Vietnam is one of the most scenic countries where you will find something beautiful, odd, or just different than anything you’ve ever seen before. A region of contrasts - from the refined colonial architecture in Hanoi to the dramatic tiered landscapes in the hills around Sapa and the sublime beauty of the karst islands in Halong Bay.
The north of Vietnam is practically a destination in its own right and offers wonderful opportunities to meet indigenous folk in the mountains as well as live it up in one of Asia’s most exciting cities in Veitnam\’s capital Hanoi.Narrowing down the many options to fit your itinerary can be tricky, but this list can help point you to the region’s top destinations.
1. Ha Long Bay
Halong Bay consists of over 3000 islands of varying sizes which sit in deliciously clear waters just off the north Vietnamese coast. Halong Bay\’s scatter of islands, dotted with wind- and wave-eroded grottoes, is a vision of ethereal beauty and, unsurprisingly, northern Vietnam\’s number one-tourism hub.
World famous for its spectacular scenery Halong Bay has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the ‘unmissable’ natural highlights of Vietnam. Its stunning bay scenery includes thousands of limestone islets that rise from the emerald waters. A day trip or overnight cruise is a stunning way to explore the region and see its isolated beaches and caves.
Home to Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest peak, and hillsides of emerald green rice terraces, Sapa is one of the most visually stunning places in the country. First developed by the French as a refreshing hill station, far from the sweltering heat of the jungles, and also as the gateway to the region.
A great place to base yourself for trekking, Sapa has way too many hiking trails to list, and local tour operators (as well as ones based in Hanoi) can guide you through these stunning landscapes for a fee. Guides offer trekking to some of the remote minority villages, but you’ll see plenty of Hmong and Dao people at the markets in town, too. A recently opened gondola runs from Sapa to Mount Fansipan, stopping just a few hundred feet shy of the summit.
3. Ha Giang Province
Ha Giang is the final frontier in northern Vietnam, an amazing landscape of limestone pinnacles and granite outcrops. The northernmost province of Vietnam is also one of the poorest and most secluded in Vietnam. A tour of Ha Giang Province is perfect for those interested in outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. There are plenty of places with stunning vantage points to appreciate the scenery, including Ma Pi Leng Pass.
With that being said, Ha Giang offers some of the best mountainous views in Southeast Asia, especially when you weave your way through the imposing Ma Pi Leng Pass, the King of Passes in Vietnam. Ha Giang should be one of the most popular destinations in this region, but its distance from just about everywhere else keeps visitor numbers at a low level.
4. Tam Coc
Tam Coc is a region of majestic beauty with its long stretch of river surrounded by rock formations, limestone cliffs and rice paddies. One of the most conspicuously beautiful places in the country, with large, dark karsts exploding from brilliant green rice paddies, the scenery is larger than life.
Many tourists visit Tam Coc on the Vietnam tourism packages for a boat ride along this winding river. Plus, there are even several caves to explore that the river has carved out over time. On a sunny day, when the rice is ready for harvest, you could easily go through an entire memory card of photographs and video clips. Don’t miss the many caves and grottos here, and try asking the local women to teach you how to row a Sampan boat the traditional way – which is with your feet!
5. Detian Falls
Ban Gioc Waterfalls or Detian Falls is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Cao Bang province, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Southeast Asia, and are designated as the largest waterfalls in Vietnam. These waterfalls are also very photogenic. These falls are highly recognizable as one of the most iconic natural wonders of Vietnam. There is a short, 10-minute walk from the parking lot, but you\’ll go through beautiful rice paddies.
Ban Gioc Waterfalls are a collection of waterfalls and have two names, located on the every border of Vietnam and China. Ban Gioc – so called part of the waterfall in Vietnam, and Detian – so called part of the waterfall in China. The Ban Gioc Waterfalls are up to 200 m wide (mostly in summer, with plenty of water), consisting of 3 cascades up to 70 m high, one cascade is about 30 m high.
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