The North — Bac Bo is the Vietnamese term for the north, the cradle of Vietnamese civilization along the country’s own version of the Tigris and Euphrates, the Red River Delta. Called the Song Hong in Vietnamese, the river is the epicenter of prehistoric culture and early empires, where organized wet rice cultivation, done on flooded paddies and requiring extensive community cooperation, began. The Red River Delta gave birth to the first Au Lac dynasty and earliest capital at Co Loa — just north of Vietnam’s current capital, Hanoi, which lies at the heart of the region. Just east of Hanoi, the busy port of Haiphong leads the way to the 3,000 islands of the stunning Halong Bay; most of the islands are unlivable but are a stunning set piece of towering karst, or limestone, formations shrouded in jungle. Where Hanoi’s creation myth speaks of the ascending dragon Thang Long, the mountains of the bay are said to be the footprints of the descending dragon, or Ha Long, as it went to its home in the ocean deep.
The northern highlands, occupying the northwest tip of Vietnam, are known for their beauty, with jagged mountains rising over sweeping green valleys. The inhabitants are mostly ethnic minority hilltribes still somewhat isolated from civilization. Popular tourism destinations are Sapa, Lao Cai, and Dien Bien Phu. Vietnam’s tallest mountain, Fansipan (3,143 m/10,309 ft.), overlooks Sapa, part of the mountain range the French dubbed “The Tonkinese Alps.”
Best time to visit North of Vietnam
Best time to visit the North of Vietnam is spring months (mid-March to May). You can see mountain valleys and rice fields in their best spring colors Autumn months (September to November) is also a good time to visit the mountains in the North of Vietnam. Winter months bring nearly freezing temperatures to mountain regions. Summer, particularly July and August, is the peak of the rainy season in Vietnamese north.