Encounter Vietnam’s Tribal Peoples and Explore Lively Markets


A former French hill station set at a cool 5,000 feet, Sapa is a center for Vietnam’s tribal peoples. The town’s lively market is full of street vendors, open-air eateries, and a mix of ethnic peoples from many regions. Vietnam’s mountain population is largely tribal, including Hmong, Dao, Tay, Thai, and many others. The ethnic Hmong, who migrated from China, include several subgroups—the Black, White, Red, Green, and Flower Hmong—differentiated by their elaborate styles of dress and hats.

There are local markets on various days of the week, and some hiking may be required to reach certain markets. Below is a sample itinerary. Your exact schedule will be deteramiend based on your specific travel dates.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Hanoi / Lao Cai

From Hanoi, transfer to the station for the evening train to Lao Cai, with an overnight in air-conditioned sleeper compartments. The total rail journey is about 10 hours...meals on own

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Day 2
Lao Cai / Market / Sapa

Arrive in Lao Cai in the early morning and transfer to a local hotel for breakfast and a chance to freshen up. Afterwards, drive via Sapa to the Coc Ly market to see the Black Hmong, Flower Hmong, and Tay hill tribe people in traditional dress. After your visit, take a boat ride to Na Nen village, where members of the Flower Hmong minority reside, then hike along the river to Trung Do village, where the Tay people live in stilt-houses. On a riverboat ride, you can enjoy the mountain scenery and see life along the riverbank. Continue to Sapa, a former French hill station set at a cool 5,000 feet and a center for Vietnam’s tribal peoples...BL

Please note: Depending on the days you are in Sapa, the particular markets you visit may be different (markets happen in different villages on different days of the week), which means the order of visits on your itinerary may change.

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Day 3
Sapa / Lao Chai and Ta Van villages

From Sapa, a short drive brings you into the Muong Hoa valley, home to the largest terraced rice fields in Vietnam. You'll walk in Lao Chai village of the Black Hmong community, and visit Ta Van village, where the Zay hill tribes live. Return to the hotel in the afternoon with the balance of the day at leisure...B

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Day 4
Sapa / Cat Cat and Y Linh Ho villages / Overnight Train

Today you have the option to walk from the hotel to the nearby Cat Cat village, or you can ride in the vehicle. A leisurely walk through the village offers a great introduction to the traditional customs of the villagers. You can stop by a stunning waterfall (a great photo opportunity) before making your way to the Y Linh Ho village, and later return to the hotel to freshen up. This evening you'll board the overnight train back to Hanoi...B

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Day 5
Arrive Hanoi / Begin Day 1 of the Vietnam and Cambodia Private Journey

Arrive at the Hanoi Train Station in the early morning, transfer to your hotel, where early check-in arrangements have been made for you, and begin Day 1 of the Vietnam and Cambodia Private Journey...B


Length: 5 days
Cost From: $1195  
Arrive: Hanoi, Vietnam
Depart: Hanoi, Vietnam
Lodging: 2 nights aboard train, 2 nights hotel
Meals: Meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Hiking and cultural exploration

Visa Requirements

A visa is required for U.S. citizens visiting Vietnam. Your visa must be obtained prior to arrival.