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Exploring Northern Vietnam: A Comprehensive 2-Week Travel Itinerary and Guide

Posted By: Alison White / Vietnam Travel Guides
North Vietnam itinerary refers to a planned travel route and schedule for exploring the northern region of Vietnam. This itinerary typically covers popular destinations such as Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Sapa, Ninh Binh, and more. A North Vietnam travel guide can provide detailed information and recommendations for this trip.

North Vietnam Itinerary: Explore the Best of Northern Vietnam in One Week

Hanoi Cyclo Tour

Hanoi Cyclo Tour - (Source: Collected)

Day 1: Hanoi - City Tour

Begin your North Vietnam adventure in Hanoi, the capital city. Start with a city tour to get acquainted with the vibrant atmosphere and rich history. Visit iconic landmarks like the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, and the Hoan Kiem Lake. Explore the charming Old Quarter with its narrow streets and bustling markets.

Day 2: Halong Bay - Overnight Cruise

Embark on a scenic drive to Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its breathtaking limestone karsts. Hop on a traditional junk boat for an overnight cruise. Sail through emerald waters, admire picturesque islands, and indulge in delicious seafood onboard. Explore hidden caves and kayak through stunning rock formations.

Day 3: Sapa - Trekking Adventure

Head to Sapa, a mountainous region nestled in the Hoang Lien Son range. Embark on a trekking adventure through terraced rice fields and ethnic minority villages. Immerse yourself in the local culture and admire the stunning landscapes. Stay overnight in a traditional homestay to experience the authentic Sapa way of life.

Day 4: Ninh Binh - Natural Wonders

Travel to Ninh Binh, often referred to as the "Halong Bay on land." Explore the Trang An Landscape Complex, a UNESCO site known for its limestone karst formations, caves, and river systems. Take a boat ride through the stunning Tam Coc or Van Long Nature Reserve, surrounded by lush rice fields and towering cliffs.

Day 5: Mai Chau - Rural Retreat

Continue your journey to Mai Chau, a peaceful valley surrounded by rolling hills and lush forests. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the countryside and learn about the local ethnic Thai and Muong cultures. Enjoy a homestay experience and savor traditional Vietnamese meals.

Day 6: Ba Be Lake - Nature's Beauty

Head to Ba Be Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in Vietnam. Explore the stunning national park with its lush forests, towering limestone mountains, and serene lakes. Take a boat ride on the crystal-clear waters and visit the Dau Dang Waterfall. Engage with local ethnic communities and learn about their traditional way of life.

Day 7: Hanoi - Departure

Return to Hanoi for your departure. Spend your last day exploring the city at your leisure. Shop for souvenirs or enjoy a cup of Vietnamese coffee at a local café. Bid farewell to Northern Vietnam, taking with you unforgettable memories of its natural beauty and cultural experiences.

North Vietnam Travel Itinerary: 10-day Adventure in the Northern Region

Halong Bay cruise tour

Halong Bay cruise tour - (Source: Collected)

Day 1-2: Hanoi - Exploring the Capital

Begin your 10-day adventure in Hanoi, immersing yourself in the city's rich history and vibrant culture. Visit famous landmarks such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, and the Old Quarter. Sample delectable street food and enjoy a traditional water puppet show.

Day 3-4: Sapa - Trekking and Hill Tribe Experience

Travel to Sapa and embark on a trekking journey through picturesque landscapes and terraced rice fields. Encounter ethnic minority communities such as the Hmong, Dao, and Tay tribes. Learn about their unique customs and traditions, and stay overnight in a local homestay for an authentic cultural experience.

Day 5-6: Halong Bay - Overnight Cruise

Head to Halong Bay and board a luxury cruise for an unforgettable overnight experience. Sail through the emerald waters, explore hidden caves, and kayak among limestone karsts. Indulge in delicious seafood meals and witness breathtaking sunsets on the deck of your cruise ship.

Day 7-8: Ninh Binh - Natural Wonders

Continue your journey to Ninh Binh and marvel at its natural beauty. Explore the Trang An Landscape Complex, take a boat ride through the stunning Tam Coc, and visit the ancient temples of Hoa Lu. Cycle through rural villages and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of this enchanting destination.

Day 9-10: Cat Ba Island - Beach Retreat

Travel to Cat Ba Island, the largest island in Halong Bay. Relax on pristine beaches, go hiking in the Cat Ba National Park, and explore the intriguing Hospital Cave. Enjoy water activities such as kayaking and snorkeling, and savor fresh seafood at local restaurants.

Northern Vietnam Trip: Discover the Charm of Northern Vietnam in 10 Days

Day 1: Hanoi - City Highlights

Arrive in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, and embark on a city tour to discover its highlights. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Complex, including the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the One Pillar Pagoda. Explore the Temple of Literature and take a cyclo ride through the vibrant streets of the Old Quarter.

Day 2: Halong Bay - Cruise and Kayaking

Embark on a cruise journey in Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sail through the stunning karst formations, explore one of the magnificent caves, and indulge in a delicious seafood lunch. Afterward, immerse yourself in the beauty of the bay through kayaking, discovering hidden lagoons and unique rock formations.

Day 3-4: Ninh Binh - Trang An and Tam Coc

Travel to Ninh Binh and explore the breathtaking natural wonders. Take a boat ride through Trang An to witness stunning limestone peaks, caves, and quiet streams. Visit Tam Coc and enjoy a scenic sampan ride through rice paddies and limestone cliffs. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region.

Day 5-6: Mai Chau - Ethnic Minority Experience

Head to Mai Chau, a valley surrounded by lush mountains and ethnic minority villages. Experience the local culture through homestay accommodations and traditional meals. Explore the traditional stilt houses, cycle through picturesque rice fields, and engage with the friendly Thai and Muong ethnic communities.

Trekking in Sapa

Trekking in Sapa - (Source: Collected)

Day 7-8: Sapa - Trekking and Market Visits

Travel to Sapa, a mountainous region renowned for its stunning landscapes and colorful ethnic minority markets. Trek through terraced rice fields, visit local villages, and interact with the Hmong, Dao, and Tay communities. Shop for traditional handicrafts and textiles at the bustling markets.

Day 9-10: Hanoi - Cultural Immersion

Return to Hanoi for the final days of your trip. Dive deeper into Vietnamese culture by participating in a cooking class and learning how to prepare authentic local dishes. Visit museums, art galleries, and enjoy traditional water puppet shows. End your journey with a gastronomic experience at a local restaurant.

Northern Vietnam Itinerary: Uncover the Natural Beauty of the North in Two Weeks

Day 1-2: Hanoi - Cultural Capital

Start your two-week adventure in Hanoi, exploring its rich history and cultural attractions. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, and the Museum of Ethnology. Stroll through the Old Quarter and savor traditional Vietnamese dishes at local eateries.

Day 3-4: Halong Bay - Cruise and Cave Explorations

Embark on a cruise in Halong Bay and witness its stunning karst formations. Visit famous caves like Thien Cung and Sung Sot, and enjoy activities such as kayaking and swimming. Spend a night on board the cruise ship, indulging in delightful seafood meals and enjoying the mesmerizing views.

Day 5-7: Sapa - Trekking and Local Culture

Head to Sapa and embark on a multi-day trekking adventure through beautiful rice terraces and ethnic minority villages. Encounter the Hmong, Dao, and Giay communities, and experience their unique customs and traditions. Stay in homestays to immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy traditional meals.

Day 8-10: Ha Giang - Off-the-Beaten-Path Exploration

Journey to Ha Giang, an unspoiled region with stunning landscapes and authentic ethnic cultures. Trek through the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark, a UNESCO Global Geopark, and visit local markets. Interact with the ethnic communities of the Tay, Nung, and H'mong, and marvel at the breathtaking scenery.

Day 11-12: Cao Bang - Waterfalls and Lakes

Travel to Cao Bang and explore its natural wonders. Visit the stunning Ban Gioc Waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Vietnam, and take a boat trip along the Nguom Ngao Cave. Discover the tranquil beauty of Ba Be Lake and engage with local Tay communities.

Day 13-14: Ba Vi National Park - Nature Retreat

End your journey in the serene Ba Vi National Park, located near Hanoi. Immerse yourself in nature and enjoy activities such as hiking, bird watching, and wildlife spotting. Relax in hot springs and visit the Ba Vi Temple, perched on the summit of a mountain.

North Vietnam Travel: Must-See Destinations and Cultural Experiences

Hanoi - Capital City Explorations

Start your North Vietnam travel adventure in Hanoi, the vibrant capital city. Explore the historical sites, such as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Temple of Literature. Wander through the bustling streets of the Old Quarter and indulge in local street food delicacies.

Halong Bay - Breathtaking Natural Wonder

No trip to Northern Vietnam is complete without a visit to Halong Bay. Embark on a cruise and sail through the mesmerizing karst formations. Explore hidden caves, go kayaking, and witness stunning sunsets over the bay. Marvel at the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sapa - Trekking and Hill Tribe Encounters

Travel to Sapa and embark on a trekking adventure through terraced rice fields and minority villages. Encounter tribes such as the Hmong, Dao, and Tay, and learn about their traditional way of life. Experience the warm hospitality of homestays and immerse yourself in the local culture.

Ninh Binh - Natural Wonders and Ancient Sites

Visit Ninh Binh, known as the "Halong Bay on land," and explore its stunning natural landscapes. Take a boat ride through Trang An or Tam Coc and admire the limestone mountains and crystal-clear rivers. Visit ancient temples and pagodas, including Bai Dinh Pagoda, one of the largest in Vietnam.

Mai Chau - Rural Retreat and Cultural Immersement

Escape to the peaceful valley of Mai Chau, surrounded by picturesque mountains and rice fields. Experience the local way of life through homestays in traditional stilt houses. Engage with the ethnic Thai and Muong communities, enjoy traditional dance performances, and savor authentic local cuisine.

Ho Chi Minh City - History and Modernity

Extend your North Vietnam travel to the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon). Visit historic sites like the Cu Chi Tunnels and the War Remnants Museum. Experience the vibrant nightlife, explore the bustling markets, and indulge in delicious street food.

Hoi An - Ancient Town and Cultural Heritage

If time permits, make your way to the charming town of Hoi An. Explore its well-preserved Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admire the unique blend of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese architecture, visit ancient temples, and immerse yourself in the town's rich cultural heritage.

When planning your North Vietnam adventure, consider consulting reputable Vietnam travel companies for expert guidance and assistance. They can help craft customized itineraries and offer Vietnam all-inclusive packages to ensure a hassle-free and memorable journey.

Northern Vietnam Trip: 14-Day Adventure through the Northern Highlands

Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi

Start your 14-day adventure through the Northern Highlands of Vietnam by arriving in Hanoi, the vibrant capital city. After settling into your accommodations, take a walk around the Old Quarter, known for its narrow streets and bustling markets. Enjoy some delicious street food and experience the unique atmosphere of the city.

Day 2-3: Exploring Hanoi

Spend the next two days exploring all that Hanoi has to offer. Visit iconic landmarks like the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, and the Hanoi Opera House. Take a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake and visit the Ngoc Son Temple. Don't miss out on trying traditional Vietnamese dishes such as pho and banh mi at local street stalls or renowned restaurants.

Day 4-6: Sapa Trekking Adventure

Embark on a three-day trekking adventure in Sapa, a picturesque town nestled in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range. Take in the breathtaking views of terraced rice fields and interact with ethnic minority groups such as the Hmong and Red Dao. Trek through lush forests, visit local villages, and experience their unique culture and way of life.

Day 7-9: Cruise in Halong Bay

Head to Halong Bay and embark on a memorable cruise through its emerald waters and limestone karsts. Spend three days exploring the bay's stunning caves, floating villages, and hidden beaches. Enjoy activities such as kayaking, swimming, and squid fishing. Indulge in delicious seafood meals on board and witness breathtaking sunsets over the bay.

Day 10-11: Ninh Binh and Tam Coc

Continue your journey to Ninh Binh, often referred to as "Halong Bay on Land." Explore the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, by taking a boat ride through its winding rivers and limestone caves. Visit the ancient capital of Hoa Lu and learn about Vietnam's rich history. Take a bike ride around Tam Coc and immerse yourself in the stunning natural landscapes.

Day 12-14: Return to Hanoi and Departure

Return to Hanoi for your final days in Northern Vietnam. Explore more of the city's attractions, go shopping at the local markets, and indulge in the vibrant nightlife. Visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long and the Museum of Ethnology to delve deeper into Vietnamese culture. End your trip with a visit to the Water Puppet Theater, a traditional art form unique to Vietnam. Depart from Hanoi with unforgettable memories of your 14-day adventure through the Northern Highlands.

North Vietnam 2-Week Itinerary: From Hanoi to Sapa and Halong Bay

Day 1-3: Arrival in Hanoi and City Exploration

Upon arrival in Hanoi, start your two-week itinerary by immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the city. Visit the Old Quarter, try local street food, and explore iconic landmarks such as Hoan Kiem Lake, the Temple of Literature, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Learn about Vietnam's history and culture through these significant sites.

Day 4-6: Trekking Adventure in Sapa

Take a scenic train ride to Sapa, a charming town surrounded by majestic mountains and terraced rice fields. Embark on a three-day trekking adventure, led by experienced guides, to discover the beauty of this region. Interact with ethnic minority groups, visit local villages, and learn about their traditions and customs.

Day 7-9: Halong Bay Cruise

Travel to Halong Bay and embark on a spectacular cruise through its breathtaking landscapes. Spend three days exploring hidden caves, kayaking in crystal-clear waters, and enjoying the tranquility of the bay. Admire the magical scenery and indulge in delicious seafood meals on board.

Day 10-12: Relaxation in Ninh Binh

Head to Ninh Binh, a serene destination known for its natural beauty. Take a boat ride through Trang An, marvel at the beauty of Tam Coc, and visit the ancient temples in Hoa Lu. Experience the peaceful countryside and recharge for the next leg of your journey.

Tam Coc, Ninh Binh

Tam Coc, Ninh Binh - (Source: Collected)

Day 13-14: Return to Hanoi and Farewell

Return to Hanoi, where you can spend your final days exploring more of the city's attractions and indulging in the local cuisine. Visit museums, wander through markets, and enjoy the bustling atmosphere. Say farewell to the enchanting North Vietnam as you depart from Hanoi with cherished memories.

North Vietnam Travel Guide: Tips and Recommendations for an Unforgettable Trip

Best Time to Visit Northern Vietnam

The best time to visit Northern Vietnam is during the spring months of March to May and the autumn months of September to November. During these seasons, the weather is generally pleasant, with mild temperatures and less rainfall. It is ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the region's natural beauty.


Getting around Northern Vietnam is relatively easy. From Hanoi, you can take buses or trains to various destinations. Consider booking a guided tour or hiring a local driver for convenience and to ensure a smooth travel experience. In remote areas like Sapa, trekking and hiring a local guide is recommended to navigate the terrain.


There are a variety of accommodations available in Northern Vietnam, ranging from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts. In Hanoi, you can find hotels in the Old Quarter or near major attractions. In Sapa and Halong Bay, there are options for both homestays and comfortable hotels. Consider booking in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.

Local Cuisine

Exploring the culinary delights of Northern Vietnam is a must. Sample traditional dishes such as pho, banh mi, and bun cha in Hanoi. In Sapa, try local specialties like grilled pork skewers and bamboo sticky rice. Seafood lovers will find Halong Bay a paradise, with fresh seafood dishes available on board the cruises.

Responsible Travel

Respect the local cultures and traditions of the ethnic minority groups you encounter during your trip. When trekking in Sapa, follow designated trails and avoid damaging the rice terraces. Be mindful of waste and dispose of it responsibly. Support local communities by purchasing handmade crafts and products directly from them.

Vietnam North Itinerary: Exploring the Best of Northern Vietnam in 7 Days

Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi

Start your 7-day adventure in Northern Vietnam by arriving in Hanoi, the bustling capital city. Spend the day exploring the charming streets of the Old Quarter and savoring traditional street food such as pho and banh mi.

Day 2: Halong Bay Cruise

Embark on a spectacular overnight cruise in Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the limestone karsts, visit hidden caves, and kayak through the serene waters of the bay. Watch the sunset and enjoy a delicious seafood dinner on board.

Day 3-4: Sapa Trek

Travel to Sapa and immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes of terraced rice fields. Embark on a two-day trekking adventure, visiting local villages and interacting with ethnic minority groups. Experience their unique culture and enjoy breathtaking views along the way.

Day 5-6: Ninh Binh Exploration

Head to Ninh Binh, often called the "Halong Bay on Land." Take a boat ride through the picturesque Trang An Landscape Complex, visit ancient temples in Hoa Lu, and cycle around the scenic Tam Coc. Experience tranquility and natural beauty at its finest.

Day 7: Return to Hanoi and Departure

Return to Hanoi for your last day in Northern Vietnam. Visit attractions you may have missed, shop for souvenirs, and indulge in the local cuisine. Depart from Hanoi with wonderful memories of your 7-day adventure through the best of Northern Vietnam.

Northern Vietnam Travel Guide: Essential Information for Travelers

North and Central Vietnam Itinerary: Hanoi old Quarter

North Vietnam Itinerary: Hanoi old Quarter - (Source: Collected)

Visa Requirements

Before traveling to Vietnam, ensure that you have a valid passport with at least six months of validity remaining. Most nationalities require a visa to enter Vietnam. You can apply for a visa online or at the embassy or consulate in your country of residence. Check the official government website or consult with a travel agency for the most up-to-date information.

Health and Safety

It is recommended to have travel insurance before your trip to Northern Vietnam. Make sure to check that your vaccinations are up to date, including hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and tetanus. Take necessary precautions against mosquito bites and drink filtered or bottled water. Exercise caution when crossing the streets in busy cities like Hanoi.

Currency and Payment

The official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). Cash is widely accepted, especially in rural areas, so it is recommended to have some local currency on hand. Credit cards are accepted in major cities and tourist establishments, but it's always a good idea to carry cash for small purchases or in remote areas.

Language and Communication

The official language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. While English is spoken by many people in tourist areas and hotels, it may be limited in more rural areas. Learning a few basic phrases or carrying a translation app can be useful for communication. Local tour guides and staff at hotels can assist in translating if needed.

Tipping and Etiquette

Tipping is not a common practice in Vietnam, but it is appreciated for exceptional service. In restaurants, leaving a small amount of spare change or rounding up the bill is sufficient. It is customary to remove your shoes when entering someone's home or a temple. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites and respect local customs and traditions.


In conclusion, planning a North Vietnam itinerary offers a wide range of enticing options for travelers looking to explore this diverse and enchanting region. By partnering with reputable Vietnam travel companies, visitors can access comprehensive packages that include transportation, accommodation, and guided tours, ensuring a hassle-free and immersive experience. From the bustling capital city of Hanoi to the stunning landscapes of Halong Bay and Sapa, there are countless places to visit in Vietnam's northern region that showcase its rich culture, history, and natural beauty. Whether you opt for a 2-week itinerary or a shorter trip, a North Vietnam travel guide can provide valuable insights and recommendations to make the most of your journey. Additionally, some Vietnam all-inclusive packages offer visits to historical sites such as Ho Chi Minh and the Cu Chi Tunnels, providing a deeper understanding of the country's past. With its captivating charm and endless opportunities for discovery, North Vietnam promises an unforgettable adventure for all travelers. Plan your North Vietnam trip today and embark on an extraordinary exploration of this captivating destination.

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