Skip to content

City Pass Guide

YOUR INSIDER'S TRAVEL GUIDE TO 15 DESTINATIONS

IN VIETNAM 🇻🇳 SINCE 2008

Citypassguide.com adv

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL IN VIETNAM

TRAVEL ADVERT CITYPASSGUIDE.COM
Play Video about Vietnam - www.citypassguide.com

SAIGON INSPIRATION TRAVEL IN VIETNAM

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL SAPA

SAPA

Sapa may not be the easiest place to get to in Vietnam, but your efforts will be rewarded with stunning landscapes, a cool (sometimes cold) climate, and the types of hiking opportunities that you simply will not find elsewhere in the country. 

 

Traveling to Sapa takes an overnight train journey or 5-6 hour bus ride from Hanoi, Sapa is a stone’s throw from the Chinese border. Located in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range, anywhere from 50,000 to 150,000 people reside in this picturesque town (official and unofficial figures vary), split among six ethnicities (including the Vietnamese). The area includes Vietnam’s highest peak, Fansipan, at 3,142 meters. Sapa weather is moderate and cool in the summer, wet from May to September, and foggy and cold in winter, with occasional snow. From March to May the days are sunny and nights are cool and crisp, with the best photo-op views from September to October.

 

Sapa is home to five ethnic minorities: the Hmong, Red Dao, Tay, Giay, and a small number of Xa Pho. Most of them live in small villages in modest huts and hamlets scattered throughout the district. In fact, the Vietnamese are not locals here – it’s the minorities that have come from as far back as 800 years, down from Southern China. In the 19th century, Sapa was colonized by the French, but around 200 colonial buildings were destroyed by 1954, leaving Sapa to start over from scratch. Slowly, the Vietnamese began to migrate upwards and in 1993, Sapa opened its doors to international tourism.

 

Once a sleepy, charming town, Sapa’s city center has been leaning more and more towards tourism and has lost some charm along the way. Fortunately, the town is not the region’s main highlight, and there are certainly more genuine destinations in the Lao Cai province. Some, like Cat Cat Village and Silver Waterfall are tailored for tourists, while further reaches still preserve the beauty and authenticity of terraced rice fields and peaceful hill tribes.

 

If you’re in the market for ethnic minority handicrafts, the villagers will be more than willing to oblige. Especially popular are the traditional quilts and clothing. Be wary that when near touristic areas, a “maybe” for their wares might warrant the minority saleswomen or children to follow you, lightly haggling you to buy something until you do. Give them a more firm “no” if you don’t want anything. This can get bothersome if you simply want to experience the town, so either be prepared to stand your ground or move out to further accommodation such as the Topas Ecolodge, which is surrounded by natural beauty.

 

One of Vietnam’s best-hiking destinations, it is easy to hire a local guide for both day hikes and longer trekking adventures. Many are of course attracted by Fansipan. The trek up the intimidating mountain can be done in a day, but it is recommended that hikers go overnight as you don’t want to run down a muddy trail to beat the sunset. For those preferring the unbeaten path, Topas Travel conducts tours that specifically avoid kitschy points of interest, and instead opt for little-known destinations and villages not yet overrun with tourists or hagglers.

 

Those looking to sample local (ethnic minority) cuisine have three options: try the Hill Station restaurant in Sapa town, the restaurant at Topas Ecolodge, or if you have/make a Hmong or Red Dao friend, have them invite you over for a family meal. No ethnic minorities have opened up restaurants in the area as of yet, so the above options are your best bets. Otherwise, there are plenty of Vietnamese restaurants, the best of which are more “local” spots around the lake.

 

There are daytime and overnight sleeper trains between Hanoi and Lao Cai. Sleeper trains leave Hanoi at 9:50 p.m. and arrive in Lao Cai at 6:15 a.m. Private cabins are available at livitrans.com.

Sapa Gifts - www.citypassguide.com
Sa Pa city
the-fansipan-summit - sa pa - vietnam - www.citypassguide.com
Sa Pa rice field - www.citypassguide.com
Sa Pa Trekking

How to Get to Sapa

Located northwest of Vietnam, Sapa is the best-known mountain town in Lao Cai province on the border of China’s Yunnan province. At present there’s no airport in Sapa, so the only options are to take the train or arrive by road.

 

From central Hanoi, the drive takes about 5 and a half hours, and around an hour less if you opt to head straight to the mountains from the airport. Alternatively, you can take the sleeper train from Hanoi which takes around 8 hours to reach Lao Cai train station. After the train, you will need to drive the final 30kms to Sapa. 

 

However you choose to get to Sapa, the final approach offers beautiful views over deep valleys and steep paddy fields as you slowly but surely wind your way through the ‘Tonkinese Alps’. 

 

What to See and Do in Sapa

Hiking and enjoying the stunning natural scenery are by far the most common reasons for visiting Sapa. There are enough hikes to keep hikers of all fitness levels entertained for a few days at least. Novice hikers can enjoy the leisurely strolls to nearby villages, Cat Cat and Ta Phin, whilst more experienced, energetic hikers may wish to tackle Mount Fansipan, the highest mountain in Indochina.

 

Although some hikers ascend and descend Fansipan on the same day, this hike can be turned into an overnight trek with the option to camp on the mountain if you wish. If all of that sounds like too much hard work, you can always take the recently installed cable car.  

 

As you walk around Sapa you will undoubtedly encounter people from the hill tribes that live in the region. Their brightly colored, traditional clothes and accessories are handcrafted by members of the ethnic groups who use techniques that have been handed down through generations.

 

If you are interested in buying some of the local products, be sure to visit Sapa Market where women from the tribes will be happy to answer any questions you may have about their products. 

 

What to Eat in Sapa

For a small town, Sapa offers a good variety of restaurants, including a handful of international fine dining options courtesy of the most exclusive hotels in town. However, if you are looking to sample more local specialties, look for cap nach pork, the local take on a hog roast, or thit trau gac bep a local snack, similar to jerky but made using buffalo meat. 

 

When considering where to stay in Sapa, there should only be one real consideration – the view from your room. After taking the time to travel to this stunning location, make sure you take the time to drink in the spectacular views that can be shrouded in mist one moment and revealed for all to see the next.

 

Luckily, there is no shortage of options that are conveniently located in the center of town and suitable for all budgets. 

 

TRAVEL ADVERT CITYPASSGUIDE.COM

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL SAPA

Play Video about Sa Pa - www.citypassguide.com

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL HANOI

HANOI

hoa-lo-prison-hanoi-a-history-vietnam-www.citypassguide.com
Bun Cha - Vietnam - Food - Citypassguide.com

How to Get to Hanoi

Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport is about a 45-minute drive from the city. Hanoi Railway Station, on the western edge of Hoan Kiem District, includes air-conditioned trips to and from HCMC

 

A Short History of Hanoi

Around the year 1010, the first ruler of the Ly dynasty chose Hanoi as his capital. It remained so for nearly 1000 years until the Nguyen Dynasty transferred the title to Hue in 1802. 

 

Hanoi finally regained its status as the capital of French Indochina, and eventually North Vietnam in 1902. This status was extended to include the entire country (both North and South) after the fall of Saigon and the reunification of the country in 1975.

 

What to See and Do in Hanoi

Start with a visit to the Old Quarter (Hoan Kiem District). Here, 13th century architecture stands guard over narrow streets crowded with local craft boutiques, cafes, and street stalls. 

 

Enjoy a moment of calm overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake, the jewel of the city center. Cross Huc Bridge or the charming Rising Sun Bridge to get to the center of Jade Island where you’ll find Ngoc Son Temple.

 

If after your walking tour through the Old Quarter you feel like you need a pause to cool down, catch a taxi to the French Quarter where you’ll find modern shopping malls and 5-star hotels. 

 

Hanoi is a city of museums, landmarks, and heritage architecture. It would take at least a week to see everything. If you’re short on time but keen to see the most important sites, don’t miss:  

  • The Temple of Literature is an 11th-century historical site and functioning national university dedicated to Confucian learning. 
  • Hanoi Opera House, the neoclassical gem of the French Quarter. 
  • Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is the somber final resting place of Vietnam’s national hero. 
  • Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is a fascinating way to learn about traditional Vietnamese folk tales for kids and adults alike. 
  • St. Joseph Cathedral, Hanoi’s oldest church.  
  • Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2010. 
  • Our favorite museums include the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, the Women’s Museum, and the Vietnam National Museum of Fine Arts. 

 

What to Eat in Hanoi

Hanoi is famous for bun cha, a dish made with grilled pork, rice noodles, fresh herbs, and veggies.  Also, don’t miss out on trying Hanoi’s famous egg coffee. While the name might sound off-putting, this delicious concoction of espresso, sugar, condensed milk, and egg yolk is creamy and dessert worthy. 

 

You’ll also find plenty of options for alcoholic beverages from cheap bia hoi (local beer) to top-notch cocktails and wines in the many upscale hotels and restaurants throughout the city.

TRAVEL ADVERT CITYPASSGUIDE>COM

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL HANOI

Play Video about Hanoi video cover

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL HA LONG BAY

Ha Long Bay

One of the most recognizable destinations in Vietnam, Halong Bay is an area of incredible natural beauty and offers ample opportunity to explore and relax at the same time. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994, the turquoise waters and movie-set scenery of Halong bay is northern Vietnam’s most popular tourist destination. 

 

Halong Bay Vietnam, or Descending Dragon Bay, is a popular travel destination along the coast 170km east of Hanoi. The Bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles dotted with caves and grottoes. Halong Bay is 1,553km2 and includes 1,960 islets, most made of limestone. Nearly 500 years ago, it was called the ‘rock wonder in the sky by poet Nguyen Trai in his verse Lo Nhap Van Don.

 

The geo-diversity of the environment has created an incredible range of biology spread over tropical evergreen, oceanic, and sea shore ecosystems. While tourism and industry have taken a toll on the ecology, constant efforts to practice sustainable bio-tourism ensure that we will continue to enjoy this natural wonder in a responsible manner. After enjoying the above-ground wonders, step into another world through the expansive caves dotted throughout the islets. Each cavern contains jagged stalactites and stalagmites in a vast spectrum of shapes, all open to interpretation.

 

A fine example of aging with grace, the bay has been in geological transformation for 500 million years. Be respectful and it just might last 500 million more. Apart from natural beauty, Halong Bay has also been the setting of two James Bond films. Though it may be difficult to imagine a speedboat chase through such serenity, how can you blame them for taking advantage of the cinematic scenery?

Citypassguide.com adv
monkey island in Lan Ha bay, the southestern part of Ha Lng Bay, Vietnam - www.citypassguide.com
halong-bay-flora - vietnam - www.citypassguide.com
Bioluminisent-Planko-Ha-Long-Bay
Ha Long Bay Pearl - Vietnam - www.citypassguide.com

How to Get to Halong

Easily reached by bus, minivan or taxi from Hanoi city centre, Hanoi Airport or Van Don Airport, you can take time to visit this beautiful region even if you only have one day to spare. The trip will typically take you 2.5 to 4 hours from Hanoi. 

 

What to See and Do in Halong

Undoubtedly, the best way to experience Halong Bay is from the water. Countless cruise operators offer the choice of a day trip or one to two-night cruises, which will give you the opportunity to experience the highlights of the bay.

 

Relax on the deck in the sunshine as you sail gently through the thousands of limestone karsts that rise majestically from the water. Explore the naturally formed caves and grottoes before taking a refreshing swim in the crystal clear water.

 

If time permits, kayak around the coves and inlets that are too small for other boats to reach. However you spend your day, your time in Halong is bound to create wonderful memories. 

 

If you stay overnight in the bay, you can expect to enjoy a peaceful night under the stars, being rocked to sleep by the gently lapping waves. Luxury cruise operators offer accommodation on par with 5-star hotels on shore, and evening entertainment often includes squid fishing, cooking demonstrations, live music, or sipping cocktails on the deck. 

 

For visitors who have more time on their hands, it’s possible to spend time on one of the habitable islands in the bay. Cat Ba is the largest and best-known island in the archipelago and offers both lush green jungle and golden sandy beaches to enjoy.

 

Lan Ha bay, which is an area less frequently visited by tour groups and cruises, is also easily accessible from Cat Ba if you wish to see more of the famous landscape. Finally, if you’re feeling energetic after a few days of rest and relaxation, Cat Ba is a great spot to enjoy snorkeling, kayaking, and rock climbing. 

 

Back on dry land, Halong offers a handful of 5-star accommodation options from which you can explore the surrounding area. Bai Chay is a lively area with a wide man-made beach that is popular with visitors and locals alike.

 

However, it is the sprawling Sun World Halong Complex that captures the attention of guests who stay in Halong after ending their cruise. The Sunworld amusement park offers a water park, a 2km long cable car, roller coasters, and a 215-meter-tall Ferris wheel!

 

What to Eat in Halong

Of course, being located right on the coast, the must try dishes from the region are primarily seafood based. Cha muc (grilled chopped squid) is a famous dish from the Quang Ninh province and horseshoe crab (sam) are plentiful in Halong Bay. Enjoy a fresh crab salad or sauteed sam with lemongrass and pepper for a real treat.  

 

Citypassguide.com adv

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL HA LONG BAY

Play Video about Ha Long Bay- www.citypassguide.com

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL HUE

Hue - www.citypassguide.com

Hue

Hue Gifts - www.citypassguide.com
CITYPASSGUIDE.COM ADVERTISEMENT

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL HUE

Play Video about Hue- www.citypassguide.com

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL DA NANG

Da Nang

Citypassguide.com adv
TRAVEL ADVERTISEMENT - CITYPASSGUIDE.com

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL DA NANG

Play Video

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL HOI AN

Hoi An - www.citypassguide.com

Hoi An

Hoi An Gifts - www.citypassguide.com
Citypassguide.com adv

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL HOI AN

Play Video about Hoi An- www.citypassguide.com

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL QUY NHON

Quy Nhon View from montain-vietnam-www.citypassguide.com

Quy Nhon

Relatively undiscovered, Quy Nhon is often overlooked by visitors who favor the popular beach resorts of Nha Trang and Da Nang. Whilst a visit to one of these more developed destinations may come with various benefits, they can also lack the charm and authenticity that a hidden gem can provide. Without crowds of tourists and endless rows of international hotel chains, Quy Nhon gives visitors a delicious taste of small-town Vietnam without skimping on comfort and interest.

Citypassguide.com adv

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL QUY NHON

Play Video about Quy Nhon- www.citypassguide.com

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL NHA TRANG

Nha Trang

Nha Trang Gifts - www.citypassguide.com
Citypassguide.com adv

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL NHA TRANG

Play Video about Nha Trang- www.citypassguide.com

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL DA LAT

Da Lat - www.citypassguide.com

Da Lat

Da Lat Gifts - www.citypassguide.com
TRAVEL ADVERTISEMENT - CITYPASSGUIDE.com

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL DA LAT

Play Video

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL PHAN RANG

Phan Rang - www.citypassguide.com

PHAN RANG

Phan Rang Gifts - www.citypassguide.com
Citypassguide.com adv
Play Video about Phan Rang - www.citypassguide.com

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL PHAN THIET – MUI-NE

Mui Ne Phan Thiet - www.citypassguide.com

PHAN THIET - Mui Ne

Mui Ne Gifts - www.citypassguide.com
Citypassguide.com adv

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL PHAN THIET – MUI-NE

Play Video

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL VUNG TAU

Vung Tau

TRAVEL ADVERT CITYPASSGUIDE>COM

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL VUNG TAU

Play Video

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL CON DAO

Con Dao - Vietnam - www.citypassguide.com

Con Dao

Citypassguide.com adv
Citypassguide.com adv
Play Video

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL CAN THO

Can Tho - www.citypassguide.com

Can Tho

Citypassguide.com adv

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL CAN THO

Play Video about Can Tho - www.citypassguide.com

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL MEKONG DELTA

Mekong Cover 1 - www.citypassguide.com

MEKONG DELTA

Mekong gifgts - www.citypassguide.com
Citypassguide.com adv

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL MEKONG DELTA

Play Video about Mekong Cover - www.citypassguide.com

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL PHU QUOC

Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc Gifts - www.citypassguide.com

HCMC INSPIRATION TRAVEL PHU QUOC

Play Video about Phu Quoc- www.citypassguide.com