The Ideal Destination in Northern Vietnam on The Weekends

Nga Do
Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam – has attracted an increasingly large number of visitors recently due to its unique contradiction between the old and the new, the past and the present, as well as the conservative and the modern. Most tourists in Hanoi also want to experience short trips away from this city during their stay, as the landscape in areas surrounding Hanoi  is very diverse.

While Halong Bay and Sapa are the two most popular destinations for a weekend getaway from Hanoi, there are more lesser-known yet not less impressive alternatives. As a non-local who lived in Hanoi for one year and travelled extensively during that period, We’d like to share with you 3 of most favorite destinations for a weekend getaway from Hanoi. Whether you want to quiet trip for relaxation or a healthy trip with chances to exercise, these destinations can all cater to your needs.

1. Ninh Binh

It takes only 2 hours from Hanoi city center to get to Ninh Binh. 

Ninh Binh is an outstanding destination with stunning karst landscapes of the Tam Coc valley and Cuc Phuong National Park. The areas is also known as the "Inland Ha Long” and Trang An sites. Escape the stresses of the city for a couple of days into an area that compliments a mix of adventure and relaxation. This trip is perfect for all types of travelers including families and groups. The bikes are fully ridged standard bikes for ease of travel. so we had a great time riding bikes across mesmerizing countryside landscape in Ninh Binh.

While Ninh Binh can hardly be considered a non-touristy destination for a weekend getaway from Hanoi, most people often spend only one day there for a boat trip across the caves in Tam Coc or Bich Dong. But I realized it was totally possible to have a peaceful weekend getaway in Ninh Binh that did not involve too many touristy activities, you will a great time riding bikes across mesmerizing countryside landscape in Ninh Binh. On two sides of the road, we could see vast rice paddy fields complemented by rocks and mountains of different shapes. It was overall such a healthy and refreshing weekend getaway from Hanoi for us!

2. Mai Chau

In the heart of the Hòa Bình Province is Mai Chau, a district with lush greenery, beautiful mountains and a vibrant culture. Mai Chau is a wonderful place to explore if you’re looking to get an authentic view of the many cultures that have found a home in Northern Vietnam. Mai Chau is a sort of melting pot, serving as the home to seven distinct ethnic groups: Hmong, Zao, Muong, Hoa, Viet, White Thai and Tay. In addition to the verdant valleys, Mai Chau is noteworthy for its stilt houses. These houses are constructed 3 meters (10 feet) off the ground, and they often provide shelter to animals escaping inclement weather.

3. Moc chau

Moc Chau is an ideal destination for anyone who wants to temporarily escape the searing heat of Hanoi’s summers. Situated 200km from Hanoi, Moc Chau is easily accessible by both cars and motorbikes. 

Moc Chau is most famous for its green tea hills. While the local green tea with its unique taste is a perfect holiday gift, tea hills in Moc Chau are also lovely places for photography. The 2 most popular tea hills for public visitors are the Taiwan Heart Hill (Doi che trai tim Dai Loan) and the Moc Suong Farm Hill (Doi che nong truong Moc Suong). Moc Chau is also known for its beautiful flower farms and lovely fruit gardens. The availability of flowers and fruits here depend on the seasons. For example, plum flowers bloom all over the place in Moc Chau during the spring. In the winter, Moc Chau features gorgeous farms of winter cress. In the summer, plums are ready for harvest and can be purchased for a very cheap price at various plum gardens in Moc Chau.

In addition, Moc Chau also has many other interesting destinations such as Ban Ang Pine Forest, Dai Yem Waterfall, Doi Cave and so on. Otherwise, just chill out and enjoy Moc Chau’s fresh air, lukewarm tea and cool weather for a relaxing weekend getaway from Hanoi.

We hope this has given you some inspiration to get out of the city and explore more of this beautiful country. If you take any of the trips above, or find any new spots, get in touch and let us know about it!

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