Vietnam is known for astounding natural beauty. It has some of the most majestic landscapes in Southeast Asia which attracts hundreds of travelers each year. It is easy to spend hours in the hustle bustle of Hanoi or to get lost in the glimmer of Ho Chi Minh, but Vietnam has some hidden gems you might have to dig deeper to discover. Here are some of the best kept secrets of Vietnam.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park:
This national park is probably the best kept secret of Vietnam. It consists of amazing limestone cave complex and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located in the middle of Annamite Mountain Range in Quang Binh province and comprises of a total area of 213,326 ha. It consists of aquatic and terrestrial habitats, tropical dense forests, sites of natural regeneration and savanna. It has spectacular cave systems which are accessible to visitors including the Paradise Cave, Phong Nha Cave and Hang En. It is rich in flora and fauna and has a number of species which make the park impressive. The largest cave in the world, Hang Son Dong is located in the middle of the park. However, reaching Hang Son Dong is not easy, it requires two days of jungle trekking and river crossing to reach the entrance. Once there, you need to climb, crawl and swim through the underground rivers to arrive at the end of the cave.
A three hour drive from Hanoi, Mai Chau is a scenic rural district which is nestled between two towering cliffs and is surrounded by emerald green paddies; it is a charming sight as you approach the district. It seamlessly blends with the environment and will allow you to enjoy a traditional Vietnamese experience. You can take a short trek to discover the colors of the nature village in the view of the valley.
Hue, which is pronounced as hway is the deeply redolent capital of the Nguyen emperors and is referred as “Vietnam’s Imperial City”. It wears a royal charm with the tombs and pagodas hidden in the developments and restored citadel open to visitors. It is home to seven tombs and an imperial city. If tombs and history is your thing, you can spend a full day here. The Perfume River in the village of Huong Long and the seven storied Thien Mu Pagoda is a well preserved religious site of Vietnam. You can also choose to go on a countryside cycling tour or drive through the Hai Van Pass which will take you up and down the coastline.
Not many travelers are aware about this, but Hon Mun is a true slice of paradise. It is located in the southern part of Nha Trang Bay in Khanh Hoa Province. It has natural beauty of white sand beaches and marine protected coral reefs that are brimming with aquatic life. You can dip below the surface and get up close with the local wildlife or you could choose to explore the waters from the glass bottom boat. Two most popular dive sites include Tiger Wall and Rainbow Reef. You can also enjoy a full day to fish off the boat, swim, snorkel and enjoy the local seafood.
Located in the south central province of Ninh Thuan, Rai Cave is free of human intervention and has natural scenery. There are rock formations stacked on top of one another which create countless beautiful small caves. The stone park is an arrangement of different sized stones which create beautiful shapes. It gives a stunning panoramic view of the grandeur of the sea, mountains and ancient coral. Camping overnight is a unique experience you must try once.