Sapa is a remote mountainous area up North of Vietnam with picturesque scenery and rich diverse culture. This place is host to many hill tribes and minority people. It is also the home of Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam (1613 m height), also known as “the Roof of Indochina”.
How to get to Sapa
You can either go to Sapa by car or by train. If you go by car, it will take around 5-6 hours from Hanoi. On the other hand, If you go by train, there’re a lot of tourist trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai. The best option is to take a night train from Hanoi, take a good sleep on the comfortable nice tourist train and get off at Lao Cai train station in early morning. From here, you will take a mini van to Sapa, which takes around 1 hour.
What to do in Sapa
Sapa is a small town with cool temperature, mountainous landscape and diverse culture from different minority ethnics. The most popular activity for tourists here is to go trekking into the hill tribes. As Sapa is very high from sea level, the weather here is always chilled and perfect for trekking (except for the winter when temperature is very low and the weather is cold, wet and foggy. So if possible, don’t go to Sapa from November until end of Febuary). You can spend all day going through local villages, meet the minority people and see how their daily life looks like. To better understand the local people, you can also choose to stay at their house.
For those who like adventure, you can also challenge yourself by climbing to the top of Fansipan, which is about 2 days of climbing the mountain and walking through the jungles with a lot of rocks and tree roots. Trust me, the view from the peak is worth all the difficulties you have faced on the trail.
For those who don’t have the time or physical strength to climb up the mountain, you can still enjoy the view by taking the cable car to the top of Fansipan. The Pansipan cable car has opened since Feb 2016 and it can bring almost 2000 people to the top of the mountain per hour. Instead of trekking for 2 days, now you can get to the top of the mountain in just 20 minutes by taking this cable car.
2. Halong Bay
Halong Bay is a special bay in North-East of Vietnam, which is about 200 km from Hanoi. Its unique feature is thousands of scattered isles rising from the emerald ocean. That magnificent view is a gift from the nature, which you cannot find anywhere else.
How to get to Halong Bay
The most popular method to go to Halong Bay is by car, since it’s not very far from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam (about 200 km in distance). And the ideal time to stay in Halong Bay is 2 or 3 days.
What to do in Halong Bay
Taking a cruise tour around Halong Bay is a must. Depending on your schedule, you can either choose the day tour or the overnight tour. However, if possible, I recommend taking the overnight tour as it offers more activities and sleeping on a cruise boat is a very cool experience.
The cruise boat will take you around the bay for sightseeing, stop at some attractions such as Sung Sot cave, Thien Cung cave, Ti-top Island… Most tours also offer a kayak tour in the late afternoon, so that you can paddle on the serene water, watching the sun going down.
3. Trang An
The Trang An landscape complex is a UNESCO world heritage site, including 3 famous attractions: the scenic Tam Coc – Bich Dong, the ancient capital Hoa Lu and the Bai Dinh Temple.
How to get to Trang An
The Trang An landscape complex is in Red River Delta and only 90 km from Hanoi. Therefore, the most convenient way to get here is by car.
What to do in Trang An
Tam Coc (meaning “three caves”), consists of three natural caves on the Ngo Dong River. You’ll go in small rowing boats along the river to see the beautiful landscape and check out the 3 caves. The most beautiful season is in September, when the rice fields on the sides of the river turn yellow.
Moreover, you can learn more about Vietnamese culture by visiting the Bich Dong and Bai Dinh Temples, as well as the ancient capital Hoa Lu.