Northern Vietnam is teeming with culture and adventurous experiences. In the north a mountainous border is shared with China, where places such as Lao Cai, Ha Giang and Sapa present opportunities to immerse in distant cultures and interact with remote hilltribes from the region. In this rugged and spectacularly stunning part of Vietnam, a number of markets exist where ethnic minority groups trade goods with each other and can be seen wearing their traditional, and always colorful dress.
Its greatest attraction remains the enigmatic Halong Bay – a site steeped in history and fables, where stories of dragons descending into the sea gouged valleys and gorges. Over 2000 islands rise from these mirror-like waters, surrounding visitors in a transcendent landscape, best explored on an overnight cruise, stopping at hidden beaches, mysterious grottos and remote islands of indefinable beauty.
To the west the terrain changes yet again, small local villages become even more dispersed as the land rises, forming towering evergreen peaks leading down into fertile river valleys, swathed in green swatches of rice paddies. Glistening in the sun, the emerald green rice fields provide a sumptuous landscape to explore by bike or on foot.