Vietnam has surfaced as a must-see destination in SE Asia in recent years. The culture is rich and diverse, the beaches are pristine and the landscapes are beautiful. And each region of the country has its own beauty that is worth seeing on the Vietnam tour throughout the different seasons of the year.
Here are a few of the top off-the-beaten track destinations in Vietnam:
A road trip to the relatively remote region of Ha Giang gives a perfect opportunity to witness the fascinating scenery this country has to offer. Ha Giang is home to many different ethnic minority groups, such as the Giay, Dao and Hmong. The mountain roads pass lush-green landscape and opens out to give stunning views of the surroundings. A particular place of beauty is the Dong Van Karst Plateau Geopark. Tourists to this far northern region of Vietnam are required to hold a permit in order to visit the province. The permit is cheap and easily acquired in Hanoi. Read more: Ha Giang
An Binh Island (Mekong Delta)
A wonderful way to experience the Vietnam private tour with a slice of island life is to take a cycle tour of the Mekong Delta’s An Binh Island. This island is chilled and relaxed with narrow dirt paths criss crossing this watery rural idyll island. It is perfect to explore by bicycle with its paths lined with palm trees, and local surroundings include traditional thatched houses and lush orchards. Many of the traditional houses are open as homestays to make a great overnight stay, and help to give a better appreciation of the day-to-day lives of the locals. Staying on An Binh Island overnight is great to get a break from the hustle and bustle of cities like Ho Chi Minh City.
Isolated Mai Chau is the complete opposite of Vietnam’s chaotic capital and often overlooked by tourists even though it is only 135 km southwest of Hanoi. This idyllic valley is mostly inhabited by the White Thai minority with plenty of homestay opportunities are made available in their traditional stilt houses. Visitors get to appreciate traditional village life while relaxing with a backdrop of jagged karst mountains and feasting on delicious home-cooked meals. Read more: Mai Chau
Pu Luong Natural Reserve
The Pu Luong Natural Reserve is a region of high biodiversity value, cultural interest, and outstanding beauty that stretches from Mai Chau to Cuc Phuong national park. This region has a landscape filled with magnificent rice terraces, limestone panoramas, and thick forest. This nature reserve spans an area of nearly 17,662 hectares, and a vast majority is left as primary tropical forest.
Pu Luong is a great trip destination from Hanoi with activities like visiting the local villages (ethnic Muong and Thai people), cycling through the reserve, or trekking in the long rice paddy fields and thick forest. The locals are very friendly and may even invite travellers into their home for a cup of tea, which gives a perfect opportunity to learn about the authentic and rich culture. The best time to visit Pu Luong to appreciate the lush harvest is February to May or September to November.
Ly Son Island
The small Ly Son Island (also referred to as Cu Lao Re) is situated off the coast of Quang Ngai province. While this island has a growing presence of domestic tourists, it is still relatively unknown for the foreign travellers. This volcanic island is easily reached by ferry from Sa Ky with a travel time of about one hour. Ly Son Island is great for travellers interested in a little cultural insight, photo opportunities and fresh cheap food. In the centre of town are a few hotels and restaurants that cater to the travelling tourists. It is relatively compact in size, so rent a motorcycle or scooter for the day and explore the entire island. Also, an offshore excursion to a local island gives a perfect opportunity to go snorkelling or swimming in the crystal clear water with lots of fish and some coral.
Con Dao Islands
Con Dao Islands (also referred to as Con Dao National Park) are made up of an archipelago of 15 islets and islands, which are mostly uninhabited and located off the southern coast of Vietnam. This is a star attraction in Vietnam with its striking natural beauty, scenic bays, coral reefs and lovely beaches. Beyond the island-hopping, diving and hiking in the deserted beaches and coastal roads, there are plenty of opportunities to watch the local wildlife, including the endemic bow-fingered gecko and the black giant squirrel.
The only inhabited and main island, Con Son was formally used for housing inmates in the French-run prisons. They are now derelict and open to visit on an island tour, which also includes seeing the infamous tiger cages. Con Dao is perfect for the savvy travellers in search of a relaxing escape from the typical bustling city life.
Whale Island (Nha Trang)
A stay on Whale Island gives the tourist a perfect opportunity to enjoy a relaxing break away from the more chaotic Nha Trang. This sheltered tropical island is approx 105 km from Nha Trang and a great place for water based activities. A bus-boat transfer from Nha Trang is priced at about $20 per person.
Once on this pretty island, it is appreciated for its beachside setting with windsurfing, kayaking and snorkelling favourite pastimes. The best time to scuba dive in this region on the Vietnam holiday is mid-January to mid-October. Most of the activities are plentiful and reasonably priced.
Quan Lan Island
Quan Lan Island is a perfect destination for travellers on the Vietnam luxury tour looking to beat the crowds, and situated to the north of Halong Bay. This island has several pleasant beaches and an ideal place to visit for the nature-loving travellers. The island has some of the most beautiful beaches in the north of the country. Quan Lan Island is easily explored by bike with paths that pass old ruins, big sand dunes and a nearby pagoda.
A major attraction of Quan Lan Island is the sweeping Minh Chau beach with white sands and clear blue waters. This water is great for water sports, such as surfing and kayaking, and there are plenty of low-cost eateries for seafood and beer. Read more: Minh Chau Beach - Quan Lan Island