North Vietnam - 10-day itinerary, tips, hotels and useful links

Hello, dear fellow travelers! 🌏 If you have been following our stories on Instagram, you will know that Fabio and I just completed an amazing trip to North Vietnam. Ten days that left us breathless, among fascinating cities and beautiful landscapes. Imagine a journey that mixes ancient culture, unspoiled nature and the energy of cities. North Vietnam has given us all this and much more.

We walked among the lanterns of Hoi An, savored the city life of Hanoi, and soaked in the natural beauty of places like Halong Bay, Sapa, and Ninh Binh. 🌿

Ready to find out all the details of this adventure? So get comfortable, because we are about to take you on a journey that will have you daydreaming!

DAY 1: Exploring Hoi An

Our first day was devoted to discovering Hoi An, a city that looks like something out of a fairy tale. We stayed at the“Bill Ben Homestay,” located right in the heart of Old Town, find the direct Booking link here. This place is a little gem that we can’t help but recommend. 🏨

For lunch, we chose the restaurant “Relics,” everything delicious so super recommended. Then, we explored the city. A little advice: salespeople can be a bit pushy, but a simple “no, thank you” will suffice. 🙂

In the evening, you cannot miss a walk through the Old Town market. Get on one of the small boats and take a ride on the “River of Nostalgia.” It is a tradition to make a wish and let a candle go into the river.

For dinner, we opted for street food in the market. Try their “rice papers” cooked on griddle, especially the vegetarian version, it is delicious!

Day 2: Da Nang

The second day started with a typical breakfast: egg coffee. Beaten egg, sweetened and combined with black coffee. ☕ Then, we took a cab to visit the nearby city of Da Nang. Our first stop was “Cho Con,” the largest market in central Vietnam. For lunch, we chose “Sangha,” a vegetarian restaurant that exceeded all our expectations. 🌱

Day 3: Creativity and Relaxation in Hoi An

The third day started with a breakfast at “Cocobox” in Hoi An. Then, we participated in a “Make a Lantern” class. It is a unique experience that allows you to build your own lantern from scratch. And the best part? You can fold it and take it home as a souvenir! We booked this one in particular: link get your guide – make a lantern.

To end the day on a high note, we treated ourselves to a relaxing massage at “Luna Spa.”

Day 4: Flight to Hanoi

On the fourth day we took a plane from Da Nang to Hanoi with VietJet (taken on their official website two days before departure). The cost of the flight was about 50€ each, including luggage. I know that many travelers opt for sleeping buses or trains, which cost about €20 each, but considering that it would take us 16 hours to get to Hanoi, we chose the flight option. We had little time and wanted to make the most of it.

Once we landed, we began to explore the chaotic but fascinating city of Hanoi. The capital of Vietnam is a mix of modernity and tradition, with hectic traffic and busy streets, but also with quiet corners where time seems to stand still.

We in Hanoi stayed at the Maya Boutique Hotel & Spa, find the direct Booking link here .

Day 5: Discovering Hanoi

The fifth day was devoted to exploring some of the most iconic places in Hanoi. We started by visiting theHanoi Train Street, a street where trains pass within inches of houses! I will leave down here the photo with the times when the train passes. Then, we visited Ngoc Son Temple, located on a small islet in Hoan Kiem Lake. It is a place of peace and spirituality in the heart of the hectic city.

Our next stop was Dong Xuan Market, the largest covered market in Hanoi. Here you can find everything from souvenirs to food products.

For the food part, I recommend the vegetarian pho at the “Met” restaurant. In fact, if you are in Hanoi, you cannot miss pho, a noodle soup that is almost a national symbol. 🍜

Some useful info about Hanoi: The city is known for its rich history, dating back more than a thousand years. It is a place where diverse cultural influences, from Chinese to French, are blended. Don’t miss the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Museum of Ethnology to get a complete picture of Vietnamese culture.

Day 6: Toward Halong Bay

Day 6 was all about our journey to Halong Bay, one of Vietnam’s most famous natural wonders. We booked a limousine van and you can do this through one of the local agencies in town or, as we did, at Another excellent starting point for the cruise is Cat Ba. However, we eventually chose to stay overnight directly in Halong Bay at Hotel Sol Halong, here is the booking link.

Small note: Limousine vans are a convenient and relatively inexpensive way to get to Halong Bay, especially if you are traveling in a group or looking for a little more comfort than standard buses. We spent about 19€ each and the trip took about 2 1/2/3 hours.

Day 7: Cruise to Halong Bay

Day seven was one of the highlights of our trip: a one-day cruise to Halong Bay. We visited Surprising Cave, a spectacular cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites. Then, it was time for some adventure with a kayak ride in the crystal clear waters of the bay.

Our last stop wasTi Top Island, famous for its beach and scenic views. Fabio and I avoided swimming, and be careful if you want to swim: there are lots of jellyfish. Many people from our tour were also medicated.

We booked our cruise directly at the port the night before, but if you prefer to plan ahead, you will find numerous options on Get Your Guide that depart directly from Hanoi, such as this one: link tour from Hanoi – 1-day cruise in Ha Long Bay with Titop Island and Luon Cave

Day 8: Adventure in Ninh Binh

Day eight took us to Ninh Binh, often described as the “Halong Bay on earth.” We started the day by climbing to the top of one of the local mountains. The view from up there is simply unforgettable. Then, we took a tour among the caves of Tam Coc, sailing in small boats through a picture-postcard landscape.

Tip: If you decide to take this tour, I highly recommend ours because of the outstanding guide. He made the day even more special with his explanations and anecdotes. Here is the link: Ninh Binh – Tam Coc – Hoa Lu and Mua Cave Full day of discovery

Return for dinner in Hanoi (always all included with the tour including transfers) and dinner at a really top restaurant: Nhà Hàng Du’o’ng

Day 9: Exploring Sapa

Day nine saw us board a limousine van to travel to Sapa, a city located in northern Vietnam, famous for its terraced rice paddies and ethnic minorities. After 6 endless hours of travel, we devoted the rest of the day to exploring the city and its surroundings.

For dinner, we chose “Nha Hang Huong Rung,” a restaurant offering a variety of delicious local dishes. Another restaurant tip, you can’t miss the curry at Good Morning Vietnam.

We stayed at SaPa Retreat Condotel, here is the booking link.

Day 10: Adventure or Relaxation in Sapa

On the tenth and last day of our trip we wanted to trek among the villages in Sapa Valley but unfortunately I was not well that day due to a severe cold (yes, the air conditioning in the bus was not kind to me), so we opted to rent a moped and get lost in the valley, among the villages!

Instead of the classic moped, which I strongly advise against because of the rough roads, we rented an enduro bike for 20€ for the whole day. This allowed us to explore the surrounding villages without further fatigue.

Valuable advice: If you decide to make the trek, make sure you are at 100 percent of your strength. I received messages from people who made the trek and needed pain medication or even had a fever.

Another golden tip: A girl on Instagram suggested I rely on Sapa O’Chau Travel Social Enterprise for trekking, I’ll leave the link here. It is the only tour operator in Vietnam officially registered as a social enterprise that helps women, often single mothers with many children. The guides are mostly women, and the home stays where you will sleep during the trek are run by these incredible women. It is a unique experience that is also good for the heart. But, as always, know your limits. Even she, accustomed to high mountain treks, had a fever of 40 degrees due to fatigue.

And so ends our 10-day trip to North Vietnam. I must admit that Hanoi did not completely steal our hearts, perhaps because of the chaotic traffic that made me take chances more than once. 😅 But Vietnam’s breathtaking natural scenery and the warm smiles of the people we met along the way more than made up for it.

Other Useful Tips:

  • Currency Exchange: You can exchange money at any exchange. Local ATMs charge a fee, so it is best to leave with cash and for the rest, such as tours on Get Your Guide, pay online by card.

  • Flexible Planning: We decided to experience this trip day by day, booking hotels and excursions a day or two in advance. This allowed us to be flexible, especially for weather-dependent activities such as Halong Bay and Ninh Binh.

  • Internet connection: We bought a tourist SIM card (so dedicated only to the Internet) at the official “Viettel” store in Hoi An. There is also the option of an eSIM.

  • Footwear: Bring comfortable and technical shoes! There is a lot of walking and the road conditions are not always the best. Here are mine: Amazon Columbia Waterproof Links, Hiking Shoes

  • Accommodation Standards: Hotel standards are very different from ours. A hostel could be much more damp and moldy, so consider spending a little more for comfortable lodging and read reviews carefully before booking.

  • Food and Coffee: The food is delicious everywhere, but special mention goes to the Vietnamese coffees. If I could go back, I would book a coffee class in Hoi An. And be sure to try them all!

  • Reservations: For travel, excursions and other needs, you can also rely on hotel hosts. They are incredibly helpful and can arrange just about anything.

And with that, I leave you to dream about your next trip. I hope this information was helpful to you and inspired you to discover North Vietnam.

I remind you that on my instagram profile : link here, you can also find featured stories about our trip!

Editor’s note: this post contains Amazon affiliate links

@2024 – All Right Reserved. Designed and Developed by Angela Isai – Privacy policy – Cookie policy

NDR: in questo sito sono presenti link in affiliazione