North Vietnam Itinerary: Guide for the Best Travel Plan 2023
As long as you have good preparation, a passion for travel, and a desire to explore the dear S-shaped strip of Vietnam, just pack your bags and go exploring the northern part. Here are two practical options for an energetic and memorable travel plan for the North Vietnam itinerary.
- North Vietnam Itinerary 10 Days: Explore Mountainous Local Life
- Day 1: Visit Duong Lam Ancient Village
- Day 2: Conquer Khau Pha Mountain
- Day 3: Head to Lai Chau Province
- Day 4: Let’s Have A Day Off in Sapa!
- Day 5: Explore Local Villages
- Day 6: Enjoy the Cold of Ha Giang Highland
- Day 7: Travel on the Arduous Road
- Day 8: Spend Time in Ethnic Villages
- Day 9: Ban Gioc Waterfall - Ba Be Lake
- Day 10: Discover Picturesque Lakeside Landmarks
- Northern Vietnam 14 Days: Comprehensive Itinerary
- Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi
- Day 2: Take A Hanoi City Tour
- Day 3: Experience Activities on Ba Be Lake
- Day 4: Visit Pac Ngoi Village & Admire the Silk Waterfall
- Day 5: Admire the Natural Beauty
- Day 6: Discover the Highlands
- Day 7: Relax on the Heading Way to Bac Ha
- Day 8: Go Shopping in Local Markets
- Day 9: Trekking in Sapa
- Day 10: Visit the Local Villages
- Day 11 & 12: Travel on Halong Bay Cruise
- Day 13: Go Wild with Beautiful Landscapes
- Day 14: Hanoi Departure
- The most preferable length of a North Vietnam tour should be 10 - 14 days
- Cover at least 10 - 12 attractions to visit with famous destinations
- November to April is the ideal time to visit Northern Vietnam
- Start your day trip early since the landmarks are usually 200 - 300 km apart
The time from October to April is ideal to have a north Vietnam itinerary
Your North Vietnam Itinerary should be a nice holiday, thus please choose a wise option.
North Vietnam Itinerary 10 Days: Explore Mountainous Local Life
Best for: Young Adults, Couples
Visit Duong Lam Ancient Village
Hanoi - Nghia Lo
Conquer Khau Pha mountain
Nghia Lo - Mu Cang Chai
Head to Lai Chau Province
Mu Cang Chai - Sapa
Have a day off in Sapa
Cat Cat - Sin Chai
Explore local villages
Bac Ha Market - Hoang Su Phi
Enjoy the cold of highland
Hoang Su Phi - Ha Giang
Travel on the arduous road
Ha Giang - Dong Van - Meo Vac
Spend time in ethnic villages
Meo Vac - Bao Lac - Cao Bang
Observe the natural scenery
Ban Gioc - Ba Be
Discover picturesque lakeside landmarks
Ba Be - Hanoi
Day 1: Visit Duong Lam Ancient Village
Your first stop is the Duong Lam ancient village. You can admire many beautiful aspects of this old site like the banyan trees, water wells, communal courtyards, pagodas, temples, old wooden houses, and walls built with red bricks or old mud plaster.
Each place in Duong Lam might be associated with ancient architecture, village culture, or historical characters and events. Each of these places has stories with its own charm and meaning that we should witness, listen and feel.
Duong Lam Ancient Village
After enjoying lunch at a local house, visitors will continue the interesting journey on the way to Nghia Lo. You can:
- Discover the extremely rich relics and cultural heritage of the ethnic minorities in the Muong Lo field.
- Spend a night in the traditional stilt house of the Thai family.
Day 2: Conquer Khau Pha Mountain
Once waking up in Nghia Lo, it’s time to join the road to Khau Pha Mountain. It is the pass dividing the boundary between Van Chan and Mu Cang Chai districts. Khau Pha Pass is famous for its winding pass with steep bends and steep cliffs.
Visitors in Mu Cang Chai
The most impressive point when conquering Khau Pha pass is immersing in the majestic natural scenery. Visitors can see the mountain ranges that look like curved horns growing among the white clouds. The winding passes between the pristine old forests and terraced fields of the H'Mong and Thai ethnic groups.
The Northwest region in North Vietnam Itinerary has long been known for its mountainous beauty and spectacular passes. Moreover, the vast rice fields winding around the hillsides, halfway up the mountain have become the specialty of this land. Therefore, if you have the opportunity to visit the Northwest, do not miss the opportunity to admire the beauty of the four great fields.
In the afternoon, you may learn more about the H'Mong people's traditions and way of life when:
- Traveling to Nam Co village.
- Driving to the Mam Soi and La Pan Tan terraced rice fields.
- Spending the night and having a comfortable dinner with White Thai families in Kim Noi village.
Day 3: Head to Lai Chau Province
Heading to Mu Cang Chai is also leading to Tan Uyen, a district of Lai Chau Province. It has many charms waiting for you to discover with extremely beautiful natural scenery, delicious dishes, and fun places.
After that, you can have lunch in Sapa. Some dishes you should try are grilled chicken with green pepper, grilled fish in 7 dishes, hot pot, apple cider, etc.
Sapa's above view
There are many fantastic options for you to discover in Sapa. Popular types of tourism are:
- Tea hills, scenic spots, streams, passes.
- Mineral bath resorts.
- Cultural history, terraced fields.
Day 4: Let’s Have A Day Off in Sapa!
You can start the day by visiting local markets and witnessing several ethnic groups in a variety of outfits in the market. The chance to snap pictures there is fantastic.
Bac Ha market, Sapa's most vibrant market opening only on Sunday, is one of the big markets in the northern mountainous provinces. The market is located right in the center of town. Visitors can enjoy specialties only in the highlands by buying local agricultural products and other precious medicinal herbs. Let’s experience some production and daily activities of ethnic minorities on our Sapa Ethnic Market tour!
Bac Ha market
After eating lunch at a nearby restaurant, here are some recommended activities:
- Visit Hoang A Tuong's 1920 palace, a fascinating fusion of baroque and oriental architecture. This ancient palace is for those curious about thrilling stories with a smooth and delicate combination of two Eurasian architectural styles.
- Have a tour of Cat Cat Village or Sin Chai village. Visitors can experience the unique culture of the people by staying at the people's houses or admiring the traditional culture of embroidered decorations on their costumes to create products.
Day 5: Explore Local Villages
The rice terraces of Hoang Su Phi, which encircle the hills, make the area picturesque. There are also lovely tea plantations that you may see. Our recommendations for you are:
- Visit Tan Su Phin pass and Cong Troi pass, the two most impressive passes in Vietnam's northern area. There are many beautiful sights and photo opportunities in this location.
- Spend the night in a Tay person's stilt house.
- Lead to Ban Phung Village. The thing that makes visitors' first impression is the frame of the village with alternating houses, blending with terraced fields. A night in Hoang Su Phi is fine and dandy to sleep and chill!
Day 6: Enjoy the Cold of Ha Giang Highland
When referring to Hoang Su Phi lodge, no one can deny the image of immense green terraced fields stretching across the mountainside. It’s a waste to flow on a windy afternoon without walking along streams and listening to the murmur of water.
Rice terrace field at Hoang Su Phi
If you visit this place in autumn, you will feel the typical cold of the highland area. In the morning, the mist mixed with the scent of ripe rice is full of love and poetry. Visitors can also experience farm work and try specialties made from new rice.
Day 7: Travel on the Arduous Road
This day can be a perfect time for advertisers to explore many worth-to-try roads.
The 100-km drive from Ha Giang to Dong Van is quite challenging due to steep cliffs. The dangerous mountain pass and the majestic natural scenery might bring up great emotions.
The Dong Van rocky plateau has thousands of limestone rocks of various shapes. And of course, it is impossible to ignore the highest rocky mountain ranges that look like pyramids running long after each other, with lovely cat ears cliffs contributing to the majestic beauty.
The bustle of local markets is an attraction besides other ethnic tourist attractions. You will see groups of ethnic girls wearing colorful dresses and hats going together in groups to sell souvenirs.
If you are a backpacker, let’s challenge Ma Pi Leng, a craggy pass about 20 km long with dangerous winding roads and steep cliffs. The vibe of this road is wild but also very majestic in high cat-eared rock cliffs with a fierce ash-gray color.
Ma Pi Leng pass
Don't miss out on this highlight attraction of the 10-day North Vietnam itinerary! Please refer to the best Ha Giang tours at BestPrice Travel.
Day 8: Spend Time in Ethnic Villages
You can discover the unique cultural features that only the ethnic village has.
About 1 km far from the Lung Cu flagpole, Meo Vac is home to the Mong and Tay ethnic minorities. People live mainly by means of self-sufficiency and self-sufficiency with farming and animal husbandry.
Heading to Bao Lac in the North Vietnam Itinerary, this place preserves many historical relics, and scenic spots and is a land imbued with national cultural identity. Exploring this land makes visitors continue to experience the poetic colors of the locality. Traditional stilt houses, ethnic cuisine, and folk dances have become destinations to experience the national culture.
According to the experience of traveling to Meo Vac - Ha Giang, there are often a number of community cultural exchanges, such as the corn celebration that takes place in September.
Dinner is the time for you to enjoy the unique culinary culture of the ethnic groups.
Day 9: Ban Gioc Waterfall - Ba Be Lake
After breakfast, the next destination is Cao Bang. There are some famous places that you should visit:
- Ban Gioc waterfall: The water flow looms like white silk in the middle of a beautifully natural picture like a fairyland. It is the inspiration for many artists to create masterpieces of art or beautiful pictures.
Ban Gioc Waterfall
- Nguom Ngao Cave: The site is no longer a strange name to the displaced people as it is a large cave shaped from centuries of weathered limestone. Inside the cave, the arch is closed and then opened with each layer of stalactites on all sides with extremely interesting shapes. Visitors can be creative when looking at each stalactite and then imagining.
Day 10: Discover Picturesque Lakeside Landmarks
There is harmony between mountains and rivers, so visitors can explore Ba Be Lake on the last day.
Ba Be Lake
It is a famous eco-tourism area of Northeast Vietnam with many interesting landscapes and biological diversity. When coming to Ba Be Lake, visitors will be immersed in the beautiful natural scenery, enjoy traditional dishes and discover their unique cultural identity. The tourist activities you can choose are:
- Cruising around the lake and visiting scenic lakeside attractions.
- Trekking in primeval forests and cycling on winding roads.
- Gliding with green trees on both sides.
After a long day of exciting experiences, you can relax on the homestay service on stilts. The house on stilts has ancient features and is roofed with yin and yang tiles, which makes a unique architectural design. Due to the advantage of geographical location, it is a great choice for travelers who want to stay overnight. Guests can enjoy the traditional cuisine of the high mountains with the most delicious taste.
You can take a rest before taking the transfer back to Hanoi.
If you are fascinated by this 10-day itinerary in north Vietnam, let's check the rate and availability of the Hill Tribes of Northern Vietnam - Private Tour.
Northern Vietnam 14 Days: Comprehensive Itinerary
Best for: Group travel, Young Adults, Adventurers
Arrive in Hanoi
Take a Hanoi city tour
Experience activities on the Ba Be lake
Hanoi - Ba Be
Visit Pac Ngoi village and admire the Silk waterfall
Admire the natural beauty
Ha Giang - Meo Vac
Discover the highland
Dong Van - Yen Ninh - Quan Ba
Relax on the heading way to Bac Ha
Ha Giang - Bac Ha
Go shopping in the local markets
Bac Ha - Coc Ly
Trekking in Sapa
Visit the local villages
Cat Cat - Sin Chai
Day 11 & 12
Travel with Halong Bay Cruise
Go wild with beautiful landscapes
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi
Welcome to Hanoi! The first day of your northern Vietnam itinerary will begin in the charming capital where the urbanization of downtown skyscrapers meets the ancientness of nonchalant old quarters.
The transit services meet all needs of customers about picking up and dropping off passengers from the airport as it ensures safe, fast, private, and affordable travel. Just book in advance so you don't have to wait in line at the airport! The final price includes tolls and parking, thus you don't need to worry about paying extra fees.
You will have a free day in Hanoi to rest after a long flight, so here are some suggestions:
- Thang Long Puppet Theater is a traditional cultural spot for you. This place has become a destination chosen by many foreign tourists when coming to Vietnam. Just make plans to see the water puppet show at Thang Long Puppet Theater.
- If you are interested in cooking methods, Hanoi Cooking Class Half Day is the most appropriate.
- You can treat yourself to a Hanoi Street Food Walking Tour.
Hanoi Street Food
Day 2: Take A Hanoi City Tour
Before coming to the North, you can let yourself explore the capital:
- Taste the local specialties in the sidewalk shops. Hanoi's delicious dishes will be one of the things that you cannot miss when going on a Hanoi City tour.
- Sit on a cyclo or a double-decker bus.
- Take a tour of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda, etc.
- Visit the typically distinctive places in Hanoi: the train street, the old quarters, West Lake, etc.
Hanoi Train Street
Day 3: Experience Activities on Ba Be Lake
Ba Be Lake is geographically about 220 km from Hanoi and travel time may take 3 hours depending on the type of transportation. It is a natural freshwater lake with a water surface area of up to 500 ha, with a rich ecosystem and diverse flora in natural conditions and a pleasant climate.
Cruising around Ba Be lake
Besides admiring the majestic green water, you can experience interesting activities like:
- Canoe on the lake bed.
- Visit tourist attractions located in the lake area.
- Have dinner at the homestay then participate in a campfire exchange program and enjoy cultural performances by ethnic girls.
Day 4: Visit Pac Ngoi Village & Admire the Silk Waterfall
Once coming to Ba Be Lake, you should discover Pac Ngoi Village. It is a village of the Tay ethnic group with charming scenery, closely spaced stilts roofs, green cornfields, and hill ranges overlapping one after another. Almost all the houses on stilts are built leaning against the mountain, facing the lake, giving a feeling of lightness, poetry, and solidity. In addition to admiring the scenery, you are also mesmerized by the frozen air, making yourself much more relaxed.
Besides, any tourists visiting can also learn deeply about the customs and habits of the Tay people by immersing themselves in the glide melodies. Homestay is the chance to live together with the locals, thus you can see the indigenous people weaving brocade, cooking corn wine, and hewing canoes.
Silk Waterfall is another area you shouldn’t miss. In the scene that water gushes out from the heart of the mountain, pouring down the cliffs, making the space covered in dust.
Day 5: Admire the Natural Beauty
The road to Ha Giang opens two sides of high cliffs and passes. Up to the high point, you can see the poetic small towns. The overlapping mountains, terraced fields with funny shapes, and buckwheat flowers make visitors wonder at the magnificent beauty.
Buckwheat flower in Ha Giang
In the late afternoon, you can visit Meo Vac town. More than half of the population of the district are ethnic minorities. Therefore, this place has many customs and traditional festivals that take place every year. In particular, the cuisine is also very rich and attractive.
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Day 6: Discover the Highlands
Ha Giang is a paradise for those who love nature and want to explore new lands. The top destinations that you should visit are:
- Dong Van market. It only occurs once a week on Sunday morning. On the day of the fair, people of the ethnic groups bring local products to exchange.
- The royal palace of Vuong. There is one thing to reveal the mansion is an architectural combination of 3 cultures including China, France, and H'Mong.
- Pho Bang town. It is located deep inside the valley of Dong Van rock plateau. In the midst of immense mountains, a valley of fragrant roses is hidden behind the land of Pho Bang with scattered rooftops. The houses are more than a hundred years old.
Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark
- The beautiful road of the Yen Minh pine forest extends from the beginning of Na Khe commune to Yen Minh town. On the side of the road, a vast pine forest and many wildflowers grow up, making the image of the steppe more beautiful.
- Heaven's Gate in Quan Ba, which is the gateway to the Dong Van Plateau. Visitors will experience the feeling of standing on a mountaintop more than 1,500 m above sea level when looking down at the charming landscape of Ha Giang.
Day 7: Relax on the Heading Way to Bac Ha
On the way departing to Bac Ha, you can:
- Admire the scenery of Ma Pi Leng pass, one of the four great peaks in the northern mountains of Vietnam.
- Relax when coming to the flower valley of Thai Giang Pho. The fresh air of the Hmong village with green corn and rice fields might comfort any visitors. The quiet space of the village will help visitors have more time to relax and rest more comfortably. The carpet of various flowers stretching out makes anyone coming here feel extremely excited.
- Have dinner on your own. The restaurants specialize in serving tourists traveling in groups, so the menu is quite rich, but if you only go alone, you can still come here to enjoy the delicious specialties of the Northwest. You can also enjoy special dishes with typical local flavors.
Day 8: Go Shopping in Local Markets
Bac Ha market is considered the largest-scale market in the highlands to exchange goods outside. It also is a meeting point for mountainous ethnic minorities. This market is held every Sunday and ends at 14:00 on the same day. According to the sharing of local people, the market is divided into small areas such as food stalls, brocade markets, and forging goods for tourists to easily follow. On holidays, the market is more bustling and crowded.
Another option is the Coc Ly market, which is set between two magnificent mountains. Every Tuesday, residents from the nearby ethnic villages of Flower H'mong, Phu La, and Dao Tuyen come together to trade goods.
After exploring the market, you will take a boat to the Flower H'mong village of Na Nen and then hike to the Tay minority village of Trung Do. You have a chance to enjoy a picnic lunch with the Tay people in a nearby home, and then take a boat down the river to admire the breathtaking view of the lush riverbanks.
Coc Ly market
Day 9: Trekking in Sapa
When arriving in Sapa, you can start planning your trekking tour. Here are some suggestions:
- Y Linh Ho village is covered by the Hoang Lien Son range, thus the wild beauty completely remains. The atmosphere in the village is extremely quiet, not bustling like other tourist destinations. At this point, you can freely drop the lake into nature to enjoy the rare quiet night air to get rid of all the noise in crowded places.
- On the way to Ta Van village, you will pass through Lao Chai - a place with extremely beautiful mountains and forests, including ancient rocks. When coming to Ta Van, you have to stay here for a few days and slowly immerse yourself in the lives of the people. There are also many simple and rustic homestays mixed with the cottages. The village has tarpaulin rice fields with rustic thatched houses and tiny roads that are still covered by ashes.
Trekking is a favorite activity in Sapa
Day 10: Visit the Local Villages
The Cat Cat and Sin Chai villages will not let you down. The scenery is immense and majestic as one side is the same high mountains and the other is the romantic valley blending with the terraced fields. In addition, you can also see the whole Cat Cat village from above with the houses close together, mixed with plants and flowers from the highest Sapa cafe in town.
Cat Cat village
By the way, Cat Cat hydropower stations and customs of the people are available anytime to travel. In addition, you can also choose for yourself brocade items, linen, or other traditional crafts. At noon, you will return to the hotel for lunch; rest, and prepare for the sightseeing schedule; shopping in Sapa town in the evening.
You will be transferred to Hanoi by a limousine.
Day 11 & 12: Travel on Halong Bay Cruise
Leave all the fatigue of life behind and start cruising Halong Bay aboard the 3-star Cruise! Make sure you have a private and perfect experience aboard a private yacht for just 3 people. You will enjoy many amenities on board such as luxurious bedrooms, a deck with relaxing armchairs, modern bathrooms, and many other services.
In addition, the tour will take you through famous spots on Halong Bay such as Me Cung Cave, Ti Top Island, and Tuan Chau Island. And don't miss other interesting activities such as watching the sunset, kayaking, and squid fishing! Are you ready for a trip to discover Ha Long Bay?
Halong Bay Cruise
Nowadays, the overnight tour on Ha Long Bay is one of the most popular tours for Vietnamese tourists. Halong cruise tours will give visitors an exciting feeling when the night falls in the dim space, participate in activities such as kayaking, swimming in the bay, and admiring the beautiful Halong scenery while traveling. Sunset or sunrise, karaoke, and squid fishing when night falls are the must-do offer that Halong cruise packages often have a journey deep into the core of the bay.
Day 13: Go Wild with Beautiful Landscapes
Trang An - Ninh Binh scenic complex is a system of limestone mountains with a geological age of about 250 million years. Over a long period of time-weathered by the changes of the earth, climate, and sea advance, and sea retreat has brought in hundreds of valleys, caves, lakes, and lagoons.
Bamboo Boat ride in Ninh Binh
This scenic spot is a place to preserve and contain many ecosystems of wetlands, forests on archaeological sites, and historical and cultural relics. In 2021, the site has a new service, which is kayaking. Thus, besides the traditional type of tourism with ferry drivers transporting tourists to places of interest, now tourists can be more active in discovering the beautiful scenery at the Heritage site with this type of sightseeing tour.
Day 14: Hanoi Departure
It’s time to bid farewell to Hanoi. You should spend all morning having breakfast and packing up your suitcase. It is convenient for visitors to use web check-in, mobile check-in, and kiosk check-in to save time at the airport. Information to help passengers when performing these forms of check-in is posted on the websites of airlines. Passengers should consult the carry-on baggage regulations on the airlines' websites or contact the airline for this information prior to departure.
Above is the necessary information that you cannot ignore in your North Vietnam Itinerary. BestPrice Travel hopes it will help you have very interesting northern Vietnam tour packages to discover the beautiful land.
(Image source: Internet)