Backpacking in Northern Vietnam

I started my excursion to Cambodia for my volunteer nursing gig with a little detour through Northern Vietnam. My brother, Patrick, and his girlfriend, Maddy, are on a 6 month backpacking adventure through SE Asia. Check out their blog here. Naturally, I wanted to visit them while on their Asia trip, so we all met up in Vietnam for a few weeks, accompanied by my boyfriend, Michael, and a friend from home, Matt.


the gang headed out of the train station at Lao Chi, en route to Sapa

A small village outside of Sapa was our first step after leaving Hanoi. While in Sapa we hiked Mt. Fancipan, (which we referred to exclusively as “Mt. Fancipants”) the tallest peak in Indochina at 3,143 meters. We completed the hike in 2 days, accompanied by awesome local guides that were of paramount importance in helping us reach the top.



After Sapa, we headed to the town of Cat Ba. Cat Ba (and nearby Ha Long Bay,) are famous for the Karst mountains. Fun fact: the towers and islands in a Karst landscape were made over millions of years by the dissolution of limestone. In Cat Ba we rented mopeds to scope out the island, went kayaking, and almost went snorkeling, but a few people on our boat trip were stung by jellyfish, so I opted out.




After a few days in Cat Ba, and really needing some down time, we headed to the sleepier town of Tam Coc. The town is further removed from the backpacker circuit, and I think that was a key part in why we found it so delightful. We enjoyed some lazy hours soaking up the beautiful scenery right out the door of our Airbnb, and were treated to several, repetitive karaoke performances of Nsync and Backstreet Boys compliments of the staff. We also rented scooters and visited some temples that were in nearby Ninh Binh. The group decided to go to Tam Coc on kind of a whim, but I’m glad we did. The fast pace we were keeping on the first part of the trip meant that I was ready to recharge my batteries in a quiet place. It was quite a lovely way to spend a few days.


Bai Dinh temple and spiritual complex, in Ninh Binh, Vietnam


our Airbnb in Tam Coc, The Lotus Flower

The last of my stops in Vietnam was in Hoi An, a charming waterfront town further south. The main mode of transportation is by bicycle, so we spent a few days biking to the beach, doing yoga, reading, and relaxing. Hoi An also has a beautiful Old Town area teeming with bars and restaurants. We also took a short basket boat tour, which was worth every bit of the $5 we paid. The guides spoke no English, but kept saying “Hila!” while giggling with us.


And that wraps up my travels in Vietnam.

If anyone is considering a trip to Vietnam, DO IT! Its cheap, its incredibly beautiful, the people are so welcoming and helpful, the list is infinate. Also, if anyone out there has specific questions about transportation, accommodations, etc, I’d love to help in any way I can.

Thanks for reading!


4 thoughts on “Backpacking in Northern Vietnam

  1. Delightful!!! I know you are learning, but can we see some bigger photos? Maybe side-by-side? Patrick, help!
    Thanks for starting this; I so enjoy following all 3 of you! xo


  2. Beautiful writing Kel Kel. It makes me feel as if I were there. You really should be a storyteller !
    Perhaps in your later years.
    That or photography!!
    Your pictures are always so lovely 🙂
    Enjoy the rest of your stay honey xoxoxoxoo


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