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Northern Vietnam Itinerary Help!

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Northern Vietnam Itinerary Help!

Hi Everyone

We visited Vietnam a few years ago as part of an organised tour. As part of that we visited Halong bay and Hanoi before we moved further south. We are now planning a trip back (not until next November) but because we plan to travel independently this time I'm planning well in advance! For me, a lot of the pleasure is planning the trip too so I like to start nice and early! We will be travelling about a month in total and plan to take in Southern China and northern Vietnam although we are not set on which way round we do it (China first, Vietnam second or vice versa).

We particularly want to go back to Hanoi as we were only there for a couple of days last time and then want to concentrate on the very Northern part of Vietnam (Sapa, the mountains etc). We are particularly interested in natural beauty, mountains, the local people etc and not really touristy things. With this in mind I wonder if anyone could suggest an itinerary? We are not tied to a set number of days at present so can be guided by your suggestions. It would be nice to be based in fewer places and not have to pack up every day and move on so if we could visit areas whilst being based somewhere that might be better although I'm open to any suggestions.

I know there are lots of different itineraries already mentioned on this forum but I have to confess I have ended up more confused by trying to go through them all!

If anyone has any suggestions about joining Northern Vietnam with Southern China I'd also be interested on suggested itineraries

All suggestions welcome and many thanks in advance!

Lady Wanderer-UK

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1. Re: Northern Vietnam Itinerary Help!

Have a look at Ha Giang. It is unspoilt and seems to get great reviews on here though I'm not sure how easy it is to travel round. Sapa is great for a few days, and Ninh Binh isn't overly touristy yet. From what you write, you may also like Phong Nha which is further down but easily doable if you have a couple of weeks to fit in Hanoi, Sapa and there. Halong Bay is touristy but still worth visiting especially on one of the boats that goes into Bai Tu bay which is less busy. Ninh Binh area is about two hours from Hanoi, Phong Nha is an overnight train away. If you really only want to do the very far north then you may find it harder to get around as it is still quite untouched and rural.

There are many experts on here who will be better equipped to tell you of other places but have a look at the ones I've suggested to get an idea of what they offer. Looking forward to seeing your final plan!

Pennsylvania, USA
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2. Re: Northern Vietnam Itinerary Help!

Sapa is a VERY touristy town in the Lao Cai province. Given your stated interested you'd enjoy Ha Giang, the next province to the east from Lao Cai. It still gets very few tourists and has amazing scenery and utterly charming people. These rewards come at a price, it takes a bit more effort to travel there. This April my husband and I spent absolutely 6 amazing days in Ha Giang, leaving and returning from Hanoi. Here is a recent NY Times article on Ha Giang and our account of our trip there:



I am not sure from your post if your intentions are to travel by land from northern Vietnam to China. If so, this is not easy.

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3. Re: Northern Vietnam Itinerary Help!

Sapa is still nice but very touristy now. Even when trekking with normal route such as Y Linh Ho, Lao Chai, Tavan or Taphin, you will meet travelers along the road. Another point as mentioned above by Tecalli is Ha Giang where is not touristy. Or another option is travelling from Hanoi via Hoa Binh with Mai Chau commune, Son La, Dien Bien Phu and Sapa. And it will take a lot of time with long trip.

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4. Re: Northern Vietnam Itinerary Help!

You don't say which part of southern China you're interested in, but if you prefer overland transportation rather than flying, two options are train from Hanoi (or Lang Son by the border) to Nanning, or train from Hanoi to Lao Cai (the station where tours to Sapa terminate) and a bus from the nearby border to Kunming. Details of both can be found towards the bottom of this web page:


5. Re: Northern Vietnam Itinerary Help!

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