Travel to Hanoi and Northern Vietnam – Episode 804

categories: asia travel

Travel to Hanoi and Northern Vietnam (Podcast)

Hear about travel to northern Vietnam as the Amateur Traveler talks to Paul B. Kennedy from about the country he has adopted as home.

Paul says, “It is so amazing. It’s gorgeous. This, I knew within 15 minutes of being in Hanoi, that this was a place I wanted to be. So if I can tell within 15 minutes what this place has to offer, I can tell you right now that this definitely has a place for you to visit. It’s one of the few places that is so culturally rich and beautiful at the same time. The takeaway, the culture, and the things you can learn from it, I think are beyond words.”

Paul lays out a one-week itinerary of Northern Vietnam with a couple of optional extensions. He starts us in Hanoi with a food tour to explore some of the street food in the area followed by a Vespa tour of some of the main sites like the temples, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and the Temple of Literature. Students of history might want to visit Hỏa Lò Prison which was the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnamese American War.

We then head up to Sa Pa to see the rice terraces and the ethnic villages north of Hanoi. Paul recommends avoiding the “smelly train”, and taking a private van up to the area. Timing when to see this area is important. Come in the right season and the terraces will be shades of green and yellow. Come in the wrong time and they may be on fire as they burn off the stubble after the harvest.

Although it is very touristy, Paul does recommend a visit to the beautiful Hạ Long Bay. Get some help from a tour agent picking a boat as the boats that are most available may be so because they have a bad reputation.  Then head inland to see more limestone cliffs near Ninh Binh in what has been called the Hạ Long Bay of the land.

Finally, we head to the center of the country to the colonial cities of Hội An and Da Nang. You will find beaches that are empty during the daytime but fill up after the sun goes down. Paul discourages us from taking the drive to see the Golden “Hand” Bridge near Bà Nà Hills.

Find out why an expat from New York City fell in love with Hanoi and northern Vietnam and see if you might as well.

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Show Notes
Food Tour Hanoi
Bún bò Huế
Vespa Tour Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Temple of Literature, Hanoi
Tây Hồ district
Hỏa Lò Prison
National Day
Hoàn Kiếm Lake
Sa Pa
Sapa Rice Terrace Tours
Terraced rice fields in Sapa Vietnam
Mai Chau
Hạ Long Bay
Things to do in Ninh Binh, Vietnam – Boat Trips, Day Hikes, Day Trips
Hội An
Da Nang
Lady Buddha Da Nang
Golden Bridge (Vietnam)
Red Bridge – Hanoi
Dragon Bridge (Da Nang)


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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

3 Responses to “Travel to Hanoi and Northern Vietnam – Episode 804”



Love your podcast, but feel like this episode left a lot to be desired. Vietnam is one of my favorite country, and your guest don’t seem to have gotten out of his comfort zone enough to enjoy enough of many uniqueness of northern nor central Vietnam. I wished he mentioned certain dishes that were unique to certain region. He also made Hoi An sounded like it was overly touristy & somewhat undesirable which is totally not true, one of the most beautiful place I’ve been to. Failed to mention the hand bridge was in an amusement park of European architecture and has one of the longest gondola to get you there. Also, besides just taking in the scenery of ha long bay, the cruise usually includes activities such as going to caves, private beaches, kayaking, squid fishing, cooking classes, and tai chi in the morning. These are only few of the things I wanted to point out. Your guests usually brings me a lot of excitement even for places I never plans to visit, but this episode was a little disappointed for me.

Chris Christensen


Sorry to disappoint Cathy



I really enjoy your podcasts, but I would suggest not inviting on people who are tour guides or who are trying to sell a hotel/etc. They have not been very good, frankly. They always make me cringe a little when they drop their hotels. This person in particular couldn’t describe a paper bag effectively.

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