Photo Gallery: Northern Vietnam

KC and I were joined in early January by our friend, Marie, a middle school science teacher from Oregon who is also  globe-trotting and has been terrorizing tweens with the scientific method in a prestigious Seoul international school for the past 3 years.

Sa Pa Gallery

We headed north to trek for 3 days in the mountains along the Vietnam-China border with Zao, a lovely local guide from the Hmong tribe. (We can recommend the very professional Sapa Sisters as a truly grass-roots guide service where your fee goes directly to the guide, no intermediaries.)

If you notice the improvement in quality of the photos, all of these photos are courtesy of Marie.  By this time, I had dropped our new camera one too many times so we happily relied on Marie’s skills.

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Cat Ba Island (Ha Long Bay) Gallery

After trekking through the beautiful mountains of northern Vietnam, we took a sleeper train back to Hanoi followed by another 6 am train to the coastal town of Hai Phong.  From there we caught a 45-minute ferry to Cat Ba Island, where Marie had arranged a beachfront hotel for $12/night.  We read a review about a local place with the “best squid you’ll ever eat” and were so blown away that we went back the following night.  During the intervening day, to pass the time until we could eat more squid, we looked up a locally-owned guide service to take us out into the famed Ha Long Bay.  Being green at heart, we had pangs of guilt between our bouts of giddiness when we had an entire wooden yacht, capacity 65, to ourselves and got to set our own itinerary for the entire day.  As you can see, the bay is spectacular.

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  1. . . what a delight! And what a great looking place – presently unspoilt by us ‘furriners’! I’m developing a definite itch!

    1. There’s definitely a backpacker crowd in Vietnam and you know how it goes: they’re always the explorers and the expensive hotels follow soon enough… Even so, it turned out to be one of two countries I said I could live in (the other being Turkey, of course).

  2. That’s a really good itinerary. I never went to Sapa but I met others who did and they all had a great time. It’s cool you went to Ha Long Bay on your own and got to rent a boat for yourselves. I went on an overnight boat tour to Ha Long Bay; it was good but not as cool as doing it on your own.

    1. But we also didn’t get to sleep overnight on a boat like you did… it was one thing we would have enjoyed but Marie had to get back for classes so we were a little tight on time.

  3. Thanks for sharing the pictures! What was the temperature like?

    1. In January it was surprisingly cold! In Sapa it snows in the winters and we slept in local guesthouses without heat. Luckily the blankets were about 4 inches thick. In Cat Ba we lucked into 2 days of mostly sunshine whereas we’d been expecting cold rain, so we were pretty happy with it. Even so you can see we’re still bundled up to enjoy the sunshine on the deck of the boat.

  4. BEAUTIFUL!! You really know how and where to travel!

    1. Vietnam turned out to be a wonderful experience overall. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

  5. WOW!!! And you must tell Marie how fab her photos are – National Geographic quality!

    1. Marie… are you reading this?? :o)

  6. Loved seeing the great photos. Thanks.

    1. Now I want Marie on all my trips.

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