5 Hidden Corners of Vietnam

Nga Do
Vietnam boasts stunning landscapes – the karst outcrops of Halong Bay and the hilltribe-settled mountains around Sapa spring to mind – as well as beaches, charming colonial towns, the fascinating villages of the Mekong Delta and lush national parks. Mix in amazing street food and you’ve got one magical – and tasty – destination. Besides the familiar destinations, Vietnam has many other potential destinations, there are relatively unknown light pearls outside the country.

1. Ba Bể National Park

Situated deep in the highlands of northern Vietnam, not too far from the border with China, Ba Bể National Park is full of misty lakes, dark caverns and remote villages. The park is best explored either on foot or by boat: there are some superb hiking trails that wind through the jungle, and a trip down the river to the magnificent Phong Nha Cave – a huge tunnel passing right through the mountain, with fascinating rock formations – is highly recommended. If time permits, stop off at Dau Dang Waterfall and make the most of the spectacular views.

2. Hà Giang

With its towering peaks, terraced hillsides and stilted villages, Hà Giang Province, situated in North Vietnam by the Chinese border, is the newest addition to the Vietnamese travel scene. Hà Giang has seen little development, and the tribes are welcoming and invite you into their homes, providing first-hand insight into their way of life. Get there now! 

3. Mai Châu

Mai Châu is a rural district located in the Hòa Bình Province, northwest Vietnam, about 65km from the regional capital and about 160km from Hanoi. Home to the Black Thai and White Thai tribes (whose ancestors settled here from Thailand), Mai Châu is known for its beautiful scenery – think emerald-green terraced rice fields, bright cobalt-blue lakes and mist-clad mountains – making it a top location for hiking or cycling.

4. Mu Cang Chai

Mu Cang Chai is one of the most amazing landscapes of rice-terraced fields in Vietnam. Located about 1000 meters above sea level, Mu Cang Chai has a special topography with steep hills and deep valleys where the local residences such as Hmong, Thai, Dao have created the master-piece, Terraced Fields. They has cultivated about 500 hectares of rice terraces for centuries in La Pan Tan, Che Cu Nha and De Xu Phinh communes. In 2007, the fields was recognized as national heritage sites for its amazing landscape. The fields look stunning during the rice season. The best times are the planting season (June) and the harvesting season (The end of September to the beginning of October). During harvesting season, ready crop is turning to yellow, while new crop is dotted with white of water and young green of seedling rice.

5. Côn Đảo Island

An hour’s flight from Ho Chi Minh City, Côn Đảo Island offers hidden coves, tropical jungle and charming colonial towns. Despite its sparkling white sand and brilliant blue waters fringed with rich green jungle, Côn Đảo’s beaches are mercifully quiet, clean, and idyllic. 

Avoid the “official” Dam Trau Beach – it can be busy with visitors – and, instead search out your own secret idyll and enjoy the spectacular driving routes along Côn Đảo’s coastal roads.

Discover the fascinating destinations and diverse culture of Vietnam at: viettravelmagazine.com

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