Although Vietnam is a less popular destination on social media, natural sites like Halong Bay and Trang An stole our hearts. Vietnam has the second highest number of UNESCO world heritage sites in Asia. This was enough to convince us to visit Vietnam from north to south.
To be honest, we were a little bit paranoid to visit Vietnam as a couple because of some bad reviews on TripAdvisor about scams. But trust us, if you use a bit of common sense there is nothing to worry about. Moreover, the local people are very kind and helpful, which was nice.
We are Mayuri & Ajinkya: a young Indian couple passionate about travel, food and photography. We both grew up in Mumbai and currently live in Malaysia. We set out on this adventure the day we got married and have been visiting enigmatic and exciting places on Ajinkya’s bucket list.
Before marriage, we were both solo travelers and mostly trekked the Himalayas and traveled within Asia. We got inspired by how different other cultures and people are compared to India and they had unique experiences to offer. It changed our perspective of the world and we started traveling more frequently.
Our Itinerary Traveling from North to South Vietnam
On our recent trip, we start from north Vietnam and headed south for a total of two weeks of travel. We began in Hanoi and visited The Note Coffee, Train Street and Lake Temple. Next was Ha Long Bay and Bai Tho Mountain (Poem Mountain) which was absolutely breathtaking.
Then we continued south to Ninh Binh where our favourite experiences were the Trang An Boat Ride, Bich Dong Pagoda and Mua Cave Viewpoint. After Ninh Binh, we visited Da Nang and saw the Golden Bridge which has become popular on social media in recent times as well as Danang Cathedral, Dragon Bridge and Hai Van Pass.
Onwards we traveled to Hue and saw some amazing sites like the Imperial City and Abandoned Water Park. Hoi An was our final destination and easily one of the most charming places in Vietnam. The Japenese covered bridge, basket boat ride and Ancient Town were all fantastic experiences that should make it to the top of every travelers bucket list to Vietnam.
We loved all the places we visited in Vietnam from north to south but our most favorite has to be Ninh Binh because of all the lush green nature, fresh air and rivers nestled in limestone mountains which stole our hearts. Hai Van Pass was another highlight and an adventure of our trip.
Best Places to Visit in Vietnam
If we have to recommend three places you cannot miss in Vietnam they would be Hanoi, Hoi An and Ninh Binh. A stroll through the Hanoi market will give you a taste of Vietnamese food and culture. You can also grab some water puppet shows and have egg coffee at The Note Cafe.
The vibe of Hoi An Ancient Town is out of this world. A walk through the lantern-lit meandering streets of Hoi An is something not to miss. We loved our time in this beautiful little town. Then there is the Trang An river tour which takes you around the limestone mountains and caves of Ninh Binh, some of which are 1 km long. Mua Caves are also a must-visit in Ninh Binh.
We can’t limit our recommendations to only three destinations as this country is so beautiful. It would be unfair for Halong Bay not to be on this list. We hiked up the Bai Tho Mountain viewpoint, arguably the best view of Halong Bay but requires a healthy heart! People usually take the cruises in Halong Bay but the views are not as good.
Bai Tho Mountain is famous for being one of the best viewpoints of Ha Long Bay. It was an adventure. We researched a lot before visiting this place. The viewpoint is closed and we had to go through a local’s house.
The trek is not difficult but we had to climb through a hole in the wall full of barbed wire. After all this, the view was one of the best views we have seen so far and it felt like an achievement. Definitely our favorite memory in Vietnam!
The Wonderful People, Culture and Food of Vietnam
We read about scammers in Vietnam and blatant ignorance of traffic rules. Although the latter is true, we were pleasantly surprised to meet the Vietnamese people. They were so kind and helpful. We never felt unsafe while traveling in Vietnam. We believe if you are street smart there is nothing to worry about and you can enjoy the chaos of cities like Hanoi.
When it comes to food, we tried the famous Bánh cuốn at Banh Cuon Gia Truyen in Hanoi and it was delicious. Egg Coffee is available at a lot of places and we tried it at Note Cafe, it was not up to the hype to be honest. We liked the Coconut Coffee better.
Last but not least is Vietnamese Pho. We tried yummy chicken Pho at Hong Hoai’ Restaurant in Hanoi. Also, the mountain goat meat in Ninh Binh is not to be missed!
Thanks for reading about our travels from north to south Vietnam! We hope you can take some inspiration and ideas from this article for your journey to this beautiful country. Below are a few final tips on how to make the most out of your visit:
- Keep some buffer days while planning the trip because transport is not always on schedule.
- Ride and drive safely because Vietnamese are kind of oblivious to traffic rules.
- Be street smart and you’ll be fine.
- Get a good SIM card with data so you can use Google translate, if necessary.