Northern Vietnam ‘s best places in 10 days

Second time in Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the most beautiful places in the world where nature landscapes are just spectacular. A few years ago , I visited the south of vietnam with few of my friends. Although it was a fun trip with friends but I hated it because everyone we met were not nice and rude.And I told myself “I am never coming back to this country again”. But I always wanted to see Halong Bay, one of the new nature wonders of the world and I was like suck it up and lets go and see.

I am so glad I made that decisions , The nature is so beautiful ( especially the further north part of the country ) .And the people  are the most nicest  and helpful people.Most of the time, they didn’t know how to speak english, but they would try their best to help us .Visiting Vietnam can be a love and hate relationship experience, so I highly recommend to check out the reviews on tripadvisor to stay in a place that is highly recommended by like minded travellers.

halong bay travel

Highlights of the trip

Cruising in Halong Bay

For me the best part of the cruise was spending the time at the cruise itself. It was a peaceful relaxing experience .Highly highly recommend , we booked the package from the hotel so  the price was cheaper than the normal price . I was afraid the cruise wouldn’t be so great, I was wrong. everything about the trip was so nice and worth the money , the food, the tour guide , the itinerary for 2 days, the room  and definitely the service. The only thing is they don’t provide soft drinks  for free  (except bottle water for the room and a glass of wine for the first day ).

halong bay

View from Tip Top island

travel guide vietnam

It is  a long way to go up there , 400 stairs.  So if you aren’t fit enough you can go up just half way, they have different view points along the way, it offer almost the same view. This photo was taken along the way up so you doesn’t have to force yourself to reach to the top if you have children or elderly people. My recommendation is to not skip this because of the long stairs, it is worth it.

Sung Sot Cave

sung sot cave

This is the experience you have to be there to appreciate how beautiful and amazing it is. It was slightly crowded (not overly crowded though) but I really enjoy every minute of it.If you reach inside, don’t listen to what your guide says( mostly rubbish in my opinion )  instead wander yourself around (make sure you know where your group is) .

Balcony view of the karst Mountains from Lang Son

lang son vietnam

lang son

Do not stopover here. The views from our balcony were great but there is next to absolutely nothing to do at the town itself. It was a mistake with terrible bus ride from Hanoi.

The journey from Cao Bang to Ban Gioc

cao bang vietnam

This should be on top lists of world’s most scenic bus rides. Unfortunately I didn’t have much pictures because of our bus moving way too fast. I highly recommend to take a private car from Cao Bang if you don’t mind spending more money, you can stop any time you want . The views along the way are just beyond words.

Ban Gioc waterfall

detian waterfall

ban gioc vietnam

It is the largest waterfall in Asia and the fourth largest waterfall along a national border in the world. The journey reaching here is a pain in the ass but it is worth all the trouble. Bring extra clothes and your own snacks.The easiest way to reach cao bang ( the nearest town to the waterfall) from hanoi is to take the overnight sleeping bus.

Climbing up to mountain of waterfall

You are not allowed to climbed up ( please don’t try to climb up like me). There is a sign saying near the small path that is going to the top of the waterfall , I went up there alone with bare feet because my slipper was not working in a slippery path, I was so scared , if the weather is bad or raining  I strongly think you shouldn’t go up at all, as the path that you are going to pass through will be full of water.It was beautiful but not the best in my opinion as the waterfalls are too near and you can’t get a great view . I was so scared because of the sound of waterfalls and kind of imagining what if the water comes overflowing  but  at the same time being up there alone make me felt accomplish to overcoming my fear.

Rafting in Ban Gioc Waterfall

beautiful waterfall in vietnam

You are actually in China when you are taking the raft as it was half own by China , but it is illegal to enter China from there.From the raft you will see the beautiful view of the waterfall and being up close with waterfall and realise  how huge the waterfall actually is.

View from the mountain top temple

ban gioc northern vietnam

Hire a bike from the shops near the waterfall if you are taking local transport from Ban Gioc. Do not think to hike up ,  it looks near but it is  far ( it is much better to have more time up there than struggling yourself to the top in hot sun. Make sure you bargain the price because the guys there really want to take your money.

Cycling through rice paddles

northern vietnam beautiful places mai chau

It was 4 hour bus ride (total 8 hours for a day trip) . If you ask me is it worth it , definitely yes. I am no strangers to rice paddles but Mai Chau exceeds my expectation.It was located high up in the mountains .But the place is such a charming place to visit, if you have time, spend a few days there , they have a few lovely accommodation.Another tip is take a nap on your way to Maichau and admire the views on return home, you will see the beautiful setting sun along the way, dont miss it.

Summaries of places visited 

  • Day 1 — Singapore to Hanoi
  • Day 2 — Hanoi to Halong Bay
  • Day 3 — Halong bay 2 days 1 night crusie, in the evening transfer back to Hotel
  • Day 4 — Hanoi to Langson (overnight at Langson city)
  • Day 5 — Langson to CaoBang
  • Day 6 — CaoBang to Ban Gioc (detian Waterfalls)
  • Day 7 — Hanoi City
  • Day 8 — Hanoi to Trang An
  • Day 9 — Hanoi to  Mai Cau
  • Day10 — Hanoi To Singapore

Alternate places that you can visit

  • Sapa
  • Ha Giang
  • Lai Chau  and Lao Cai 
  • And overland travel to china 

Where we stayed 

Halong Bay Cruise

Hanoi

Lang Son

Cao Bang

Cost 

  • Flight from Singaprore to Hanoi round trip SGD 250
  • Local bus from one town to another ( for example langson to caobang) around sgd 7 to 15
  • Taxi from hotel to nearby attraction less than sgd 5
  • 2 days 1 night Halong cruise (around sgd180)
  • Accommodation for 7 nights deluxe room ( 100 sgd person person)
  • Per meal with drink (sgd 7 to 15)
  • tour costs ( roughly 40 to 60 per trip)

Total cost = Around SGD1000