The number of tourists visiting Vietnam has steadily increased over recent years. It exceeded 10m in 2016 and has continued to rise. Many visitors land in Hanoi, the country’s capital, and this lovely city has much to recommend it. There is plenty to see and do throughout Vietnam and certainly the Hanoi and the region northeast make up an excellent Vietnam travel package in itself. People planning a Vietnam holiday largely in the North will all want to see Hanoi, Halong Bay and the Red River Delta but there is so much more to consider and here are some ideas, wonderful places that you will never forget. A Hanoi travel agent can include them in Vietnam tour itineraries.
Cao Bang is one of the most sparsely populated provinces in Vietnam. Just half a million people live in this province on the border with China in the extremely north east. Many are from the ethnic tribes, the Tay, Nung, Dao and Hmong.
It is a stunning setting of small villages and a brief war was waged against the Chinese nearly 40 years ago in Cao Bang Town. The Chinese have had a presence for centuries in one way or another and the many large markets in the Region are partly because of the proximity of China.
At an altitude of around 300 metres, it is a great place for trekking where you will see some spectacular scenery including the Ban Gloc Waterfall, the Thang Hen Mountain Lake. Manmade attractions include Ky Sam Palace and Coi Bin Monastery.
Pac Bo is an historical site where Ho Chi Minh began his campaign which ultimately led to independence from the French; Co Bo Cave has real meaning for Vietnamese because this is where Ho Chi Minh held his early meetings. Years later, when Ho Chi Minh was the President of North Vietnam, he still shunned the opportunity to live in style. He had a traditional wooden house built in the grounds behind the Presidential Palace.
This Province is in the extreme north of Vietnam, bordering China to the North and Cao Bang to its east. A rural province, a Vietnam tour package including Ha Giang will include the chance to understand the daily lives in ethnic villages as well as reveal some stunning sights.
It is an area of limestone plateaus, impressive hills and tribes with traditional clothing that comes out on special occasions. A typical tour will include:
• Ma Pi Leng Pass that offers spectacular views. The highest mountain locally is over 2,000 metres and is located near the ‘’Happiness Road’’ linking Ha Giang, Dong Van and Meo Vac Town.
• Quan Ba Heaven Gate at 1,500 metres opens up the Dong Van Plateau. There is a winding road from where travellers can look down at the terraced fields in the valleys.
• Dong Van Plateau is right up on the Chinese border and is home to peoples whose lives have not changed for generations.
• Hoang Su Phi Rice Terraces may not be as famous as those in Sapa but nevertheless are an impressive sight.
There are some manmade features that you may like to see in Ha Giang. The Hmong King Palace is an example; it is in a village in Dong Van District and covers over a square kilometre. It was built early in the 20th Century and represents a good example of ethnic architecture. The Lung Cu Flag Tower on top of Dragon Mountain is a copy of one in Hanoi. If you want to get to the top, you must climb 389 stone steps then a spiral staircase of another 140.
Ba Be National Park
The Lake of the same name within this Park is the largest in Vietnam. It is limestone territory with other freshwater lakes, waterfalls and caves. It is forested, tropical and semi-tropical evergreen with a huge variety of flora and fauna, with birds, reptiles, insects and mammals including two endangered primates, the Black Gibbon and the Tonkinese Snub-Nosed Monkey.
The Lake is actually best described as three lakes joined together by channels at a total length of almost 8 km with a maximum width of 2 kms. The calm waters make it a great place to cruise. The depth of the main lake varies with the season.
Ethnic tribes also live within the National Park; Tay, Red Dao, Coin Dao and White H’mong. Once again, there is the chance to enjoy the company of these ethnic tribes.
A few kilometres from the Lake is the Dau Dang Waterfall and rapids more than a kilometre long. They are at their most impressive at the end of the monsoon season and contain some impressive species of fish.
Ba Be is just south and west of Cao Bang and those then heading back to Hanoi on their Vietnam tour may like to drop into the Museum of Nationalities in Thai Nguyen to learn more about the ethnic minorities of Vietnam some of whom you will have met earlier on your tour of Northeast Vietnam.
There are some large settlements in Northeast Vietnam but on the whole, it is largely rural, often mountainous, with the population living in small villages, many as they have for generations.
At times, you will need to be patient as you travel in this region because the roads are not always the best but the rewards are tremendous when you arrive at your destination. If you wish, you can ask a Vietnam travel agency to arrange a homestay to truly experience village life.
There is no doubt that overseas tourists returning from a holiday concentrating on Northeast Vietnam will have a mind full of memories and an album full of stunning photographs. The region as a whole has a real splash of colour and a natural environment that guarantees that Vietnam will remain high on the list of countries that trekkers, hikers and those wanting to immerse themselves in the life of ordinary villagers will want to visit.