Immersion in a Tay village and hiking in the terraced paddy fields
Admire the beautiful landscapes of the north while strolling between terraced paddy fields and traditional villages. Whether you are with your partner, with friends, or you are a family with teenagers, these two days of trekking guarantee you a unique experience in Vietnam!
The Ha Giang region of Vietnam has managed to maintain its authenticity, far from mass tourism. Still unknown a few years ago, it now attracts more and more travellers who come to discover the “loop,” which can be done by motorcycle or car. For two to three days, you can travel along a winding and picturesque road featuring a breathtaking setting: steep mountains, paddy fields, small villages, panoramic views, etc.
However, few people know that the region is also an ideal starting point for trekking in Vietnam. On the local roads, in the middle of paddy fields, the change of scenery is guaranteed, and it is not uncommon to see any other travellers during this hike.
IN THE PROGRAM
After a few hours of driving from Hanoi, the arrival in the village of Thon Tha is a real delight. This small village, 5 kilometres from Ha Giang in Vietnam, but a few kilometres from the Chinese border, is home to one hundred Tay families, easily recognizable by their traditional houses on stilts. Here, the inhabitants survive mainly on paddy cultivation and you can observe many paddy fields all around the village. Each family has a buffalo, which helps them to maintain their crops. It is therefore common to see this impressive but friendly animal on the roads of the village, before or after a day of hard work.
On the first day, you can simply take a walk around the village and soak up its peaceful atmosphere or exchange a few words with its inhabitants. If many do not speak English, a simple “Xin Chao,” which means hello, will be received with warm smiles. You can also rest at your homestay, and watch the local life take its course. Here, domestic activities are governed by the agricultural seasons.
In the evening, you will share local dishes with your hosts, then return to your room, simple but clean, where you can rest before an intense day of hiking.
For this first day of trekking in Vietnam, you will be walking for about 16 kilometres on foot. Your local guide, a native of Thon Tha, will accompany you. You will walk along the trails which are sometimes steep and which will lead you to the mountainside with breathtaking landscapes. Your guide will give you valuable explanations about the culture of that area. Climbing up to the village of Khuoy My will allow you to witness incredible terraced rice fields on either side of the valley. A concrete road now connects these mountain villages with each other, but the path you will take was a few years ago the only existing one.
Once in the village, you will be greeted at home of the local inhabitant to enjoy a well-deserved lunch. After this break, you will begin the descent back down to Thon Tha, taking new passages off the beaten track, which will offer you new views of the rice fields and mountains. You will quietly return to your homestay, where you can finish the afternoon by relaxing and then have dinner with your hosts.
Today, your guide will take you to discover the surrounding villages. After the efforts of the previous day, this hike will be less intense: about 12 kilometres on fairly flat paths. You will take the time to contemplate the local life, and observe the traditional houses and the work in the paddy fields.
The Ha Giang Region of Vietnam is home to many ethnic minorities. During this walk, you will meet the Coin Dao and Indigo Dao.
You will have lunch with a local family, then continue your journey to the waterfall of Ha Thanh, which is very popular with the locals during the summer. From there, you will take small paths back to Thon Tha, where it will be time to say goodbye to your hosts.
The villages you will visit are quite poor, where the inhabitants live mainly on agriculture and are sometimes subjected to capricious weather. It is becoming increasingly tempting for people to leave the village to find a job in the city, at the risk that local culture and traditions will gradually be lost. A local cooperative was formed several years ago to counter this risk and to diversify the village’s economy, notably by creating eco-tourism projects. This trek and these homestays are part of this project. A portion of the price you pay will be donated to this cooperative to support local development.