NORTHERN VIETNAM ❤️ Ultimate Travel Guide [2021]

Northern Vietnam - Travel Guide

Welcome, several basic information about Vietnam to start with. Few countries in such a short space of time have changed as much as Vietnam. Its been 40 years since the end of the Vietnamese War , a war which was proof of the durability and resilience of the Vietnamese people. It is a country in a state of constant evolution and is now easier to access than ever before. The roads are upgraded, hotels spring up left right and centre, Vietnamese entrepreneurial spirit is alive again in a thriving socialist market economy. And tourists and travelers from all the world are welcome.



Vietnam is stunning – a real gem, arising almost miraculously from the ashes of war.

    • The number of foreign tourists visiting the country in the last years is still slowly growing. Everyone is talking about rice paddies and sugar, about white beaches, friendly people,  beautiful mountains and pagodas, historical sites, and of course about business.
    • The Vietnamese people have said a quick goodbye to their bitter past,  and now focus on the future and the overall prosperity of their country. From the unification of North and South Vietnam in 1975 , the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was born. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and it is also a major economic engine, the most visited place with a rich culture and transport hub of northern Vietnam, with a population over 8 million people.
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Mural art in Phung Hung steet in Hanoi. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and offers a lot of attractions and rich history.


In the country ruled by the Communist Party, which has allowed private business.

    • In the country ruled by the Communist Party, which has allowed private buIn reality, however, the movement towards a market economy widening the gap between rich and poor people. The average monthly income for urban residents is around 100-300 USD. But in the poorest provinces workers can earn eg. Only 30 USD per month, and that’s a big difference between the inhabitants. It illustrates the growing divide between urban and rural residents of Vietnam.
    • There is a great difference between the southern and northern Vietnam, deep psychological abyss that were still long before US-Vietnamese war began, and is colored by the Vietnamese culture.

BOOK TICKETS + FLIGHTS in Vietnam

Residents of the northern Vietnam are considered cautious, thrifty nation.

    • But they do not respect laws and miss dynamics and entrepreneurial know-how. On the contrary, it can not be said of their compatriots in the south. Not surprisingly, that this fact is significant in the economy: south Vietnam growth engine, and boasts the lower unemployment and the higher average wage. Increasingly glitzy city of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) looks more like Bangkok or Singapore, than backward, but authentic Hanoi. Northern Vietnam is compared to the south in the development of backward.
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In northern Vietnam you can visit a lot of stunning and amazing rice terraces, eg. in Mu Cang Chai (Yen Bai province).


Vietnam has a large number of places to visit in the north and also in the south.

    • Despite the charm of cities like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, it is the country of remarkable landscapes, so most visitors will be in northern Vietnam totally impressed. Vietnam occupies a narrow strip of land, that hugs the western border of Cambodia and Laos, surrounded by rugged mountains, and the South China sea to the east and the borders to the north with China. The population is currently approximately 97 million (2018) and is growing.

HOTELS in VIETNAM (Up to 60% discount)

54 ethnic minorities is recorded in Vietnam – they live mainly in the mountains.

    • Each trip to the remote mountainous areas of northern Vietnam has also focused on the visit of ethnic minorities who live here. Beautiful colorful tribal costumes, ancient customs in communal longhouses are waiting for those visitors who will go trekking into these villages. Most of the ethnic population live in the north in the mountains along the Chinese border. If you go north, you will come with them definitely in touch.
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Tam Son ethnic market in Ha Giang in the north of Vietnam.


Fascinating mountains and valleys, rice fields, lakes and national parks.

    • In these mountains you will see fascinating insights on the rice terraces, fields and the beautiful mountain valleys and mountain ridges. Surely you will want to visit the highest mountain in Vietnam – Fan Si Pan with a height of 3144 m in Sapa (Hoang Lien national park). Another very interesting and less crowded spot at the north is Dong Van Karst Global Geopark in Ha Giang province.

    TRAINS to LAO CAI – SAPA (+Tickets)

    • It is a home to many ethnic minorities of Vietnam. Ha Giang is a home to many ethnic minorities of Vietnam and one of the remotest and most beautiful places in northern Vietnam. We could tell „must see“ place. Another very nice and interesting place is also Cao Bang province. The best way how to explore these sites is to rent a motorbike.
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Motorbiking in Cao Bang province – Xuan Truong, only about 20 km from Bao Lac.


You can see the true natural treasures of Vietnam in the National parks.

    • Regarding wildlife and nature, there appeared in recent years several previously unknown species of plants, birds and animals. It tells of the natural wealth and biodiversity of Vietnam. Diverse flora and fauna can be seen mostly in national parks of northern Vietnam. In northern Vietnam, it is roughly about 10 major National parks and some smaller parks. One of the most beautiful parks is the Hoang Lien Son national park in the north between the provinces of Lao Cai and Lai Chau and already mentioned Dong Van Karst Global Geopark in Ha Giang province.
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Ma Pi Leng Pass in Dong Van Geopark (Ha Giang) is one of the most fascinating places in northern Vietnam.


Where and when to travel in Vietnam? The universal answer is probably not.

    • Like most travelers, you may ask the most common questions. In my opinion, however, there is no universal simple answer. It all depends on what you like, what you want to see, and the most important – how much time do you have. Do you want to see history, authenticity, or do you like mountains, nature? Or do you want to spend a classic holiday in Vietnam? Northern Vietnam can be enjoyed mostly by classic backpackers, but everything is possible in this country. Read carefully these articles > 16 most interesting places in the north. Please read the articles if you do not want to miss anything, there are also some hidden gems of northern Vietnam.

BOOK YOUR MOTORBIKE in Vietnam

Holiday in Vietnam, but also classic adventure for backpackers.

    • Northern Vietnam is, in my opinion, an ideal place for backpackers who do not want to travel with a travel agency. It offers many places where tourists do not drive and this part of Vietnam is huge. However, tourism in Vietnam is improving and modernizing and offering also a luxurious holiday. In the north, however, unfortunately, it is focus on places like Sapa, Ha Long, Hanoi. There are exceptions, but if you search for them, you will not find them much. Let’s see what the future will bring and how Vietnam will change, I think it will be very interesting.

1. Hanoi 2. Ninh Binh 3. Ha Giang 4. Moc Chau 5. Sapa 6. Ha Long 7. Cao Bang 8. Son La 9. Yen Bai

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Hang Mua (Mua Caves) + viewpoint, one of the biggest tourist attraction in Ninh Binh.


Vietnam is not just a nice pictures, nice scenery and travel fun.

    • As Vietnam has gone through continuous urbanization for years, modernizing so ubiquitous pictures will unfortunately not be good pictures for you. You will often see underbuildings, refurbishment, new buildings, hotels, but also the ubiquitous mess and garbage. When traveling in Vietnam, you will definitely find yourself in such situations, and it is good to know in advance, so that you will not be a bit shocked. We could say „Vietnam is under construction“ 🙂

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A new hotels and tourist resorts in Vietnam will continue to grow.

    • You will notice major changes mainly in tourist and visiting places that are changing and changing. New roads and transportation routes are also being built, and sometimes traveling on a motorbike is very demanding and tiring, especially in mountainous areas, where some roads may be still in poor condition. However, you will be rewarded in the mountains with fantastic scenery (but sometimes unfortunately the mess) that you will remember for a long time.
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Urbanization in the Co To Island.


10 most read articles on this website:

1. How to travel from Hanoi to Sapa? Train or Bus?
2. How to travel from Hanoi to Ninh Binh?
3. 16 Most Interesting Places
4. Ha Giang – the most beautiful place in the north
5. Maps of northern and southern Vietnam
6. How to travel from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay?
7. Transportation (trains, buses, ferries, taxi…)
8. How to travel from Hanoi to Ha Giang?
9. 10 luxury trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai (Sapa)
10. How to travel from Hanoi to Cat Ba Island?

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Tea plantations in Moc Chau in the northwest of Vietnam.


 VIETNAM – COUNTRY INFORMATION:

• Capital: Hanoi (about 8 million inhabitants)
• Official name: Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Việt Nam)
• Area: 331,689 km²
• Currency: Vietnamese dong (₫,VND)
• Population: approximately 97.4 million (2020)
• President of Vietnam: Nguyễn Xuân Phúc (from April 2021)
• Official language: Vietnamese (+ languages of ethnic minorities)
• Politics is ruled by Communist Party (business and travel is allowed)
• International dialing code: +84
• Religion: Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Christianity. Mahayana Buddhism is predominant type (about 50% of the population), another significant proportion of Buddhists are members of the Hoa Hao sect (assumed to be about 1.5 million believers)

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Rice terraces in northern Vietnam.


Do you want to explore the northern Vietnam?
DO NOT TRAVEL ONLY TO HANOI, HA LONG BAY or SAPA!

I focused in northern Vietnam on this website, interesting places that you should not miss. What to see, what to do and where to go in the north of Vietnam. You will also find practical information about Vietnam, which will be very useful for you (visa, itineraries, transportation, accommodation …). See also described map of northern and southern Vietnam with points of interest. For each article of interesting areas, you’ll also find Google map below the article. I created this website because a lot of travelers go only to southern Vietnam, I personally think it’s a shame. Northern Vietnam has a lot to offer in the future. I hope you will enjoy your traveling in northern Vietnam.

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icon-question-circle Do you have any questions or comments?

You can write to me: severni-vietnam[at]seznam[dot]cz. I can only advise you what I know. I will be glad if you also watch FACEBOOK page where I occasionally upload some interest. I have copyright on all published photos and texts, some photos are published courtesy of the authors. This website is mainly for travelers. Website is informative, I do not offer any guide services in Vietnam and you will not find here any e-shop or other products.


Do you want to support this website? You can do it.

This website is free for all visitors and travelers heading to Vietnam. Here you will find a lot of my information about possible travel around northern Vietnam. You do not pay anything for the content on this website, the content is completely free for all visitors. If you like the website and you are satisfied with the information, you can contribute a small amount ($3) to its further maintenance and updates. You can do it online on BUYMEACOFFEE platform. And I may also buy one coffee or snack. In my opinion $3 for completely free content is nothing.

BUY ME COFFEE HERE (Thanks!)


north-vietnam-profil1Hi, my name is Milan. I´am from Czech Republic. I created this website/blog (independent travel guide) about northern Vietnam. I collected a lot of information from my traveling in northern Vietnam, so I decided to pass it on, and I hope that will be useful and help you during your travel. Why this website is only about the north of Vietnam? Because I love this part of Vietnam. Mountains, nature, ethnic minorities, authenticity – it attracts me. If i get and have some new informations and updates a actualize it (follow Facebook). This website was created with love ❤


FAQ + TIPS – Travel and explore northern Vietnam:

How you can book tickets or flights for Vietnam?

    • You can search and book tickets or flights for Vietnam online on Baolau or 12go.asia.
    • There is a largest offer of train, bus, ferry tickets and flights for Vietnam.

What are the most visited places in northern Vietnam?

    • The most visited and tourist sites in northern Vietnam are Sapa, Halong Bay, Ninh Binh. NOTE: I recommend to visit also another non-tourist places in northern Vietnam.

How to move and explore northern Vietnam?

    • There are various ways how you can travel in northern Vietnam. You can use buses, train, private car/minivans or plane. Read this article: Transportation in Vietnam.

What is the capital of Vietnam?

    • The capital of Vietnam is Hanoi, located in southern part of northern Vietnam. It is also a good starting place for exploring northern Vietnam. The main airport is Noi Bai International Airport.

Is IDP (International Driving Permitt) in Vietnam necessary?

    • Yes, if you want to drive a motorbike in Vietnam, you have to obtain your IDP in your country, do not drive a motorbike without your IDP, you should be penalized.

What is the most popular railway route in northern Vietnam?


icon-instagram MORE PHOTOS FROM VIETNAM ON MY INSTAGRAM (#vietnamil)

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