This is an option for those lacking in time and can only really explore the Northern part of Vietnam.
You will be met by Our Porky’s Rep in your Hotel in Hanoi at the start of your Backpacking Vietnam Tour.
Starting point HANOI/HCMC
It doesn’t matter whether you are traveling north or south, the same tour applies just the opposite
direction. One from North to south and vice versa.
Being the capital, Hanoi is bursting with hustle with a side of bustle. You wouldn’t need to spend more than a couple of nights here. Porky’s Packers recommend it as a pitstop on your journey to Halong Bay and Sa Pa. Ho Hoan Kiem lake works as the central hub, and serves as an escape from the city that surrounds it.
An array of museums to keep you occupied in the day, along with a plenty of restaurants, shops and rooftop bars by night to watch the city glow with life into the darkness.
Around 4 hours east of Hanoi sits an Archipelago, a maze of islands scattered across 150 mile stretch. Jagged limestone rocks covered in vibrant green vegetation sit in a pool of glistening turquoise, a natural wonder of the world.
Caves sit hidden inside the rock, you’ll be given the opportunity to explore the largest one for yourself. Unearthly stalactites reach down for you like witches fingers. Whilst the dank dark atmosphere harbours the sense you’re intruding into her home.
Porky’s recommends kayaking and this should not be missed. Getting up close to the rocks as you glide along the water. Head through a tunnel to reach a lagoon that’s home to many macaque monkeys that live along the rock face.
Make sure you stop at Cat Ba Island, it is the largest of the 366 islands spanning 260 km2 and home to Cat Ba national park. A great place to find some tough but rewarding trekking. Half way through the ascent, the stone steps gently transform into jungle floor. You climb your way to the peak of the mountain, wipe away the beads of sweat that roll down your face and reap the reward for your efforts. Gazing miles out into dense emerald jungle.
A 10 hour train ride through the dark of the night will take you from Hanoi to Lao Chai, close the to the border of China. From there it takes an hour to bus north and reach Sa Pa, a 15th century village that sits 1500m high, nestled in the eastern edge of the Himalayan mountains.
You will learn about the history and culture of ancient Vietnam here. The hillside is scattered with villages that are built into the surroundings. Each village has it’s own dialect although they are merely kilometres apart. It’s cooler here, mist gathers at the tops of mountains and in winter there is often a lot of snow. When you come to Sapa you come to experience real trekking, the steady pace and unruly terrain cause you learn to live only in the now. The breathtaking layers of mountainous farmland and the graduated greens that hover in your periphery, equal to a sense of peace and tranquility you will have never felt before.
The trek itself can be strenuous but the local ladies gather around offering their hand to help you. They hop through the terrain with ease and finesse whether they be at the age of 7 or 70 and they do so with babies and baskets strapped to their backs whilst weaving strands of hemp or creating sculptures or of leaves. This is a Porky’s Packers gem for all you mad backpacking adventurers out there!!