Discovering the beauty landscapes of North-West Vietnam – Hanoi, Ha Long Bay & Sapa
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is one of the most ancient capitals in the world. It’s a great city where you can find well-preserved colonial buildings, pagodas, and museum within the city centre. The city is vibrant and fills with unique cafes and happening nightlife. Other than vibrant city life, traveler can visit its tranquil countryside which just a short drive away, which is the well-known Ha Long Bay, and also one of the must visit other than Ha Long Bay, is Sapa – a town featuring lush parks, verdant mountains and traditional villages with spectacular rice fields valley.
Day 1 – Kuala Lumpur to Hanoi – Hanoi City Walk
Arrival in Hanoi Airport, we got ourselves a data sim card which cost $7 for 10gb/14days, hop on our Airport Transfer and getting ready to check in our hostel in Hanoi Old Quarter. After checked in, we walk around Old Quarter and hunt for foods. Thanks to our hostel host, we get to eat all the best foods around Hanoi.
Since we arrived quite late on the day, we only managed to get to night market, which only opens on Friday, Saturday & Sunday. A special finding of the day is the dog cafe somewhere along the night market.
If you walk along the night market, try look for this curvy road Ngo Gach, just turn right into this road and you will be able to see this dog cafe on your left.
Where to stay in Hanoi?
The place we stay is Hanoi Old Quarter House, it’s a small hostel but with great hospitality, especially Ms. Lily, who helps to recommend and booked all our Ha Long Bay & Sapa tours. The only downside is you have to climb stairs and some rooms are on 5th floor, not a good option if you bringing elderly.
But other than that, the hostel is great, you will get all your needs because Ms. Lily runs a tour company just on the first floor and you may get discounted tour price if you stay there.
Hanoi Old Quarter House – hanoioldquarterhouse.com
Day 2 – Hanoi City Walk (Cafe, Museums, Night Market)
If you wanna walk around Hanoi Old Quarter to French Quarter, you can do it by foot, it’s not that hard to navigate around if you’ve got a map or google map, and it’s more fun if you do a walking city tour because you may find a lot of small and nice cafe along your walk. There’s a very nice lake between Old Quarter and French Quarter, also near to the entrance of night market – it’s the Hoan Kiem Lake
Day 3 – Hanoi to Ha Long Bay (2 days 1 night)
Waking up 7am in the morning, getting ready to go on our Ha Long Bay 2 days 1 night cruise, we booked this cruise tour for $115 per pax through Ms. Lily, the cruise we board is Rosa Boutique Cruise, a 4-star cruise. Transportation from Hanoi to the port is included in the price, meals & activities on-board are also included in the price, the only thing you need to pay for is the drinks which is at reasonable price, a bottle beer cost $2 and a cup of ice coffee cost $1.50.
To overnight at cruise or not?
I would say yes! Cruise are quite boring yes I agreed, but it’s really chill and relax so 1 night is good enough for the experience, and also it’s much worth it to overnight because it takes 4-5 hours drive to reach Ha Long Bay from Hanoi, so a 1 day trip will be really tiring.
Rosa Boutique Cruise – rosaboutiquecruise.com
Day 4 – Ha Long Bay to Hanoi
Second day on board, we visited a cave in the morning after our breakfast, it’s known as the biggest cave in Ha Long Bay – Hang Sut Sot (Sung Sot Cave). It’s an interesting morning walk and you get to see this view when you’re up in the cave.
After the cave, we got back to cruise and take a short shower before we check out and have our lunch while waiting for cruise to arrive at port and continue our journey back to Hanoi, we reached Hanoi at about 7pm at night, check in our hostel in Hanoi and just nice for dinner time.
Day 5 – Hanoi to Sapa (3 days 2 nights)
For our tour to Sapa, we booked a 3 days 2 nights bus tour which cost $100 per pax included accommodation/meals at Golden Sapa Hotel. Waking up 7am in the morning and we got picked up by a small van to the bus ticket office. The bus we’re taking is a sleeper bus, journey to Sapa is about 350km and it takes about 5-6 hours drive. Departs from hanoi at 7.30am and we reached Sapa at around 1pm, our tour guide waited for us at the bus station and we walk to check in Golden Sapa Hotel.
Sapa is a very small and nice town in Lao Cai Province, I really enjoy the very cooling weather in Sapa as it’s a mountain town. The whole area is blessed with awe-inspiring natural beauty.
Bon Cat Cat (Cat Cat Village)
After checked in and have our lunch at the hotel, we start our walk from hotel to Cat Cat Village, it’s a very relaxing long walk to the village, about 6km and these are the places and views you can enjoy along the walk.
Day 6 – Sapa – Lao Cai Village Trekking
Trekking is the main activity in Sapa, while it is possible if you want to do the hike on your own, it’s always better to have a guide as the trek can be quite tough with muddy and slippery road, and also it’s a lot of valleys, if you don’t know how to navigate around you might get lost.
We got our boots from hotel, it’s provided for free and you can return it to the hotel after the trek. But make sure to check for the boots as early as possible because sizes are really really, limited. We start our trek at 8am in the morning, and reach Lao Cai Village at around 2pm for lunch, after lunch, we hopped on a van to get back to Sapa town.
After the trek, we have a rest in hotel and was on a move to go hunt for beautiful cafes.
Day 7 – Sapa (Hamrong Mountain & Fan Si Pan), Sapa to Hanoi
Our last day in Sapa, we make it to Hamrong Mountain & Fan Si Pan, our bus ride back to Hanoi is at 4pm, so today we wake up at 7am in the morning, after breakfast, go for a hike up to Hamrong Mountain.
Hamrong Mountain is a short hike takes about 30minutes or less if you have good stamina, you get a good view of whole Sapa town if you make it to the top.
We got down from Hamrong Mountain at around 10.30am and make our way to Fan Si Pan with a van service by Hotel. Transport to Fan Si Pan cost 300,000dong for a return trip and the entrance ticket & cable car ticket cost 700,000dong per adult and 500,000dong per kid. Fan Si Pan Legend has the longest non-stop three-rope cable car: 6292,5m and the greatest elevation difference by a non-stop three-roped cable car: 1410m
When you reach the top of Fan Si Pan, it required another long hike up the stairs to get to the peak. It’s about 600 steps but if you don’t want to hike, you can take the short funicular ride which cost 100,000dong.
Guide in Sapa
Our guide in Sapa, name Chu, was arranged by hotel but she can speak really good English, if you’re planning for a trip to Sapa but doesn’t want to book any tour, you can contact Chu for a tour around villages. Drop a message or email if you need her contact.
Day 8 – Hanoi to Ninh Binh (1 day trip)
Ninh Binh 1 day trip cost $35 per pax included transport, entrance ticket & buffet lunch. With this tour, we visited BaiDinh Pagoda and Trang An – an alternative for Tam Coc. It was really hot when we’re at Bai Dinh Pagoda and also for the boat trip in Trang An, it’s worth while doing the boat trip to enjoy the pristine river but do remember to bring an umbrella if you’re planning to go during hot season.
Thanks to Go Travel Asia tour, we get to ride bicycle before the end of our trip, it’s a really fun ride around the small town of Ninh Binh.
Day 9 – Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur
Go for the last Egg Coffee and Banh Mi before say goodbye to Hanoi! It was really a great trip to Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and nevertheless, the most reward-able place is Sapa~!
If you have any question regarding your trip to Hanoi, please do not hesitate to drop a comment or email and I will reply you as soon as possible.