A weeklong tour of northern Vietnam gives enough time to see the highlights of the country, such as visiting the capital city, Hanoi to appreciate its diverse architecture, a cruise in a traditional junk-style boat on the majestic Halong Bay, a visit to local ethnic communities, or a trek through the rice paddies.
For travellers on the Vietnam luxury tours that are short on time, a tour of northern Vietnam can be more enjoyable than attempting to visit destinations that are far away from each other. A short, yet comprehensive tour that focuses on a specific geographic region is the best way to experience the many delights in the north of the country.
Let's take a look at what you can expect to see on a one week tour of northern Vietnam:
Tour 1 - Sightseeing and adventure
Places to visit on this tour itinerary include:
Many tours of northern Vietnam will start in the capital city, Hanoi, which makes a fascinating base to visit the local attractions. A few of the great places to visit include the Old Quarter, the Temple of Literature, the One Pillar Pagoda, the Presidential Palace, and Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum.
The next stage of the Vietnam customised tour can include the mountainous region of Sapa which is easily reached via an overnight train. It is a perfect destination for the short day or multi-day hiking adventure that will take in the rice paddies and Hoang Lien mountain range. There are many different terrains to enjoy on an organised trek, which can include passing through a bamboo forest. Additionally, this gives a perfect opportunity to get an authentic feel of the country with the option to meet the ethnic tribes and even stay in a homestay for the night with a local family. Other attractions in the local area include villages like Supan and Giang Ta Chai, the Muong Hoa River, and Giang Ta Chai waterfall.
The natural beauty of Halong Bay makes it one of the of most popular tourist attractions in Vietnam. The best way to appreciate the bay is on an overnight cruise that fully takes in the thousands of rock formations, islets and caves. There are many excursion opportunities that include kayaking and exploring the caves up close and swimming, as well as visiting a local pearl farm.
Cat Ba Island
The Cat Ba Island is a more remote location for a relaxing boat cruise that takes you away from a lot of the more congested areas. Once on the island there is plenty to see and do. Nearly 50% of the island is reserved for the Cat Ba National Park, which has plenty of trekking trails that can lead to high advantage points to appreciate the picture perfect views of the bay and the island.
On the last day it is time to return to Hanoi to enjoy the remaining time and also visit the Old Quarter to explore the maze of streets to pick up souvenirs for friends and family.
Tour 2 – Trekking Adventure
Places to visit on this tour include:
Hanoi is a great place to start this tour of northern Vietnam. The capital city is a bustling with life and the Old Quarter is a fascinating place to book a hotel or hostel.
Beyond the ancient part of Hanoi, there are several other great places to explore such as the Temple of Literature which was built in 1070 and regarded as the country's first university. Also, there is the One Pillar Pagoda, the Presidential Palace, the Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and several museums, such as the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, the Vietnam Military History Museum and the Ethnology Museum. The local street food scene is also worth exploring which includes popular local dishes like pho (noodle soup), goi cuon (fresh spring roll), and banh cuon (streamed rice rolls).
A multi-day trekking tour of Sapa is easily organised via a local Vietnam travel agency in Hanoi. There are plenty of trekking trails that include the easy to challenging. A great option is to climb to the summit of the Fansipan Mountain and stay overnight in one of the many homestays with a local family or even stay in tents. In addition to exploring the local countryside, there is also Sapa town to explore as well as villages with the local hill tribe people.
The last day of the 1 week tour of northern Vietnam includes travelling back to Hanoi before departing on the next leg of your journey.
Tour 3 – Relaxing cruise
Similar to other tours of northern Vietnam, the trip starts with flying into Hanoi and exploring the local sights. A great way to get a laid-back appreciation of this ancient city is to take a cycling or taxi tour of the Old Quarter district.
Make sure to get prepared for the Halong Bay tour before leaving Hanoi. There are plenty of Vietnam travel agents in Hanoi that can organise the affordable and relaxing overnight cruise. Getting everything prepared ahead of time means there is less stress and worry once you actually arrive in Halong City.
Most tours organised in Hanoi include the transfer to Halong Bay, which can take in the region of 3.5/4 hours by bus or minibus.
After boarding the traditional junk-style boat or cruise ship, the tour itinerary will vary with the areas explored and activities involved. Most of the tours will include a cruise that passes through the many limestone islets and rocks, as well as including activities like kayaking, swimming and visiting one of the floating villages.
Cat Ba Island
A 1-day, 2-night cruise on Halong Bay makes it possible to explore the more remote and less visited parts, such as Cat Ba Island. This island has beautiful scenery with much of the landscape forming the Cat Ba National Park. Once on the island, tourist can explore the jungle, hike to the top of the mountain, or relax on the beach.
Ninh Binh is a great place to visit on the last day of the tour in northern Vietnam. There is plenty to see and do, such as the boat trip on a traditional rowboat to see Tam Coc and the three caves and also Hoa Lu which is Vietnam's ancient capital.