquered Buddha images left there over hundreds of years. Arriving in Luang Prabang around sunset we will transfer to your hotel. Your evening is free to explore the town or relax at your hotel. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 4. Luang Prabang: Today, we explore Luang Prabang further by visiting the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, its exterior architecture is remarkable with decorated gilded stuccoes and doorways, a “tree of life” mosaic pattern set in colored glass on the back wall and its three tiered roofs sweeping low to the ground representing classical Laotian architecture. In the afternoon visit the hilltribe village of Ban Phanom, well known for its hand weaving products. Overnight in Luang Prabang (B)
Day 5. Luang Prabang - Kuang Si (B/L/-): After breakfast we begin our journey to Khouangsi Waterfall stopping along the way to visit the morning Phousi Market, this where all the locals of Luang Prabang come to do their daily shopping. You will see a variety of local foodstuffs and products including dried buffalo skin, local tea and saltpeter among the chickens, fish, vegetables and fruit, everything needed for daily life in Laos. On arrival at the Khouangsi Waterfall you will have the opportunity to cool off with a refreshing swim in the topaz pools below the falls, walk along the forest trails and visit the Bear Sanctuary. Returning to Luang Prabang your afternoon is free to explore or relax at the hotel. Overnight in Luang Prabang
Day 6. Luang Prabang – Vientiane – Xiengkhouang (Flight): This morning we visit the National Museum (closed Tuesdays) at the former Royal Palace, which displays a lovely collection of the artifacts reflecting the richness of Lao culture dating from the days of the early kings right through the last sovereign. We then take a flight to Xiengkhouang via Vientiane. On arrival, we visit the “Plain of Jars”, an impressive archaeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are littered all over the plateau. The largest jar reaches a height of 3.25 meters; researchers still question the origin and significance of these jars. Overnight in Phonsavanh (B)
Day 7. Xiengkhouang – Plain of Jars 2nd – 3rd: After breakfast we head out to the old capital of Muang Khoun province and its nearby villages, home to the Hmong hill tribe and Thai Dam people. Our excursion continues to the 2nd and 3rd Plain of jars fields, where you can obtain more scenic views. Along the way, we visit more local villages and learn about the local culture and lifestyle. Return to Phonsavanh by late afternoon. Overnight in Phonsavanh.(B)
Day 8. Xiengkhouang – Vientiane - Hanoi (B/-/D): After breakfast, take a short flight to Vientian then connect your flight to Hanoi. Warm welcome upon your arrival in Hanoi. Your guide and driver will meet you at the airport for a transfer to your hotel located in the Hanoi downtown. Your guide’s welcome speech will give you overall information about the city of Hanoi. After check in you will have free time to relax, then your guide will see you again for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Your first day will be completed by a water puppet show – a unique art performance in Vietnam – before you return to your hotel for overnight stay in Hanoi. (B, D)
Day 9: Hanoi – Lao Cai by night train (B/L/D): This full day tour takes you around Hanoi’s most interesting sights, including the Ho Chi Minh Complex and Mausoleum, House-on-Stilts, the Presidential Palace and the One Pillar Pagoda. After that you will visit the Quan Thanh Temple and the Tran Quoc pagoda, the oldest pagoda originally constructed in the sixth century. For lunch you have two options: enjoy a Hanoi special dish “Cha Ca” at Cha Ca La Vong restaurant, one of the most unique (over a hundred years old) restaurants located in the Hanoi Old Quarter. Or you can taste a “Pho”, another worldwide famous dish from Hanoi. Afternoon you can choose to visit one of the city’s Museums: Vietnam History Museum, Vietnam Ethnology Museum, Vietnam Military History Museum, and the Temple of Literature, before having a walk around the Lake of the Restored Sword, visit the Ngoc Son Temple and enjoy a cup of Vietnamese coffee at a street-pub. Dinner at one of the French-built restaurants located in the Hanoi Old Quarter then you have a transfer to Hanoi station for a night train to Lao Cai – a Vietnam-China border city. You will stay overnight on train.
Day 10: Lao Cai – Sapa (B/-/D): Your train will early arrive in Lao Cai station at around 6:00. Your local driver will wait to transfer you to your hotel located in Sapa town. This 40-minute journey offers you the first impression of the North Vietnam mountainous area with its winding road, terrace rice fields and minority ethnic villages. Your breakfast will be at the hotel. Following breakfast, you embark on a soft trek along buffalo paths through several hill tribe villages of the H’Mong and the Day ethnic peoples, through stunning scenery inhabited by some of the friendliest people you can meet. Lunch at local restaurant. In the afternoon you will have a short walking tour to visit the Cat Cat village – home of the H’Mong ethnic people located in the beautiful valley. Meet local people and visit their houses to learn about their unique customs and practices. Stop at the Cat Cat waterfall for some photo shots before returning to hotel for a break then enjoy dinner at local restaurant. You will stay overnight in Sapa.
Day 11: Sapa – Lao Cai – Ha Giang (B/L/D): After breakfast, leave Sapa for Ha Giang. You will stop for lunch at a local restaurant in Tuyen Quang Town, an area famous for green tea plantations. You will arrive in Ha Giang at around 18:00 where you will have dinner and spend the night with a Thai family in their traditional stilt house.
Day 12: Ha Giang – Dong Van (B/L/D): Today, You will take a succession of stunning passes, over the rolling mountains and valleys. You will stop for lunch in the small mountain town of Tam Son. After, you will travel through the imposing pine forest to visit a Hmong palace which once belonged to the powerful Vuong family. The palace is infamous for its use as a store for opium and weapons and offers a glimpse into the life of Hmong royalty in a different era. After independence, the palace was evacuated in 1950, and the descendants of this influential family now live in France and Canada. You will continue down the sweeping roads until you arrive in Dong Van at around 18:00. You will have dinner at local restaurant and spend the night in a hotel.
Day 13. Dong Van- Ma Pi Leng Pass - Meo Vac – Cao Bang (B/L,/D): After breakfast, if it is a Sunday, you can visit the weekly Dong Van Market to meet the local people and peruse the fascinating ion of handmade goods and specialty produce. You will then climb up above the town to Pu Lo, a French fortress built in 1890 and kept in great condition. After exploring the fortress and the incredible views it offers, you will hit the road to experience one of the most spectacular roads in the whole of Vietnam. At an elevation of 2000 meters, the Ma Pi Leng Pass clings to the side of the undulating mountains, giving unrivalled views of the valleys and terraced hemp fields, which decorate the mountainsides. You will zigzag down into Bao Lac for lunch, then visiting regional Hill tribe villages as we make our way to Cao Bang Town where will overnight. Note: If you miss the Sunday market in Dong Van, a trip to Lui Market can be arranged depending on the departure date.
Day 14. Ban Gioc Hanoi (B /L/-): We start today with a visit to the spectacular Ban Gioc Waterfalls, one of the natural wonders of Vietnam, before returning to Hanoi for an overnight
Day 15. Hanoi (B/-/-): A free day in Hanoi.
Day 16: Hanoi – Mai Chau Valley (Pupin Spices Hill)– Homestay (B/L/D): You leave Hanoi for Mai Chau valley, the gateway to the North Wets of Vietnam. You have some stop on the ways to enjoy the wonderful scenery of the mountainous area. Mai Chau is the capital of the White Thai ethnic people. Upon arrival you are warmest welcome by the host to their house-on-stilts. Time to relax. Dinner at the local house-on-stilts. Tonight you will share this house-on-stilts with the host and other tourists.
Day 17: Pupin Spices Hill – Ninh Binh (B/L/D): In the morning you will have a soft trek to explore Pupin Village, get in touch with local villagers, walking on the path through the rice fields, visit some local house to learn more about their livings, customs. Your driver will meet you at the other end for a transfer back to your house for lunch then you depart for Hoa Lu citadel located in the Ninh Binh province surrounded by the Red River Delta villages Check-in. At leisure. Dinner at local restaurant and overnight stay in Ninh Binh.
Day 18: Ninh Binh – Hanoi (B/L/D): Today you will visit Hoa Lu Ancient Capital and the Tam Coc caves. Your first stop of the day is the King Dinh temple and king Le temple. These two temples are constructed by local residents near the center of the old capital in order to honor Dinh Bo Linh, the first emperor of Vietnam and Le Dai Hanh who founded the Le Dynasty in the 10th and 11th centuries. From here you take a bycicle riding through the village paths then you have a sampan rowing to explore the Tam Coc caves. Lunch with Vietnamese rural cuisines at local restaurant, before returning to Hanoi.
Day 19: Hanoi Departure (B): Today is free in Hanoi until transfer to the airport for your flight home.
• Private airport pick-up & drop off
• Private sightseeing tour with English speaking guide
• Private boat trip as per tour program
• Hotel accommodation – Shared in double room
• Meals as stated in the program
• Water and tissues on coach
• All entrance fees
• Flights (VTE-XKH-VTE and VTE-HAN)
• 24/7 hotline support
• Complimentary Vietnam visa on arrival pre-approved letter.
• International flights & tax
• Travel insurance
• Personal expenses, tips and gratuities
• Peak season or Public holidays surcharge if any
• Compulsory Gala dinner on Christmas or New Year if any
• Visa fee
• Other services not mentioned above
Please note that the envisaged itinerary shown above is subject to change based on conditions at the time the tour comes within booking and confirmation range. Approximate dates and prices will be released as the date of travel draws closer, with bookings able to be made within 12 months of departure. If you are interested in joining us on this journey we recommend that you register your Expression of Interest Now to ensure you get the latest information and updates on this programme as the departure date draws closer!