Enter the Land of Opportunity

Sample Itinerary: Two Weeks

DAYS 1-2
Arrive in Hanoi and savor the markets, temples, and wide boulevards of this French-influenced capital. Explore the atmospheric Old Quarter and stroll Hoan Kiem Lake, offering a tranquil respite from the relentless hawkers and motorbikes.

DAYS 3-7
Organize a multi-day tour to Ha Long Bay from one of Hanoi's many traveler cafés, or hook up your own private charter in gateway towns like Bai Chai, Hong Gai, or Campha. Ha Long Bay, inscribed as a World Heritage site in 1994, is a stunning collection of some 1,600 green-carpeted karst islands and islets. It's here that you'll snap your indelible shot of a full-sailed South China Sea junk gliding silently between a surreal seascape of limestone pillars. Allow yourself at least three days to absorb the stunning scenery, especially in a kayak.

Return to Hanoi for some city R&R and onward travel to Vietnam's mountainous north. Sip your French-press roast, snack on freshly baked baguette, and get things organized for some high-country trekking.

DAYS 9-12
Depart for either Sapa or the Ba Be Lakes region to explore a landscape of contoured rice terraces, steep, forested hillsides, alpine lakes, indigenous hill-tribe cultures, and rare flora and fauna. Trekking guide services are available and recommended.

DAY 13
Return to Hanoi to complete your shopping and final postcards home. Either return home from Hanoi, fly back to Ho Chi Minh, continue northwards into China, or journey southwest to Vientiane and Laos.

Published: 31 May 2006 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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