Why not spare two days of your trip to go see Sapa up in the Northern parts of Vietnam? it´s spectacular, and I promise you that you will not regret it. With cascading rise terraces everywhere you see, mountains to trek and valleys to visit, you may not ever want to leave.
This part of the country is home to some of the ethnic minorities in Vietnam, and the distinct and unique culture is not to be missed. You will find a vide selections of local villages that you can visit during your stay 🙂
However, you are not only here to hang out in town. Sapa is the place where hikers launch themselves into an awe-inspiring country side and tiny hill-tribe villages that seem a world apart. Once you have stepped out into the lush terrace fields, you will understand the real charm of this stunning area.
2. Halong Bay
A trip to Halong Bay is on any travelers bucket list whilst visiting Hanoi and the northern parts of Vietnam. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most world-renowned natural wonders in Southeast Asia, and is not to be missed.
Cascading mountains arrayed across the water for miles with hidden caves just waiting to be explored is a sight for sore eyes. There are almost 2000 islands in the area, and while it would be impossible to explore every single one, a day cruise would give you a good start.
3. Ninh Bihn
Located just 100 kilometers from Hanoi, you will undoubtedly find the most hidden gem in Northern Vietnam, Ninh Binh. With its maze of rivers and waterways, you will explore an area truly off the beaten path.
It boasts of majestic landscapes such as hundreds of limestone cliffs emerging from the ground, scattered across the rice fields. The scenery and views are breathtakingly beautiful, and the atmosphere is serene and laid-back making it the perfect day trip.
This is perhaps an overlooked Vietnamese city, but everyone should give it a chance and look past the urban, industrial feel to explore the French, unique styled colonial architecture that’s hidden in the old center of town.
If you are into wide boulevards, sprawling local markets, twisting laneways and hectic wet markets, you will love wandering around Haiphong. Everywhere you go you will be surrounded by picture-perfect building facades and street scenes.
5. Cat Ba Island
Hidden away between rocky cliffs, you will find Cat Ba Island. Surrounded by a few, but beautiful sandy beaches, tiny fishing villages, caves and waterfalls this is the perfect place as a stopover for a Halong Bay tour. The island is situated amongst thousands of limestone karst, and the location of Cat Ba is truly beautiful.
It´s known as one of the cheaper locations from where you can go on and explore Halong Bay, but the island has so much more to offer than just this. There are so many beautiful spots, far away from the crowds, where you can relax, soak up the sun and enjoy the adventurous activities on offer. And after visiting Hanoi and Sapa, it can be quite refreshing to get away to a small town like this.
Grab yourself a scooter and start exploring this are for a few days. You will not regret it 🙂
6. Ba Vi
Located approximately 60 kilometers west from Hanoi, you will find Ba Vi National Park. If you are looking for a quiet getaway for a day or so, this is a superb choice. Here you can explore hidden caves in the mountains, relish at the views from an altitude of 800m or just get lost staring at the beautiful backdrop of clouds, jungle and tropical rainforest.
7. Tam Dao Hill Station
Formerly a French hill station, Tam Dao is nestling in spectacular vistas northwest of Hanoi. Surrounded by forest-clad peaks, this is the perfect weekend escape if you are looking for a useful base for hiking. The town was founded in 1907 by the French, but most of the villas were destroyed during the Franco-Viet Minh War. Today the town is formed with concrete architecture, and whilst it is not a must-visit destination, you would still have a great time up in the clouds on Tam Dao Hill Station.
8. Mai Chau Valley
Three hours out from the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, you will find the “hidden sister” of Sapa, namely Mai Chau. The landscape here can be described by wide-open rice fields, towering cliffs, karst mountains and quaint wood- and bamboo villages. This rural valley is an absolute gem, and its unique culture and atmosphere attracts visitors from all over.
If you are looking for adventure, this might not be the place for you. But if you are looking for hiking, biking and relaxation, you will love this idyllic valley placed in such beautiful surroundings.