Trip Description & Day-by-day Itinerary
This 9 days North East Vietnam Photography Tour is crafted with passion by Arnaud Foucard, a French Photographer who has been living in Vietnam since 2000. There are two departures per year, during the rice transplantation season and the harvest season, a period during which the ethnic groups spend most of their days in the fields, to the photographer’s great delight. Join the upcoming departure (September 7th to 15th 2015) to enjoy such highlights as magnificent rice terraces of Hoang Su Phi, listed as a Vietnam National Heritage site; The incredible karst plateau of Dong Van, listed in UNESCO Global Geoparks Network; The visit of H’mong villages and encounters with the local population; The sunday markets of Dong Van and Meo Vac; The spectacular road from Dong Van to Meo Vac, and the Ma Pi Leng passage.
DAY 1: ARRIVE HANOI
Arrival in Hanoi. For those who arrive early, we will go on an orientation tour around 3:30pm, followed by a photo review. Dinner to get acquainted with all participants and presentation of our journey from Hanoi to the Ha Giang Province.
DAY 2: HANOI -> HOANG SU PHI
Early morning departure for a long journey to reach the majestic rice terraces of Hoang Su Phi. A region so remote that scarcely any tourist make the trip there, but what a rewarding sight for those who do! We’ll discuss photography technique on the way, with of course multiple stops to stretch our legs and take some pictures. Dinner and night in Hoang Su Phi.
DAY 3: HOANG SU PHI TERRACED FIELD
The rice terraces of Hoang Su Phi have existed for more than three centuries; many generations of farmers from La Chi, Dao or Nung ethnic groups have shaped those hill curves, dug up the irrigation canals and terraced the mountain sides in stairs to cultivate rice. These rice fields have a total surface area of 630 km2 and are listed since 2012 as a Vietnam National Heritage site. In the morning, we will go explore the village of Ban Luoc. It is home to the country’s largest rice terrace field, stretching over 200 acres and with an altitude difference of more than 1500 meters, and is consisted of thousands of successive platforms separated from each other by one meter. In the afternoon, we will visit Ban Phung Village with its equally visually stunning rice terraces. Dinner and night in Hoang Su Phi.
DAY 4: HOANG SU PHI -> HA GIANG -> QUAN BA
Before leaving Hoang Su Phi, we will visit the majestic rice terraces of Thong Nguyen. We will then head to Quan Ba, “Heaven’s Gate”, with its mountains stretching to the horizon, marking the entrance to Dong Ba Karst Plateau, listed in UNESCO Global Geoparks Network. A magnificent point of view to come back home with stunning landscape photos, hopefully helped by a nice weather. Dinner and night in Quan Ba.
DAY 5: QUAN BA -> DONG VAN
On this day, we will delve into Dong Van Plateau, an extremely wild region made of limestone pitons and black granite needles: a truly breathtaking panorama. After lunch in Yen Minh, we will head to Pho Cao, a superb H’mong village with some 200 years old houses, followed by a visit to Sung La Village, before finally reaching Lung Cam village where we’ll meet with the Lo Lo ethnic group. Dinner and night in Dong Van.
DAY 6: DONG VAN
For the bravest amongst us, we will go on a small trek to the summit overlooking Dong Van: after a half an hour ascension we will be greeted with a magnificent view over the valley. We will then head towards Sa Phin to explore the surprising Vuong Chin Duc Palace, king of the H’mongs (and opium trafficking), built on a small hilltop a palace in a similar style to Chinese yamens. At its peak, the fortress boasted up to 100 inhabitants. After lunch, we will go and visit the superb village of Pho Bang, where H’mongs keep their traditions alive. Dinner and night in Dong Van.
DAY 7: DONG VAN -> MEO VAC -> HA GIANG
We’ll have much to do on that morning, as we’ll go visit 2 local markets, linked together by one of the most spectacular road in Vietnam: better get your gear ready! The ethnic minorities of many different groups leave their home villages very early in the morning to reach Dong Van market, a place to trade merchandises but also a gathering site to socialize and meet with others. We will then head to Meo Vac, home to the Black H’mong Eagle’s Nest, following a road meandering through the mountain sides and getting through the Ma Pi Leng passage that overlooks a vertiginous canyon and the No Que River gorges further down. Upon arrival we’ll discover the livestock market, a one of its kind location in the Ha Giang province, where between 400 and 1000 cattle are traded during the course of the morning, along with many horses, pigs and dogs, before visiting the main market. After lunch, we will continue our journey following a road surrounded by beautiful karst mountain landscapes, before reaching Ha Giang. Dinner and night in Ha Giang.
DAY 8: HA GIANG -> HANOI
After breakfast, we will make our way back to Hanoi and reach the city by mid-afternoon, with multiple photo stops on the way. Dinner and night in Hanoi.
DAY 9: DEPARTURE
We will meet in the morning for our last breakfast together. We will then proceed to a photography review, a Lightroom tutorial and debrief of our journey, before bidding each other farewell.