Northern Vietnam is home to plenty of mountainous and verdant plantation sceneries, where you can discover many cultures of Vietnam that are tucked away from the public domain. From the highlands' incredible terraced rice fields to the breathtaking bays with karst mountain formations stretching to the horizon, Northern Vietnam will not disappoint when it comes to its sceneries. The scenic landscape is complemented by its diverse cultural attractions that are unique to the region's terrains. Below are some spectacular destinations to consider for your trips to take in North Vietnam.
Constructed in 1070, the Temple of Literature is one of the oldest historical sites in Hanoi
At the heart of Hanoi is the bustling Old Quarter
When thinking of trips to take in North Vietnam, Hanoi should be on the top of your list, especially if it is your first time in the country's northern part. Not only is Hanoi the capital of Vietnam, but it's also a centralized hub connecting you to any other destinations within the Northern region of the country. Besides that, the city is a mix of cultural sites as well as modern activities; you will find abundant options while strolling down the walking streets and exploring Hanoi's attractions.
Some famous attractions include the Temple of Literature, the Ho Chi Minh Complex, and the Old Quarter. See more of Hanoi's prominent attractions here.
Out at sea in Ha Long Bay among the limestone islets
Stalactites formation can be seen in many of the caves throughout all of Ha Long Bay
It is no surprise that Ha Long Bay would be on the list as a destination for the best trips to take in North Vietnam. Known as the crown jewel of tourism in Vietnam, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a collection of limestone islets of various shapes and sizes on the crystal blue sea. The most popular way to experience Ha Long Bay is to take a day trip from Hanoi or better yet, book an overnight boat trip. This will allow you to explore the many islands and caves scattered throughout the surroundings and get a glimpse of the area's cultures.
Some attractions that you should visit while in Ha Long Bay are the Thien Cung Cave, Sung Sot Cave, and the Cua Van fishing village.
A breathtaking view from one of the numerous vantage points throughout Ha Giang
The winding Tham Ma Slope in Ha Giang
Ha Giang is considered one of the most remote yet beautiful locations in Northern Vietnam. Known for its majestic valleys and lush green forests, Ha Giang's winding mountain roads offer plenty of vantage points with spectacular scenic panoramic views. Outdoor activities such as hiking and camping are some of the typical activities you can partake in. You can also visit the ethnic minorities' villages and browse the outdoor market and experience the local lifestyle.
The best way to experience Ha Giang is by riding a motorbike through the Ma Pi Leng Pass and the Tham Ma Slope to the ethnic villages. Note that the mountainous trails are not for amateur drivers and you'd need an IDP (International Driving Permit) to drive in Vietnam.
See more on Can Tourists Drive in Vietnam?
The view from a road running through the mountainside of Sa Pa
A cable ride to the top of Mount Fansipan offers a striking view of Sa Pa's entire landscape
When it comes to famous trips to take in North Vietnam, Sa Pa has to be mentioned alongside major places like Ha Long Bay. Its scenery of widespread terraced rice paddy fields is an immense site to behold. Depending on the seasons in which you visit Sa Pa, the terraces' color can range from reddish-brown in the spring to lush green in the summer and finally, gold in autumn. The mountainous town contains the largest diversity of ethnic minorities in the Northern region of the country. We recommend that you book a homestay when visiting this area to experience the lifestyle of residents. Some popular activities include hiking and trekking to nearby remote villages to further explore and immerse yourself in diverse cultures.
Popular attractions to visit in Sa Pa include taking a cable car to the top of Mount Fansipan, stroll through Cat Cat village, and explore Ta Phin village.
Look for hotels, resorts, and homestays in Sa Pa below:
The gentle, calm scenery of Mai Chau
A long winding section of the Thung Khe Pass running through the mountainside of Mai Chau
Mai Chau is a quaint area with tranquil greenery and terraced rice paddy fields as far as the eyes can see. The rustic beauty of Mai Chau is perhaps the most authentic due to it being the closest to a pure countryside experience. Visitors to this area are encouraged to explore the vast stretch of fields and hills on foot or by bicycle. Enjoying the easy paced journey through the peaceful valley from one small village to another is an experience that is often overlooked when in Vietnam. The ethnic diversity of Mai Chau is on par with that of Sa Pa, and booking a homestay is strongly recommended to allow you the chance to stay in a traditional stilt house.
Besides appreciating the stretches of rice fields at a leisure pace, if you have access to a motorbike, riding through the Thung Khe Pass is a thrilling activity that offers a spectacular view from the mountainside. Hiking up to Chieu Cave and kayaking in Hoa Binh Lake are also popular activities available.
A boat trip through the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh
The view of Ninh Binh from the very top of Mua Cave
Ninh Binh is an area where the combination of mountains, plains, and rivers are harmoniously intertwined to create a breathtakingly gorgeous landscape. The sceneries are so remarkably striking that it is often called the inland Ha Long Bay. To have a complete appreciation for Ninh Binh's beauty is by taking a boat trip on the river through the cavern system and then hiking up towards the many caves nestled within the surrounding mountains.
You can easily find a bus from Hanoi for a day trip to Ninh Binh. Look for discounted bus tickets below:
Some attractions to visit in Ninh Binh include the Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, Tam Coc Grottoes, and the Mua Cave.
We hope that this list has helped you in planning for your trips to take in North Vietnam. No matter which destination you have chosen for your trips in Northern Vietnam, you can be sure that there are plenty of attractions to appreciate, given the diverse options available.
© Written by Long Tran for itourvn.com