While iconic Ninh Binh, Sapa and Ha Long Bay are all worth a visit for first-timers, sometimes it pays to shrug off the crowds and look beyond the major tourist hubs. If you want to get out of tourist spots – less touristic road trip, then here is 5 amazing northern Vietnam road trip that is worth to visit in the north of Vietnam
Whatever your motivation, Northern Vietnam road trip off the beaten track isn’t a chimera. This post will inspire you to take a peek at Northern Vietnam’s hidden corners next time you’re planning a trip.
1. Mu Cang Chai
If you’ve seen gob-smacking photos of rice terraces in Vietnam, there’s a good chance they were snapped in or around Mu Cang Chai. You’d be hard pressed to find fields on this scale anywhere else in the country.
Rendered in shades of bottle green or wattle yellow depending on the time of year, the towering terraces are a weather beacon for the changing seasons and different stages of the rice harvest. What happens out here dictates the fortunes of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese farmers.
2. Y Ty
Located in remote Bat Xat District, Lao Cai. Y Ty will emerge as another alternative to busy Sapa at some point in the future. The area boasts picturesque landscapes, idyllic hamlets, and because of the high altitude, opportunities to ‘chase the clouds’—a popular activity in Vietnam which involves snapping photos on misty mornings.
This road trip is a great way to explore the north end highlands. Either bathed in a warm, sharp highland light, shimmering over the ripe rice terraces like a halo, or covered in a cold, haunting fog, so thick it induces feelings of claustrophobia, Y Ty is a rewarding way to spend a road trip in the saddle.
Weather is always difficult to predict in this region, but spring (March-May) and autumn (September-October) are probably the best months for warmth, light, and colour.
3. Pu Luong Nature Reserve
Pu Luong is probably the most pristine patch of land in Northern Vietnam. Protected under law since 1999, the 17-odd hectare reserve is valued for its flora and fauna. A number of ethnic Thai and Muong communities dwell inside the park’s boundaries, following a largely traditional lifestyle.
Among their pursuits is building the incredible bamboo waterwheels that Pu Luong is known for. These magnificent structures harvest water from low-lying streams, filtering it into the rice fields via a series of bamboo pipes. It really has to be seen to be appreciated.
Ancient technology set against virgin forest, verdant fields and thatched-roof hamlets: Pu Luong is exactly the sort of landscape Vietnam dreams are made of. See more: Things to do in Pu Luong Travel Guide
4. Dong Van Loop, Ha Giang
All but isolated from the rest of the country until the 1970s, you often hear Ha Giang described as Vietnam’s ‘final frontier’. The northern part of the province forms a natural land border with China and is characterised by soaring mountains, steep ravines, and the incredible Dong Van Karst Plateau.
Ha Giang is typically navigated by tracing the Dong Van Loop—a circuitous route that leads motorbike riders through some of Vietnam’s most majestic landscapes. It’s well worth stopping off in villages to indulge in some of the best trekking Vietnam (or anywhere else in Southeast Asia, for that matter) has to offer.
Overall, Ha Giang is yet to be touched by the heavy hand of tourism—but things are changing fast, and Dong Van is poised to become the next Sapa. Now might be your last opportunity to experience Ha Giang’s ethnic minority markets and family-run homestays. Read more: Amazing Hanoi to Ha Giang Road Trip
5. Moc Chau
Poor old Moc Chau District is almost completely overshadowed by neighbouring Mai Chau. Located less than 100km up the road in Son La Province (but admittedly a little harder to reach by public transport), Moc Chau is a great alternative to the tourist-heavy Mai Chau Valley.
The best time to visit Moc Chau is in the spring, when the landscape is engulfed in blooming cherry blossoms. Other varietals paint the hills different shades at other times of year.
- Recommended Moc Chau Tour: Off track colorful Northern Vietnam 16 Days
Recommended Northern Vietnam Road Trip by local driver
Questions About Vietnam Road Trip Travel?
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