The Northwest of Vietnam with its breathtaking mountains landscapes and colorful hill tribes is the place for a real adventure discovery. From beautiful valley of Mai Chau up to the Heaven Gate Pass floats in the cloud to striking terraces of Sapa and green islands dotted Thac Ba Lake, it is the loop of amazing nature landscapes, typical minority culture and great colors of local life. Get off the bitten tracks and explore hidden charms of the country for a real life experience.
If you are planning an adventure trip to the mountains of northwestern Vietnam, please read: Useful tips for an adventure to northwest Vietnam.
Best time to visit the northwest
Each season northwest has it’s own charming, however there are 2 seasons the northwest region is most beautiful is Spring and Autumn, Spring time is from January to February on lunar calendar, this time all kinds of flower blossom and it is in this time ethnic minority groups in the northwest open their festivals with many activities such as singing, dancing…
October is Autumn in the northwest, the rice terraces shine a picturesque yellow. Autumn sunshine in the northwest is bolder than other regions. The weekend markets usually take place on Saturdays or Sundays, it’s a chance for you to have more memorable experiences, the sounds and colors of hill tribe markets is something travelers cannot ignore.
The best way to travel nortwest is by car or motorbike, you can keep the cost down by traveling with friends or rent a private car for the whole trip.
If traveling by motorbike remember to make sure that your bike is in good condition, check the fuel, brake, engine carefully before the trip, note that there are few petrol stations in remote areas and you need to fill the tank anytime you see arrive at a place.
Every day should depart from early morning when your mind is fresh, excited, have enough time to get to the next destination, have accommodation before dark. Don’t cross the mountain pass when it is dark or twilight, this is extremely important, to avoid the risks and ensure safety.
Sleeping and eating
In the northwest, there is a small town almost every 50km, there are motels and guesthouses in these places however mostly basic and restricted facilities. We recommend that you calculate your itinerary to get to the centre of town on time, and you can always refer local people for accommodation, hotels of high standard are usually in big town or tourist centres such as Sapa, Dien Bien, Son La, in small town you can stay at motels or state guesthouses, another choice for backpackers is homestay in the village, this is a good way when you budget is tight, however remember that in some areas foreign travelers need to apply for permit to stay the night in the village.
There are not many choices for restaurant to eat in the northwest, especially when you are out of town, if you find a restaurant on the way just stop to eat, don’t be too picky and wait or you will be hungry. Most restaurants have a few customers and the food is not always ready, only when you come and order they will cook for you, don’t hesitate at a poor-looking restaurant, just ask what you want and you will have a good meal before continuing the trip.
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