Searching for places to visit in Northern Vietnam, lands of wonders, natural UNESCO sites, Rocky mountain Ha Giang to biggest Bang Gioc waterfalls in Cao Bang.

Visit Halong Bay, Sapa, Mu Cang Chai, Ninh Binh, Mai Chau, Cat Ba islands ranking as top places to visit in Northern Vietnam

Need to know about places to visit in Northern Vietnam

A History of the North Vietnam

This is the cradle of Vietnamese civilization. It was here that after millennia of Chinese domination, the first truly independent state of Vietnam was created in 938, and it would take centuries of conquest and migration for it to reach what we now consider Central & Southern Vietnam.

Northern Vietnam Guide
Northern Vietnam Guide

Surrounded by China to the north, Laos to the west and the Pacific Ocean the East, Northern Vietnam contains the capital of the country, Hanoi, as well as some of the nation’s most famous sights, like the otherworldly Ha Long Bay, the valleys and terraced rice paddies of Sa Pa, and the soaring mountains of Ha Giang.

Bangioc waterfalls
Bangioc waterfalls Cao Bang

In modern times, the most defining events are of course the Indochina wars against France and the United States. While most of the battles took place further south, the North was heavily bombed during the wars, but you would never guess it by visiting the now bustling and thriving region.

Read more: Places in North Vietnam off the beaten path

rice terraced fields water farming
rice terraced fields water farming

Northern Vietnam Travel Tips

The people here are friendly and open, eager for you to discover the natural and cultural wonders of their country. Mercifully cooler than the South, Northern Vietnam sports four distinct seasons, including a relatively cold winter, with temperatures in Hanoi occasionally getting close to freezing during the coldest part of the year, and the mountains in the northern reaches occasionally receiving snowfall.

Read more: Northern Vietnam You Need to Know

Halong Bay
Halong Bay

Diversified ethnic group in Northern Vietnam

The region is ethnically and culturally diverse, with significant populations of Tai-Kadai and Hmong-Mien ethnic groups in the northern mountains and hills, complementing the ethnically Vietnamese majority. The focal point of Northern Vietnam, Hanoi, feels incredibly authentic, with relatively little western influence compared to other cities in South East Asia.

Read more: The Nung ethnic group in Vietnam

Hmong people
Hmong people

Places to visit in Northern Vietnam: Highlights of northern Vietnam tour

Exploring the city’s old quarter is an unmissable experience. Sporting narrow alleys lit by colourful lights, charming establishments serving bia hoi, local beer freshly brewed every day, right on the street and a multitude of live performances during the weekend.

Read more: 20 Best Things To Do In Hanoi (Vietnam)

Old Quarter Hanoi
Old Quarter Hanoi

Halong bay tours from Hanoi

Venturing beyond the city, no trip to Northern Vietnam can be complete without a visit to famous Ha Long Bay. Explorable both on day-trips and multi-day cruises in all price ranges, the caves and cliffs of Ha Long make for an utterly unique experience.

Read more: What to do in Halong Bay Tours from Hanoi

Northern Vietnam itinerary: Places to visit in Vietnam

Up in the northern mountainous reaches near the border with China, there is also much to see and do. Here the ethnic diversity of the region becomes more apparent, and you’ll see people in their traditional tribal clothing everywhere you look. Hiking through the valleys or Sa Pa or taking a motorbike around the famous Ha Giang Loop makes you feel like you’ve truly gone off the beaten path, and stepped into the final frontier of Vietnam.


Recommended Tours:

Sapa Tour from Hanoi 3 Days

Read more: Sapa Tours from Hanoi Guide

Ha Giang loop tour amazing 5 days

Read more: Hanoi to Ha Giang Things to Do

Ba Be Ban Gioc waterfall Tour 4 Days

Read more: Things to do in Cao Bang Bang Gioc falls

Also on the Chinese border, Ban Gioc Waterfall is one of the largest waterfalls along a border in the world, and the views of the thundering falls from aboard a boat are amazing to behold.

Mu Cang Chai rice fields
Mu Cang Chai rice fields

Southwest of Ban Gioc, you will find the largest freshwater lake in Vietnam, surrounded by the picturesque Ba Be National Park. Surrounded by limestone peaks covered in green forest, Ba Be Lake is an utterly serene location, and many caves and waterfalls are scattered around its shores.

Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh

Tour recommended: Hanoi to Ban gioc waterfall transfer Ba Be Lake

Read more: Things to do in Ba Be Lake

Vietnamese food is popular around the world, and coming here to its home, it’s easy to see why. Whether you want steamy Pho, the fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisine that is the Banh Mi, sumptuous Bun cha or a Vietnamese style hotpot, there is no better place to experience it than in the heart of Hanoi.

local street food
local street food

Read more: Vietnamese food ultimate guide local cuisines

In conclusion, places to visit in Northern Vietnam to experience its rich history and culture, beautiful coastline and rugged mountains is something everyone should experience at least once, so don’t hesitate to make it the destination for your next adventure.

Our top picked tours in the North of Vietnam:

Northern Vietnam Tours with Locals

Tour Guide Vietnam & Transfers

Rent A Car with Driver

Best Day Trips from Hanoi