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Vietnam forum

North of Vietnam

Posted by vuh on 4/5/2007 at 20:08


We are 2 travellers willing to discover the North of Vietnam in about 12 days. We have 2 questions:

1) We wanted to know if any of you have been to Bac Ha and your recommendation about this place. Is is better than Sapa ? It is possible to do trekking in Bac Ha ?
we've been in Sapa that we really loved but the it was crowded of tourists and we would like to experience a more quiet place with local people and we heard that Bac Ha is more traditional.

2) We would like to know how to go from Hanoi to Ba Be area on OUR OWN? Agences agency offer to expensive tours and we try to get by on our own. It is there any local bus heading to this area ?

Thank you for sharing your tips !
We would appreciate any of advices about the North for other places that the ones mentionned above.

#1 vuh has been a member since 1/5/2007. Posts: 24

Posted by CatBa on 5/5/2007 at 13:48

Posted from within Vietnam.

Bac Ha is far less spoiled than Sa Pa and can easily be reached from Lao Cai by local bus BUT be careful, ask locals how much they pay for the trip and have the bus driver note the price in YOUR notebook (write VND ?) so he doesn't stiff you when you arrive.

There are over 600 hotel rooms in Bac Ha - just make sure your hotel is not near a public address speaker!

You can hike north into Ha Giang - just make sure you do NOT need a POLICE PERMIT and / or a GUIDE which are usually required when you head north of Ha Giang Town.

You can reach Ba Be from Ha Giang or Ha Noi by using local buses. Buy a BANDU Road Map book to help plan your routing.

Note about local buses. You might want to buy two seats for each of you so that you can keep your baggage with you and to pay for larger bodies. Carry a rope to tie your bag to the roof rack and a lock and cable to secure your baggage to the roof rack (in addition to the rope) to prevent theft.

You will need a police permit to enter the Ba Be Lake area (but no guide).

#2 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349

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Posted by vuh on 8/5/2007 at 20:07

Hi Cat Ba,
Thank you for your reply. I still have some questions

1) I can see Ha Giang on the Vietnam Map but I cannot find any information in by guide book.

You advice to trek from Bac Ha to Ha Giang. Could you tell how far is Ha Giang from Ha Giang?

2) how far is Ha Giang from Ba Be?
How can I travel by bus from Ha Giang to Ba Be? Are there often local buses?

If you have any recommandation about Ha Giang, I'd be glad to have them.

Thanks a lot

#3 vuh has been a member since 1/5/2007. Posts: 24

Posted by Patrizia01 on 13/5/2007 at 15:49

Posted from within Vietnam.

To the kind att of Mr Binh Nguyen - Kim tours
We are back home after a trip in Vietnam and a tour of 10 days in the North
West villages we organized with your agency.
We spent fantastic days as the tour was perfectly orgnaized and with the
help of the guide - Khieu The Tai - we learned a lot about Vietnam and he
was a perfect companion of our trip and a extremely valid guide full of
advices and he really made our trip even better.
The driver as well - Vu Quang Luyen - was a good one and with him we
could enjoy all the wonderful landscapes in far away villages.
We would like to thank you for the precious help and the organization that
are the demonstration of the high professionality of both you and your
staff. Thanks to you Vietnam has been better than we expected.
Warm greetings from Italy
Patrizia Guatterini & Luciano Lazzari

#4 Patrizia01 has been a member since 13/5/2007. Posts: 2

Posted by CatBa on 20/5/2007 at 23:49

Posted from within Vietnam.

For travellers who want to really experience the north, you will have a more interesting time finding out for yourself rather than following some tired itinerary.

Ha Giang, in the extreme northwest of VietNam is a border province with its attendent problems.


There is a paucity of information (making it rich pickings for Ha Noi tour ops) but I would suggest you check out the VietNam FAQ on, ahem, LPs Thorntree web site, where you will find some trip reports worth reading.

The LP VietNam guide is less useful, mainly because the data is dated and inaccurate.

Frommers has a new VietNam guidebook that is largely a re-write (rather than an update) and accurately reflects things as they are today.

As for distances, these are determined by your mode of travel - all surface! There are only military airports in the north.

I suggest you check out BANDO road map book for VietNam and THE AA VIETNAM GUIDEBOOK which has a companion road map which will be very useful for calculating distances. (I am presently on the road and because of slow speed InterNet links cannot access my corporate graphics servers).

Travel in these parts of VietNam are usually by rent-a-driver-and-car (OK if you have 3 or 4 passengers) NOTE - RENTING A VEHICLE means you have to feed the driver and obtain low cost accommodation for him.

THESE ARE **NOT** tours whose costs are determined on a per passenger basis. You can also do deals with owners of PRIVATE TAXIS (make sure they have proper licences, though).

If you are in Sa Pa you can get a local for transport after travelling there by the usual train.

The alternative, non-tourism, buses are feasable BUT they are not like open tour buses. Typically a 9 seat vehicle can carry up 17 Vietnamese!

This often requires Foreigners to buy TWO tickets so they can 'spread' out AND be prepared to put your baggage on the roof rack along with motorcycles, etc.

For this carry ROPE with which to tie your bags down AND a lock and chain to SECURE your bags to the roof rack. Try to get a seat near the door next to a window (quick exit and smoking).

Local buses typically travel between major towns and cities rather than from end to end. They LEAVE EARLY IN THE MORNING!

#5 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349

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