8 ATTRACTIONS IN NORTHERN VIETNAM
Hanoi is the nation’s capital and you are easy to connect to other places in Vietnam as well as all over the world from there. It is an exhilarating blend of eastern and western culture. French colonialism is visible through cuisine as well as architecture, particularly in the French Quarter and in Hanoi Old Quarter. Some must-see features are the 11th century Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple, St. Joshep’s Cathedral, Hanoi Opera House, Museums. The visitors can enjoy all of them in a day tour, and add some other activities into such as an hour cyclo around the Old Quarter, the traditional water puppet show or taking photos of sunset on Long Bien Bridge to make your day so enjoyable.
If you love to explore the charm of the capital, we suggest you enjoy a half day cycling or motor tour in Hanoi and listen many interesting stories about the culture and history of this place.
Hoan Kiem Lake.
2. HA LONG BAY COMPLEX
Ha Long Bay is one of the most interesting places in Vietnam. Halong means descending dragons, which is indicative of the silhouette of the limestone outcrops that poke out from the water. The spectacular way to experience the beauty of Halong Bay and to see as many of the islands as possible is spending one or two nights on overnight cruises. If you don’t have much time, a day cruise is also good to have a glance of the place that was listed twice as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 1994 for its outstanding, universal aesthetic value, and in 2000 for its outstanding geological and geomorphological value.
Ha Long Bay is not only the main area in Quang Ninh Province but also a larger zone which includes Bai Tu Long Bay to the northeast, Lan Ha Bay and Cat Ba Island to the southwest. These larger zones share a similar geological, geographical, geomorphological, climate, and cultural characters. Nowadays, besides spending a night on cruise in the main site of Ha Long Bay, many travellers choose to enjoy cruise trip in Lan ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay as they are less touristic but the landscape is still magnificent.
Sunset in Ha Long Bay
3. NINH BINH
Besides of beautiful landscapes, one of the reason making Ninh Binh become the interesting choice of visitors is its good location. Not far from Hanoi Capital, it’s not only a place for a day tour but also a destination if you want to spend 2 or 3 days there. From Ninh Binh, you are easy to connect to other famous destinations in the North of Vietnam: 4 hour drive to Mai Chau, 4.5 hour drive to Ha Long Bay or yoou can take the night trains to Quang Binh, Hue or Hoi An.
Ninh Binh is known for Tam Coc, Trang An Heritage Site, Cuc Phuong National Park, Ngoa Long view point and Phat Diem Stone Church… A relaxing time seating on rowing boat along peaceful river to visit Tam Coc or Trang An, a short cycling along local village or through the rice paddies, a litle adventure to climb to the Top of Ngoa Long Mountain and enjoy the panorama view of this area or treking through the oldest national park to explore the diverse of fauna and flora are things you can try when you come to Ninh Binh.
4. MAI CHAU
Just about 3-hour drive from Hanoi, Mai Chau (in Hoa Binh Province) is a wonderful place to explore if you’re looking to get an authentic view of the many cultures that have found a home in Northern Vietnam. It is a sort of melting pot, serving as the home to seven distinct ethnic groups: Hmong, Zao, Muong, Hoa, Viet, White Thai and Tay. The beauty of the valley is the peaceful landscape of small villages, traditional stilt houses hidden in the middle of the hill or looming behind the rice fields.
Mai Chau Valley is a good place for tourist love trekking, cycling or even for someone just want to relax because of its lush greenery, beautiful mountains and a vibrant culture.
Sapa, with an altitude of about 1800m above sea level, is really a cool place. You may feel 4 seasons in a day there. In early morning, it’s may be a bit foggy like Spring. In the midday, the temperature is higher and you may feel the heat of summer. In late afternoon, Sapa is as cool as autumn while in the night, you may feel like the beginning of winter.
Sapa is home of many ethnic minorities, The biggest are Hmong and Red Dao. They bring to Sapa the diversity of culture and make the streets and road in the center of the town more colorful.
Come to Sapa, you can enjoy the easy trek through the magnificent Muong Hoa Valley and its terraced rice fields, which are staggering to behold or spending time to visit some other local village such as Ma Tra, Ta Phin, Sa Seng and Hau Thao villages. Taking the cable car to Fansipan peak is also a great way to have the panorama view of the Town and valleys.
Take 3.5 hour drive from Sapa Town, you will go to Bac Ha Town in Bac Ha District. It’s small but what truly makes Bac Ha worth a visit is the Sunday Market. Bac Ha Sunday market is considered as the most interesting and colorful tribe market in the North of Vietnam. From early Sunday morning, residents from throughout the region gather in the center of the town, and it becomes a cacophony of color, sound and vibrancy. The members of the surrounding hill tribes come to shop and sell, making it a fantastic opportunity to see a range of ethnicities in a single, scenic setting.
6.MU CANG CHAI
For adventure lovers and photographers, Mu Cang Chai is an ideal attraction. Located in Yen Bai Province, it takes about 7 hour drive from Hanoi.
Mu Cang Chai is famous for rice terraced fields, beautiful trekking roads through authentical villages. The travellers love to go to Mu Cang Chai in May – June when the famers flood the fields and in September – October when the harvest time comes and the terraces are changing from green to yeallow. The specialty is trekking through amazing rice terraces to see ethnic minorities, such as Thai, H’Mong and Red Dzathe stunning rice to hill tribes. From Khau Pha Pass to Che Cu Nha and La Pan Tan Commune, you can enjoy stunning rice terraces everywhere.
Visit Mu Cang Chai, you can stay in local homestays or guest houses. They offer basic services but clean and safe enough. Or, the better choices are the Ecolodge in Mu Cang Chai or Tu Le whick make your stay much more comfortable.
7. HA GIANG
Ha Giang is one of the most remote destinations in Northern Vietnam.Go to Ha Giang by car/bus is the easiest way from Hanoi and it takes about 8 hour drive.
Ha Giang is famous for green forests, stunning rice terraced fields and Karst mountains. It is an incredible destination to explore ethnic diversity and to participate in outdoor activities like hiking. Stunning terraced fields in Hoang Su Phi, treking roads in Sa Phin and Dong Van, Quan Ba Heaven Gate, Ma Pi Leng Pass and lot of charming sites such as H’mong King Palace, Dong Van ancient town, Pho Bang… are highlights of this attactions. On every Sundays, you can attend to Dong Van Market which is also one of the most thrilling in Ha Giang Province.
There is no big hotel in Ha Giang. You can consider to stay at local hotels in Ha Giang city, Dong Van Town and Meo Vac Town or stay at local basic homestays there. If you come to Hoang Su Phi, the best option is staying in small ecolodges where you can enjoy fresh air, beautiful nature and spectacular view.
8. BAN GIOC WATERFALL
A little gem in Northern Vietnam is Ban Gioc waterfall in Cao Bang Province. The easies way to go there is taking about 8-hour drive from Hanoi. You also can combine it in your trip to Ha Giang or Ba Be Lake.
It’s natureal border between Vietnam and China. What makes Ban Gioc Waterfall scene captivating is its extraordinary flow of water running dazzlingly along stair-like moulds, which looks like a giant doorstep of mother nature. This seductive charm is undoubtedly a major factor that attracts tourists from all over the world.
The best time to visit Ban Gioc waterfalls is in September or October when the rain is less frequent and you can see the most beautiful face of the falls. Not far from the falls, you can visit Nguom Ngao Cave and Phuc Sen Knife village as well. They all make your trip