Vietnam is one of the most beautiful countries in SE Asia, and the north of Vietnam is just exploding with amazing places! Here are five of my favorite Northern spots that you absolutely must visit!!


Vietnam’s capital city is rapidly blossoming into a unique northern metropolis, full of delicious food, interesting architecture, and a strong cafe culture. Full of things to do and see you can easily spend a whole week just in the city but if you are short on time make sure to at least spend a couple of days!

Related: The Complete 72 Hour Guide To Hanoi

Ha Long Bay

Even though this is probably on everyoneeesssss Northern Vietnam trip it’s for a GREAT reason. Ha Long Bay is stunning and there is nothing else in the world quite like it. I would recommend splurging on a Junk Boat cruise for a night. Spending a night on the boat and waking up surrounded by the limestone karsts is just unbelievable.

Getting there from Hanoi: There are many tour services that you can book throughout the city which will arrange a pick up for you. Also it is very customary for the boat you are staying with to pick you up from Hanoi and drop you off.

Cat Ba Island and Lan Ha Bay

Slightly less well-known is Ha Long Bay’s younger sibling is Lan Ha Bay. This bay looks almost the same as Ha Long Bay minus ALL THE PEOPLE. It’s less polluted, more serene and just as gorgeous. This island is full of white sand beaches not typically found in the north.

Getting there from Hanoi: Take the train from Hanoi to Hai Phong, you can buy these tickets at the Hanoi train station. From Hai Phong’s train station you will have to take a Taxi to the Pier. Don’t get ripped off, the pier is not far away!! From the Pier you can take a boat to Cat Ba island. You can get to Lan Ha from Ha Long bay but this takes a number of hours so doesn’t make sense if you are traveling there from Hanoi.

Ninh Binh

Located about two hours by train outside of Hanoi, it is one of my favorite cities in all of Vietnam! It’s mountainous terrain and low-key atmosphere makes it the best spot to relax. There are some beautiful temples you can explore, along with hikes and boat trips that will keep you busy! For more Ninh Binh tips click here!

Getting there from Hanoi: You can book tickets to Ninh Binh day of or a day before at the Hanoi Train Station. I would recommend buying your return ticket at the same time. When you arrive in Ninh Binh you can rent a motorbike or get a taxi to your accommodation.

*Tip* book a home stay or hotel in Trang An or Tam Coc NOT Ninh Binh city! Trang An and Tam Coc are going to be much more scenic and closer to the different things you are going to want to see!

Related: A 48 Hour Guide to Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Sapa District, Lao Cai

Sapa, another crazy popular destination for travelers going through Vietnam, but beautiful nonetheless. It is quickly developing into less of a town and more of a city! The best way to see Sapa is through a trek. Hike through the terraced rice paddies for a day or two, and definitely opt to stay with a family if you can. In these home stays you can really connect with local families and learn about their culture.

Getting there from Hanoi: The easiest way to get to Sapa from Hanoi is to take an overnight train. You can book these tickets online or at the station. In the cabins there are four beds and it really was quite comfortable compared to sleeper buses!

Click here for more information about trekking in Sapa!

Miles of Smiles

Have you ever been to any of these cities? Let me know in the comments below!

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