Vietnam nature has it all! Its geographical traits, having a long stretch of coastal land with life-giving river deltas and mountainous landscapes throughout the country, make it a perfect destination for a nature escapade. Whether you’re a nature lover or just a simple traveler who enjoys breathtaking views, your eyes will feast over Vietnam’s vast nature treasures. From sunrise and sunsets over beaches to flora and fauna-rich national parks, agriculturally-tied ethnic villages, world-renown caves, hikeable mountains and adrenaline pumping waterfalls, you’ll probably want to extend your stay in Vietnam to see most of these must-visit attractions.
On the way to discover the Vietnam nature, let’s start with Vietnam’s beaches. Although it could get touristy, you should not miss Ha Long Bay (Quảng Ninh Province in the North) when in the country. Aside from being a UNESCO World Heritage site, its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rain forests would make you jump on a boat even just for a day tour!
Along Vietnam’s central coast lies Nha Trang, a city with a 6km-long golden-sand beach and fabulously inviting turquoise water. You better not miss this list-topping nature destination in Vietnam which accumulates thousands of visitors soaking in the sun at any season of the year.
Vietnam’s list of best beaches will not be complete without Phu Quoc. This small island in the Southwest province of Kien Giang near the Cambodian border is a complete package you will not regret. Aside from sunrise and sunset-facing beaches, it also has fishermen villages and the nature-rich Phu Quoc National Park occupying almost half of the entire island. Although you have to book a domestic flight to get there, it’s going to be worth it!
The floral and fauna of 30 national parks throughout Vietnam are something you should experience. Ba Be Lake National Park (Bac Can Province in the North) features the Ba Be Lake surrounded by rich wildlife and forests. Experience the local way by staying in homestay in ethnic villages of Pac Ngoi and Bo Lu; taking some activities as boat trips, mountain trekking, or just sitting by the window taking in peaceful and serene nature.
If you’ve seen the movie Kong Skull Island, you’ve probably had a glimpse at Ninh Binh Province, which covered by Cúc Phương National Park. The landscape of the Red River Delta surrounded by limestone hills to its left and right is simply such a gift! Climb up the stairs to the top of Tam Coc to see this breathtaking aerial view.
Longing for a road trip of lifetime? Head over to Chua Chan National Park in Cam Ranh, Nha Trang and ride around on a motorbike to see stunning coastal landscapes, secluded beaches, fishermen villages, even roadside waterfalls.
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park is the next destination that you have to take a look. The area protects a system of underground caves including Son Doong – the largest cave in the world . Even if you’re claustrophobic, you should not worry because this cave is so big it can fit a Boeing 777. Because of its size, it has own weather, forming clouds and even a jungle with wildlife inside! If you want to visit though, you may have to wait a year to save your slot; it gets fully booked fast.
If you have more time, the bird-watchers haven in Cat Tien National Park (4 hours from Saigon), and the trekking haven in Hoang Lien National Park (6 hours from Hanoi) are places you should consider.
Aside from oceans and rivers, Vietnam’s nature also boasts of waterfalls among its bodies of water. Ban Gioc Waterfall tops them all, being unique in its location. It lies right on the border of northern Vietnam and China. There are two sets of waterfalls, the Vietnam side, and the China side. You can hop a boat to get near the larger waterfalls. But be careful that you don’t touch Chinese land without a valid visa! During the rainy season is the best time to visit Ban Gioc to see experience its raging waters.
For a different kind of adrenaline rush, head to Dalat and experience the Datanla Waterfalls Canyoning. Here, you will challenge your limits and fears as you abseil down different waterfalls and jump off some cliffs, in addition to doing jungle trekking and several river crossings.
If you’re an adventurer who loves surprises, then on a motorbike, head to Ho Chi Minh Road which stretches from Thanh My to A Luoi in the Western Central province of Quang Nam near the Laos border. This stretch of road is so isolated that you will very rarely encounter other people – only mountainous views and numerous roadside waterfalls that will refresh you during your trip.
Last but definitely not the least, mountains are one of Vietnam nature’s crowning jewel. In fact, the highest mountain in entire Indochina region lies in Sapa, Vietnam. Mt. Fansipan at 3143 meters above sea level is for adventure travelers. You can do a 2-day hike, reaching the 2800m campsite at day 1, and viewing the sunrise at the summit at day 2. If you don’t feel physically prepared for Fansipan, you can also do short treks in the rice field villages of Sapa, while observing the ethnic minority locals’ way of life.
Other mountains and trekking opportunity you can grab while you are in Vietnam include the traverse route from Ta nang to Phan Dung, Lang Biang Mountain in Dalat, Black Virgin Mountain in Tay Ninh (also the highest in Southern Vietnam).
Final Tips about Vietnam nature
When in Vietnam, it’s impossible to run out of nature destinations! We haven’t even mentioned the red and white sand dunes. Fairy springs in Mui Ne. The river cruises along the stretch of Mekong Delta. Before going, make sure that you have planned very well to avoid getting lost. It’s always good to learn a few Vietnamese words to communicate with locals. Bring a map of your destination every time. Better yet, ask a local to join you for a more memorable experience.