Northern Vietnam getaways to explore during Lunar New Year

By Tam Anh   January 30, 2024 | 05:33 am PT
Explore northern Vietnam's varied attractions during the Lunar New Year with this guide, featuring adventure, leisure, and spiritual experiences.

The suggested trips are tailored for tourists departing from Hanoi, spanning three or four days, making it suitable for families venturing out after the first day of Tet. The suggestions are based on the advice from travel companies in Hanoi. These trips are also well-suited for travel by car.

Adventure tourism

1. Witness plum blossoms in Moc Chau District, Son La and other mountainous provinces

Hoa mận đầu tháng 2/2023 ở Mộc Châu. Ảnh: Sang Sang

Blooming white plum blossoms captured in Moc Chau District in Son La Province in February 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Sang Sang

The journey from Hanoi to Moc Chau covers 180 kilometers, taking approximately 4-5 hours depending on traffic conditions.

The beginning of the year is the best time in Moc Chau when plum blossoms begin to bloom. Plum and apricot blossoms typically last about two or three weeks, providing visitors with enough time to select the most suitable departure time.

Some must-visit places in Moc Chau include Na Ka plum valley, heart-shaped green tea hill, Ban Ang pine forest, and the 632-meter-long Bach Long (White Dragon) glass bridge that is recognized by Guinness as the world's longest.

The cuisine on offer includes salmon and sturgeon dishes, rau cai meo (brassica oleracea), calf cooked with fermented bean curd, Chinese snails, and dairy dishes.

In addition to Moc Chau, numerous destinations in the northern highlands also captivate tourists during Tet, such as the provinces of Yen Bai, Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Son La, and Dien Bien.

2. Climbing and cloud hunting

Săn mây trên đỉnh Bạch Mộc Lương Tử. Ảnh: Vietrekking

From the summit of Bach Moc Luong Tu Peak, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the nature below, blanketed in a white cloud cover. Photo courtesy of Viettrekking

Winter and spring are often the best times to hunt clouds in:

- Ta Xua Peak in Son La Province

- Lao Than Peak, Bach Mong Luong Tu Peak, and Ngu Chi Son Peak in Lao Cai Province

- Sin Ho Town in Lai Chau Province

- Ta Chi Nhu Peak in Yen Bai Province

To ensure safety, visitors should opt for a guided tour. Typically lasting two days and one night, these tours often include visits to local places, which can extend the duration based on preferences.

During these trips, visitors can witness primeval forests, diverse terrains, streams, and waterfalls, all with a moderate level of difficulty. Typically, the group sleeps at a meeting point which is about 30-40 minutes' walk from the peak to commence cloud hunting early the next morning.

The tour prices range from VND3 million to VND5 million ($120 to $200).

3. Cave tours in Quang Binh Province

Hang Va (Quảng Bình). Ảnh: Oxalis

A traveler stands in the shadowy expanse of Va Cave in Quang Binh Province. Photo courtesy of Oxalis

Quang Binh is about 488 kilometers from Hanoi. The province is renowned for its caves, offering two-to-three-day tours (excluding travel time) during the Lunar New Year.

Notable options include Va Cave trip from tour operator Oxalis Adventure or Hung Thoong Cave and Tiger Cave from tour operator Jungle Boss.

These tours are typically all-inclusive, excluding travel costs from the starting point. Safety equipment and meals will be provided to guests throughout the journey. Participants need to maintain good health and a clear mental state.

Prices range from VND8,000,000 to VND12,500,000 ($325 to $508) per person.

Leisure tourism

1. Yacht tour

Du thuyền Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan.

Travelers can enjoy the moment on the cruise deck, with the backdrop of limestone karsts in Ha Long Bay. Photo courtesy of Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan

Cruising on Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province or the nearby Lan Ha Bay of Hai Phong City is an ideal experience for those seeking rest and relaxation. These tours usually offer a choice of two days and one night, or three days and two nights.

Tourists have the option to spend two nights on the boat, touring pre-set stops on the schedule, or to stay one night on the boat and one night onshore in Ha Long City or Cat Ba Island District.

They can participate in activities like yoga, tai chi, kayaking, and easy bike rides to see destinations such as Viet Hai fishing village, Ba Trai Dao Beach in Lan Ha Bay, Ti Top Island, and Sung Sot Cave in Ha Long Bay.

Recommended operators include Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan, Mon Cheri, Scarlet Pearl, Stellar of the Seas, Paradise, Ambassador, and Indochine.

The cost varies depending on the tour, ranging from VND3 million to VND8 million ($121 to 325) per person.

2. Hot mineral bath tour

Suối khoáng Bang Onsen tại Quảng Bình. Ảnh: Khu nghỉ dưỡng

A hot water pool at Bang Onsen in Quang Binh Province. Photo courtesy of Bang Onsen

In the north and north central regions, numerous places feature hot springs, such as:

- Thanh Thuy hot spring in Phu Tho Province

- Kim Boi hot spring in Hoa Binh Province

- My Lam hot spring in Tuyen Quang Province

- Tram Tau hot spring in Yen Bai Province

- Ke Ga hot spring in Ninh Binh Province

- Quang Hanh Onsen in Quang Ninh Province

However, not all locations have modern resorts with high-quality services.

For those seeking premium accommodations with hot mineral baths, consider these recommended destinations:

- Serena Resort in Hoa Binh Province

- Ohayo Onsen in Thanh Thuy District, Phu Tho Province

- Yoko Onsen Quang Hanh in Quang Ninh Province

- Bang Onsen in Quang Binh Province.

Beyond indulging in hot mineral baths, visitors can also explore the tourist attractions in each locale throughout the remainder of their stay.

3. Resorts in popular attractions

Melia Vinpearl Cua Sot Beach Resort tại Hà Tĩnh. Ảnh: Khu nghỉ dưỡng

Swimming pools at Melia Vinpearl Cua Sot Beach Resort in Ha Tinh Province. Photo courtesy of Melia Vinpearl Cua Sot Beach Resort

Tet marks the peak of the tourist season, with many popular destinations becoming crowded. By choosing to stay in resorts and hotels, you will find yourself comfortably accommodated.

Many of these destinations feature amenities like heated swimming pools, health care massage services, fully equipped gyms, and yoga classes.

For a getaway spanning three to four days, travelers can explore resorts in the north and north central regions, including:

- Flamingo Dai Lai Resort in Vinh Phuc Province

- Vinpearl Ha Long in Quang Ninh Province

- Sun Spa Resort in Quang Binh Province

- Muong Thanh Luxury in Nghe An Province

- Jade Hill Resort & Spa

- Silk Path Grand Resort & Spa

- Hotel de la Coupole - MGallery in Sa Pa Town, Lao Cai Province

- FLC Luxury Hotel Sam Son in Thanh Hoa Province

- Melia Vinpearl Cua Sot Beach Resort in Ha Tinh Province

Spiritual tourism

These tours are usually short, spanning one to two days with an overnight stay, and often include trips to nearby attractions. From Hanoi, common choices are:

- Tam Chuc Pagoda, Phat Quang Pagoda, and Ksitigarbha Phi Lai Pagoda in Ha Nam Province.

- The Van Long Nature Reserve, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital, Bai Dinh Pagoda, and Tam Chuc Pagoda in Ninh Binh and Ha Nam provinces.

- The Yen Tu pagoda complex in Quang Ninh Province.

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