So, you’ve been and gone from Sapa. Which places to visit in north Vietnam next? Whether you want to escape back to nature, road trip through the mountains, or get to know some culture in the capital city, Northern Vietnam offers something for every kind of traveler.
You’ve hardly made your way all the way over here and not at least considered a trip to the iconic Halong Bay- and it would indeed be a mighty shame if you didn’t include it in your itinerary. Halong Bay is of course famed for its scenery- the towering karst formations jutting out of the smooth emerald waters… The scenery is so impressive in real-life, it almost doesn’t look like it’s real life! Thanks to the growing tourism trends in the area, accessing Halong Bay and moreover, activities and cruising options in the bay have never been more plentiful. There are tonnes of new options popping up all the time, from backpacker and budget friendly trips to new luxury Halong cruise, so there will surely be something to suit every budget and taste. Nowadays, there’s a lot more to a Halong Bay cruise than just sitting on your ship and looking at the scenery (although don’t get me wrong, that in itself is pretty great), but there’s now a whole variety of activities and specialized trips you can get involved in- from visiting the traditional floating villages to taking cooking classes, you’d be surprised what you’ll be able to get stuck into.
If you are the type of traveler who prefers to check out the slightly less-touristy places, try finding a cruise that brings you through Bai Tu Long Bay or Lan Ha Bay. These are Halong’s neighboring areas, and despite the fact that they lack nothing in terms of scenery they are far less populous than Halong Bay itself. Go here if you’re after a quieter, more serene experience. Halong Bay is definitely one of the best places to visit in North Vietnam.
If you want to book a package tour including Hanoi, Sapa and Halong, click here to find out more!
Ninh Binh is only about 100 km south of Hanoi, so it’s a great stop to make if you’ve been in the city and you want to change up the scenery a bit. So let’s start with the scenery, because really that’s what Ninh Binh is all about. It’s sometimes described as the inland version of Halong Bay, as it boasts the same towering limestone mountains, which are just as impressive as those in Halong. Ninh Binh is the sort of place where the best thing to do is to rent yourself a motorbike and explore your surroundings- the mountains, the valleys, the delta, the farmlands… There’s a lot to be discovered here. Ninh Binh is also the home of Vietnam’s largest pagoda, and the Trang An grottoes (now recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site).
If you want to book a package tour including Hanoi, Sapa and Ninh Binh, click here to find out more!
If you’re in the north, chances are you will be stopping by or maybe flying into or out of Hanoi- but Vietnam’s capital city offers much more to the modern traveler than just a travel portal. Hanoi is visually and culturally very reminiscent of days gone by, with shadows of Chinese and French style remaining everywhere you look. Simply walking around the city and enjoying the architecture, the atmosphere and the food is enough to make a trip to Hanoi worth it. The Old Quarter still has all of the original building faces, and taking a stroll down these narrow side streets is like taking a trip down Vietnam’s memory lane. Hanoi is also the birthplace of many of Vietnam’s most delicious dishes, and a visit to the city would not be complete without trying as many of them as you can. Expert tip: everything tastes better when you are eating on the street and sitting in a little red plastic chair.
Mu Cang Chai
If you are looking for a really off-the-beaten-track sort of journey, taking a trip to Mu Cang Chai will tick all your boxes as it is definitely among one of the best places to visit in North Vietnam. Located in the mountainous Yen Bai District, Mu Cang Chai picks up where Sapa leaves off, in some ways. While Sapa has become quite well known among backpacker circles and modern tourism culture, Mu Cang Chai remains largely unheard of by foreign travelers. The scenery is comparable to Sapa- the cascading rice terraces, misty mountains, and colourful ethnic tribes. It’s a great place to travel to if you want to gain some authentic insight into what local life is like here in these rural northern regions. There are a few options in terms of transport from Hanoi to Mu Cang Chai, but by far the most exciting option is to take a motorbike and navigate the winding mountain roads yourself. Just be careful, drive slow, and have fun!
If you want to book a package tour including Hanoi, Sapa and Mu Cang Chai, click here to find out more!