8 Reasons Why Northern Vietnam Should be Your Next Travel Destination

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Bai Dinh Temples in Ninh Bình province, Vietnam Bai Dinh Temples in Ninh Bình province, Vietnam

Raging motorbikes, breathtaking natural wonders, a thriving art and culture community, the northern region of Vietnam is truly as stunning as it sounds. Covering the larger area of land and has all the world heritage sites, northern Vietnam is something not to be missed in your lifetime. Below are the top 8 reasons why you should see it for yourself.

1.The Capital City – Where all the magic happens

Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi
Hoan Kiem District in Hanoi

Everything about Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city can be summarized into two words; organized chaos. Countless motorbikes of all shapes and sizes, bicycles old and new, a diverse mix of pedestrians from street vendors to your retired tourists from Europe or the Americas, kids crossing the buzzing streets without any care in the world, and the ever-growing number of cars, both luxurious and mid-range, are just a few of the things you could expect roaming the streets of the old quarter. Crazy and ludicrous at it seems the city is ironically thriving and is showing nothing but continuous growth over the years; which obviously is more than enough reasons for you to make a stopover.

And since you’re already here, make sure you do some essential sightseeing such as going around the 36 old streets of Hanoi or take a stroll around HoanKiem Lake, where everyone hangs out, especially during the weekends.

2. Coffee Culture – You’ve never tasted realcoffee till you’ve tried Vietnamese coffee

Probably the most popular business idea in the country, and most probably one of the most profitable as well, the coffee culture in Vietnam is not just a morning or afternoon drink. Coffee has been super essential in the people’s lives that it is now a lifestyle. And if you don’t drink coffee at all, your friend will think you’re too uncool to hang out with.

Giang Coffe in Hanoi with their famous signature drink, the Egg Coffee
Giang Coffe in Hanoi with their famous signature drink, the Egg Coffee

Because it's superbly popular amongst the youngsters and even their older counterparts, cafés are found in every corner of each street in the country. You’ll be surprised if you end up in an alley with zero cafés on sight. Aside from the countless number of cafés popping up every day all over the region, there is also an increasing number of creative mixes of coffees and such in the region; which somehow turned into tourism products like the Egg Coffee. Check out Giang Coffee House here.

3. Thousand Years of History – Chinese, French, Japanese, American, wait, what?

Bai Dinh Buddhist temples in Ninh Bình province, Vietnam
Bai Dinh Buddhist temples in Ninh Bình province

For thousands of years, Vietnam had to struggle and survive under the rule of different colonizers, from the early Chinese empires to the end of the American War in mid-1970s. Although they are all long gone for some decades now, there’s no doubt that all of them have left marks everywhere, especially in the northern region, where a lot of these iconic events happened.

As a first-time visitor of Vietnam, it’s no doubt that visiting the north is a good introduction to the country. There are many things to learn about and a lot of stories to tell, specifically in the northern region as it’s been around longer than the southern counterpart. With the mix of cultures, languages, traditions, and even ways of living, there will always be something to learn every day when traveling across the cities.

4. The European Touch – Experience the Southeast Asian gem through the eyes of the west

Hanoi Opera House built by French in 1911
Hanoi Opera House, built by French in 1911

The French has left so much influence in the northern part of Vietnam. From its architecture, urban planning, bridges, gastronomy, fashion, and even the lifestyle, there is no way a European would not be so surprised with the similarities between the two nations.

Northerners are typically viewed as the more sophisticated and more eloquent Vietnamese because of their daily habits, the way they live, and the things they spend on, especially when it comes to fashion trends and dining activities. But I guess you’d have come over yourself for you to experience it. There’s definitely nothing else like it in Southeast Asia.

5. Classical Art Scene – Fancy an opera on a Wednesday evening, a musical on a Friday afternoon, and a ballet on Sunday after brunch?

Water painting museum in Vietnam
Water-Painting Museum

One of the main reasons why we love the northern region is because of this, the classical art scene. Sometimes loud, but most of the time it’s underground. Growing up in a socialist regime surrounded by the brightest and the most cultured individuals in the country, northern Vietnam is the place to visit for classical arts and culture. And if you’re the type of person who likes the finest things in life, someone who appreciates arts, paintings, musicals, operas, ballets, and Sunday brunches, then you’re making the right decision to come over here.

Thanks again to the European influence and its preservation throughout generation after generation, these things have been kept alive long enough for everybody to enjoy, both for locals and foreigners.

6. Imperial Vietnam – Where did all the Nguyen’s go?

Imperial Citadel in Hanoi, Vietnam
Imperial Citadel in Hanoi

You might have noticed, or probably you’ll notice once you get to Vietnam that the word "Nguyen" is displayed everywhere in the country. Even more so when you visit the northern area most probably because it originated in the imperial capital of Hue. As many might wonder, the word Nguyen is the most popular family name in the country and the last empire to rule Imperial Vietnam.

Whether you’re a history buff or not, knowing just a bit of information about how the Vietnamese emperors ruled the country, even when it was divided into two, can be an insightful lesson when visiting the northern region. The best places to visit to find more information about the imperial period can be found in two cities, Hanoi capital and Hue.

7. Unlimited Food Adventures – Where rice and noodles are man’s best friends

Pho is a noodle dish and the most famous (and most delicious) of all Vietnamese food
Pho, the most famous Vietnamese noodle dish

Being one of the top exporters of rice all over the globe, the whole of Vietnam obviously survives on rice and noodles all-year-long. From the simplest Com Binh Dan to an upscale Vietnamese gourmet restaurant, you will never go hungry in this part of the world. And with the northern region having the most diverse options for gastronomy and dining, the opportunities for you to be able to taste the most genuine Vietnamese dishes are endless.

Whether you fancy the not-so-adventurous dishes such as Pho or Bun Cha to the extremes like deep-fried snake meat or barbecued dog meat, the possibilities and options are insanely vast. Expect moments where you’ll start questioning your own taste buds and probably even your mom’s cooking. All in all, Vietnam is bursting with the best culinary to offer not only in Asia, but also on a global scale.

8. Unworldly Landscapes – Discover the world of Hollywood Films

Halong Bay in Vietnam, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site   (photo gallery)

Possibly the best reason why you need to spend most of your travel time in the northern region of Vietnam, to discover the unworldly landscapes and sceneries as seen in some notable Hollywood films such as the recent Kong: Skull Island. Witness the towering limestone karst rocks of Halong Bay on a luxury cruise, do a short boat trip while immersing yourself in the serene landscapes of Ninh Binh province, and walk through staggering terrains of Phong Nha-Ke Bang cave systems, there is never a shortage of adventures to enlist yourself into.

Accesses to these world wonders have never been easier. Thus, there’s no reason for you not to be able to do it at least once in your lifetime.

Derek Freal

" ǝʌıʇɔǝdsɹǝd ɹǝɥʇouɐ ɯoɹɟ sƃuıɥʇ ǝǝs oʇ ǝʌol ı "
Derek is a perpetual wanderer, cultural enthusiast, and lifelong traveler. He loves going places where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, as well as places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo (supposedly its healthier and more efficient). Say Hello On Twitter!

Website: blog.theholidaze.com

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