From the majestic capital to sky-high mountain passes, enchanting northern Vietnam delivers a sensory assault you’ll never forget

Get lost in the ancient alleyways of Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital for more than 1,000 years. Slurp up some northern-style pho and iced lemon tea while watching a near-endless stream of motorbikes whizz by.

After braving Hanoi, most visitors head to Sapa, where the Hmong ethnic minority has embraced the oodles of tourists drawn to the area’s dazzling green rice terraces. Expect homestays, mountain treks and cheeky sales kids cracking jokes. Adventurers should consider visiting Ha Giang by motorbike – it’s Vietnam’s northernmost province and possibly the country’s best-kept secret. And of course, no trip to the north would be complete without that moment of awe as you sail by your first limestone karst in Halong Bay. See less-visited natural wonders inland at Ba Be National Park and Ninh Binh Province.