10 Best North Vietnam Attractions 2023 [Must See]
North Vietnam is a region full of natural beauty, cultural diversity, and historical significance. From the stunning landscapes of Ha Long Bay to the bustling streets of Hanoi, there are countless places to visit in this area. If you're planning a trip to this region, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go and what to see. To help you out, we've compiled a list of the 10 best North Vietnam attractions that you must see in 2023. Whether you're interested in history, nature, or culture, there are places for you to explore. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the best places in Northern Vietnam!
- 1. Halong Bay - Amazing Natural Wonder
- 2. Tam Coc - Beautiful Attraction in Ninh Binh
- 3. Ha Giang - Stunningly Breathtaking Mountains
- 4. Bac Ha Market - The Biggest Ethnic Market
- 5. Cat Ba Island - Wonderland of Nature
- 6. Bai Tu Long Bay - Inspiring Ecosystem Attraction
- 7. Lac Village - Charming Land in Mai Chau
- 8. Hanoi Old Quarter - Historic Center of Vietnam
- 9. Mua Cave - Best Instagrammable Place
- 10. Fansipan Peak - The Top of Indochina
1. Halong Bay - Amazing Natural Wonder
Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a very popular travel destination in Quang Ninh province. Halong Bay, which means “Landing Dragon”, is the center of a very large zone that includes Bai Tu Long Bay to the north and Lan Ha Bay to the south.
The bay features thousands of limestone islets of many shapes and sizes, some of the most popular ones are “Fighting cocks”, “The frogs”, etc. Ha Long is a priceless gem of Vietnam and the whole world.
Halong Bay - The Most Amazing Attraction in North Vietnam
Most visitors to Halong will book a cruise ship tour for one or two days to experience at least one spectacular sunset on the bay. You can stay closest to the crystal clear water and the limestone islets, enjoy sunbathing on the sun deck as well as take part in many exciting activities on board such as kayaking, tai chi, squid fishing, cooking class, etc. A Halong Bay cruise would be perfect for any visitor who plans to visit here.
>> Explore our 10 best cruises in Halong Bay to plan for your trip.
2. Tam Coc - Beautiful Attraction in Ninh Binh
Before Hanoi, Ninh Binh used to be the capital of Vietnam during the Dinh, Le, and Ly dynasty (968 – 1010 B.C). For that reason, there are many historical buildings and ancient complex that you can explore. Ninh Binh is a fascinating and peaceful place with inspiring scenery.
Visitors have easy access to almost every destination here. With many limestone mountains, Ninh Binh is well known for the nickname “Ha Long Bay on land”, so if you have already visited Ha Long Bay, Ninh Binh can give you a whole new experience that you have never had before.
The best place you should not miss when visiting Ninh Binh is Tam Coc (Three Cave). May to June and Sep to Oct are Tam Coc's busiest rice harvesting months, and the glory of ripened rice paddies running down both sides of Ngo Dong River is a heavenly sight, sparkling in summer light.
Tam Coc, Ninh Binh - a Beautiful Attraction in North Vietnam
It is amazing to set off on a rowboat that takes you up between striking limestone cliffs and lush green paddies. You can also float through three tunnels passing through mountains that have been carved by the river itself over time.
>> Let's book Tam Coc Tours to visit this amazing destination.
3. Ha Giang - Stunningly Breathtaking Mountains
The province of Ha Giang lies in the northernmost region of Vietnam, some 400 km northwest of Hanoi. Like Sapa, Ha Giang's most popular destination is the magnificent mountains. This enigmatic province is a showcase with incredible landscapes, calcareous cliffs, winding rivers, etc.
Ha Giang is also home to many various ethnic minority groups, such as Hmong, Tay, Dao, and Nung, apart from its breathtaking scenery. That is why Ha Giang is a fascinating location where tourists have convenient access to the most rural and real aspects of Vietnam besides an exciting landscape.
Amazing Ha Giang Pass
4. Bac Ha Market - The Biggest Ethnic Market
In the highlands, where many distinct ethnic groups such as Flower Hmong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay, and Nung minorities meet to buy and sell local goods that are scarcely seen elsewhere, Bac Ha market is considered the largest one.
The market fair is also an occasion for local ethnic groups to gather in traditional clothes, for families to reunite after missing for a long time, for women to present beautiful homemade, traditional outfits, and for young people to gather.
Bac Ha market occupies a larger area than any other Vietnamese minority market and is split into various regions, focusing on selling different goods. It is fun to wander around watching exotic exhibits of local goods, see local ethnic groups in their traditional colorful clothes, or buy local products from regions.
Bac Ha Market - The Best Local Market in Sapa, North Vietnam
5. Cat Ba Island - Wonderland of Nature
Cat Ba Island is rich in a number of natural habitats that are aquatic and terrestrial. Limestone forests, mangrove grass, seagrass, caves, swamp forests, beaches, and lagoons compose the island's biodiversity. This is the reason why Vietnamese authorities have designated it a national park.
Island's southern portion is the most populous and is known as a commercial location. Additionally, there are many lodgings, restaurants, and bars on this land. With a huge number of nature-based events, Cat Ba Island has turned into Vietnam's tourism hub.
Good opportunities for trekking and climbing in Cat Ba National Park, renting a kayak or booking half-day or one-day kayaking and diving trips, watching the sunset directly overlooking the nearby islands, and Lan Ha Bay at Cannon Fort.
Cat Ba Island - The Best Island in Halong, North Vietnam
6. Bai Tu Long Bay - Inspiring Ecosystem Attraction
Bai Tu Long Bay is almost overlooked by tourists due to its geographical location, situated in the east of Halong Bay, very far from Cat Ba island, and adjacent to the territorial sea of China. It is also so unpolluted and pristine, a "must-see" spot for travelers who prefer wild nature.
According to a survey hosted by the eco-tourism company Gecko Travel, Bai Tu Long Bay was found in the top 5 global tourist destinations in Southeast Asia in 2006 (UK). With two ecosystems, the bay has diverse biodiversity: a tropical, moist, evergreen rainforest biome; and an aquatic and coastal ecosystem.
The best way to discover this area is by booking a Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise with various option itineraries from 1 day, 2 days, or 3 days
Bai Tu Long Bay - The Most Beautiful Bay in North Vietnam
7. Lac Village - Charming Land in Mai Chau
Lac Village appears to be a dreamy and romantic land not very far from Hanoi (about 100km). The village is a lush valley with paddy fields sprinkled with clusters of stilt houses of a quiet town upon arrival. It is also home to White Thai people, with 5 clans, namely Ha, Lo, Vi, Mac, and Loc.
Lac Village, one of Mai Chau's most popular tourist attractions, captivates visitors with the rustic charm of the mountains, the gentleness of girls in the uplands, and the comfort of locals here. The integrity and authenticity of ethnic mountains are basically not lost by floodgates of money, amid multiple years of tourism services.
Therefore, visitors genuinely appreciate memorable encounters by taking part in a Mai Chau tour to Lac Village, the fusion of gentle and honest ethnic people, and a diverse ethnic, and cultural context. Lac village merits a tourist highlight of Mai Chau tourism due to the appeal of travel environments and special features of traditional Thai culture.
Lac Village in Mai Chau
8. Hanoi Old Quarter - Historic Center of Vietnam
Hanoi is Vietnam’s second-largest country after Ho Chi Minh City. This city has been the capital of Vietnam for over one thousand years since the Ly dynasty and through most of the Vietnamese dynasty. With that amount of time, Hanoi still retains its unique charm and culture until now. If this is your first time in Vietnam, Hanoi is a must-visit destination that you will never want to miss.
You can find a lot of things here to see and learn. Hanoi Old Quarter is one of the most ancient capitals in the world, where tourists can see many well-preserved French buildings from the colonial period, ancient pagodas, and museums in the city center.
This is an awesome place to explore on foot. Hanoi is also well known for its delicious cuisine, nightlife, skills, and handicrafts, as well as the multi-culture community.
Hanoi's Old Quarter Offers a Lot For You to Explore
In Hanoi, you can definitely find the right kind of traveling for you. If you are a curious person who loves outdoor activities, you can just walk around with a map in your hand, a Hanoi walking tour is also available if you need a guide.
If you want to experience traffic in Vietnam like a local and try some Vietnamese cuisines, you can book a motorbike tour which will take you from place to place by motorcycle. And if you just want to chill, have a glance at the city, you can buy a double-decked bus ticket and enjoy the ride.
9. Mua Cave - Best Instagrammable Place
Ninh Binh is 5 km from Mua Cave and is a popular stop on Tam Coc tours. This cave (the name means 'Cave of Dance' or 'Dancing Cave') is not terribly spectacular down a sleepy path between rice paddies, but there are panoramic views from the peak above.
A stone staircase zigzags through karst beside the cave entrance (beware of goat droppings) and it's almost 500 steps to a simple altar at Quan Am (Goddess of Mercy).
Mua viewpoint in Ninh Binh - places you can take amazing photos to bring home
Note: The climb is paved in parts but steep, so carry water and make a return for an hour.
10. Fansipan Peak - The Top of Indochina
Located in Sapa, Lao Cai province. Here you can find the highest mountain peak of Indochina – Fansipan. Sapa is the home of many Vietnamese ethnic tribal groups. Vietnamese in the lowland – the Kinh did not colonize the highest valley, so people here, almost all of them, are ethnic or minority.
Now, Sapa has become a famous tourist destination because of its high altitude, fresh air, and cool weather. You can find spectacular mountains and deep valleys everywhere on the way from Lao Cai province to Sapa.
This small town has more than just scenery. There are five main ethnic groups here: Hmong, Dao, Giay, and Xa Pho, which will create a multi-culture community, along with the Kinh joining, you can find almost all kinds of cultures in Vietnam inside Sapa.
For many climbers, adventurers, and many travelers who are passionate about conquering nature, the summit of Fansipan has always been a meeting place. There's nothing better than doing our hardest to climb a mighty peak. But, the cable route today welcomed thousands of tourists to Sapa to make their fantasy of conquering the highest peak in Indochina possible in 15 minutes.
View from FanSiPan – Top of Indochina
Fansipan Cable Car Ticket Prices
- Adults: 750,000 VND / person (~32 USD)
- 1.1m-1.3m children in height: 550,000 VND / person (~24 USD)
- Children below the height of 1.1m: Free
Note to have a nice cable car ride to Fansipan
- Time: The most fitting time for traveling is from late September to March of next year. However, at the end of February, when flowers begin to bloom in the mountains, the path to Fansipan is the most breathtaking.
- Health: You have to ascend approximately 600 terraces even if you go to Fansipan by cable or road, so you should take note.
- Necessary equipment: You cannot brace for the absence of unique insurance if you intend to ascend a mountain. You need to wear warm clothing as well and bring a porter and map to avoid being lost.
There you have it, the 10 best places to visit in Northern Vietnam for your holiday. Each destination with different styles can suit all kinds of interests. It is up to you to choose whatever you want. And if you have anything come up in your mind please do not hesitate to look at our North Vietnam Package tours which provide all you need for a wonderful trip to Vietnam.
For a more fulfilling trip, you should follow our North Vietnam Itinerary: Guide for the Best Travel Plan.
(Images source: Internet)
Questions & Answers (3)
Hello, I plan to travel to North Vietnam for 6 days n want to visit Ninh Binh. Should I book a day tour or spend a night there? thanks
Hi! Usually a day tour is enough for you to explore some highlights in Ninh Binh. But if you want to visit more, spend 1 more day is also a good choice. We have many options for your request, please take a look at some suggestions below for more inspiration:
- Best of Northern Vietnam 6 days
- A Glimpse of North Vietnam 5 days
- Ninh Binh: Hoa Lu - Tam Coc Full day Small Group
- Ninh Binh: Hoa Lu – Trang An Full Day Private Tour
- Ninh Binh - Tam Coc & Mua Cave Private Tour
- Explore Rural Ninh Binh in 2 Days 1 Night - Small Group
Also, we can help you to customise your trip so don't hesitate to give us your request. Thank you!
Do you have any tours to Vietnam for 2 weeks including Cat Ba island?
Hi! Most of Halong Bay cruises are included Cat Ba island in the itinerary. We provide many tours with Halong Bay cruise, all you have to do is telling our travel consultant that you want to visit Cat Ba and they will arrange a Halong Bay cruise for that.
Some of our best-seller 2 weeks tours:
Is it recommended for an old couple to join the winding road in Ha Giang? We can get a little dizzy and suffer from motion sickness when going through sinuous roads
In this case, you should try Sapa or Mai Chau instead of Ha Giang if still keen on exploring North Vietnam mountainous area. Ha Giang is a bit too thrilling.