Is it just me or are we all not ready for Monday just yet? Well, we still have a few hours more before we officially start another work week. Why don't we take this time to relax and allow ourselves to have some fun and energy-boosting activities?
If you're living in Hanoi, here are some of the best day trips you can take today (or any day, really) for a quick escape from the pressure of the day ahead. The places I listed below don't just offer Instagrammable views, but they're perfect to get reacquainted with Vietnam's unique nature, history and culture.
Soc Son, Hanoi
Soc Sơn is just 25km away from the center of Hanoi. Because of its proximity, many people choose to visit the area during the weekend. You can travel to Soc Son by motorbike, by car or even by bus. Here are some must-see destinations when you get to Soc Son.
Thanh Chuong's Viet Palace
Thanh Chuong’s Viet Palace is one of Hanoi's most important cultural spaces. The collection of art and historical artifacts is collected by Thanh Chuong, a prominent contemporary artist. Each piece has been carefully selected and positioned within grand cultural houses inspired by Vietnam's rich history and heritage.
Soc Son Temple
The temple is located at the foot of Horse Mountain, which was believed to be the place where Saint Giong stopped for a rest after fighting off the invaders. Besides the statue of Saint Giong, you can also see and visit Non Nuoc Pagoda, Trinh Temple, Mau Temple, Dai Bi Pagoda. The place is generally peaceful and solemn, so it's an ideal setting for some moments of quiet and calm.
Ham Lon Mountain
This mountain is also known as the “Roof of Hanoi" for being the highest mountain in the capital city. Ham Lon's rough terrain is a favorite among campers and trekkers who love exploring nature.
Dong Do Lake
Dong Do Lake is surrounded by high mountains and pine forests. The fresh air combined with green trees at Dong Do Lake brings a relaxing atmosphere when you visit here. Most people choose to come here for camping or homestays for its pristine beauty.
Ba Vi, Hanoi
A little further to the northwest of Hanoi lies the beautiful Ba Vi with its awe-inspiring mountainous scenery. Ba Vi attracts visitors all year round, however, a lot of travelers come to this district from October to December as it is the season for wild sunflowers, perfect for taking wonderful photos. Similar to Soc Son, you can go to Ba Vi by car or by motorbike within an hour.
Ba Vi National Park
For Ba Vi National Park, it is recommended that you spend one whole day visiting all the sites in the park. There's a wide range of destinations to choose from: Historical sites from the French colonization such as a political prison, a summer camp, a military zone; and cultural sites such as Temple President Ho Chi Minh, Upper Temple, The Old Church. You can also visit Tien Sa Lake for some fun and vibrant activities.
Khoang Xanh - Suoi Tien
Located in the heart of Ba Vi mountain range, with scenery like a fairyland secluded from the rest of the world, Khoang Xanh - Suoi Tien tourist area has a diverse ecological structure with streams and waterfalls. The forest with a cool and fresh climate is an ideal destination for family vacations.
Outside Hanoi, nearby provinces offer multiple relaxing opportunities, one of which is Ninh Binh. In the past, this place was once chosen as the capital of Vietnam. At present, tourists come here to find peace within this ancient place.
Bai Dinh Pagoda
Bai Dinh Pagoda is a religious complex that houses both the ancient and the newly renovated Bai Dinh pagoda. The old Bai Dinh pagoda is located on the western slope of Dinh mountain, nestled in a quiet forest. On the other side of Dinh Moutain is new Bai Dinh pagoda. This pagoda was built in 2003 and covers an area of 80 hectares. Bai Dinh Pagoda is the largest pagoda in Vietnam.
Hoa Lu Ancient Capital
In the 10th century, Hoa Lu used to be the first capital of Vietnam. In the past, Dinh Bo Linh chose Hoa Lu for its mountainous geography, which is perfect for defending against invaders. However, in 1010, Ly Thai To moved the capital to Thang Long (presently called Hanoi). Currently, Hoa Lu Ancient Capital is a historical attraction for people to explore the long history of Vietnam.
Trang An Landscape Complex
Trang An is a scenic area, renowned for its boat cave tours. Trang An has two main types of ecosystems: Limestone mountain and the aquatic ecosystem. Its terrestrial ecosystem has more than 600 species of plants and 200 species of animals, many of which are on Vietnam's red list. The aquatic ecosystem consists of about 30 species of zooplankton, and 40 species of benthos, including many rare species.
If you're up for a more upbeat vibe, Hai Phong would be an excellent choice. Based on your preferences, your trips to Hai Phong can vary in destinations. Do Son and Cat Ba are two must-visit beaches for a holiday. In case you only want to spend a day in this city, you can opt for a food tour with multiple dishes to explore.
Spicy stick bread
You can find bread everywhere across Vietnam, but you cannot miss out on spicy stick bread if you come to Hai Phong. It consists of three ingredients: Bread, pate, and chili sauce. The chili sauce is made of garlic and tomatoes, which then makes a perfect red mixture that complements the taste of the bread.
Banh beo Hai Phong is one of the most iconic dishes because of its outstanding flavors. It has the sweetness of meat, the crispy taste of the black fungus, the softness of the cake layer, and the aroma of banana leaves. Paired up with Hai Phong sauce made from bone broth, there is no way you won't be tempted to get another bite.
Red jellyfish salad
Red jellyfish is a seasonal special dish served only from April to June. Because the jellyfish itself doesn’t have many flavors, the sauce is the most important part. Usually, you can eat red jellyfish salad with fried tofu, oregano, perilla, and mam tom.
Crab noodle soup
Being a port city, Hai Phong offers a wide range of seafood. One dish I highly recommend is crab noodle soup. The rice paper is soft and chewy, not crushed. The broth is rich in crab flavor, fragrant with crab bricks and coriander, mixed with the aroma of bay leaves and side dishes.
Tam Dao, Vinh Phuc
Known as “Da Lat of the North", Tam Dao is a perfect escape from the heat of the summer sun. After a half-hour drive, you will be immersed in a relaxed, fresh atmosphere. In addition, most attractions in Tam Dao are set in one area, so you only have to spend just a few hours to experience everything this place has to offer.
It is a place located in the heart of Tam Dao town. This is considered a waterfall of great beauty, the water flows from the high ravines and then rushes down to create a thundering sound, as if tempting people to come closer and take pleasure in its cool waters.
Tam Dao Stone Church
If you set foot at Tam Dao, the first thing you see will be Tam Dao Stone Church. The French built it during the colonization era. The Gothic structure stands high amidst modern buildings, villas and shops.
This is an ideal check-in location as the background is a majestic mountain forest, hidden in the poetic smog of Tam Dao. With the cool green mountains and forests surrounding it, and the magnificent sight of thousands of wild sunflowers dotting the area, this place never fails to captivate a wanderer's heart.