Ba Be Lake is the largest natural lake in Vietnam. This national park rich in flora and fauna is a destination still little known to the general public. In this little corner of northern Vietnam, you can enjoy a little peace. Follow the rhythm of the Thai minorities who live around the lake, grow rice and fish on the lake.

Ba Be Lake is 240 km from Hanoi. It takes at least 5.5 hours to reach the lake by bus. The natural park is made up of 3 lakes. When you arrive at Ba Be National Park, there is only one route that leads down to the lake.

Where to sleep at Ba Be Lake ?

Where to sleep at Be Be lake

Coming from the main road which leads down to the lake, you come to a small metal suspension bridge. This bridge crosses one of the rivers which feeds the lake. Crossing the bridge, we arrive at the village of Pac Ngoi. It is the largest village around Ba Be Lake.

It is in the village of Pac Ngoi that one can easily find a place to sleep. In fact, many houses are bed and breakfasts (homestay). It is therefore easy to find accommodation to sleep with the locals.

Since Ba Be Lake is the territory of Thai ethnic minorities, most of the houses are on stilts. The house on stilts is the traditional home of the Thai people. Among the locals, the comfort is quite rudimentary but most of the locals are very welcoming and warm. Very few residents speak English, let alone French, so it is difficult to communicate with them without a guide.

With Jacky Travel, you can visit Ba Be Lake with an experienced guide. We always choose the cleanest houses with the best view on the lake.

There are almost no restaurants around the lake. One of the best ways to eat is to eat with the locals. Les Tays can cook superb local dishes with fresh local produce.

What to see / what to do at Ba Be Lake ?

Ba Be lake harbor

Ba Be Lake can be visited by boat. It’s the easiest and fastest way of getting from one village to another. Leaving the village of Pac Ngoi, the villagers’ boats are parked at the pier located about 1 km from the center.

Locals are used to taking tourists to visit the lake by boat. The walk lasts half a day. There are different places to visit by the lake.

Ba Be lake waterfall

One of the most popular tours is a visit to the Dau Dang waterfall across the lake. Puong Cave is also accessible by boat. It is the most impressive cave in the lake with a height of 30m and a length of 300m.

An Ma Temple Ba Be

In the middle of the lake is the An Mã temple on the island of An Mã.

After the boat tour of the lake, it is possible to visit the Hua Ma cave. This cave is accessible by bicycle from the village of Pac Ngoi. After climbing the steps to reach the entrance to the cave, take the stairs to descend to the bottom of this impressive cave, the legend of which is fascinating.

The easiest and most economical way to go to Hanoi city center from Hanoi Airport (Noi Bai Airport) is to take the airport bus service number 86.

Location of Hanoi Airport Bus

Hanoi airport Bus location

Arriving from terminal 2 (international flights), the bus is located approximately 100m to the left of the airport exit.

There is also a stop at terminal 1 (domestic flights) of the Hanoi Airport Bus (Bus 86). This stop is also located at the exit of the airport

Hanoi Airport Bus Schedule

Hanoi Railway Station opens at 5:05 and closes at 21:40
Noi Bai International Airport opens at 6:18 and it closes at 22:58

Hanoi airport bus schedule

Hanoi Airport Bus Stops

Hanoi Airport Bus runs from Hanoi Airport to Hanoi railway station. The bus has many stops in the old quarter of Hanoi. That is why this bus is very convenient to reach your hotel in the center of Hanoi.

From the Hanoi center to Airport: Hanoi Central Railway Station -> Bus stop opposite the Melia Hotel -> Hanoi Post Office -> 23 Hang Tre -> Long Bien Bus Station (E11) -> Bus stop at intersection Yen Phu -> Bus stop at intersection Au Co – Xuan Dieu -> Au Co – Lac Long Quan (468 Au Co) -> VAECO Company -> International Terminal 1 -> International Terminal 2.

From airport to the Hanoi center: Terminal 1 -> Terminal 2 -> VAECO Company –> Au Co – Lac Long Quan (523 Au Co str)–> Au Co – Xuan Dieu Stop -> Bus stop at intersection Yen Phu -> Long Bien Bus Station -> 142 Tran Quang Khai –> Hanoi Opera House -> Hanoi Melia Hotel -> Hanoi Central Railway Station.

Hanoi Airport Bus Price

Hanoi Airport is located 28 km from downtown Hanoi. It takes around 45 minutes by taxi or grab to reach the city center. The taxi price is around 350,000 VND (15 USD). Taxi is the quickest way to reach downtown Hanoi but the most expensive.

Le prix du Hanoi Airport Bus est de 35 000 VND/pax (1.5 USD).

Les personnes souhaitant prendre le bus doivent monter dans la bus orange et s’installent. Une personne en uniforme viendra vous voir pendant le trajet pour payer votre ticket de 35 000 VND/personne.

It is not possible to pay in an other currency than VND. Foreign currencies are not accepted to pay for your bus ticket. You will have to exchange your money before in one of the airport offices or withdraw Vietnam Dong at the ATM.

How to get to Sapa ? By bus or by train ?

Sapa town is at 370 km northwest from Hanoi. Sapa was a French climatic health resort located just over 1000m above sea level in front of Mount Fansipan (the highest peak of ancient Indochina).

At this altitude, the air is cooler than in Hanoi. Sapa offers incredible scenery with many rice terraces, rivers, mountains and many ethnic minority villages all around Sapa.

Sapa by train or by bus

As it is one of the most touristic destination in northern Vietnam, access to Sapa is easy, by bus or train.

A few years ago, the best way to reach Sapa was to take the night train from Hanoi to Lao Cai. Then take the bus or minibus to reach Sapa after 1 hour drive.

However, after the inauguration of the Hanoi – Lao Cai highway in 2014, the drive to Sapa decreased half the journey time, about 5 hours away.

Sapa by train

Most tourists choose to take the night train to reach Sapa town.

In fact, the train does not reach Sapa directly but stops only at Lao Cai station. Then take a bus or taxi to Sapa, which is a 45-minute drive away.

Trains depart from Hanoi around 20-21h and arrive at Lao Cai station around 5-6h the next morning.

A bunk in a compartment of 4 is recommended to have more space to sit. One sleeping berth costs from 35 usd/pax.

Sapa by train

Several railway companies allow to go to Sapa. The comfort between the different companies can be different. We recommend taking Chapa train which is good value for money.

In Hanoi, trains for Sapa depart from Tran Quy Cap Station, near Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

It takes around 8 hours night train to reach Sapa from Hanoi.

At the exit of Lao Cai station, it is easy to find a shared bus for Sapa, which costs only about 50,000 vnd. You can also take a taxi.

Sapa by bus

There are several bus departures for Sapa every day.

These are very comfortable buses with air conditioning. You can book a sleeping bus or a limousine which is more comfortable and more convenient for elderly.

The bus ticket costs between 10 USD and 20 USD.

Sapa limousine bus

The bus will take the new highway to reach Sapa. It takes around 6 hours drive with 2 comfort stops.

Most of the buses departure is around 6h30-7H in the morning. The tourists will arrive around 13h in Sapa town which is quite faster than by train.

Sapa sleeping bus

Our advise :  Sapa by bus or by train ?

In general, tourists choose to take the night train rather than the bus in order to save 2 nights of hotels. Also, people want to spend the maximum time in Sapa to enjoy the fresh air longer.

However, the price of the night train remains quite high. If we add the intermediate costs such as moving to the station and the journey from Lao Cai station to Sapa, the train is not at all the most economical solution.

Indeed, staying at the hotel in Hanoi and taking the sleeper bus, the total price is equivalent to that of the night train.

Likewise, most people have trouble sleeping on the night train because of stops and shaking. It is difficult to fully enjoy Sapa after a sleepless night on the night train.

Finally, arriving at 6am at Lao Cai station, there is still 1 hour drive to reach Sapa. Most people arrive around 7am in Sapa. Then, they shower and breakfast before starting their treck. The departure of the treck is not done before 8:30 in the morning.

For the return by night train, it is necessary to leave Sapa around 16H in order to have the time to go down to the station of Lao Cai then to take the dinner. In the end, the time saved in Sapa is not significant.

Rather, we recommend that our travelers take the sleeper bus or limousine bus to travel comfortably and enjoy Sapa. It is also possible to take the night train one way and take the sleeper bus back to experience the Sapa night train.

Halong Bay is now the most popular destination in Vietnam but her little sister called Lan Ha Bay becomes more and more popular because of many reasons listed here. What is the difference between Halong Bay and Lan Bay ? Let’s take a look at our advise !

What is Halong Bay ?

Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in northeastern Vietnam’s Gulf of Tonkin, in Quang Ninh Province. The lush emerald and turquoise waters harbor over 1,600 mostly uninhabited—and thereby undisturbed—islands and islets, according to UNESCO.

This extraordinary area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. For many tourists, this place is like something right out of a movie. The fact is that Halong Bay features a wide range of biodiversity, while the surrealistic scenery has indeed featured in endless movies.

Even in a country with the diversity of Vietnam, the spectacular seascape at Halong Bay can stun the most powerful into humility.

Halong Bay world heritage

In Vietnamese, Halong means “descending dragon”. Dragons play a prominent role in Vietnamese culture, and the most popular legend has it that one such creature and her children descended from heaven to defend the Vietnamese people from invaders, spraying fire and emeralds or jade. She and her children then stayed on Earth.

The jewels eventually formed towering limestone formations, and over millennia, their protective crags and jagged edges evolved into the backdrop of green islands, towers, and water relished by visitors. A nearby bay, Bai Tu Long, refers to the children of the dragon.

“These legends strike a chord with Vietnamese beliefs and history in two ways,” says Hanh Tran, lecturer of South and Southeast Asian studies at the University of California, Berkeley. “First, the history of fighting against invaders. Second, the belief that Vietnamese people are descended from a dragon father (Lac Long Quan) and a fairy mother (Au Co), and that there is a sacred, hidden power to support them in their war efforts.”

That’s not to reduce the charm of Halong Bay to the fanciful. From a scientific viewpoint, it’s remarkable as “a very evolved, very advanced, unusual looking karst landscape,” says Robert Brinkmann, professor of geology, environment, and sustainability at Hofstra University in New York. Most such formations are on land, such as in Florida or Puerto Rico, and not on the water.

What is Lan Ha Bay ?

Lan Ha Bay is located in the east of Cat Ba Island. It’s overlooking the Van Gate, adjacent to Halong Bay. with over 7,000 ha, of which 5,400 ha is the management area of ​​Cat Ba National Park. This is a very gulf-shaped bay about 400 large islands creating a huge picture depicting the scene.

Other than Ha Long Bay, all 400 big and small islands in Lan Ha Bay are covered with trees or vegetation, even small islands. A peaceful sea with small fishing villages as separate from the rest of the world. Under the peaceful island clusters. There are many species of local specialties. Such as blue mussel, snakehead, crab, abalone, fresh shrimp live according to the daily needs of visitors.

Lan Ha Bay Beach

Lan Ha Bay is the home of Cat Ba Island. The bay itself and Cat Ba National Park are included in the biosphere reserve of the world. Therefore, European travelers and American backpackers often hire their own boats for a self adventure, selecting from the bay’s 139 beaches for one pleasant sandy beach to camp overnight.

They also enjoy a trip through the Cat Ba National Forest, home of many precious animals, including rare white-headed langur. Overcoming Ngu Lam peak, at the end of the journey, Viet Hai fishing village, the most unspoiled fishing village of Cat Ba Island, is where the visitors can discover many interesting characters of the local people of the island.

Difference between Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay

Halong Bay is recognized as one of the 10 most beautiful bays in the world. Not only landscape value, its geological value with at least 500 million year history is also a plus mark for Halong Bay. Halong is one of the most important areas in the world of Fengcong (clusters of conical peaks) and Fenglin (isolated tower features) karst and is considered as the best example of marine-invaded tower karst.

Halong has many caves of different sizes and interiors. The number of the cave, until now, has not been confirmed yet; some of them have been named and famous worldwide while some are less known or even unknown.

Lan Ha Bay is at the southern part of Halong Bay, far away from the boat crash in the north then coming to Lan Ha Bay, you will have chance to get closer to local fishing life, and are less likely to see as many tour boats and ships passing, never need to worry about the crowd.

The difference between Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay is that Lan Ha Bay reserves a more pristine scenery with an intense concentration of limestone mountains which the sea surface has partitioned into smaller bays and gulfs. Many lagoons, bays, and caves still remain untouched.

The bay has up to 139 golden sandy beaches, small but pretty and isolated as “blue straits” inviting tourists to explore. Many sandy beaches stretching between two rocky mountains, quiet with no big waves, are really the ideal beaches.

Lan Ha Bay and Halong Bay

Lan Ha is a peaceful sea with small fishing villages existing isolated from the rest of the world. There are wooden floats raising different species such as the green mussel, geoduck, cobia, crab, abalone, grouper, which can serve visitors according to their needs. By small boat, visitors can glide through the ravine, lagoons to visit the caves, resting on the beach.

Unlike Halong, the Lan Ha Bay itinerary is quite flexible, which means you can do any water activities that you can imagine, jumping down from the boat, going fishing with local, doing kayaking to anywhere you desire to explore, diving or surfing or even rafting. Your passion for water is only limited by your own imagination.

Tour price for the package and even backpacker travel is lower than in Halong since the fee in Lan Ha Bay is lower than in Halong.

Summer and Autumn are the bestseasons to visit Sapa, when the rice is green and become yellow before harvesting.

Sapa, along with Halong Bay and Hoi An Ancient town, is now one of the most attractive destinations for tourists when they visit Vietnam.

In 1922, the French has first established Sapa as a hill station to use for the war. Although Sapa and the local there went through a lot in the past, it has become a wonderful place in Vietnam with many outstanding sceneries and unique cultures.

In each kind of weather conditions, Sapa has different beauties, but tourists have to choose the right time to witness the most spectacular scenes in Sapa, especially on clear sunny days.

Actually, tourists can visit Sapa all year round, but here is some useful information to know if you want to visit Sapa at the best time.

August to September – best time for sight-seeing

In these months, the weather is perfect and suitable for sight-seeing, photo-taking and camping. This is the end of summer season in Sapa when the sky is clear and blue, which makes the landscapes more amazing.

The sun shines through hundreds of mountains and creates huge shadows in combination with vibrant landscapes and deep blue sky; all that visual effects come together to make Sapa much more outstanding.

The weather is around 20-25°C which is perfect, but there’re sometimes rains to refresh the atmosphere. In general, this is one of the best time to visit Sapa.

Also, in September, it is time for harvesting. The terraced ricefields become yellow during this period. The landscape becomes amazingly beautiful.

Many people are working in the ricefields in September because of harvest time which is also very interesting to watch.

Best time to visit Sapa, Sapa in october

June to July – another great time to visit Sapa

This is spring in Sapa when plants grow and flowers blossom.

In June, the ricefields become green. It gives to Sapa spectacular landscape.

The temperature during this period is around 25°C. It is the warmest period in Sapa.

Note that from June to August, it is rainy season in Northern Vietnam. That is why it can be hard for trekking. Don’t forget to bring a raincoat. It will not rain all the time because in this mountainous area, the weather changes very quickly.

Summer in Vietnam is very hot in Northern Vietnam and in the big cities like Hanoi but the weather in Sapa will be not too hot during this period.

Best time to visit Sapa, Sapa in Spring

October to May – not the right time

This is the winter season in Sapa which is really harsh and long with average temperature of zero degree and cold breezing winds from December to January. It’s not a right time for tourists to visit Sapa, especially those from tropical countries.

From October to November and from February to May, it is not too cold in Sapa but there are no rice crops anymore in the terraced ricefields. The view is not so good then.

Also, during the winter, the mountains are often in the clouds and it is difficult to have a nice view.

Together with weather, the quality of the tours is also important. As suggested by many tourists, those tours listed in sapa tours are good choices for tourist’s reference.

Are you planning to visit Vietnam ? You have planned to go to Hanoi for a 5 days and 4 nights trip ? You have booked your flight tickets to reach Hanoi and you have no idea of what to see in Hanoi and around the capital ? You are looking for a suitable Hanoi 5 days itinerary ?

Then you’re on the right page !

First off all, 5 days is Northern Vietnam is a reasonable time, not too long, not too short to explore Hanoi and the most popular places around Hanoi.

So what is the most suitable Hanoi 5 days itinerary ? What to do during 5 days in Hanoi, in this chaotic, colorful and scooter-infested 1.000-year-old city?

Our travel agency is specialized in short trips to Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh. We arrange short trips at reasonable price. You have different choices depending on what are your interests. In Vietnam, you can enjoy amazing views and learn more about history. You can also do trekking and many other activities.

For a first trip to Vietnam, Hanoi would be the best destination because there are more things to see and to do in Northern Vietnam than in the other parts of Vietnam. That’s why Hanoi is the most popular destination for a short trip to Vietnam.

Hanoi 5 days itinerary

Hanoi 5 days / 4 nights itinerary for sightseeing lovers

Hanoi is a good destination for sightseeing lovers. Hanoi is a good choice if you like natural landscapes.

Here is the most popular Hanoi 5 days / 4 nights itinerary :

Day 1 : Hanoi arrival, overnight in Hanoi
Day 2 : Hanoi – Halong bay, overnight on cruise
Day 3 : Halong bay – Hanoi, overnight in Hanoi
Day 4 : Ninh Binh full day trip, overnight in Hanoi
Day 5 : Hanoi departure

Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport, it will take between 45 minutes and 1 hour to reach downtown Hanoi. Then you can visit the capital of Vietnam which has more than 1000 years of history.

The ideal is to select a hotel in the old district of Hanoi that will allow you to be closer to the street restaurants and all the shops for shopping.

After check-in hotel, you will be able to walk in the old quarter also called district of the 36 guilds, then around the Hoan Kiem lake. Nothing better than a little stroll around the lake to relax. This place is always busy and is closed to traffic during weekends from 7am.

Next to the lake, you can visit St. Joseph’s Cathedral, the Hanoi Opera House or the famous train street.

The next day you can take the bus to visit Halong Bay. Only a 3-hour drive away, Halong Bay offers breathtaking views. Imagine thousands of islands all over the sea.

The ideal is to book a 2 day cruise and a night with a night aboard the boat. This allows you to enjoy the majestic sunset over the bay and the sunrise. It’s a show not to be missed!

Many activities are planned on board such as kayaking, visiting a cave or free time for swimming.

On the third day, different options are possible:

  • Either it is possible to go directly to Hanoi with the cruise bus
  • Either it is possible to go directly to Ninh Binh for one night in Bungalow (It takes about 4 hours to reach Tam Coc)

On the fourth day, you will visit Ninh Binh. This region is also called Halong Bay on Land. Thousands of rocks come out of the ground in the middle of the rice fields. This natural landscape is today known worldwide.

It is possible to visit different places of Ninh Binh during a group excursion. The most popular destinations are Hoa Lu and Tam Coc or Bai Dinh and Trang An.

Hoa Lu is the ancient capital of Vietnam. You can admire ancient temples.

Hoa Lu citadel

Tam Coc allows you to go for a ride in the middle of the mountains and rice fields. This is the best known place for boating

Hoa Lu Tam Coc tour

Trang An is less known but just as beautiful. Trang An is a complex of buildings, rivers and mountains. The landscapes are more natural. The duration of the boat trip is also longer than Tam Coc since it can last up to 3 hours.

Bai Dinh is the largest pagoda in Vietnam. This destination is very popular with Asian tourists.

Hanoi 5 days / 4 nights itinerary for city lovers

If you prefer to spend more time in Hanoi to visit historical monuments and for shopping. This Hanoi 5 days itinerary will be more suitable for you and your group.

Day 1 : Hanoi arrival, overnight in Hanoi
Day 2 : Hanoi city tour, overnight in Hanoi
Day 3 : Hanoi – Halong bay, overnight on cruise
Day 4 : Halong bay – Hanoi, overnight in Hanoi
Day 5 : Hanoi departure

On the second day, you can join a group city tour or a private tour to visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex.

Hanoi 5 days itinerary : Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Just next door Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts and lying to one side of the Mausoleum is the One Pillar Pagoda, which was founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049 – the structure hasbecome an important symbol for the people of Hanoi.Litterature-temple-Hanoi

You can also visit the Temple of literature with nice typical vietnamese architecture.

Close to Hanoi, you can visit Bat Trang pottery village. It is a nice destination to buy some traditional potteries for some souvenirs.

Hanoi 5 days / 4 nights itinerary for hiking lovers

If you love hiking in the mountains or if you like to enjoy the fresh mountain air, you can include Sapa in your itinerary:

Day 1 : Hanoi arrival, overnight in Hanoi
Day 2 : Hanoi – Halong bay on day tour, overnight in Hanoi
Day 3 : Hanoi – Sapa, overnight in Sapa
Day 4 : Sapa Fansipan – Hanoi, overnight in Hanoi
Day 5 : Hanoi departure

With this itinerary, you will spend a single day at Halong Bay. One day is enough to visit Halong Bay but with a 3h30 drive to reach the port from Hanoi, the time spent in Halong Bay is only 4 to 5 hours. It’s very short and quite tiring.

Also, you will not have the chance to see the sunrise and sunset in Halong Bay. The ideal is to stay one more day in Vietnam and spend 6 days in Vietnam to enjoy the cruise in Halong Bay.

Regarding Sapa, there are several possibilities to reach Sapa. You can take the night train that takes about 8 hours from Hanoi Station to Lao Cai Station. You will still have to drive 1 hour by minibus to reach Sapa. The total journey time is therefore about 9 hours. The train is the most expensive and the least comfortable solution because many people have trouble sleeping on the train because of the jolts.

It is also possible to reach Sapa by following the new highway in just 6 hours from Hanoi. Our travel agency offers the sleeper bus or the limousine (more comfortable) to get to Sapa. The sleeper bus is the fastest and least expensive solution.

Around Sapa, you will not have to miss the Cat Cat village where you can learn more about the ethnic minorities living around the city of Sapa.

Hanoi 5 days itinerary : Fansipan

After a night in Sapa, you will climb to the top of Mount Fansipan, which is the highest peak of Indochina (3143 m). The cable car goes up to Mount Fansipan. Then you have to climb about 500 steps to get to the top.

Note that in winter, Mount Fansipan is often fog. The best time to visit Sapa is from May to September. At this time, you will be more likely to have sunny weather.

Conclusion : Hanoi 5 days itinerary

Hanoi is a must-see destination if you want to visit Vietnam. This destination offers a total immersion in the culture of Vietnam. Around Hanoi are the most beautiful and popular landscapes of Vietnam with Halong Bay, Ninh Binh and Sapa.

If you want more information about these Hanoi 5 days itineraries, feel free to leave a comment or send us a message by WhatsApp: +84.947.891.345

Almost all payments in Hanoi and in all Vietnam are made in cash. The local currency in Vietnam is Vietnam Dong (VND). It is therefore important to always have a small bundle of cash on you when you go to restaurant or for shopping. The question then is: where to exchange money in Hanoi?

Here are the listed the best places to exchange money in Hanoi.

There are different types of places where you can exchange money in Hanoi. Some places are more convenient but the exchange rate is often not very good. In few places only, you will find a good exchange rate in Hanoi.

VND exchange rate

Exchange rate change money in Hanoi

The Vietnamese dong (VND) is the Vietnamese official currency. The VND 10,000 is the smallest polymerised bill you’ll find on the street these days.  Coins of as low as VND 200 have long been phased out but you will find bills of 1000 VND and 2000 VND. The upper limit is the VND 500,000 bill.

Getting a grip on all those zeroes can be challenging for the first-time visitor to Vietnam. With a little time and practice, buying and spending Vietnamese dong becomes second nature to the Vietnam visitor.

The exchange rate of the VND is modeled on the exchange rate of the US dollar and also takes into account the rate of inflation. So, about thirty years ago, a few Dongs were enough to buy a bowl of soup (or Pho Bo). Today, with the effect of inflation, the price of a bowl of soup is about 30,000 VND.

The rate of Vietnam Dong varies daily according to the variation of the US dollar. It is therefore necessary to check the current exchange rate of your currency in Vietnam Dong before going to a bank or the like.

The reference site for checking the exchange rate is: https://www.xe.com/en/

Exchange money at Hanoi airport

Change money in Hanoi airport

A quick and easy way to exchange your currencies into Vietnam Dong is at the airport. In each international airport (including Hanoi airport and Ho Chi Minh City airport), you will find many counters at the exit  where it is possible to exchange money.

The biggest advantage of the airport is to be able to exchange almost any currency. The counters are also easily accessible upon your arrival in Vietnam and the service is fast. The counters are open from 6.30am to 9pm. 

The disadvantage of the airport is the exchange rate. The exchange rate is often disadvantageous. It is advisable to compare rates between each counter.

So, Hanoi airport is the most convenient way to exchange money in Hanoi but the exchange rate is not very good. That’s why we advise to exchange few currencies at the airport in order to take the taxi or the bus and exchange more money in Hanoi old quarter.

Exchange money in the bank in Hanoi

Banks in Hanoi can exchange money in Vietnam Dong. In big cities, it’s easy to find banks on every street corner. The advantages of banks in Vietnam is to be able to exchange money at an interesting rate. Banks are also very secure. It is therefore easier to exchange a large quantity of liquid safely. Most of the employees at the counters also speak English.

The disadvantage of banks in Hanoi is the opening schedule. Indeed, most banks open at 9:00 am and close around 17:00. It is therefore not possible to exchange money in the late evening. Also, the banks are closed on sunday in Vietnam.

In addition, banks do not allow to exchange all currencies in Vietnam. Euros and dollars are accepted by all banks.

Apart from US Dollars, many banks in Vietnam still exchange VND for these foreign currencies:

  • Australian Dollar: 1 AUD  17,000 VND
  • British Pound: 1 GBP  29,000
  • Euro: 1 EUR  25,000 VND
  • Canadian Dollar: 1 CAD  16,000 VND
  • Japanese Yen: 1 JPY  200 VND
  • Singaporean Dollar: 1 SGD  16,000 VND
  • Taiwanese Dollar: 1 TWD  500 VND
  • Hong Kong Dollar: 1 HKD ≈ 3,000 VND
  • Swiss Franc: 1 CHF  22,000 VND
  • New Zealand Dollars: 1 NZD  15,000 VND
  • Thai : 1 THB  700 VND

Exchange money in a jewelery store in Hanoi

Most jewelery shops allow you to exchange money in Hanoi. They agree to do it at a very interesting rate and very close to the actual rate. Some jewelers have become specialists in money exchange in Hanoi and do not even sell jewelry anymore. These jewelry stores accept all currencies.

For example, in Hanoi, you can visit Quôc Trinh Jewelery at 27 Ha Trung Street, at 10-minutes walk from Hoan Kiem Lake. You will see many tourists there to exchange money. The staff do not speak English but will take your money and show you the rate on a calculator. If you agree, your money will be exchanged to Vietnam Dong. 

Exchange money at the hotel in Hanoi

A simple and practical way to exchange money in Hanoi is to do it directly at your hotel. Most hotels agree to do this. Your hotel used to help their customers in order to simplify there stay in Vietnam. So, you can ask them to do many things and also to exchange your money.

The hotel will exchange your money at the actual rate without taking any commission.

However, the hotel will often not be able to exchange large sums of money because they do not have enough Vietnam Dong in the cash register. It is worth going through your hotel to exchange small amounts of money in Hanoi.

If you arrive late in Hanoi old quarter and you do not have any local currencies, exchange money at your hotel is the most convenient way to get local currencies.

Note that all the hotel do not accept to exhange money. The small and budget hotels will not accept to exchange money.

Take cash at the ATM

Take cash at the ATM in Vietnam

A simply way to get cash with local currencies it to take it at the ATM.

Most ATMs are connected to Visa and Mastercard networks. But do notice that a currency exchange fee and an ATM withdrawal fee will be applied.

Our advice is that you should ask your bank about the rules of getting cash advances overseas because the fee may be unfairly large.

There is no best time to visit Mai Chau but many different good times to visit Mai Chau. In this article, we will explain you when the ricefields are green and when they are yellow just before harvesting.

Mai Chau in JulyThe idyllic and rural valley of Mai Chau is located at only 150 km from Hanoi but it’s like being in a parallel world. Fields and rice paddies stretch as far as the eye can see, and the mountains blend into the horizon. The best time to visit Mai Chau is when the rice paddies are green or yellow because at some periods in the year, there are no rice crops anymore and this peacefull area is less beautiful.

The only soundtrack here comes from nature, the delicate song of birds, the roar of buffaloes, the cry of chickens and children playing freely in the fields. Although Mai Chau has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, it has kept its welcoming and relaxed atmosphere.

Best time to visit Mai Chau

The best time to visit Mai Chau is from April to May and even better from September to October, both in terms of climate and scenic beauty.

Best time to visit Mai Chau in June

There are 2 rice harvests in Mai Chau and its surroundings. The rice is planted after Tet, in late January and early February. After that, the rice fields will be green from April until the end of June. At this period, you will have the chance to see many different types of green in the valley.

At the end of June, the rice will be harvested. It is the time of the first harvest. In Mai Chau, all the people work together and harvest the rice by hand which is a spectacular perfomance.

Then the rice is sown again in July and harvested in October. So, from August to October, it is also a good time to visit Mai Chau with green ricefields.

In terms of climate, the weather oscillates between showers and bright sunshine in April and May. The temperature average is around 25 and 30°C.

In June, temperatures and humidity rise up and become really hard to bear. Go for shorter walks and bike tours.

In August, the rice fields are very green, but it rains a lot. It is also very hot at this period with a temperature average around 32-35°C.

Best time to visit Mai Chau in July

Then in September, the rain diminishes, the weather is cooler and the rice fields are again green until the second harvest in late September, early October.

Mai Chau in September

The weather remains ideal for visiting the area until late November, but the landscape loses its luster once the rice is gone.

The winter in Mai Chau

From December to end February, it is cold (temperatures can drop below 15 degrees), the sky is overcast and it often has drizzle. At this period, there are no ricecrops anymore in Mai Chau. It is not a good time to visit Mai Chau. The ricefields will be brown and the farmers don’t work in the fields at this period.

Most of the people spend an overnight in a homestay in Mai Chau. Most of the year, the weather is pleasant in Mai Chau and people don’t need air conditioning in the room. In the winter, the nights in Mai Chau can be less comfortable because with temperatures under 15°C at night, it is very cold if you stay in a traditionnal wooden house from the Thai minorities.

What to see in Mai Chau

Mai Chau is located in a peaceful valley. Most of the people visit Mai Chau to enjoy the calm of the vietnamese countryside.

When you arrive in Mai Chau, you will have the chance to arrive at the top of a mountain with an amazing view on Mai Chau Valley. At this view point, there is a rock with a vietnamese flag. All the people who want to have a lucky trip in Mai Chau have to go on the top of this rock to enjoy the view.

In Mai Chau valley, there are a lot of small villages. The Viet people live around the main road and the Thai minorities live in small villages far from the main road. It is quite easy to find a homestay in Mai Chau. Also, it is possible to spend a night in a hotel. The most popular hotel in Mai Chau is Mai Chau ecolodge where people can spend an amazing night in an individual small house with all the modern comfort.

Mai Chau is a good place for easy trekking and learn more about the Thai traditions. Many people visit Mai Chau by bicycle which is a good choice because this area is flat. It is also possible to hire an electric car in Mai Chau for elderly.

Traveling to Southeast Asia may make you feel that everything just looks like the same, such as white-sand beaches, old temples, tourist traps, etc. Your mind can be changed after you visit Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam. Landing on here is like a new breath of fresh air. While Ho Chi Minh City attracts tourists by its vigorous and lively vibe, Hanoi helps them feel peaceful in heart and mind. The city is an amazing combination of modern living and traditional culture, which is suited to both extroverts and introverts. If you are the first-time visitor who’s concerned about what to do, when to visit, etc., then this post of Hanoi travel guide can ease your worry for sure !

How to get there ?

  • By plane: Located about 45 kilometers North of Hanoi, Noi Bai International Airport serves as the main airport for domestic and international airlines. There are lots of regular flights which make it easy for tourists to choose from. Once you exit the airport, consider catching a metered taxi and mini-bus to reach any nearby hotel. But, if you’re still uncertain of using public conveyance, don’t mind requesting a hotel you’ve booked in advance to render airport service to you.
  • By train: Making a trip to Hanoi by train is also a nice idea because the city’s prime train station is not far from the centre of Hoan Kiem Lake. But, make sure that you check the cost’s ticket and route before departure.
  • By bus: Hanoi is a large transportation hub. You can catch the first-class sleeper bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi with an affordable price.

When is the best time to visit Hanoi ?

The city is endowed with 4 distinctive seasons. So, the time for departure partly depends on your travel purpose and your desirable activities once checking in here. In general, saying Hello to Hanoi in spring or autumn (from October to December) to enjoy cooler weather and avoid heat is a good choice. Or, you may stay away from the rainy season by making a travel plan between October and April. If watching many colorful parades and joining in temple celebrations are your main goals for this vacation, then make sure to arrive during Tet Holiday, which often takes place in late January or early February.

What to do ?

Visit the Museum of the Vietnamese Revolution 

Situated at Tong Dan Street, this museum will be worth an arrival, if you are particularly interested in how Hanoi was in the past and the country’s revolutionary history. Events from 1858 to 1945 are mainly highlighted here. Although many artifacts in the museum are fascinating enough to get high attention from viewers, these simply aim for a less emotional and shocking pitch than those artifacts in War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City. Thus, items and documents here don’t fully convey the raw zeal which historical events occurred.

Go around Hoan Kiem Lake

Also called Lake of the Restored Sword, this place gets its name famous for an interesting legend. It was about Le Loi King who used the sword – a gift from heaven – to fight against a neighboring country and won a noble victory. One day, when taking a boat trip around the Thuy Quan Lake, a giant tortoise rose above water and asked him to return the sword to the Dragon King. He then threw the sword to the lake without any hesitancy. And the name “Hoan Kiem” started from then on.
In general, from dawn to dusk, the lake is full of exciting activities. If waking up early, you can see lots of the elder and young people taking exercise or practicing Tai-chi. The afternoon is an ideal time to rent a cyclo and go around the lake with a handy camera. Once the sun goes down, it is easy to watch couples sitting on long benches to have sweet conversations or going for a stroll hand in hand along the lake.

Hanoi city tour

Drop by the Temple of Literature

Just about a 10-minute walk away from Hoan Kiem Lake, Temple of Literature is another must-see destination you should not miss. It is considered the first university in Vietnam, which also serves as a monument to dozens of high-rank scholars. Visiting this temple gives you a chance to not only admire its classic architecture, but also learn more about its cultural and historic values. The opening time ranges from 8.00 AM to 5 PM with admission fee about 20,000 VND for adults and 10,000 VND for kids.

Watch a show of Water Puppet

A trip to the Northern Vietnam will not be complete without watching a performance of water puppetry. It is actually a traditional Vietnamese art form, dating back many centuries. A show tends to be performed in a pool of water, where the wooden puppets are manually controlled by skillful and talented artists. It basically displays the daily life of farmers (cultivating, catching fishes, harvesting, etc.), historical legends, or even communal festivals (dragon dancing, swimming contest, etc..).

You are able to buy tickets and enjoy water puppet performances in 2 main theatres, including Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre and Vietnam Puppet Theatre. Going with children is also a good way to help them enhance their knowledge and bring them excitement.

Haggle at one of Dong Xuan night market

If your hotel or guest house is within the Old Quarter, and you would like to discover how nightlife in the city is, then head towards Dong Xuan night market now! You can find anything in this market, from sweets, salted dry fruit (ô mai), to clothes, stationeries, decorations, and toys. Even shopping is not your main purpose, roaming around to feel the atmosphere, savoring some snack, and chatting with other friends are highly recommended.

Halong Bay is one of the places that have the greatest number of magnificent and mysterious caves in Vietnam. Thanks to the pristine feature of those caves, they have attracted a wide range of domestic and foreign tourists every year. Here is the list of top most beautiful caves in Halong bay that you should not miss when paying a visit to this beautiful place.

1. Trinh Nu Cave (Virgin Cave)

Trinh Nu Cave, along with other caves in the same cave system such as Sung Sot Cave, Dong Tien Lake, Luon Cave, is located on Bo Hon Island, which is about 15 kilometers from Bai Chay of Halong Bay.

In the past, the French came here and called this cave as La Vierge (Virgin Cave). On the other hand, this cave is called “Trinh Nu Cave” by the Vietnamese.
For the fishermen, Trinh Nu Cave is always their cozy home but for the lovers, this cave is even a symbol of their love.
On entering this cave, you can easily see a stone statue of a girl lying in the center of the cave. The girl statue is very lively with long hair and the hoping, miserable look in her eyes.

Opposite of Trinh Nu Cave is Trong Cave (or Male Cave). Inside Trong Cave is a stone statue of a man looking at the girl statue. You can even feel the despairing scream of the man and the sound of his knocking the stone wall for endless times.

Trinh Nu Cave (Virgin Cave)
Trinh Nu Cave (Virgin Cave)

2. Sung Sot Cave

Sung Sot Cave is one of the most beautiful caves of Halong Bay. This cave is located on Bo Hon Island, which is in the center of Halong Bay. Every year, Sung Sot Cave attracts a great number of visitors, who come here to contemplate its spectacular and magnificent beauty.
Before entering the cave, you must pass the long stone staircases to pass the luxuriant forests. Tourists will have an interesting opportunity of climbing the mountain.

The total area of Sung Sot Cave is 10 000 kilometer square. Inside the cave is a wide range of stalagmites and stalactites in mysterious and weird shapes. You may be overwhelmed when contemplating the pristine beauty of this fairy-tale-cave.

The French used to call this cave as “Grotte Des Surprises” (The cave of surprises) thanks to its unique feature. When visiting caves in Halong Bay, you should not forget to explore and contemplate the marvelous beauty of this cave.

Sung Sot Cave
Sung Sot Cave

3. Dau Go Cave

It can be said that Dau Go Cave is the center of ancient architecture and little stalagmites and stalactites. It is such a wonderful experience to admire the picturesque beauty of Halong Bay in this spectacular cave.

From the far away, you can see the blue entrance of Dau Go Cave, which looks like the blue jellyfish in the center of Halong Bay. You must pass 90 stone staircases to enter the cave entrance.

On standing at Dau Go Cave’s entrance, you will feel as if standing in front of a magnificent and luxurious castle with marvelous architecture.

Dau Go Cave
Dau Go Cave

4. Hanh Cave

The French used to call Hanh Cave as Le Tunnel (or The Tunnel in English). A special feature of Hanh Cave is that its entrance is very low, therefore, if you want to explore this cave, you must travel by small boat. Hanh Cave is one of the most beautiful and the longest caves in Halong Bay.
This cave attracts a great number of foreign tourists, who love adventure coming here to contemplate and explore the cave by kayak. The total time of a full trip to Hanh Cave is about 60 to 90 minutes.
Hanh Cave
Hanh Cave

5. Luon Cave

Luon Cave is located on Bo Hon Island, which is about 14 kilometers to the South of Bai Chay. The location of this cave is a steep rock with quiet crystalized water.

The total length of Luon Cave is about 60 meters, and the cave’s ceiling is between 2.5 meters and 4 meters, depending on the water level. On entering the cave, if the level of water is high, you must lower your head to pass it. This must be the reason why the cave is called “Luon” in Vietnamese. The cave’s ceiling has so many beautiful and magnificent stalactites that you will surprise and amaze by the talent of Mother Nature.

After passing the entrance, you will see a large lake surrounded by luxuriant forest and spectacular mountains. It can be said that the beauty of Luon Cave is such a masterpiece of nature.

Luon Cave
Luon Cave

6. Tam Cung Cave

Tam Cung Cave is located in the center of Halong Bay, which is about 5 kilometers to the Northeast of Sung Sot Cave.
The cave is divided into 3 rooms with a lot of beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. The cave’s ceiling has many stalactites, which look like a white orchid cacti’s bud.Especially, the 2nd room of the cave is a lively natural museum with many stone sculptures of the lion, the seal, the water deities, etc. There is a long stream inside the cave, too. The cave’s wall looks like a magnificent stalactites curtain. And at the last room, tourists will have the opportunity to contemplate the spectacular and skillful sculptured artworks of the Mother Nature.
Tam Cung Cave
Tam Cung Cave

7. Thien Cung Cave

Thien Cung Cave is located at the North of Dau Go Island, which is about 4 kilometers to the South of the port. This cave is about 10 000 meters square in width.
Being one of the most beautiful caves of Halong Bay, Thien Cung Cave has such a complex structure with many rooms and wide, large ceiling. Especially, inside the cave is a great number of stalactites and stalagmites in weird shapes.
Thien Cung Cave
Thien Cung Cave

8. Me Cung Cave (Maze Cave)

Me Cung Cave is about 25 meters from the sea level on Lom Bo Island, which is about 2 kilometers to the Southwest to Titop Island. The cave’s entrance has such a complicated structure with many rooms, floors, as well as the stone ceiling and 100-meter-long balcony. There is also a lake called Me Cung inside the cave.
Me Cung Cave (Maze Cave)
Me Cung Cave (Maze Cave)