• Northwest Adventures Tours

North-west Vietnam offers travellers some of the country's most spectacular scenery. The mountainous areas are home to many distict hill tribes, some still living as they have for generations, despite ever-increasing Vietnamese and Western influences.

Highway 6 winds through beautiful mountains and high plains inhabited by Montagnards (notably the Black Thai, White Thai and H'mong). The Thai are most numerous in the lower lands, where they cultivate tea and fruit and live in attractive stilt houses. The hardy H'mong live in the bleaker high-lands over 1000m.  Highway 6 has recently renovated and bitumened from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu. Even more exciting is Highway 32 between Dien Bien Phu and Lai Chau - a dangerous cliffhanger frequently wiped out by landslides. The ensuring stretch from Lai Chau into Sapa is bumpy in places but offers some of the best mountain vistas in South-East Asia.

The most interesting (and hair-raising) journey of all is the 'north-west loop'. Head for Mai Chau, followed by Son La and Dien Bien Phu, then north to Lai Chau, Sapa, Lao Cai and back to Hanoi. The loop requires 4 WD or motorbike, and you should allow at least a weed for this trip.