Beyond Halong Bay: 3 Unmissable Highlights in Northern Vietnam

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Halong Bay might be the one and only spot you will first think about when coming to Vietnam. However, if you have more time to discover around, you will find that northern Vietnam has a lot of other charming destinations promising to give you various memorable challenges and experiences to conquer the nature as well as understand more about Vietnamese unique culture. Some hightlights in Northern Vietnam are listed below:

Cat Ba Island
Located not too far from Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island is an ideal spot for you to both admire stunning limestone islets and experience a wide range of interesting activities.

In order to set foot on the island, you have to take at least one ferry from Hai Phong city with groups of people, allowing you to witness the beauty of Hai Phong Port – one of the biggest and most husling of its kind in Vietnam.
If you have your motorbike on the ferry, you will have one of the best routes ever on the way to Cat Ba center thanks to the picturesque beach-side passes, primate forest, local villages and lush rice paddies.
Once reached Cat Ba center, you will have various activity choices including cruising, mountain hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming etc. Particularly, if you like hiking, then a trip to the Cannon Hill in Cat Ba Town will be the one, which offers you the chance to both hike up to the top of the hill with a lot of ideal sightseeing spots and discover the old Vietnamese military base in war time.

If you like to cruise, swim and kayaking, you can easily book a day-trip on a vessel in Cat Ba town to discover Lan Ha Bay – the less-touristy funky sister of Halong Bay with a huge system of limestone islets dating back to millions years ago. The cruise in Lan Ha Bay also guarantees you a heavenly local swimming spot in a remote area of the Bay, where you can freely wear your snorkeling equipments and discover a diverse marine world. As a result, Cat Ba Island is considered as one of the best spots for Vietnam honeymoon holidays.

» Click here for more choices for your beach holidays in Vietnam:

A trip to Cat Ba National Park will definitely your highlight as well, which offers you the chance to get closer to the home of various wild species in Northern Vietnam and the most endangered primate on the planet – Golden-headed langur.

Ba Be National Park
If Cat Ba delights you by its amazing beaches, Ba Be National Park in Bac Kan province will surely guarantee you an exciting natural cultural discovery to the remote areas of Northern Vietnam. Although not so many tourists choose this for their short holidays, it is the one to give you the real experiences in Vietnam.

Ba Be Lake, one of the biggest fresh-water lakes in the world, is located at the heart of the park. The lake is simply amazing when being surrounded by rustic ethnic villages along with foggy mountains and immense primitive forests, guarantee you an ideal places for sightseeing, relaxing and exploring culture.
Cruising on Ba Be Lake seems to be a must when you can freely and comfortably sit on a boat with the local captain, admire the untamed nature, soak your hands into the cool water and enjoy fresh atmosphere.
The hills in Ba Be National Park allows hikers a lot of unmissable off-the-beaten-track routes into the rainforest and some obscured limestone caves.

Cao Bang Province
From Ba Be National Park. you will have the best motorbike route ever in Northern Vietnam to many not-to-be-missed provinces on the northernmost area of the country, especially Cao Bang province – on the border with China.
Visiting Cao Bang, you will be able to see the biggest Waterfall in Vietnam named Ban Gioc – the border line of Vietnam and China, famous for being captured in many films and TV shows of the 2 countries. There, you can book a bamboo boat to sightsee and exploring its mysterious beauty. The cinematically massive appearance of the fall and surrounding scenery will surely amaze you and offer you many great photograph chances.

In order to reach Ban Gioc Waterfall, you can get on your motorbike all the way from Hanoi to conquer many local off-road routes or you can transfer by bus to Trung Khanh district – Cao Bang then take another bus to the Fall.

» Check out our best motorbike tours in Vietnam here:

Credit: TripAdvisor

Moreover, a trip to the nearby Nguom Ngao Cave – one of the most stunning caves in Northern Vietnam will be also a highlight. The cave lies at the heart of a large limestone area and rustic mountainous villages. Once walked up on high stone-terraced path and entered the cave, you will think you’re visiting a ridiculously beautiful spot from another planet when a giant chamber of elephant stalactites, stalagmites of all shapes and sizes appears. Outside the caves, you might be interested in observing some herds of mountain goats eating and chilling out around you.

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