5 Pho-nomenal Experiences You Must Add right to Your Hanoi-Halong-Sapa Itinerary

Nga Do
Cruise alongside massive limestone islands in Halong Bay, savour the best egg coffee in Hanoi and hike up Fansipan, the highest peak in all of Vietnam located in Sapa.

With impressive landscapes, lush greenery and culture-rich countryside, Northern Vietnam is easily one of the best places in Southeast Asia to escape to.

Genuinely passable “The North Fake” knock-offs aside, the north face of Vietnam hosts some of the most genuine experiences in the country. From satisfying your tastebuds to stepping or paddling into nature and catching the sunrise above the clouds.

Here are the best ones that you must add to your Northern Vietnam itinerary!


Photo by Amenoc

Try the Vietnamese Egg Coffee

Legend has it that due to a shortage of fresh milk in the 1940s, egg yolk was used as a substitute and thus the egg coffee was born. While I have to admit my first thought was “ew, raw egg in coffee?”, the concoction is surprisingly inviting.

As someone with a penchant for cold beverages, I’m really glad there’s an iced option that actually tastes more like a dessert. Walking through the Old Quarter, you’ll see many shops selling the beverage. But if you’re looking for the place that started it all, The Giang Café is the place to be.


Challenge yourself and hike up Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest peak

There’s no better way to experience the magnificent landscape of Northern Vietnam’s countryside than to climb 3,143m above sea level, to the summit of Fansipan. It’s a seven-hour climb up to the base camp on the first day, followed by another two-hour journey to the peak the next morning.

That being said, there’s also the option of taking the cable car up to the Fansipan Cable Car Station. At a cost of 700,000₫(~S$40), the 15-minute journey will have you done with the attraction in a couple of hours, leaving a whole day ahead to explore the rest of Sapa.

See details about conquering Fansipan peak at: https://sapatoursfromhanoi.com/tour/conquer-fansipan-inspire-life-2-days/

Photo by Nga Do

Feast on local BBQ skewers

Local barbecue is easily one of the top things to eat when in Sapa. Just ask Google. That and grilled bamboo sticky rice, otherwise known as “cơm lam”. But with so many local bbq joints around, how do you decide which to go for? Where can you get the best bang for your buck?

There are over 25 varieties of skewered meat, vegetables and carbs (YAY cơm lam!) to choose from. With a range of 10,000₫ for a portion of skewered mushrooms to 15,000₫ for skewered meat and 30,000₫ for larger items like a thick juicy slab of pork belly, you’ll be struggling to fit a bit of everything in your tummy. By the end of meal, the total bill came down to 130,000₫ per pax (~S$7.80). Worth it!


Photo by Vietnam Typical Tours

Chill out on Cat Ba Island 

The largest of 367 islands, Cat Ba is a popular destination for those visiting Halong Bay. Most tour companies run daily trips to the island where you can take your pick of three beaches (Cat Co 1, 2 or 3 — very originally named) to swim, sunbathe or just chill at over the summer months. There are many shops, restaurants and hotels by the harbour that are easily accessible by foot or GrabBike.

There are also many activities you can do on Cat Ba Island, such as snorkelling and kayaking. For nature buffs, you’ll be thrilled to know there’s trekking, caving and rock-climbing at Cat Ba National Park. You can also rent a motorbike for ~100,000₫/day (no licence needed) – recommended if you’re visiting the more remote parts of the island like the national park.

Witness farmers harvesting pearls firsthand

This ain’t no pearl harbour but they sure know how to harbour their pearls! A long standing tradition that only recently made its way into cruise itineraries like this overnight cruise, the Tung Sau Pearl Farm is a unique experience for both children and adults.

Watch the magic unfold as the artisans painstakingly retrieve these glistening gems from the oysters. Fancy yourself a pearl or perhaps a more extravagant necklace as a souvenir? Purchase one from the very waters these pearls were harvested from.

Accommodation in Hanoi: Hanoi Unique Hotel

Photo by Hanoi Unique Hotel
Hanoi Unique Hotel is located right in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Free breakfast! Furthermore, the hotel has a great location, easy to move between the attractions.

Address: 11 Hài Tượng, Hàng Buồm, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam

Accommodation in Sapa: Tavan Eco Homestay

Slip into one of these spacious and futuristic-looking capsules for the night. This cosy contraption allows you complete privacy and comfortable, easy access to and explore the unique culture of ethnic minority groups.

All in that small space?! It was the perfect recuperation chamber, especially after climbing Fansipan.

Whether you’re looking for a rad solo trip or an all-inclusive family holiday, there’s plenty to do in the land of pho — and this is only one part of Vietnam!

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