Hanoi, capital of Vietnam, is one of 3 cities in the country that has international airport. Thus, it is one of the entrances for travelers arriving Vietnam; of course, you have to stay in Hanoi for one night at least. However, my suggestion is that you should extend your time in this fascinating city especially in the old Quarter to experience the “rules of chaos” of Hanoi. There are many ways to experience the history and culture of Hanoi such as booking a guide and car to go to historic and culture sites and learning from your guide explanation, joining a motorbike tour to experience the way people ride in the country with 45 million motorbikes.
Besides, a Hanoi walking tour to the hidden part of Hanoi or a Hanoi cycling tour to the suburban area also a good suggestion for those want more relaxing Hanoi. At night time, remember to check in “Beer Corner”, sitting on small chair, order some “Bia hoi” and do as local people do. You can combine that with a street food tour to try all the local dishes.
I believe most of people planning a trip to Vietnam have listed Halong Bay as a priority thing to do. Cruising along many limestone islands, kayaking in the bay, watching sunrise and sunset would be some of the best activities in the Bay. I often advise people to spend at least 1 night in Halong Bay. However, the operation of new highway road and Bach Dang bridge shortens the way from Hanoi to Halong Bay from 4 hours to 2 hours; now you can do 1 day trip without worrying much about long time transfer. Still, if you have time, 2 days 1 night would be the best for your Vietnam itinerary 7 days.
Considered as “Halong Bay on land”, Ninh Binh, featuring many limestone karsts, winding glassy rivers, sprawling rice paddies is deserved as one of the most picturesque landscapes of Vietnam. Taking an rowing boat trip along famous areas of Tam Coc, Trang An or less touristic areas such as Van Long, Thung Nang, Thung Chim is the first thing you should do there. Your trip would be more active if you can rent a bike to cycle through village roads and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of countryside.
Mai Chau and Pu Luong
Home to Thai and Muong ethnic minorities, there are much development from Mai Chau to Pu Luong for the last few years; since its spectacular landscape of breathtaking mountains and poetic picture of ethnics’ houses covered by terrace fields has stolen the heart of many visitors. These two places are often chosen by travelers who want to see Sapa but don’t want to take the train; having limited time or don’t want to experience over tourism there. Some of the activities you can do here are trekking and cycling through villages, enjoying traditional dance of Thai ethnic community, trying rice wine “happy water”; especially staying one night at traditional stilt house of local people. Since Pu Luong is less touristic and less developed in compared with Mai Chau, it can be an ideal place for those who wants to be off the beaten track.
For those destinations suggested above, you can do all together as one loop starting from Hanoi then Mai Chau, Ninh Binh, Halong then back to Hanoi for the last day.
For people who want to see more parts of Vietnam can consider to go to Hue and Hoi An instead of Ninh Binh and Mai Chau with itinerary combining Hanoi and Halong Bay.
Hue, the last capital of Vietnam under feudal system is one of the most charming cities of the country. With imperial citadel, many temples, shrines, and tombs maintained, Hue is the best place to learn about feudalism and history during period of changing from feudal to colonial country. The 3 –hour transfer from Hue to Hoi An along pristine beaches is also a highlight since it makes you feel really refreshed after several days experience heavy traffic in Vietnam.
It is not much to say that Hoi An is the most wanted town for tourists travelling to Vietnam. Every characteristics of this town such as ancient buildings, colorful lanterns at night time, slow pace of living make people deeply in love with it. Take time to join in a Cooking tour in Hoi An for the best recipe of some Vietnamese dishes is the thing you should do after wandering through peaceful streets of the town. You can make your day busy by choosing one of the interesting daily tours; that take you to the nearby areas to learn about daily life of local people. Otherwise, reserve a hotel next to the beach for your free leisure is not bad idea at all.
You can consider this Classic adventure Vietnam 12 days tour or contact the travel consultant for customized tour. I hope those tips above will be useful for you to make the trip your trip.
Van Do – Travel Expert