My wife and I are going to visit Northern Vietnam from April 4th to April 19th (15 nights). We are nature and culture lovers so we...

...really want to explore mainly the far north, and finally the limestone karts in Halong Bay. We prefer to avoid tourist crowds and go for the off-beaten track. Could you please provide us with recommendations/advice/services for: 1) Northwest Loop: I always dreamt of exploring the area by motorbike. (I'm not an experienced driver but a fast learner:) + what are the possible routes and their duration? + is this feasible in let's say 10 days? + can you recommend any treks, homestays, ethnic villages, national parks? + having a private guide with us will definitely be a plus, how much should I expect to pay per day? Any good operator for this? + how cold can it get in the mountains? 2) Halong Bay / Bai Tu Long Bay - which one is best to relax (end of the trip)? - is it feasible in 2-3 days including overnight cruise, bit of kayaking Thanks a million!


Country: Vietnam


Halong Bay / Bai Tu Long would be the perfect relaxation for the final few days. Very wise choice.
I am based in the Central region, and not the North, but I can give you some suggestions.
Halong Bay-- very beautiful, and you are coming at the right time of year for it. However, it can be very touristy. The other bay is less touristy, but Halong is more spectacular.
Northwest Loop: It is feasible in 10 days. Of course, the more time you have, the more you can do. You might want to hire a driver and sit on the back if you are not experienced, because the roads "off the beaten track" can be rather "interesting".
As to routes, if you go with a motorbike, it is practically up to you to choose. Most areas are open to tourists now.
You can try Ba Be and Cuoc Phuong National Parks. If you come to the Hue area in the Central Region, Bach Ma National Park is really beautiful at this time of year.
There are many treks and homestays in the North. You might want to try Googling this, and then you will have many different options and prices to compare. You can also try just arriving in Hanoi and then ivestigating locally. This option can net you the lowest prices. You only need one day in Hanoi to shop around, and the price will likely be lower than on the internet.
In April, it can still get chilly at night (about 10 degrees C) in the mountains, but can be mildly hot during the day. You can read about Sapa on this new website:

For nature lovers, check these two links:

(this is not my company,just something I found on the web, but it will give you an idea of some things you can do)
and this is from National Geographic:

For a private guide, the price will vary greatly depending on what you are doing. If you travel by motorbike, per person it can cost anywhere from $30 to $100 USD
If you consider coming to Central Vietnam, I will be pleased to give you info, or act as your guide. I can arrange for you to go to Bach Ma Park, and some local beaches. The countryside around Hue is lovely.
My personal specialties are cultural and DMZ tours.
This company is a specialist in unique and unusual travel in Vietnam. They will be able to accommodate almost anything you want. The fee quoted is their average. It may change depending upon your requests. I can contact them directly in person, on your behalf, if you would like. Please advise me what to do.
you can use all this in pakistan's northern areas, here you can spend your time which become your memory of life time, i am sure!!!!!!!!!
Hi mate,
All of your requests above are exactly what we are doing in The North Vietnam.
We have some private tours running almost everyday to Northwest loop by Jeep, motorbike or mountain bike.
Homestay and trekking in Sapa where the hill tribes people living.
Kayaking in Halong bay for 2-3 days, staying in the cozy Base camp on the quiet beach or on the Junk boat. (Best way to see Halong bay is on the kayak)
For more details information about the tour as well as the price, let have a look our website at
You will have the best holiday with us.
Cheers mate,
You can choose a North-west or a North-east tour. Cruise in Halong bay with Huong Hai junk, Indochina Sail or Emeraude Cruise. Explore Cuc Phuong national park or Ba Be national park ... Get more info at the website:
Thank you all for you valuable answers. I will book the Halong Bay tour once in Hanoi, but my priority for now is to find info/services for a moto/car tour to explore the tonkinese alps. Can anyone provide me with his/her services (details & costs) for the following tour:
- 2 person
- duration 7-10 days (starting on or around Monday 6th)
- moto or car tour
- 1 english speaker guide / mechanic
- homestays
- visiting hill tribe villages, national parks
- visiting cao bang, ha giang, sapa, (mai chau), any customized routes are welcomed
- 2-3 days trek would be a plus

We would like to minimize the costs but keep a great experience.
Wll, guy, for biking, visit this site, i only know it in Vietnam

If you had watched Top Gear Season 12 Episode 8, may find it on Youtube, you will know that they only take 8 days. So, if you have 10 days, it gonna be a fantastic vacation.

Have a nice time in Vietnam.
Hope this help
Halong Bay will be crowded with tourists- It is most of the time- cant be avaoided- Caves- They will be included on any Halong bay tour you take anyway.
The Tonkinese Alps- (We dont hear them called that much anywmore), are spectacular- As to jeep typ[e tours- most hotels in Sapa can arrange for you.
Best bet for most of this stuff is to get it locally in Hanoi, take the overnioght train to Lao Cai which connects to numerous buses that will take you up to Sapa.
It gets cold up there at night- Can trek to villages and stay with the locals in quaint "alpine" houses that are a bit like scaled down versions of European Alpine houses, but more "earthy".
As an interested on-looker with no commercial interest in promotiong any tour in particular, I suggest get to Hanoi and ask around- There are heaps of tour operators in the "old quarter", some quite adventurous. Camping on a Halong Bay Island is a rather "off the beaten track" activity still.
In Hanoi all can be arranged cheaper than by Internet. A motor bike tour of the North west is well worth the effort, and the discomfort- (Lots of mud).

Good luck! I wish I was going with you- especially the mountain part.
I think, North of VietNam have many places for your option. If you want to go to where is off-beaten track, you could to go to Ha Giang, Tây Bắc, Lao Cai- Sapa- Bac Ha . Hạ Long is a wonderful place in Vietnam, but it have more crowd.You can go to Ha Long, and you can go Quan Lạn Island in Bai Tu Long Bay.Pls contact with me when you have problem.Good luck to you.

For Halong and Bai Tu Long bay, the answer is quite simple. Take a cruise with The Red Dragon. The company that owns this boat and a couple of others have a different itinerary than all the other boats and they are also moor their boats in a different place. On the 2nd day of their 2 day cruise they go to the more normal and busier Sung Sot cave, but the first day is great including visiting (in an unobtrusive way) a floating village. This company is also actively helping out the bay employing locals to collect rubbish and supporting the local school in the poor floating village. The price is $150 per person based in twin share for a 2 days 1 night cruise. The 2 day option has some kayaking. If you want

To see the boat click here:

They operate a 2 and a 3 day join in tour. If you have more time and more money you can charter the boat for longer. If you do this you will definitely get far off the beaten track.

For some trekking there are a few options. The North West loop would take about 9 days (to do it a non rushed way that would be OK for beginners) you can do it by bike or by car, although this would be expensive for a small group.

A easier, shorter alternative could be the following:

Trek in Cuc Phuong National park with a night in a homestay. 2 days only.

Trek in Sapa: 2 or 3 days. There are some options here that help you get off the beaten track with a visit to Ta Phin village and their homestays.

Pu Luong National park also has some fantastic (but tough) trekking options with homestays.

Costs depend on group size.

I have a travel company and I am happy to offer more information if require. Please feel free to email me at

I hope that helps,

1.At first day, you can go around Old quarter in Hanoi for exploring: water pupet show, vietnamese cuisine.
2.the morning of second day go to Halong with quite of kind from standard to deluxe tour for 3 days 2 nights from 45$ per a person up to 105$ per a person.
3.The day you come back from Halong, take the trip to Sapa 2 days 3 nights by train, homestay, on. The price: 75$-95$ per a person including train ticket...
4.We can arrange for you a private pick up taxi from airport is 14$ for 2 person( from airport to central: 35km)
5. Hotel rates: standard double: 25$
superior double: 35$
deluxe double : 45$
Including buffee breakfast, tax sevices, frest fruit and 1 kg laundry free for deluxe double.
6. Also you can go to Hoa Lu-Tam coc 1 day tour for kayaking and is really wonderful for one who love natural with frest air, riding boat...
If you need any further information, feel free to ask
Do you know these guys at They were my agent when I took my family to North but i guess they are not here at Localyte. Basically they are tour operator but you can get tour guide, motorbike, and they help you to book hotel & train.

They have quite a few itineraries you can take a look for example jeep tour. Alternatively you can bike to Ba Be Lake, Cuc Phuong National Park, Tam Coc in Ninh Binh.

From HN you can take tourist train to Lao Cai then tourist bus to Sa Pa. If you like, get a local tour guide and climb the Fanxipan but camping there is quite uncomfort.

Back to HN you can buy cruise ticket (like The Emeraude) including trasport from HN to stay 1-2 nights in Ha Long Bay, kayakking kind of stuffs.

Have a nice trip.
now,I'm living in hochi minh city(nor vn) . so,hcm is a city where crowded and have a lot of motobike,if u want to drive on the street,you can rent in pham ngu lao street,it's near benthanh market.but i think you shouldn't drive it because the traffic not so good ^^ !and the weather is so, you can go to bookstore to search the book guide in vn!
i'm a student,my foreign is not very well,but I'll try to help for u,when you travel in saigon,I'll become a private guide for u!i expect to pay about $50 per day
Halong Bay is in a southern vietnam, it is a beautiful place,and if u want to know that,you can see on the website: !
have a nice day to u ! ^^
Hi dear,

1. Northwest Loop:
+ There are many suitable routes for you. You can choose one of these places: Pù Luông in Thanh Hoa province và Sapa in Lao Cai, Na Hang in Tuyen Quang, Ba Bể in Bac Can, Y Tý - Bát Xát in Lao Cai, Mù Căng Chải or Tà Sì Láng in Yen Bai...
+ In each place, you can stay 2-3 days.
+ I suggest that you can try with Sapa, it has imposing sightseeing, beautiful flowers, ethnic villages, nice weather & lovely people, and good service. There is trekking, homestay and Hoang Lien nation parks.
+ You can ask you hotel abt local guide, and it is abt $15-20/person/day.

2. Ha Long Bay/ Bai Tu Long Bay
+ Both of them are beautiful. You can enjoy Ha Long Bay when you are on the way to Bai Tu Long Bay. In my opinion, the islands in Bai Tu Long are better, especially Quan Lan island and Co To island. Quan Lan has resorts and many hotels.
+ There is kayaking, diving...
+ You can come there in 3 days.

Welcome to the north.
Hi there,

Exploring Nothern Vn by motobike in my opinioin is the best mean to enjoy lansdcape, locals and everything :)
However, if you are not familiar with motobike, it is dangersous to drive yourself in the North because there are many sharp moutain passes. Thus, joining a tour is safer.You can vist this website: and ask them about more information. They have good quality tours to Mai Chau (Hoa Binh), Sapa (Lao Cai), Northeast Loop (Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Lang Son)and price I think easonable.
If your budget is little tight, you can rent motobike at 70 Hang Bac street,(Quan's phone number:0904244941)then ask for a local guide to drive with you.

Good luck!
Hi! thanks for the info. How much should I expect to pay for a local guide driving with us?
Halong bay is a tourist place, but it a must once you arrive here. You can take 2 days tour/ 1 night sleeping aboard, it should be fun.
To discover more vietnam, you already chose the right mean of transport, i meant by motorbike, which leads you to untouched areas and living the local life there.
If you want a better recommendation, plz write to me:

Hey la Frite, si tu veux vraiment vivre les montagnes du Nord comme il se doit, c'est à moto. Ça fait un bon bout de temps que je vis ici et je connais les montagnes comme le fond de ma poche. Si tu veux, je te les ferai découvrir personnellement. En plus de superbes paysages, on passera chez de mes amis, tout le long de la route! Envois-moi un email si tu veux
There is something important in your proposed tour that has not been addressed. To avoid hidden cost and charges. Do you want a complete Northern package tour - private ? Or you just want a tour guide and do it yourself ? In the Northern package tour everything will be included, your accomodation, tour guide, etc. If you prefer to do it yourself but with a tour guide, you will only have to be paying the guide. Since you prefer something private, I will advise you to arrange for a package tour. Go to our website, , click on trip planner, fill in how you want your tour to be, it is a free service. One of our travel consultant will reply you immediately. JUst make sure your email address is correct. Hope to hear from you soon.
Well, I would of course prefer a complete package to visit the north (not including hanoi and halong bay though) as long as I can afford it. Otherwise, I'd try to do things myself and hire local guides on the go.
Dear julotlafrite ,

Many thanks for your equiry ,According to your info, we would like to prefer good tour which you mentioned above :
- Halong and Catba island, it is good for relax .
- Yen Tu is crowded .
- Sapa is very nice highland . should try to visit.
If you never mind , pls give more your detail planning to North of vietnam via my email .
We will revert you soon , if we receive your info.
Many thanks
Besides Ha Long Bay, another choice is Tam Dao National Park, Hanoi or Ba Be National Park, Bac Can province.

For further information, please visit the link below :

Wish you a nice journey in Vietnam
halong bay with a good operator plus some kayaking. Then a private jeep tour to Ha Giang...very few tourists but hotels are very basic......
Welcome to your both as you know you will fly into Ha Noi and from there you will have to have accomodations as I figure you have already. In almost all of the hotels in Ha Noi you will have someone which will direct you to the appropriate travel agency or tour agent that will provide all that you need. Some of the others which have already posted some very good idea's combined with what you find out from the various agents near your or in your hotel while staying in Ha Noi you will have an excellent idea of what and where to go. As for the adventure, you should also just find one target area, set up accomodations at that location and jump start you adventure as you go. Explore as you go and you will really taste Vietnam as it should be and is. Most of all, the people along the way will in most cases be helpful and supportive. Again, all you need is the favorite, money, time and the desire to let things unfold. Have a wonderful adventure.
Welcome to Vietnam, I am about 8 hours by sleeping train from Hanoi, you could take a flight will take about 50minutes from Hanoi too. I am in Dong Hoi City - Quang Binh Province, you could find the a real vietnam situation from war and Natural World Heritage "Phong Nha Ke Bang cafe and national park" Please let me know when you visit here... and my handphone 090 524 2121

Have a fun and cheers,
You can choose the tours of Sinhcafe (Search Sinhcafe at Ha Noi and you will see the website right away) such as: Ha long Bay tour, Ha Noi intown tour, Huong Pagoda tour, Sapa tour, ..v.v.

The price is really good, Sinhcafe is one of the cheapest service which gives you the good quality with reasonable price. For anytours, you can choose the best way for you such as you can go on to back to the start place or stay more and pay yourself, watever, Sinhcafe gives you wat you want to complete your wonderful vacations ^^

Hope this can help you a lot! ^^

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