Hanoi, the capital of unified Vietnam, whose name means “Below the river.” The city was founded in 1010 on the right bank of the Red River and then called Thang Long, the “Dragon taking flight” as the country out of a thousand years of Chinese domination. Hanoi is undoubtedly the most charming city of Vietnam with all its authenticity, large shady avenues, numerous lakes and manicured gardens.
Classified by UNESCO, the extraordinary landscapes of Halong Bay (descending dragon), have fascinated travelers and poets throughout the centuries. With 1,500 square kilometers of surface, the “eighth wonder of the world” has nearly two thousand islands, islets and reefs riddled karst caves that rise from the sea like strange sculptures, each with its distinctive shape and its legend.
The Island of Cat Ba
After two hours by train or car from Hanoi to Hai Phong port, and an hour by hydrofoil, you’re in Cat Ba, the largest of some 360 islands and islets dotting Lan Ha Bay. Cat Co and Cat Dua are two large very popular with bathers beaches. The water is so clear that one can distinguish the golden sand at the bottom of the sea.
The park Cat Ba National has 20 species of wild animals, 69 birds and 20 reptiles. Maybe you’ll have the chance to take a photo of a bald vooc, a rare primate that exists only in this island.
Located on the opposite bank of the Red River, 100 km east of Hanoi, Haiphong harbor is the North’s second city, with a population amounting to more than a million souls. Haiphong continued to supply North Vietnam throughout the war, despite the incessant bombing. A few still standing buildings from the French colonial period reflect the pride of Vietnamese settlers for their first bridgehead. The old theater Dien Bien Phu Street, is a notable example. The area is also a colorful shopping hive, with its street markets and outdoor food vendors.
But Thap Pagoda – Pagoda Tower
The Goal Thap Pagoda is located 30 km north-east of Hanoi in Ha Bac province. Surrounded by a dozen buildings dating mostly from the seventeenth century, this pagoda is unusual comprise a main sanctuary surrounded by a carved stone gallery. The interior is full of rich lacquered wooden statues, including one of Quan Am (in thousand arms and a thousand eyes).
Thay Pagoda – Pagoda Master
Located 33 km west of Hanoi Thay pagoda (master pagoda) is a set of several buildings and a large pilgrimage center frequented by the people of Hanoi for both its ritual value for the romance of the site is reflected in a small lake. At the top of a hill, a group of sanctuaries dedicated to Quan Am, the Master and His Royal incarnation near a peak known as the market fairies. The pagoda itself contains a beautiful statue.
Chua Huong – Perfume Pagoda
80 km south of Hanoi, the Perfume Pagoda is one of the most important religious sites in Buddhist Vietnam. Every spring, after the Vietnamese New Year, thousands of pilgrims flock to the Buddhist holy land to pray and wish health and prosperity to their families for the New Year.
The Ceramic Village of Bat Trang
The village of Bat Trang ceramics, about 10 miles northeast of Hanoi, along the Red River is renowned for centuries for its products in traditional porcelain with blue decoration. With a total area of 164.3 ha, Bat Trang includes the villages of Giang and Cao Bat Trang.
The village of Duong Lam
Duong Lam Village, 50 km east of Hanoi, is the first village in the country recognized as a vestige of the national level. This village has kept almost intact to this day, the culture and architecture representative of civilization in the Red River Delta, developed for thousands of years.
Hoa Lu – Halong
Located 90 km south of Hanoi, Hoa Lu was the ancient capital of Vietnam for 41 years under the Dinh and Le dynasties (between 968 and 980).The magnificent site of Hoa Lu is also called the “Ha Long”. Indeed, the relief is reminiscent of the famous “Bay of the Dragon” with many limestone hills covered with lush vegetation, natural succession of circuses connected by tunnels dug by erosions.
The Cathedral of Phat Diem
Located 120 km south of Hanoi, the great cathedral of Phat Diem Sino-Vietnamese-style (half pagoda, cathedral half), built in 1865, is the place of pilgrimage for Catholics. This religious site is considered a masterpiece of Vietnamese architecture. On the square, one can admire the tomb of Father Six, founder of the building.
Isolated in an area surrounded by water, the floating village of Kenh Ga is located about 120 km from Hanoi. The picturesque landscapes, authentic lives of people rowing with feet and living on the water throughout the year give travelers a typical image of the region. It is a floating village where 300 Catholics live fish farming, and move in sampans or cement boats!
The National Park Cuc Phuong
Located 140 km south-west of Hanoi, this beautiful park is considered one of the last primary tropical forests in the world. On 25,000 ha is found 2,000 plant species and a huge variety of mammals, reptiles, insects and birds. You can swim in the hot springs and stay in houses on stilts (basic comfort). To do this, contact the office at the entrance of the park.
Hoa Binh – Mai Chau
70 km south-west of Hanoi in the heart of what was the Tonkin region Hoa Binh has the charm of large green spaces where rice fields alternate. Capital of the province of the same name, Hoa Binh is a small town which is home to the first dam of Vietnam and the Muong and Dao minorities.
Located at 1,650 meters above sea level and enjoying a temperate climate, Sapa was an old resort created by the French in the Mount Fansipan region (3143m), which is considered the roof of Indochina.This city interest by the mosaic of minorities: H’mong, Dao, Tay, Dzay…. The city retains some beautiful colonial mansions perfectly integrated in a wild natural environment. This is the place where ethnic groups come to exchange their agricultural products or sell their traditional costumes facts carefully at the hands of women.
Market Bac Ha
The Bac Ha market is the busiest markets in the region which is held only on Sunday. This is the place where you can meet all the different ethnic minority groups in the region: Flower H’mong, Tay, Fla, Thai. They come here, dressed in silver jewelry and embroidered clothing and colorful for bartering. This very colorful market is famous for its various handmade crafts. This is one of the most spectacular markets in the region.
Market Coc Ly
Located 55 km from Lao Cai, the Coc Ly market attracts many flower H’mong Tuesday from throughout the region for bartering, trimmed with silver jewelry and embroidered clothing and colorful. Visit the Coc Ly market is an opportunity to enjoy beautiful scenery as you cruise on the Chay River and make a beautiful hike in the villages along the river.
Lake Babe (the lake “three seas”), located 230 km north of Hanoi, is located 145 meters above sea level and stretches over 9 km long and 100-1800 m wide. It is the outlet 3 valleys converge in an arc. Ba Be is not only a site for imaginative, but also for nature lovers. Nearly forty species of mammals live there, as well as over a hundred species of birds and butterflies.
A 308 km from Hanoi and 600 m, Son La is the region where the population is predominantly made up of Thais. The Thais live below 600m and practical growing rice, soybeans, tea, tobacco, and various vegetables. Established mainly on the banks of the Red River, numbering 800,000, they constitute the largest ethnic minority in Vietnam.
Dien Bien Phu
Nineteen years before the last US troops recognize their defeat and leave Vietnam, the French suffered their own humiliation in the hands of the army of Ho Chi Minh. The decor was in Dien Bien Phu, a valley very close to the border with Laos, where some 3,000 French soldiers were killed and three times as many surrendered. The strategy and technology of a modern European power could not overcome the determination of the Vietminh army.
Lai Chau is the meeting point of several ethnic minorities. The Lai Chau market that takes place every Thursday and Sunday is considered one of the most beautiful mountains of Tonkin. The visit Lai Chau is also beautiful landscapes and the opportunity to appreciate the kindness of the many ethnic groups.
Located 300 km from Hanoi, Ha Giang is a provincial capital without a stamp that has recently grown from a small old town. The surroundings of Ha Giang reserve surprises and enchantment. In areas as diverse as landscapes adds, and this is certainly the major interest, an ethnographic wealth as few regions in the world can make.