A week might not seem long enough to visit Vietnam, a country of 243,610 square kilometres. But follow our tips and you’ll be able to travel in Vietnam and have the experience of a lifetime.
Northern Vietnam is home to some of the country’s most jaw-ping scenery. Tumultuous mountains, wild vistas and local communities that have retained their charm – this is the region to visit to get truly under the skin of Vietnam. What’s more, it’s possible to have an adventure of a lifetime in just a week.
Any northern Vietnam adventure must kick off in Hanoi. This is Vietnam’s second largest city, yet it has a village-like feeling in places, with its ancient architecture, fascinating culture and warrens of backstreets filled with local life. Spending your first day in Hanoi gives you a snapshot of this culture rich region in one go. Be sure to take in the Opera House, the famous Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake – a huge expanse of water near the city centre. Mix up your visit with old and new culture – the city has numerous fascinating museums, pagodas and geographical features, while meandering along the backstreets provides much potential for pit-stops involving local coffee, beer and street food.
Save time on your week-long trip to Vietnam by taking night trains where possible. From Hanoi, it’s possible to take a night train to Lao Cai, from which Sapa
is just a short drive away. Described as the ‘Alps of Vietnam’, this mountain town has stunning views over terraced rice fields and mountain peaks.
This is your chance to get truly off-the-beaten-track in Vietnam and visit places not many visitors go to. From Sapa, it’s possible to trek to Cat Cat Village, known for its talented craft makers who make amazing jewellery and weaved designs. The scenery on the way also takes in a waterfall and local people working in the fields, making a totally entrancing experience.
Not far from Sapa too, it’s possible to undertake short treks to other traditional villages. These included Lao Chai, Ta Van village – both home to local tribes – and the remote Topas Ecolodge in Su Pan, which offers amazing views from its position on two conical hills.
Topas Ecolodge in Su Pan. Sapa
Ninh Binh is another underrated spot when it comes to travel in Vietnam, but it’s also possible to squeeze a visit in here during a week-long visit to northern Vietnam. This province is partly made up of a National Park, and is home to vibrant green valleys, karst mountains, hiking trails and rare species. Within the province, Hoa Lu used to be the capital city of Vietnam during the Dinh Dynasty between 968 and 1009 AD. It’s the ideal locality to go on a cycling trip, to explore the best of the former civilisation and the surrounding countryside.
One final hotspot you can fit into your week-long travels in Vietnam is Halong Bay
. A UNESCO World Heritage site of turquoise waters, thousands of limestone islands emerging mysteriously from the water and boat trips aplenty, this is top of many travellers’ lists. You’ll arrive after driving through the famous Red River Delta. In Halong Bay, you can spend 24-hours on a traditional junk cruise boat, visit the islands, go swimming, undertake mini kayaking adventures, and generally soak up the magnificent surroundings. It’s the perfect high on which to finish a week of travel in Vietnam.
Pelican cruise, Halong Bay
Mr Linh’s Adventures organises week-long travel in Vietnam adventures
, which can take in all of the above locations.