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Ultimate insider travel tips to get the most out of exploring north Vietnam

We take a look at some common misconceptions of north Vietnam tours and how you can best spend your time when travelling in the region.

Ultimate insider travel tips to get the most out of exploring north VietnamThe Old Quarter, Hanoi

Focus on a specific region in Vietnam
Many travellers underestimate Vietnam’s size and just how huge it is. If you were to drive from Cao Dang near the northern border, to Ca Mau near the southern coast, it would take 41 hours! That’s why focusing on a specific region of the country will help you get more out of your trip. Spend less time travelling and more time enjoying the country. For example, there are plenty of north Vietnam tours on offer, and you’ll still get to take in some amazing locations including Hanoi, Halong Bay and the Ma Pi Leng Pass – one of the most incredible stretches of road in the whole of Vietnam.

Ma Pi Leng PassMa Pi Leng pass, Meo Vac, Hagiang
 
Give Hanoi some time
It’s common for visitors to Vietnam to think the best the country has to offer lies outside of the main cities. However, it’s important to give the cities some of your time too, and it’s possible to get off-the-beaten-track in cities as much as it is in the countryside. Hanoi often surprises visitors. Even bloggers such as Geeky Explorer say things like: “Hanoi is quainter than you think.” In Hanoi, make sure you take some time to meander around the Old Quarter, find a quiet spot by Hoan Kiem Lake – which is amazingly in Hanoi city centre – and visit Hang Da Market for a cacophony of amazing pre-loved items. North Vietnam tours that specialise in off-the-beaten-track adventures will include all this and more in the itinerary.

North Vietnam foodies
The northern region of Vietnam has more of a seasonal climate than the south, meaning it has a greater diversity of food. Ideal for foodies, there are plenty of seasonal dishes in north Vietnam that are less abundant in other parts of the country. There’s also more of an influence from China, given the closer proximity to the Chinese border. Bun Cha is a popular, must-try dish in Hanoi, which is grilled pork balls eaten dipped in a sweet sauce, often served with noodles too. The climate can be colder in the north, so it’s common to find meat grilled on sticks as a warming snack. In general, food in north Vietnam has less seasoning, allowing fresh ingredients to really shine through.

Halong Bay is worth it
A visit to Halong Bay on north Vietnam tours has mixed reactions. As a UNESCO World Heritage site and a much-used film location, many travellers worry there might be too many tourists there to have an authentic experience. However, the consensus from travellers is that it’s overwhelmingly worth it, if you choose the right experience. The key is to choose a cruise that has accommodation that is not too cramped. Also find an itinerary where you’ll have the opportunity to get off-the-beaten track, for example to visit some of the more secluded islands.

Halong Bay on north Vietnam Halong Bay. Quang Ninh

Mr Linh’s Adventures organises 12-day, 11-night north Vietnam tours, that lead to truly authentic north Vietnam experiences.
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