Vietnam is a vast country, stretching 1,650 kilometers from North to South. The country is filled with stunning natural landscapes and amazing experiences are waiting for you to discover. If you’re lucky enough to have plenty of time to spend in the country, exploring it from north to south or vice versa is a good idea. However, if you only have a week to spend in Vietnam, you may want to consider exploring the Northern part of the country. Here’s a guide on how you can best spend a week in Northern Vietnam.
Start in Sapa
Begin your journey in the beautiful mountainous city of Sapa, known for its gorgeous rice terraced fields. The city is located in the northernmost portion of the country and is right by the border of Vietnam with China. It’s home to various ethnic hill tribes and a great spot for trekking. You can spend a day exploring the city’s terraced rice fields and make a stop along the hillside villages to learn more about the H’mong tribes. These ethnic tribes have called the area their home for hundreds of years.
Climb Mount Fansipan
If you’re up for more adventure, take this opportunity to climb Mount Fansipan, the tallest mountain in the Indochina region. The base of the mountain is in Sapa, which is why you’ll find lots of mountaineers from around the world visiting the city. It’s not really that much of a challenge to climb and anyone who is healthy enough should be able to do so. Of course, you need to wear proper hiking gears and carry the right equipment. But if you believe that you’re not fit enough to climb the mountain, consider taking a cable car that will take you all the way to the summit.
On your third day, it’s time to head to the capital city of Hanoi. Here, you can spend a day exploring ornate temples, pagodas, museums, and buzzing markets. Make sure you sample the most delicious street foods and the famous egg coffee. When nighttime comes, make your way towards the pubs and bars along the Old Quarter and grab a bottle of beer. Wake up early on the following day to explore the scenic Hoan Kiem Lake and witness the flag raising ceremony at Ba Dinh Square, right across the Mausoleum of President Ho Chi Minh.
Travel to Tam Coc – Ninh Binh
Venture further south on your fourth day in the country to visit Tam Cốc-Bích Động, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the province of Ninh Binh. The place is around 2 – 3 hours drive away from Hanoi. Here, you’ll find endless rice fields, unique limestone formations, and picturesque rivers. Tam Coc is part of the Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex, which is known for its giant limestone karts that are towering beautifully above the rice fields and river. Indeed, the place is definitely a sight to behold!
Explore Tam Coc
Start your day taking a boat trip at the picturesque river. There are local boatmen and woman who can take you around the river for a lovely journey. This includes visiting temples and caves as you pass through the gorgeous limestone formations. In the afternoon, rent a bike and cycle around the area. Check out the rice fields, local villages, and all the stunning scenery that this place is known for. Don’t forget to check out Thung Nham, also known as the Bird Valley. This beautiful park is not only home to different bird species but it’s also home to stunning caves, lakes, mangrove plantation, and a hundred-year-old tree.
Cruise Along Halong Bay
On your sixth day in Vietnam, it’s time to visit one of the most popular attractions in the country, the Halong Bay. This place is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is definitely a must visit on your trip to the country. Known for its huge limestone karst surrounded by emerald waters, cruising along the Halong Bay is the best way to explore this popular site.
Although there are day tours on offer, if you want to fully soak up the unique beauty of Halong Bay, it is highly recommended that you spend at least a night on a cruise. You’ll be on board a boat complete with amenities, such as kayaking equipment, snorkeling gears, and a sun deck where you can admire the stunning sunset in all its glory. Of course, sumptuous meals and snacks are also served on board.
After your cruise, you can head back to the capital city of Hanoi where you can take your flight back home. Hanoi is only a 3-hour drive away from Halong Bay. If you have more time, try to spend one more day in the capital where you can shop for some souvenirs at the night market in the Old Quarter.