7 Must-See Landscapes in Vietnam
Vietnam is beautiful. There’s no doubt about that. With Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and that is also one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the world, Vietnam has been growing in popularity for good reason. But Vietnam’s natural beauty doesn’t stop in Halong Bay. We’ve gathered this list of beautiful natural wonders and many of these are places where you can find some solitude to go with the views.
1. Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay is the most visited place in Vietnam and is on almost every itinerary to the country. Quite simply, it’s magnificent. You can cruise around the bay at a snail’s pace for weeks just staring at the karst islands and emerald. There are beaches, luxury resorts, hidden eco lodges and everything in between to satisfy and and all comers.
2. Ninh Binh (the unknown part)
Long before Stand Up Paddle Boards were “invented”, the locals at this quiet and lovely section of the Song Day River near Ninh Binh were using these at boats and bamboo poles to transport goods. Far off the beaten path, this area sees almost no tourists. Hire a boat man (lady) and discover how peaceful the meandering river can be.
3. Mai Chau
There is nothing more enchanting and enduring about Southeast Asia than fields of rice being laboriously worked by farmers in conical hats. Mai Chau is a district in northern Vietnam with neatly manicured rice paddies covering the meandering valley. The town and valley are populated by a few of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities like the Ban Lac people, who speak a dialect of Thai. It’s as picturesque a scene as you could want and offers up activities like trekking, cycling and even rock climbing nearby.
4. Hai Van Pass
This stretch of highway connects Hue with Danang, winding over the pass over 1500 feet high above the sea. Practically empty by Vietnamese standards because of the recently built tunnel by-pass, this road can be a fun and adventurous afternoon on a bicycle or motorbike. You won’t see many trucks on the route, but you will see many interesting locals riding motorbikes packed to the sky with all sorts of interesting cargo from live animals to vegetables to woven baskets. Don’t forget to look around because there are hidden waterfalls, sweeping ocean vistas and an occasional herd of animals.
5. Sapa & the surrounding mountains
If you thought the rice paddies in Mai Chau were beautiful, wait until you see the rice terraces in the Sapa region. You’ll marvel at the sheer magnitude of the terraforming that has been done to these steep mountains. In a place that still does much work by hand and with the use of draft animals, it’s nothing short of mind boggling how the tribes up in these mountains shaped the earth to their designs. Walk, cycle, motorbike or hire a car and just wander the empty roads trying to find the most perfect terraces. The best thing you can do is get lost.
6. Pu Luong Nature Reserve
Not far from Mai Chau, this uspoiled area has it all. Limestone mountains, forest, rice terraces, cultural tradition and almost no other tourists. Trekking is a great option to experience the super friendly locals and see them hard at work farming rice, tapioca, herbs and many other crops. If more adventure is your preference, you can kayak down the river or ride a traditional bamboo raft. Whatever you choose, make sure to wake up for sunrise where you have a great chance of seeing a misty morning like this.
7. Cat Ba Island
Virtually next door to Ha Long Bay and in many ways its equal is Cat Ba Island. Somehow, this beautiful island has escaped the droves of tourists that descend upon the more popular Ha Long Bay. Here, you’ll find something for just about everyone. Beautiful beaches, great local seafood, picture perfect landscapes, luxury resorts, affordable lodging, adventure sports, cruises, and much more. Make sure to give yourself time because you won’t want to leave.