Although Central Vietnam is a treasure trove of natural and cultural splendor, it is a region most travelers tend to overlook during their visit. So how can you steer away from the crowds and experience for yourself the host of rarely-visited natural vistas that lie at the heart of the country? Read on and discover carefully selected tours that introduce you to the must-see destinations and hidden gems this magnificent area has to offer.
The cities of Hoi An, Hue, and Da Nang make for the three main reasons why most travelers visit Central Vietnam.
But because of the massive increase in tourism these cities have seen during recent years, more and more travelers choose to invest their time exploring Vietnam’s northern and southern destinations.
While these areas will always be worth visiting, Central Vietnam is home to a myriad of undiscovered cultural marvels and natural wonders that deserve your attention.
So with no further ado, we present seven favorite tours that will make your trip to Vietnam not only unique but also absolutely unforgettable.
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1. The Trek of Pu Mat National Park
If you are looking to experience a jungle trek, immersed in raw and unbound nature, look no further.
Pu Mat National Park is located 115 km (70 mi) northwest of Vinh and is home to incredibly diverse groups of plants and animals.
The natural beauty you will see and experience during your two-day journey, is on par with the more popular treks in Sapa, minus the mass tourism.
The trek will take you through remote trails, to the very heart of the jungle, where you’ll come face to face with an unmatched variety of flora and fauna.
2,461 plant species are confirmed to grow in Pu Mat, some of which may be new to science. Moreover, Pu Mat is one of Vietnam’s most crucial mammal conservations and is home to both wild elephants and tigers.
The term “authentic experience” might be overused, but it certainly applies here.
Explore the very heart of a jungle, bathe in the beautiful Khe Kem waterfall, visit the people who call this paradise home, and spend the night under a glimmering starry sky.
2. The Marble Mountain Tour
Located just outside of Da Nang is Marble Mountain, one of the country’s most stunning natural wonders.
This collection of five limestone and marble peaks, dotted with beautiful caves and ancient monuments, is one of the most must-see destinations to visit when traveling in Central Vietnam.
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Marble Mountain makes for a spectacular sight, lined with carved stone steps that lead to a Buddhist pagoda.
During The Marble Mountain Tour, you will ascend the steps to explore the many caves and historical monuments before finally reaching the summit.
There you will enjoy sweeping panoramic scenes from one of Vietnam’s most spectacular viewing points.
The tour also takes you to the “stone village,” where local masons use ancient techniques to carve exquisite artworks from marble.
3. The Cham Islands Sea Trek
A Sea Trek might just be one of the most unforgettable and thrilling journeys one could hope to experience.
Simply put on a futuristic astronaut helmet before you are gently lowered to the seafloor where an underwater world of wonder awaits.
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There, you simply walk on the bottom of the sea and take in the magnificent views of colorful corals and tropical marine life.
The Sea Trek is a fantastic way to experience the Cham Islands in all their breathtaking splendor and in full view of the stunning seascapes.
This adventure is offered year-round and includes a range of scenic stops at some of the most amazing places around the Cham Islands.
4. The Buffalo & Basket Boat Tour
Have you ever ridden a water buffalo through some of the planet’s most enchanting landscapes? Or have you sailed down a whispering river, through a tropical forest on a traditional Vietnamese basket boat?
This tour allows you to do just that, and it also grants you the opportunity to visit the village that the legendary Cam Thanh farmers call home.
During a full day’s journey, you will feel as if you have traveled through time, to a point in history where men and nature existed in balance and harmony.
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Upon arrival in Cam Thanh, you will mount the mighty water buffalo and travel through the stunning landscapes while your local guide tells you about the area’s culture and history.
The buffalo is among the world’s most powerful creatures and is not only perfectly suitable for tilling rice fields. Its milk is more abundant in fat and protein than that of dairy cattle, making the animal fundamental to the survival of the local population.
You will also get to sail on a basket boat through the Coconut Forrest while the locals teach you the ancient art of crab hunting.
And you will even have a chance to try for yourself!
5. The My Son Temple Scooter Tour
To understand the culture of modern Vietnam, you must first understand the history that shaped it.
One of the most monumental places to do so is at the ruins of the Champa Kingdom.
This ancient dynasty presided over Vietnam more than six centuries ago. And although the My Son temple complex was gradually built between the 4th and 14th centuries, its walls still tell stories of what life was like in the lost kingdom.
My Son is considered one of Southeast Asia’s most significant archeological marvels and is comprised of structures and monuments dedicated to the Champa Kings and the Hindi god Shiva.
This tour beautifully connects past and present by also taking you by boat to the Kim Bon carpentry village.
There you will be introduced to the locals who make a living by producing the stunning art and handcraft that have been iconic to the area for centuries.
6. The Ba Na Hills Tour
For those wishing to experience classic Vietnam with a modern twist, the Ba Na Hills tour allows for an unforgettable experience of sensual delight.
Ba Na Hills is the name French colonists gave the resort they built as a leisure destination for French tourists in the year 1919.
There, privileged Europeans flocked to escape the summer heat in exchange for the fresh mountain air.
The hills are located 1500 meters (5,000 ft) above sea level and provide for a sweeping view of the East Sea and the surrounding mountains.
The tour first takes you to the resort via cable car and allows you to take in the jaw-dropping landscapes before you cross the monumental Golden Bridge.
This impressive bridge was constructed in the summer of 2018 and is undoubtedly one of the most scenic in Vietnam.
You will also visit Le Jardin, an old colonial vineyard, and explore the remains of a French villa.
When you have tested your bargaining talents at the nearby Han Market, a perfect day will come to an end with a full body massage at the Cham Spa.
7. The Cooking Class & Rural Visit
The essential way to grasp and experience the heart of Vietnamese history and culture lies through the belly.
And although numerous food tours offer a glimpse into the heart of Vietnamese culinary artistry, none does so better than this one.
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When a hands-on cooking class is combined with a visit to the rural culture that produces your ingredients, you gain an unmatched perspective of one of the World’s most excellent cuisines.
This eco-friendly tour from Hoi An takes you to a morning market where the seasonal herbs, fruits, and vegetables are on display.
And when you have gathered your ingredients, you simply board a basket boat and sail down the Thu Bon River where you witness the local farmers harvesting on its banks.
Finally, you enter the ever-beautiful Cam Thanh village, where a local master will guide you through a two-hour cooking class.
This exceptional harvest-to-belly experience not only leaves you with memories to last a lifetime. It also provides you with the skills to prepare exquisite dishes such as Pho Bo and Banh Xeo in your kitchen back home.