The girls were little during our first trip to Vietnam. Kacela was 6mo old and Calais had just turned 2 years old. We spent a short 2 weeks exploring the areas around Hanoi and HCMC.
Hanoi is a beautiful city. It was my favourite in the Hanoi vs HCMC debate. It still exudes a good bit of old school charm, set against classic Asian architecture and food. It really is the Heart of Northern Vietnam.
We spent a good amount of time just exploring the city, but we also used it as a base for further exploration. If you are looking for a break from the city, I suggest heading to The Perfume Pagoda. It was a perfect day trip.
A visit to Northern Vietnam is not complete without a boat ride on Ha Long Bay. It’s on the “to do” list of most visitors to Vietnam. We opted instead for Bai Tu Long Bay – Ha Long Bay’s Quieter Twin.
We had the choice to either return immediately to Hanoi, or spend the afternoon at a small village. I always love a village visit and I think A Side Trip to Yen Duc Village is a worthwhile addition to any IndoChina Junk Cruise.
An easy train ride south of Hanoi is the Not So Charming City of Ninh Binh. Although the city itself wasn’t lovely, there was lots to do in the surrounding countryside. One of the reasons to go to Ninh Binh is to visit Trang An Grottoes, also known as inland Ha Long Bay.
After a morning on the river at the Trang An Grottoes, we spent An Afternoon in Hoa Lu, the ancient capitol of Vietnam.
The other great day trip from Ninh Ninh was to Cuc Phuong National Park. If you are looking for a break from the noise and busyness of the cities, is a worthwhile distraction.