North Coast Vietnam

Travel Destination Highlights: North Coast Vietnam


What to see in North Coast Vietnam

What to see in North Coast Vietnam – heading north from the DMZ, you will notice the jagged Truong Son Mountains, which separate Vietnam from Laos.

Vietnam shrinks to a mere 50km wide and is edged with sand dunes up to 80m high, marching inland at a rate of 10m per year despite efforts to stabilize them with screwpine and cactus.

The first place of note on this stretch is Dong Hoi, which is known for its decent beach and a quietly engaging feel.

Inland from here is Phong Nha with its spectacular caves, which include Phong Nha Cave itself, Paradise Cave, and Son Doong Cave, which at over 5km long, is the largest in the world.

Dong Hoi has been known as one of the poorest in the country and is little developed for tourism; however, the mountains brushing the Laos border are home to a number of unique animal species, including the elusive saola ox and the more numerous giant muntjac deer. Intrepid travelers with their own transport are beginning to venture inland, but the vast majority of tourists leapfrog this long coastal stretch, with maybe a stopover in workaday Vinh.

The town has little to offer, but you could track down Ho Chi Minh’s birthplace in the nearby village of Kim Lien.

Back on the well-trodden trail is Ninh Binh, just an hour’s drive from Hanoi. Ninh Binh is a rather unattractive city, but such is the wealth of nearby sights that visitors tend to stay for at least a couple of days; said attractions include more karst scenery, underground rivers that can be paddled through by boat, an ancient capital city, and Vietnam’s largest temple complex.

Despite the proximity of Hanoi, it’s quite possible to bypass the capital and head straight for Ha Long Bay, via the buzzing city of Haiphong – more appealing than most northern cities thanks to great colonial-era architecture and a young, friendly populace.

The most coveted tourist attraction of the north is no other than Halong Bay.  A doyen of local tourist literature, you’ll most likely have seen dozens of images of this unbelievably scenic place long before your arrival – happily, it really is that pretty, though the weather doesn’t always reveal it in its best light.

Tourism is taking its toll too, and pollution is becoming a major issue, so an increasing number of visitors are heading further afield to Bai Tu Long Bay. Many overnights aboard a traditional wooden junk; their tea-colored sails are just for show since almost all vessels are motor-driven, but there’s a timeless, romantic air floating among pristine moonlit peaks.

By far the largest island in the bay, Cat Ba makes an appealing base for exploring the area with some fine scenery as well as being home to Cat Ba National Park, a forest and maritime reserve that requires the usual mix of luck and dedication to see anything larger than a mosquito.

Cultural attractions in North Coast Vietnam

Six of the best things to see and do in the north coast of Vietnam:

  1. Phong Nha Caves Visit one or more of Phong Nha’s mind-blowing caves, which include the world’s biggest.
  2. Cycling around Tam Coc A fantasy landscape of limestone crags provides the backdrop for a leisurely cycle ride through Ninh Binh’s prolific rice lands.
  3. Ho Citadel Marvel at the massive stones used to build this seven-hundred-year-old citadel in the middle of nowhere.
  4. Haiphong’s colonial architecture Hectic Haiphong features a number of striking colonial-era buildings, which give hints as to this port city’s importance under French rule.
  5. Cat Ba Island With its nice beaches, lush interior, and easy access to some of Ha Long Bay’s most beguiling scenery, this is a great spot to spend a few days.
  6. Cruising Ha Long Bay Passing through the maze of limestone pinnacles punctuating the turquoise waters is an unmissable experience.
Phong Nha Caves, North Coast Vietnam
Cycling around Tam Coc in North Coast Vietnam
Ho Citadel Marvel in North Coast Vietnam
Haiphong's colonial architecture in North Coast Vietnam
Cat Ba Island in North Coast Vietnam
Cruising Ha Long Bay in North Coast Vietnam

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may also like

Hot News