Cultural Excursion

Mountain Tribes and Villages of Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

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Prices From: $2,368 per person

Off the beaten path in Vietnam's northern minority villages

This 15 day adventure takes you through some of the least visited areas of Vietnam. Pu Luong is a striking area of limestone hills, rivers, thick forest, wildlife and small ethnic minority villages. Most travel is by foot – following the hiking tracks is the best way to get close to the remote ‘hill-tribe’ culture. The many ethnic minority groups in Vietnam’s Central Highlands are completely different to those in the north and Pu Luong. Perhaps one of the most remarkable features is the unique ‘rong’ houses sweeping towards the sky.

If you want to get away from the crowds among splendid natural scenery, wildlife and fascinating cultures, this is the trip for you.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Hanoi Arrival

Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. You’ll have time to relax after your journey before a welcome dinner at a good restaurant in a colonial building. In the evening, you’ll have tickets for a performance of traditional Water Puppetry (an art form unique to northern Vietnam, and an interesting, light-hearted introduction to its rural culture). Your overnight stay will be in Hanoi.

Overnight: Silk Path Hotel (Dinner included)

Day 2 - Hanoi - Mai Chau - Pu Luong

After breakfast, you’ll drive to Mai Chau, passing through mountainous landscape on the way. When you arrive, you’ll have lunch in a stilt house in Lac village, the home of a Thai ethnic minority group. After lunch, you can wander around the houses to see the daily life of local people. They specialize in weaving brocade products, and are happy to show visitors their skills. The village is operated as a community cooperative, set up by the people themselves. You’ll then drive a further 15km to board a sampan on the Ma River, stopping en-route to visit some ethnic minority villages. Later, you’ll dock and hike to Hang Village where you’ll spend the night in the stilt house.

A traditional folk song and dance performance by the local people can be arranged. The show usually takes an hour or so. This isn’t a standard tourist event - the artists are peasants who work on the fields by day. Don’t expect professionalism. Instead, look forward to mingling with the locals, understand their traditions and customs, and having a good time – needless to say, rice wine will be flowing, so the show could run an hour or two!

Day 3 - Pu Luong: Ethnic Villages Hike

After breakfast you’ll stroll around Hang Village, a small Thai minority community where you can visit local families in their stilt houses and drink green tea. You’ll then hike through pristine scenery taking you to Eo Ken village, well off the beaten track high on the slope of a mountain. It’s a stiff hike, but well worth the effort. Lunch will be prepared by a local family, after which a short hike takes you to meet a waiting land-cruiser for a one-hour drive. When you step down, a stroll downhill will take you to Kho Muong village where you’ll spend the night with a family in a traditional stilt house - complete with a natural stream for your bathroom!

Eo Ken village is in a remote section of Pu Luong, high on the side of a mountain. It’s a tough climb requiring stamina and a bit of effort. We’ll allow plenty of time and your guide will assist you, but if you feel that it’s too much you just say so and you can return to the lower slopes.

You’ll be surprised when you sample the villagers’ hospitality and their competence in serving and preparing meals. The Pu Luong trekking route is a good example of effective collaboration between foreign NGOs (non-governmental organizations), local authorities and individual communities. Apart from assisting families to convert their homes to be able to host visitors, they are taught recipes, cooking techniques, and other hospitality requirements.

Day 4 - Pu Luong

After an early breakfast, you’ll explore a large limestone cave near the village. Care must be taken as the route can be dangerous in some places. Your guide will be on hand to ensure that everything goes smoothly - the cave is worth the effort! From there, you’ll continue through the forest, passing through villages on the way with a picnic lunch en route. Your dinner and overnight stay will be in a stilt house.

Day 5 - Pu Luong - Thanh Hoa - Hanoi

This morning, you’ll drive through several villages to visit a local market. You’ll see the local people heading to the market and going about their business. From there, your route takes you to a small town for lunch. On the way you’ll see the remarkable water wheels of Muong people. After lunch, a ferry crossing over the Ma River and a 1 km walk takes you to Cam Thuy’s ‘Sacred Fish Stream’. Not only will you see these obliging fish in a shallow stream, but you will also be able to paddle among them! Then it’s back to Hanoi, arriving in the late afternoon.

Overnight: Silk Path Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 6 - Hanoi - Pleiku - Kon Tum

In the morning you will have free time until your car arrives to take you to the airport for the flight to Pleiku. On arrival at Pleiku a car will be waiting for you to take you to Kon Tum where you can freshen up and enjoy dinner. You will then travel to Konkotu village for a well-earned night’s sleep in the village Rong house.

In case there is morning flight to Pleiku: Upon arriving in Pleiku, you will visit Gia Rai ethnic villages, a seminary or an orphanage. Later, you will drive to Kon Tum to freshen up and have dinner, then travel to Konkotu village for a well-earned night’s sleep in the village Rong house.

Konkotu village, where you’ll stay overnight, lies beside a wide river that’s suitable for bathing, although care must be taken as the current can be quite strong in places. The whole area is very beautiful and unspoiled. The village is very attractive, and the people are very welcoming and friendly. You’ll sleep in a tradition-communal Rong House (not one with a tin roof!).

Overnight: Indochine Hotel Kon Tum (Breakfast, Dinner included)

Day 7 - Kon Tum: Hiking And Rafting

In the morning, you’ll have a gentle 6 km hike along the riverbank to the source of the DakBla River to see ethnic minority people at work in their rice fields and enjoy the peaceful scenery of the central highlands. Next, you’ll climb into a dug-out canoe to raft down the DakBla river, stopping on the way for a riverside picnic lunch. You’ll carry on down the river for a couple of hours, eventually returning to Konkotu village where you’ll be met and driven to Kon Tum City for an overnight stay in a hotel.

Overnight: Indochine Hotel Kon Tum (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 8 - Kon Tum: City Tour

After breakfast you will have free time to enjoy at your leisure. In the afternoon, your guide will take you to visit a charming wooden Church and, if convenient, drop in at a nearby orphanage. From there, you’ll ride on the back of a motorbike the outskirts of Kon Tum to visit some ethnic villages including a Jarai village before the sunset when the villagers return from their farm/plantation. You’ll spend the night in a hotel in Kon Tum.

The most striking feature of a Ja Rai village is its ‘Rong House’, a communal building with great ritual significance. It is built on stilts and has a most unusual thatched roof, sweeping upwards as much as 20 metres from low wooden walls. In many villages, fire risk has led to the replacement of the thatch with corrugated iron - more practical, but obviously less aesthetic. In this village, the Rong House is traditionally built.

The complicated burial rituals of the Ja Rai are also of great interest. They involve internment in family tombs surrounded with grotesquely, or sometimes humorously, carved wooden effigies - there are examples in the cemetery of the village you’ll be visiting.

Overnight: Indochine Hotel Kon Tum (Breakfast included)

Day 9 - Kon Tum - Buon Ma Thuot

In the morning your vehicle will take you to Buon Ma Thuot. Upon arrival, after you check in and have lunch, you’ll visit Gia Long waterfall. You’ll then drive to the opposite bank for a stroll through primitive forest. After climbing down a slope, you’ll be able to bath in the ‘Fairy Pool’, a small natural lake with a sandy bottom. You’ll return to Buon Ma Thuot for an overnight stay.

Gia Long waterfall is spectacular, surrounded by lush vegetation. Bao Dai, the last Emperor of Vietnam, built a bridge across the falls - the remains are still visible among the undergrowth. The forest on the other side of the falls is old, with huge trees full of birds.

Alternatively, you could visit the town’s small Ethnology Museum and then walk a short distance to A Co Thon, an Ede ethnic minority group village.

Overnight: Dakruco Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 10 - Buon Ma Thuot

After breakfast, you’ll drive to visit the local Ethnology Museum and A Co Thon village, home of many Ede ethnic minority people. Then, you’ll drive further to Don Village in Yokdon National Park, about 45km from Buon Ma Thuot. There, you’ll visit the oldest house of M’Nong people, the tomb of the elephant and taming King. Your car will then take you to another village nearby for an elephant ride along the Serapok River. In the late afternoon, you’ll return to Buon Ma Thuot for your overnight.

Overnight: Dakruco Hotel (Breakfast, Lunch included)

Day 11 - Buon Ma Thuot - Ho Chi Minh City

You’ll be free in the morning until your driver arrives to take you to Buon Ma Thuot airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. When you arrive, a private car will be waiting to take you to your hotel in the city center. After checking in, you’ll be free for a preliminary exploration around District 1. Your overnight will be in Ho Chi Minh City.

Overnight: Grand Hotel Saigon (Breakfast included)

Day 12 - Ho Chi Minh City - Phan Thiet - Ke Ga

In the morning, you’ll drive from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet, then continue on to Ke Ga beach. You’ll have time to relax, swim or sunbathe as you wish. Your accommodation will be in a hotel on the beach.

The natural beauty of Tan Thanh Beach derives from its interesting rock formations, scatterred across the white sandy beach. Rocks are regarded as a symbol of strength for the forces of nature in Vietnem.

Overnight: Rock Water Bay Resort (Breakfast included)

Days 14 - 15 - Ke Ga, Phan Thiet

Enjoy these free days at leisure.

Overnight: Rock Water Bay Resort (Breakfast included)

Day 15 - Ho Chi Minh Departure

Today, when you are ready, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back home.

Accommodation Information

Silk Path Hotel

The Silk Path Hotel is the newest addition to Hanoi's top class hotel scene. A four star, boutique establishment that is a symphony of comfort. The Silk Path is an oasis of quiet elegance in the midst the inner city's rush and bustle. It's a short stroll from the modern purveyors of fine silk in Hang Gai, the fascinating maze of streets in the old city, the villas of the French Quarter, the shaded green waters of Hoan Kiem lake at the city's center, boutiques and galleries in the lanes and alleys that lead into the precinct of St Joseph's Cathedral.

The Silk Path's 106 guest rooms epitomize and restate that this hotel is truly a symphony of comfort. The superb Presidential Suite on the eighth floor, with panoramic views over the city, is a concerto of tasteful design. Other Deluxe and Executive rooms are adagios of perfectly appointed, stay awhile indulgence with the most up to date, gleaming facilities any guest could expect.

Indochine Hotel Kon Tum

Located in the heart of Kon Tum City, the Indochine Hotel offers 63 luxurious and stylish rooms which range from Superior, Deluxe to Suite. All rooms are impeccably decorated and well-equipped with all the amenities guests will need whether traveling for business or pleasure.

Visitors at Indochine Hotel will get a comfortable and quiet feeling. The friendly staff deliver service with a smile, ensuring every guest’s needs are met, ensuring a pleasant stay at the hotel.

Dakruco Hotel

The resort is a 4-star hotel of international standard located in the mythical land of Buon Ma Thuot. Located in downtown Buon Ma Thuot just 3km north of the airport, Dakruco's location is ideal for sightseeing. The hotel is surrounded by places to enjoy the scenery and take in the culture of the area. Dakruco Hotel has 120 rooms, 3 restaurants, a bar, and a swimming pool, all modern architecture. All are designed and decorated according to international standards.

Amenities - Spa - Tennis - Swimming pool - Foreign currency exchange - Airport shuttle - Breakfast and coffee at the pool - Restaurant & Bar

Grand Hotel Saigon

Standing in the riverside area, this colonial style hotel was built in 1930 and was completely restored in 1997. Grand Hotel Saigon is conveniently located 8 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Situated in a quiet corner on Dong Khoi Street, it is also just 1 kilometer away from the city center, where guests will find many markets and restaurants. Guests are also just a short walk away from the scenic Saigon River. The 4-star hotel has a charming garden courtyard surrounding the swimming pool. There are two onsite restaurants to choose from, one serving Cantonese cuisine, and the other serving Vietnamese dishes.

Rock Water Bay Resort

Just a 15-minute drive south of spectacular Phan Thiet and less than 200 kilometers north of bustling Ho Chi Minh City, our Rock Water Bay awaits discovery. Spreading over an eleven-hectare area, it stands by itself with a great, serene majesty straddling nature and bringing together the wild beauty of mountains and forests with the mightiness of rock expanses playing on blue waves.


Region: Asia - Southeast



Breakfast Breakfast

Day Tours Day Tours

Ecologically Responsible Ecologically Responsible

Hiking Trekking Hiking Trekking

Wildlife Wildlife

Archeology Indigenous Archeology Indigenous

Family Friendly Family Friendly

GBC Staffpick GBC Staffpick

General Information

Price Includes

  • Domestic flights: Hanoi Pleiku & Buon Ma Thuot Ho Chi Minh City
  • Boat cruises as mentioned
  • All accommodations in hand picked boutique style hotels
  • Breakfast served daily, as well as lunch and dinner where mentioned
  • Tours and activities led by knowledgeable English-speaking tour guides
  • Travel by private, airconditioned vehicle with an experienced, safe driver
  • Services of experienced Englishspeaking guides as indicated in the itinerary
  • Where necessary, entry fees for all visits as mentioned in the program
  • Full support before, during & after your trip

Price Excludes

  • International flights
  • Airport taxes if any
  • Travel insurance (recommended)
  • Entrance visas to Vietnam
  • Other services not mentioned
  • Tips and gratuities to guides, drivers
  • Expenses of a purely personal nature
  • Taxes and Fees