5 destinations near Hanoi to avoid airfares during upcoming holiday

By Tam Anh   April 23, 2024 | 12:11 am PT
With soaring airfares during the five-day Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day (May 1) holidays, here are a few ideas of short trips that can be accessible by car near Hanoi, helping to save costs.

Cao Bang-Bac Kan

Cao Bang and Bac Kan are two adjacent provinces in the northeast region; therefore, families can arrange a three-day trip to explore the hidden gems there.

Both offer a cooler climate than the delta, and boast many pristine landscapes and historical sites.

From Hanoi, visitors can follow National Highway 1A and National Highway 4A to reach Cao Bang and the journey can take around 5.5 hours if traffic is not heavy.

Tourists should stay two nights in Cao Bang and one night in the Ba Be lake area of Bac Kan.

A visitor takes a boat tour along Ba Be Lake in Bac Kan Province. Photo courtesy of Tran Xuan Homestay

A visitor takes a boat tour along Ba Be Lake in Bac Kan Province. Photo courtesy of Tran Xuan Homestay

In Cao Bang, don't forget to visit some popular sites such as Ban Gioc waterfall, Thang Hen Lake, Thuong Mountain and Lenin Stream to cool down the scorching heat while trying sour pho, which is different from the traditional Vietnamese noodles thanks to a combination of herbs, roasted peanuts, pork, duck and a sauce made from lime.

In Bac Kan, visitors can rent a boat along Ba Be Lake, enclosed by limestone mountains and a network of subterranean streams and caverns, or Puong Cave and Dau Dang waterfall.

Ninh Binh

Around 60 kilometers to the south of Hanoi, Ninh Binh where the Hollywood movie "Kong: Skull Island" was filmed in 2016 used to be the home of the ancient capital of Hoa Lu during the reign of the Dinh Dynasty (968-980).

The locality has not been on tourists' radar for years and a three-to-four day trip during the holiday is ideal.

From Hanoi, it takes tourists an hour and a half to reach Ninh Binh by car.


Visitors experience boat tours along the Ngo Dong River in Tam Coc-Bich Dong area in Ninh Binh during the rice harvest season. Photo by VnExpress/Le Hoang

Most affordable homestays and high-end resorts are scattered around Trang An and Tam Coc, famous for boat tours that take visitors to explore paddy fields and ancient caves.

For those seeking a nature retreat, there are homestays that offer views of lotus ponds or rice fields. Some addresses worth consideration are Mua Caves Ecolodge, Hali Home and Chez Beo.

In addition, visitors can visit Mua Cave, Hoa Lu ancient capital, Bai Dinh pagoda, Am Tien Cave, Van Long lagoon, Phat Diem stone church and Cuc Phuong National Park.

Co To or Quan Lan Island

Quan Lan and Co To islands are both in Quang Ninh and one of the few beaches in the north with clear blue water and white sand.


A tourist takes photos on a beach in Co To Island. Photo courtesy of Co To District Culture and Information Office

If choosing to visit Co To island, visitors should stay from three to four days while Quan Lan is for shorter trips of two to three days.

Tourists from Hanoi have to travel by road to Van Don District that can take more than two hours and then reach to Cai Rong Port where they take a speedboat to Co To or Quan Lan depending on their travel plans.

It takes an hour and a half to Co To and 45 minutes to Quan Lan.

In addition to pristine beaches in Co To, visitors should not miss Co To Light House, located on a hill more than 100 meters high. After climbing 72 spiral stairs to the top visitors can see the entire island.

With a modest area of about 11 square kilometers, Quan Lan island offers long beaches, white sand, and clear blue water.


A rocky beach on Quan Lan Island in northern Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Tuan Dao

The island is suitable for families with young children or the elderly because the road to the island has almost no big waves.

Thanh Hoa

Hai Linh or Dong are among the few deserted beaches in Thanh Hoa. From Hanoi, it takes around three hours to reach Thanh Hoa and visitors can arrange a three-day holiday there.

Dong Beach in Thanh Hoa Province. Photo by Hong Nhung

Dong Beach in Thanh Hoa Province. Photo by Hong Nhung

Not as crowded as other beaches like Hai Tien or Sam Son, the beach in Nghi Son is pristine with long rows of casuarina trees, and smooth and airy sand.

Visitors can freely explore the lives of local fishermen, enjoy seafood, try windsurfing or scuba diving, or go kayaking.

Even you can camp right on the beach to watch dawn and sunset there.

Some other tourist attractions include Me Islet and Ba Lang traditional fish sauce craft village.

Quang Binh

About an eight-hour drive from Hanoi, visitors can reach Dong Hoi, the capital city of Quang Binh with convenient roads, mostly highways.

Tourists can use their whole five days of vacation for their trip to Quang Binh, with two nights in Nhat Le beach and two nights in the mountains of Phong Nha or Tan Hoa.

Quang Binh is dubbed as Vietnam’s kingdom of caves. So, don’t forget to visit Phong Nha Cave, Paradise Cave or join short cave exploration tours such as Tien Cave, Tu Lan Cave, Va Cave for one to two days.

Tan Hoa Village is seen from above. Photo courtesy of Oxalis

Tan Hoa Village in Quang Binh Province is seen from above. Photo courtesy of Oxalis

You can also visit Tan Hoa Village, honored as one of the "Best Tourism Villages 2023" by the World Tourism Organization.

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