The truth is Vietnam is such an easy country to visit. When I say easy, it does not only regard to safety or political issues, but all of the social factors that help you smooth out your trip as well. The availability of transportation and friendly people living across the country are likely to turn your travel to Vietnam into a joy rather than just moving around. Many of you may always aspire to have a local companion showing you the way he or she travels around the country. This way is able to give you the best insight and also valuable tips. In case Vietnam tours are not your first priority, this guideline is made for you.
Best time to visit Northern Vietnam
First thing first, the best time to travel to Vietnam is genuinely all year round. Vietnam is a long country whose coastline reaching over 3200 kilometers. With its spectacular feature as a tropical peninsular stretching through various types of topography, deltas, lagoons, mountains, rivers, seashores, caves, jungles and whatever you name it, weather in the country accordingly varies depending on each specific region. Hence, just pick a time in a year and you can definitely find the most suitable destination in Vietnam to arrive.
Good morning Hanoi
Personally, the best time to visit Northern Vietnam is during Springtime, as the weather is just getting over the killing freeze of winter and rains have not met the land yet, bonus the fact that nature is in its most prosperous moment, rice paddies are flowing in the wind in the most spectacular golden color, spring flowers are blossomed almost everywhere, even though it is Northwestern, Northeastern or Red River Delta, not to mention festivals. Lunar New Year’s rituals and so on. Even though my last trip to Northern Vietnam closely reached Tết, which means my time budget was not generous enough to allow me to explore every single city and province in the Northern end of the country, I still spent up to a week straight visiting Hanoi, expanding to its surrounding of Sapa in the West and Ninh Bình in the East.
What to do in Northern Vietnam
Obviously, the best and most common way to start your exploration throughout the region is to arrive in Hanoi first. If you are departing from somewhere else along the length of the country, you can freely choose to pick your favorite means of transportation. If your total duration for the whole trip in Vietnam is not so big, you may prefer aviation. Domestic airlines you can consider include Vietnam Airline, which is a national flight company, comes along with super well-trained staff and excellent quality. In addition, cheaper domestic airlines known are Jetstar Pacific and Vietjet Air.
After reaching Hanoi, what I did was to save the first day and night in downtown Hanoi, the next morning, I and my group of friends started traveling to Ninh Bình for 2 days and 1 night by train. Afterward, we returned to Hanoi and caught a night sleeping bus to Sapa. However, at that section of time, snow started to appear in Sapa and half of our group decided to stay in Hanoi till the rest of week while the other half headed straight to Sapa for the first observation of snow ever. This may sound a bit funny as all of us are from Saigon suffering from the insane tropical heat for almost all year round along with the persistent rains, which mean coldness and snow are something really fancy to us as Southerners. In terms of transportation connecting Hanoi with Sapa and Ninh Bình.
Tràng An wins my heart
As some of us needed to travel back to Hanoi, we took a train from Ninh Bình for a couple of hours then moved on to the sleeping bus for over 3 hours to Sapa. However, you can choose to take a direct route from Ninh Bình to Sapa just to save time by taking one sleeping bus for 9 hours from the East to the West of Northern Vietnam.
Rolled Phở in Hanoi
If you do not sign up for a Vietnam Tailor-made tour and get no local guide with you, what I recommend you do in Hanoi is to pay a visit to main attractions of the city and get a food tour at night. My favorite destinations in the capital are Museum of Vietnamese history, where amazing artifacts throughout the country’s history are well displayed, Temple of Literature, which is known as the first university of Vietnam dating back to the 11th century. The suggested cuisine you must try include Egg coffee, Deep-fried Phở, Stir-fried Phở and Rolled Phở. While in Sapa, hiking and trekking are the best things you can do, as the weather and landscapes are more than just amazing to spend several hours walking around. Ô Quy Hồ was where our friends headed to, with a rental motorbike. Staying in the ethnic tribal houses, such as H’mong and Red Dao, and tasting their delicacies are must-dos. Last but not least, Ninh Bình will amaze you with magnificent natural-cultural combined complexes such as Tràng An (trust me, this place is a Wow!), Tam Cốc – Bích Động, Bái Đính Pagoda (the largest Buddhist Temple all over Southeast Asia) and so on.
Ô Quy Hồ Pass
A corner of Bái Đính
Hope you have a lovely time across these three regions of Northern Vietnam. If your time lets you have a good relaxing excursion here, do not forget to expend your travel radiant towards some villages on the outskirts of Hanoi with a help of local Vietnam tailor-made tour operators, you surely will be left breathtaking.