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  • Writer's pictureIne Vandenwyngaert

Northern Vietnam Travel: 8 Beautiful Places To Visit

Updated: Feb 27

Northern Vietnam is a unique destination that cannot be missed. Not only is this region home to the capital city of the country, but it’s also where you’ll find majestic bays, stunning rice terraces and unbeatable scenery. Besides that, its cultural attractions are just as diverse, ranging from vibrant markets to ancient temples and fascinating hill-tribes in the far north. In this travel guide, we share 8 beautiful places to visit in northern Vietnam as well as a map with great places to stay, eat, and drink.

Ha Long Bay vietnam travel
Ha Long Bay

Check out our video about northern Vietnam to see these fascinating places to visit through our camera!

Places To Travel In northern Vietnam

8. Hanoi

Steeped in rich history and cultural heritage, Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital city. It’s a vibrant metropolis that mixes both tradition and modernity. Hanoi's unique charm lies in its bustling narrow streets, French colonial architecture, and shimmering lakes. Exploring the hustle and bustle of the Old Quarter is a must-do and here you’ll find traditional markets and street food. There are also many other iconic places to visit such as Train Street, the Hỏa Lò Prison Museum, and the mesmerizing water puppet show.

old quarter hanoi vietnam travel
old quarter hanoi

7. Ba Be National Park

Ba Be National Park is located among the lush mountains in the Bac Kan province. It’s home to Vietnam’s largest natural freshwater lake, surrounded by impressive limestone cliffs. On the edge of the lake, you can find many homestays and guest houses, providing a peaceful and immersive nature experience. One of the best ways to explore the park is from the water, as you can see rivers, waterfalls, and caves that make up this beautiful location. The area is also inhabited by different ethnic minority communities, which you can see when hiking.

  • Where we stayed: Ba Be Jungle Houses - located right on the water with clean rooms, friendly English-speaking hosts, and delicious food

6. Cao Bang Province (& Ban Gioc waterfalls)

Cao Bang Province is a true hidden gem in Vietnam’s far north. Known for its stunning natural landscapes, including majestic mountains, picturesque waterfalls, and impressive caves, it’s ideal for adventurous travelers. This province is also home to the famous Ban Gioc Waterfall, which straddles the border of China.

The province's beauty rivals that of the popular Ha Giang and Sapa, but it’s less crowded and more untouched. The downside, however, is the accessibility. While it’s easy to access Cao Bang City from Hanoi, there are challenges coming from anywhere else by local transportation.

ban gioc waterfall cao bang vietnam travel
Ban Gioc waterfall

5. Ha Giang Province

Ha Giang province is located in the remote and mountainous region of northern Vietnam. Here, you’ll find breathtaking mountain landscapes and a vibrant ethnic culture, which is best discovered by driving the scenic Ha Giang Loop. Stretching over 400 kilometers, this motorbike route has gained popularity in recent years. For 3 to 5 days, riders navigate challenging and winding mountain roads through picturesque valleys, jagged limestone peaks, and welcoming ethnic villages. There are many viewpoints and interesting places to stop along the way, such as the Nho Quế river, Ma Pi Leng pass, Đồng Văn Sunday Market, Hmong King Palace, Lung Khuy cave, and the Twin Mountains.

ha giang loop scenery vietnam travel
ha giang loop scenery

4. Ninh Binh

Located about 90 kilometers south of Hanoi, Ninh Binh is famous for its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and unique cultural heritage. Vietnam’s first capital was established here, and today the area is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also called Ha Long Bay on land and it’s easy to see why. This stunning province is characterized by lush rice fields, towering karst mountains, and serene riverways. Some of the best things to do in Ninh Binh consists of boat trips on the rivers in Trang An and Tam Coc, cycling through the picturesque countryside, hiking to the Mua Cave viewpoint, and visiting ancient temples and pagodas (Bai Dinh Pagoda complex)

3. Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Gulf of Tonkin in northeastern Vietnam. This stunning area extends over 1,500 square kilometers and is characterized by majestic limestone cliffs rising from the beautiful emerald waters. The best way to explore this bay is by embarking on a cruise around the islands. During our visit, we opted for a 2-day mid-range boutique cruise, where we had the opportunity to explore a cave, relax at the beach, and kayak in a lagoon. We have a YouTube video on our channel that showcases our full journey in this bay, which also includes an honest review of the trip.

2. Cat Ba Island

Cat Ba is the largest island in Ha Long Bay, renowned for its jagged limestone mountains, expansive jungles, and unspoiled coastlines. With similar scenery, it’s an excellent alternative to the pricier Ha Long Bay cruises. Some of the highlights include hiking in Cat Ba National Park, exploring Trung Trang Cave and Hospital Cave, and relaxing at the Cat Co beaches. And if you want to see more islands in the bay, it’s also possible to go on a boat tour or kayak through the scenic karst mountains of the surrounding Lan Ha Bay. This corner of the bay is more secluded and peaceful.

  • Where we stayed: Cat Ba Eco Hotel ($) - bright clean rooms in the heart of Cat Ba Town. A decent buffet breakfast is included.

Ngu Lam Peak on Cat Ba Island vietnam travel
Ngu Lam Peak on Cat Ba Island

1. Sapa

In the heart of Vietnam's northwest mountains, Sapa is a charming town known for its stunning rice terraces carved into the hillsides. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a wealth of trekking opportunities that take you up to the summit of Vietnam’s tallest peak or down into the Muong Hoa valley. We opted for a 3 day hike in the valley, which was one of our most memorable and authentic experiences in all of Vietnam. Besides the stunning mountain landscapes, the valley is home to various hill tribes who love to share their traditions. Watch our Sapa video to learn more about hiking in this magical place.

  • Where we stayed in Sapa: La Chapa Hotel & Spa ($) - great modern new rooms with comfy beds and lovely shower, breakfast also included

sapa vietnam travel
sapa scenery

Map northern Vietnam

Find all the places to go, eat, drink, and stay in northern Vietnam on Google Maps. To follow and save the list, do the following:

  1. Tap on the link to open it (click button below)

  2. Tap Follow. This list will now be added to the group of lists you follow.

  3. Optional: To unfollow a list someone shared with you, tap the list Saved.

If you follow the list we made, all our saved places of northern Vietnam will show up in Your Places. The places will also appear as suggested locations in Google Maps.


Use These Websites To Save Money On Your Trip To Vietnam


Are you having a hard time planning your trip to Vietnam? Get our Interactive Travel Planner to keep it all organized.

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Need more travel inspiration? Check out our other destinations and articles about Vietnam:

World Wild Hearts

Hi! We are Ine & Zac. An international travel couple from Belgium and the US. We created World Wild Hearts to inspire new adventures and help you plan your next trip. Use these tips, stories, and guides to inspire your next adventure of a lifetime!


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