What to see in Northern Vietnam

Northern Vietnam is an interesting and diverse area where you can easily access high mountains, serene valleys, vibrant cities, tranquil countryside, and sandy beaches all in one trip.

  • Hanoi: Explore the bustling streets of the capital city, where ancient temples, vibrant trading spots, and colonial architecture blend seamlessly with modern skyscrapers.

  • Ninh Binh: Experience the natural beauty known as the "Halong Bay on land," with its stunning limestone karsts, lush rice paddies, and tranquil river valleys.

  • Halong Bay: Sail across the UNESCO World Heritage Site's jade-colored waters, adorned with numerous limestone islets. Discover concealed caverns and grottoes, and relax on untouched sandy shores.

  • Hai Phong: Enjoy the renowned food culture and explore the beautiful coastal areas with many exciting experiences and reasonable travel costs.

  • Mai Chau: Immerse yourself in the idyllic countryside surrounded by verdant rice fields and traditional stilt houses. Trek through picturesque villages, interact with local artisans, and savor delicious traditional cuisine.

  • Sapa: Trek among terraced rice fields, cascading waterfalls, and scattered ethnic minority villages. Climb to the summit of Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina, or engage in a cultural immersion with homestay experiences in remote hill tribe communities.

North Vietnam travel Itinerary

Sapa Vietnam for your North Vietnam travel Itinerary

  • Ha Giang: Discover the rugged beauty of Ha Giang with its dramatic mountain passes, deep valleys, and colorful hill tribes. Take a thrilling motorbike ride, visit traditional villages, and witness breathtaking views of the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark.

  • Yen Bai: Explore the pristine landscapes of the highland including the majestic Mu Cang Chai terraced rice fields, recognized as a national heritage site. Interact with local farmers and enjoy panoramic views of the rolling hills and valleys.

  • Cao Bang: Venture into the isolated province hosting the magnificent Ban Gioc Waterfall, recognized as one of the grandest cascades in Southeast Asia. Traverse the luxuriant jungles, intricate limestone caverns, and authentic ethnic cultures found within the vicinity.

  • Bac Kan: Explore the mystical landscapes of Ba Be National Park, boat along the tranquil waters of Ba Be Lake - the largest freshwater lake in Vietnam.

Suggested Itinerary

North Vietnam travel Itinerary

North Vietnam travel itinerary recommendations

With a variety of destinations above, you can combine according to your preferences to have a satisfying itinerary. Below are some suggested travel plans.

North Vietnam 5 days

Option 1: Hanoi - Ninh Binh - Halong Bay

Day 1: Hanoi Arrival

  • Hanoi arrival

  • Hotel check-in

  • Afternoon: Sword Lake and Old Quarter tour by cyclo, double-decker bus, electric car, or motorbike

  • Nighttime: Street food, shopping, massage, bar, or watching the Water Puppet Show or performances at the Walking Street.

  • Overnight in Hanoi

Day 2: Hanoi City

  • Breakfast

  • Visit the city's main landmarks such as the Temple of Literature, Imperial Citadel, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, etc.

  • Lunch

  • Visit the traditional village of Bat Trang Ceramic or Quang Phu Cau Incense

  • Train Street Hanoi

  • Nighttime at leisure

Day 3: Ninh Binh ancient capital day trip

  • Transfer Hanoi - Ninh Binh

  • Visit Dinh - Le Temple

  • Boat trip at Trang An or Tam Coc

  • Lunch

  • Hike to Mua Cave

  • Biking in the Tam Coc area

  • Back to Hanoi and overnight in Hanoi

Day 4 - 5: Halong Bay

  • Transfer Hanoi - Halong Bay

  • Get on board and ready for a 2-day itinerary on a cruise The specific itinerary is customized according to different ships. Here is an example itinerary for you:

1st day:

  • Lunch on board

  • Sung Sot Cave

  • Ti Top Island for hiking and swimming

  • Afternoon tea time and sunset cocktail

  • Cooking class and dinner on board

  • Squid fishing

2nd day:

  • Morning taichi

  • Kayak or sampan boat ride

  • Visit the fishing village/pearl farm

  • Brunch on board

  • Back to the boat dock

  • Transfer Halong Bay - Hanoi

  • Hanoi departure


This is a typical leisure itinerary. You will start by exploring the bustling capital of Vietnam, then visit the serene ancient capital region, and finally relax and experience the World Wonder Halong Bay.

Option 2: Hanoi - Mai Chau - Sapa

Day 1 - 2: Hanoi City

  • Hanoi Arrival

  • Explore Hanoi capital

Day 3: Mai Chau

  • Hotel check out

  • Transfer Hanoi - Mai Chau

  • Check-in hotel or homestay

  • Explore the valley: ethnic villages, rice paddies, streams, local markets

  • Night time campfire

Day 4: Mai Chau - Sapa

  • Morning biking

  • Check out

  • Transfer Mai Chau - Sapa

  • Explore Sapa 2 days 1 night

Day 5: Sapa - Hanoi

  • After your visit, check out the hotel then go back to Hanoi

This itinerary includes time to explore the vibrant capital of Hanoi, then head to the Northwest mountainous region of Vietnam to immerse yourself in the beautiful nature of mountains, valleys, rice fields, and the unique local ethnic culture.

North Vietnam 1 week

North Vietnam travel Itinerary

North Vietnam travel itinerary for 1 week

Option 1: Hanoi - Sapa or Mai Chau - Ninh Binh - Halong Bay

Day 1: Hanoi Arrival

Hanoi Arrival

Day 2: Hanoi City

  • Hanoi city tour

  • Night train to Sapa

Day 3 - 4: Sapa or Mai Chau

2 days 1 night in Sapa/Mai Chau then back to Hanoi

Day 5: Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh day trip

Day 6 - 7

  • Halong Bay cruise 2 days 1 night

  • Halong Bay - Hanoi by bus

  • Hanoi departure


With a week's time, you can explore the capital region, high mountainous areas with pristine landscapes, the tranquil ancient capital Ninh Binh amidst waterways, and the famous Halong Bay.

Option 2: Hanoi - Sapa - Ha Giang - Bac Kan - Ba Be

Day 1: Hanoi - Sapa

  • Hanoi Arrival

  • Hanoi - Sapa by bus

  • Hotel check-in

  • Fansipan peak

  • Night time at downtown

Day 2: Sapa - Ha Giang

  • Hotel check-out

  • Lao Chai - Ta Van trek

  • Sapa - Ha Giang

  • Hotel check-in

  • Night time at downtown Ha Giang

Day 3: Ha Giang

  • Explore Ha Giang: Quan Ba ​​Gate, Vuong Palace, Lung Cu Flag Pole, etc

Day 4: Ha Giang - Cao Bang

  • Transfer Ha Giang - Cao Bang

  • Visit Ma Pi Leng Pass

  • Lunch in Bao Lac town

  • Afternoon: Visit the Pac Po historical site and explore the Le Nin stream.

  • Check-in hotel and night time at leisure exploring Cao Bang city

Day 5: Cao Bang - Bac Kan

  • Morning at leisure

  • Hotel check out

  • Visit Ban Doc Waterfall.

  • Visit Nguom Ngao Cave

  • Hotel check-in and nighttime in Bac Kan

Day 6: Bac Kan - Hanoi

  • Hotel check out

  • Visit Ba Be Lake

  • Lunchtime then back to Hanoi hotel.

Seventh Day

  • Hanoi morning city tour

  • Hotel check out

  • Hanoi departure


This is a route for those who love adventure travel and exploring the untouched areas of North Vietnam. With this itinerary, you will travel from the Northwest with majestic mountains and spectacular passes to the Northeast with beautiful lakes and waterfalls.

Two weeks in North Vietnam

North Vietnam travel Itinerary

North Vietnam travel itinerary 2-week plan

Day 1 - 2


Day 3

Hanoi Mai Chau

Day 4 - 5

Mai Chau - Sapa

Day 6 - 7

Sapa - Ha Giang


Ha Giang - Cao Bang

Day 9 - 10

Cao Bang - Bac Kan

Day 11

Bac Kan - Hanoi

Day 12

Hanoi - Ninh Binh day trip

Day 13 - 14

Hanoi - Halong Bay on cruise for 2 days 1 night then back to Hanoi for departure


Two weeks is a comfortable timeframe for you to explore the many interesting highlights of Northern Vietnam. You can replace one destination with another nearby (such as swapping Halong Bay for Hai Phong) or spend more time at one location and skip another (like skipping Mai Chau and spending 3 days in Sapa).

Planning and balancing along the North Vietnam travel itinerary will require careful attention. In addition to the schedule, you will also need to consider booking transportation, accommodations, and finding suitable dining options. Fortunately, nowadays, you can easily use the internet and social media to search for locations, read reviews, and check prices.

Transportation Options

North Vietnam travel Itinerary

How to travel in North Vietnam

The most common ways to travel to destinations in Northern Vietnam are by long-distance bus, train, motorbike, and taxi.

Long bus

Long bus is the most popular choice because of its fast travel time, availability at all destinations, convenience, and reasonable prices. Depending on how far you're traveling, you have the option of selecting either seated or sleeper buses. 

Hanoi's primary bus stations include Giap Bat, My Dinh, Yen Nghia, and Nuoc Ngam. You can pre-book tickets through the station websites or by making a phone call. Additionally, you should double-check the ticket, time, and pickup location before the pickup time.

To book a ticket directly at the counter, you should proceed to the building area and meet the ticket sales staff at the counter. Ticket prices and departure times are displayed on electronic boards. After purchasing the ticket, the staff will guide you to the parking lot to board the bus. At that time, you just need to present the ticket to the bus driver or the assistant. 


Taking the train is also a comparably swift and affordably priced choice. Train routes cover a wide area, but the coverage and frequency are not as good as buses. You can opt for either a seat or a sleeper berth. For information on train trips, train schedules, and ticket prices from Hanoi, you can visit the Vietnam Railways website at dsvn.vn.

North Vietnam travel Itinerary

How to travel around Northern Vietnam


Motorbike is a choice favored by many adventure travelers. Traveling by motorbike is an independent, flexible option with moderate costs but requires the rider's skills and more travel time.

Typically, the rental price for a motorbike is 4 - 6 USD/day and 96 - 120 USD/month. The price of gasoline is around 1 USD/liter. Specialized off-road bikes usually have higher rental prices. For flat routes like Hanoi - Ninh Binh - Hai Phong - Halong, you can easily rent a regular motorbike and travel comfortably.

Some motorbike renting contacts in downtown Hanoi for you:

  • Motorgo: 0338 023 344 (1081 Hong Ha, Chuong Duong, Hoan Kiem)

  • Nguyen Tu: 0942 467 674 (2D Ta Hien, Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem)

  • Son Motor: 0928 290 000 (119/37, 167 Tay Son, Dong Da, Hanoi)

Domestic Flight

Domestic flight is another way of traveling in the North of Vietnam. However, there are not many flights per day. Currently, the Northern provinces with domestic airports are Hanoi, Dien Bien, Son La, Hai Phong, Quang Ninh, and Thanh Hoa. You can check flight information and ticket prices on the websites of domestic airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet, Pan Pacific, or Vietravel.

Budget Breakdown

North Vietnam travel Itinerary

Cost for North Vietnam travel itinerary

To estimate the cost for your North Vietnam travel itinerary, you can check the cost breakdown table below:

Visa fee

  • 25 USD for single entry

  • 50 USD for multiple entries

Hotel rate

  • 3-star hotel: From 12 USD/room/night

  • 4-star hotel: From 40 USD/room/night

  • 5-star hotel: From 80 USD/room/night

Transportation cost

About 20 USD/round trip between 2 cities

Transportation costs within the city

  • Bus: 0.2 - 0.8 USD/ticket/one-way

  • Motorbike rental: 4 - 6 USD/day, 1 USD/liter of gasoline

  • Taxi: 0.44 USD/km

  • Motorbike taxi: 0.2 USD/km


  • Entrance tickets: 0.8 - 4 USD/entry

  • Amusement park: 12 - 24 USD/turn/day


  • About 6 USD/meal

  • Drink prices at bars: from 2 USD

Local Guide

12 - 20 USD/day


20 - 55 USD/day

Cruise tour

  • 2-day 1-night itinerary: About 100 - 160 USD/room

  • 3-day 2-night itinerary: About 120 - 240 USD/room


Overall, the cost of a 1-week journey in Vietnam with 4-star services if traveling independently will range from 550 - 900 USD, while if you purchase a package tour, it will be around 700 USD.

Travel Tips

Finally, don't forget to keep some useful tips and advice below for your North Vietnam travel itinerary:

  • The optimal time to travel to Northern Vietnam is September - April. During the summer months, the weather is very hot and it is not suitable for going out from 11 am - 3 pm.

  • If you want to admire the beautiful rice fields in Vietnam, you can choose the time around September - October to travel.

  • Around the end of January - the beginning of February is the traditional Tet holiday in Vietnam according to the Lunar calendar, with many traditional activities and festivals.

  • The winter months in the North are from December - February. During this time, there is often a lot of fog and the water is cold for swimming.

  • The mountainous areas of Vietnam have a large temperature difference between day and night, so don't forget to prepare scarves and jackets for the night.

  • Recommended things to bring: sunscreen, insect repellent, various types of allergies, stomach ache medications, and comfortable shoes for walking.

  • Always keep the contact information of your local guide, restaurants, transportation, and hotels to contact when needed.

  • Emergency contacts in Vietnam: 113 (Police), 114 (Fire), 115 (Ambulance).

  • Some remote areas of mountainous provinces such as Sapa, Ha Giang, and Cao Bang may have weak mobile phone signals.

  • Always keep an eye on your belongings and important documents to avoid forgetting or losing them.

  • You may consider booking tickets and services early to get good prices.

  • If you book a tour, carefully check what is included and not included in the tour.

To gain more insights, navigate to our post about travel guide to Vietnam!

Above are detailed suggestions for the North Vietnam travel itinerary. In addition to referring to the information above, you can visit the package tours section on our website to find attractive travel deals and leave a message to receive quick and attentive support.