Northern Vietnam is a microcosm of the entire country. From the picturesque Halong Bay to the rugged limestone hills around Sapa, Mai Chau and Ha Giang, this area is unmatched in its verdant scenery and breathtaking beauty. Venturing up into the hills north-west of bustling Hanoi feels like entering an entirely different world among the lush green valleys and rice paddies of Pu Luong Nature Reserve, framed by the misty peaks of mountain ranges home to many of Vietnam's surviving minority tribes.
Nestled on the banks of the Red River, Hanoi is a vibrant, chaotic capital city known for its blend of Asian and Western cultures. The city’s Old Quarter is a rabbit warren of tiny lanes lined with street food vendors, market stalls and little shops organised by trade. Take a walking tour to fully appreciate its quirks. Hoan Kiem Lake, although in the city centre, is a quiet oasis where locals practice T’ai Chi and visitors can take a breather from all the excitement. And, don’t miss the city’s many museums and landmarks – the Women’s Museum and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum are highlights.
Ninh Binh and Halong Bay
Ninh Binh’s beauty lies in its majestic limestone cliffs, verdant national parks and other-worldly river caves. Climb ancient stone staircases for views of the surrounding peaks, sample snails in local bars and explore ornate temples and pagodas. Alternatively, for scenery on a grander scale, head to Halong Bay. Its rainforested limestone islets are best explored by junk boat cruise, where you'll pause to swim in the deep emerald waters or to kayak into hidden caves – ask our specialists for their ship recommendations.