DestinationsAsia14 Days Travel from North to Central Vietnam and Where to Go
14 Days Travel from North to Central Vietnam and Where to Go

14 Days Travel from North to Central Vietnam and Where to Go

So finally I quit my job to join my friends on a journey of stepping out of my safe zone and discovering my country, Vietnam. It was a 14-day travel going from North to Central Vietnam, and it was the 14 most memorable days for me in 2016.

Instead of a 3-week journey from Ha Giang to Quy Nhon as planned before, the whole trip occurred in only 14 days due to heavy rains and floods in some provinces in central Vietnam. In that short length of time, we have been to Ha Giang, Sapa, Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Da Nang, Hoi An, and Quy Nhon. I’m going to update all the details of places on the journey later in other posts. At first, let me show my trip’s schedule:

We (me & my friends) depart to Hanoi from Ho Chi Minh City on 9 Oct in the late evening. Right after arrival, we took a night sleeper bus (a bus with beds inside) to go to Ha Giang. I wouldn’t call it my first day of the trip because we spent most of our time sitting bored on a plane and bus from HCMC to Ha Giang. And our journey truly started on the next day.

Ha Giang Province, Oct 10 – 13, 2016

– Day 1, 10 Oct:

On the very first day of our North to Central Vietnam journey, we arrived at Ha Giang City, Vietnam at 4:45 a.m. We had breakfast and rented motorbikes to wander around Ha Giang province. Our first destination was Dong Van which was about 150km away from Ha Giang city. To get there, we had to go through Quan Ba town and Yen Minh town where we could take some rest and have something to fill our empty stomachs. As we could not take our eyes off the beautiful scenes on the way to Dong Van Town, we arrived at 6 p.m., later than expected.

Along the way to Dong Van town, there are many marvelous and picturesque landscapes that are worth seeing once in your life. Ha Giang province is famous for with Buckwheat flower, which can be easily found in every corner of the province.

– Day 2, 11 Oct:

On the second day, our plan was to visit H’Mong King’s Palace and Lung Cu – the Northernmost point of Vietnam. Then, we moved to Meo Vac town.

About 2km away from Dong Van, there was an intersection that led to H’Mong King’s Palace in one direction and to Lung Cu in another way. We first went to the Palace, about 13km from that intersection, then went to Lung Cu, 26km from the Palace. In the afternoon, we crossed Ma Pi Leng, one of the most beautiful passes in the northern mountainous region, to Meo Vac which is about 50km far from Lung Cu.

Meo Vac was a small town that could be called a recommended stop on the journey from Dong Van town to Ha Giang City.  It had many must-try foods that we could not miss.

Meo Vac has many good foods that must be tried, especially this street shop.

– Day 3, 12 Oct:

It was a long day coming back to Ha Giang City from Meo Vac, about 150km. Except for the good breakfast we had at Meo Vac and the enjoyable, memorable experience of riding a motorbike on the passes at night without lights, we just were on the road all day long. Ahh, we visited Lung Khuy Cave at Quan Ba in the middle of the day but found nothing exciting.

Finally, we arrived in Ha Giang City around 9 p.m. and directly went to a homestay in Tuy village to spend the rest of the night. The highlight point of the third day is the delicious foods and special wine at our homestay. That’s all for the third day of the journey.

– Day 4, 13 Oct:

Last day in Ha Giang, we had breakfast after wandering around the village. Then we took a bus to go to Lao Cai at 11:55 a.m.

Sapa, Oct 13 – 17, 2016

At Lao Cai city, Vietnam.

It was the longest day sitting on the bus in our North to Central Vietnam journey. We were at Lao Cai territory at about 3 p.m. and arrived at Lao Cai city at about 6 p.m. The bus owner helped contact a van to take us to Sapa. The city is 1 hour away and we were there at about 7 p.m. Luckily we met Tung, a very friendly manager at the hotel where we stayed. He took us to the market for the very first delicious dinner in Sapa.

– Day 5, 14 Oct:

The journey of traveling to Sapa, Vietnam started this day at 6:30 a.m. We came to Ta Van village at 8 a.m. and had breakfast there. We went to a cool homestay to find some food but they just had instant noodles and crepe.

Ta Van is one of the three popular villages that many tourists visit. We played as the ethnic minorities to take photos and visited the ancient rocks there, then back to Sapa at 1 p.m.

We traveled to the Waterfall of Love at 2 p.m. There is Fansipan Legend – the station with cable cars that take you to Fansipan Peak, on the way. And if you want to trek to the mountain peak, the entrance at Waterfall of Love is also the starting point to hike to Fansipan.

We then left the waterfall in the afternoon to go to Ta Phin, which is 1 of the 3 most popular villages in Sapa and also the one that’s less affected by tourism. We stayed at a homestay of a Red Dao family, the ethnic people in Sapa. They served us the most memorable dinner with their iconic liquor, paddy wine, and local foods. Especially the Red Dao herbal bath, my body is inundated with the herbal hot water in a round wooden tub; it’s one of the best ways to relax after a long day wandering around. Those are the best memories of me on the trip.

– Day 6, 15 Oct:

It’s a whole exploring day at Ta Phin village. We went to the silversmith’s house in the village. I intended to buy some souvenirs there but he wasn’t at home, unfortunately!

We then strolled through 10 hills to visit the fortune-teller of the village. Besides telling the future, in Red Dao’s culture, the fortune-teller can also affect the marriage of people in the village. The Dao people need the fortune teller to see if a couple is suitable in age or destiny so they are able for a wedding. Unfortunately, there was some problem with him so he didn’t see our future. Instead, he invited us to enjoy lunch at his home. That lunch was so remarkable with the super-delicious carp fish that the teller had fed in 10 years and the 50-degree spirit he made.

One special food of the village was the grilled and boiled sweet potato. We were invited to Van’s home, the son of the homestay owner where we lived, to enjoy the food.

The day ended after we enjoyed dinner and drank a whole big jar of paddy wine, the really needed drink for the cold weather outside.

– Day 7, 16 Oct:

We were invited to join a wedding in the village. That was a very lucky opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the culture of the Red Dao as it’s quite rare to see a wedding there. The celebration of the wedding had so many steps following the tradition of the Red Dao people. It was so interesting for me to see the wedding and the foods were delicious.

We then said goodbye to Ta Phin village to go back to Sapa at noon. Did took some rest and went shopping at Sapa market, it had many good brocades and handmade stuff.

The night ended with a lot of grilled foods around Sapa, the must-try cuisine in the city.

– Day 8, 17 Oct:

We said goodbye to Sapa at 7 a.m. and arrived at Hanoi at 12 p.m. by Camel’s sleeper bus, phone number (+84) 98 569 4914.

Hanoi – Ninh Binh, Oct 17 – 19, 2016

It was a food day because it seemed like I put everything into my mouth. Unfortunately, my stomach had a problem right at that night. We then strolled around the old town of Hanoi and had to say goodbye to one member of the team.

We went to a nice acoustic cafe at night for some music but because of my stomach. So bad I couldn’t enjoy the whole beautiful night. There were a few bad things that happened in the day. Honestly, I just thought that I couldn’t keep up my North to Central Vietnam trip if my health wasn’t better.

– Day 9, 18 Oct:

Our destination for this day was Ninh Binh, a famous spot for cultural travel in Vietnam. We left Hanoi from Giap Bat bus station at 9 a.m. and reached Ninh Binh at 12 p.m. We arrived at noon so we did not have much time to visit many places as wanted. The ticket at Trang An is 150k VND/ person for 3 hours sitting in a boat and the ferryman will take visitors going around the area.

We traveled back to Hanoi at 6 p.m. then had some food and drank throughout the night to end up the day. Unfortunately, my stomach didn’t get better.

– Day 10, 19 Oct:

A full day of strolling around the old town for food and visiting some popular places in Hanoi.

Our menu of the day has:

  • Bun Doc Mung (rice vermicelli with colocasia gigantea and meatballs) at 10 a.m.
  • Pho Cuon (grilled meat rolled with pho) at 11 a.m.
  • Miscellaneous foods in the afternoon.
  • Xoi Man (steamed sticky rice with meats) at 6:30 p.m.

We spent the noon visiting Uncle Ho’s Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and Bat Trang Pottery Village which is about 10 km away from Hanoi’s old town.

The flight to Da Nang City would take off at 5 a.m. in the morning, we did need to go to sleep early.

Da Nang – Hoi An, Oct 20 – 21, 2016

– Day 11, 20 Oct:

On a taxi that took us VND 415k, and 2 strange guys we just met at the airport, we went straight to Hoi An, Vietnam after had arrived at Da Nang. The noon at Hoi An that time was boiling hot, I was like meat in a burning pan! Unfortunately, our homestay did not have AC which was the most wanted stuff for us at that time. We ran around the town to find a coffee shop with AC and luckily, Hoi An Rostery had a cool room (the only place that we could find AC in the old town) so we could stay there till afternoon.

And what to do when the night comes? We strolled around the old town to take pictures and enjoyed the food and sat on a boat propelled by a ferryman to go around the river along the town and dropped the paper lantern.

– Day 12, 21 Oct:

After having breakfast, we went to a handmade leather workshop to visit some friends. The workshop was really nice, it had classes for people to learn how to work with leather and create products. It also had some finished products for sale at a very good price. Furthermore, the second floor of the workshop was a nice homestay that visitors could rent to stay.

At the leather workshop having Soa Soa, a very good drink at Hoi An.

We then hitchhiked a bus to go to Da Nang at 1:30 p.m. The time that we spent in Da Nang was short. It was just enough for eating some Da Nang pancakes, lemongrass skewers, grilled girdle cake, and visiting Linh Ung Pagoda.

Quy Nhon, Oct 22 – 24, 2016:

– Day 13, 22 Oct:

We left Da Nang at 8:45 a.m. By taking the Son Tung Bus we arrived at Quy Nhon, Vietnam – the city of cheap foods at 3 p.m. Even though there were many nice places at Quy Nhon that we could visit, we mostly enjoyed the food around the city. So this day’s menu had Banh Beo (bloating fern-shaped cake), Oc (many kinds of clams), and a cocktail at the beach after dinner.

Especially, I love lying on the beach at night. And our accommodation, the O.M.E hostel was really nice!

– Day 14, 23 Oct:

We started the day by going to a nearby mountain in the city to enjoy the dawn. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day so we couldn’t find the sun. Then, as planned, we went to Xep Beach, a nice and quiet beach, to enjoy the sea.

But first, here are the foods of the day:

  • Banh Hoi Long Heo (soft thin vermicelli noodles with congee and pork offal) for breakfast.
  • Nem, Cha Nuong, and Banh Cuon (grilled meat roll, grilled chopped meat, and steamed rolled rice pancake) for lunch.
  • Banh Canh (rice spaghetti) and coffee, juice for dinner.

– Last day:

We went to Phu Cat Airport which is 35 km away from Quy Nhon to go to Saigon. Luckily, we could enjoy the cheapest and tastiest bread with patê for breakfast at Quy Nhon before taking the flight back home and ending our dream journey.

the flight back home and end our dream North to Central Vietnam journey
We take the flight back home and end our dream North to Central Vietnam journey!

It’s about 2 months from the day we plan the Vietnam trip to the last day of the journey. There are a lot of beautiful memories stored in every member. Even if it’s the end of this 14-day travel in Vietnam, it’s not really an end for us. Furthermore, it’s only the first chapter of our long journeys together in the future.

Us in our glory days.

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I hope you love this itinerary. Here are some related posts of places in this article that I believe you would love reading too:

Khoi Nguyen builds The Broad Life with a desire to inspire people go exploring the world and live a more interesting, experience, and adventurous life. This blog shares the stories, pictures, and experiences at destinations where he has traveled to.


  • backalleyorchids

    Thanks for the interesting post Khoi! I was in Vietnam very briefly last year and would love to go back, now I really do looking at your pictures!

    • khoinguyen

      Hi there,

      Sorry I don’t know your name, may I know your name?
      and thank you for your comment 😀
      I’m going to have more posts about Vietnam with many destinations so hopefully you can have more info for your next trip going back to Vietnam 😀

      I just checked your ‘about’ and was surprised that you come from Canada 😀 I’m currently studying in Toronto, Canada too and gonna go back there this Sep to finish my study 😀

      Nice to e-know you! 🙂

  • Aditi Sharma

    We haven’t visited Vietnam yet but it is on our bucket list. Thanks for sharing this informative post that is sure to help a first-time visitor to Vietnam plan a great trip around the country. The amazing photographs and all the practical details make this post a great read. Will refer to it for sure when we plan our Vietnam trip.

  • Brittany Harris

    Vietnam seems like an awesome place to visit! The mountains in your pics remind me a lot of the Karst mountains in China. Were there a lot of sunny days on your trip?

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Yeah Vietnam is truly an amazing place to travel!
      It was sunny days in the beginning of my trip. Unfortunately, I faced many rainy days later. It turned out to be a storm around some provinces 🙁 That resulted to my trip shortened.

  • Kuntala

    Thats quite a lot of information. I have heard lots about Vietnam never knew there are so many interesting places

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Absolutely, Vietnam is one of the top attractive destinations I have ever been. Visiting there once, I’m sure you will agree with me! 😉


    Looking at the photos, Vietnam is so much like the Philippines, very Oriental and awesome

    • Khoi Nguyen

      I believe you will love Vietnam more when visiting the country 😉

  • ktlexius

    This 14-day trip looks amazing. I appreciate the daily break downs and it looks like you were really able to absorb the culture!

    • Khoi Nguyen

      yeah actually I’m a Vietnamese so it’s not so hard for me to absorb the culture of other provinces 😀

  • 204park

    Vietnam is so wonderful.. It was a nice idea to travel for weeks after quitting your job.. 😊Thanks for sharing pictures.. Love it.. 😊

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Yeah it was truly the best idea I have ever had. It then turned out to be one of the best trips in my life. Thanks for the comment!

  • Sincerely Jackline

    Vietnam seems so great! I would definitely visit here someday, thanks for sharing your experience and tips.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      I’m sure you will love the country when visiting it. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  • minimalistmiri

    Vietnam looks incredible, and I love all the information you’ve provided! My husband and I hope to go in coming years, as we’ve been to several countries in the surrounding area, but just haven’t had a chance to visit Vietnam. Definitely saving this article to refer back to!

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Glad that you like my post, it supports me a lot in providing more great articles. I’m sure you will like Vietnam when traveling around the country 🙂

  • Shante

    What a beautiful place and thank you for breaking down the trip

  • Lian Wright

    This is a beautiful journey throughout Vietnam. The scenes and the food looks amazing! I can’t wait to plan an adventure there.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      I’m sure you will love your adventure in Vietnam 😉

  • Amanda R

    WOW! How stunning! I love all of your photos. Definitely on my travel list!

  • Crystal Gempko

    I pinned this for later! Vietnam is on my list after I graduate graduate school, and I love all of these awesome ideas you shared here!

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Thanks a lot for your comment! I’m sure you will have the best trip ever when traveling to Vietnam 😀

  • Heather Barber McMechan

    It seems as though everyone had a great time in Vietnam. I’d like to try a two-week trip myself.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      You should, and you will then love to stay in Vietnam, I believe 😉

  • Joanna

    I love your off the beaten path Vietnam itinerary. I have been to Vietnam in January but started from the South and only made it as far as Phong Nha, before taking a flight back to Europe, after 3 weeks. I would love to come back and do some of the North as well.

  • Alysa

    Vietnam has long been on our list and this is one I will be coming back to! We’re planning on traveling in Asia next year for an undecided amount of time, and I have to say this itinerary is perfect!

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Thanks for your complement! I’m glad that this itinerary really help travelers when coming to Vietnam. I’m sure you will have great time traveling around the country 😉

  • arun

    Wow, such a beautiful country. I would love to travel here soon. The scenery is so beautiful and calming. Also the food looks so sober, yummy and full of ethnic culture.

  • Gian and Sheila

    Very nice! The trails and mountains look very much like the wilderness that we usually “play” in here in the Philippines. How’s the weather there? I know it’s hot and humid, but I do hope that it’s not THAT hot so that trekking around these wonderful places will be hell.

    This is actually a good 7-day itinerary, although we would most likely extend it to 2 weeks as we usually want to stay longer in a certain place. Nice reference—we are planning to have our first SEA trip during the 2nd half of this year.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      In Vietnam the weather is only rain or sunny. So you should check the weather carefully to not facing the rain and the sun also.
      I believe Vietnam is a good destination for your SEA trip. You can always contact me on this blog for any info if you need. 🙂

  • Monique Starks

    The mountains of Vietnam are breathtaking. I’ve had Vietnam on my list of travel places for a while and cannot wait to visit!

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Glad that this post support your decision traveling Vietnam. Hope you will have a great trip!

  • alexandra cook

    what nice place to come and visit, I wanna go travel as much as I can, having to read this article and see this makes me want to go for it even more

  • Geraline Batarra

    Vietnam is so wonderful..! These itineraries are so awesome, I would definitely love to visit one day. 😊

    • Khoi Nguyen

      You should! I’m sure you won’t regret with your decision 😉

  • Bindu Thomas

    I’ve never been to Vietnam, so this was quite an interesting read for me. Such beautiful pics.

    • Khoi Nguyen

      You should put Vietnam on top of your bucket list, I’m sure you will make the best decision ever! 😉

  • Erin

    Sapa is such a beautiful, dreamy and peaceful place! Although it can be a bit touristy but still worth visiting!
    Thank you for your informative and amazing blog post!

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Thanks a lots for your comment!
      Yes nowadays Sapa could be a little bit touristy but there are still many spots that you can visit for beautiful scenes 🙂

  • Peter

    I love your article. Hoi An is the best place in your list. From Hoi An, traveller can visit danang or Hue imperial city via Hai Van Pass. It’s really beautifull

    • Khoi Nguyen

      Thank you for the comment!
      It sounds like you had a great trip in the Middle of Vietnam, particularly in Hoi An. How was your experience?

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