North Vietnam is a fascinating destination for tourists looking to explore Southeast Asia. The region boasts stunning natural beauty, from the towering peaks of the Hoang Lien Son mountains to the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay. Visitors can also immerse themselves in Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage, with opportunities to visit ancient temples, traditional markets, and rural villages. The capital city of Hanoi is a vibrant hub of history, culture, and cuisine, with must-see attractions like the Temple of Literature and the Old Quarter. Foodies will delight in North Vietnam’s diverse and delicious cuisine, with specialties like pho and banh mi. Overall, North Vietnam offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience for visitors.
If you have 10 days to explore North Vietnam, here is a suggested itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi
Welcome to Hanoi! Upon arrival at Noi Bai International Airport, you can take a taxi or a private transfer to your hotel in the city center. After checking in, take some time to rest and freshen up.
In the afternoon, you can start your exploration of the city with a walking tour of the Old Quarter. The Old Quarter is the historic heart of Hanoi, and it’s a maze of narrow streets lined with small shops, street vendors, and traditional Vietnamese houses. You can wander around and soak up the atmosphere, or you can join a guided tour to learn more about the history and culture of the area.
Next, visit the Hoan Kiem Lake, a scenic spot in the center of the city. You can take a stroll around the lake and enjoy the views, or you can visit the Ngoc Son Temple, which is located on an island in the middle of the lake. The temple is dedicated to the national hero Tran Hung Dao, and it’s a beautiful example of Vietnamese temple architecture.
In the evening, watch a traditional water puppet show, a unique form of Vietnamese folk art that originated in the villages of the Red River Delta. The show is performed on a shallow pool of water, and the puppets are controlled by puppeteers who stand waist-deep in the water. It’s a fun and entertaining way to learn more about Vietnamese culture.
End your first day in Hanoi with a delicious dinner at one of the city’s many restaurants, where you can sample some of the local cuisine.
Day 2: Hanoi
On your second day in Hanoi, you can explore some of the city’s cultural and historical landmarks.
Start your day with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum. The Mausoleum is a grand and imposing structure that houses the embalmed body of Vietnam’s revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh. The Museum showcases his life and achievements, and it’s a fascinating insight into the history of Vietnam.
Next, head to the Temple of Literature, which is one of Hanoi’s most famous landmarks. The temple was built in 1070 as a university dedicated to Confucius and is considered the first university of Vietnam. It’s a peaceful and beautiful place, with tranquil gardens, ancient trees, and impressive architecture.
In the afternoon, visit the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, which is a fascinating place to learn about the country’s diverse ethnic groups. The museum features exhibits on the customs, traditions, and lifestyles of the different ethnic groups of Vietnam, including their clothing, houses, and festivals.
In the evening, you can explore the vibrant street food scene in Hanoi. Try some of the local specialties, such as banh mi, pho, or bun cha, at one of the many street food stalls or small restaurants scattered around the city. It’s a fun and delicious way to experience the local culture.
Day 3: Hanoi to Ninh Binh
On day 3, you’ll leave Hanoi and travel to Ninh Binh, which is known for its stunning natural scenery.
In the morning, take a drive to Ninh Binh, which is approximately 2.5 hours from Hanoi. Once you arrive in Ninh Binh, visit the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex features an impressive system of caves, grottoes, and waterways, and it’s best explored by boat. Take a scenic boat trip through the complex and enjoy the beautiful views of the limestone cliffs and forests.
Next, visit Tam Coc, which is also known as “Halong Bay on Land.” Tam Coc is a picturesque area of rice fields and karst formations, and it’s best explored by taking a boat ride along the Ngo Dong River. The boat ride takes around two hours and passes through three natural caves, giving you a unique perspective of the surrounding scenery.
Finally, visit the Bich Dong Pagoda, which is a beautiful temple complex located on a hillside surrounded by lotus ponds. The pagoda was built in the 15th century and features three levels of temples, caves, and stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
In the evening, you can enjoy a relaxing evening in Ninh Binh and savor the local cuisine, which is known for its use of fresh vegetables, herbs, and seafood.
Day 4: Ninh Binh to Halong Bay
On day 4, you’ll leave Ninh Binh and travel to Halong Bay, which is one of Vietnam’s most famous natural wonders.
In the morning, take a drive to Halong Bay, which is approximately 4 hours from Ninh Binh. Once you arrive in Halong Bay, board a traditional junk boat and embark on a cruise around the stunning limestone formations and emerald waters.
Spend the day exploring the various islands, caves, and beaches of Halong Bay. Some popular highlights include the Sung Sot Cave, the Titop Island, and the Luon Cave. You can also take part in activities such as kayaking, swimming, and visiting floating villages to learn more about the local culture.
In the evening, enjoy a delicious seafood dinner on the boat while taking in the stunning views of the sunset over the bay.
Spend the night on the boat, where you can enjoy the tranquility of Halong Bay and stargaze on the deck.
Day 5: Halong Bay to Hanoi to Sapa
On day 5, you’ll leave Halong Bay and travel back to Hanoi before continuing on to Sapa, a mountain town known for its stunning scenery and cultural diversity.
In the morning, enjoy breakfast on the boat while cruising through Halong Bay. After disembarking, take a private transfer back to Hanoi.
In Hanoi, you can have lunch and explore the city on your own before continuing your journey to Sapa. Take an overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, which is the nearest train station to Sapa. The journey takes approximately 8 hours, but it’s a comfortable way to travel and allows you to maximize your time in Sapa.
In the evening, settle into your cabin and enjoy the scenery as the train winds its way through the mountains and valleys of northern Vietnam.
Day 6: Sapa
On day 6, you’ll arrive in Sapa and have a full day to explore the stunning natural beauty and cultural diversity of this mountain town.
After arriving in Sapa, check into your hotel and have breakfast. Then, head out to explore the town and its surroundings. Sapa is known for its stunning rice terraces, lush forests, and ethnic minority villages.
One popular activity is to take a trek through the rice terraces and visit some of the local villages, such as Cat Cat, Ta Van, or Lao Chai. These villages are home to different ethnic minorities, including the Hmong, Dao, and Tay people. You can learn about their customs, traditions, and way of life and see how they make their traditional handicrafts.
Another option is to take a cable car to Fansipan, which is the highest mountain in Vietnam. From the top, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
In the evening, you can enjoy a traditional dinner with local specialties, such as grilled meat, sticky rice, and vegetable dishes. After dinner, you can explore the night market and shop for souvenirs or relax at a local bar and enjoy a drink while taking in the beautiful scenery.
Day 7: Sapa
On day 7, you’ll have another full day to explore the beauty of Sapa and its surrounding areas.
If you haven’t done so already, take a trek to one of the other ethnic minority villages in the area, such as Y Linh Ho or Giang Ta Chai. You can also visit a local market, such as the Bac Ha Sunday Market, where you can see the different ethnic minorities in their traditional dress and buy handmade crafts and souvenirs.
Another option is to take a motorbike or bicycle tour through the countryside and visit some of the nearby waterfalls, such as Silver Waterfall or Love Waterfall. These tours are a great way to see the stunning scenery and get some exercise at the same time.
In the evening, you can relax and enjoy the peacefulness of Sapa, or head out to a local restaurant and sample some of the delicious local cuisine, such as pho, banh mi, or spring rolls. You can also visit a local bar or nightclub and enjoy the nightlife in Sapa.
Day 8: Sapa to Hanoi
On day 8, you’ll leave Sapa and travel back to Hanoi.
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and take a private transfer back to Lao Cai train station to catch your overnight train back to Hanoi. The journey takes approximately 8 hours, so you’ll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the scenery.
In the evening, arrive back in Hanoi and check into your hotel. You can have dinner at a local restaurant or enjoy some street food in the Old Quarter, which is known for its bustling atmosphere and delicious food. You can also explore the night market and pick up some souvenirs to take home.
Day 9: Hanoi
On day 9, you’ll have another day to explore the vibrant city of Hanoi and its many sights and attractions.
Start your day with breakfast at a local café or restaurant, then head out to explore some of Hanoi’s most famous landmarks. One must-see destination is the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which houses the embalmed body of the revered Vietnamese leader. Nearby, you can also visit the One Pillar Pagoda, which is a historic Buddhist temple built in the 11th century.
Another popular destination is the Temple of Literature, which is Vietnam’s first university and a beautiful example of traditional Vietnamese architecture. You can also visit the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, which showcases the country’s ethnic diversity and cultural heritage.
In the evening, enjoy a performance of the famous water puppet show, which is a traditional Vietnamese art form that dates back to the 11th century. After the show, you can enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and try some of the city’s famous street food, such as banh mi or pho.
Day 10: Departure from Hanoi
On day 10, you’ll depart from Hanoi and head back home or to your next destination.
Depending on your flight time, you may have some time in the morning to do some last-minute shopping or sightseeing in Hanoi. If you’re interested in shopping, you can visit Dong Xuan Market, which is one of the largest markets in Hanoi and sells everything from clothing and accessories to food and souvenirs.
Alternatively, you can visit some of Hanoi’s other famous landmarks, such as the Hoan Kiem Lake, which is a beautiful and peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, or the St. Joseph’s Cathedral, which is a stunning example of French colonial architecture.
When it’s time to depart, take a taxi or private transfer to the airport and catch your flight back home or to your next destination.
Note: This itinerary can be customized based on your preferences and time constraints.
Northern Vietnam 10 day trip cost
As for the trip cost, it will depend on your preferences and budget. Here are some rough estimates of daily expenses:
Budget: $10-30 per night
Mid-range: $30-70 per night
Luxury: $70 and up per night
Train tickets: $20-50 per person, per trip
Private transfers: $50-100 per trip
Street food and local restaurants: $2-10 per meal
Mid-range restaurants: $10-20 per meal
High-end restaurants: $30 and up per meal
Sightseeing and tours: $10-50 per person, per activity
Entrance fees: $1-10 per person, per attraction
Trekking and outdoor activities: $20-50 per person, per activity
Overall, a budget traveler can expect to spend around $30-50 per day, while mid-range travelers can expect to spend around $50-100 per day. Luxury travelers can expect to spend $100 and up per day. These are rough estimates and the actual cost may vary depending on your travel style, preferences, and activities.
What to pack for 10 days in North vietnam
When packing for 10 days in North Vietnam, it’s important to consider the weather, activities, and cultural norms. Here are some essentials you should consider packing:
- Lightweight, breathable clothing for the hot and humid weather
- Long-sleeved shirts and pants for protection from mosquitoes and sunburn
- Warm layers for cooler temperatures in the highlands, especially if you plan to trek
- Comfortable shoes for walking and hiking
- Swimwear for Halong Bay and other water activities
- Insect repellent
- Hand sanitizer
- Basic toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.)
- Camera and accessories
- Phone and charger
- Power bank
- Adapters for charging electronics
- Passport and travel documents
- Cash and credit cards
- Travel insurance
- Daypack for hiking and exploring
- Waterproof bag for your phone and other electronics during water activities
- Lightweight scarf or shawl for visiting temples and other cultural sites
It’s also a good idea to pack a small first aid kit with basic medication and supplies, as well as a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated. Don’t forget to pack appropriate clothing and accessories that show respect for the local culture, such as covering your shoulders and knees when visiting temples.