Mai Chau Valley & Northwest Vietnam Region
Northwest Vietnam has a ruggedness and a primitive infrastructure which offers a real thrill for those who want to discover the unknown. Even Sapa, which has been brought to the fore in terms of tourism, is still a very beautiful place with hidden enclaves and a rich tapestry of peoples just outside the town itself. Planning a trip in these remote areas of Vietnam as a solo traveller might not be the wisest decision, primarily due to the need for special permits in the less well-discovered areas.
HOA BINH PROVINCE
Hoa Binh Town is the capital town of Hoa Binh Province. The town is 76km southwest of Ha Noi with very good conditions. 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 Dzao Villages; and a cruise on the Da River to visit the ethnic communities inhabiting on the riverbanks and on the mountain slopes. From Ha Noi, Hanoi Travel Expert offers half day or full day tour to Hoa Binh Town.
Mai Chau Valley and Hang Kia Valley both belong to Hoa Binh Province and offer stunning nature beauty as well as exotic ethnic culture.Hanoi Travel Expert offers relaxing sightseeing tours as well as trekking adventure tours to these two valleys. The tour can range from 2 - 5 days.
Mai Chau is a westernmost district of Hoa Binh Province, around 135km from Hanoi. It is home to several hill tribal groups, including Thai minority. Most of them live on stilt houses with thatched roofs and eke a living out of terraced rice field cultivation and brocade weaving. This enchanting destination offers a perfect opportunity to admire a stunning sunrise on the highland, enjoy mind blowing views over flowery valleys and exploring colorful Montagnard culture. With alluring landscape and endearing culture, Mai Chau makes an ideal destination for trekking and homestay travel.
SON LA PROVINCE
Located 320km northwest of Hanoi, Son La makes a good stop for travelers doing the run between Hanoi and Dien Bien Phu. Eighty percent of the province's natural area is covered with mountains. In this mountainous and forested region, the main population is minority groups such as the Black Thai,White Thai, Muong, Ma, H'mong, Dao, etc...
Son La is the capital town of Son La Province which is 340km from Ha Noi. The town has a hot spring and a former French prison for the Vietnamese patriots. Son La City 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.
Moc Chau Plateau, which is just 200 km to the northwest of Hanoi.The plateau is covered in vast fields of delicate white flowers. The pale flora stands in dramatic contrast to the lush green hillsides and red earth. The area is surrounded by the forest with fields of brilliant, towering sunflowers -many of which sway far above the heads of people who walk beneath them. The fresh, cool air in Moc Chau is an important factor which makes the area a great tourist attraction. The town is cool in summer, brisk in autumn, cold in the winter, and warm in spring. Visiting the region days before summers, you will be impressed by the ripe plum and peach blossoms which cover the entire area.
DIEN BIEN PROVINCE
Dien Bien Phu is the capital of Dien Bien Province in one of the most remote part of Vietnam. The town is 34km from the Lao Border in the flat,heart -shaped Muong Thanh Valley surrounded by steep and heavily forested hills. It is mostly inhabited by the Thai and H'mong minority people. History is the main attraction here and the scenery is just a sideshow enjoyed during arrival and departure overland.
Almost historical sites of this battle lying to the east of Muong Thanh Field have been preserved intact. Following are a list of recommended places to visit in Dien Bien:
Dien Bien Phu Museum: It is an exhibition of documents and objects relating to the 55-day arduous battle of the Vietnamese troops and people,which results in the victory of Dien Bien Phu in the spring of 1954.
The cemeteries in A1 Hill (644 tombs) and Doc Lap Hill (2432 tombs), A1 Hill, where bitter fighting took place.
The Command Bunker of De Castries: lies at the heart of the entrenched camp of Dien Bien Phu in the middle of the Muong Thanh Field.
The old Muong Thanh Bridge is about 35km from the center of Dien Bien City, in Muong Phang Commune lies the Command Post of General Vo Nguyen Giap.
LAI CHAU PROVINCE
Lai Chau is a newly established province situated on high mountainous region, about 3-hour drive from Dien Bien Phu. Its neighbors are Yunna (China) on the north, Laos on the west, Lao Cai Province on the north-east, Dien Bien and Son La Province on the south. With Tam Duong, Lai Chau is one lunch or an overnight stop for people traveling between Dien Bien Phu and Sapa.
Pa Tan & Pa So with a hot spring and the various ethnic minorities inhabiting only a few minutes of walk away is recently turned into a destination for the adventure travelers. Pa Tang and Pa So is about 80km from Lai Chau.
Muong Te offers wild nature settings and colorful ethnic culture.The area is 40km from Pa So
Sin Ho is off the tourist track and offers stunning mountains andvalleys. Sin Ho is 50 km from Pa So
Phong Tho is a little valley 270 km from Dien Bien Phu and 80km 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 Asia Frontier Trail.
Tam Duong is a district of Lai Chau province. Home to several ethnic minorities like Flower H'Mong and White H'Mong, and being surrounded by alluring nature.Tam Duong Market is about 100km from Sapa, there's an ethnic market every Thursday. Tam Duong definitively worth a visit.