Even given the boost in tourism to Vietnam in recent years there are still so many undiscovered places that are worth taking a look at. Outside the traditional “tourist-route” of the country there are countless towns, national parks, tropical islands and mountaneous enclaves that barely see any foreign visitors.
The “Inside the box” Tourist Route
The traditional tourist route of Vietnam will generally consist of taking the following route. Start in Hanoi and do a two day tour of Halong Bay, or a two day trekking tour in Sapa. This will be followed by a bus or plane south to Hoi An and from there to the southern region where Dalat, Saigon, Mui Ne and the Mekong Delta are the areas that usually get covered. These areas are however only a small fraction of the many places that can be visited in Vietnam.
10.Pu Mat National Park
The stunning Pu Mat natural reserve lies roughly 100 km east of Vinh city and Nghe An Province. Right by the border of Laos this national park is home to some of Vietnam’s most stunning scenery as well as home to elephants and tigers. A 2 day tour that includes sailing, hiking and an overnight stay in a homestay is the recommended way to get the most out of this experience.
9.Bai Tu Long Bay AKA “The other Halong Bay”
Halong bay is with good reason the most iconic tourist destination in Vietnam. However with an influx of tourism it has become hard to get the serenity and peace here as you did in the past. With 3000 boats in the bay each day the bay has become increasingly overrun with tourism. Bai Tu Long bay on the other hand gets only 1% of that traffic. The scenery here is equally as beautiful as Ha long bay and free of the noise and water pollution currently causing Halong Bay difficulty.
8.Con Dao Islands
These Islands are some of the most stunning tropical islands that have yet to be fully disovered among travelers in Vietnam. One of the reasons for the lack of growth in this area has been the poor transportation connection in recent years. Flights from Saigon have been limited and are often exclusively allocated to family members of deceased political prisoners that were here under French and American rule. However a new high-speed ferry has transformed access to these beautiful islands. The Supder Dong Ferry will take you to the island from Soc Trang in just two and a half hours. With a stunning mountaneous interior and pristine beaches surrounding the island this islands are some of the most stunning in South East Asia.
7.Ba Vi National Park
Located 40 km east of Hanoi, Ba Vi National Park offers a rich and diverse tropical and sub tropical species of flora and fauna. There are several high end luxury retreats here that will offer you a perfect escape from the heat and pollution of Hanoi. For an off the beaten path mountain retreat, it does not get much better then this.
6.Hon Ba Nature Reserve
Located 30 km outside of Nha Trang, Hon Ba Nature Reserve is ecompasses 19,000 hectares and has an altitue of 1600 meters. The area is considered to be the “second Da Lat”. Hon Ba was discovered by Dr Alexendre Yersin in 1863 who established an experimental reserach zone with meidicnal plants. This area offers a chance to explore the areas.
5.Buon Ma Thot
Buon Ma Thot is located in the central highlands and is famous for producing most of Vietnams coffee. Accessable from Nha Trang or Dalat this area will give you a chance to glimpse at one of natures giants, the elephant. This is one of the few areas in Vietnam where elephant riding is possible. For a rustic experience of Vietnam this is it.
4.Dien Bien Phu
Most known for the battle that ocurred here during the first Indochina War, “The Battle of Dien Bien Phu”. Located by the border of Laos the area is best reachable by plane from Hanoi. The battle lead to the end of French rule in Vietnam and is thus a very sacred place for the Vietnamese. The surrounding nature in this area is stunning and worth the visit alone.
3. Quy Nhon
Vietnams best kept beach paradise destination. Quy Nhon is the capital of Binh Dinh province but is far from being a chaotic and busy beach town such as Nha Trang or Hoi An. For a tranquil relaxing time look no further. Resorts and hotels here are few, but enough for you to find a great place to stay. You will not run into many tourist here.
Fansipan Mountain is still relatively overlooked in terms of things to do in Vietnam. It is located just 9 km south of popular Sapa and offerst breathtaking views of mountain ranges and countryside within north western Vietnam and the border of China. The hike can be completed in a 3 day tour from Hanoi.
The top of the list goes to the jaw droppingly beautiful area of Ha Giang. Rumours have it that the Vietnamese government intends to close down the roads to foreigners due to dangerous driving conditions so perhaps you need to add a bit of urgency in getting here if you want to experience it solo. The preferred way to travel Ha Giang is to do the “Ha Giang Loop”, a circle road that takes you to the main destinations here. Take around 4 days at least to complete the route. You can either rent a motorbike and drive yourself or book a guided motorbike tour. There are also guided minibus/private car tours that will tae you around the loop so you can enjoy the scenery from the comfort of your window.
Vietnam is quickly growing as a tourism destination. There are still many places outside of this list that are worthy of mentioning. It is bound that more destination will become flooded with tourist in the coming years. There are of course good and bad things that come along with mass tourism but we can only hope that people will be self conscious of their effect on all areas that they visit.