If you seriously want to get off the beaten track in Vietnam, head to Ha Giang. This border region was once off limits to foreigners and has only just opened up to visitors. The day's drive to Ha Giang from Hanoi is well worth the extra time, as there aren't many areas of Vietnam that will take your breath away quite so readily. Trekking on remote forest trails, and staying overnight with hill tribe families, are just a couple of experiences to be had in Ha Giang that not many other travellers will be able to lay claim to.
Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...
It's a long journey to Ha Giang - the best part of a day, as you're travelling right up to Vietnam's most northerly point - but what you'll experience when you arrive is well worth the effort. Although the word 'untouched' gets banded around quite a lot these days, Ha Giang is still fully deserving of the moniker. Very few tourists venture this far, and hill tribes and subsistence farmers still work the stunning mountain landscapes in much the same way as they've done for generations. Trekking in Ha Giang is unsurpassed, although it can be tough going, but the views over the sea of terraced rice paddies below are phenomenal.
Being invited to stay under the same roof as a hill tribe family in Ha Giang is an incredibly humbling experience. This is not something that everybody does, and it’ll give you genuine insight into the lifestyles of people living in a really remote region of Vietnam that was once inaccessible to travellers. Hill tribe markets are also genuinely exciting, and witnessing the whirl of trade and commerce is often much more enthralling than you might expect. Many ethnic minority groups will come into the towns and villages on market days in fine, traditional dress. Whilst wandering, you’ll begin to notice the differences and similarities between the formal costume of neighbouring tribes.
From your morning noodles to the northern hills