Guide to Traveling to North Vietnam

Visiting North Vietnam

Traveling to North Vietnam is highly recommended. The country has become a popular destination in recent years and many of the most iconic Vietnamese locations can be found in the northern regions.

When making an itinerary for North Vietnam, travelers should consider the places they want to visit, how to travel around the country, the time of year to go, and the documents they will need.

Foreign nationals with the Vietnam eVisa can travel to North Vietnam and experience the many things it has to offer, from the historic metropolis of Hanoi to the dramatic landscape of Hạ Long Bay.

Where Should I Go in North Vietnam?

North Vietnam is home to some of the most famous and impressive locations in the whole country. The capital is located here, as are some of Vietnam’s natural wonders and man-made monuments.

The following places to visit should be included on any northern Vietnam itinerary:

  • Hanoi
  • Hạ Long Bay
  • Sapa
  • Dong Van Plateau
  • Bai Tu Long Bay
  • The Perfume Pagoda
  • Mai Chau
  • Detian Falls

Hanoi will likely be the starting point for a trip to North Vietnam, since the capital is the location of the only international airport in the north. From its historic Old Quarter and impressive colonial architecture to its authentic Vietnamese cuisine, there are so many things not to miss in Hanoi.

Hạ Long Bay is another unmissable northern Vietnamese location. This area of outstanding natural beauty, with its vivid blue waters and thousands of islands, is one of 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vietnam.

How to Travel in North Vietnam

There are a number of options for traveling around north Vietnam. Transportation methods include public transport and private vehicle hire.

Bus and train tickets can be purchased at a low price and can be booked online ahead of a journey.

Those who plan to visit Vietnam’s islands will have travel by ferry. For exploring the dramatic Hạ Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay, boat trips can be organized with local companies and vessel owners.

Hiring Transport in North Vietnam

Cars and motorcycles can be rented from major cities like Hanoi. Car rentals cost USD$30+ per day. The drawback of private vehicles is that they may not be able to reach more remote locations due to the poor condition of the roads in rural areas (unless the traveler rents a jeep).

Cycling can be useful to get around in rural parts of northern Vietnam, particularly in lowland areas. Bike rentals are common in most parts of the country.

Taxis are widespread in Hanoi and are generally affordable, with most rates being equivalent to around $0.50-$0.75 per kilometer. As in many countries, it is recommended to ensure that the taxi has a meter and insist that it is used so that the driver cannot attempt to charge more. Taxis are far more difficult to find in rural areas.

When Should I Go to North Vietnam?

The question of when to travel to the north of Vietnam depends on which factors are most important to the visitor: the weather or avoiding the crowds of the high season.

July and August are the most popular times to visit Vietnam. Travelers who wish to avoid crowds of tourists and hot, wet weather may prefer to avoid this time of year.

Arguably the most pleasant time of year to visit North Vietnam is between October and December, since it is generally warm and sunny and there are fewer tourists than in the summer.

What is the Weather Like in North Vietnam?

Vietnam is a large country stretching down from the northern border with China along the coast of the South China Sea for thousands of miles. This means that the climate varies radically in different parts of the country.

The mountains to the far north of the country experience 2 seasons:

  • Dry season (October to March)
  • Wet season (April to September)

December and January can get cold and frosty.

Traveling in the north-eastern Ha Giang region is recommended during the dry season and it is advisable to avoid the rainy season. Ideal trekking conditions around Sapa and Mu Cang Chai can be found between March and May and from September to November.

The rest of North Vietnam, including Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, has a mild, dry winter between November and April, with temperatures of 17-22°C. January, February, and March are the coldest months.

Summers are hot and humid, with high rainfall. They last from May to October. July to September is the wettest period of the year.

Traveling to North Vietnam

North Vietnam is fairly easy to reach for international visitors.

Hanoi, as the capital city, is served by Nội Bài International Airport (HAN). It is possible to fly here from countries all over the world, including China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Russia, and various European countries.

Foreign nationals traveling to North Vietnam will need the appropriate travel documentation to enter the country.

Citizens of many countries may complete an application for a Vietnam eVisa online. This is a quick and simple process that saves a trip to an embassy.

Check the Vietnam eVisa requirements to find out which nationalities are eligible. For example, for a US citizen traveling to North Vietnam, a visa can be obtained online.