halong bay tour
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I am travelling to Vietnam this December. I have 2 days to spare in Hanoi. Where should I travel, to Sapa or Ninh Binh?

4 Answers

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Go with the flow, imitate locals, interact:
- if you spot a small street restaurant, packed with locals, it is very likely to be delicious even if this might look fishy at first (westerner) sight.
- people take a nap between 12 and 2pm, then start hanging around slowly, and go out once the heat is away: do the same.
- wake up early!
- some people might laugh at you (for whatever reasons): do the same, laugh at yourself.
- people will come to you and ask about your life (age, number of wives, children, salary, why you are here). They are not nosy: they are just trying to make your journey more enjoyable and might genuinely be interested in your life. Try to respond and also inquire about their lives: you will meet wonderful people.
- do bargain, for nearly everything, as everybody does. But don't get upset if you pay 20% more than locals. Your salary is likely to be 1000% higher than their earnings (really).
- spot what people eat/drink/chew in the streets, and do the same.
- don't get angry. A laugh will get things done much more smoothly!

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These are the places I've been to and found very nice in Vietnam.

North Vietnam

Sapa: a small town in the northwest of Vietnam with amazing mountain scenes, terrace rice fields, and villages of different ethnic groups. Tourism services are quite developed too.


Vietnam political and cultural capital. If you enjoy Vietnamese food, Hanoi has a lot to offer.

Tháp rùa (Turtle Tower), in the middle of Hồ gươm (Sword Lake) an iconic location in Hanoi.

Phố cổ (Old quarter) in Hanoi. One of the best places in Vietnam for food and observing Vietnamese culture. The old houses may not be well preserved but the Old quarter is a very lively area.

Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh (founding president of Communist Vietnam).

Hồ tây (West Lake), the biggest lake in Ha Noi

Ninh Bình: Extremely beautiful but less well-known destination, about 80km south of Ha Noi. You'll enjoy an 1-hour ferry ride through a little stream and magnificent caves, surrounded by mountains and rice paddies.

Hoa Lu, the old capital of Vietnam (1000+ years ago) is in the area too. You'll find some temples of ancient Vietnamese kings here.

Temple of Đinh Tiên Hoàng, one of Vietnam's first kings.

Quang Binh:

Has many large and beatiful caves. Tip: Try the Thien Duong Cave, which is a lot better and well-preserved than the more well-known Phong Nha Cave.

Thien Duong Cave

Thien Duong Cave

Central Vietnam

Da Nang:

Clean & beautiful beaches, very good tourism services.

If you ride a motorbike, don't forget to take a ride through the HaiVan pass. You'll see the beautiful mountain and sea from the above. This is also a historical border of Vietnam and the kingdom of Champa.

Hoi An: About 30km from Da Nang. Maybe the only well-preserved old town in Vietnam. One of the drawback is although the old houses are preserved, they're now loaded with commercial shops and hotels. Most people don't live in the old town anymore.

Close to Hoi An is Cửa Đại beach, a cute little beach.


Old political capital of Vietnam in the 19th century of the Nguyen dynasty. Here you'll find the remains of the dynasty palace and many kings tombs.

Gate to Đại Nội, the old palace.

Tomb of Khai Dinh, a Nguyen king.

3. South Vietnam

Da Lat:

A mountainous region with temperate weather and many nice sort of flowers.

Tuyen Lam Lake

Phan Thiet

With sand dunes, beaches, and well developed services.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

The biggest city in Vietnam. Old capital of South Vietnam.

Independent palace, used to be a resident of South Vietnam presidents.

Notra Dame - built by Frenchmen in 19th century.

0 votes

I have just spent time to this awesome natural landscape last summer and obtained lots of fantastic photos and memories. Trang An is located in Ninh Binh province, north of Vietnam. Trang An is also called as Halong Bay on land. The best time to travel in Trang An is January to March because it has perfect weather, not too hot or too cold.

In order to go to Trang An, you can catch buses from Hanoi to Ninh Binh that takes you 2 hours to Trang An. Here is the list of magnificent places to visit:

Trang An landscape complex

There are 2 tours that available for you to pick in Trang An. Last time I chose the tour named “Kong island” that you can visit the places that include that “Kong Island” – where Kong: Skull Island movie took place. The ticket for every person is around $10. To visit Trang An, you have to go by the small boat with max 4-5 peoples/boat. It takes you 3 hours to boat around Trang An complex. Next, you will probably be visiting 6 to 9 caves, temples, and “Kong island”. Note: It is easier for you to take a boat if you do not wear dress:). Bring a hat, sunblock, water.

The boat will take you go inside some caves and temples to explore. Some caves are dark and dangerous. Moreover, the caves were very low as the water level was high after all the flooding so that was a bit scary. Especially, your head should be low if you do not want to hit the ceiling of the caves:). The boatman will also drop you at the temples where you can get down to get some photos and then hop back the boat again.

“Kong Island”

I really like Kong: Skull Island movie, so I feel excited when I can see the scenery of the films in “real life”. We can view the demo of the ship, aboriginal community that you can take a photo with “native people” – they played a role as native people in Kong movie.

The view from Mua cave

In order to walk to the top of Mua cave to enjoy the fantastic view, you need to walk 500 steps. Because the weather is hot and sunny, I recommend you walk around 3-4:00 PM. The worthy reward you receive at the top of the cave is a wonderful view from Mua cave to Tam Coc – one of another beautiful landscape in Ninh Binh. From that view, the scene looks like a painting. Note: Do not wear flip flops – wear a trekking or hiking shoes instead.

Bai Dinh temple

It is considered the largest complex of Buddhist temples in Vietnam and has become a popular site for Buddhist pilgrimages from across Vietnam. It takes you 2 hours to reach the crucial part of the complex: Tam The Temple. I feel so hot…so tired…but…at the top of the temple, you can capture the whole view of Bai Dinh:).

The local food here is so good that you should order is “Dê núi” means goat meat and “Gà đồi" means chicken meat. You can try them with a local wine and fried rice. They are so delicious:)

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Both Sapa and Ninh Binh are great places to visit in Vietnam. Sapa is a mountainous area in the northwest of Vietnam, known for its terraced rice fields and ethnic minority villages. It's a great place to trek and explore the local culture. The best time to visit Sapa is from September to November, when the rice fields are green and the weather is cool.Ninh Binh is a province located in the Red River Delta region of Vietnam, known for its limestone karsts, caves, and scenic river valleys. It's a great place for outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking. The best time to visit Ninh Binh is from September to April, when the weather is mild and the rice fields are green.It depends on what you would prefer to do, but if you only have two days, you may want to consider which one of these two places aligns more with your preferences. If you'd like to experience trekking and culture, Sapa might be a good fit. If you're more interested in outdoor activities and scenic landscapes, Ninh Binh may be a better option.

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