Ha Giang, the Roof of Vietnam

A fabulous escape to meet with a unique population and some of the world's top geological wonders
High altitude village panoramic view in Ha Giang region

HA GIANG, THE ROOF OF VIETNAM

  • Price: US$2990 / person
  • Tour Dates:
    – 5 to 13 September 2018
    – 29 May to 4 June 2019
    – 4 to 12 September 2019
  • Duration: 9 days / 8 nights
  • Group Size: 6 persons max.
  • Level: Beginners to Advanced
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Tour Highlights

  • 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.
  • The magnificent rice terraces of Hoang Su Phi, listed as a Vietnam National Heritage site

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.

North Vietnam Quan Ba panoramic landscape at dusk
Day 1

● Hanoi ▸ Quan Ba
● 7 hours’ travelling / 4 hours photography

We will leave Hanoi early in the morning to reach Quan Ba in the late afternoon. As we’ll move forward to our destination, the sceneries will become more and more spectacular, crossing stunning hilly landscapes, corn and manioc fields, tea plantations and after reaching Ha Giang town, we’ll come upon our first rice terraces.

Just before Quan Ba, we will pass the “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 our Red Dao eco-lodge.

North Vietnamese rice workers portrait in Quan Ba
Day 2

● Quan Ba
● 6 hours of photography

We’ll spend the day in the rice fields around Quan Ba capturing the farmer’s activities in the fields, witnessing the rice harvest. The harvest is still done by hand, the whole family is at work, and the neighbors give a hand, in an atmosphere of joy. Thus parcels after parcels, the harvest and the work that accompanies it are spread over approximately 3 weeks.

Dinner and night in our Red Dao eco-lodge.

Vietnam Quan Ba minority man pulling buffalo on rice terrace backdrop
North Vietnam panoramic view of Dong Van village hidden in the valley
Day 3

● Quan Ba ▸ Pho Cao ▸ Dong Van
● 5 hours’ travelling / 4 hours of photography

We will start the day with a beautiful valley below Quan Ba well filled with rice fields. We will then 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, so far my favorite village in the area, with Pleiades of villagers vacant to their daily occupations of another age before finally reaching Dong Van in the late afternoon.

Dinner and night in Dong Van.

North Vietnamese family harvesting rice field on mountain plateau
North Vietnam panorama landscape with dried up rice terraces and mountains
Day 4

● 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 almost 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.

Two Vietnamese minority childs atop a mount of unprocessed corns in dim lit granary
Vietnam ethnic minority degraining corn
Day 5

● Dong Van ▸ Meo Vac
● 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 wonder around Meo Vac and the Ma Pi Leng passage taking multiple photography stops, 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 at the Auberge de Meo Vac eco-resort.

Photographer capturing busy restaurant activity in North Vietnam mountainous region
Two Vietnam Minority women eating soup with curious child
Day 6

● Meo Vac ▸ Ha Giang
● 6 hours’ travelling / many landscape photography stops

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

Dinner and night in a Lodge.

Vietnam minority girl on mountain passage watching the setting sun
Close up of buffalo and Vietnamese minority working the rice fields
Day 7

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

After spending the early morning hours in lovely Tay ethnic villages nearby Ha Giang town we will head to our resort in Hoang Su Phi, nested in a beautiful rice field valley.

After lunch we will go exploring 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 our Ecolodge.

Hoang Su Phi panoramic landscape of houses in rice terraces
Vietnamese Minority with colorful umbrella and outfit on a rock over viewing the rice fields
Day 8

● 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 mountainsides 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 our Ecolodge.

Portrait of smiling North Vietnamese man taking care of his buffalo
Vietnam ethnic minority over viewing rice terraces
Day 9

● Hoang Su Phi ▸ End of the adventure in Hanoi
● Final photo review / 7 hours’ travelling

We will spend our morning doing our final photo review checking everyone’s photo series.
After lunch we will take the road back to Hanoi that we will reach in the end of the day.

End of the tour.

Ha Giang, The Roof of Vietnam

Testimonials

Tour Details

  • Price: US$2990 / person
  • Tour Dates:
    – 5 to 13 September 2018
    – 29 May to 4 June 2019
    – 4 to 12 September 2019
  • Duration: 9 days / 8 nights
  • Group Size: 6 persons max.
  • Level: Beginners to Advanced

Includes

  • Charming 3* hotel in the heart of Hanoi old quarter
  • Ecolodges in Quan Ba and Hoang Su Phi
  • A comfortable 3* hotel in Dong Van
  • Auberge de Meo Vac eco-resort
  • Lodge in Ha Giang
  • 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 flight to arrive and depart from 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$250
Enquire Now

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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.

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