We did not make it on one of the authentic brown sailing boats like on the famous Ha Long Bay pictures (all boats are now painted white, because authorities say that this change benefits the bay's recent international recognition..), but the rest was picture-perfect!
One of the highlights of our trekking in North-Vietnam was our visit to Dong Van where we visited the weekly market, visited by many different colourful ethnic hill tribes, a number of motorcyclists and us. It combined cattle trading, lots of meat (including dogs), fabric and furniture with people enjoying the local food and home-brewed rice wine. By 10am most of the products were sold out and most people tipsy.
A motorcyclist in Laos told us that if we wanted to see dramatic landscapes and meet interesting people, we should head for North-Vietnam, close to the Chinese border. And so we did, mostly by foot and the rest by car and staying overnight with local tribes in tiny villages. One of the highlights was a visit to the colorful weekly market in Dong Van. Fascinating!
Lovely Hanoi, famous for its many bars and restaurants. Backpackers and other travelers are plenty, but the atmosphere and the street life are so vibrant that it all fits in the picture. A great basis prior and after trekking and other tours.