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Trek the Remote Trails of Northern Vietnam

Explore a majestically wild corner of Southeast Asia that few others see on this remote ramble in Vietnam’s far north


Trip Ref #10733

Trek the Remote Trails of Northern Vietnam

Explore a majestically wild corner of Southeast Asia that few others see on this remote ramble in Vietnam’s far north

10 nights
7 days off work
Year round
Up to 12 people
Nội Bài International Airport, Hanoi

Hotel · Homestay



This trip is brand new

You'll need determination and an adventurous spirit to get through long days of hiking in this remote part of Southeast Asia

Trek through the mountainous province of Cao Bang, home to lush jungle, limestone cliffs, and glistening lakes and rivers

Visit the breathtaking Ban Gioc Falls, a series of mesmerising cascades tumbling down Vietnam’s border with China

Follow a pioneering trail – a long-term community project within a UNESCO Global Geopark, creating sustainable livelihoods for local families

Hike from homestay to homestay, enjoying the warm hospitality of the Thai and Nung peoples and tucking into a mouth-watering array of Vietnamese food

Day 1

Welcome to Hanoi!

Touchdown at Hanoi Airport and meet your host for a short transfer to your hotel. Enjoy some downtime (depending on what time your flight gets in), then later this afternoon you'll meet up with your guide and fellow adventurers to chat through the adventure ahead. Head out for a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword) and the charming Ngoc Son Temple, which stands on an enticing islet connected to the banks of the lake, before diving into a welcome dinner and your first taste of the sumptuous food that Vietnam is famed for.

Day 2

Journey to the north


2hrs · 3km · 20m up · 20m down


4.5hrs · 230km

Grab an early start as you settle in for the road trip through rural northern Vietnam, bound for Ba Be National Park. The area is known for its lush rainforests, mysterious caves, sparkling waterfalls and for the stunning Ba Be Lake – one of the world's biggest freshwater lakes. Head out on some short hikes here to stretch your legs after the journey and take in the spectacular scenery. After lunch, you'll head to the Buoc Lom landing dock to hop on a boat for a scenic ride along the Nang River, the main waterway that flows into Ba Be Lake. The ride will pass the Puong Caves and Cam Village, with its picturesque paddy fields and charming local homes. Hike to the captivating Dau Dang waterfall before capping off an epic day with a cruise across Ba Be Lake, taking in the towering limestone cliffs covered in evergreen forest.

Day 3

Hiking at Ba Be Lake


5-6hrs · 19km · 510m up · 410m down

Get ready for a full day of hiking around the Ba Be Lake area, setting off directly from your hotel to make your way through Pac Ngoy village along paved roads before ascending along a jungle trail. The first part is pretty steep, but it evens out before descending to a village where you will have a delicious Vietnamese lunch cooked by a local Tay family. Continue hiking a trail that crosses bamboo forest before eventually reaching Bo Lu pier, where a boat will be waiting to take you on a ride back across the lake – returning you to your hotel for dinner and a well-earned night's sleep.

Day 4

Trek deeper into rural Vietnam


4hrs · 150km

Tuck into breakfast at the hotel and get your last glimpses of Ba Be Lake before journeying on through spectacular scenery to Pac Bung village in Quang Uyen, where you will be welcomed by the first of your local homestay hosts. The regions of Quang Uyen and Cao Bang are mostly populated by the Thai and Nung ethnic groups, and for the next few days you'll gain an insight into local life in this part of Vietnam. Head out on some light hikes after your journey here to get a sense of Cao Bang's spectacular environment. With limestone cliffs and rock formations, dense jungle and lush green forested landscapes, it's an incredible backdrop for your next few days of adventuring.

Day 5

Trek from homestay to homestay


6hrs · 20km · 825m up · 440m down

Bid farewell to your first hosts after breakfast, as you set off for a full day of trekking to the next village homestay. Hike up a steep trail to reach a bamboo forest – there's an epic panorama over the region waiting on the other side of the tree line. Descend to the Na Valley to meet with some Tay and Nung communities, stopping for a local lunch. Trek on through the Lung and Mang valleys, passing by the beautiful Bac Vong River and its waterfall where you can enjoy a swim. Hop on a bamboo raft to reach your final stop of the day at Na Ran village, where you’ll spend the night in a local homestay.

Day 6

Na Ran to Po Tau


6-7hrs · 17km · 730m up · 340m down

Enjoy a leisurely start to your day with breakfast and coffee at the homestay before exploring the village and learning about local life. Then get started with today's route, heading down a pass from 700 metres above sea level to reach the great valley of Cao Thang, stopping at Lake Ban Viet for a picnic. Continue your trek towards Po Tau village, passing through rice, corn and tobacco fields, eventually reaching the sanctuary of your next homestay after a long day on the trail. Settle in and get to know your next host with another tasty meal together, sharing insights into each other's lives.

Day 7

Ban Gioc Falls


2hrs · 8km · 110m up · 205m down


5hrs · 180km

Set off in the morning, hiking along the river before making your way to the top of the hill to catch a breathtaking view of the largest valley in Trung Khanh. Continue down a trail which was used for hundreds of years by local communities trading goods by horseback with China. This marks the end of your trek through this part of Cao Bang, as you hop in the van and settle in for the journey north towards the Chinese border. Here you'll find the incredible Ban Gioc Falls, a series of gorgeous cascades with a stunning mountainous backdrop. After Iguaçu, Victoria and Niagara Falls, Ban Gioc are the biggest falls to form a border between two countries. You'll hike up 200 steps to reach a magical viewpoint overlooking the waterfalls and into China. Near the falls you'll also find the Truc Lam Ban Gioc Pagoda – an incredible Buddhist temple overlooking Ban Gioc Falls and the screensaver-worthy setting. Hike up several hundred steps to reach the best lookout spot, peering down on the Chinese side of the water. Later in the afternoon, you'll get back on the road to head to the Lang Son region, arriving at another homestay in the Bac Son district in the evening.

Day 8

To Cat Ba Island


2-3hrs · 5-6km


4hrs · 250km

Rise early today to drive on to Hai Phong, crossing the Tan Vu – Lach Huyen Bridge to Cat Hai Island to board the local ferry to Cat Ba. Get your first glimpses of Vietnam's stunning coastline as you enter the southeastern edge of Lan Ha Bay, passing by the Cat Ba archipelago: 367 islands spanning 260 square kilometres. Dock at the main island and head straight for Cat Ba National Park, stopping at the Quan Y cave which was a secret, bomb-proof, underground hospital during the Vietnam War. Passing through the National Park gate, you'll hike along forested trails and stone steps to the top of Ngu Lam Peak, overlooking the expanse of primaeval forest on the islands. The forest is home to a symphony of animal sounds with hundreds of bird species, insects, mink, squirrels and monkeys. After the hike, head to Cat Ba Town in the afternoon to settle into your accommodation and enjoy a relaxed dinner on the coast.

Day 9

Explore Cat Ba and Lan Ha Bay by boat

Head down to the Ben Beo landing stage following another early start – you have a private boat to settle into for a whole day exploring the incredible marine wonderland that is Lan Ha Bay. Visit stunning coves beneath towering green limestone cliffs, observe the daily life of fishermen and enjoy dreamy swims at various spots. Tuck into lunch on the boat and enjoy some chill time on deck, before heading to the Tay Keo Lagoon and Van Boi Beach. Back on dry land in the late afternoon, you'll have some downtime to enjoy Cat Ba, take a stroll or relax on the beach before dinner.

Day 10

Journey back to Hanoi for a farewell street food odyssey

Lap up the last of your time on Cat Ba this morning before setting off on the ferry back to the mainland, then continuing by road to Hanoi. All good adventures have a farewell dinner to toast the end of an epic trip, and something extra special is planned for this evening as you head out for a Hanoi street food odyssey. Roam Hanoi's Old Quarter with your guide as you bounce around tasting a wide variety of Vietnamese specialities, such as banh cuon (steamed, rolled rice pancakes). You'll stop at a locally famous restaurant on Hang Dieu Stree; taste Vietnamese noodles prepared in a southern style – which are incredibly popular with locals; and head to a hidden corner of Hanoi for a short walk along the 'graffiti wall'. Lined with great coffee shop, this makes for a great spot to feel the rhythms of the nightlife in this magical capital, while recounting tales of the past ten days of adventuring.

Day 11

The adventure ends

After breakfast at hotel, you will depart to Hanoi International Airport for your return flight. Rooms are available until midday only.



Expert, English-speaking trekking guides


6 nights in hotels, 4 nights in homestays


10 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 7 dinners


Airport transfers and everything in between, including ferries to and from Cat Ba Island


Kayaking equipment on Cat Ba Island


All national park permits and entry fees

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

Visas where required

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share




Day 2 – Day 3

Hotel · Twin share




Day 4 – Day 7

Homestay · Multi share




Day 8 – Day 9

Hotel · Twin share




Day 10

Hotel · Twin share




Day 11

Departure day




What is the food like?

Food is an absolute highlight on any trip to Vietnam and this one is no exception. During your time in Hanoi and Cat Ba you'll be able to tuck into an intoxicating array of Vietnamese dishes, from well-known favourites such as pho, bánh mì and bun cua to some classic local options such as chuoi nep nuong (grilled banana wrapped in sticky rice) and bun bo Hue (Hue beef noodle soup) – one of the most famous dishes in Vietnam. Breakfasts in Hanoi and Cat Ba are continental style, reflecting the French influence on this part of Vietnam, with croissants and pastries available amongst other Vietnamese options, including classic Vietnamese coffee. At the homestays, you'll gather with your hosts to enjoy meals together – which will prove to be some of the highlights of your trip. There will be an array of rice, noodle, vegetable and meat dishes to delve into, generally eaten together on the floor with bowls and chopsticks.

Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for – please just request this on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?


Your nights in Hanoi will be spent at the Hong Ngoc Dynastie Boutique Hotel & Spa, located along Hang Manh Street in Hanoi's Old Quarter. You'll stay in elegant rooms with ensuite bathrooms on a twin-share basis. The hotel has a restaurant and bar to relax in, as well as a spa centre.

Ba Be National Park

In the Ba Be area you'll stay at the Saigon-Ba Be Resort, nestled in lush green surroundings just a short walk from Ba Be Lake. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with ensuite bathrooms and a balcony with views over the mountains and forest.

Vietnamese homestays

An absolute highlight of this trip will your time spent at a series of homestays in villages that you'll pass along the route of your trek – namely Quang Uyen, Na Ran, and Po Tau – and a homestay in Lang Son, as you journey towards the coast after the trek. These homestays are cosy and comfortable, with plenty of seating areas to enjoy time with your hosts and meals together after long days on your feet. Beds are simple, single mattresses on wooden floors, with blankets and a mosquito net for each bed. You'll be staying in large dormitory-style rooms on a mixed-sex basis with your fellow adventurers. There will be no other tourists at the homestays and your hosts sleep separately to the group.

Cat Ba

During your time on Cat Ba Island you'll stay at the Hung Long Harbour Hotel, which enjoys fantastic views across Cat Ba harbour. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with ensuite bathrooms.


For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge – see Optional Extras for the price and request this at the time of booking. Please note that due to the nature of the homestays, private rooms are not available on Days 4 to 7.

The Area




Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi

Any time on Day 1


Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi

Any time on Day 11


Your host's local driver will meet you on arrival at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and transfer you to your hotel (located near the Old Quarter and French Quarter). On Day 11 your host will drop you off back at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi in time for your onward flight home.

Airport transfers are included in the main price if you arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 11. For those arriving early or wanting to stay on longer, extra nights at the hotel and airport transfers can be arranged with your host at an additional cost. Please see Optional Extras for more information.

Travel options

There are direct international flights to Hanoi from London, as well as indirect international flights from the UK and various major hubs in Europe which transit via Frankfurt, Doha, Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

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What do I need to bring?


  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack (20-30 litres)
  • Waterproof liner for main bag and day pack


  • Lightweight waterproof jacket
  • Lightweight waterproof trousers
  • Fleece jacket or similar if travelling in January or February
  • Buff or neckscarf
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Sleepwear
  • Hiking boots (worn-in)
  • Sandals


  • Cotton or silk sleeping bag liner for the homestays
  • Ear plugs


  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Insect repellent
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle x2 litre
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Pre/post trip accommodation in Hanoi (single/twin/double room)

Payable Before Departure

Pre/post trip accommodation in Hanoi (single/twin/double room)

Per Night

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Per Person

Private airport transfer - each way (1-2 people)

Payable Before Departure

Private airport transfer - each way (1-2 people)

Private airport transfer - each way (3-4 people)

Payable Before Departure

Private airport transfer - each way (3-4 people)

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 291kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2023 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

This is a challenging trekking expedition through a remote and little-visited part of Northeast Vietnam, close to the Chinese border. You'll be doing full-day treks on back-to-back days, hiking from homestay to homestay with little in the way of usual creature comforts. You'll need to be able to get through up to 20km and seven hours of trekking in a single day, with a good chunk of elevation gain to tackle as well. The terrain will vary, but the going can be tough in the more dense jungle sections and there's the potential for some slippery paths if there has been rainfall. The humidity and temperatures will also play a part in how challenging your trip will be.

Sure can! Over 70% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips for the local guide are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. We suggest the below as a guideline per person, per day:

$5 USD / 115,000 VND

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Tap water in Vietnam is not safe to drink; clean drinking water will be provided. Please pack your own reusable bottle, it will be well used. Water bottles with inbuilt filters are becoming increasingly popular for travellers to use in countries without clean tap water. Please see our guide to the best water filters for adventurers if you wish to bring your own filtration bottle on this trip.

This trip can be done year round – there are variations and benefits to each time of year. January and February are the coolest months in the Northeast Vietnam, but also the driest. March to June see pleasant temperatures and lower rainfall. July and August are the hottest and most humid months with the highest rainfall which will make the trekking trails slippery, but you'll also see the waterfalls (including Ban Gioc Falls) at their most mighty. October sees golden rice fields in the region, and November to December has very settled, pleasant weather with lots of sun and and low humidity.

January-February: Daytime lows of 12°C/54°F and highs of 23°C/73°F, down to around 10°C/50°F at night. March-April: Daytime averages of 23°C/73°F, down to around 15°C/59°F at night.
May to August: Daytime temperatures can reach from 28°C/82°F to 40°C/104°F, down to averages of 25°C/77°F at night.
September-December: Daytime lows of 20°C/68°F and highs of 34°C/93°F, down to around 17°C/62°F at night.

Excess luggage can be securely stored at the hotel in Hanoi before you head to the Ba Be and Cao Bang regions. If you wish to store excess luggage in Hanoi at the start of the trip, please submit a request to your host prior to travel.

We recommend checking out the country specific information and also talking to a travel nurse.

Your host will assess the conditions ahead of – and during – the various hikes on this trip, pivoting to alternative hikes where necessary. The main potential barrier to completing any of the trekking sections on this trip is heavy rainfall which can cause excessively slippery trails; however, this is rare and is only at low risk of happening in the peak rainy months of July and August. There are benefits to travelling in these months as the waterways and waterfalls are at their most majestic – you just need to be aware that trail conditions may be more slippery.

No. You'll need to have a larger bag suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you, and then a small daypack to carry personal items during each day of hiking. There is a luggage transfer inbetween the homestays from Day 5 to Day 8 while you trek through Cao Bang.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last-minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.


Pay In Installments

You can choose to pay for this trip in as many installments as you like, with no interest or fees.

Full Financial Protection

Your money is safe. Every booking is fully financially protected.

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