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8 Days in North Vietnam - Help plan my holiday!

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Hello All!

Its time yet again to start holiday planning - the most stressful yet really fun part of a holiday :)
My boyfriend and I are both early twenties, and love to travel. Unfortunately, stressful jobs result in NOT ENOUGH TIME!
We have been able to squeeze out 5 days (with weekends on both sides), and booked our tickets for Hanoi. We land at Noon on Saturday, 15th Feb, and fly back at Noon on 23rd Feb - giving us almost exactly 8 days and 7 nights.

I want to try to squueze in as much as possible, but still have time to enjoy the holiday and not burst into flames (his demand, not mine, I could keep going till I drop)

The places I really want to visit are Hanoi (2-3 days), Hue (1), Hoi An(1), Halong Bay (2 Day) and try to squeeze in either Sapa/ Ninh Binh. I am not too interested in HCMC, so have dropped anything south of these places.

My questions -
Which one - Sapa or Ninh Binh? Considering it february, would the latter be more pleasant?
Is a day in Hue and Hoi An enough, and if not, what should I drop?
Are there any other places you would recommend instead? I would like a unique well represented view of Vietnam :)

Our priorities: scenic and architectural beauty, food, and not too many people. We are not too interested in night-life/partying, would rather have early mornings, active days (we are both quite fit), great food. Considering our age and general lifestyle, hectic trips are not a big issue.

Our budget: not too high. We spent about a $1000 on our tickets (return, for two of us), and would not want to spend more than that amount on the rest of the trip.

Fodors has been super helpful in the past, hope it is this time too!!
Cheers

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