2 week North Vietnam itinerary you should grab

Looking for a 2 week North Vietnam itinerary? I’ve rounded up all the best things to do in the Northern part of Vietnam in two weeks, including where to stay.

2 week North Vietnam itinerary - Ban Gioc Waterfall

North Vietnam is the most beautiful part of the country.

This is the Vietnam I love the most because it’s so lush, cultural and authentic.

From quiet mountain towns to sustainable home stays – whether you’re into waterfalls, culture, rice paddies or just getting a genuine local experience – here is how you can spend 2 weeks in Northern Vietnam.

Read next: 7 days in Vietnam itinerary with the best highlights

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2 week North Vietnam itinerary

About North Vietnam

North Vietnam is a slice of the country that feels like stepping back in time.

Home to the capital city, Hanoi, which is over 1,000 years old, you can find streets lined with French colonial architecture and vendors selling age-old recipes.

The region is also home to some of the country’s most beautiful natural wonders, like Ha Long Bay with its limestone karsts, and Sapa, where terraced rice fields are grown by many of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups.

2 week North Vietnam itinerary

Map of North Vietnam

Below, you’ll find a map with the places mentioned in this North Vietnam itinerary.

North Vietnam covers cities such as Hanoi, the country’s capital, Hai Phong, a major port city, and smaller cities like Ninh Binh and Sapa.

Besides the northern part, Vietnam is divided into Central Vietnam and South Vietnam.

Join an organised North Vietnam tour

This itinerary is self-guided. That means you have to book hotels, days tours and transportation yourself.

Would you rather experience North Vietnam the easy way?

Then you should book an organised tour.

That way, everything is taken care of – your itinerary, transportation, accommodation and even meals. You’ll be picked up at the airport, and your guide will take you to all the important sites.

There are several tours to choose from, but these are the best. They don’t cover everything on my itinerary, but they cover some of the highlights.

Best North Vietnam tours

Best time to visit North Vietnam

The best time to visit North Vietnam is April-May.

October to April: Cooler, dry weather perfect for exploring Hanoi and nearby regions. In mountainous areas like Sapa, expect colder conditions and frost.

May to September: Warmer with frequent rains, but it’s when terraced fields like in Sapa are most lush. Trekking is ideal in October and November.

Overview of your North Vietnam itinerary

Here is your itinerary for the best places in North Vietnam.

🇻🇳 North Vietnam itinerary 2 weeks

  • Day 1-2: Hanoi
  • Day 3: Ha Long Bay
  • Day 4: Ha Long Bay
  • Day 5: Ninh Binh
  • Day 6: Ninh Binh
  • Day 7: Mu Cang Chai
  • Day 8: Mu Cang Chai
  • Day 9-11: Sapa
  • Day 12: Travel to Hanoi
  • Day 13: Ban Gioc waterfall
  • Day 14: Return to Hanoi and depart

Getting around Northern Vietnam

There several way of getting around North Vietnam between major cities and sights. Here are your options:


Vietnam’s bus system is working great, although there can (and probably will) be delays. Check out 12GoAsia or Bookaway to get your tickets and see schedules.


For more comfort, hop on the sleeper train from Hanoi to Sapa.


With Viator tours or Get Your Guide, hit up spots like Sapa and Ha Long Bay, even on longer trips.

2 week North Vietnam itinerary

Day 1: Hanoi

Begin your 2 week Northern Vietnam itinerary in the capital of Vietnam.

My first tip is to head to the lively Hanoi old quarter and taste some of that amazing food.

While there, make sure to visit Train Street, the Women’s Museum and learn some history at Hoa Lo Prison, which once held American soldiers during the war.

Afterward, relax by Hoan Kiem Lake, the Temple of Literature or explore the French Quarter’s atmospheric streets.

In the afternoon, the tranquil Truc Bach island awaits, followed by visits to Tran Quoc Pagoda and the Tay Ho area.

Round off your day with the unique Water Puppet Show or dive into Hanoi’s vibrant bar scene at Beer Street.

Where to stay in Hanoi

La Nueva Boutique Hotel Hanoi & Spa (⭐ 9.0) The modern rooms, the helpful staff and the breakfast is what makes this hotel a favourite in Hanoi. Plus – you can literally walk to all of the places of interest in Hanoi. Check rates and availability here.

2 week North Vietnam itinerary - Hanoi

Day 2: Hanoi

Start your day bright and early at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, then visit the iconic One Pillar Pagoda.

Stroll around the peaceful Ngoc Ha neighborhood before diving into the heart of Hanoi’s culinary scene with a street food tour (⭐ 5/5).

Hanoi is legendary when it comes to food so I highly recommend taking a food tour or at least taste as much of it as you can.

Read next: How to spend wonderful 2 days in Hanoi

North Vietnam itinerary - Hanoi

Day 3: Ha Long Bay

Next morning, head to the world-famous Ha Long Bay.

Ha Long Bay is a 3-hour drive from Hanoi, and you can get there by bus or on a tour from Hanoi (⭐ 5/5). I took a tour, and it was so easy because everything was taken care of, plus it wasn’t that expensive.

You can also take a day trip to Halong (⭐ 5/5), although I recommend spending the night.

North Vietnam itinerary - Ha Long Bay

Day 4: Ha Long Bay

A Halong bay cruise is like drifting through a maze of giant rocky islands popping out of the water.

So, take in all those views on your boat ride and visit caves and the jungle on Cat Ba island.

In Halong Bay, you can swim, go kayaking, hike or just relax and catch some sun on the deck. You’ll also see floating markets.

Day 5: Ninh Binh

Now, there are several ways to get from Halong Bay to Ninh Binh. But I recommend taking the limousine bus for comfort and ease.

This also saves you from having to return to Hanoi between these two popular tourist spots.

Once you’ve arrived, spend the night in Ninh Binh town or Trang An for a unique experience. If you’re up for some exploration when you arrive, rent a scooter or hire a driver to show you around.

Where to stay in Trang An

Trang An Lamia Bungalow (⭐ 9.4) This is a super unique stay with a jungle bungalow, open-air bathroom and a private outdoor pool. Free bikes are available. Check rates and availability here.

North Vietnam itinerary - Ninh Binh
North Vietnam itinerary - Trang An

Day 6: Ninh Binh

On your second day in Ninh Binh, definitely explore Trang An (UNESCO world heritage site) and the well-known Tam Coc.

Trang An is called ‘Halong Bay on land’ because it’s just as beautiful.

Make sure to try a boat trip and visit the Mau Caves viewpoint, the Bai Dinh Pagoda (it’s the biggest in Vietnam!), and the historical Hoa Lu Temple.

North Vietnam itinerary - Tam Coc

Day 7: Mu Cang Chai

Next up on your North Vietnam itinerary is Mu Cang Chai.

This destination if off-the-path. So, if you’re up for some peaceful hiking and epic views, this place is well worth the journey.

Mu Cang Chai is known for one thing in particular: The most massive rice terraces you’ll find in the whole country. You know those iconic rice terrace pictures from Vietnam?

They’re probably from Mu Cang Chai.

Depending on when you visit, these terraces are either a deep green or a golden yellow, showcasing the changing seasons and rice harvest stages.

Since this is off the path, you’ll need to get to Hanoi where you can take a sleeper bus to Mu Cang Chai. The journey takes around 7.5-9 hours.

Where to stay in Mu Cang Chai

Indigenous homestay (⭐ 9.5) Think authentic homestay where you get to experience Vietnamese life up close. There’s a restaurant here. Check rates and availability here.

North Vietnam itinerary - Mu Cang Chai

Day 8: Mu Cang Chai

Spend the day exploring Che Cu Nha Rice Terrace Field of Hmong people as well as the Che Xu Phinh, La Phan Tan, which has the most beautiful terraces in Mu Cang Chai.

You can wander around on your own or join a half day trekking tour with Viator.

North Vietnam itinerary - Mu Cang Chai

Day 9: Travel to Sapa

Now, it’s time to visit Sapa, one of the most beautiful and beloved places to visit in Vietnam.

Sapa has a different feel from most of Vietnam.

Think cool weather, foggy hills, and some pretty epic views. You’ll also see ethnic groups and local markets here, giving you a peek into their daily lives.

Sapa is perfect for hiking and experiencing ‘the real’ Vietnam. If you really want to dive in, spend the night at a local homestay. It’s a whole different kind of experience.

Where to stay in Sapa

Laxsik Ecolodge (⭐ 9.3) Beautiful mountain views, modern rooms and all-year outdoor swimming pool. There’s also spa and wellness. Check rates and availability here.

North Vietnam itinerary - Sapa
The misty Sapa valley

Day 10: Sapa (local villages)

Hiking is the most popular thing to do in Sapa and the main reason why most people visit this mountain town.

You can choose between multi-day hiking tours or day tours.

Hiking on your own is possible, but I recommend joining a tour like this one (⭐ 5/5) if you want to venture further off and explore the local villages and waterfalls.

North Vietnam itinerary - Sapa valley

Day 11: Sapa (Fansipan Mountain)

At 3,147 meters, Fansipan Mountain is one of the highest mountains in Southeast Asia.

A VND 800,000 cable car, taking about 15-20 minutes, takes you near the top. And from there, you can either climb 600+ steps or take the funicular for an extra VND 70,000 each way.

If you’re in good shape, you can also hike to the top (⭐ 5/5). Note that it’s a hard and difficult trek.

Sapa’s weather is unpredictable, so check with your hotel before heading up. The best visibility is usually from March to April.

North Vietnam itinerary - Fansipan mountain Sapa

Day 12: Travel to Hanoi

From Sapa, journey back to Hanoi.

This is the only way to reach your next destination, unless you don’t mind taking local transportation – and it isn’t the safest in this part of the country because of speeding and mountains.

The journey takes about 4-5 hours. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi before you head to Ban Gioc the next day.

Where to stay in Hanoi

La Nueva Boutique Hotel Hanoi & Spa (⭐ 9.0) The modern rooms, the helpful staff and the breakfast is what makes this hotel a favourite in Hanoi. Plus – you can literally walk to all of the places of interest in Hanoi. Check rates and availability here.

Day 13: Ban Gioc

Since it’s tricky to get to Ban Gioc waterfall and it is worth visiting, I would recommend taking this tour (⭐ 5/5).

It’s a 2 day / 1 night tour from Hanoi where you’ll visit the Ban Gioc waterfall, tea plantations and mountains, the fishing village of Coc Toc and Hua Ma Cave, Nang River and Puong Grotto.

North Vietnam itinerary - Cao Bang
North Vietnam itinerary - Cao Bang (2)
Beautiful Cao Bang

Day 14: Return to Hanoi and depart

After spending the night in Cao Bang, you’ll return to Hanoi.

You’ll be back in Hanoi later in the day, just in time to get some of that amazing Vietnamese food before you head home.

And that’s it, guys. Your trip of the North of Vietnam is done.

North Vietnam itinerary - Tea plantation outside of Hanoi

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