Ha Giang, the Roof of Vietnam

A fabulous escape to meet with a unique population and some of the world's top geological wonders

HA GIANG, THE ROOF OF VIETNAM

  • Price: US$2990 / person
  • Tour Dates:
    – 1 to 9 October 2017
    – 11 to 19 June 2018
  • Duration: 9 days / 8 nights
  • Group Size: 6 persons max.
  • Level: Beginners to Advanced
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Closed to foreigners for a long time, the faraway province of Ha Giang remains on the sideline of traditional tourist trails. It offers a diversified palette of landscapes and a pretty mosaic of ethnic groups, barely influenced by the turmoil and development of modern life. From the spectacular rice terraces of Hoang Su Phi and its various local tribes, to the breathtaking karst landscape of Dong Van and its White Hmong populated villages, we invite you to a fabulous photographic adventure to the limits of the northern mountainous region of Vietnam.

We organize this tour twice a 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.

Day 1

● Hanoi → Ha Giang (Sleeper bus)

We will meet up at 5:30pm and get all participants acquainted around a coffee cup.

After a short presentation of our journey, we will head to the bus station at 7pm to take a comfortable sleeper bus to Ha Giang Province.

Day 2

● Ha Giang → Hoang Su Phi
● 2 hours’ travelling / 4 hours photography

We’ll arrive in the early morning in Ha Giang and continue our trip to reach our resort in Hoang Su Phi, nested in a beautiful rice field valley.

After lunch we will head to a nearby forested area dotted with rice terraces, and meet up with the Dap ethnic people in Ban Peo and Ban Nhung villages.

Dinner and night in Hoang Su Phi.

Day 3

● Hoang Su Phi Rice Terraces
● 2 hours’ travelling / 6 hours of photography

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 → Quan Ba
● 2,5 hours’ travelling / 5 hours of photography

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 → Pho Cao → Dong Van
● 3 hours’ travelling / 5 hours of photography

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 → Sa Phin → Pho Bang → Dong Van
● 1,5 hours’ travelling / 6 hours of photography

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 → Dong Van
● 2 hours’ travelling / 7 hours of photography

We’ll have much to do on that morning, as we’ll go visit 2 dominical 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. 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 take multiple photography stops on our journey back to Dong Van, following a road meandering through the mountain sides and getting through the Ma Pi Leng passage, overlooking a vertiginous canyon and the No Que River gorges further down.
Dinner and night in Dong Van.

Day 8

● Dong Van → Ha Giang → Hanoi (Sleeper bus)
● 6 hours’ travelling / many landscape photography stops

After breakfast, we will head back to Ha Giang following a road surrounded by breathtaking karst mountain landscapes. We will take our time and make multiple landscape photography stops. We will arrive in Ha Giang in the early evening for dinner, before heading to the bus station and take a sleeper bus back to Hanoi.

Day 9

● End of the adventure in Hanoi

We will arrive in the early morning in Hanoi, and head to our day-use hotel to shower and rest a bit, before meeting for our last breakfast together.
We will finish with a small photography review  and debrief of our journey, before bidding each other farewell.

Tour Highlights

  • The 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.
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Includes

✔ Accommodation in a 3* hotel on a twin-shared basis in Hanoi
✔ Accommodation in 1* or 2* hotels on a twin-shared basis in Ha Giang Province
✔ Private air-conditioned transportation
✔ Meals and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the tour
✔ Snacks and water during excursions
✔ Sites entry fees (if applicable)

Excludes

✘ International/domestic flights to arrive and depart from Hanoi
✘ Hanoi airport transfers on arrival and departure
✘ Entry Visa to Vietnam
✘ Travel insurance (please make sure you are insured)
✘ Alcoholic beverages
✘ Personal expenses
✘ Tips

Optional

 Single room accommodation (when possible): +US$170

General Information

Who are our tours designed for?

Anyone who loves travel and photography is welcomed, whatever your level of experience – the most important thing is enthusiasm. Our tours can be summed up in three words – sharing, friendship and smiles. Your non-photographer friends & family are also welcomed to join – as long as they don’t mind hanging around while the photographers do their thing!

Improve your photography!

With Arnaud’s advice and guidance, you’ll quickly become more familiar with your equipment and refine your eye for a good image without being swamped by technical details. You’ll learn how to read light, how to compose a shot, and how to tell a visual story – in short, you’ll release more of your creative potential.
Mastering photography is a long and enjoyable journey, and one without end. The main objective of our tours is for you to become a better photographer by the end of each day.

What equipment?

The best camera is the one you already have! Travel light – a DSLR with wide angle and zoom lenses is more than sufficient for our tours. Hybrids, compacts and even smartphones are equally welcome! Other than that, all you’ll need is a fully-charged battery and enough memory cards. If you can, bring along your laptop so we can critique your photos and also show you a few tips for using Lightroom.

Meet the Locals

You’ll get to meet the local population, find out about their way of life, and experience their friendly company – all while taking some fantastic photos! We’ll show you how to break the ice with the Vietnamese and how to make your camera a valuable ally in making connections with them.

Encounter the Unexpected

We don’t impose strict itineraries on our travelers; every one of our journeys in Vietnam is unique – no two tours are ever the same! Spontaneous encounters and varying light conditions create different photography opportunities every time. One moment you’ll be standing on the edge of a rice field photographing a farmer at work; the next you’ll be invited into a local house for tea; or maybe you’ll be navigating your way along a narrow canal by sampan or a country lane on the back of a motorbike – most of the time we’ll just go with the flow!

Small Groups

Our maximum group size is six. This enables us to give every photographer plenty of individual attention, and also makes it easier for us to blend into the environment and not be overly intrusive when we’re meeting the locals.

Your Host - Arnaud Foucard

A keen photographer of landscapes and people, Arnaud leads photography tours in the Mekong Delta and other beautiful places in Vietnam. Before becoming a photographer he spent ten years in Vietnam as a tour operator and knows the country intimately. Photography has always been his passion, and so one day he decided to turn that passion into a living – now he devotes his time to helping fellow photography enthusiasts discover little-known and picturesque parts of Vietnam, while improving their photographic skills.

Vietnam Gallery

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