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North Vietnam Ethnic Trails

Meet with the authentic people of the Northern mountains and its breathtaking landscapes


  • Price: US$2890 / person
  • Tour Dates:
    – 3 to 10 June 2022 & 9 to 16 September 2022
    – 2 to 9 June 2023 & 8 to 15 September 2023
    Duration: 8 days / 7 nights
  • Group Size: 6 persons max.
  • Level: Beginners to Advanced
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Tour Highlights

  • Gorgeous Y Ty, Muong Hum and Ta Giang Phinh rice terraces landscapes and farming activities
  • The weekend ethnic market of Muong Hum
  • Encounters with diverse ethnic minority groups
  • Mu Cang Chai’s rice terraces, a Vietnam National Heritage site

This tour takes place twice a year. We hold the first tour during the season of rice-transplantation, when rice terraces fill up with water, allowing young sprouts to show off their fluorescent green colors. The second tour follows the harvesting season, when the rice fields display their golden colors. During these two crucial periods of the rice cycle, cultivators spend their whole day working the fields, to the photographer’s delight… When we’ll be out of the rice fields, it will be to explore the various villages and markets of the region.

The road from the plateaus to Sapa has been practicable only recently. It meanders through several passages, along rice fields clinging on the mountain sides, while colorful working silhouettes stand out against the jade, topaz and mountain green colored skies.

Vietnam Buffaloes with Mountainous Landscape
Day 1

● Hanoi ▸ Lao Cai ▸ Muong Hum
● 7 hours’ travelling / multiple photography stops

We will leave Hanoi early in the morning and reach Lao Cai for lunch with plenty of photography talk in the minibus. With a full stomach we will zigzag between the rice terraces, more beautiful the ones than the others until the village of Muong Hum nestled at the foot of the mountains with of course photo stops almost every bend, well almost… We will spend the late afternoon above in the tea plantations to photograph the sunset with a superb view over a splendid mountain.

Dinner and night at our Giay ethnic friend’s home.

Vietnam Rice Terrace Plantation Season
Day 2

● Muong hum ▸ Y Ty ▸ Muong Hum
● 3 hours’ travelling / 6 hours of photography

We will start the day by heading to the weekly market of Y Ty, situated just across China, on the other side of the valley. The road to it as well as the encounters with the local population will inspire you. The market offers a multitude of colorful costumes and head coverings from various ethnic groups, such as the Ha Nhi, Phu La, White Hmong…

We will spend the afternoon discovering the mountainous landscapes and small villages surrounding Y Ty and on the way back to Muong Hum home some of my favorite rice terrace landscapes from the whole north Vietnam mountains.

Dinner and night at our Giay ethnic friend’s home.

Vietnam Minority Portrait in blue outfit
Day 3

● Muong Hum ▸ Ta Van (Sapa valley)
● 3 hours’ travelling / 5 hours of photography

We will wake up just next to the multicolor market of Muong Hum, which takes place every Sunday. Muong Hun is home to the Giay people, whose women wear flashy, colorful shirts. They are well-tried traders, as they serve as intermediaries between the mountain ethnic groups and the Vietnamese living in the valley. We will meet with many other minorities such as Black Hmongs, Red Dao women wearing their conical hats, Ha Nhi people or White Hmongs.

After the market and a well-deserved breakfast we will take the road to Ta Van nestled in the beautiful Sapa valley.

We will spend our afternoon discovering the amazing Sapa valley trekking through the rice fields to the Lao Chai village Hmong village.

Dinner and night at our Ecolodge.

Vietnam Minority Child with black Umbrella
Day 4

● Ta Van (Sapa valley), sunrise, harvesting, photo review, harvesting and sunset
● Photo Editing, Lightroom processing and photo review / 5 hours of photography

A day enjoying the beauties of the Sapa valley embedded by mountains carved with rice terraces and it’s people at work, this time further way to the Ban Ho village of the Tay ethnic. We will also enjoying editing and doing our first photo review.

Dinner and night at our Ecolodge.

Vietnamese child watching buffaloes on mountainous background landscape
Vietnamese woman with freshly cut rice on mountainous background
Day 5

● Ta Van ▸ Than Uyen
● 4,5 hours’ travelling / 5 hours of photography

We will head for Than Uyen by going through the plains formed by Nam Na River.

The road from Sapa to Than Uyen is superb, meandering through hills covered with tea bushes until reaching Tram Uyen passage, dominated by Fansipan Mountain, culminating at 3143m. We will make numerous stops along the way to capture these magnificent landscapes.

In the late afternoon, we will stop in a traditional Thai village overlooking a large rice field and surrounded by enormous bamboos groves.

Dinner and night in Than Uyen.

Vietnamese man with umbrella taking care of two buffaloes
Day 6

● Than Uyen ▸ Mu Cang Chai
● 1,5 hours’ travelling / 5 hours of photography

This morning we will leave Than Uyen very early to catch the first ray of lights over the magnificent of one of the spots of which we have the secret. A mountain whose entire flan is carved by literally dozens of rice terraces, carved over the last century that form a unique cascade of greenery. We will then explore the Lao Chai village before continuing our journey to Mu Cang Chai.

In the afternoon we will begin the discovery of the beauties of the Mu Cang Chai region climbing up to the Man Xoi viewpoint.

Dinner and night at our Ecolodge.

North Vietnam mountain valley landscape with rice worker
Group of Vietnam minority women in traditional outfit surrounding a child
Day 7

● Mu Cang Chai, rice terrace paradise

Mu Cang Chai holds some of the most impressive rice terraces in the country and is listed as a Vietnam National Heritage site. Throughout the day, we will have plenty of occasions to observe the H’mong people going about their daily lives and working in the fields.

In the morning, we will visit Ze Xu Phinh are, and in the afternoon the La Pan Tan “Rice Canyon”. If the time permits, we will also visit the beautiful rice fields of Che Cu Nha.
Dinner and night at our Ecolodge.

Vietnam Minority man in ricefield looking at distance
Day 8

● Mu Cang Chai ▸ Duong Lam ▸ Hanoi
● Last photo review / 7 hours’ travelling / photography stops

This morning we will do our last photo editing session, followed by the final photo story presentations before heading back to Hanoi. Before reaching Hanoi we will visit the traditional village of Duong Lam with its two-century old houses, reflecting how the Red River villages used to look like in the past.

Vietnam Minority elderly woman in traditional outfit on the road
Day 9

● Hanoi, one of Southeast Asia most exciting capital – End of the adventure

We will start the day at the Long Bien Bridge designed in 1899-1902 by Daydé & Pillé French architects. Reserved for two-wheeled vehicles and pedestrians, as well as the train passing in its center, overcrossing the Red River this bridge is taken every morning by thousands of provincials coming to sell their products in the city, or on the Long Bien market situated just underneath it. We will then go walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, where Hanoians enjoy doing their physical exercises, and continue our exploration in the bustling 36 old streets and guilds of the old quarter. We will then the walk along the railway tracks witnessing the Hanoian’s daily life punctuated by the passage of the famous reunification train.

Last lunch together

End of the tour.

Passing Train and motorbike in Hanoi Vietnam

North Vietnam Ethnic Trails


Tour Details

  • Price: US$2890 / person
  • Tour Dates:
    – 3 to 10 June 2022 & 9 to 16 September 2022
    – 2 to 9 June 2023 & 8 to 15 September 2023
  • Duration: 8 days / 7 nights
  • Group Size: 6 persons max.
  • Level: Beginners to Advanced


  • Homestay or Lodge in Y Ty
  • Family run Homestays in Muong Hum and Ta Giang Phinh
  • Guesthouse in Than Uyen
  • Ecolodge in Mu Cang Chai
  • Private air-conditioned transportation
  • Meals and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the tour
  • Snacks and water during excursions
  • Sites entry fees (if applicable)


  • International/domestic flight to arrive and depart from Hanoi
  • Airport transfers
  • Entry Visa to Vietnam
  • Travel insurance (please make sure you are insured)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips


  • Single room accommodation (when possible): +US$180
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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.