Vietnam is rich in natural sights from its spectacular beaches, cave systems, waterfalls, lakes, rice paddies and mountains.
Let's take a look at a few of the naturally beautiful sights that continue to attract hordes of tourists every year:
The breathtaking sight of Halong Bay is very likely to be the country's most famous natural attraction. The emerald green waters of the bay are filled with 1,600 islands with most appearing much-like a limestone pillar standing tall above the water.
Halong Bay is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site that is appreciated for its all-round scenic beauty and is best appreciated by boat. There are plenty of daily boat trips that explore the local waters while also giving the close up and personal view of the amazing caves, arches and limestone cliffs dotted throughout the bay.
Ninh Binh Province
The Ninh Binh Province is well-known for its wide-ranging karst scenery and limestone formations. A great way to explore the region is by rowboat along the rivers, tours of the grottoes and hiking. A visit to the town of Tam Coc is likely to give the most picturesque views. Other highlights include the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Trang An Grottoes and the Cuc Phuong National Park.
Ba Be Lake
Ba Be Lake forms part of the Ba Be National Park, which is the largest natural lake and enclosed by old-growth forests and limestone cliffs. A guided motor boat tour or a more adventurous kayaking trip is the most practical way to get a real feel of this place of natural beauty. The lakes have plenty to offer for travellers on the tours of Vietnam including caves, valleys, rivers and waterfalls that are located throughout the picturesque landscapes.
There are several cave systems to explore with fascinating rock formations. One of the finest caves to visit is Puong Cave, which is nearly 300 metres deep and 30 metres wide with thousands of stalagmite and stalactite structures, as well as a colony of bats that numbers in the thousands.
Other nearby attractions to Ba Be Lake include Tien Pond, Puong Cave and Dau Dang Fall.
Phong Nha Cave
The Phong Nha Cave is an impressive 44.5 km in length and among the most striking subterranean passageways and caverns in the world. The cave network is large enough to explore via a tour boat which ample opportunity to see many of the impressive rock formations that make up the vast chamber. Tour boats are only permitted to travel up to 1 km into the cave, but this is still far enough to create a wonderful experience.
A further great reason to visit the Phong Nha Cave is the fact it is located within the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, which is rich in swathes of forest and plenty of wildlife living in the vast area given protection. Also, this national park is a further designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
Con Dao Islands
The Con Dao Islands are simply incredible. Located off Vietnam’s southern coast, the 16 uninhabited islets are a true delight to explore with its dense forests, coral reefs and beautiful beaches. This chain of islands is about 230 km from Ho Chi Minh City, but relatively each to reach by air with a flight time of 1 hour. The main island had a past life as a base for a French-run prison, but that is long since abandoned. Today it is a top place to visit on the Vietnam family holiday for the diving, swimming and snorkelling opportunities. Snorkelling over the colourful coral-reef gives a perfect opportunity to see the crustaceans and marine life that inhabit the local waters.
A few of the less-known and remote islets are left to host turtle breeding sites. A sanctuary has been established to protect these breeding areas which can be seen by tourists on an organised tour that visits the region between June and September.
Mui Ne Sand Dunes
The sand dunes in Mui Ne are geological wonders that are well worth seeing. A day-trip to the Saharan-like white and red dunes is popular for wide-ranging activities such as sand-sledding. They are also great for picnics and catching the beautiful sunset.
The red sand dunes are the easiest to reach and located about 17 km northeast of Mui Ne Beach. The distinctive reddish-brown colour of the sand creates a popular place to visit on the photography tour. The preferred time to visit the dunes is very early in the day or late afternoon. Make sure to pack plenty of water when visiting the dunes.
The white dunes of Mui Ne are the larger of the two and at 26 km northeast of Mui Ne Beach slightly further to reach on the Vietnam travel.
Before finishing its journey, the Mekong River divides into a complex maze of rivers that helps to create the mangrove forests, flooded plains and unique ecosystem in the south of Vietnam.
A wonderful way to explore the Mekong Delta is a boat tour which gives a close up view of the local swamplands, paddy fields and orchards. Even though rice is the region's staple crop, the nutrient-rich soil is also used for sugar-cane groves, fruit orchards and coconut palms.
Beyond the natural beauty of the delta, there are also several towns in the region that are regularly visited by tourists on the Vietnam tours package. One town relatively close to Ho Chi Minh City and perfect for the boat tour is My Tho which makes a practical day-trip destination. Other nearby towns include Ben Tre which is appreciated for its fruit orchards, Cao Lanh is certain to appeal to bird watchers, while a visit to Sa Dec will appeal to most travellers.
Can Tho is the largest settlement in the delta and makes a great base for exploring the local area and visiting the floating markets nearby.