Vietnam in Southeastern Asia has over 12.8 thousand square miles and a population of more than 96 million people. Bordered by Cambodia, Laos, and China as well as the South China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, there is so much to see and do here.
From the Cuc Phuong National Park in Ninh Binh to the red dunes of Mui Ne, nature is still preserved well in many places. Caves, beaches, and mountains are just a few of the wondrous and stunning places to see in Vietnam.
Cuc Phuong National Park
In the province of Ninh Binh, Cuc Phuong was the very first national park dating back to 1962, and is now the largest in the entire country, boasting more than 54,000 acres of pristine nature. According to archaeological findings, human habitation here dates back 12,000 years, as many artifacts like spears and axes have been found in the caves.
Today, thousands of flora and fauna live in the park, from macaques to jungle cats, so there is a myriad of activities you can take part in while enjoying the magnificent scenes in Cuc Phuong National Park. Some of the attractions you will want to see include the Dong Nguoi Xua Cave of Prehistoric Man, May Bac Peak, Yen Quang Lake, and the Cuc Phuong Botanical Garden. Don’t miss the museum featuring 50 archaeological animal samples.
Ba Vi National Park
Another fantastic national park is Ba Vi in Hanoi, which is one with over 26 thousand acres and a gorgeous mountain range. Locals consider it one of the most outstanding natural beauties in the country and are centered around the summits of Dinh Vua, Tan Vien, and Ngoc Hoa. It also has the Da River flowing through it.
The tropical foliage in the park was a source of medicinal plants used by the Dao people many years ago and today, it is a lush, green rainforest with orchids, forests, and mountain slopes. Marvel at the flying squirrels and other creatures who call the park home. Do the 30-minute climb to the temple and shrine for incredible panoramic views. Leave your heavy backpacks and bags at a luggage storage locker in Hanoi before heading to Ba Vi to make the trek easier.
Terraced fields in Sa Pa
Sa Pa & the Tonkinese Alps
The residents in the town of Sa Pa probably do not even know their city is on the list of most beautiful places in Vietnam, but they should. Those who live there are known as Vietnam’s ethnic minorities, and although they may look like they are dressed in period costumes, this is just how they dress every day.
In hand-dyed and woven clothing, you can find many villagers selling their jewelry, food, and clothing. The Tonkinese Alps hold the highest peak in Vietnam, the Fansipan is 10,312 feet high and takes several days to reach by foot and cable car.
Read more about Ethnic Minorities in Vietnam
Despite being an off-the-beaten-track destination, Sa Pa’s tourist facilities are highly developed due to the huge number of travelers visiting here
Ha Long Bay
The name Ha Long means descending dragon, and with all the islets erecting from the sea, you may see why they call it that. Local legends say dragons spit gems when fighting invaders, and this is what the islands are. The bay has over 1,500 small islands made of limestone, and many of them boast caves with prehistoric elements from 18,000 BC.
The city life in Ha Long is woven with the spectacular natural surroundings
A few of the islands feature beaches and hotels, but most are beautiful thick vegetation and caves. The floating fishing villages in the bay are also quite picturesque with their vibrantly colored homes. But the karst landscape of pillars, caves, and arches provides magical scenery perfect for a movie set.
Ban Gioc Waterfall
As the largest waterfall in Asia, the Ban Gioc Waterfall is a spectacular view no matter what time of year you visit, so bring your camera. Cell phone pics cannot do it justice.
Dropping about 100 feet from the top, Ban Gioc is segregated into three falls and the thundering of the water can be heard for miles. But it is not just tall, it is vast at close to 1,000 feet wide. The best time to visit is September through October, when the waters are calmer so you can get photos without getting your camera wet.
Ban Gioc Waterfall also acts as a natural borderline between Vietnam and China
Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc is a densely forested and mountainous island with white sandy beaches on clear turquoise waters. The 24-mile island is also full of attractions to see such as the quaint fishing town of An Thoi, Suoi Tranh Waterfalls, and pearl farms on the western side of the island with a café and pearls for sale.
You can also go on squid fishing tours at night, enjoy snorkeling along the beaches, or get a private boat tour. Scuba diving to see the coral reefs is also a popular sport there, with over 20 dive sites. Get a guided tour of the island on land for some of the most stunning places to see in Vietnam.
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
With 494,210 acres of green space, waters, and limestone cliffs, the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is one of the most popular nature vacations in Vietnam for travelers. It was created in 1986 to protect the largest karst areas in the world, with over 300 caves and grotto systems. It is bordered by the Annamite Mountain Range and the Hin Namno National Park.
This park got its name from the Phong Nha Cave and the Ke Bang Forest. The cave is almost five miles long and has caverns and an underground river. It is famous for its rock formation, which has been named Buddha, Unicorn, Lion, and many others. Keep an eye out for the Asian Unicorn, also known as Saola, as well as other Vietnam’s endangered animals.