Top Destinations in The North of Vietnam

With magnificent mountain varies, centuries-old rice terraces, and intriguing ethnicities, Vietnam's north makes a statement.


Vietnam's capital city, founded over 1000 years ago, is steeped in history, with streets dating back to the 14th century in its rambling Old Quarter. Walking down these tree-lined streets past crumbling colonial exteriors transports you backwards in time. Today's Hanoi, on the other hand, is about much more than the old days. Cool art galleries, modern cafes, and world-class restaurants are revitalizing the ancient city. When the sun sets, you have your pick of drinking establishments, ranging from refined rooftop bars to humming bia hoi.

Hanoi is most appealing from April to June, but the capital is especially lovely in May when the trees burst into blossoms. September and October are also great months to visit because the weather cools and the sky clears.

Noi Bai international airport, 45 kilometers from the city center, serves Vietnam's capital. The Reunification Express line connects many major cities, including Lào Cai (Sapa) and Dong Hoi (Phong Nha.) Taxis, buses, and motorbikes are among the many ways to get around Hanoi. Grab and a few other ride-hailing apps provide on-demand transportation services. Hanoi's bus network is extensive throughout the city and offers low-cost fares. Lastly, you can hire a traditional cyclo to take you on a sightseeing tour of the Old Quarter.

Mai Chau

The proximity of Mai Chau to the capital makes it a great getaway for nature enthusiasts. Small ethnic minority villages dot a patchwork of rice fields, which are framed by lush green mountains. Spend a night or two engrossed in rural Vietnam, eating great home-cooked dishes and understanding the ethnicities' customs.

The best months to visit Mai Chau Valley are March to May and September to November. Harvesting takes place in October, and the rice takes on a gorgeous golden tone. If you travel between June and August, be aware that monsoons might cause local roads to flood.

Mai Chau is about 140 kilometers from Hanoi. Local buses go directly from the capital to Mai Chau town, which is only a short walk from Lac and Pom Cong villages. If coming from the provinces of Son La or Dien Bien, request that the vehicle pull over to the Mai Chau entrance. For the journey, you can hire a motorbike or a private automobile in Hanoi. Small paths criss-cross settlements and farmland, making bicycles the best alternative for traveling about the valley level. Electric carts can be hired to transport you from one town to the next.


Sapa town is located at the head of a deep valley filled with spectacular rice terraces that have been farmed for centuries. It doesn't get much more amazing than this when it comes to sceneries. The eye is drawn down to the valley level by tempting ribbons of road, white-water rivers rushing through rice fields, and greenery mountains stretching as far as the eye can see. Mount Fansipan, the region's tallest peak, caps the rugged ridge line well above town.

Sapa is best visited in September and October, when the rice terraces are at their most beautiful, or April and May, when the weather is pleasant and the skies are clear. June to August is a great time to visit if you don't mind the heat. From November to March, expect frigid weather.

Overnight trains from Lào Cai, the provincial capital, are the most popular method to go to Sapa. Transfer vans complete the journey up the slopes once you arrive. Regular buses and shuttle vans also travel from Hanoi, with a commute time of five to six hours and a stop in the city center. Sapa, as a former highland station, has a lot of winding roads and paths. Many visitors walk or take a taxi to get around. Mountain bike rentals are available for anyone looking to explore the valley's routes.

>> Why Fansipan is a must-do in Sapa?

Ha Giang

Ha Giang is a border province and an official Frontier Area in the country's isolated far north. Visiting this area is like taking a trip back in time, with some of Vietnam's most rugged and majestic scenery. The ideal way to see Ha Giang is on two wheels, taking in the beauty of the countryside and the spirit of the isolated towns and minority villages.

With lower temperatures, September through November is a fantastic time to visit this distant province. During the Buckwheat Flower Festival in November, Hà Giang is extremely popular. The months of April to June are pleasant and warm, whereas July and August can be extremely hot due to the regular monsoons.

Ha Giang city, a small city about 300 kilometers from Hanoi, serves as the province's entryway. From the capital, buses run all hours of the day and night, with options ranging from sleepers to smaller VIP minivans. The travel there takes about six hours, depending on the vehicle and driver. The availability of public transportation in Ha Giang Province is minimal. In town, experienced drivers can rent a motorcycle. Another alternative is to book a tour on a motorcycle or in a private vehicle.

>> Roadside adventures in Ha Giang


For many people, Halong Bay's seascape is identified with Vietnam. Cruises glide across emerald green waters past tens of thousands of craggy islands and islets, pausing at beautiful caverns where passengers can roam and admire centuries-old structures. The magical beauty of Ha Long Bay has made it a must-see inside the country, yet you can still discover hidden spots to call your own.

From September through November, the weather in Halong Bay can be cold and clear. From December to March, the bay is shrouded in mist, giving it an eerie appearance. Sunshine and a cool wind can be found in April and May, but the monsoon season, which runs from June to August, can make visits uncertain.

The majority of tourists visiting Halong Bay take a package cruise that includes transportation to and from Hanoi. Take a bus to Ha Long City or Hai Phong and then a taxi to the harbor if you're on your own. A seaplane can also be chartered for a 45-minute direct flight from Noi Bai International Airport. The best way to see Halong Bay is by boat. A 15-minute seaplane excursion over the bay is available for those who want a bird's-eye perspective. To go about Ha Long City, you can rent a taxi.

>> Halong Princess day cruise

Ninh Binh

Very few tourists visit Ninh Binh, a captivating place dubbed locally as "Ha Long Bay on Land" because of its spectacular riverine beauty, which includes sheer limestone mountains rising up from the rice farms. Taking a paddleboat excursion along its glistening rivers and ascending to the summit of its renowned peaks are the best ways to get a sense of this UNESCO-protected region.

From March to May and September to November, the weather in Ninh Binh is wonderful. Visit during harvest season in October for the best sights. Be prepared for unpredictable downpours and stormy times if you visit during the hotter months of July and August.

Every day, buses from Hanoi travel for Ninh Binh. You can book a luxury van that includes transportation to Tam Coc, where you will find a variety of attractive lodging options. The journey is made even faster by hiring a private car. Those with more time can take one of the daily trains from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. Motorcycle tours or taxis are the greatest ways to move around Ninh Binh. Cycling is an excellent choice for visitors to Tam Coc.

>> Ninh Binh Travel Guide – Everything you need to know

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