There are so many reasons why we love Vietnam. Among them are the very friendly people and authentic scenery found at almost every places throughout the country. Incense Travel designer, Buffalo Joe, made his adventure in North Vietnam recently. We caught up with him upon his return from Sapa to discuss his highlights and recommendations for those considering a tour in North Vietnam.



Where did you go?


I went the countryside of Ninh Binh – famous with rice paddy field with limestone mountain scenery, Mai Chau valley - the home of the white Thai people in Vietnam, and Sapa – a former French hill station in northwest Vietnam, visiting our local partners and also doing some site inspections Sapa hotels at the same time.


A highlight of the trip?


Silk Path Grand Resort and Spa – on the top of the Sapa town – the hotel and staff are fantastic, but it’s such an amazing experience with all of the different activities – the mountain hike, the cable car ride to the Fansipan peak, the lookout… especially the hill tribe people are very interesting.


I enjoyed the walk through the villages around the mountain valley of Mai Chau. Also enjoyed drifting silently along the water irrigation in the rice fields, soaking up the sounds of the gadwalls calling and hearing only my own breath and heartbeat. I watched with delight as the Asian Kingfishers splashed beak-first into the water in pursuit of their prey.




Favorite activity?


I love the walk in Mai Chau and the hike to Muong Hoa valley in Sapa, passing groups of ethnic minority people including the H’mong and Red Dao people. The scenery is spectacular!


I loved the cycling in Ninh Binh. I didn’t cycle for too long because I wanted to spend some time to visit a nearby limestone cave, but the cycling through the local villages and along the foot of the limestone mountain was just awesome – right into the nature and the real countryside of north Vietnam.



For those considering a trip in North Vietnam:


It is important to plan a trip to destinations in north Vietnam at the right time of the year if you want to witness the rice crops. Let’s say if you want to see the golden color of the rice when it’s about to be harvested, May or September through October is the good time. I recommend two nights at a hotel or homestay in Mai Chau valley to start, one night at a hotel in the countryside of Ninh Binh, and then two nights for Sapa, that will offer some cycling and hiking too. Combining those places with a stay in the capital Hanoi or an overnight boat cruise in Halong Bay offers the traveler a perfect balance to experience the highlights of North Vietnam.


Don’t forget: Definitely pack walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen and a camera.


Thanks for sharing your insights, Joe! To start planning your north Vietnam trip, contact our Incense Travel trip designer.