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This trek takes you to rarely visited parts of the Pu Luong nature reserve – home to the minority Thai and Muong people – where few outsiders venture. It’s a great alternative to the very touristic Sapa and Mai Chau regions. Escape the busy city of Hanoi and make your way to peaceful villages lost in a lush valley surrounded by mountains and rice terraces. Experience the everyday life of locals and learn about their culture and customs.
Where will you go?
What will you do?
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi
Welcome to Vietnam! Our adventure begins here in Hanoi where we will be welcomed by our local guide before transferring to our hotel. We have a quick briefing on what to expect during our adventure before heading to a local Vietnamese restaurant for our first meal in the capital.
Day 2: Ton Village - 5 hours
We depart Hanoi early in the morning to transfer to the start of the trek. The terrain is flat as we hike along an old jeep trail, through rice paddies and ethnic villages. Tonight we stay in a traditional stilt house of Muong people in Ton. We have some time to rest and shower before enjoying a traditional dinner prepared by our cook.
Day 3: Hin Village – 6 hours
After a fresh and healthy breakfast we start hiking in a beautiful and undisturbed forest to enter into the heart of the Pu Luong reserve. In this wide lush valley we can see rice fields and farms owned by minority Thai people. We stay for the night in Hin village in an ecotourism homestay. For those wishing to hike a little further, there is an optional walk going uphill into the limestone hills. In the evening we enjoy a nice dinner before getting some rest.
Day 4: Kho Muong village – 6 hours
We start early this morning and hike on hilly terrains to the hidden village of Kho Muong. It’s a beautiful village nestled between steep karst mountains with rice terraces. This is perhaps the most remote homestay we will stay at. From here we trek to a protected cave, home to rare bats (head torches needed!). It’s a fantastic place to explore! We return to our homestay for a nice dinner.
Day 5: Buoc village – 5 or 7 hours
Today we hike through villages and cross a few streams before arriving in a tiny village for lunch. Here we have the option to stroll around and join in as villagers go about their daily lives, or relax in an ecotourism homestay surrounded by magical limestone peaks. If we want to push ourselves a bit further we can continue trekking to Co Luong. Our bus will then meet us and take us to Buoc Village, where we spend our final night of the trek. Tonight we enjoy a barbecue dinner and traditional music and dance performance by local Thai people.
Day 6: Van Mai village – 4 hours
After breakfast, we start hiking through villages and beautiful rice paddies. The trek is relatively easy, as the terrain is quite flat, until Van Mai village where we stop for lunch. We can quickly explore the village before we drive back to Hanoi. Tonight we enjoy a celebration dinner in a nice restaurant.
Day 7: Hanoi sightseeing
Today we enjoy a guided tour of Hanoi, the modern capital city of Vietnam. Hanoi is a unique city with tree-lined boulevards, French colonial architecture, peaceful lakes and oriental temples. We enjoy a fascinating walk through the bustling Old Quarter and sprawling Dong Xuan Market. We finish the visit by a quick tour around the capital on a cyclo - one of the most typical vehicles in Hanoi. The rest of the day can be spent as we want: relaxing at the hotel or exploring even more this incredible city.
Day 8: Return flight back home
We take our transfer to Hanoi airport for our return flight back home.
What do you want to know?
How tough is this challenge?
This trip should be undertaken by someone with previous experience in trekking. Endurance training should be your primary focus. Begin slowly, without the weight of a pack, eventually adding weight as you increase your training pace, go up and down hills or mountains, take the stairs as much as possible (every little helps!). Supplement this activity with running, cycling, and/or swimming, for additional aerobic conditioning. This is not a trek at altitude but you will be battling the heat and the humidity during the day and chilly temperatures at night so be prepared!
Do you organise training weekends?
Yes, our partner can offer superb training weekends across various locations in the UK. These training weekends will help you become physically prepared for the challenge and will give you the opportunity to gather tips about equipment, health, teamwork etc. To book your training weekend, please get in touch.
Do I need a VISA?
Until the 30th June 2018, British Citizen passport holders travelling for tourism can enter Vietnam for up to a maximum of 15 days without a visa. You may be asked about your reason for travel and to provide evidence of a return flight ticket when you arrive. For any other nationality please check directly with your embassy. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Vietnam. Without this minimum validity entry to the country will be denied.
Do I need to buy travel insurance?
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. You have to be covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. A copy will need to be sent to us before departure. If you haven't got a travel insurance, please visit our page "Before you travel" to get a quote and book your travel insurance.
What vaccinations/medications do I need?
It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical conditions with your doctor. You can also check the NHS website www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations for advice on vaccinations and medications. Please make sure you take enough of your personal medications for the entire duration of the trip.
What food will be served?
Breakfast will be served at the hotel or homestay and usually consists of bread, jam, butter, fruits, cheese, ham, chicken, noodles, tea or coffee.
Lunch will be packed lunch taken en route (sandwiches, eggs, fruits…).
Dinner will be at the hotel or homestay and is typical Vietnamese food (soup, noodles, rice, beef, chicken, vegetables, eggs…).
What if I have dietary requirements?
We can cater for pretty much all diets (vegetarians, vegans, gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, etc) but it may not be very varied especially in more rural areas. We will however always make sure you have enough to eat. It’s a good idea to bring some of your favourite snacks with you. Please let us know your dietary requirements at least 4 months before your trip starts.
What will be the weather like?
The best trekking season is March to May and September to November. The temperatures during the day can be quite high (30°C) and quite cool in the evening when sleeping in the forest. Your local guide will make sure you take a few breaks during the day to rest and keep yourself hydrated.
What is a typical day?
Breakfast is served between 7am and 8am. Your bag will need to be packed before breakfast. You will grab your day bag and start trekking after breakfast and stop regularly to view the remarkable scenery. You will enjoy a picnic lunch en route between 12.30 and 13.30 and continue trekking. The evenings are spent in your homestay or hotel and dinner is served around 7pm. Bedtime is quite early as getting as much rest as possible is very important.
Who will be walking with us?
You will be accompanied by your local guide and his support team (assistant, driver, cooks, helpers). Your guide will set the pace and you should never overtake him. This is not a race! Back up support will never be far away and can be called in should there be an emergency.
What is the currency in Vietnam?
The Vietnamese Dong is the local currency. US dollars are widely accepted and clean bills can be used in most shops but we recommend getting some Vietnamese Dong too. If paying in US dollars the exchange rate will be set by the vendor, which may differ from the official exchange rate.
Do they accept Credit Cards?
Visa and Mastercard are becoming more widely accepted in Hanoi, but will not be accepted in the rural areas. We advise you to bring lower denominations. Check with your bank regarding any charges applicable. For up to date currency exchange, go to www.xe.com.
Are there any ATM’s available during the trek?
ATMs are available in Hanoi only so please make sure you have enough cash with you for your trek.
Do I need to bring money?
All accommodation and most of the meals are included within the price of the trip, as well as water during the days of your trek. You will only need money in case of emergency and for tips, hiring specialist equipment, additional food & drink, gifts & souvenirs etc.
What is the recommendation for tipping?
All our local staff is paid a fair wage. However, everyone will generally receive a tip at the end of a job well done. We recommend approximately US$4/day/person for the guide and US$3/day/person for the rest of the crew (cooks, assistant guide, driver). This is a recommendation and you are more than welcome to give more if you are very satisfied with the services you received. This should be given to the appropriate person only at the end of the adventure.
What type of accommodation are you using?
We always try to book nice and comfortable 3* hotels near the city centre with en-suite bathrooms. However in some rural areas the accommodation can be more basic.
In Hanoi you will stay in a hotel near the Old Town.
During the trek you will stay in homestays (houses on stilt). Everyone will sleep in the same room on the floor. Mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets, pillows and silk sheet sleeping bag liners are included. They all have toilets and cold showers.
Do I need to carry my own bag?
During the day you will only have to carry your day bag with your essentials (water, snacks, sun cream, medications, waterproofs etc). Your main bag will be transferred each day to the next accommodation so you will have it with you every evening. If you need help to carry your day bag please get in touch as you might be able to hire a porter to help you.
Do I need any specific documents with me?
Please always carry with you your passport (leave a copy in your main bag) and your insurance details.
What should I pack?
Once your trip is booked we will send you a gear list. The essential packing list is:
- Travel documents: passport with visa (if required), travel insurance, flights tickets and photocopies of these documents
- Money: cash/credit card kept in a money belt
- Personal medication
- Daypack (30L to 50L) and duffle bag (80L to 100L)
- Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes (already broken in) with good walking socks
- Head torch with spare batteries
- Electrical adapter plug (for more information please check www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/)
- Toiletries/travel wipes and travel towel
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses
- Refillable water bottle (no disposable plastic bottles) and Platypus/camelbak
- Wind and waterproof rain jacket and trousers
- Camera with spare batteries
Can you teach me a few words in the local language?
Hello – Xin chào. (sin chow)
Goodbye - Tạm biệt (tam byet)
Please – Làm ơn. (lam uhhn)
Thank you - Cảm ơn. (gauhm uhhn)
How are you? - Khỏe không? (kweh kohng?)
Good, thank you – Khoẻ, cảm ơn. (kweh, gauhm uhhn)