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Vietnam: Hill Tribe Trek and Palliative Care Project

5th Nov 2022 - 14th Nov 2022

10 days/Vietnam /Moderate to Challenging


This 5-day trek takes you far off the beaten track and into the remote and beautiful hills of Northern Vietnam in the Pù Luông Nature Reserve area. Passing through remote villages and staying at different local stilt house accommodations each night will give you an authentic insight into the lifestyle of the ethnic minority people who live in the area.

You will also spend time in the Mai Chau region working at a palliative care project at the local community hospital. The specific tasks will be determined closer to the time of departure, depending on the most urgent need in the local area at the time but are likely to include painting, decorating, gardening and other hands-on refurbishment type tasks. There will be no clinical or healthcare volunteering involved.

A moderate to challenging trip. You will be trekking for 5 consecutive days, over varying and sometimes challenging terrain. You will cover approximately 15-20km per day which will take around 6-7 hours. The community project activities will also be physically demanding.

You will be accompanied by professional English-speaking local guides and support staff who have an excellent knowledge of hiking and culture in the region and are first-aid trained. You will also be accompanied by an excellent support team at the community project, and a Different Travel Company tour manager who together will support you and make your challenge memorable.

The terrain will vary throughout the 5 days but in general it is mostly flat and on established routes through villages and jungle, and occasionally along short sections of road. There are some steep sections to contend with but your guides will support you all the way. The route offers an interesting variety of scenery as you pass through rice terraces, cross shallow rivers, ascend into cloudy forests and enter remote villages. Underfoot the terrain will vary each day but may be quite stony, on roads, grass, over large natural limestone slabs, and depending on the weather, potentially very muddy trails. The itinerary is subject to change depending on the weather and, particularly, rainfall.

Temperatures are closely linked with the weather conditions but you can expect temperatures to be around 30°C during the day, dropping down to 19°C at night. Weather conditions will vary but in general you will experience hot but cloudy days with high humidity and occasional short rain downpours. It’s important to be prepared for all weather conditions and temperatures so you should ensure you have the correct kit, such as a waterproof dry bag for inside your daypack and a lightweight poncho to keep you dry but cool when walking. When the sun comes out it can feel very hot and be very bright so wearing sunglasses and a hat, and keeping well hydrated is crucial.

The food served throughout the trip will be traditional Vietnamese with some Western dishes too. The food is freshly prepared and plentiful. Vietnamese food isn’t spicy but if you like your food with a kick, chilli or chilli sauce is often available if you ask. You will have breakfast and dinner at the stilt house you are staying in. Lunch will be eaten at local homes along the way. Typical dishes include; Breakfast: Pancakes, fruit, coffee, bread, eggs, omelette, fruit fritters. Lunch: Fried noodles with vegetables and/or egg, bread rolls. Dinner: Rice, fried chicken, meat stir fry, chips, spring rolls, omelette, eggs, fish, vegetable dishes, noodles, fresh fruit.

While in Hanoi you will stay in a hotel in twin or triple rooms with en-suite facilities. During the trek and project, the group will stay together in a village, in a traditional stilt house.

At the stilt houses, the main house is laid out over one upstairs level, with one very large living /sleeping area and a kitchen in an adjoining room or at the end of the living area. Beneath the house, between the stilts, your breakfast and evening meals will be served. Tables, chairs, plates, mugs and cutlery are provided. You may be able to purchase soft drinks or beer at the village depending on availability (payable locally).
The sleeping area is very large; accommodating up to 25 people. The entire group will share one room to sleep. You are strongly recommended to bring ear plugs (which you have tried out in advance and are comfortable using) so you can block out the inevitable snoring which may otherwise disturb your sleep.
You are provided with a thin mattress, pillow and blankets but you are recommended to bring a silk or cotton sleeping bag liner for additional warmth and comfort as it can get cool at night. Mosquito nets are provided for you each night.
Flip flops, slip-on sandals or pumps are advised for use around the village, particularly for back and forth between the shower/toilet facilities as shoes are not to be worn inside, and your hiking boots will be muddy from walking.

There are shower facilities located across the courtyard next to the main stilt house. There may not be hot water and the quality of the facilities will vary so please do not expect hotel standards. We recommend that you take quick showers, turning off the water when lathering up, so warm water can be shared. You should also bring a small pack of baby wipes to freshen up during the trek day.
Toilet facilities at each village will vary but you can expect Asian-style squat toilets, and possibly an additional Western sit-down toilet. Some toilets have a flush but some may only be supplied with bucket of water to flush. Toilet paper is not usually provided so you should bring your own which must only be put into the bins provided. Sewer pipes are not large enough to cope with toilet paper so if you attempt to flush it, you are likely to block the pipes and make the facilities unusable for everyone.
During the trek you will need to pack up any toilet paper you use to dispose of properly at the village. NEVER leave toilet paper or other litter on the trail.

You must be aged at least 18 to participate unaccompanied. It may be possible for you to participate if you are aged 16 or 17 years old if you are accompanied by a parent or guardian–please contact us for advice. There is no upper age limit. An ideal candidate for the trek would be someone who enjoys being out of their comfort zone and trying something new.

You are strongly advised to train to a good fitness level before departure to ensure fast recovery from each day’s walk. The distances covered may not be great but you must be prepared for, and be capable of, trekking for many hours a day on steep, rough terrain while carrying a daypack of around 6-8kg in weight. If you attempt to complete the trek without training, it will be unnecessarily challenging and will hinder your experience, and the experience of your teammates.

The trek is graded moderate to challenging. You will be trekking for 5 consecutive days, over varying and sometimes challenging terrain. You will cover approximately 15-20km per day which will take around 6-7 hours.

We require a medical form to be completed by everyone upon registering, and any pre-existing conditions, medications used and other medical issues must be specified. All your medical details are treated in the strictest confidence.

The information will be securely screened by a qualified medical professional, and details provided to your tour manager and local guides so our staff are adequately informed and prepared to support you during the trip. By completing this booking form you are giving consent for us to contact you confidentially with any follow up questions regarding your health.

If you declare any medical conditions you may be asked to provide more information, or we may request to contact your GP. We must be informed if any conditions or medication change, or if new conditions develop. If necessary confirmation of fitness to travel from your GP or specialist may be required.

In the event that your medical issues represent a concern for your safety and wellbeing, or the safety and wellbeing of others in the group, you may be recommended not to take part. If this happens your deposit will be refunded. Please note that we will never unreasonably deny participation on a trip nor contravene the Equality Act 2010.


E-tickets + pre-departure info
Passport + copy
Vietnam visa (if applicable)
Insurance policy details
Pen for immigration forms
Cash (£) / ATM card(s)
LED head torch + spare batteries
Adaptor (multi-option)
Camera + spare batteries
Mobile phone + charger

Clothing & Footwear

Hiking boots*
Trainers/slippers for evenings
Trek socks & underwear
Non-cotton t-shirts
Long sleeved non-cotton top
Long sleeved light warm layer
Lightweight poncho
Clothes for evenings
Sun hat
Lightweight trek trousers
Buff (for dust)
Clothes + gloves for project
Casual clothes for sightseeing


Shampoo/conditioner/hair brush*
Shower gel/ shave kit / loofah*
Wet wipes*
Toilet paper*
Sun cream (high SPF)*
Hand sanitizer*
Small travel towel
Feminine hygiene products*
Nappy sacks (for used toilet paper)*

First Aid Kit

Prescription medicine
50% DEET insect repellent
Ibuprofen and Paracetamol
Plasters/blister plasters
Imodium (Loperamide)
Rehydration (e.g. Dioralyte)
Muscle rub (tiger balm/Deep Heat)
Anti-histamine tablets/cream
Antiseptic cream (e.g. Savlon)
Indigestion remedy (e.g. Gaviscon)
Lip balm with SPF protection
Throat lozenges
Zinc oxide tape (optional)
Spare glasses/contact lenses


Video camera + charger
iPod/MP3 player
Walking pole(s)
Sewing kit
Books/playing cards


Suitcase/rucksack for luggage
Trek kit bag/holdall
Daypack (25-30 litres)
Luggage organisers or packing cubes (optional)

Eating and Drinking

Energy snacks
2-litre water bottle (e.g. CamelBak)
1-litre standard water bottle
Water purification (optional)
Electrolyte tablets (e.g. NUUN)


Ear plugs (essential)
Sleeping bag liner

Please note: This list is not exhaustive and does not account for your personal taste or preference. It should be used as a guideline only. If you have any questions or queries regarding this list which are not answered in the sections above please contact

*Please ensure you pack your boots in your hand baggage in the unlikely event your luggage is delayed or goes missing.

*Please consider eco-friendly or biodegradable options. Consider shopping at Little Footprint Gifts.


Day 1 (Saturday 5 November 2022)

London – Hanoi
Depart London for an indirect overnight flight to Hanoi.

Day 2 (Sunday 6 November 2022)

Arrive in Hanoi and transfer to a central hotel. You will have the rest of the day at leisure to settle in and explore independently. This evening you will gather together for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Meals: Dinner.
Overnight: Hotel.

Day 3 (Monday 7 November 2022)

Hanoi to Mai Chau
After breakfast we depart Hanoi for a scenic drive (approx. 4 hours) to Mai Chau where we will stop for lunch, then check into our hotel where we will stay during our project activities for the next two days. This afternoon we will walk to the Mai Chau General Hospital where you will undertake the project activities. After a short orientation tour you will meet the staff at the palliative care unit and learn more about the way palliative care works in Vietnam. This evening you will enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and even try out some traditional dancing!
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Overnight: Hotel

Day 4 (Tuesday 8 November 2022)

Mai Chau General Hospital
Today we will spend the whole day at the project. Our work is likely to involve painting, decorating or gardening, depending on the unit’s needs and requirements which will be determined closer to the time.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Overnight: Hotel.

Day 5 (Wednesday 9 November 2022)

Mai Chau General Hospital – Hang Village
After completing your project tasks this morning, you will say farewell to the staff and patients in the unit. After a farewell ceremony we will change into our trekking gear ready for the next part of the challenge. We drive 25km into the Mai Chau national reserve where we start trekking. Today is a gentle 4-hour trek to Hang Village, home to a Thai ethnic minority where we spend the night with local Thai families in their traditional stilted houses, and have the chance to stroll around the village before dinner.
Trek: Approx. 4 hours / easy terrain.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Overnight: Traditional stilt house.

Day 6 (Thursday 10 November 2022)

Hang Village to Kho Muong
Today we will trek for around 6 hours on a path which runs mostly through jungle. We make a lunch stop in a small village along the way before setting off again this afternoon passing several Thai villages. Tonight we will stay in Kho Muong village, a Muong minority village.
Trek: Approx. 6 hours; slightly uphill, rocky path.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Overnight: Traditional stilt house.

Day 7 (Friday 11 November 2022)

Kho Muong – Nua Village
The trek is a little harder day today, as we trek uphill into the Pu Luong range, passing through a number of small hamlets and minority villages en route. After 3 hours of gentle ascent, we will then descend to the village of Nua, a village of Thai ethnic minority people, where we spend the night in local homes.
Trek: Approx. 6 hours, gentle uphill trail and a gradual descent.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Overnight: Traditional stilt house.

Day 8 (Saturday 12 November 2022)

Nua Village – Hieu Village
Today’s trek through the verdant countryside will take around 6 hours as the path runs up and downhill through forests, rice terraces and scenic villages. Along the way we are likely to see farmers working on rice paddies and children going to school. We spend the night in the Thai village of Hieu.
Trek: Approx. 6 hours, undulating terrain.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Overnight: Traditional stilt house.

Day 9 (Sunday 13 November 2022)

Hieu Village – Pho Doan – Hanoi
This morning our final day of trekking takes us along the Ma River where we will enjoy lovely views of the river, rice fields and waterwheels until we reach the small market town of Pho Doan where we stop for lunch. After lunch we will meet our vehicle and return to Hanoi (approximately 4 hours), where we check into our hotel and have dinner.
Trek: Approx. 3 hours, long descent.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Overnight: Hotel.

Day 10 (Monday 14 November 2022)

Today is free for you to explore Hanoi at leisure before your indirect overnight flight home.
Meals: Breakfast.

Day 11 (Tuesday 15 November 2022)

Hanoi – London
Arrive back into London.

Notes: The day-to-day program is subject to weather, general conditions and the progress of the group. While we do not anticipate any changes to the itinerary, we cannot be held responsible for changes made due to unexpected circumstances. Ultimately the safety and health of the group takes priority in all circumstances.

Costs & How to pay

Registration fee: £295 and then one of either…

Self-funded: £1700 balance
Sponsorship: £3400
Flexi: £1700 trip costs balance plus £1700 sponsorship for a charity of your choice


This option is for those who choose to pay the trip costs (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) themselves. There is no sponsorship required although if you wish to raise sponsorship for a charity you are welcome to do so.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • Trip cost balance is payable to Different Travel 10 weeks prior to departure.
  • You are welcome to fundraise separately for any charity of your choice but this is not mandatory. Any fundraising undertaken cannot be used for your trip costs.


This option is for those who wish to raise sponsorship to cover both the costs of the trip (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) and a donation to their chosen charity. There is a minimum sponsorship amount for each trip that you are required to raise in order to participate.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • The minimum sponsorship must be paid to the charity 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • The amount the charity receives is at least 50% of the minimum sponsorship total.


This option is for those who choose to pay the trip costs (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) themselves while still raising some funds for the charity.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • Trip cost balance is payable to the charity 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • Any fundraising undertaken cannot be used for your trip costs.

What's included

  • Return flights from London to Hanoi
  • Airport taxes and charges
  • Local transfers and transport in Vietnam
  • Accommodation throughout as per itinerary (twin/triple share in hotels, dormitory style during trek)
  • Meals as per itinerary (from dinner on day 2 to breakfast on day 10)
  • English-speaking local guides and support crew
  • Project materials and co-ordination
  • Different Travel UK tour manager

What's not included

  • Any necessary vaccinations
  • Optional single occupancy room (£175 – hotels only)
  • Spending money (tips, drinks, souvenirs)
  • Transport to/from UK airports
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal trek kit
  • Visa (if required)

Got a Question?

If you’ve a question about this challenge that you can’t find the answer to within the given information then complete this quick form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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