Hanoi stresses me out sometimes. The motorbikes, the pollution, the roaches… sometimes it gets to me. So when my boyfriend and I decided to go to Ba Vi National Park last weekend for the public holiday we were hoping the three peaks would provide us with some much needed respite from the noise and pollution.
The humidity of Hanoi getting under your skin?
Take a dip in a waterfall.
In need of some fun in the sun away from the crowded street-side cafes?
Try the waterpark.
Tired of walking in the road because there are too many motorbikes on the sidewalk?
Work your legs by hiking 1000+ steps to the Ho Chi Minh Temple. The temple is not particularly beautiful, but the view is great.
Or maybe try the strangely even more difficult 600+ steps to the other temple, where the view to the Ho Chi Minh temple is spectacular.
Sick of the condensed milk served throughout Hanoi?
Chug some goats milk and eat one of the greatest karamen I’ve had to date.
Ba Vi was amazing, and honestly one of the best trips I’ve taken in Vietnam all year. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Hoi An, Bat Trang, and Ha Long Bay, but Ba Vi was probably my favorite trip (excepting maybe Sapa, because staying in a Dao woman’s house and having frank conversations with hill tribe members about their world was one of the most memorable experiences of my life).
The national park was incredible. I don’t know if I can really explain why, but because it’s so close to Hanoi, you can motorbike it to the park in a little over an hour. That gives you a lot of autonomy. You can bike to the top of the mountains, to the waterfalls, and to go get dinner in the nearby town of Son Tay. The trip is up to you, and I love not relying on tour companies. Doing things on your own, making your own journey up as you go is so freeing and invigorating.
On top of that feeling of freedom is the sense that the national park itself is actually magical. The cool mountain mists, the dragonflies hovering overhead, the old French ruins, the waterfalls, and the friendliness of the people in town made my heart sing the entire weekend we were there. Going to Ba Vi helped me reconnect with nature, myself, and my memories of friendly small-town life.
If you have even the slightest chance of going to Ba Vi do it. Take a day or a couple, and bike down with some friends. Even if all you have time for is a picnic in the sun dappled lawn under the primeval forest, you’ll be in awe of the fresh air and natural wonders that Ba Vi has to offer.